Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Tuesday 6/22/21 Farmington River Report: big Brown Parade

Our store hours through OctoberMonday through Friday, 8am-6pm, Saturday & Sunday 8am-5pm. We are now open until 6pm on weekdays (not weekends) and will be on that schedule through October. Per the latest CDC guidelines, in Connecticut now you do NOT have to wear a mask/face covering anymore IF you are vaccinatedIf 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.  

Check out the dinger up top- Aidan Bridwell with a BIG brown sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. He caught it on an Iso nymph. The same night (Sunday) I nailed the pretty 20” male brown you see in the second pic, it was a fun but stressful fight in some fast water. He tried to go under a big rock in the heavy current but I was able to side pressure him downstream into some softer water. Also managed a 14”+ Brook Trout/Atlantic Salmon Parr double you see in the fourth pic. Third pic is local guy Max Holhubner with an absolute beauty of a brown trout, wow. 

We have some summertime availability for our awesome upstairs apartment rental- go to our Lodging page to check if it’s available. Great place to stay riverside, completely furnished with a kitchen, big flat screen TV, and a deck that gives you a view of the river out back. All that and very reasonably priced. 

Nice order from Fulling Mill arrived Friday with lots of new flies & restocks on top sellers, some great new soft-hackles & wet flies, more tippet and fly boxes. A bunch of other flies arrived from other suppliers too, so check the bins.

Dries, wets/soft-hackles, nymphs & streamers are all having their moments lately, the trout are definitely on the feed, including some truly big wild browns. If undisturbed, many bigger trout (especially wild browns) are feeding in 6-18” of water and can be caught with a stealthy approach (early & late in the day are peak times for this). The fishing is good from the dam in Riverton, down through the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R), and all the way downstream as far as you want to go. Flow is medium and very nice. If you move around, experiment with flies & tactics, and remain flexible in your approach, you should find success. If however you try to ram a particular location & method down the trout’s throat, you are probably heading for frustration. Let the trout tell you how to catch them. A highly underutilized but very effective method is wet fly/soft-hackle fishing, and it’s an efficient way to cover a lot of water thoroughly. Ideally fish 3 different patterns (minimum of 2) on tag end droppers, 20-30” apart, and experiment with dead-drift,twitching, swinging, retrieving, and even bouncing/dancing the top dropper fly. The trout will tell you how they want it by their response. This is a relaxing way to fish, and a good break from technical flat water dry fly fishing and the intense concentration of nymphing. Read further down in this report for more suggestions on wet fly fishing. 

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, nymph, or dry/dropper if they aren’t rising. First & last light are also prime streamer times. The same spot on 2 consecutive night can see a great hatch one evening, followed by a poor hatch the next. This time of year, mild cloudy day will often produce some of the better fishing, but even in bright sun the Farmington stays cool. Due to the release of icy cold water, hatch time can be all over the place on this river. Sulfurs often hatch in the afternoons, and last week I saw Isonychia start hatching at 10am. Overall the best hatching most days has been in the evenings. The hotter and sunnier it is, the most the evening bugs will get pushed off closer to darkness- the further you get away from the dam, the more true this is. Closer to the dam the evening hatches often happen earlier, likely due to the colder water I presume. 

Fishing has been good to very good overall, with plenty of bug activity to create surface activity and also get them feeding subsurface on nymphs. Sulfurs averaging #16 (with some 14s & 18s)remain the #1 hatch, but there are other bugs too. It paysto know your bugs, their habitat, and their hatching behavior. What you see for bugs and when they hatch will totally depend upon the time of day and how far below the dam you are. Sulfurs & assortedCaddis are all up and down the river, there are Attenuata on most of the river, and from New Hartford & downriverthere are big Isonychia- theyare starting tocreep into the lower end ofthe permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) and willkeep progressing upriver- July is the peak month for that bug. If you are on the water during hatchingactivity, expect to see some risers if you look around. Remember that many bugs ONLY hatch in water with some good current, but others like slower water- it pays to look online or in the books and do your homework. Big Stoneflies & March Browns live in fast water broken with rocks (pocket water), and most Caddis hatch & egg-lay in faster water. Sulfurs like medium-slow to medium-fast water. Mayfly spinners usually do their thing over riffles. 

