Friday, September 30, 2022

Friday 9/30/22 Farmington River Report: bring on October

Monday-Friday 8am-5pmSaturday & Sunday 8am-5pm.

As of September 1st, the entire river from the dam in Riverton down to the Rt 177 Unionville bridge (21 miles of river) is all CATCH & RELEASE until 6am on the second Saturday in April. Below the Unionville bridge it is 5 fish, 9” minimum size. So for all intents & purposes, almost the entire river is C&R until April. Call CT DEEP hotline at 800-842-4357( TIPS) to report violations if you see people keeping fish in this section- give them descriptions & license plates (if you have them).

Purchase the best Euro rod on the market (the T&T Contact II) from us this Fall, and we will throw in a FREE Euro Nymphing line*****

The very popular Hanak 400 jig hook is finally available and in stock down to a #18 now (#16 was the smallest previously), and we also have the best-selling Hanak 450 all the way down to #20. It’s definitely that small nymph time of year.

We currently have a very good selection of used Euro rods from the low $100 range up to about $700 that are NOT listed on the website. These are for walk-in customers only, so you will have to visit the store in person if you want to see and purchase one of them.

Recently arrived, the brand new Diamondback Ideal Nymph Reels:
These are the most well thought out & designed Euro nymphing reels out there, the product of Joe Goodspeed who designed the Diamondback Ideal Nymph Rods. It has a full cage which makes it unlikely for long/thin leaders or Mono Rigs to work their way outside the frame. The machined tolerances are also extra tight to help with this. It has four 10 gram (1/3 ounce each) removable weights so you can fine-tune the rod/reel balance. It has an ultra large arbor, large diameter, narrow spool which is ideal for Euro nymphing where you don’t want or need a ton of line capacity- this also gives you a faster retrieve rate and less line coiling. The drag is ultra smooth to protect light tippet.

Here’s where this Diamondback reel deviates from other Euro reels:
The most unique feature of all is the offset reel foot, which gives you the ability to put the mass of the reel even closer to the rod butt, improving rod balance by enabling you to use less weight and still achieve a proper rod balance (it can be easily switched around for R or L hand retrieve). A properly balanced reel makes your rod both more comfortable to fish, and even enhances your sensitivity. Joe also designed a special handle: it is narrow at the base and flares out, and it has 3 silicon “O” rings, the two combined give you an unusually good grip on the reel and makes it easier to grab the handle without looking. And if you need to take up slack quickly, you can hit the spool with your palm and spin it fast to rapidly take up excess line. Anywhere your leader/line can rub against the reel when stripping line has been machined round so that you won’t abrade or cut your line. All in all a unique reel, with all the features you wanted and clever ones you never even thought about. They use the latest 5D-5 Axis machining (most reels only use 3D-3 Axis) to make this unusual & beautiful fly reel. These reels have already become a hot seller.

We will be limiting the pics in the reports to about 2 or 3 in total. It’s time consuming to post a bunch of pics on here, so we will be posting additional pics & videos on our Instagram page story (which stays up for 24 hours and then automatically disappears), so follow us on IG if you don’t already. 
Up top is once again Mike Andrews with a beautiful early Fall brown, they are starting to color up for the spawn. Next fish pic is Leo Sperry all smiles from a productive recent outing on the river. 

The new T&T Contact II 10’ 9” #2 rods are EXCELLENT. I recently acquired one of these for myself (Torrey) this Summer, and I absolutely LOVE it- perfect rod for the current conditions that dictate lighter tippets & smaller/lighter flies: casts great, very sensitive, and a blast to play the fish on. It might be my new favorite rod. The extra 9” beyond a 10’ rod is perfect for bigger water like the Farmington (allows you to fish & cast further away, make longer drifts, casts easier/further, faster hook sets, and cushions your tippet more), 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 (very thin butt sections) and lighter flies. This is a great compliment to your arsenal if you already have a 3 weight, which has been the “all 'rounder” for Euro Nymphing. The trend over time seems to be lighter & thinner in everything including rods, especially as thinner leader butts (6-10# test/0x-4x) have become popular to reduce sag, along with thinner tippets(5.5x-7x) that allow you to use lighter nymphs & get them to the bottom faster with more natural drifts, as well as lighter & slimmer nymphs (like Perdigons) that sink quicker despite their smaller size/weight.

