Friday, December 31, 2021

Friday 12/31/21 Farmington River Report: Make sure to have a 2022 CT Fishing License!

Our 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. 

Up top, John Stratton getting them two at a time- now that’s efficient! Usually when 1 of the 2 in a double is a bigger fish, you lose them, but John somehow got it done. Second pic is Joshua Caldwell with a big handful of holdover brown trout from his last Farmington River trip of 2021. In the third pic @thiccccerfish just purchased his new Cortland Euro outfit from us and then he went and broke it in properly with that landing net filling brown trout. Final pic is yours truly with a small but pretty wild from yesterday on a #18 BWO looking Perdigon. Big or small, I love wild trout. 

We’re doing a second Beginner Fly Tying course with Mark Swenson on Sunday 1/16/22 from 9:30am-4pm and it’s almost full now- 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. 

We had a phone call recently from somebody who said they kept two 20” trout in Riverton and wanted us to weigh them, and then they tried to argue with us when they were informed what the rules were, sooo…. IT’S ILLEGAL TO KEEP TROUT ON THE FARMINGTON RIVER FROM 9/1 UNTIL OPENING DAY IN APRIL FROM THE DAM IN RIVERTON DOWN TO THE RT 177 BRIDGE IN UNIONVILLEThis 21 mile stretch is Catch & Release only currently (flies, lures & bait are all legal), but if you go below the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville you can still keep trout. Don’t confront them, simply call the DEEP Help line at 1-800-842-HELP (4357). Aggressive confrontation will almost 100% lead to a heated argument, and that benefits nobody. If you feel you must talk to them, be super polite and say something like “I don’t know if you are aware, but it’s catch & release until Opening Day in April. Just want to make sure you know so you don’t get in trouble. If you go down to Unionville below the Rt 177 bridge you can still keep fish”.

Rich Strolis articulated streamers are once again back in stock. We currently have 2 color variations of each of the following patterns: Headbanger, Masked Avenger, Alter Ego & Dumpster Diver. Get them before they sell out again. Deadly flies to entice a hungry trophy post-spawn brown trout. The Dumpster Diver is an underrated but lethal pattern that is nice and light, easy to cast, but catches big trout.

Quick word on fish pics & proper fish handling
If you would like to get posted on here (and even if you don’t), when taking fish pics please handle the trout properly: gently, and keep ‘em wet mostly in the water if at all possible. We won’t post pics with fish laid out on dry land or ice/snow. Please be careful WHERE you place your hands, and don’t squeeze the fish or you can damage their internal organs. Ideally keep them IN the water, that’s the easiest on the fish of all- remember that fish aren’t designed to have their body support their weight OUT of the water, it’s unnatural and can potentially injure them if you aren’t careful. This can be extra important when we get into truly cold Winter air temps, when the trout’s eyes & gills can freeze if you keep them out of the water on super cold days. Don’t keep them out of the water for more than 10 seconds at a time (ideally not at all when it’s below freezing), and when they are in the water in your net make sure that their mouth/gills are submerged and that they can move their gills and breathe- if they are all twisted up in your net they cannot push water over their gills. Get creative, Grip & Grins get boring. Keep ‘Em Wet! Nuff said.

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.

Try some of Don’s #8 coffee/black Rubber Leg Stones- they can be deadly, especially when flows are up a bit, and even when they aren’t. RL’s imitate the common darker large Stoneflies, and can also pass as a Fishfly larva (they are tons of them in the Farmington) and even a smaller immature Helgramite. The rubber legs give them movement that makes them look alive, just like a real bug. They even work in rivers where none of those bugs exist. 

