Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Tuesday 8/3/21 Farmington River Report: Summer fishing

Our store hours through October: Monday through Friday, 8am-6pm, Saturday & Sunday 8am-5pmWe 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. 

The fishing may be tougher right now, but some very nice trout are still getting caught by the persistent. Lead pic is a very healthy brown by Mike Andrews. Next down is Michael Dube with a colored up Bow, and third down is one from the Night Shift by Quinn Nagel.

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

We have a PILE of used fly reels in the case here at Upcountry, the most we've ever had. Some are listed online and can be purchased through our website or over the phone, but we also have more that are NOT listed online and are for purchase in-store ONLY. Make sure to take a peek in the used reel case when you stop in next time.

Flows have gotten more angler-friendly, total flow Tuesday morning is just over 500cfs & slowly dropping- I’d call this medium to medium-high (normal median flow for early August would be about 300cfs, give or take). Riverton USGS gauge at the Rt 20 bridge is reading 438cfs and 64 degrees at 8am, and the Still River is 83cfs. We’ve been getting nights anywhere from the upper 40s to mid 50s lately, and it’s actually made the early morning temps way downriver slightlycooler than up by the dam-60 degrees in Unionville early this morning after a cold night! This flips as the day progresses, and downstream water temps can rise up quite a bit on a warm, sunny day by late afternoon. Weather is nice & mild through Thursday, and then heats up from Friday onward- be mostly cloudy all week though, which is a good thing.

Since the flows have come down, hatching overall has been light & spotty. Needhami appear to be about done (still a few, but not many), butI got the first report of Trico spinners this morning- they are normally an August bug.The spinner fall is the main event with the Tricos, and they fall to the water over riffles when the air temps are about 68 degrees, give or take. They are literally just starting up so I don’t have any info beyond that as yet, not sure how far upriver they are.

Your best windows of fishing are normally early/mid mornings & eves, typical summer fare. The best evening dry fly action is normally the late 30 minutes of dusk, right as it gets dark, so DON’T LEAVE BEFORE DARK!If you can get up really early, the longest window of good fishing/catching is normally from first light until about 10am, give or take. Mornings can either be dry fly fishing the pools with tiny stuff such as Tricos (24s), Summer/Winter Caddis (#20-24) on long/light leaders, or you can nymph the faster water with a big Stonefly nymph (#8-10) paired up with a smaller #16-20 nymph such as a Caddis Pupa, PT/Frenchy, etc. Midday has been slow both for hatches & catching. You can target sporadic risers with ants & beetles or tiny dries/emergers, blind fish attractor dries/foam patterns/Stimulators in the riffly water (with or without a small weighted nymph dropped under your dry), or nymph the faster water with smaller nymphs. If you are nymphing midday, target pocket water, shaded areas, undercut banks, and structure. Streamers will be at their best in low light, early & late in the day, and they can pull some big fish outta structure- try especially colors such as white, brown, tan, and olive. Try also running a #14-18 nymph, soft hackle or wet fly about 16-18” behind a weighted streamer, tied off the hook bend.

As you get later in the summer it’s normal to see the water coming out of the dam get warmer as the coldest water on the bottom of the lake gets slowly depleted and replaced with the layer above that’s in the 60s.I’s always a good idea to keep an eye on downstream water temps and stay more upriver if the temps exceed 68-70 degrees downriver. Remember that water temps are lowest in early/mid mornings, and peak in the later afternoon. Sunny days see the biggest temps increases, especially hot ones. Riverton downstream to New Hartford/Canton usually stays cool enough all summer, and during milder weather periodsyou may be able to fish even further down. I’d probably stay away from Collinsville/Unionville now that we are nearing late summer, as the 2 low dams down there tend to warm up the water, unless you have unusually mild/cooler weather for a few days.If you want to fish that far down, look for cooler nights(50s) & milder days (70s), and start in the mornings when water temps are lowest- by late morning work your way upstream to cooler water. That way you don’t stress the trout out, and you are putting yourself in position to potentially have good fishing all day long. 

Definitely into that time of year when dries imitating terrestrial insects can be VERY effective, especially midday on warm/hot sunny days when insect hatches are often slow. You can blind fish them in likely water, or target sporadic risers when you don’t see many bugs on the water. Ants & Beetles are the main players, anywhere from #12-24. Bigger foam terrestrials such as Mini Chernobyls #12-14 and #10 Monster Beetles are great for blind fishing likely water, and/or Dry/Dropper fishing with a small weighted nymph 1-2 feet below them (deadly!).