The new 2022 Diamondback range of Ideal Nymph rods  are in stock. These are fantastic Euro nymphing rods in 10’ #1, 10’ #2, 10’ 10” #2, 10’ 10” #3 & 10’ 10” #4, with more models to come. Joe Goodspeed (formerly of Cortland and T&T) designed this series, and he did a great job. At $525-550, these rods are a deal and easily the best Euro rods in the $500 range- they use the latest, state-of-the-art materials & construction. Light with excellent recovery & sensitivity, plenty of big fish playing power (even the #1 & #2), double rings on the downlocking reel seat, 3 snake guides on the rod tip for minimal line wrap when using micro leader butt sections, and 2 single foot ceramic stripping guides to reduce friction & improve line shoot. The 10’ 10” #2 has been the best seller for the Farmington River, followed by the 10’ #1 (great rod for light tippets &light flies, and/or smaller streams). Near future additions will include a 10’ #3 & 10’10” #6 (Steelhead, Lake Run Browns & trophy trout).

We’re excited to announce the 2022 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, we have the entire line-up from the lightest to the heaviest (3wt up to 9wt). We were able to cast the line-up with our Sage rep, 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/fast 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.

The FRAA (Farming River Angler’s Association) finally has an Instagram page! It’s fraaclub, please follow them. There will be lots of cool content, our own Joey Takeman is running the page. Look for some nice fish pics/videos as well as good info coming up.


River Conditions:
Please follow the brand new FRAA Instagram page, their IG name is fraaclub

I mentioned it up above, but I’ll mention it again: 
The entire upper 21 miles of the Farmington River, from the dam in Riverton downstream to the Rt 177 Unionville bridge, is now Catch & Release from 9/1/22 until the 2ndSaturday in April at 6am. If you see people violating this and keeping fish, PLEASE make sure to call the DEEP TIPS hotline at 800-842-HELP (4357). Program the number into your cell phone, and call!!! Even if they cannot reply fast enough, the call & location of the offense is logged, and this all helps to get more enforcement in the future, but ONLY if you call it in. If you take the attitude that your call is pointless, we will never get more enforcement on the river and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Be more proactive & complain less if you want to create a positive change- good life advice too ;)

The CT DEEP stocked the river on 9/16, from just below the Rt 219 bridge in New Hartford down to the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville (the bottom of the seasonal Catch & Release/TMA), about a 10 mile stretch. This entire section is now C&R (as of 9/1) until Opening Day in April 2023. Should make for some easier/better fishing & catching, until the trout are well educated in 3-4 weeks. Think Woolly Buggers (black, olive) & “Junk Flies” (Mops, Squirmies/SJ worms, Egg flies, and Green Weenies) until they learn what real bugs & real food look like. Walt’s Worms (both plain/drab & Sexy Waltz with a flash rib & fluorescent hot spot) are effective too, as are attractor nymphs (flashy, hot-spot or gaudy colors).

Things remain similar, we are still low despite full reservoirs. Fishing remains good for many anglers with plenty of rising trout, and fish coming to small nymphs, wets/soft-hackles & streamers. Trout will spawn here as early as mid October, so don’t be surprised if you see trout already pairing up, or swimming around doing weird things, males may even spar with each other (FYI use streamers to piss off aggessive male browns…). Ten Day Forecast feels like October, averaging 50’s to 60’s for highs, with nights in the 40’s and even dipping into the 30’s toward the tail end of the extended forecast. Dropping water & air temps means the peak time to be out for hatches & nymphing is late morning to late afternoon. The entire river is back in play now, you can fish as far downstream as Canton, Collinsville, Unionville, and Farmington and be in optimal trout temps. Main bugs currently are #18-24 Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s, Olives), Iso’s #12-14, and assorted Caddis mostly averaging #16-20 (tan, brown, black, Summer/Winter), with some as small as a #24. Until it gets truly cold, you can fish terrestrials such as beetles & ants. Still some assorted #12-18 Light Cahills/Summer Stenos out later in the day, they are near the end though.

