Our current store hours:
Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday 8am-5pm. We are currently open until 5pm every day and will be on that schedule straight 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 still need 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 our own Joey with a beautiful wild brown from this week. Second is our customer (@western_flyfishing on Instagram) with a beautiful fish. Third is Antoine’s client Tom Carpenter with a very nice brown he landed in midMarch. And last but not least is Derrick’sclient Steve Boisseau with an impressive brown from Wednesday.
FYI Riverton is closed to all fishing from the junction of Hogback Rd & Rt 20 (Canal Pool parking area) downstream way below Hitchcock to the Pipeline Pool until Saturday Saturday 4/9 at 6am. This allows them to do the stocking for the Riverton Derby on 4/9 and have an “Opening Day” of sorts. Above and below those boundaries you can still fish, albeit it’s still 100% catch & release until 4/9 (then it goes to two fish 12” or bigger).
We’re excited to announce the April 5th launch of Sage’s new flagship line of fast action rods: the Sage R8 Core, using their new Revolution 8 tech and axial fiber formulation. This is the first time in 20+ years that Sage has debuted an entirely new graphite composition. Available to see in person and purchase on 4/5/22, we will have the entire line-up from the lightest to the heaviest (3wt up to 9wt). If you want to make sure you don’t miss out on this debut, you can pre-order them with us. While can’t show you them before the 5th, we can tell you about them. We were able to cast the line-up with our Sage rep recently, and we were all surprised & impressed. While modern fast action rods have become very stiff and tippy over the years, this new series has loads of feel and casts easily.. The flex is closer to the older popular Z-Axis & XP’s, and refreshingly closer in the trout sizes to a true line weight rating. The R8 Core flexes further down into the blank, but still has a crisp recovery and plenty of line speed. Sage says they are “Made to fish, not just to cast”, with “Effortless energy transfer and more connected feel”. These are real fishing rods, not rods just meant to win parking lot casting competitions, but break tippets and don’t fish comfortably up close. Kudos to Sage.
Mark Swenson is doing a FREE “Intro to Fly Fishing” Clinic on Sunday 4/10, 10am until noonish. Spaces are limited, please call Mark directly at 203-586-8007 to sign up. Clinic is now full, but he will do a second one on a slightly later date so call him to get the info on that one and to sign up.
BE aware that while we post lots of pics of big trout, they don’t come easy, especially this time of year- you have to earn them. If you are targeting big trout, you may be using flies/methods and fishing sections where you aren’t apt to catch many (such as the as yet unstocked in 2022 permanent TMA/C&R), and you can easily get skunked in early Spring- the payoff is 16-21”+ holdover & wild brown trout, and some big holdover rainbows. There is no substitute for time on the water, specifically time spent on the Farmington.
Despite the elimination of a closed trout fishing season in CT for 2022, the Farmington River remains Catch & Release (C&R) from the dam in Riverton for 21 miles or so downstream to the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville until the old Opening Day date on the second Saturday in April of 4/9/22. After that, 15 of the 21 miles goes to a 2 fish 12” limit until it goes C&R again on 9/1/22, the other 6+ miles are always C&R and barbless all year long. There are anglers keeping fish in Riverton and saying that the harvest season is open because “the season is open”- THIS IS FALSE. This is a TMA section and all TMA (Trout Management Area) regulations still apply, and this is true of all TMAs in the state. The big difference is general regulation streams & lakes with no special regs would previously close to fishing on March 1 and not re-open until the second Saturday in April, but now you can fish all the trout streams during what was normally a closed season previously. The 4 miles of the Farmington River above the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) area and the 10 or so miles below it are all seasonal TMA with seasonal C&R regs (no kill or C&R from 9/1 until the second Saturday in April) and as such remain closed to harvest until Opening Day. Hope this clarifies things. If you see anyone keeping fish illegally, don’t confront them, just call 1-800-842-HELP (4357) and report the violation to the CT DEEP. Aggressive confrontation with violators will only escalate the situation and make you more frustrated as well.