New products continue to arrive almost every day. T & T rods have been trickling in, filling in most of the holes we had- we have lots of Contact II’s now in all sizes/weights. Fulling Mill came in recently, and we are once again restocked on all their excellent hooks (including the Jig Force Short, Regular & Long, Czech Nymph), the deadly & popular Slush Eggs (peach, pink), Masked Marauder Stoneflies (golden, black), and 2 varieties of Frenchies. In streamers we once again have Baby Complex Twist Buggers (the lethal 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! Many days this Fall/early Winter they’ve been the ticket when the more typical nymphs weren’t working, especially on bigger fish. We also have Fulling Mill’s new blue Hopper fly box- just a really nice box for bigger & bulkier flies. 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. 

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 (4357)and report the violation to the CT DEEP. 

River Conditions, Holiday store hours & 2022 CT Fishing Licenses:
We will close at 4pm today, Friday 12/31, and be closed on New Year’s Day (Sat 1/1/22), and back to our normal 8am-5pm Winter hours on Sunday 1/2/22.
Don’t forget that as of Saturday 1/1/22 you need a NEW CT Fishing License. We will be closed Saturday 1/1, so make sure to get a license in advance, or just purchase online. It’s perfectly acceptable now to keep a picture of your license on your phone, they no longer require a printed copy to be legal. When you purchase online, you can have a copy of your license emailed to you.
The Farmington River is looking good lately, the flow is medium & clear at a total flow of 475cfs in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (286cfs at USGS gauge in Riverton by Rt 20 bridge, and the Still River adds in 189cfs & dropping)- normal historical median flow for today is 340cfs. Riverton water temp is 40.5 degrees this morning. Yesterday afternoon the water temps in New Hartford hit 44-45 degrees due to the mild nights & days, and this will continue through this weekend. The mild temps made for very light Winter Caddis hatches in the AM ( surprisingy they hatch best in normal cold Winter weather with nights in the teens/20s and days in the 30s), but the cloudy mild temps were good for the afternoon BWO (Blue Winged Olive) hatches, with a number of customers reporting good surface feeding in the bigger, slower pools like Beaver, Pipline, Church, Greenwoods, etc. 

Now that flows are in the normal range, we are seeing more fish feeding on the surface. However, subsurface with nymphs & streamers is still the primary method of catching fish consistently (especially the bigger ones), but even small dries will sometimes get some bigger fish if you specifically look for & target the bigger risers.

Downstream AM water temps are typically lower than upstream (above the Still River) in the Winter, but not always- on milder/sunny days the water can be warmer downriver in the afternoons after the sun has a few hours to raise the water temps (this has been the case lately, even on cloudy days). The water coming out of the dam remains the same temp regardless of nighttime & daytime temps, but then as it moves downstream it heats or cools depending on air temps, time of day, and sunshine or lack thereof. Sunshine is a primary driver of increased water temps- a mild night combined with sunshine the following day will give you the maximum water temp boost.

Cold snaps have tended to make for tougher fishing, whereas milder sunny afternoons have produced some good fishing, with some anglers reporting well into double digits landed when everything lines up. Overall in the Winter, don’t expect to catch a lot of fish: there is much less bug activity, and colder water temps mean a slower metabolism for the trout and they don’t need to eat as much because of that. However, they do tend to pod up, and if you can locate that pod during a bite window occasionally you can really rack them up on nymphs occasinally.

Winter Caddis continue to hatch well in the early to mid morning, but sometimes go later than that. The small Blue Winged Olives (BWOs) hatch in the afternoons, as do tinyMidges. We are probably very near theend of the BWOs, but people are still seeing some, our peak Fall BWO hatch is typically Nov/Dec. The current improved water level should only make the dry fly fishing better. Other than the morning Caddis hatch, the best time to be out is late morning through dusk (higher water temps = more active trout & bugs). Bigger browns frequently come out of hiding to feed in the last hour of daylight- the combination of lower light with peak water temps gets them going.  

Fish are transitioning into Winter holding water as the water temps drop and are now done spawning: mostly slow to moderate speed deeper water in pools, deeper runs, and slower/deeper riffles. You will often see trout slide into riffles to feed in the afternoons as the water temps rise and nymphs get active and in the drift. 

