Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Tuesday 8/17/21 Farmington River Report: be smart & use your thermometer

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. 

Up top is a nice one by Mike Andrews- keeping them wet is a good idea this time of year (actually any time of year). Next down is good looking brown by Richie Mendez, caught after dark.

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. Ahhh, 2021...

Check out the sale bin in the fly tying area, we have a lot 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 have a PILE of used fly reels in the case here at Upcountry, the most we've ever had. Many 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.

We continue in Summer Mode. This means expect to work for your fish, and you should focus on the optimal times of the day. Your longest bite window is in the early to mid mornings, when water temps are lowest. Total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) is about 470cfs, historical median/normal for today’s date is about 270cfs. If you are nymphing or blind-fishing dries, focus on the faster water. You may see Trico spinner falls over the riffles when air temps are about 68 degrees, and Summer/Winter Caddis are a possibility in the early to mid morning. Tricos have been spotty, good in certain spots some days, and not happening on others. There is also a brief window of hatching & dry fly action right at dusk/dark. This means you want to choose your river section carefully, according to water temps, air temps, and time of day. With water temps running anywhere from 64/65 up to the low 70s depending on the day, time of day, and weather, it’s a very good idea to carry a thermometer and use it throughout the day. This will put you in the best position to catch trout, and also make sure you aren’t stressing the trout out. With the weather cooled down again, highs have been upper 70s to low 80s, and nights have been low 60s and even into the upper 50s. Water is currently coming out the dam at 67.5 degrees, and then cooling or warming as it passes downstream depending upon the time of day & weather. Cooler cloudy days are best of all, and hotter sunny days will see water temp increases as you move away from the dam.

Ironically after a cooler night, the water temps down near the shop in New Hartford and even Canton will be lower than in Riverton due to lower air temps and lack of sun (at night) cooling the water down. But if it’s sunny & warm during the day, by lunchtime or so temps downriver will rise and you will want to move upriver above the Still River (a warming influence), between the Still and the dam where water temps will be upper 60s. Even after a truly cold night, I don’t think I’d start downriver in the early/mid mornings further than Canton, as once you go down into Collinsville/Unionville, there is a warming influence from the two low dams in Collinsville. The ultimate answer is take water temps with a thermometer and that will tell you if it’s okay to fish or you need to go upriver- look for water temps 69 or less. Focus on the faster, more oxygenated water- more oxygen for the trout & better fishing. FYI optimal water temps for trout are 50-65, but you can certainly have good trout fishing well below those temps, and even a little above that. However please don’t fish for trout in water that is 70 degrees or warmer, as that will stress them and even has the potential to kill them. Warmer water holds less oxygen, and that is the issue, not the warmer water per se. That’s why trout will move into faster, more oxygenated water in the Summertime.

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 in the afernoons this time of year.

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. If you take pics, endeavor to keep the trout in the water, and don’t lift them out of it for more than 5-10 seconds (perferably not at all!). And no 8x tippet either!!! 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. 

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. I call this the “Summer Doldroms”.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, give you a higher hooking percentage, and animate your flies better.

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. 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 imitationsof 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- use a cream colored dry such as a Cahill, White Wulff, or cream Usual. 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.

We are 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 mid/late Summer 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: 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, 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 according to many experienced Euro nymphers. I’ve fished mine for more than 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 471cfs total flow at 8am on Tuesday 8/17 in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R). The Still River is responsible for 31 cfs of the flow there– 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 440cfs. The East Branch is down to zero cfs- it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. Riverton water temp was 67 degrees this morning, it peaked at 69 degrees yesterday afternoon. Riverton temps 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 hatch, evening 
*Terrestrials #12-24: Beetles & Ants: good 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) #16
-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 to imitate them 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