Looks like the Suckers are active and ready to spawn- don’t forget your egg flies!!
We restocked the table in the Book Room for about the 4thtime with more FREE books covering fly fishing & sporting/hunting- limit of 2 books per customer. Come check ‘em out before they are all gone, there are some good titles.
Try Bruce Marino’s Mud Puppy sculpin streamer- limited quantities in stock, $5.99 each, get ‘em while they’re still in stock!
In store sale:
G3 Men’s Stockingfoot Waders in Shadow Green (only S & SK)at $329.99 (normally $549.95), and Riparian Camo (good selection of sizes still) 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 Pulse 13’ #7 Spey rod normally $650, now $540.
Try some of Don’s #8 coffee/black Rubber Leg Stones- they can be deadly in March, especially when flows are up a bit, and even when they aren’t. RL’s imitate the common darker large Stoneflies, and can also pass as a Fishfly larva (they are tons of them in the Farmington and they frequently end up in the drift in the late Winter & Spring- especially during flow bumps) and even a smaller immature Helgramite. 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. In addition to dead-drifting them, try also twitching and even stripping them, you might be surprised at the results.
2022 CT Fishing Licenses:
Don’t forget that now it’s 2022 will you need a NEW CT 2022 Fishing License- ALL CT fishing licenses purchased in 2021 are now expired. CT calendar year runs from January and expires after December (unlike NY where it’s 1 year from the date of purchase). It’s perfectly acceptable now to keep a picture of your license on your phone, they no longer require a printed copy to be legal. If you purchase online, you can have a copy of your license emailed to you.
The brand new T&T Contact II 10’ 9” #2 rodsarrived in early March. The extra 9” is perfect for bigger water like the Farmington (allows you to fish & cast further away, and make longer drifts), and the soft tip will protect 6x-7x tippet against big trout. Plenty of power in the butt section to handle bigger trout, and the extra flex in the tip is better for casting micro leaders (thinner butt sections) and lighter flies. I think this is going to be a very popular rod, and a good compliment to your arsenal if you already have a #3 Euro rod, which is the “all around” weight for Euro Nymphing.
We received big orders from Cortland, Korkers, Fishpond, Simms, and Hardy. The Korkers order included a lot of replacement soles if you’ve been waiting on replacing yours or adding in a spiked/studded version.
Saw the state stocking the Rt 219 New Hartford to Canton Town Bridge section this morning. Other area small streams have been stocked and are good weekend options, stop by for advice.
1PM Friday 4/1 Flow Update:
The MDC increased the dam release by an additional 100cfs at 11:30am, and the East Branch was also increased from 100 to 200cfs at 9:30am. The East Branch comes in about 3/8 mile below UpCountry.
9AM Friday 4/1 Report:
The total flow is rising from rain and currently 668cfs in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R)- it’s 209cfs in Riverton, plus an additional 459cfs & rising from the Still River. Historical normal/median flow for today is 551cfs. Mild weather is here to stay now, with Ten Day highs almost all in the 50s, and lows averaging in the mid 30s to low 40s- feels like Spring. Look for the river to peak out in the next few hours, and starting dropping later today. We are currently fishable (albeit moderately high and off-color), and water levels will progressively drop starting later today and over the weekend. Increased flows and/or off-color conditions normally means streamers & nymphs. Pay close attention to the current edges, because that’s typically where the trout will lie this time of year. Heavier flows pushes trout closer to the banks, right off the current edge. The #1 mistake anglers make during higher flows is wading out knee or crotch deep before they start fishing, and more often than not when you do that you just walked through and spooked the trout that moved out of the heavier current. Unless the current seams are way out, start by fishing right off the bank. Good fly choices will include medium to large streamers in darker colors & yellow (plus tan too if the water clarity is stained but not muddy), medium to large nymphs, and “Junk Flies” (eggs, Mops, Squirmy/SJ Worms, Green Weenies). As flows drop and clarity improves, go to regular nymphs and fish some smaller streamers in standard colors (olive, tan, brown, etc.).