We have some limited 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. 

Current hatches still include Isonychia #10-12 (they will hatch into mid fall). Big browns have a particular affinity for this bug. Terrestrials (ants & beetles mostly) are solid producers here in the summer. Also have some #12-16 cream colored flies such as Usuals & White Wulffs to fish right at dusk when it gets hard to see your fly- these imitate Light Cahills/Summer Stenos. Sulfurs #18 are onlyupriver now and nearing the end,from about Rt 20 bridge inRiverton up to the dam. Mornings are seeing Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24, and Tricos are just starting up. Small Midges are a possibility anytime and are often overlooked by the majority of Mayfly myopic anglers. Peak time for morning hatches is early to mid morning- be prepared to fish long leaders with long light tippets and tiny flies, it’s technical fishing. Various Caddis averaging #16-18 as always are a possibility at any point, look for them more so on medium to fast choppy, riffly water. 

If you are nymphing, a combination of #14-18 Caddis Pupa, small #16-20 BWO/mayfly nymphs, big #6-10 Stoneflies, and #10-14 Isonychia type flies will get it done for you. And don’t forget about Junk Flies (Mops, Worms, Eggs, Green Weenies) if the traditional stuff isn’t producing. The big Stones are more of a first light to mid morning deal, as that is when they crawl out to emerge. BWOs & Caddis can be effective anytime, and Iso’s normally work best from mid/late afternoon until dark. None of these time frames are set in stone, so experiment. A lot of the bigger trout are frequenting 6-24” of medium to fast water when they go into feeding mode- don’t skip or worse yet walk through the shallow water without fishing it! Often times in Summertime the secret to catching trout on nymphs is simply to make sure one of your nymphs is small, as in #18-20. The exact pattern is less important than the size, but experiment with patterns for best results.  Most summer bugs, Stoneflies & Isonychia excepted, are small to tiny.

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 6-24” of water during insect emergences and can be caught with a stealthy approach (early & late in the day are peak times for this). 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 method down the trout’s throat when it’s not the proper choice, you are heading for poor results and 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-drifttwitching, 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.

It pays to 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. If you are on the water during hatching activity, 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 & Isonychia 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, and Blue Winged Olives like medium to slow with gravel. Mayfly spinners usually do their thing over riffles.

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 optimal for this, but it can catch trout on a variety of water types.

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 & #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 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:
The Farmington is dropping and medium to medium-high with a 521cfs total flow at 8am in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R). The Still River is currently responsible for 83cfs of that flow – it dumps in a little below the Rt 20 bridge in Riverton. The Still River runs warmer (60s and well into the 70s on hot sunny days) than the water from the dam this time of year. The East Branch has been cut back and is down to 25cfs- it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. Riverton water temp was 64 degrees at 8am Monday, and it reached a high of 66 in the late afternoon. It will rise a little during the day, and be coldest in the early mornings. If you go far enough downriver (e.g. Collinsville/Canton), you may see afternoon water temps hit or exceed 70 degrees, so be aware of water temps and choose your section according to the air temps & time of day. Generally you want to start your day at your farthest downriver locations in the morning, and work your way upstream to stay in optimal water temps. Better for the trout, and better for your catching.

*Isonychia #10-12: typically late afternoon through dusk, fast water

*Tricos #22-26: early/mid morning hatch/spinner fall- spinner fall is main event

*Summer Stenos/Light Cahills #12-20: evening hatch & spinner fall
-Sulfur #16-18: afternoons/eves, spinner fall at dusk- only upriver above Still River in Riverton
-Assorted Caddis #14-20 (especially tans & olive/greens): morning to afternoon hatch, evening 
*Terrestrials #12-24: Beetles & Ants: great in afternoons & non-hatch times
-Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s) #18-22- esp. on cloudy/overcast cooler days
-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, sometimes go later
-Midges #20-28: anytime, all year
-Parachute Adams #12-24: imitates many, many different bugs from Iso’s to Olives

-Caddis Pupa #14-16- tan, olive/green
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #12-18
-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs
-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 #10-14: fast water, can also use Princes & Pheasant Tails
-Olive Nymphs #16-20: anytime, common bug during Behavioral Drift (first & last light) & rainy days
-Sulfur Nymphs #14-18 (do double duty as a Yellow Sally- they are active August/September)
-Fox Squirrel Nymph #12-14 (can also pass as a Yellow Sally)
-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
-Midges/Zebra Midges#16-22: olive, black (black Zebras can imitate Trico nymphs)
-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

-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