Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Tuesday 8/31/21 Farmington River Report: cooler weather moves in to stay this week

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. 

Take a look when you come in the store, or take a look at the used page on our website- we put a bunch of Store Demo rods out. We are also totally restocked on Fishpond landing nets, we literally have piles of them now, all different models in every finish available. We also have a good supply of the brand new Nomad Emerger in the limited edition Redband finish- they look really nice. 

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 cool stuff we picked up as part of a huge fly tying collection that we are still processing, and we refill it on a near daily basis. 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 lot of used fly reels in the case here at Upcountry. 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.

No major changes here of late in terms of conditions as of Tuesday morning- the water is coming out of the dam is 68 degrees and will continue at approximately the same temp for another 2-3 weeks or so before it cools down. The CT DEEP is postponing their normal stocking this week for Labor Day weekend due to the warmer water coming out of the dam, and will put the trout in sometime in the near future when water temps drop and stay consistently cooler. On the upside, air temps take a big drop starting Wednesday, with highs 69-74 through the weekend, and lows in the mid/upper 50s. The 15 Day Forecast is also similar, and that’s a damn good thing. This will create the unusual situation where technically it’s still Summer, but the water temps most days (especially in the AM) will be cooler further downstream than the water right below the dam. The water will keep coming out of the dam at 68, even after a cold night, but….. with nights well down into the 50s and mild daytime temps, as you move downstream from the dam (and especially below the Still River), the cooler air temps will lower the morning water temps as you move away from the dam, likely dropping them into the low/mid 60s for most of the day. However, just to be on the safe side (especially on sunny days), I would continue to recommend taking water temps during the day to make sure you aren’t fishing in 70 degree plus water as the water temps rise in the afternoon.

The Still River will actually become a cooling influence with the much colder nights in the forecast, and moderate daytime highs. Weird but true. But as the surface water in the reservoirs cool off in in September and the denser/cooler surface water sinks to the bottom, the lakes will start to flip/turn over and you will begin to see the water coming out of the dam get significantly cooler (probably around 3rd/4th week of September). However bear in mind that we are going to see the remnant of the hurricane pass through our area Wednesday/Thursday, bringing with it about 2-3” of rain, which will obviously raise flows. It will certainly raise the Still River, and may or may not cause them to change the dam release. As flows come down after that (the Still River drops fast), expect to see lower water temps from the Still River and downstream. Mornings will continue to see the lowest water temps, and the colder the night, the lower the AM water temps will be. Peak water temps are always in the mid/late afternoons.

So my advice on whether or not it’s okay to fish? I’ll leave that up to you, just carry a thermometer and please don’t fish for trout in 70+ degree water. Your best bet is still to focus on the mornings when you get the longest window of the coolest water temps. Easier on the trout, and it maximizes your chances of catching trout.It all depends upon water temps, and they should drop by at least several degrees as this weather change moves in. Paradoxically, as far as water temps your best bet will be further downriver, away from the dam, especially in the mornings when there has been maximum chilling of the water. So my advice is: carry a thermometer, look for the coolest water you can find (probably downriver, as in TMA/Catch & Release and below), and if water temps are over about 68 degrees, either find cooler water if you can, or knock off for the day. FYI optimal water temps for trout are 50-65 degrees, and it’s perfectly fine to fish for them up to 68/69 degrees if you play them quickly and keep them in the water. Be aware that fast, broken water has more oxygen in it than the slower pool water does, making faster water your best choice when water temps creep above 65 degrees.Your best days will be the ones after the coldest nights down into the low 50s, followed by a cloudy day, especially if the daytime highs are in the 60s. A few more weeks and the entire river will be fishable all day every day, with no need to worry about water temps. 

FYI the water warming up at the end of the Summer is nothing new, despite what some think. Many is the late Summer that I’ll get afternoon water temps in Church Pool exceeding 70 degrees in the afternoons on hot, sunny days, sometimes peaking as high as 75 degrees (when flows are low and the days are hot & sunny). In an average year, the water coming out of the dam is in the mid 60s (64-65) by mid/late August, and it stays there until the latter part of September when the reservoir finally cools & starts to flip/turn over. I call this the “Summer Doldroms”. It slows the fishing & hatches quite a bit. This warming is due to the cold water at the bottom of the reservoirs running out eventually. This year it happened a little earlier because in a period of 2 weeks they blew out BILLIONS of gallons of water, not your typical July. Normally the warmest it comes out is 65, currently we are about 68 degrees. In early July, the 8am Riverton USGS gauge water temps were low 50s. The temp gauge is located 2 miles down from the dam, by the Rt 20 bridge. Eventually when air temps get significantly cooler and the surface temps in the reservoirs drop well down into the 50s, the cooler/denser water on top will sink to the bottom and the lakes “turn over”/flip. This typically starts in late September. 

The advice below applies asthings cool off enough to fish:

Ironically after a cold night in late August & September, 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. 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 under 69 degrees, preferably even lower. 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. 

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-high at 564cfs total flow at 8am on Tuesday 8/31 in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R). The Still River is responsible for 129cfs of the flow there– it dumps in a little below the Rt 20 bridge in Riverton. Riverton USGS gauge is reading 435cfs. The East Branch is 100cfs last I knew- it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. Riverton water temp was 68.5 degrees this morning, it peaked at 70 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, water temps can be both higher or lower than this, so be aware of water temps and don’t stress the trout out. Much cooler weather moving in Wednesday will cool water temps from where the Still River dump in and downstream from that (water is coming out of dam at 68 degrees, and after a cooler night the temps will be noticeably cooler in the morning as you move downstream from the dam).

*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

-Tricos #22-26: AM spinner fall when air temps hit upper 60s
-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