Attenuata often get mistaken by anglers for a small Sulfur- but they are NOT. Size is #18-20, and the winged dun pops out of the nymphal shuck on the stream bottom, and then rises/swims to the surface (like the Quill Gordons & Vitreus). The color upon first emerging is a bright greenish yellow, sort of an apple green- and yes, we have the matching dun pattern that Don Butler ties for us. I’ve been seeing them pop in the gentle riffles near UpCountry around 7pm’ish, about the same time I’m seeing the #16 Invaria Sulfurs. We’re also seeing an afternoon hatch of the Sulfurs in the afternoons sometime between 1pm and 5pm in the middle to upper river. Still a few evening Vitreus averaging #14 in the mid to upper river too, they tend to emerge in faster water/riffles, that hatch is near the end though. And at dusk there are #16 Sulfur spinners & #10-14 March Brown/Gray Fox spinners. Both will fall over the riffles and drift down into the pools, helpless & spent on the water. The March Browns in particular will often fall over heavier pocket water. They typically sporadically emerge in faster water, along the edges, from late afternoon through eves. 

Various assorted Caddis (#12-22, averaging #14-18) remain a staple bug, with #14-16pupa consistently producing subsurface- the adults come back in the evenings to egg-lay in faster water. Tans & olive/green are common colors, but also gray, brown & black. Keep your eyes out for spinner falls of Sulfurs & March Browns in the eves as this can bring some large trout to the surface. Caddis are a possibility at any time. They tend to hatch here in the mornings/afternoons in riffles & faster water, and then come back at dusk and egg-lay/dive in the riffles & faster water. A Caddis pupa is a great choice for nymphing any time of day, but especially during emerge, and even during egg-laying, just be sure to let them swing out a the end of each drift. Large Stoneflies averaging #6-10 are starting to emerge/crawl out in the early to mid mornings now- you will see their empty shucks on the rocks in the fast water. That is also the water type you want to focus on when nymphing imitations of them in the mornings-this can produce some BIG fish. Pair them up with a Caddis Pupa or a smaller Pheasant Tail/Frenchy/Mayfly nymph.  

Terrestrials such as regular Ants & Beetles are both good options this time of year during non-hatch times as the milder weather has them active. If it ain’t happening on the surface, the nymph fishing underneath has been good. Imitations of all the bugs mentioned above are good choices. And if you are out in early to mid morning, try a big Stonefly nymph #6-10, as they are active and hatching/crawling out on the rocks now. 

Water temps remain cold to cool on the first 20+ miles of river below the dam in Riverton. Water being released is still in the upper 40s, averages in the 50s for most of the river, and may creep into the low 60s in Collinsville/Unionville in the afternoons- all very trout-friendly water temps. The books say that 50-65 degrees is optimal for trout. 

Wet Fly Tips: this is a great time of year to fish wet flies & soft hackles. Fish them 2-3 at a time, on short tag end droppers, spaced 20-30” apart. Use 3x-5x fluoro tippet (depending upon fly size), and keep your rod tip up. The elevated rod tip prevents break-offs, gives you strike detection (watch the bow and look for changes), helps to better animate the flies, and allows a better hook-up percentage (creates just enough slack to allow the trout to suck your fly into their mouth). Riffly water 3 feet and shallower is prime for this, but it can catch trout on a variety of water types.

Nymphing remains a very consistent method, no surprise there. Caddis pupa, Mayfly nymphs, and Stonefly nymphs fished in the faster water can catch fish all day long- don’t neglect gaudy/flashy attractor nymphs, they can be surprisingly deadly sometimes. Dries, streamers, and wet flies/soft-hackles are all having their moments too. Depending upon the day, the weather/temps, and river section fished, hatches can be at just about any time of day, so be flexible. And just because there is a hatch doesn’t mean that the trout will rise, so be flexible in your approach, because you may need to fish subsurface with nymphs or soft-hackles. Dry/Dropper rigs are also a good choice during hatches as they cover 2 bases at the same time- read the paragraphs below for more detailed advice.  

