Our NEW store hours as of 9/7/21:
Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday 8am-5pm. We 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.
Up top once again, UpCountry’s Joey Takeman with a colored up wild (I think) brown trout. He had a decent day on jigged streamers, the bite started slow and then turned on fast in late morning as things warmed up a little. He lost the biggest one unfortunately, but this consolation prize ain’t too bad. Next down is a long spawned out holdover brown by local guide Steve Hogan. Most of the browns have spawned now, and many will be skinny due to the rigors of spawning.
In store sale:
G3 Men’s Stockingfoot Waders in Shadow Green & Cinder at $439.99 (normally $549.95), and Riparian Camo at $479.99 (normally $599.95)- sale applies to in stock merchandise, when they are gone that’s it. Also, Sage Pulse fly rods (one handed), normally $475, on sale for $380. We also have one Sage Pulse13’ #7 Spey rod- normally $650, now $540.
New products continue to arrive on a regular basis. T & T rods have been trickling in every week lately, filling in most of the holes we had. Fulling Mill came in recently, and we are once again restocked on all their excellenthooks (including the Jig Force Short, Regular & Long, Czech Nymph), the deadly & popular Slush Eggs (peach, pink), Masked Marauder Stoneflies (golden, black), and Frenchies. In streamers we once again have Baby Complex Twist Buggers (the deadly olive/yellow/brown combo), Schmidt’s killer Viking Midge (yellow/olive), and Tommy Lynch’s big brown trout slayer, the Mini D & D. For you Euro guys, we added in several new Fulling Mill Jigged Streamers with 3.8mm to 4.6mm tungsten beads on them- don’t neglect jigged streamers when tight-lining!We also have their new Hopper fly box (it’s blue, not red). Two big boxes of Wapsi fly tying materials arrived and are up on the walls now, filled in a lot of holes on things like UTC thread, wires/tinsels, D-Rib, all sorts of dubbings, Bucktails, Silli Legs, flash materials, Pine Squirrel Zonker strips, Rabbit Zonker strips, and much much more.
Now completely full: Mark Swenson’s Beginner Fly Tying course on Sunday 12/12 from 9:30am-4pm. 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. If you want to do this class call Mark and get your name on a waiting list for his next one (probably will be January/early February).
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.
Conditions remain stable (that’s generally good), with medium-high total flow of 542cfs in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R). Per USGS, 350-400cfs would be normal for early/midDecember, so we aren’t very far above normal, only about 150cfs. Fishing is still fairly good as long as you are flexible.While the dry fly fishing is better at lower flows, anglers are getting fish on the surface on#18-24 Winter Caddis in the mornings, and tiny #22-28 Blue Winged Olives/BWOs/Olives in the afternoons. However, the most consistent/productive techniques are still nymphing & fishing streamers. Fish are starting to transition into Winter holding water as the water temps drop and they finish spawning (prob 95%+ have spawned by now): mostly slow to moderate speed water in pools, deep runs, and slower/deeper riffles. You may see trout slide into riffles in the afternoons to feed as the water temps rise and nymphs get active and in the drift- especially this weekend & next week as highs move back into the 40s and even 50s.
As I’ve mentioned before, during the colder water temps of late Fall through early Spring, with one or two exceptions there is no need to get out there at the crack of dawn. Focus on late morning through late afternoon (say 10am’ish) when water temps rise a little (only takes one degree or less) and the trout & the bugs are at their most active. The early to mid morning Winter Caddis hatch is an exception to this (first light to about 10am is normally peak, but they can go later than that, and sometimes egg-lay right at dusk on some days). If you do head out early because that’s what your schedule allows, fish flies that are independent of insect hatches/activity: Junk Flies (Eggs, Squirmies, Mops), various streamers (especially jigged ones), big Stoneflies, and attractor nymphs (ones with hot spots/flourescent materilas, UV, unnatural colors, or flash). As the day progresses the water temps should rise a little, and this willrev the trout’s metabolism up and get them more interested in feeding, and the aquatic insects will also get more active- this is win-win for us fishermen. Plus it’s more comfortable to be out in the afternoons when the day is at it’s warmest. You may want to try some more imitative patterns in the afternoons: various Caddis Larva (regular olive/green & cased), small Mayfly Nymphs, and Stonefly Nymphs.