It’s still early in the season so expect to mostly fish subsurface- the exception can be the early/mid morning Winter Caddis hatch, and sometimes trout will rise to the Early Black Stoneflies in the afternoons. Woolly Buggers, Junk Flies, nymphs with hot spots and Walt’s Worms are good choices in the recently stocked sections (virtually the entire river outside of the permanent TMA/C&R, which gets stocked once annually in mid/late April and always has a high density of holdover & wild browns). If targeting holdover/wild trout, consider adding a more imitative nymph into your rig (Caddis larva, Pheasant Tail, Olive nymph, etc.), combined with a bigger Stonefly nymph or Junk Fly (don’t forget eggs, it’s Sucker Spawning time!). Jigged streamers fished slow & deep on a tight-line/Euro rig can be very effective sometimes in cold water when trout might not be willing to chase a traditionally fished streamer.
The dam is currently releasing colder water (upper 30s) than the Still is dumping in (40s), so this increased cold water release will decrease downstream water temps- likely this will make both the bugs & trout less active. But due to the Still River’s warming influence (especially on milder/sunny days), look for slightly higher water temps downstream of the Still River, and the further you travel downriver the higher they will be on sunny afternoons. Remember though that it’s still very early Spring, and you have to expect to work hard for each bite most days- be patient! The payoff is potentially big trout.
Keep your expectations reasonable as it’s early in the season, water temps are still below optimal temps (optimal is 50-65 degrees), and insect activity is improving but not yet what it will be in the mid/late April through July time period. It’s still easy to get skunked or bust your butt for only 1 or 2 fish, especially if you are targeting the unstocked section. Having said that, the patient/flexible angler should be able to get a nice fish or two- just don’t expect to do double digits unless you get into a pod of freshly stocked trout and you are a skilled angler who knows the Farmington River well. If you are in the as yet unstocked sections (like the permanent TMA/Catch & Release), you will be targeting holdover & wild trout, and you will work harder for less but bigger fish. March is a big trout month in my experience. Rising water temps and the beginning of bug activity gets the big trout hungry- eating and dominating their feeding lies. Afternoons with rising water temps and hatching Stoneflies can push trout into slightly faster (but not super fast) water to feed on nymphs & larva as the day progresses. Don’t leave early, there is often a bite window for bigger browns at the end of the day when the light levels drop and water temps are still at their highest of the day. Leave early and you will totally miss it.
Quite a few anglers have been hitting the river lately with the overall milder weather, and finding varying degrees of success. The recently stocked sections are offering up the trout more easily, no surprise there- see paragraph below for stocking info. The Permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) isoffering up a lot less but bigger trout, with a higher chance of a big wild or holdover trout. Big trout are getting caught mostly on a mix of nymphs and streamers, fished slow & deep for the most part. Fly sizes have ranged from moderatelysmall to large. There are some rising trout if you know where to look and are out at the right moments. See paragraphs down below for more info on hatches & fly suggestions.
