Friday, September 24, 2021

Friday 9/24/21 Farmington River Report: rain is done

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 vaccinated. If 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. 

Prior to this rain some nice fish got caught, but it’s definitely been a quality over quantity deal lately. Up top is a very nice brown by Steve Hogan. Next down is a solid rainbow by local artist extraordinaire Jim DeCesare. 

Recently we received big fly tying material orders from Wapsi Hareline, including 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 Fall 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 177 bridge in the center of Unionville. Below the Rt 177 Unionville Bridge it isfivefish, 9”. If you see anyone keeping fish don’t confront them, just call 1-800-842-HELP and report the violation to the CT DEEP.

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 alwayssell outfast. 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 tothe 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 nymphsin 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 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. 

It’s a wet one as I write this Friday morning. We got a slug of rain overnight (prob 2+ inches), it’s winding down as I write this report this morning. Definitely is going to push the Still River up quite a bit, fortunately the Still drops fast once the rain stops. Just got the word from the MDC, they are NOT going to increase the dam release for the weekend, they are going to actually reduce it by 100cfs, going from 302cfs down to 202cfs- it is reading higher than that 2 miles downstream at the USGS gauging station. Flows are currently quite high in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release/C&R at 1,177cfs & rising, Riverton above the Still River is 538cfs but will be lower this afternoon after the flow cut reaches the flow gauge & runoff subsides (2 brooks up in Riverton that run off quickly). The Still River is 639cfs & rising, and the East Branch is running 75cfs (comes in 3/8 mile below UpCountry).

The river above the Still will be fishable today, even after this big rain. As things drop & clear downriver, the permanent TMA/C&R will likely be high but fishable Saturday afternoon, or by Sunday at the latest. Fishing reports prior to this have been on the slow side, more of a quality over quantity deal, with most anglers (even the good ones!) working for each trout. Hatches have been light but include Isonychia, small Blue Winged Olives, Caddis (tan/brown), and tiny Midges. Also small Flying Ants have been on the water some days. 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. They normally start spawning in the Farmington in mid/late October. At these higher flows, don’t expect much dry fly action (exception: possibly Church Pool & Beaver Pool). 

It’s probably going to be a Junk Fly & streamer kinda weekend. Junk Flies include Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Egg Flies, and Green Weenies. Various medium to large streamers will also be good choices. Some yellow in your Fall streamers can be very effective. Also make sure to try some flashy streamers, some days they are the ticket (think about how effective flashy spoons & spinners are for spin fishermen). Riverton can dirty slightly after a big rain, but usually clears up within a few hours after the rain stops. The Still River will make the river go off color from it’s junction and downstream (it drops in about ¼ mile below the Rt 20 bridge in Riverton by Riverton Self Storage/Hitchcock), but should drop & clear somewhat by Saturday, and quite a bit more by Sunday. 

Advice below applies once the river drops & clears:
Nymphs imitating the bugs in the above paragraphs 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 mid/upper 60s, 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 stillin 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 limitedavailability 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 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 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 very high at1,177cfsthis morning- 538cfs from the dam in Riverton, and 639cfs from the Still River.The East Branch it 75cfs, it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. They are cutting the dam release by 100cfs this morning, and and it will also drop more as the 2 brooks up there run off quickly today. The Still River will peak this afternoon and start to drop today, and should be down quite a bit by Sunday. Riverton water temp at the Rt 20 bridge was 66.5 degrees this morning. 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 #16-18): morning hatch, late afternoon/evening 
-Yellow Sally #14-18: Sulfur nymphs imitate these quite well
*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 slowing, use a weighted fly (e.g. Soft Hackle Hare’s Ear/Pheasant Tail) on the end 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