The East Branch was reduced last week from 80 down to 25cfs, which helps improve downstream fishing conditions. AM water temp today in Riverton is 43.5 degrees, it peaked at 44 degrees yesterday afternoon- downstream water temps will typically be slightly lower, as the dam buffers the water temps. A warming trend here now and for the next week will raise water temps, which should get both the trout & bugs more active. Unionville USGS is reading 722cfs and dropping (normal for today is 543cfs). This is medium-high & fishable for sure- if you don’t know the lower river I’d wait until it comes down under 600cfs as it is bigger water down there, but if you know it then give it a try. Angling pressure down there in December is very light. Ten Day Forecast sees high temps averaging highs upper 40s (60 Saturday and 56 Thursday!), lows averaging in the 30s. Fishing on average has picked up compared to early/mid Fall, and December historically can be some pretty good fishing as trout look to put some weight back on after spawning and before true Winter sets in. The fishing for the semi-recently stocked ‘Bows in New Hartford between the Rt 219 bridge and the Rt 44 Satan’s Kingdom bridge has been good most days (no surprise there!), with anglers landing some big fat fish- mostly rainbows, with some stocked, holdover & wild browns in the mix.
Flies & Hatches:
Fishing advice is unchanged: mostly subsurface, slow & deep with streamers, Junk Flies (Eggs, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Mops,Weenies), and bigger Stoneflies. The biggest difference is as the flow slowly approaches normal, we are fishing some smaller natural/imitative nymphs now. We received several cool new jigged streamer patterns from Fulling Mill. Eggs continue to be a top producer, and when Olives are hatching in the afternoons try #16-20 BWO/Olive type nymphs. Getting more reports of trout rising to small to tiny #22-28 Blue Winged Olives (BWOs) in the afternoons- as the water drops, expect to see more surface action.You may also see surface action in the early to mid morning (sometimes later) when the Winter Caddis hatch. Hope for dries, but expect to fish subsurface from the late Fall through early Spring.
Caddis Larva info:
Other nymphs I traditionally do well on this time of year are Caddis Larva: #14-16 olive to olive/green Larva and also #10-14 Cased Caddis (especially during higher water and/or flow bumps). For those of you into bugs & Latin names, the most common Net Spinning Larva are the Hydropsyche- they have an olive to olive-green back with a black thorax and average #14-16, and if you flip them over the belly is more of a light green. Cheumatopsyche are another common Net Spinner on the Farmington that look sorta similar but are smaller (#16-20) and often greener. Cased Caddis live in slower water, and higher water/flow bumps often dislodge them and knock them into the drift. They are also one of the rare aquatic bugs that Behavioral Drift during the day (most do it during first/light light, and after dark). Some Cased Caddis are huge, with imitations tied to imitate them on a #6 2-3xl hooks, and sometimes even bigger! I also see smaller #16-18 Brachycentrus/Grannom/Mother’s Day Cased Caddis Larva in the Fall- by the Spring they will be #12-14 just before hatching. The Farmington has TONS of Caddis throughout the river- net spinners (such as Hydropsyche & Cheumatopsyche), cased (too many different varieties & sizes to list), and free living (Rhyacophila, they are BIG and bright green).
We are shifting from Fall to Winter mode, slowly but surely as the water temps continue to slowly drop. The dam in Riverton will buffer/slow the temp drop as compared to a Freestone (rain fed) river, but the water temps will continue to get lower. Trout are starting to slide into Winter holding water: slower/deeper water such as pools, deeper runs, and slower/deeper riffles. As mentioned above, this also means that with minor exceptions (AM Winter Caddis hatch), for the most part you don’t need to start before 10-11am. Give the water temps a chance to bump up, it will make both the trout and the aquatic insects more active and lead to better fishing/catching. Water temps peak in the late afternoon (3-4pm), and don’t drop significantly until after it gets dark. I often have my best bite window this time of year in the last hour of daylight: peak water temps + low light brings the big browns out to feed. Late morning through late afternoon is also a more comfortable time of day to be out. Sunny days will see the biggest water temp increases of all.
Various single-hook & articulated streamers are having their moments, experiment with colors and retrieves. Post spawn browns are looking for big bites to eat, December can be a fantastic streamer month. Some of the better colors have been white, brown, brown & yellow, olive, and all yellow- make sure to have a good assortment of colors, it can make a big difference. Streamer retrieve speed can be important- in general cold water equals slower retrieves & deeper presentations, but try some faster retrieves too, cuz ya never know. The trout will always tell you water they prefer, but only if you experiment and listen to what the trout tell you they like.