A great rig during morning/afternoon Caddis hatches is a buoyant/visible dry such as an Elk Hair Caddis with a weighted pupa trailed 10-24” below that. During evening egg-laying, try a Caddis dry with a soft hackle trailed about 1 foot below (imitates diving egg-layers). During the hatch, if they are eating on top, make sure to fish a pupa/emerger pattern that floats low in the film, preferably with a trailing shuck. But often they don’t rise during the emergence, instead choosing to stay deep and let the current deliver the food right to them. In that case, nymphing the faster water with the appropriate pupa patterns can be lethal. Dead-drift your pupa, but always allow them to go downstream & swing below you. Caddis are above average swimmers and sometimes a swinging pupa outfishes a dead-drifted one.

We have the new Hardy Ultralite & Ultralite LL (Euro) rods. While I have not yet personally fished them, they feel amazing in handand I’m predicting they will be big sellers in 2021. Customers who have bought & fished them tell me they are fantastic. 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, and 9’ 2” & 9’ 9” #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 almost a year 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 often exceeding supply with these rods, so if we don’t have what you want in stock get your name on a waiting list.


The Farmington is medium at 310cfs at 8am in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R)- at 9am they are increasing the release from the dam by 40cfs, which will put the total flow at about 350cfs. The Still River is adding in 39cfs – it dumps in a little below the Rt 20 bridge in Riverton. The Still River currently runs warmer (60s, and into the 70s on hot sunny days) than the water from the dam (upper 40s/low 50s) this time of year, and so right now it has a positive affect on water temps (raises them well into the optimum range in the 50s). The East Branch is releasing no water last I knew- it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. Unionville USGS gauge is a very fishable/wadeable 343cfs this morning- medium/medium low & very nice. Riverton water temp was 49 degrees at 8am, yesterday afternoon it reached 53 degrees at the Riverton gauge (water temps are higher downriver, and can reach mid/upper 50s currently on the middle to upper river, and into the low 60s in Collinsville/Unionville during hot sunny afternoons).

-Sulfur (Invaria) #14-16: afternoons/eves, spinner fall at dusk
-Sulfur (Dorothea) #16-18: afternoons/eves, spinner fall at dusk
-Assorted Caddis #14-20 (especially tans & olive/greens): morning to afternoon hatch, evening 
-Isonychia #10-12: typically late afternoon through dusk, fast water
-Attenuata #18-20: evening hatch, often confused with Sulfurs but smaller & bright greenish yellow
-Vitreus #12-16: late afternoon to evening hatch, faster water, upriver now & near the end 
-March Brown/Gray Fox #10-14: late afternoon/eves, sporadic hatch in faster water, especially along the edges, evening spinner fall over fast water. Best hatching is roughly permanent TMA/C&R to the dam 
-Big Stoneflies #6-12: don’t create a lot of dry fly fishing, but the nymphs crawl out/emerge in the low
light of early/mid mornings in faster water. Golden Yellow, Brown, and Black.
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: early/mid mornings usually
-Midges #20-28: anytime, all year
-Parachute Adams #12-24: imitates many, many different bugs

-Caddis Pupa #14-16- tan, olive/green
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #12-18
-Sulfur Nymphs #14-18
-Stoneflies #6-12: gold/yellow, brown, black- early/mid AM nymphs emerge/crawl out June thru Oct
-Isonychia Nymph #10-14: fast water, can also use big Princes & Pheasant Tails
-March Brown Nymph #10-14
-Olive Nymphs #16-20: anytime, common bug during Behavioral Drift (first & last light) & rainy days
-Fox Squirrel Nymph #12-14 (can imitate March Browns)
-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs
-Cased Caddis #10-14 (especially after flow bumps)
-Junk Flies (Mops, Eggs, Squirmies/SJWorms, Green Weenies) for higher or off-color flows & fresh stockers
-Midges/Zebra Midges#16-22: olive, black
-Antoine's Perdigons #14-20: black, brown, olive, yellow
-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.

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

-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)
-Rio's Precious Metal #4 (Kreelex copper, olive)
-JJ Special/Autumn Splendor/Tequeely #4-8
-Matuka #4-8 (yellow, olive, brown)

Report by Torrey Collins