Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Tuesday 11/2/21 Farmington River Report: high water & beginner tying class

Our NEW store hours as of 9/7/21:

Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday 8am-5pmWe are now open only until 5pm every day and will be on that schedule through March. Per CDC guidelines, in Connecticut now you do NOT have to wear a mask/face covering anymore IF you are vaccinated. If you are not vaccinated, you need to continue to wear a mask, and please try to maintain a 6ft distance from other customers if possible. We are happy to deliver curbside if you are uncomfortable shopping inside. Just give us a call. 

Pictured first is a recent tank brown landed in high water by Derrick Kirkpatrick.  Next down Jim DeCesares braved the big water after work and was rewarded with a handful of Farmington brown trout. Last 2 pics are examples of what a trout redd looks like (it’s where they lay their eggs)- please avoid fishing these areas, and definitely don’t walk on them or you will destroy the eggs. 

Farmington guide Mark Swenson is doing a Beginner Fly Tying course on Sunday 11/21 from 9:30am-4pm. Class is limited to 4P, so call Mark directly at 203-586-8007 to sign up. For details on the class go to our  “Classes, News & Reviews” page on our website.

Big T&T order arrived lastweek, now we are well stocked in Contact II’s in all the 3 weights (10’, 10’ 9”, and 11’ 2”, but still waiting on the #2s & #4s), and have some Paradigms, a better selection of Zones, and the Exocett SS streamer rods from 160 grain (5/6) all the way up to 350 grain (9/10)- they are excellent for tossing meat! 

As of 9/1/21, the entire upper 21 miles of the Farmington River is Catch & Release until Opening Day in April 2022. This covers from the dam in Riverton, downstream to the Rt 177 bridge in the center of Unionville. Below the Rt 177 Unionville Bridge it is five fish, 9”. If you see anyone keeping fish illegally, don’t confront them, just call 1-800-842-HELP and report the violation to the CT DEEP.

Antoine’s Perdigon nymphs in a wide variety of colors, weights & sizes are ALL back in stock. They are custom ties, and there was a major delay in getting them restocked from our supplier. Ahhh, 2021...

Still high water, and I’m guessing they will keep the flow up for a few more days to get Colebrook River Lake down some more (we received probably about 5” of rain over last week). It’s only an educated guess, but I imagine you may see the MDC cut the dam release back maybe on Friday in time for the week- they don’t tell us in advance, so remember this is only speculation on my part. The good part is there is virtually zero rain in the 10 Day Forecast (highs averaging low/mid 50s, lows in the low/mid 30s). The USGS gauge 2 miles below the dam is readin850cfs (they are releasing 780cfs), and the Still River is adding in another 337cfs (and dropping) for a total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) of 1,187fs. AM Riverton water temp today is 57.5 degrees, it peaked at 59 degrees yesterday afternoonI’d use 1,000cfs total flow as a general cutoff for wading anglers, unless you are hardcore and know the river well. With Riverton at 800cfs+, there is no advantage to fishing Riverton, and in fact due to the narrower width and higher gradient up there, at that flow there aren’t many fishable spots in Riverton. Even though the flow is 300cfs+ higher downstream from the Still River, the river is significantly wider and spreads the extra water out better. 

If you are going to tough it out and fish the higher flows, look for spots where trout can get out of the heavy current: the inside of river bends, spots where the river gets wider (creates soft edges where it widens), and behind bankside obstructions. Higher flows push the trout near the banks, out of the heavier current. High water is also the time to fish bigger and/or gaudier flies: streamers, big stonefly nymphs, and “Junk Flies” (Mops, Eggs, Worms, Green Weenies). Almost every big trout you’ve seen posted here the past 2 months has been caught on one of those flies. With the spawn here now, if you are nymphing with a pair of nymphs in the near future, make sure one of them is an egg! Don’t walk out knee or crotch deep and start fishing, because if you do that you likely just spooked all the catchable trout hanging near the bank to get out of the heavier currents. 