We continue to see more & more color in the foliage every day, and nights down in the 40’s should really start to make it pop fast- typically the 3rdweek of October is peak foliage in our area. This also means trout getting more aggressive toward streamers with the impending spawn (can start as early as mid October on the Farmington, with November being a big spawning month also). Various colors can work, all the standard ones (olive, white, tan, black, brown), but especially think about adding yellow- either as the primary color, or as a secondary color (like brown/yellow, olive/yellow, etc.). Early & late in the day are prime streamer times, as are cloudy days, and also during flow bumps/off-color water due to rainfall. Cover lots of water, the big browns are moving around and shifting location in the Fall, they can be almost anywhere, but especially concentrate anywhere there is cover (big rocks, downed and/or overhaning trees, undercut banks, etc.) and/or depth changes. 

Fishing remains good, if not technical, with lots of rising trout at moments. If you want some easier targets, then target the freshly stocked trout in the 10+ mile section mentioned above. Total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) is low at 75cfs, historical normal for today is 188cfs. USGS flow in Riverton is 63cfs, and the Still River is adding in 12cfs. If you are nymphing, make sure that one of the flies in your rig is small, as in #18-20, can be even smaller – think Mayflies like Blue Wing Olive nymphs, Midges, Perdigons, or small general purpose flies like Pheasant Tails or Hare’s Ears/Walt’s Worms. Plenty of Blue Winged Olives hatching (#18-24), as well as good numbers of rising trout. FYI I typically catch bigger on small BWO nymphs than I do on the dries imitating them.

It appears that for the time being the MDC is only going to give us the bare minimum flow that they are legally required to run (can be as low as 50cfs, see below for details), so we will be dependent upon rainfall, more like a freestone stream. The ideal current scenario would be regular shots of 1inch plus of rain every week. We could use a couple more big shots of rain to restore the depleted water table. If the inflow to Colebrook reservoir goes up above 50cfs, then they have to match it, but only up to 150cfs. If/when they start letting water out of Otis reservoir (comes into Farmington River upstream of Colebrook reservoir) to lower it this Fall (they usually do in October), then they also have to add that to the release. If the Colebrook reservoir fills to 100%, then the Army Corps of Engineers will require them bump up the release until they lower the lake (for flood control). FYI typically Highland Lake gets lowered in the Fall, and that drains into the Still River which dumps into the West Branch Farmington a little below the Rt 20 bridge in Riverton. The reservoirs (MDC has 5 that I know of) were at 87% overall capacity as of the end of August, well above normal for this time of year when they would typically lower them for flood control during hurricane season (seems that they aren’t doing that this year, which created flood risks), and the 4” of rain in mid September had to bump this up significantly. It’s currently a frustrating situation where the MDC has a big surplus of water, but won’t release it. Despite that, the fishing remains good with cold water (upper 40’s) being released from the dam. Low water = more rising trout and more dry fly fishing, something most anglers love. 

FYI Farmington guides extraordinaire, Zach St. Amand Derrick Kirkpatrick (CT Fish Guides), both have some openings in their guiding schedules this Fall (a great time for big browns)- usually they are both booked solid. They are very good at fine tuning your dry fly & Euro Nymphing games, and also upping your big trout success. Go to the guide page on our website to get their info and contact them directly, Zach’s # is 646-641-5618, and Derrick is 203-980-4248 

The low flows we’ve had since July has made for easy wading/access and lots of rising trout. During low water just make sure to bring your “A” game, as low water/slower current means spookier, pickier trout that get a really good look at your fly. Plus they’ve been pressured hard all season and have seen everything but the kitchen sink floating over their heads on a daily basis. If you have some oddball dries that aren’t commonly fished here, try them- using different flies can help put the odds in your favor, whether you are fishing on the surface or subsurface. Better anglers are raving about the dry fly fishing this Summer, but some people are struggling. You WILL have rising trout to show your flies to, but catching them is ultimately up to you. 

