Friday, October 29, 2021

Friday 10/29/21 Farmington River Report: high flows and T&T rods

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. 

Up top is Zach’s client Jeff Valus with a tank from this morning, one of two- I’ll post the other on the next report. Second is a recent beauty that Alexis landed while being guided by Derrick. Third down is a very nice brown Jeff Weisman caught this week. 

Big T&T order arrived this week, now we are well stocked in Contact II’s in all the 3 weights (10’, 10’ 9”, and 11’ 2”),  the 10' 9" #4, but still waiting on the #2s. We also have some Paradigms, certain Zones, and the Exocett SS streamer rods from 160 grain (5/6) all the way up to 350 grain (9/10)- they are excellent!

Local guide Mark Swenson is doing a Beginner Fly Tying class (clickable link) on Sunday November 21st- see our Classes, News & Reviews page for details. Please contact Mark directly ASAP if you want to sign up for this class, space is limited to 4P. 

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 is fivef ish, 9”. If you see anyone keeping fish illegally, 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 always sell 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 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...

I’ll try to keep this short & sweet (not my forte...haha): flows are way up, and we have about 1.5” of rain predicted for tonight & tomorrow (on top of about 3” we received Monday), with the brunt of it falling on Saturday. This will further push the already high flows up even more. They bumped the dam release from 369cfs up to 750cfs Thursday, and will likely maintain this higher release well into next week until they get Colebrook River Lake down. The USGS gauge at the dam is readin805cfs, and the Still River is adding in another 261cfs for a total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) of 1,066cfs. AM Riverton water temp is 59 degrees.The rain Saturday will raise the Still River and blow the river out. So far two guide boats are out floating the river today (Friday morning), this is a great level for floating, but not so much for wading. I’d use 1,000cfs total flow as a general cutoff for wading anglers, unless you are hardcore and know the river very well. With Riverton at 800cfs+, there is no advantage to fishing Riverton, and in fact due to the narrower width up there, at that flow there aren’t many fishable spots in Riverton.

This is probably peak foliage week. The rain/wind in early to mid week certainly knocked some leaves down unfortunately, but with everything being late this year there are still trees with mostly green leaves on them, and still lots of great foliage. I suspect that even into early November there will still be a decent amount of pretty color. 

Higher flows push the trout near the banks, out of the heavier current. High water is also the time to fish bigger and/or gaudier flies: streamers, big stonefly nymphs, and “Junk Flies” (Mops, Eggs, Worms, Green Weenies). Almost every big trout you’ve seen posted here the past 2 months has been caught on one of those flies. With the impending spawn, if you are nymphing with a pair of nymphs in the near future, make sure one of them is an egg! Don’t walk out knee or crotch deep and start fishing, because if you do that you likely just spooked all the catchable trout hanging near the bank to get out of the heavier currents. 

PSA on trout spawning, Redds & ethics:

The spawn ilate and has not yet started, but the trout are on the cusp of spawning, literally any dayThey are paring up, nipping at each other, swimming around, and have moved into spawning areas. They will dig redds (light colored circular depressions) in shallower gravelly areas such as side channels, pool tailouts & riffles, and then the males & females will pair up and lay eggs there. Please don’t fish to actively spawning trout on redds, just let them do their thing and make more wild trout, they will be done spawning soon enough. Plus it’s not really sporting or ethical, and the spawning trout are already stressed due to the whole spawning process. And far more important, don’t step on the redds, or the first 10 or so feet downstream from them- many of the eggs drift downstream of the redds. If you step on the eggs, you crush them and kill future wild trout. They won’t hatch out until roughly February, so watch where you step! In deeper water well downstream of the redds, there will be non-spawning trout feeding on the loose eggs drifting downstream.

The fishing for the stocked ‘Bows in New Hartford between the Rt 219 bridge and the Rt 44 Satan’s Kingdom bridge has been productiveprior to this high waterwith anglers landing some big fat fish. Anglers in other river sections have worked harder to catch holdover & wild fish, but the fishing is slowly improving, and typically best early & late in the day and during brief random bite windows that are hard to predict. Due to above average flows and moderate insect activity, it has been predominately a subsurface deal this Fall with a few exceptionsOlives & Caddis are the main bugs/hatches. Browns are aggressive due to the impending spawn. Streamers, big Stones& Junk Flies are doing most of the damage on the browns. The reservoirs haven’t turned over yet (soon), but water temps are good, averaging in the mid 50s to low 60s depending upon the section and time of day. Downstream water temps are cooler due to water chilling overnight, combined with cooler water coming in from the tributaries. This is probably peak week for foliage, but of course the rain/wind this week knocked a lot of leaves down.

