Monday, September 20, 2021

9/20/21 Farmington River Report: Flow update/changes for Mon 9/20 & Tues 9/21

Our NEW store hours as of 9/7/21:

Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday 8am-5pmWe are now open only until 5pm every day and will be on that schedule through March. Per 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. 

A few nice fish pics for ya:

Up top is Derrick (CT Fish Guides) with a very respectable brown. 2nd down is guide Steve Hogan with a really pretty brown, and last but not least is frequent flyer Mike Andrews with a good one caught after dark. 

We just got in a big Wapsi order the end of last week, and we also recently received a very large Hareline fly tying materials order that includes a PILE of Coq de Leon (CDL) for doing tails, especially on Euro style nymphs. It’s been in short supply in 2021 but we are in great shape with 5 different CDL colors/variations. Also a stack of Cliff Bugger Barn fly boxes so you have a place to put your big streamers. 

As of 9/1/21, the entire upper 21 miles of the Farmington River is Catch & Release until Opening Day in April 2022. This covers from the dam in Riverton, downstream to the Rt 177bridge in the center of Unionville. Below the Rt 177 Unionville Bridge it isfivefish, 9”. 

Bunch of cool Rich Strolis streamers (tied personally by the man himself) arrived recently: 8 different sets of articulated streamers (4 patterns, 2 color variations in each)to cover a variety of Fall conditions. Come check ‘em out before they are all gone, his flies always sell out fast. Medium to large streamers (3-5”) fished properly, especially in the Fall, can result in hooking some of the largest trout in any river. Browns & Brookies get extra aggressive due to the impending spawn. Even after they spawn, they are hungry due to spawning weight loss, and continue to be aggressive towards streamers.

Take a look when you come in the store, or go to 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 cool.

Antoine’s Perdigon nymphs in a wide variety of colors, weights & sizes are 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 stuffwe 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. 

Sorry for the lack of report updates, I was on vacation the past week. From what I hear from friends & guides it’s been quality over quantity. Expect to work for your fish, but don’t be surprised if you hook into better fish. Don’t forget about fishing streamers (especially if you are looking for bigger fish, and who isn’t!), as fish are pre-spawn and getting more aggressive in late September. They normally start spawning in the Farmington in mid/late October. Flows are currently medium (427cfs in permanent TMA/Catch & Release), but above average for today (USGS median flow is 152cfs, which is low). But… be aware that the MDC will be lowering the release on the West Branch down to 50cfs at some point today to accommodate the CT DEEP electrofishing survey on tomorrow, Tuesday 9/21, the Still River is adding in another 59cfs. Flow will go back up late Tuesday PM when they are done surveying the trout. MDC will be increasing the release from the East Brach (comes in 3/8 mile below UpCountry just below the condos & sewage plant) from 150 up to 250cfs during this time period to accommodate the need for water downriver (power generation at Rainbow Dam). While this big flow drop will make for much tougher fishing, it’s also an opportunity to see what your favorite pools & deeper runs look like. It will show you where the ideal holding spots are for when the flow comes back up. Things should be back to normal by Wednesday morning. 

Bugwise I was seeing a mix of Caddis #16-18, Isonychia #12-14, small Blue Winged Olives (BWOs) #20-24 & tiny Midges flying around behind the shop before I went on vacation, and these are still the main players. Overall bug activity has been light to moderate. Add in small Flying Ants #18-24 some days, especially when it’s milder & sunny. Nymphs imitating these bugs will be effective, along with bigger #8-10 Stones in the mornings, and you can also fish #14-18 Sulfur nymphs to imitate Yellow Sally Stoneflies. You can also fish a big foam terrestrial/attractor type bugs and do Dry/Dropper with a small weighted nymph 18-24” below that. Don’t forget about wet flies & soft hackles, they will still work. Riverton water temps above the Still River have been running 66-68.5 degrees, still cool enough to trout fish but not by much. Downstream below the Still River water temps are cooler, averaging low/mid 60s. Cooler temps and cooler nights have the Still currently running cooler than the dam release, plus cool nights cool the river down more as you move further below the dam. Overall I’d expect better fishing downstream (due to better water temps) from the Still River in the permanent C&R/TMA, and even downstream well below that in Canton, Collinsville & Unionville.

Cooler nights and milder days have made the Still River become a (mostly) cooling influence from the point it enters in Riverton & downstream (it joins with the Farmington about ¼ mile below the Rt 20 bridge). The Still River basically reflects the average ambient air temps. Most of the Summer that makes it a warming influence, but in the late Summer/early Fall, as long as it’s cool at night and not too hot during the day it typically runs cooler than the water being released from the dam. In fact after cool nights, the further downstream you go the cooler it currently is. Mornings will continue to see the lowest water temps, and they peak at about 4pm and then slowly drop after that. September means the days are getting shorter, the intensity of the sun is decreasing, and the nights are longer & cooler. All good things in terms of trout fishing & water temps. As the surface water in the reservoirs cool off in late September/early October and the denser/cooler surface water sinks to the bottom, the lakes will flip/turn over and you will see the water coming out of the dam get significantly cooler soon. 

FYI optimal water temps for trout are 50-65 degrees, and it’s perfectly fine to fish for them up to about 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/coolest days will be the ones after the coldest nights well down into the 50s or even 40s, followed by a cloudy day, especially if the daytime highs are in the 60s/low 70s. 

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. 

Nymphing the faster water & fishing wets/soft hackles in the riffles are higher percentage tactics. For nymphs pairabigger 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 Is-type nymphsfrom 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 mornings, and late afternoon untildark. Potential morning bugs includes Summer/Winter Caddis and maybe Midges, as far as I know Tricos are about done, but you may still encounter a few.. 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 #12-14 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 #20-26. 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.

We are definitely still in that time of year when dries imitating terrestrial insects are a good choice, especially midday on warm sunny days when insect hatches are often slow to 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 limited 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. 

A lot of the bigger trout will frequent 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 late Summer/early Fall 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. 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. This is a relaxing way to fish, and a good break from technical flat water dry fly fishing and the intense concentration of nymphing. 

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. 

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:
Total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release is 427cfs on Monday morning 9/20, but… they will be cutting the release in stages down to 50cfs at some point today so the DEEP can electroshock the TMA/C&R and sample the trout population Tuesday morning and afternoon. They will put the flow back up later Tuesday when they are done. The East Branch will be raised from 150 to 250cfs to accommodate downriver water needs for power generation at Rainbow Dam during this time period- the East Branch comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. Riverton water temp at the Rt 20 bridge was 66 degrees this morning, it peaked at 68.5 degrees yesterday afternoon. Riverton temps will rise a little during the day, and be lowest in the early mornings. As long as temps stay cooler (and they are), the Still River becomes a cooling influence in September and water temps are typically cooler downriver of the Still, especially after a cooler night, typically down into the low/mid 60s.

*Isonychia #12-14: typically late afternoon through dusk, fast water

*Flying Ants #18-24: look for warmer/sunny days, especially the day after some rain
-Assorted Caddis #14-22 (especially tans/browns): morning hatch, late afternoon/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
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16
-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs from Isonychia to BWOs
-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: works to 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 change-up to natural/imitative flies after you fish through
-Midges/Zebra Midges#16-22: olive, black, red
-Attractor Nymphs #14-20: 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

-if fishing is slow, use a weighted fly (e.g. Soft Hackle Hare’s Ear/Pheasant Tail) on the end/point to get your flies deeper

*Rich Strolis articulated streamers: Headbanger, Masked Avenger, Alter Ego & Dumpster Diver
-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