Our NEW store hours as of 9/7/21:
Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday 8am-5pm. We 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.
We had a phone call this week from somebody who said they kept two 20” trout in Riverton and wanted us to weigh them, sooo…. IT’S ILLEGAL TO KEEP TROUT ON THE FARMINGTON RIVER FROM 9/1 UNTIL OPENING DAY IN APRIL FROM THE DAM IN RIVERTON DOWN TO THE RT 177 BRIDGE IN UNIONVILLE. This 21 mile stretch is Catch & Release only currently (flies, lures & bait are all legal), but if you go below the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville you can still keep trout.
Up top a nice 19” holdover brown (clipped adipose fin) fooled by a jigged streamer yesterday at noon, angler was outdoor writer & teacher Will Ryan. Second pic is Steve Hogan’s client Rich Bouvier with a handful of colorful Bow from a successful guided fishing trip.
Quick word on fish pics:
If you would like to get posted on here (and even if you don’t), when taking fish pics please handle the trout properly: gently, and keep ‘em wet if at all possible. We won’t post pics with fish laid out on dry land or ice/snow. Please be careful WHERE you place your hands, and don’t squeeze the fish or you can damage their internal organs. Ideally keep them IN the water, that’s the easiest on the fish of all- remember that fish aren’t designed to have their body support their weight OUT of the water, it’s unnatural for them and can potentially injure them if your aren’t careful. This can be extra important when we get into truly cold Winter air temps, when the trout’s eyes & gills can freeze if you keep them out of the water. Don’t keep them out of the water for more than 10 seconds at a time (ideally not at all when it’s below freezing), and when they are in the water in your net make sure that their mouth/gills are submerged and that they can move their gills and breathe- if they are all twisted up in your net they cannot push water over their gills. Get creative, Grip & Grins get boring. Keep ‘Em Wet! Nuff said.
In store sale:
G3 Men’s Stockingfoot Waders in Shadow Green & Cinder at $439.99 (normally $549.95), and Riparian Camo at $479.99 (normally $599.95)- sale applies to in stock merchandise, when they are gone that’s it. Also, Sage Pulse fly rods (one handed), normally $475, on sale for $380. We also have one Sage Pulse13’ #7 Spey rod- normally $650, now $540.
Try some of Don’s #8 coffee/black Rubber Leg Stones- they can be deadly, especially when flows are up a bit. They imitate the commonplace darker large Stoneflies, and can also pass as a Fishfly larva (they are tons of them in the Farmington) andeven a smaller immatureHelgramite. The rubber legs give them movement that makes them look alive, just like a real bug. They even work in rivers where none of those bugs exist.
New products continue to arrive almost every day. T & T rods have been trickling in every week lately, filling in most of the holes we had- we have lots of Contact II’s now. Fulling Mill came in recently, and we are once again restocked on all their excellent hooks (including the Jig Force Short, Regular & Long, Czech Nymph), the deadly & popular Slush Eggs (peach, pink), Masked Marauder Stoneflies (golden, black), and Frenchies. In streamers we once again have Baby Complex Twist Buggers (the deadly olive/yellow/brown combo), Schmidt’s killer Viking Midge (yellow/olive), and Tommy Lynch’s big brown trout slayer, the Mini D & D. For you Euro guys, we added in several new Fulling Mill Jigged Streamers with 3.8mm to 4.6mm tungsten beads on them- don’t neglect jigged streamers when tight-lining! Many days this Fall/early Winter they’ve been the ticket, especially for bigger fish. We also have Fulling Mill’snew Hopper fly box (it’s blue, not red). Two big 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.
We’re doing a second Beginner Fly Tying course with Mark Swenson on Sunday 1/16/22 from 9:30am-4pm. Call Mark directly at 203-586-8007 to 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.
Total flow in the permanent TMA/C&R (Catch & Release) is quite fishable and now UNDER 500cfs (finally!) and continues to slowly drop (Riverton is 320cfs, the Still River adds in 158cfs). Per USGS, 400cfs would be normal for today, so we are within the typical range now. AM water temp is Riverton is 42.5 degrees, it peaked at 44 yesterday afternoon. While it’s still mostly subsurface fishing, the past couple of weeks have seen an increase in trout feeding on the surface, and as the flows continue to get lower that should increase. The past two days of very mild temps saw an improvement in fish catching for many anglers- rising water temps this time of year tends to put the trout on the bite and increases insect activity. Winter Caddis normally hatch in the early to mid morning, but sometimes go later than that. The small Blue Winged Olives hatch in the afternoons, as do Midges. Other than the morning Caddis hatch, the best time to be out is late morning through dusk. Bigger browns frequently come out of hiding to feed in the last hour of daylight- the combination of lower light with higher water temps gets them going.
Fish are starting to transition into Winter holding water as the water temps drop and they finish spawning (prob 95%+ have spawned by now): mostly slow to moderate speed deeper water in pools, deeper runs, and slower/deeper riffles. You may see trout slide into riffles in the afternoons to feed as the water temps rise and nymphs get active and in the drift.
