Monday, November 14, 2022

Monday 11/14/22 Farmington River Report: November returns

Fall Store Hours: 7 days a week, Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, and Sat-Sun 8am-5pm.

Guide Mark Swenson is doing his Beginner Fly Tying Class on Sunday November 27th, 9:30am - 4pm, contact him directly at 203-586-8007, last I knew he had one spot still open.

Another giant tying material collection walk through our doors recently. 
It includes are variety of items, including a ton of high quality bucktails (it's been harder to get quality bucktails in 2022), priced to sell at $7 each. Currently bucktail prices have gone up and average retail is $10 or more now from our suppliers, and that’s with us pricing them at a shorter than normal margin to keep them affordable.

Simms G4 Pro Waders are on sale for about $150 off at $650 (normal is $799.95)You can purchase these in-store or online, we expect these to sell out quickly, and once they are gone that’s it. Simms will only be doing the zipper G4Z version of these for 2023 at $999.95.


We will be limiting the pictures in the reports to 2 or 3 in total. Additional pics & videos will be posted on our Facebook and Instagram “Stories” (they stay up for 24 hours there). Pictured up top is a client of Zach St. Amand with a big beautiful brown trout, and below that is Zach’s client Zach (yup, same name) with another super nice trout. Third fish pic is customer Abe D’Amato with a spawned out holdover he fooled with a Midge pattern. 

The majority of brown trout have spawned over the past 4 weeks, but there will be smaller numbers of spawning trout as late as early/mid January. I posted a recent pic of an actual trout redd (courtesy of R.M. Lytle) from the Farmington River in October & wrote a Fall Spawning PSA below so that everyone knows 1) what they look like, 2) avoids fishing to trout spawning on them, and 3) avoids walking through them and the first 15 feet below them so as not to crush the eggs before they hatch out.

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 of your choice from our wall plus free setup and advice. Call or stop by the shop for details.

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 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. 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. If you need to take up slack quickly the reel is designed so you can hit the spool with your palm to rapidly take up excess line. Anywhere the line/leader can rub against the reel when stripping line has been machined round to eliminate abrasion. The Ideal Nymph reel is unique, with all the features you wanted and clever ones you never even thought about. They use the latest 5D-5 Axis machining to make this unusual & beautiful fly reel. These reels have already become a hot seller.

The T&T Contact II 10’ 9 2wt rod is an excellent addition to the best line-up of euro rods. I absolutely love it- the perfect rod for 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 length is ideal for rivers like the Farmington, allowing you to fish & cast further away, make longer drifts, casts easier/further, faster hook sets, and the soft tip will protect light 5x-7x tippets against big trout. Plenty of power in the butt section to handle bigger trout, and a bit of extra flex in the tip for better for casting thinner leaders and lighter flies. The new 2wt is a great compliment to your arsenal, especially if you already have the 3wt, which has been the “all 'rounder” for Euro Nymphing. 

The new Diamondback range of Ideal Nymph rods are in stock
. These fantastic Euro nymphing rods are available in 10’ 1wt, 10’ 2wt, 10’ 10” 2wt, 10’ 10” 3wt& 10’ 10” 4wt, 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. Using the latest, state-of-the-art materials & construction, the rods are light with excellent recovery & sensitivity, plenty of big fish playing power, double rings on the downlocking reel seat, 3 snake guides on the rod tip for minimal line/leader wrap, and 2 single foot ceramic stripping guides to reduce friction & improve line shoot. The 10’ 10” #2 has been a best seller for the Farmington River, also the 10’ #1.


River Conditions:
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 second Saturday in April 2023at 6am. If you see people violating this and keeping fish, PLEASE make sure to call the DEEP hotline at 800-842-HELP (4357). Program the number into your cell phone, and call!! Even if they cannot respond fast enough, the call & location of the offense is logged. The DEEP field officers add the vehicle descriptions to their database and will catch repeat offenders, but ONLY if you call it in.