Fishing is slowly improving, and most anglers are still working for a few bites unless they are over recent stockersThe exception has been when anglers encounter “bite window” and the fish mysteriously turn on for a brief period of time.The FRAA recent stocking has certainly improved the fishing in the 2 miles New Hartford Rt 219 Bridge downstream to Rt 44 Satan’s Kingdom bridge section- they stocked a good number of 12-16” Bows, and each spot got 5-10 bigger ones in the 18”+ range. In late September CT Fisheries stocked the lower river, and I heard a report that the MDC stocked in Riverton in October. FYI the permanent Catch & Release (C&R) only gets stocked once a year in April, and always has a high density of trout (even when you aren’t catching them haha). As the water temps continue to drop and the trout start spawning, I expect the fishing for holdover & wild trout to pick up. Spawning creates a very good egg bite. Eggs are currently catching some trout, but when the trout actually start spawning and dropping eggs (any day now), then the egg bite gets hot for a while. And recently stocked trout love egg flies & Junk Flies (Mops, Eggs, Worms) in general. The bigger trout of late are mostly coming on streamers fished slow & deep. In terms of catching the recently stocked trout, think small to medium size streamers like Woolly Bugger & Zuddlers, and also Junk Flies, Hare’s Ears, and Frenchies (and other nymphs with florescent hot spots).

Unless you have rising trout, stick subsurface with nymphs & streamers.When total flows get down to 300cfs & less (will they ever?? haha) you will be more apt to see rising trout. In fact in general the lower a river is, the more likely you are to see dry fly action. And of course you need hatches to get the fish looking up. Some of the bigger, wider, slower pools like Church Pool can be the exception where fish will rise at almost any flow. The best bug activity overall has been the last 1-2 hours of daylight, mostly #16-18 tan/brown Caddis with a few #8-12 Giant October Caddis mixed in. You may have Caddis in the late morning/early afternoon too. We’re also seeing #18-24 Blue Winged Olives and sporadic #12-1Isonychia some daysMidges are a possibility 365 days a year.

The water is coming out of the dam in the low/mid 60sand then cools as it flows downriver depending upon air temps and sunshine (or lack thereof). The USGS flow & temps gauges are 2 miles below the dam at the Rt 20 Riverton bridge. Ithas been cooler downstream (as much as 4-5 degrees lower) away from the dam due to overnight cooling (nights averaging in the 30s) and the tributaries running cooler than the Farmington River.

Overall the most successful flies lately have beevarious streamers, big#6-10 Stoneflies,Junk Flies” (Mops, Squirmies, Eggs), or hot-spot nymphs in the #14-18 range (Frenchies, Sexy Waltz, etc.)For streamers you can do standard single hook patterns such as Woolly Buggers, Zuddlers, Zonkers, etc., just play around with colors & retrieves until you crack the code for that day. Use bigger 4-6" articulated patterns to catch less but potentially bigger trout, it’s definitely that time of year. Spawning gets the big trout very aggressive toward larger streamers.

Insect activity is modest and seems to be mid/late afternoon through dusk most days, but every day is different. Be aware that the October Iso’s are smaller, in the #12-16 range, and hatches have been very light. Subsurface is typically the way to go, unless you see rising trout. Splashy more aggressive rises in faster water likely indicate Caddis or Isonychia, subtle/gentle rises in softer water probably mean Blue Winged Olives. Nymphs & streamers will be the most consistent in October if fish aren’t rising (which is most of the time, especially when flows are up). The upcoming spawn is making the brown trout & brook trout more aggressive toward streamers, especially early and late in the day during lower light. Play with colors, retrieves, presentation angles, etc. 

When the surface of the reservoir gets down into the low/mid 50s, the upper layer becomes denser and as it sinks to the bottom the lake will flip/turn-over and the water will start coming out of the dam in the 50s. 

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). 

If you are using wet flies/soft hackles, 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. If the trout seem to be plastered to the bottom, use a weighted point fly on the end to get your rig down- a tungsten soft hackle Pheasant Tail or Hare’s Ear works well for this. 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.

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 a while 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 at 1,066cfs this morning- 805cfs from the dam in Riverton, and 261cfs from the Still River. The East Branch was 25cfs last I knew, but they may have bumped it up- it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. Riverton water temp at the Rt 20 bridge was 59 degrees this morning, it peaked at 60 yesterday afternoon. Riverton temps will rise a little during the day, and be lowest in the early mornings. The Still River becomes a cooling influence in October and water temps are typically as much as 4-5 degrees cooler downriver of the Still, especially after a cold night.

*Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s) #18-24: especially on cloudy/overcast days
*Tan/Brown Caddis #16-18 
-Giant October Caddis (Pycnopsyche) #8-12: a few (sparse hatch), later in the day

-Isonychia #12-16: typically mid afternoon through dusk, fast water, light/sporadic hatch
-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: Iso’s, Olives, Midges, Caddis

-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
-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 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