PSA on trout spawning, Redds & ethics:

We are finally into that spawning time of year for brown trout, they were about 2 weeks lateTrout will dig redds (light colored circular depressions) in shallower gravelly areas with suitable current such as side channels, pool tailouts & riffles, and then the males & females will pair up and lay eggs there. Please don’t fish to actively spawning trout on redds, just let them do their thing and make more wild trout. Plus it’s not really sporting or ethical, and the spawning trout are already stressed due to the whole spawning process (migrating, fighting, digging, etc.). And most important of all, don’t step on the redds, or the first 10 or so feet downstream from them- many of the eggs drift downstream of the redds. If you step on the eggs, you crush them and kill future wild trout. Fishing to actively spawning trout sitting on redds isn’t cool, but stepping on the eggs is far worse because it is fatal to future wild trout. The eggs won’t hatch out until roughly February (give or take), so watch where you step! In deeper water well downstream of the redds, there will be non-spawning trout feeding on the loose eggs drifting downstream. Ethics is a personal thing that’s nearly impossible to regulate, so at the end of the day it’s up to you. If you are unsure if what you’re doing is unsporting, err on the side of letting the spawning trout do there thing and stay away from them. Certain areas with ideal spawning gravel & flows have large concentrations of spawning trout in them right now, I would encourage you to give these areas a wide berth until they are done doing their thing. By late November/early December, 90%+ of the browns will have spawned and you can go back to fishing these areas- just make sure you aren’t wading through redds and crushing eggs.

The fishing for the stocked ‘Bows in New Hartford between the Rt 219 bridge and the Rt 44 Satan’s Kingdom bridge habeen productive prior to this high waterwith anglers landing some big fat fish. Anglers in other river sections worked harder to catch holdover & wild fish, but the fishing is slowly improving every weekand typically best early & late in the day and during brief random bite windows that are hard to predict. Due to above average flows and moderate insect activity, it has been predominately a subsurface deal this Fall with a few exceptionsOlives & Caddis are the main bugs/hatches. Browns are aggressive due to the Fall spawn. Streamers, big Stones & Junk Flies are doing most of the damage on the browns.The reservoirs haven’t turned over yet (soon), but water temps are good, averaging in the mid/uppeer 50s depending upon the section and time of day. Downstream water temps are cooler due to water chilling overnight, combined with cooler water coming in from the tributaries. We are probably on the down side of peak foliage now, rain/wind last week knocked a lot of leaves down.

Fishing is slowly improving, and most anglers are still working for a few bites unless they are over recent stockersThe exception has been when anglers encounter “bite window” and the fish mysteriously turn on for a brief period of timeThe FRAA recent stocking has certainly improved the fishing in the 2 miles New Hartford Rt 219 Bridge downstream to Rt 44 Satan’s Kingdom bridge section- they stocked a good number of 12-16” Bows, and each spot got 5-10 bigger ones in the 18”+ range. In late September CT Fisheries stocked the lower river, and I heard a report that the MDC stocked in Riverton in October. FYI the permanent Catch & Release (C&R) only gets stocked once a year in April, and always has a high density of trout (even when you aren’t catching them haha). As the water temps continue to drop and the trout start spawning, I expect the fishing for holdover & wild trout to pick up. Spawning creates a very good egg bite once the trout start spawning. And recently stocked trout love egg flies & Junk Flies (Mops, Eggs, Worms) in general. The bigger trout of late are mostly coming on streamers fished slow & deep. In terms of catching the recently stocked trout, think small to medium size streamers like Woolly Bugger & Zuddlers, and also Junk Flies, Hare’s Ears, and Frenchies (and other nymphs with florescent hot spots).

Unless you have rising trout, stick subsurface with nymphs & streamers.When total flows get down to 300cfs & less (will they ever?? haha)you will be more apt to see rising trout. In fact in general the lower a river is, the more likely you are to see dry fly action. And of course you need hatches to get the fish looking up. Some of the bigger, wider, slower pools like Church Pool can be the exception where fish will rise at almost any flow. The best bug activity overall has been the last 1-2 hours of daylight, mostly #16-18 tan/brown Caddis with a few #8-12 Giant October Caddis mixed in. You may have Caddis in the late morning/early afternoon too. We’re also seeing #18-24 Blue Winged Olives andsporadic #12-1Isonychia some daysMidges are a possibility 365 days a year.