We received another nice slug of rain Friday night/Saturday morning, giving the depleted water table another much needed shot. River looks great today, mid 300cfs (medium) and clear in the permanent TMA/C&R and dropping steadily. We should see normal flows for the rest of November. The majority of trout that are going to spawn (sexually mature adults) have done so already, most of the better fish of late have that skinnier spawned-out look to them. There will still be smaller numbers of late spawning trout for about another 2 months. DON’T WALK ON THE REDDS OR THE FIRST 10-15 FEET BELOW THEM OR YOU WILL CRUSH THE EGGS! All those eggs are future WILD trout. Much cooler/normal November weather is here to stay now, with highs averaging low 40’s this week, lows averaging mid/upper 20’s, brrrr. Break out your fleece, heavy socks, warm hats & fingerless gloves. This also means there is no need to hit the water before late morning, the overnight water temp drop usually puts the fish somewhat off the bite until water temps bump up a degree or two in the late morning and the trout & bugs both get more active. FYI water temps up near the dam, above the Still River, are warmer due to the water coming out of the dam at the same temp 24 hours a day, and then it cool/warms as you move downstream depending upon the air temps & sunshine (or lack thereof).

If you are nymphing (and you probably should be more often than not right now), think Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmy/SJ Worms), Stoneflies, and hedge your bet by adding a smaller more imitative, drabber fly. Blue Winged Olives averaging #20-24 remain the major afternoon hatch and that will be true for all of November. Isonychia are done. Still light numbers of#16-18 Tan Caddis, but once the truly cold water moves in to stay (right about now) that will probably be the last of them. Eggs are a key fly with the brown trout still spawning (especially in the mornings), and streamers are another very good option. When streamer fishing experiment with fly size/color/retrieve, it can make a BIG difference- make sure to also cover lots of water and show your fly to more fish. If standard streamer techniques/flies don’t work, try a tight-line smaller jigged streamer Euro approach with a mix of dead-drifts/twitches, as well as swinging & stripping. Make sure to have nymphs/pupa imitating the BWO’s & Caddis, as often the trout don’t rise during those hatches but rather feed subsurface. 

Due to rainfall in October/November pluswater released into the Farmington River (in MA) from Otis Reservoir, the inflow to Colebrook Reservoir is up and the MDC has to run that amount of water out of the dam (they are legally required to match the inflow up to 150cfs, beyond that it’s discretionary), plus the additional 85cfs being released from Otis Reservoir (comes in above Colebrook Reservoir) they are required to also add to this. Still River this morning was adding about 174cfs (and dropping)to the dam release (comes in a little below the Rt 20 bridge in Riverton), and slightly below UpCountry the East Branch is adding in 0cfs currently. All this is setting the stage for better flows in November, beyond that I’m not sure so get out on the river while flows are optimal. 

Water flows in the medium range are better for nymphs & streamer fishing and creates more holding water. You can still find trout rising to dries in the afternoons, but you have to pick your dry fly spots more carefully than you would at low flows. Late mornings through late afternoons are peak insect hatching times. With trout still spawning, make sure to try some egg flies if you are nymphing, and definitely streamers too (spawning season ramps up brown trout aggression toward streamers). You don’t need to start at the crack of dawn, fishing generally picks up as water temps rise throughout the day. If you have to start early, nymph with Eggs, Junk Flies & Attractor nymphs, or strip/jig some streamers for a big trout. You can fish a streamer traditionally with fly line, or tight-line a smaller jigged streamer on a Euro rig/leader, both are currently effective. The Euro jigged streamer approach is good when trout aren’t aggressive enough to chase a stripped streamer (frequently the case), it fishes the fly slow & deep and puts it right in their face, making it easy for them to eat it because they don’t have to chase their meal. 

DO NOT walk through redds (the circular/oval light colored patches in gravelly riffle water where the trout spawn & deposit their eggs), and DO NOT fish to fish sitting on the redds (they are spawning). There are plenty of non-spawning trout downstream of these areas eating eggs & bugs. FYI people are unknowingly walking through redds, so please educate yourself & pay attention to where you walk. Best insect activity is still in the afternoon. If you must start early, use flies that are independent of hatching activity: streamers, “Junk Flies” (egg flies, Mops, Squirmy Worms, Green Weenies), and Attractor nymphs (Princes and hot spot/gaudy flies like Frenchies, Sexy Waltz, etc). 