The state has done lots oftrout stocking on the Farmington River over the past several weeks: from the dam in Riverton, all the way down to Rt 177 bridge in Unionville, and last week they did from the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville down to the Rt 4 bridge in Farmington. THE ENTIRE 21 MILE SECTION FROM THE DAM IN RIVERTON TO THE RT 177 BRIDGE IN UNIONVILLEIS A TMA AND SO REMAINS CATCH & RELEASE UNTIL THE 2ND SATURDAY IN APRIL AT 6AM, BUT IF YOU GO BELOW THE RT 177 BRIDGE IN UNIONVILLE YOU CAN KEEP THEM. It doesn’t matter that the trout season is now open year ‘round in CT, all previous TMA special regulations still apply, and this is true in of all TMA areas in CT for 2022. If you want to keep trout right now you need to go downstream below the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville- below that you can keep 5 trout per day, 9” minimum size (this is about 21 miles below the dam in Riverton, or about 10 miles below UpCountry). For 2023 you will 99.9%likely see the former closed trout season (March 1 through 6am on the 2ndSaturday in April) go to a Catch & Release season on ALL CT trout streams/lakes, this will make the regs more consistent and less confusing. This is what NY & VT did recently when they changed to no closed trout season- their new extended season became all C&R until their traditional Opening Day. This maintains an Opening Day of sorts for those who like that tradition and/or want to keep a few trout, while helping allow for easier stocking by the state,maintain trout populations better,and still allowing more angling opportunities.
If you are targeting recent stockers, they often prefer somewhat different flies. Gaudier flies (with flash, hotspots, unnatural color schemes), “Junk Flies” (Mops, Squirmies, Egg Flies, Green Weenies) and small to medium streamers will often outfish drabber more imitative flies- although any nymph tied with Hare’s Ear (like a Walt’s Worm) is often good for fresh stockers (maybe looks like a food pellet once it gets wet haha). It takes hatchery trout several weeks to learn how to effectively feed on natural aquatic food. About the only aquatic bug trout raised in concrete raceways may be familiar with is Midges, they can literally live almost anywhere. That said, it’s hard to beat Woolly Buggers & Junk Flies on freshly stocked trout. Until they get “educated” by angling pressure and start to avoid those flies.
We are seeing the Early Black Stones, they are a major March hatch and average #14-16 and can go as big as #12. The wings are more grayish, and the bodies are dark gray to black- some people call them . Sunny, mild afternoons see the best Stonefly hatches, and sometimes they will eat the adults (dries)- often you need to skitter the adult dries to get a take so experiment with your presentation, sometimes they prefer dead-drift. The nymphs fished subsurface are always a possibility on the trout’s menu this time of year- both the black and the brown ones are currently active subsurface, so don’t limit yourself to just the black version. Brown or black/dark nymphs (Pheasant Tail/Frenchy, Prince, etc.) in #12-16 will suggest them, or you can use a specific imitation like a #14 Wade’s Early Stone. Jigged streamers & standard streamers fished with various techniques/rigs continue to produce some bigger fish- not always the most, but often the biggest.
Anglers continue to work harder for the holdovers & wild trout, but the payoff is big fish. I consider March/early April to be a quality over quantity time where the catch rates on holdover & wild trout are often lower but the average size is frequently large. The exception to this is when you fish recently stocked areas and locate the spots where the trout are concentrated, then you may rack ‘em up. All TMA rules including catch & release regulations still apply from the dam in Riverton down to the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville. The CT DEEP fisheries announces trout stocking both on their website and their FaceBook page (CT Fish & Wildlife on FB) on Wednesdays & Fridays after they do stockings- never before, nor do they tell us when they are going to do it. FYI the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) only gets stocked once a year sometime in April, but there is always a high density of holdover & wild trout in there, you just have to be on your “A” game with a flexible approach to catch them as fishing pressure in that section is high and makes them more difficult to deceive. Fishing over pressured trout will make you a better angler.
There are often distinct bite windows when the holdover & wild trout(recent stockers too)suddenly go from lockjaw to feeding for a short period of time, often an hour or two. These are not 100% predictable, but often happen as water temps rise, bugs get more active, or when light levels change. Be persistent and patient, don’t leave early, and you may catch a bite window and get some decent action. Peak water temps are typically reached in mid to late afternoons. The Winter Caddis hatch in early to mid mornings, and often bring trout to the surface in the bigger, slower pools. But other than that exception, it’s generally wiser to be out from late morning through late afternoon when water temps rise and bugs & trout are more active- you may see the larger Early Black Stones, as well as Midges in the afternoons, especially on milder/sunny days. Stay to the end of the day if possible, bigger browns often get active with the combo of increased water temps & low light.