The water is coming out of the dam in the upper 50s and then cools more as it flows downriver depending upon air temps and sunshine (or lack thereof). The USGS flow & temps gauges are 2 miles below the dam at the Rt 20 Riverton bridge. It has been cooler downstream (as much as 4-5 degrees lower) away from the dam due to overnight cooling (nights averaging in the30s this week) and the tributaries running cooler than the Farmington River.

Overall the most successful flies lately have beevarious streamers, big #6-10 Stoneflies, Junk Flies” (Mops, Squirmies, Eggs), or hot-spot nymphs in the #14-18 range (Frenchies, Sexy Waltz, etc.).For streamers you can do standard single hook patterns such as Woolly Buggers, Zuddlers, Zonkers, etc., just play around with colors & retrieves until you crack the code for that day. Use bigger articulated patterns to catch less but potentiallybigger trout, it’s definitely that time of year. Spawning gets the big trout very aggressive toward larger streamers.

Insect activity is modest and seems to be mid/late afternoon through dusk most days, but every day is different. Be aware that the Fall Iso’s are smaller, in the #12-16 range, and hatches have been very light. Subsurface is typically the way to go, unless you see rising trout. Splashy more aggressive rises in faster water likely indicate Caddis or Isonychia, subtle/gentle rises in softer water probably mean Blue Winged Olives. Nymphs & streamers will be the most consistent in October if fish aren’t rising (which is most of the time, especially when flows are up). The upcoming spawn is making the brown trout & brook trout more aggressive toward streamers, especially early and late in the day during lower light. Play with colors, retrieves, presentation angles, etc. 

When the surface of the reservoir gets down into the low/mid 50s, the upper layer becomes denser and as it sinks to the bottom the lake will flip/turn-over and the water will start coming out of the dam in the 50s. Expect to work hard for your fish currently, but also expect the fishing & hatches to improve every week. There are definitely bite windows when the fish turn on for brief periods, and if you fish then with the correct flies & tactics you will catch a few fish. If they aren’t rising, fish subsurface!

Some yellow in your Fall streamers can be very effective, whether they are all yellow or two-tone (brown/yellow, olive/yellow, etc.). Also make sure to try some flashy streamers, some days they are the ticket (think about how effective flashy spoons & spinners are for spin fishermen). 

If you are using wet flies/soft hackles, use 2-3 at a time, fished on tag-end droppers, 20-30” apart. Mix up the patterns& sizescto give the trout a choice, and try different angles & presentations (dead-drift, swung, twitched, dangled, danced on the surface, etc.)- the trout will tell you what they prefer IFcyou actually listen. If the trout seem to be plastered to the bottom, use a weighted point fly on the end to get your rig down- a tungsten soft hackle Pheasant Tail or Hare’s Ear works well for this. For wets I recommend tippet around 4x (5x at the lightest), as the hits can be HARD. Also, keep your rod tip up to help prevent break-offs, give you a higher hooking percentage, and animate your flies better.

Be aware that hatches vary from day to day and respond to water & air temps changes, variations in flow levels, and also light conditions. Be prepared to fish wet flies, nymphs, or dry/dropper if they aren’t rising. First & last light are also prime streamer times, and also rainy/overcast days- if flows rise & discolor, even better for streamer fishing. The same spot on 2 consecutive days can see a great hatch one day, followed by a poor hatch the next. 

We have the new Hardy Ultralite & Ultralite LL (Euro) rods. While I have not yet personally fished them, they feel amazing in handThose who have fished them have given great reviews to us, these rods are giving the T&T Contact II’s some competition. Euro specific rods in the Ultralite LL series include the10’ 2” #2, 11’ 2” #2, 10’ 8” #0/2, 10’ 8” #3, 9’ 2” & 9’ 9” #3 & #4. In the standard Ultralite the 9’ #4, 9’ #5, 9’ #6, 9’ #7, 10’ #4, and 10’ #5. 

