Friday, August 13, 2021

Friday 8/13/21 Farmington River Report: keep an eye on water temps

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. 

No fish pics today, most of my go-to anglers & guides have been giving Farmington trout a break during this heat wave (it ends after today). I screen shotted the USGS water temp gauge that’s located at the Riverton Rt 20 bridge.

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

Check out the sale bin in the fly tying area, we have a TON of dry fly necks we picked up as part of a huge fly tying collection that we are still processing. These items are for in store purchase only, so please don't call or message us about them, just stop by in person and check them out. 

We are on the last day of a brutal 3 day heat wave with highs over 90 every day, and nights only down into the low 70s. This breaks on Saturday with a high of 83 and a low of 58- much better. Fishing is VERY limited right now due to water temps and this will improve a little Saturday with highs 10 degrees cooler, but Sunday should be a lot better after the cool night down into the 50s. Total flow is 537cfs this morning (454 from the dam, and 83 from the Still River). If you start at first light, don’t go further downstream than the permanent TMA/Catch & Release, you can fish until late morning and then you need to go way upstream to Riverton- above the Still River, from about the Rt 20 bridge up to the dam. Focus on the faster, more oxygenated water- more oxygen for the trout & better fishing. Ideally have a thermometer and take water temps throughout the day, and if water temps get above 69 degrees or so, either move up by the dam or knock off for the day.

Don’t fish for trout in water that is 70 degrees or higher, it is a stressful temp for them (not enough dissolved oxygen in warmer water). Riverton temps by the Rt 20 bridge (Riverton Self Storage/Hitchcock) have been anywhere from 67 in the early AM to 69.5 degrees in mid/late afternoon. The gauge is about 2 miles below the dam, last I knew the water was coming out of the dam about 65 degrees and then warming both as you go downstream, and as you get into the afternoons (due to sunshine & hot air temps). 15 Day Forecast looks much better with highs averaging upper 70s/low 80s, and nights mostly upper 50s/low 60s. Still need to keep an eye on water temps though as it’s late Summer, the time of year we see the highest water temps on the Farmington. Get a thermometer!!!

A word about how to properly take the water temp with a thermometer, how temps change during the day during hot weather, and what this means to the trout. Always take the temp where there is decent current, and make sure to shade the thermometer with your body. Otherwise you won’t get a true reading- it will read higher than the water the trout are holding in. Lowest temps will be at first light, and the highest temps will be in late afternoon around 4pm’ish. Cloudy days will see smaller temp increases, and hot/sunny ones will see the biggest increases. The closer to the dam you are, the lower the water temps. Optimal for trout is 50-65 degrees, and in my experience & from what I’ve read it okay to target trout until the water temps hit about 70. At that point the oxygen levels in the water begin to drop, and as water temps go up from there trout become increasingly stressed from lack of oxygen. Catching trout in overly warm water can dramatically up their stress level, and potentially kill them. In water that’s in the low/mid 70s, trout may move to faster/broken water where there is more dissolved oxygen and they are more comfortable. If it goes over 75 and stays high, they will typically migrate in search of colder water (springs, cooler tributaries, below bottom release dams, etc.). If it gets over 80 and stays there, that is typically a lethal level if they have to stay in it for any significant period of time. This is for Browns & Bows, for Brook Trout you can subtract about 5 degrees for all these temps.

This time of year use the heaviest tippet that you can get away with, and play the trout as hard as you dare & land them fast. Keep them in the water and release them quickly, no 30 second out-of-the-water “hero shot” photo sessions please. No 8x tippet!!! Fishing ridiculously light tippet when water temps are creeping up forces you to baby the trout and play them too long, and that can literally kill them. A long (4’+) 6x tippet will usually get the job done, 7x at the lightest (and only with the smallest driesin slow water where you can land the fish faster). With bigger dries such as Isonychia & foam bugs you can use 5x no problem. For nymphing 5x-6x is fine. I would not venture further downstream than the permanent TMA/Catch & Release, and probably only in the mornings, and then I’d work my way upriver to cooler water by the dam. This is easier on the trout, and will also give you a better shot at catching trout.