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 mid/late morning through late afternoon 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). If you do have to 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). Often there is a brief “First Light Bite” during the first 1/2-1 hour of daylight, despite the lower water temps. When light levels rise this brief window shuts for a while. As the day progresses the water temps should increase a little, and this will rev 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, Midge Larva/Pupa, and various size/color Stonefly Nymphs.

Unionville USGS is reading 795cfs (normal for today is 542cfs). This is a medium high flow, but be aware it's a bigger river down there which makes the wading trickier. Angling pressure downstream in the Winter is usually quite light. Fishing on average has picked up compared to early/mid Fall, and early Winter historically can be some pretty good fishing as trout look to put some weight back on after spawning and before true Winter sets in. 

Flies & Hatches:
Fishing advice is unchanged and will be similar for most of the Winter: mostly subsurface, slow & deep with streamers (regular & jigged), Junk Flies (Eggs, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Mops,Weenies), bigger Stoneflies, Caddis larva (regular green/olive & Cased), Attractor nymphs (hot-spots, flash, gaudy/unnatural colors), Midge larva/pupa, and small Mayfly nymphs (Pheasant Tails/Frenchies, BWOs, Perdigons, etc.). Higher flows typically means bigger flies, and lower water usually fishes better with smaller flies. 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 continues to drop, expect to see more surface action. I would imagine we are getting near the end of the afternoon Olive hatches. Look also for small Midges in the afternoons. You may also see risers 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:
The Farmington is loaded with all sorts of Caddis. Traditionally I do well on this time of year on 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. The case making Caddis that constructs a case that looks like a miniature chimney and houses a bright green larva is Brachycentrus, also known as Grannom or Mother’s Day Caddis. Cased Caddis are also one of the rare aquatic bugs that Behavioral Drift during the day (most do it during first/last light, and around midnight). Some Cased Caddis that make their cases out of sticks/twigs are huge, with imitations tied to imitate them on a #6 2-3xl hooks, and sometimes even bigger! I see smaller #16-18 Brachycentrus Cased Caddis Larva in the Fall- but 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, and live only in fast water). 

Various single-hook & articulated streamers are having their moments, experiment with colors and retrieves. Post spawn browns are looking for big bites to eat, early Winter can be a fantastic streamer time. 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 virtually 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. Typically the fry hatch out from the eggs in February.

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. Good all purpose fly that can pass as many different food items, and makes a great Caddis pupa too. The soft hackle gives it movement, just like a real bug.

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. Post-spawn trout will whack them due to hunger and the need to put weight back on lost during the spawning process. Some yellow in your  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 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 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.


Flow& Temps:
Total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release is close to normal now at 475cfs this morning (286cfs below the dam in Riverton, and 189cfs  from the Still River)- historical normal total flow for today per USGS is 340cfs. The East Branch was raised from 0 to 100cfs last week- it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. Unionville USGS gauge is reading 8795cfs today (historical normal for today is 542cfs)- it’s a much bigger river down there if you don’t know it well, 879cfs is definitely fishable but it’s better at 500-600cfs. Riverton water temp at the Rt 20 bridge is 40.5 degrees this morning, afternoons downriver have been creeping into the mid 40s due to the mild nights & days. Temps average well into the 40s through the weekend, with lows in the 40s too. The Still River can be a cooling influence in the Fall and water temps are often lower downriver of the Still, especially in the mornings after a colder night- but on milder, sunny days the afternoon temps are often higher downstream of the Still River (unless there is a lot of snow & snowmelt). Water temps will typically rise a little during the day, and be lowest in the early mornings.

*Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: early/mid mornings usually, sometimes go later
*Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s) #22-28: afternoon, getting near the end
-Midges #20-28: afternoons, 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

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
-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 are all once again back in stock- lethal flies!
*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   
-Woolly Buggers #2-14 (black, olive, white, brown, tan)
-JJ Special/Autumn Splendor/Tequeely #4-8 (brown & yellow streamers)
-Matuka #4-8 (yellow, olive, brown)

Report by Torrey Collins