Water temp this morning is 50.5 degrees in Riverton, it reached 53.5 degrees there Sunday afternoon, but with significantly colder weather here to stay now, look for water temps to trend downward- no need to start early in the late Fall. MDC has been holding back water in the West Branch (reservoirs are at 85%of capacity as of October 31st) since July and doing the bare minimum releases they are legally allowed to do- so the low flows we’ve had much of this year were NOT due to the drought we had this Summer, but rather the MDC deciding to not release the water, even though they have had a surplus (they were at about 90-95% capacity most of the Summer). Otis Reservoir is currently letting out 85cfs (comes in above Colebrook River Lake) , and the MDC has to add this to their planned water release. And typically in November Highland Lake is lowered, that drains into the Still River (which dumps in a little below the Rt 20 bridge in Riverton). 

The best fishing & hatches are typically in the10am-4pm time slot. FYI the afternoon Fall Blue Winged Olive hatches occur whether it is cloudy out or sunny, they have been running anywhere from #20-26, averaging #22-24. The other bug is Tan Caddis #16-18, still seeing some in light numbers, but definitely getting near the end. Isonychia are alsoabout done. Virtually all of those are hatching in the late mornings/afternoons/early eves, which fits the old rule about the best time to trout fish: during the most pleasant/comfortable time of the day. The one exception to this is the Winter/Summer Caddis #18-24, which normally hatch in early to mid mornings, even in the Winter. The adults will sometimes be on the water in the evenings to egg lay.

PSA regarding Fall trout spawning:
The brown trout spawn is still underway. Typically on the Farmington River it occurs between mid/late October and mid/late November, but I’ve seen spawning brown trout as late as mid January. Please leave spawning trout alone and let them do their thing. Spawning is very stressful on the trout and really depletes their bodies & energy stores, so don’t add to that. It’s okay to fish below spawning trout, usually the first deeper/darker water downstream of them finds other trout eating loose eggs. Trout spawn on what is called a redd, where the females dig circular/oval depressions in the shallow gravelly riffle water with good current (pool tailouts are common areas for this), and then they pair up with the males and deposit eggs there and cover them with gravel. Be aware that many eggs drift 5-15 downstream of the redds. Even after the trout are no longer spawning you want to make sure you don’t step on the redds or the water immediately below them, or you will crush/destroy the eggs & future wild trout. The trout fry hatch out & emerge from the gravel in late Winter, typically February or early March, so be careful where you tread during that time period. The redds appear as lighter colored circular/oval depressions in the darker gravel, commonly in the tail ends of the pools (can be in riffles at pool heads & side channels too). We consider it unsporting to fish for fish that are actively spawning/on the redds, plus it adds to their already high stress level (some trout die from spawning). There are always plenty of other trout to catch that are not on the redds that are pre-spawn, post-spawn, or non-spawning. Let the spawning trout do their thing unmolested and make more wild brown trout, and don’t walk on the eggs they deposited. Our river has a healthy wild brown trout population that seems to be increasing over time, and they have fantastic genetics- lets try to keep this trend going.

Riverton was stocked in early October by the MDC, from the dam going downstream about 4 miles to Whittemore (right above the Campground).


-Blue Winged Olives #20-26: afternoons, main November hatch
-Tan Caddis #16-18: hatch in late mornings & afternoons, come back later in the day to egg-lay in riffled water, hatch is very near the end
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: hatching early to mid morning, sometimes go later, adults are present in the evenings
-Mole Fly #20-24 (olive, brown): deadly emerger that covers many small bugs & fools difficult trout, olive ones can imitate BWO’s
-Mini Chernobyl #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. Most nymphs are small this time of year with a few exceptions. Experiment and try drab, flashy, and with & without hot-spots.
-BWO Nymphs #16-22: various patterns, anytime
-Caddis Pupa #16-18 (tan, olive/green): a fast water go-to straight thru mid November
-Big Stoneflies #6-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black): anytime
-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs & smaller Stoneflies
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16: anytime, all year, lots of these in the river
-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 with standard nymphs
-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, Sexy Waltz, Prince, Triple Threats, etc.
-Midges/Zebra Midges #18-22: olive, black, red. Midges are a staple food item, especially when there aren’t many other hatches.

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Hare's Ear, Partridge & Flash, Leadwing Coachman, March Brown #12-16
*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
*great for imitating Caddis, Isonychia and other faster swimming/emerging bugs

Fall is PRIME TIME to fish streamers, as brown trout spawning ramps up aggression, and after they are done spawning, post-spawn trout are HUNGRY.
-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 #2-6: assorted colors
-Conehead White Marabou Muddler #8
-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)