All things being equal, small flies are generally better right now (exceptions: big Stoneflies in the mornings, and Isonychia in the afternoons). If they aren’t rising, then fish #18 or smaller nymphs in the faster/broken water, or do Dry/Dropper with small nymph dropped 1-2’ below a buoyant visible dry fly. If you are working over rising trout, change flies frequently until you figure out what they want, and that will vary depending on the time of day and how far below the dam you are. If you aren’t doing well in one river section, then move to another. Being a stick in the mud is a good way to get skunked. Fish new water. The spots you did well in June may not fish well in low water Fall conditions, and the flies that worked then will fail miserably now- you have to change with the conditions and time of year. Adjust your leader/tippet. Present your flies from different angles. Try emergers/cripples, spinners, terrestrials (beetles, ants, hoppers), attractor dries, twitch your fly slightly on some drifts. Don’t neglect terrestrials!!! Try bigger flies, try smaller flies. Try flies that float high, and especially try patterns that float low and snug down into the surface film or even just below it (Klinkhammer style). Try to present your dries downstream & across with a Reach Cast so your flies arrives ahead of your tippet. If what you’re doing isn’t working, don’t fit Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over & over and expecting different results. I see LOTS of anglers do this every day, and then complain that “nobody is catching fish”- meanwhile anglers walk through our door every day with big grins commenting on how unusually good the dry fly fishing is this yearin the low flows. Change up until you get it figured out. Ask successful anglers what they are doing and also observe how they cast & present their flies. And sometimes even the best fisherman leave the river scratching their head. You earn every trout you catch in low water conditions (other than the freshly stocked ones).

Low flows are creating lots of rising trout & dry fly action. Many fish are rising in calf to knee deep water, so don’t make the mistake of only fishing the pools. At this flow most of the pools are flat & slow and create some technical dry fly fishing that often means 12-18’ leaders with long 7x tippets and #22-26 dries. It’s a lot easier to fool the trout in the knee deep runs that have a choppy surface, and there are PLENTY of trout in that type of water, many in the 18”+ range, with some over 20”. You can also get away with bigger dry flies, slightly heavier tippet, and shorter leaders in that water type. A neglected but deadly technique is wet fly fishing with both winged wets & soft hackles. It’s an easy way to thoroughly cover shallower water without getting hung up, and particularly good when Caddis are either hatching or egg-laying. 

Don’t limit yourself to just matching the hatch & rising trout. You can cover likely looking water and bring trout up to blind-fished dry flies, especially in riffly & pocket water. At moments blind-fishing dries has been outfishing nymphs, but both techniques are having their moments. Try terrestrials (ants, beetles, hoppers are a great choice from late morns through early eves), attractor dries (Stimulator, Mini Chernobyls, Mega Beetles, etc.), and #14-16 Caddis- you can also twitch the Caddis on some drifts. 

The big upsides to low flows are easy wading/access and lots of dry fly fishing, but it is more technical. If you can get in some riffly water that makes it easier to approach the trout closer, and they don’t get as good at look at your fly so are more apt to make a mistake and eat it. 12’ plus leaders will help all your dry fly presentations, as will lengthening out your tippet sections to 3-6’. Pay close attention to what you observe hatching, and try to match it closely. For the fish sipping gently in flat water, it often takes a #24 fly on a long 7x tippet with a precise drag-free float to fool them. The other gambit is try a #12-18 Ant or Beetle on a long (4-6’) 6x tippet, sometimes this does the trick without going to a tiny fly and ultralight tippet. Late mornings through early evenings is a great time to fish terrestrial patterns.

