Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Tuesday 9/28/21 Farmington River Report: back to normal

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. 

Despite tougher fishing lately, some really nice fish have gotten caught. Check out this 22 ¾” wildbrown up top that Zach nailed on Sunday afternoon, on helluva fish. Right time, right place, right presentation, right fly. The river is back down to normal flows now, but check out the beauty Mike Andrews nailed in high water Friday in the second pic-well done!

Recently we received big fly tying material orders fromWapsi 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 Fallstreamers. 

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”. 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 (tiedpersonally 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.

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...

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. 

The Farmington River has come back down to a moderate, very fishable flow. I though they would bump the flow up for a few days after the weekend to get Colebrook reservoir down a bit after last weeks rain, but so far it looks like they are going to keep it where it is. The total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release/C&R is currently 339cfs, (Riverton is 221cfs below the dam, and the Still River is adding in 118cfs). The East Branch is running 50cfs (comes in 3/8 mile below UpCountry). It’s finally feeling like Fall, with cooler, crisper air temps that will be no higher than the mid 60s starting Wednesday, with nights all down into the 40s. This will definitely help cool the river down. Even seeing splashes of the beginning of Fall foliage color. 

Weekend fishing reports were overall slow, with just about everybody working very hard for every fish. Despite that, a some very nice fish were caught. Zach said the big 22.75” one he got at the top of this report was a bite window during an afternoon Isonychia hatch, caught on a Iso-type nymph. He also knew the location of the fish. While fishing has been a grind lately for everyone and the bug activity has been light, with true Fall weather & temps here now things should start to turn around and begin to pick up each week. As water temps drop, you should also see insect activity increase. And as the bugs get more active, the trout will feed more. Hatches have been light but include Isonychia, small Blue Winged Olives (cloudy days), Caddis (mostly tan/brown), and Midges. Also small Flying Ants have been on the water some days. 

Lately successful anglers have been mostly fishing subsurface with nymphs, streamers, and wets. If we don’t get any more big rains, you should see hatching pick up and hopefully some rising trout soon. Streamers are good, especially if you are looking for bigger fish, as brown trout are pre-spawn and getting more aggressive. They normally start spawning in the Farmington in mid/late October. Some yellow in your Fall streamers can be very effective, whether they are all yellow or two-tone (brown/yellow, olive/yellow, etc.). 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). 

Nymphs imitating the bugs in the above paragraphs will be a good choice, along with bigger #8-10 Stones (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, but downstream below the Still River water temps have been cooler, averaging low/mid 60s- all these temps will drop over the next few weeks. Cooler temps and cooler nights have the Still currently running cooler than the dam release, plus cool nights drop the river temps down more as you move further below the dam. Overall I’d expect better fishing downstream (due to better water temps) of 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 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 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. Fall means the days are getting shorter & cooler, the intensity of the sun is decreasing, and the nights are longer and colder. All good things in terms of trout fishing and water temps. As the surface water in the reservoirs cool off in early Fall 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 into the upper 60s 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 colder nights, followed by a cloudy day, especially if the daytime highs are lower also. 

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 Iso-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 (5x at the lightest), 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.

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. We rent it through the end of October, and then we close it up until April.

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, nymphs, 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 days can see a great hatch one day, followed by a poor hatch the next. 

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 medium at 339cfs this morning- 221cfs from the dam in Riverton, and 118cfs from the Still River.The East Branch was reduced from 75 to 50cfs, it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. Riverton water temp at the Rt 20 bridge was 66 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 early Fall and water temps are typically cooler downriver of the Still, especially after a cooler night, typically down into the low/mid 60s lately but will drop more with the cooler weather moving in (highs 60s/lows 40s).

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

-Flying Ants #18-24: look for milder/sunny days, especially the day after some rain
-Assorted Caddis #14-22 (especially tans/browns #16-18): morning hatch, late afternoon/evening 
-Yellow Sally Stonefly#14-18: Sulfur nymphs imitate these quite well
-Terrestrials #12-24: Beetles & Ants: good in afternoons & non-hatch times
-Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s) #20-26- 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 mostly)
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16
-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs from Isonychia to BWOs, and also smaller Stoneflies
-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