Friday, November 19, 2021

Friday 11/19/2021 Farmington River Report: things are picking up

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. 

Derrick’s client Chris up top with an impressive Farmington River brown trout. Next pic is Steve Hogan’s client Tony with a rainbow that was caught with a decent number of other trout. Third down is local artist extraordinaire Jim DeCesare with a nice brownine. Last pic is an example of what a trout redd looks like (it’s where they lay their eggs)- please avoid fishing these light colored gravelly areas, and definitely don’t walk on or just below them or you will destroy the eggs. Read down below a ways for a PSA on redds, spawning, and ethics. 

Only 1 spot left in Farmington guide Mark Swenson’s Beginner Fly Tying course on Sunday 12/12 from 9:30am-4pm. Class is limited to 4P, so call Mark directly at 203-586-8007to sign up. For details on the class go to our “Classes, News & Reviews” page on our website.

Dick Sablitz whipped up some “Heavy Hare’s Ear Soft Hackles” with tungsten beads for us. Great point fly to use in a multi wet fly rig to get your other wets/soft hackles down deep, or use in a tandem Euro Nymphing rig.

Big T&T orders arrived recently, now we are well stocked in Contact II’s in all the 3 weights (10’, 10’ 9”, and 11’ 2”, but still waiting on the #2s, #4s & #6s), and have some Paradigms, a better selection of Zones, and the Exocett SS streamer rods from 160 grain (5/6) all the way up to 350 grain (9/10)- they are excellent for tossing big meat for trophy Fall brown trout! 

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 five fish, 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.

Flows remain about the same, but the fishing continues to improve. Don’t let the above average flows scare you away, as we are very fishable and the trout are biting- just pick your spots carefully and fish the current seems off the heavier flow. The milder temps yesterday got some more anglers out, and we got some good reports on nymphs (especially egg flies) and streamers. The best patterns overall are still mostly Egg flies, streamers, Junk Flies, and Stonefly nymphs. Various hot spot nymphs (Frenchies, Sexy Waltz, etc.) can be good to pair up with a Junk Fly. Total flow is moderately high but fishable for sure at just over 700cfs (456cfs at USGS Riverton gauge, plus 253cfs from the Still River). The East Branch is still 300cfs as far as I know (E. Branch comes in a little downstream of UpCountry)- this means you want to stay above the junction with the East Branch. AM water temp today is 51 degrees, it peaked at 52.5 degrees yesterday afternoon. Unionville USGS is reading 1,300cfs. 

Talking with the guides & customers, it seems like the bulk of the spawn already happened unseen during the previous high to very high flows in early November- spawned out trout are showing up in angler catches of late. There will still be smaller numbers of spawning trout, I’ve see them spawning as late as the second week of January! But probably about 90% of them have already spawned at this point. Watch out for their redds (light colored patches on the gravel) and don’t step ON or RIGHT BELOW them (you’ll crush the eggs).

Cooler November air & water temps means that generally there is no need to start early, and many days the better fishing will be afternoon until dusk when water temps rise- this is typical for late Fall, Winter & early Spring. Water temps moving TOWARD 60 degrees tends to turn trout on, and as temps move AWAY from 60 degrees it tends to shut feeding down. Even though 50-65 degrees water temps are “optimal” for trout, the direction of temp changes have more to do with creating a good bite than the actual absolute temp. Having said that, there can be a first light bite, even when air & water temps are cold. Subsurface tactics with nymphs & streamers are still where it’s at. 

In terms of nymphs think Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Worms), and big Stoneflies. Try also nymphs with hot spots (Frenchies, Sexy Waltz, etc.). Various single-hook & articulated streamers are having their moments, experiment with colors and retrieves. Some of the better colors have been white, brown, brown & yellow, olive, and all yellow. If you simply have to throw a dry fly, check out Church Pool, seems like there’s usually a few risers there almost no matter what the conditions are. Small Olives #24-28 are the November glamour hatch, although you may still see a few tan/brown Caddis #16-18 during the warmest part of the day. Midges #20-28 are always a possiblity. Higher flows have greatly diminished the dry fly fishing this Fall.