Nymph Color Selection Tip:
Quick tip for selecting nymph colors from late Fall through early Spring: overall the colder weather nymphs tend toward darker colors such as medium to dark brown, black, and medium to dark olive/olive-brown. When the hatches get cranking during milder weather and the leaves come out in the mid to late Spring, and going well into the Fall, many of the nymphs/pupa/larva are light to medium colored: tan, light/medium brown, amber/ginger, light olive. This is a general rule, but probably about 80% true. Gives you a starting point, adjust from there- flip rocks to see exactly what the nymphs/larva look like.
668cfs total flow and rising is the reading this morning in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R)- this is moderatley high but fishable. We have 209cfs at the Rt. 20 bridge in Riverton, and the Still River is adding in an additional 459cfs & rising. Water temps rise during the day, peaking in mid/late afternoons. Riverton water temp is about 39 degrees this morning. Water temps have been averaging upper 30s in the upper river above the Still River, but further downstream (below the Still River) mild nights combined with warmer sunny days has pushed afternoon temps downriver into the low/mid 40s even upper 40s on milder sunny days, with 50+ degrees possible on the warmest/sunny days.
Unionville USGS flow is 1,180cfs & rising this morning (historical normal for today is 1,040cfs)- this is higher than you want it, I’d wait until it’s baci under 800cfs. It’s a much bigger river down there, and if you don’t know it well it can be intimidating, especially in higher flows. Due to the distance below the dam it acts more like a freestone river than a dam controlled tailwater- water temps are often higher than upriver during mild weather like we have now. The Still River can be a warming influence in the Spring: in April during milder temps, the afternoon water temps are often significantly higher downstream of the Still River due to the Still warming up fast while the dam steadily releases water still in the upper 30s.
The more experienced anglers have been grinding for the holdover & wild fish, but the ones they are catching are averaging pretty big. This time of year is normally quality over quantity, the MAJOR exception being recently stocked sections, which is most of the river now (but you still have to locate exactly where the trout are laying)- the permanent TMA/C&R excepted (that section gets stocked once a year in April). For those of you waiting for easier fishing, the state stocked the upper River (Whittemore to the dam, about 4 miles) as well as below Rt 219 in New Hartford down to well below the Unionville Rt 177 bridge. That will certainly improve the catching with some fresh, uneducated trout. FYI these sections are all currently Catch & Release, despite what some misinformed anglers may tell you. You currently can only keep trout below the Unionville Rt 177 bridge, but not anywhere upstream of that yet. Remember to be both patient & thorough with trout in cold water, as they don’t feed as much and generally won’t move as far to eat your fly. This means fishing at a slower pace, covering likely areas with extra casts to make sure at least one gets in the trout’s strike zone.
Be patient when fishing in colder water and cover the likely water slowly & thoroughly, as trout won’t move as far to eat in ice cold water. Gotta spoon feed them and put your flies right in their face. Try to pick the best water, and then make a lot of casts. Where trout might move 12-18” to either side in May/June to eat your nymph, in colder water they might only move 1-3” some days. On the coldest days you might have to literally drift it almost into their mouth to get an eat- I call this a defensive eat haha. More casts in likely areas ups your odds of putting a drift right in their face and getting a bite. This also means bites tend to be more subtle on average, so pay close attention and strike on anything. Play with colors, as sometimes gaudy flies will trip their trigger- pink is often a good accent color/hot spot. Some days they will prefer natural, drabber more imitative patterns. Subsurface, slow & deep is typically the name of the game right now, other than the morning Caddis and Stones/Midges in the afternoon.
