Friday, November 26, 2021

Friday 11/26/21 Farmington River Report: Streamers, BWOs, and Junk Flies

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. 

Holiday Hours:
Friday through Sunday we 
will be open every day from 8am-5pm like usual.

Up top is Sean Monaghan with a very respectable brown trout. And check out the colored up rainbow by customer Jeff Bridgman. 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. 

New products continue to arrive on a regular basis. Fulling Mill came in,andwe are once again restocked on all their hooks (including the Jig Force Short, Regular & Long), the deadly & popular Slush Eggs (peach, pink), Masked Marauder Stoneflies (golden, black), and Frenchies. In streamers we once again haveBaby Complex Twist Buggers (olive/yellow/brown combo), Schmidt’s Viking Midge (yellow/olive), and Tommy Lynch’s Mini D & D. For your Euro guys, we added in several new Fulling Mill Jigged Streamers with 3.8mm to 4.6mm tungsten beads on them. We also have their new Hopper fly box (it’s blue, not red). Two boxes of Wapsi fly tying materials arrived and are up on the walls now, filled in a lot of holes on things like UTC thread, wires/tinsels, D-Rib, all sorts of dubbings, Bucktails, Silli Legs, flash materials, Pine Squirrel Zonker strips, Rabbit Zonker strips, and much much more. 

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.

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.

The Latest & Greatest:
The TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) 
remain just over 600cfs (moderately high, very fishable), about the same as the previous report. USGS median/normal total flow for today is 371cfs. The East Branch was reduced from 100 down to 80cfs, . AM water temp today in Riverton is 48 degrees, it peaked at 48 degrees yesterday afternoon- downstream water temps will typically be slightly lower, as the dam buffers the water temps. Unionville USGS is reading 815cfs- still kinda high but fishable if you know that section well- if you don’t, stay from New Hartford & upstream, Collinsville/Unionville is big water. Ten Day Forecast is cooler with highs mid 30s to mid 40s, and nights in the 20s- no need to start early, focus on the late morning through dusk period for the best water temps, best fishing, and most comfortable temps. Fished has overall improved quite a bit on the entire river over the past 2-3weeks or so. The fishing for the semi-recently stocked ‘Bows in New Hartford between the Rt 219 bridge and the Rt 44 Satan’s Kingdom bridge has been good (no surprise there!), with anglers landing some big fat fish- mostly rainbows, with some small to average wild browns in the mix. 

It’s Friday morning as I write this, and with the overcast wet weather here this morning I’d expect a good streamer bite today. I already had one customer come in and restock on jigged streamers this morning, he said the bite was on for him. And we just received several new jigged streamer patterns from Fulling Mill earlier in the week. When they aren’t on streamers it’s been mostly Junk Flies (especially Eggs), as well as big Stoneflies & #16-18 BWO/Olive type nymphs. Despite the higher flow that isn’t very conducive to dry fly fishing, I’ve gotten a few decent report of fish feeding on the surface on small to tiny #22-28 Blue Winged Olives (BWOs). Hope for dries, but expect to fish subsurface. 

We are shifting from Fall to Winter mode, slowly but surely as the water temps continue to slowly drop. The dam in Riverton will buffer/slow the temp drop as compared to a Freestone (rain fed) river, but the water temps will continue to get lower. Trout will start to transistion to Winter holding water: slower/deeper water such as pools, deeper runs, and slower/deeper riffles. As mentioned above, this also means that with minor exceptions (AM Winter Caddis hatch), for the most part you shouldn’t start before 10-11am. Give the water temps a chance to bump up, it will make both the trout and the aquatic insects more active and lead to better fishing/catching. Water temps peak in the late afternoon (3-4pm), and don’t drop significantly until after it gets dark. I often have my best bite window this time of year in the last hour of daylight: peak water temps + low light brings the big browns out to feed. Late morning through late afternoon is also a more comfortable time of day to be out. Sunny days will see the biggest water temp increases of all. 

The main hatch is small Blue Winged Olives (BWOs) in the afternoons, but at 600cfs there aren’t a lot of risers- try Church, Greenwoods & Beaver Pools if you are itchy to fish dries. You are looking for bigger, wider & slower pools when it comes to dry flies, trout rise MUCH better here when the total flow is 200-300cfs. If the flow ever goes back to normal, you will see more dry fly action. Other bugs you may see include Winter Caddis in the AM, and Midges in the afternoons. Subsurface with nymph & streamers still rules the day, and has for the past 2 months of higher flows. The best patterns remain Egg flies, streamers, Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Worms), Stonefly nymphs, and Caddis Larva/Cased Caddis. Various hot spot nymphs (Frenchies, Sexy Waltz, etc.) can sometimes be good too- experiment! During afternoon BWO hatches trout will target the nymphs and you may find it effective to make one of your nymphs a #16-18 BWO type pattern, pair it up with a Junk Fly or bigger nymph. Rig the BWO nymph so it rides higher in the water column (top dropper if Euro Nymphing), just like the hatching naturals. 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. Streamer retrieve speed can be important- in general cold water equals slower retrieves & deeper presentations, but try some faster retrieves too, cuz ya never know. The trout will always tell you water they prefer, but only if you experiment and listen to what the trout tell you they like.

Cooler November air & water temps means that generally there is no need to start early, and most days the better fishing will be afternoon until dusk when water temps rise at are at their highest- 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.

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). 

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. 

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!  

PSA on trout spawning, Redds & ethics:
We are into the very 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 already stressed due to the whole spawning process (migrating, fighting, digging, etc.). But 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 100x 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 their thing and stay away from them. Certain areas with ideal spawning gravel & flows can have concentrations of spawning trout in them, 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 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 Junk Flies, big Stones, 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 upper 40s/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 2-5 degrees lower) away from the dam due to overnight cooling (nights averaging mid to upper 20s for 10 Day Forecast) 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 moderately high but very fishable at 609cfs this morning- 435cfs below the dam in Riverton, and 174cfs from the Still River. The East Branch was reduced from 100 down to 80cfs Wednesday- it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. Unionville USGS gauge is reading 955cfs today- still pretty high for the bigger river down there. Riverton water temp at the Rt 20 bridge was 48 degrees this morning, it peaked at about 49 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 2-5 degrees cooler downriver of the Still, especially in the mornings after a colder night.

*Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s) #22-28: especially on cloudy/overcast days
-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/SJ Worms, 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
*Antoine's Perdigons #12-20: various colors & sizes
-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: afternoon hatch, also common in Behavioral Drift (first & last light)
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16
-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs from BWOs to Hendricksons, and also smaller Stoneflies
-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: Midges are a staple food item, esp. late Fall/Winter

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
-in cold water (late Fall through early Spring), 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/sinking 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