The T&T Contact II series (10' #2, 10' #3, 10' 9" #3, 11' 2" #3, 10' 9" #4 & 10' 8" #6) is a home run, the best Euro rods currently on the market according to many experienced Euro nymphers. I’ve fished mine for a while now, and it’s amazing. New improved materials, new guide spacing, down-locking reel seats are standard now, plus a new fighting butt design that is more comfortable. Recovery is noticeably better/crisper, the actions "tweaked" for more big fish playing power, plus the newer materials they use to make the rods inherently store more energy and give the rod more power for casting and playing big trout. The blanks are incredibly strong and much much harder to break, even when you do something stupid. These rods are easier to cast, will give you more distance, and they deliver with improved accuracy. Retail is $825. FYI demand is exceeding supply with these rods, so if we don’t have what you want in stock get your name on a waiting list.


Flow& Temps:
Total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release is pretty darn high at 1,187cfs this morning- 850cfs below the dam in Riverton, and 337cfs (and dropping )from the Still River. TheEast Branch was raised to 400cfs on Monday- it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. Riverton water temp at the Rt 20 bridge was 57.5 degrees this morning, it peaked at 59 yesterday afternoon. Water temps will rise a little during the day, and be lowest in the early mornings. The Still River becomes a cooling influence in October and water temps are typically as much as 4-5 degrees cooler downriver of the Still, especially in the mornings.

*Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s) #18-24: especially on cloudy/overcast days
*Tan/Brown Caddis #16-18 
-Giant October Caddis (Pycnopsyche) #8-12: a few (sparse hatch), later in the day

-Isonychia #12-16: typically mid afternoon through dusk, fast water, light/sporadic hatch
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: early/mid mornings usually, sometimes go later
-Midges #20-28: anytime, all year
-Parachute Adams #12-24: imitates many, many different bugs: Iso’s, Olives, Midges, Caddis

-Caddis Pupa #14-16 (tan mostly)
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16
-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs from Isonychia to BWOs, and also smaller Stoneflies
-Antoine's Perdigons #12-20: black, brown, olive, yellow, etc.- back in stock finally!!!
-Stoneflies #6-12: gold/yellow, brown, black- early/mid AM nymphs emerge/crawl out June thru Oct
-Isonychia Nymph #12-14: fast water, can use Princes & Pheasant Tails to imitate them too
-Olive Nymphs #16-20: anytime, common bug during Behavioral Drift (first & last light) & rainy days
-Fox Squirrel Nymph #12-14 
-Cased Caddis #10-14 (especially high water & after flow bumps)
-Junk Flies (Mops, Eggs, Squirmies/SJWorms, Green Weenies) for higher or off-color flows & fresh stockers, or just as a change-up to natural/imitative flies after you fish through
-Midges/Zebra Midges#16-22: olive, black, red
-Attractor Nymphs #14-20: anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot such as Rainbow Warriors, Haast Haze, Firestarter Perdigon, Princes, Miller's Victim, Triple Threats, etc.

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Assorted Patterns #10-18: Hare's Ear, DW Catchall, Partridge & Orange/Green/Yellow, Partridge & Flash, Starling & Herl, Leadwing Coachman, March Brown, Partridge & Pheasant Tail
-best fished 2-3 at a time, on tag end droppers, spaced 20-30” apart
-dead drift them, swing them, twitch them, bounce them- let the trout tell you how they want them

-if fishing is slow, use a weighted fly (e.g. Soft Hackle Hare’s Ear/Pheasant Tail) on the end/pointto get your flies deeper, and/or fish your rig on an intermediate line or sink-tip/sinking leader.

*Rich Strolis articulated streamers: Headbanger, Masked Avenger, Alter Ego & Dumpster Diver
-Rio's Precious Metal #4 (Kreelex copper, olive)
-BMAR Yellow Matuka #6
-Zuddler #4-8: olive, yellow, white, brown, black
-Complex Twist Bugger & Mini version #2-6: assorted colors 
-Sculp Snack #8 (George Daniel pattern) 
-Home Invader #2-6- tan, black, white, yellow 
-Woolly Buggers #2-14 (black, olive, white, brown, tan)
-JJ Special/Autumn Splendor/Tequeely #4-8
-Matuka #4-8 (yellow, olive, brown)

Report by Torrey Collins