Expect to work for your trout in the and keep your expectations of numbers caught to be low most days- the exception being if you are over a pod of freshly stocked trout. They are lethargic in colder water, and there is far less insect activity. You can have big numbers in March sometimes, but that’s the exception, not the rule, and several factors have to line up at the same time for an epic day. Trout often congregate in cold water, and if you find a concentration and the fish turn on, you can rack them up if you have the right flies and present them properly. They often feed during bite windows when they suddenly turn on, and then a little while later it’s like somebody flipped a switch and they turn off. These windows are particularly pronounced in cold water so be persistent because you may totally redeem a very slow day in your last hour of fishing. It’s happened to me more times than I can count this time of year. The late afternoon, with peak water temps and low light combined, often means the big browns come out to feed. Behavioral Drift can also occur in the late afternoon/dusk period too (it’s when some of the nymphs/larva randomly free drift in the current, creating almost a nymph hatch of sorts, also happens at first light). The books say to fish in the late Fall through early Spring from about 11am-3pm, and that’s not bad advice in general (most comfortable time to be out combined with rising water temps = more active trout & increased bug activity). But, if you want to fish dries during the Winter Caddis hatch you need to be out in that early to mid morning window BEFORE 11am. And the biggest trout often wait to feed until that late afternoon to dark window in my experience. So take the “rules” with a big grain of salt. Warming trends typically get the trout more active, but even during colder spells if the weather stays consistent and the trout acclimate to it, you can have productive fishing. The worst time to be out is the first day after a big temperature drop, it can shut the trout right down.
Many fish are still in Winter type holding lies with water temps averaging mostly in the upper 30s/mid 40s lately: mostly slow to moderate speed deeper water in pools, deeper runs, deeper/slower pocket water, and slower/deeper riffles. But, rising water temps of late means that on warmer/sunny days you will often see trout slide into medium to medium-fast riffles to feed in the afternoons as the water temps rise and nymphs get active and in the drift. Skip the rapids, fast/shallow pocket water, and heavy/fast riffles. Frequently cold water trout will just slide off a bit to the side to get out of the main current, and/or position themselves further down the pools where the current slows and deepens.
As I’ve mentioned many times before, during the colder water temps (30s-40s) of late Fall through early Spring, with one or two exceptions (like the Winter Caddis hatch or after a very mild night) there is no need to get out there at the crack of dawn. However if you do have to 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 weighted jigged ones), big Stoneflies, and attractor nymphs (ones with hot spots/flourescent materials, 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 when there is more bug activity: various Caddis Larva (olive/green, yellow & cased), small/medium Mayfly Nymphs, Midge Larva/Pupa, and various size/color Stonefly Nymphs. March & early April can see substantial afternoon black and brown Stones hatching ranging from #12-16 .
Flies & Hatches:
Fishing advice is to stay mostly subsurface, slow & deep with streamers (regular & jigged), Junk Flies (Eggs, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Mops, Weenies), Stonefly nymphs (#6-18), Caddis larva (regular green/olive & Cased), Attractor nymphs (hot-spots, flash, gaudy/unnatural colors), Midge larva/pupa, and small/medium (#14-20) Mayfly nymphs (Pheasant Tails/Frenchies, BWOs, Perdigons, etc.). Higher flows typically means bigger flies, and lower water usually fishes better with smaller flies. Look for Winter Caddis in the early/mid mornings, and Black Stones & Midges in the afternoons. We are seeing good Early Black Stones #12-16 now, especially on mild, sunny days. Hope for dries, but expect to fish subsurface from the late Fall through early Spring.
Caddis Larva info:
The Farmington is loaded with all sorts of Caddis. Traditionally I do well on this time of year (March/April) on holdover & wild trout with 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. The case making Caddis that constructs a case that looks like a miniature chimney and houses a bright green larva is Brachycentrus, also known as Grannom or Mother’s Day Caddis. Cased Caddis are also one of the rare aquatic bugs that Behavioral Drift during the day (most do it during first/last light, and around midnight). Some Cased Caddis that make their cases out of sticks/twigs are huge, with imitations tied to imitate them on a #6 2-3xl hooks, and sometimes even bigger! I see smaller #16-18 Brachycentrus Cased Caddis Larva in the Fall/early Winter- but 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 #6-12 and bright green, and live only in fast water).