Bug hatching activity lately has been overall slow, and those waiting to “match the hatch” have been struggling. Overall fishing has noticeably slowed down, and this is typical for late Summer & rising water temps- expect to work for your fish. Midday has been the slowest, mornings are the longest bite window,and you often get a brief flurry of activity right at dark.A better dry fly tactic has been to blind fish the faster, choppy, riffly water withIsonychia imitations, bigger foam bugs, and terrestrials (especially ants & beetles). You can do Dry/Dropper with a small weighted nymph 1-2’ underneath, or you can just fish a single dry fly by itself. Don’t wait for a hatch, just blind fish likely looking water, and don’t skip the shallow riffles.

Nymphing the faster water & fishing wets/soft hackles in the riffles are higher percentage tactics. For nymphs pair of flies with abigger bug like a #8-10 Stonefly or an Iso-type nymph #12-14 (can also be bigger Pheasant Tails/Frenchyor a Prince Nymph) with a smaller #16-20 Mayfly nymph (PT, Hare’s Ear, BWO, etc.)or #16 Caddis Pupa. Fish big Stones in the mornings, and Isos from late morning ‘till dark. If you are using wets, use 2-3 at a time, fished on tag-end droppers, 20-30” apart. Mix up the patterns & sizesto 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 IFyou actually listen. For wets I recommend tippet around 4x, as the hits can be HARD. Also, keep your rod tip up to help prevent break-offs. 

If you are intent on fishing “the hatch”, focus on early/mid morning, and dusk to dark & beyond. The hotter it is out, the closer to dark the evening fishing will happen.This is also a goodtime to Mouse after dark- keep your mousing leaders short & heavy (6-7.5’, 0x-2x). Potential morning bugs includes Tricos & Summer/Winter Caddis. The spinner fall is the main even with Tricos, and it occurs whenair temps are in the upper 60s. You will see balls of spinners massing in the air above riffles. Tricos will average a #24, give or take a hook size. Not sure if the Tricos are all the way upriver yet, they started recently. Midges #20-32 are always a possibility at just about any time of day, and are often responsible for flat water sippers that feed when there are no visible bugs. Isonychia #10-14 are sporadically hatching, and you can definitely blind fish imitation of them and bring fish up- don’t wait for a hatch, just throw them in the riffles. Cloudy days can see small Blue Winged Olives. Evenings at dusk will often see #12-16 (sometimes smaller) Light Cahills/Summer Stenos. Overall the hatching has been very light of late, so don’t go out expecting hatching activity like you saw in May, June & July- it’s Summertime. 

Definitely into that time of year when dries imitating terrestrial insects are a good choice, especially midday on warm/hot sunny days when insect hatches are often slowto non-existent. 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 limitedsummertime 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. 

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. 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 July 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. 

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. 

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, and also rainy/overcast days- if flows rise & discolor, even better for streamer fishing. 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, a mild cloudy day will often produce some of the better fishing.

Wet Fly Tips: this is a good 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.

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. I’m predicting they will be big sellers in 2021. 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 medium/medium-high at 537cfs total flow & slowly dropping at 8am on Friday 8/13 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 currently runs warmer (well into the 70s on hot sunny days) than the water from the dam this time of year. Riverton USGS gauge is reading 454cfs. The East Branch has been cut way back and was down to 25cfs last I knew- it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. Riverton water temp was 67 degrees this morning, it will rise a little during the day, and be lowest in the early mornings. As you go downriver (e.g. the permanent TMA/Catch & Release) & below, you can see afternoon water temps exceed 70 degrees on hot/sunny days, 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 #10-14: typically late afternoon through dusk, fast water
-Assorted Caddis #14-22 (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) #20-24- 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 #12-14: fast water, can use Princes & Pheasant Tails too
-Olive Nymphs #16-20: anytime, common bug during Behavioral Drift (first & last light) & rainy days
-Sulfur Nymphs #14-18: can also imitate Yellow Sally Stoneflies
-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 chang-up to natural/imitative flies
*Midges/Zebra Midges#16-22: olive, black (black ones 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