When flows are up, look for areas where trout can get out of the current: the inside of river bends, spots where the river gets wider (creates soft edges where it widens), and behind bankside obstructions. Skip the faster pocket water and focus on pools, deep runs, and slower/deeper riffles. Extra water usually pushes the trout closer to the banks, out of the heavier flow. Even though the peak of the spawn is behind us, 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:
We are into the tail end of that spawning time of year for brown trout, they started late in 2021. Currently it appears the peak of the spawn is past, but smaller numbers of browns will continue to spawn right into early Winter. Trout will dig redds (light colored circular depressions) in shallower gravelly areas with suitable current 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. Plus it’s not really sporting or ethical, and the spawning trout are alreadystressed due to the whole spawning process (migrating, fighting, digging, etc.). And most important of all, 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. Fishing to actively spawning trout sitting on redds, isn’t cool, but stepping on the eggs is far worse because it is fatal to future wild trout. The eggs won’t hatch out until roughly February (give or take), 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. Ethics is a personal thing that’s nearly impossible to regulate, so at the end of the day it’s up to you. If you are unsure if what you’re doing is unsporting, err on the side of letting the spawning trout do there thing and stay away from them. Certain areas with ideal spawning gravel & flows have concentrations of spawning trout in them right now, I would encourage you to give these areas a wide berth until they are done doing their thing. By late November/early December, 90%+ of the browns will have spawned and you can go back to fishing these areas- just make sure you aren’t wading through redds and crushing eggs.

The fishing for the stocked ‘Bows in New Hartford between the Rt 219 bridge and the Rt 44 Satan’s Kingdom bridge has been productive, with anglers landing some big fat fish. Anglers in other river sections have worked a bit harder to catch the holdover & wild fish, but the fishing is finally improving, and typically best in the afternoon through dusk period- this is the typical “bite window” in the late Fall & Winter (peak/best water temps). Due to above average flows and moderate insect activity, it has been predominately a subsurface deal this Fall with a few exceptions, and from the look of things will likely stay that way for a while. Tiny Olives are the main hatch. Browns can be aggressive toward streamers due to the Fall spawn. Streamers, big Stones & Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmy Worms) are doing most of the damage on the browns. Water temps are averaging in the low to mid 50s 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. 

The FRAA stocking in October has 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 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). Recently stocked trout love egg flies & Junk Flies (Mops, Eggs, Worms) in general. The bigger trout of late are mostly coming on Egg flies and 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).

The water is coming out of the dam is in the low 50s and then cools more 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. It has been cooler downstream (as much as 3-5 degrees lower) away from the dam due to overnight cooling (nights averaging mid 30s this weekend) and the tributaries running colder than the Farmington River.

Effective streamers include 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 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, and even when it’s done they will still whack them due to hunger and the need to put weight back on lost during the spawning process. 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).

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 high but fishable at 708cfs this morning- 456cfs below the dam in Riverton, and 252cfs from the Still River. The East Branch was 300cfs last I knew- it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. Riverton water temp at the Rt 20 bridge was 51 degrees this morning, it peaked at 52.5 yesterday afternoon. Water temps will rise a little during the day, and be lowest in the early mornings. The Still River becomes a cooling influence in the Fall and water temps are typically as much as 3-5 degrees cooler downriver of the Still, especially in the mornings.

*Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s) #22-28: especially on cloudy/overcast days
-Tan/Brown Caddis #16-18: a few, almost over
-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: Olives, Midges, Caddis, etc.

*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
*Stoneflies #6-12: gold/yellow, brown, black
-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.
-Olive Nymphs #16-20: anytime, common bug during Behavioral Drift (first & last light) & rainy days
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16
-Caddis Pupa #14-16 (tan mostly)
-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs from BWOs to Hendricksons, and also smaller Stoneflies
-Antoine's Perdigons #12-20: black, brown, olive, yellow, etc.- back in stock!
-Fox Squirrel Nymph #12-14: great general purpose impressionistic fly
-Cased Caddis #10-14 (especially high water & after flow bumps)
-Midges/Zebra Midges#16-22: olive, black, red

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, and/or fish your rig on an intermediate line or sink-tip/sinking leader.

*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