You can nymph the faster water, or Dry/Dropper it with a buoyant visible dry fly with a small (#18 or smaller) weighted nymph 1-2 feet below the dry. Just like with dries, for the most part the nymphing is #18 & smaller with a few exceptions (#8-12 Stonefly nymph from first light until about 10am, and #12-14 Isonychia nymphs in the late afternoons & eves). Frequently success with nymphing in low water in early Fall hinges upon just fishing a small enough fly, usually no bigger than #18 when the bugs are mostly small and the water is low. Don’t forget about terrestrials, especially midday and during non-hatch times, fish those Ants & Beetles. Also you can prospect with attractor dries like Mini Chernobyls, Mega Beetles, Stimulators, etc. Dry/Dropper, with a buoyant visible dry fly and a small weighted nymph 1-2’ below it is a very effective tactic during lower flows like this. You get the visual fun of dry fly fishing, combined with the effectiveness of nymphing, win-win. Wet fly/soft hackle fishing is still good to excellent in the faster water, whether or not trout are rising. Many large trout move into shallow riffles when they want to feed, so don’t neglect that calf to knee deep riffle water.


*BWOs/Blue Winged Olives/Baetis #18-24: afternoons/eves, esp. on cloudy/cooler or rainy days
-Tricos #22-26: almost done, upper river only, morning spinner fall is the main event (happens at approximately 68 degrees air temp)
*Assorted Caddis averaging #16-20 (tan, brown, black): hatch in mornings/afternoons, come back later in the day to egg-lay in riffly water, ranging from #12-22
*Isonychia #12-14: faster water, afternoons/eves normally
-Light Cahills/Summer Steno’s #12-18: eves, #14 is most common, hatch is near the end
-Yellow Sally #16-18: riffles & pocket water, a #16-18 Sulfur nymph or Yellow Prince will work as an imitation
*Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: early/mid mornings usually, sometimes go later, egg-laying adults sometimes are present in the evenings
-Beetles & Ants #12-18: great during non-hatch times (late morn thru early eves)
*Mole Fly #20-24 (olive, brown): deadly emerger that covers many small bugs & fools difficult trout
*Mini Chernobyls #12-16: very consistent foam bodied attractor dry, great to blind fish or rig up Dry/Dropper with a small weighted nymph under it
-Stimulator #10-14: great fast water attractor dry fly to blind fish, assorted colors
-Midges #18-28: anytime

*Small Nymphs #18-22: Assorted. In the Summer & Fall (especially during low water), often the secret is just going smaller, as most nymphs are small this time of year (with a few exception). Experiment: try drab, flashy, and with & without hot-spots, the trout will tell you what they want
-Sulfur Nymph/Yellow Sally #16-18: most water types, Sulfur nymphs & Yellow Princes both double as a Yellow Sally Stonefly imitation (Sulfur & Sally nymphs are both yellow/brown and about same size/shape)
*Caddis Pupa #16-18 (tan, olive/green): a fast water go-to straight into November
*Big Stoneflies #8-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black): fish first light to mid mornings
*Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs, and also smaller Stoneflies
*Olive/BWO Nymphs #16-22: various patterns, anytime
*Antoine's Perdigons #12-20: various colors & sizes
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16: anytime, all year
*Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmies/SJ Worms, Green Weenies): good during non-hatch periods, and also for higher/off-color flows & fresh stockers, or just as a change-up to natural/imitative flies after you fish through a run
-Jigged Streamers #8-12: various colors/patterns, we have a bunch of new ones
-Attractor Nymphs #12-20: anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot such as Rainbow Warriors, Haast Haze, Firestarter Perdigon, Sexy Waltz, Princes, Triple Threats, etc.
*Midges/Zebra Midges #18-22: olive, black, red: Midges are a staple food item, esp. when there aren’t many other hatches, and even fresh hatchery trout know them as food

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 4-6” 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
-great for imitating bugs like Caddis, Quill Gordons, Vitreus, March Browns, Isonychia
-if wet fly fishing is slow, try using a weighted fly (e.g. Beadhead 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- lethal flies for trophy trout
*Jigged Streamers #8-12: various patterns/colors, deadly fished on a tight-line/Euro rig
*Rio's Precious Metal #4 (Kreelex copper, olive, white)
*BMAR Yellow Matuka #6
*Zuddler #4-8: olive, yellow, white, brown, black
-Complex Twist Bugger & Mini version #2-6: assorted colors   
*Muddler Minnow #6-10: old school, underfished but still lethal & very versatile
*Conehead White Marabou Muddler #8: favorite Muddler variation, also underfished
-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)