Various single-hook & articulated streamers are having their moments, experiment with colors and retrieves. Jigged streamers fished on a Euro leader/tight-line rig have been particularly deadly many days. Bigger browns are usually looking for big bites to eat, and this can be a good time to fish streamers. Some of the better colors have been olive, brown, black, brown & yellow, and white- 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. 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. Typically late morning through late afternoon is overall the best time to be on the water this time of year due to the rising/higher water temps. Positive water temperature movements (which in March/April would mean upward) tend to make bugs hatch and get trout feeding too. Temp drops can shut the bite off like somebody flipped a switch.
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. This is an all purpose fly that can pass as many different food items, and makes a great Caddis pupa too. The soft hackle gives it movement, just like a real bug. Dead-drift it and then let it swing at the end of the drift.
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. Coming out of the leaner times of Winter, with rising water temps and more bugs trout will whack them due to hunger and the need to put weight back. Smaller jigged streamers fished on a tight-line Euro rod/leader system can entice trout to eat even when they won’t hit a traditional streamer presentation (swung/stripped on a standard fly line)- this enables you to fish streamer slow & deep, and put it right in the trout’s face so they don’t have to chase it. A little yellow mixed into in your streamers can be very effective some days, both two-tone (brown/yellow, olive/yellow, etc.) and all yellow. Olive and white are both good starting colors for streamers this time of year. 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. Bug activity increases in late Winter/early Spring, but is still not what we get in the Spring & early Summer. Be prepared to fish streamers, wet flies (slow & deep) or nymphs (Euro or Indy) if they aren’t rising. The same spot on 2 consecutive days can see a good hatch one day, followed by a poor hatch the next due to the weather.
Check out the latestHardy Ultralite & Ultralite LL (Euro) rods. Very impressive series of rods, especially the 10’ 8” #0/2 Euro rod- don’t let the line designation fool you, it fishes more like a #3 with a very light tip but fast recovery, with the lower 2/3 of the rod being quite powerful. Still very light in the hand, sensitive, accurate, and well balanced. These rods are giving the T&T Contact II’s some serous 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’ 9” #2, 10' #3, 10' 9" #3, 11' 2" #3, 10' 9" #4 & 10' 8" #6) is a home run, arguably the best Euro rods currently on the market in our opinion and according to many experienced Euro nymphers. I’ve fished them for quite a while now, and they are amazing. Brand new and just available starting now (March) is the 10’ 9” #2, and it’s REALLY nice and rounds out/completed their line-up- a great rod that will protect 6x-7x tippet but still capable of landing large trout, and is fantastic for casting/fishing micro leaders (thin butt sections) that are getting popular now. The Contact II series features 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.
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: early/mid mornings usually, sometimes go later
*Early Black Stoneflies #12-16: afternoon hatch, heavy on sunny/mild days
-Stonefly nymphs are active subsurface, both black & brown
-Midges #18-28: 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
*Wade’s Early Stone #14: black, brown
*Cased Caddis #10-14 (especially high water & after flow bumps)
*Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16
*Jigged Streamers #8-12: various colors/patterns, we have a bunch of new ones
-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: common in Behavioral Drift (first & last light)
-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
*Midges/Zebra Midges#16-22: olive, black, red: Midges are a staple food item, esp. when there aren’t many other hatches
-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- lethal flies!
*Jigged Streamers #8-12: various patterns, deadly fished on a tight-line/Euro rig
*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
-Woolly Buggers #2-14 (black, olive, white, brown, tan)
-JJ Special/Autumn Splendor/Tequeely #4-8 (brown & yellow streamers)
-Matuka #4-8 (yellow, olive, brown)