As I’ve mentioned before, during the colder water temps of late Fall through early Spring, with one or two exceptions there is no need to get out there at the crack of dawn. Focus on late morning through late afternoon (say 10am’ish) when water temps rise a little (only takes one degree or less) and the trout & the bugs are at their most active. The early to mid morning Winter Caddis hatch is an exception to this (first light to about 10am is normally peak, but they can go later than that, and sometimes egg-lay right at dusk on some days). If you do head out early because that’s what your schedule allows, fish flies that are independent of insect hatches/activity: Junk Flies (Eggs, Squirmies, Mops), various streamers (especially jigged ones), big Stoneflies, and attractor nymphs (ones with hot spots/flourescent materilas, UV, unnatural colors, or flash). Often there is a brief “First Light Bite” during the first 1/2-1 hour of daylight, despite the lower water temps. When light levels rise this brief window shuts for a while. As the day progresses the water temps should increase a little, and this will rev the trout’s metabolism up and get them more interested in feeding, and the aquatic insects will also get more active. This is win-win for us fishermen. Plus it’s more comfortable to be out in the afternoons when the day is at it’s warmest. You may want to try some more imitative patterns in the afternoons: various Caddis Larva (regular olive/green & cased), small Mayfly Nymphs, Midge Larva/Pupa, and Stonefly Nymphs.
Unionville USGS is reading 685cfs and dropping (normal for today is 634cfs). This is medium-high & fishable for sure, but be aware it's a bigger river down there which makes the wading trickier. Angling pressure downstream in December is usually quite light. Ten Day Forecast sees highs go back to seasonable temps averaging in the 30s, lows mostly in the 20s. Fishing on average has picked up compared to early/mid Fall, and December historically can be some pretty good fishing as trout look to put some weight back on after spawning and before true Winter sets in. 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 most days (no surprise there!), with anglers landing some big fat fish- mostly rainbows, with some stocked, holdover & wild browns in the mix.
Flies & Hatches:
Fishing advice is unchanged and will be similar for most of the Winter: mostly subsurface, slow & deep with streamers, Junk Flies (Eggs, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Mops,Weenies), and bigger Stoneflies. The biggest difference is with flows dropping and getting normal, we are adding in some smaller natural/imitative nymphs now (Caddis larva, smaller Mayflies & Midges). Higher flows typically means bigger flies, and lower water usually fishes better with smaller flies. We received several cool new jigged streamer patterns from Fulling Mill. Eggs continue to be a top producer, and when Olives are hatching in the afternoons try #16-20 BWO/Olive type nymphs. Getting more reports of trout rising to small to tiny #22-28 Blue Winged Olives (BWOs) in the afternoons- as the water continues to drop, expect to see more surface action. Look also for Midges in the afternoons. You may also see risers in the early to mid morning (sometimes later) when the Winter Caddis hatch. Hope for dries, but expect to fish subsurface from the late Fall through early Spring.
Caddis Larva info:
Other nymphs I traditionally do well on this time of year are Caddis Larva: #14-16 olive to olive/green Larva and also #10-14 Cased Caddis (especially during higher water and/or flow bumps). For those of you into bugs & Latin names, the most common Net Spinning Larva are the Hydropsyche- they have an olive to olive-green back with a black thorax and average #14-16, and if you flip them over the belly is more of a light green. Cheumatopsyche are another common Net Spinner on the Farmington that look sorta similar but are smaller (#16-20) and often greener. Cased Caddis live in slower water, and higher water/flow bumps often dislodge them and knock them into the drift. They are also one of the rare aquatic bugs that Behavioral Drift during the day (most do it during first/light light, and after dark). Some Cased Caddis are huge, with imitations tied to imitate them on a #6 2-3xl hooks, and sometimes even bigger! I also see smaller #16-18 Brachycentrus/Grannom/Mother’s Day Cased Caddis Larva in the Fall- by the Spring they will be #12-14 just before hatching. The Farmington has TONS of Caddis throughout the river- net spinners (such as Hydropsyche & Cheumatopsyche), cased (too many different varieties & sizes to list), and free living (Rhyacophila, they are BIG and bright green).
Various single-hook & articulated streamers are having their moments, experiment with colors and retrieves. Post spawn browns are looking for big bites to eat, December can be a fantastic streamer month. Some of the better colors have been white, brown, brown & yellow, olive, and all yellow- make sure to have a good assortment of colors, it can make a big difference. 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.
A quick note on water temps and how they affect trout, fishing, and best time of the day to be out. 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 has 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.
Despite the spawn being about done, you need to continue to watch out for redds (light colored patches on the gravel) where brown trout deposited their eggs (typically the tails of pools & side channels/braids). Don’t step ON or RIGHT BELOW the redds or you’ll crush the eggs. Typically the fry hatch out from the eggs in February.
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.
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). 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).
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 post-spawn trout 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 streamers, wet flies or nymphs (Euro or Indy) if they aren’t rising. First & last light are 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 hand. Those 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 in our opinion and 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 $855. 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.
Total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release is medium-high and about normal at 478cfs and dropping this morning (320cfs below the dam in Riverton, and 158cfs from the Still River)- historical normal total flow for today per USGS is 400cfs. The East Branch is 0cfs- it comes in about 3/8 of a mile below UpCountry. Unionville USGS gauge is reading 697cfs today (historical normal for today is 634cfs)- it’s a much bigger river down there if you don’t know it well, but that’s fishable for sure if you do know it. Riverton water temp at the Rt 20 bridge is 42.5 degrees this morning, it peaked at 44 yesterday’s mild afternoon (air temps reached 60 degrees!). Long range highs/lows are seasonable, averaging in the 30s for highs, 20s for lows. The Still River can become a cooling influence in the Fall and water temps are typically lower downriver of the Still, especially in the mornings after a colder night. Water temps will rise a little during the day, and be lowest in the early mornings.
*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: afternoons, all year
-Parachute Adams #12-24: imitates many, many different bugs: Olives, Midges, Caddis, etc.
*Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmies/SJ Worms, Green Weenies): good in the colder water of Winter, and also 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 (BWOs), 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
-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 are all once again back in stock
*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