A quick note on water temps and how they affect trout, fishing, and best time of the day to be out. Water temps moving TOWARD 60 degrees tends to turn trout on, and as temps move AWAY from 60 degrees it tends to shut feeding down. Even though 50-65 degrees water temps are “optimal” for trout, the direction of temp changes has more to do with creating a good bite than the actual absolute temp. Having said that, there can be a first light bite, even when air & water temps are cold.
Despite the spawn being mostly done, you need to continue to watch out for redds (light colored patches on the gravel) where brown trout deposited their eggs (typically the tails of pools & side channels/braids). Don’t step ON or RIGHT BELOW the redds or you’ll crush the eggs.
When flows are up, look for areas where trout can get out of the current: the inside of river bends, spots where the river gets wider (creates soft edges where it widens), and behind bankside obstructions. Skip the faster pocket water and focus on pools, deep runs, and slower/deeper riffles. Extra water usually pushes the trout closer to the banks, out of the heavier flow. Even though the peak of the spawn is behind us, 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.
Dick Sablitz whipped up some “Heavy Hare’s Ear Soft Hackles” with tungsten beads for us. Great point fly to use in a multi wet fly rig to get your other wets/soft hackles down deep, or use in a tandem Euro Nymphing rig.
PSA on trout spawning, Redds & ethics:
We are almost done with the brown trout spawn, they started late in 2021. Currently it appears the peak of the spawn is past (prob 90-95% already spawned), but smaller numbers of browns will continue to spawn right into early Winter. Trout 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.). But 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 100x 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 their thing and stay away from them. Certain areas with ideal spawning gravel & flows can have concentrations of spawning trout in them, I would encourage you to give these areas a wide berth until they are done doing their thing. By early December, most of the browns have spawned and you can go back to fishing these areas- just make sure you aren’t wading through redds and crushing eggs.
The FRAA stocking in October has 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 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). Recently stocked trout love egg flies & Junk Flies (Mops, Eggs, Worms) in general. The bigger trout of late are mostly coming on Junk Flies, big Stones, and 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).
Effective streamers include 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 potentially bigger trout, it’s definitely that time of year. Spawning gets the big trout very aggressive toward larger streamers, and post-spawn trout will still whack them due to hunger and the need to put weight back on lost during the spawning process. 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).
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 streamers, wet flies or nymphs (Euro or Indy) if they aren’t rising. First & last light are 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 hand. Those 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 in our opinion and 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 $855. 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.
Total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release is medium-high at 542cfs this morning (392cfs below the dam in Riverton, and 150cfs from the Still River). The East Branch was reduced last week from 80 down to 25cfs last I knew- it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. Unionville USGS gauge is reading 722cfs today- it’s a much bigger river down there if you don’t know it well, but that’s fishable for sure if you do know it. Riverton water temp at the Rt 20 bridge was 43.5 degrees this morning, it peaked at about 44 yesterday afternoon. Milder weather here starting today will increase water temps a bit. The Still River becomes a cooling influence in the Fall and water temps are typically as much as 2-5 degrees cooler downriver of the Still, especially in the mornings after a colder night. Water temps will rise a little during the day, and be lowest in the early mornings.
*Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s) #22-28: especially on cloudy/overcast days
*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: Olives, Midges, Caddis, etc.
*Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmies/SJ Worms, Green Weenies): good in the colder water of Winter, and also for higher or off-color flows & fresh stockers, or just as a change-up to natural/imitative flies after you fish through
*Stoneflies #6-12: gold/yellow, brown, black
-Antoine's Perdigons #12-20: various colors & sizes
-Attractor Nymphs #12-20: anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot such as Rainbow Warriors, Haast Haze, Firestarter Perdigon, Princes, Miller's Victim, Triple Threats, etc.
*Olive Nymphs #16-20: afternoon hatch (BWOs), also common in Behavioral Drift (first & last light)
*Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16
-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs from BWOs to Hendricksons, and also smaller Stoneflies
-Fox Squirrel Nymph #12-14: great general purpose impressionistic fly
*Cased Caddis #10-14 (especially high water & after flow bumps)
-Midges/Zebra Midges#16-22: olive, black, red: Midges are a staple food item, esp. late Fall/Winter
-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
-in cold water (late Fall through early Spring), use a weighted fly (e.g. Soft Hackle Hare’s Ear/Pheasant Tail) on the end/point to get your flies deeper, and/or fish your rig on an intermediate/sinking 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