Friday, April 7, 2023

Friday 4/7/23 Farmington River Report: Opening Day weekend (sorta) & 2 flow cuts

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


River Conditions:

Easter Weekend store hours:

Friday 4/7 8am-5pm, Saturday 4/8 8am-5pm, Sunday 4/9 8am-3pm sharp.

The Farmington was stocked in February and again in early April from the dam in Riverton downstream 21 miles to the Rt 177 Unionville Bridge (the 6.2 mile permanent TMA/Catch & Release section was excluded, it gets stocked once per year in April)It’s 100% catch & release on the Farmington river in this section until the second Saturday in April. And as of March 1st, all trout streams in CT remain open to fishing (no closed season anymore as of last year), but not to harvestall are strictly catch & release from 3/1 until 4/8.

We will be giving away FREE fly tying materials for FRAA members only for the next week. If you aren’t a member, you can join right here on the spot FYI, there’s a code you can scan right at the front counter. We received some large batches of tying materials from donors. Also if you join the FRAA now, your will automatically be entered into a drawing for a premium Orvis fly rod later this year.  

Got in a BIG order from Fulling Mill last week including new hooks (Grub Boss), new flies, a restock of streamers (including plenty of Woolly Buggers), a bunch of their excellent red (and blue) fly boxes, and filled in some holes in our tungsten beads. 

Pictured up top is Gordon Perkins, aka peconicgp on Instagram, with a looong holdover brown he caught here in late March. Second pic is a nice wild brown I landed yesterday in my landing net.

Friday afternoon 4/7 12 2pm update:

MDC cut the flow again this morning, as of the 1:30pm update it dropped about another 100cfs, putting Riverton at 423cfs, and the total flow in the Permanent TMA/C&R in the mid 600cfs range- I'd call both those levels medium-high, very fishable, and quite normal for today's date. This should be the last flow cut this week, but you will likely see them cut the flow next week with no rain in the extended forecast.

Friday morning 4/7 9am:
Although technically Opening Day is no more as of 2022, for many people April 8th (the 2ndSaturday) is still Opening Day of sorts because it marks the day you can keep two 12” trout on most (but not all, permanent TMA is C&R all year long & barbless) of the Farmington River. The river was also stocked for a second time this week with thousands of trout, from the dam in Riverton downstream to the Rt 177 Unionville Bridge, excluding the permanent TMA which gets stocked once per year in April (should be very soon!). FYI Riverton closes off to fishing from April 1st until 6am Saturday April 8th from the head of Pipeline Pool up to where Hogback Rd. intersects with Rt 20 (Canal Pool). So that means Lyman Rock, Hitchcock, Van’s/Zach’s Pool, and Canal Pool are off-limits until tomorrow, Saturday 4/8 at 6am. Despite that, quite a few people were observed illegally fishing there yesterday & today, probably because they did not realize it’s closed. This brief closureis so they can privately stock the big trout for the Riverton Derby, but this year it was pushed back by a week from the 2nd Saturday until the 3rd Saturday (April 15th) due to Easter weekend. 

MDC reduced the release at the dam yesterday by about 300cfs, bringing the total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) down to 757cfs (historical normal median flow would be 649cfs)- I would call this somewhat high but quite fishable. They had bumped it up on Tuesday by 300cfs due to rainfall/snowmelt making Colebrook reservoir overfull. I imagine they will keep it at this level and maybe reduce it next Monday 4/10 (educated guess)- current inflow above Colebrook is 416cfs & dropping, so they have to keep it above this or the reservoir won’t get lower. However, sometimes they reduce it for this weekend, so who knows. I’ll update it if they change it. The breakdown is 527cfs at the Riverton USGS gauge (water temp there this morning is 42 degrees at the Rt 20 bridge in Riverton), plus an additional 230cfs & dropping from the Still River. Downstream in Unionville it is 1,110cfs and dropping- it’s a big wide river down there, I’d wait for it to drop down under 1,000cfs at the Unionville gauge if you want to fish down in Canton, Collinsville, Unionville, or Farmington.Last I knew the East Branch was adding in 300cfs (comes in about ½ mile below UpCountry), making Dog Pound, Satan’s Kingdom and below pretty high. Currently New Hartford up to the dam in Riverton is seeing the best water conditions. The best water temps, however,are downstream from the Still River, as it runs warmer than the icy cold water coming out of Hogback/Goodwin Dam.

I will not be surprised to see Hendricksons start hatching down in Unionville next week- typically they start up when water temps crack 50 degrees for a few days, and with the current weather forecast (highs mid 60’s to mid 80’s next week!) that looks likely to happen very soon- I got 49 degrees yesterday evening in Whittemore. They start downstream in Farmington, Unionville & Collinsville, and then the hatch progresses upstream. If you track the bug activity, you could actually fish the hatch for 5-6 weeks if you start on the lower river in April fishing the afternoon hatchand end up in Riverton fishing the spinner fall well into May. The lower river runs warmer, so the hatch starts down there first. 

With flows getting back toward “normal” early Spring levels, you can go back to using “normal” flies. It’s still going to be more nymphing & streamers, but there will be some limited dry fly action too. The big 3 nymphs have been #16-18 Baetis/Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s), #14-16 Black Stoneflies, and also Hendrickson Nymphs about a #12-14 (they are not hatching yet, but active and in the drift). You can use a Pheasant Tail or a Frenchy to imitate the Hendrickson nymphs, or a specific imitation (something brown in that size with a basic Mayfly shape like our BMAR Hendrickson Nymph). For the Olive Nymphs & Stonefly Nymphs, make sure the patterns you choose or tie have skinny abdomens like the naturals do. Hendrickson nymphs are a Clinger nymph and are somewhat blockier in the abdomen- something brownish and a little thicker will imitate them. At the current flows the dry fly fishing is pretty limited, check Church Pool for risers, it’s good even in higher flows. Think Winter/Summer Caddis in the early/mid mornings, and Baetis/Olives & Early Black Stoneflies in the afternoons. The Caddis & the Stonefly dries are often best fished with occasional twitches, but make sure to dead-drift the Olives. 

Water temps are ranging from upper 30’s/low 40's to high 40’s on milder, sunny days, depending upon time of day, weather, and distance from dam. The trout stocked outside of the permanent TMA/C&R (mostly 12-14” rainbows) have moved around and completely infiltrated the permanent TMA/C&R from top to bottom- if you find a pod of them you might rack up some big numbers. The bigger holdover & wild trout are more difficult and you have to do everything right and put in work for them, but the reward can be beautiful 16-20” plus browns- Zach landed a 22” wild female recently, and Ben Canino landed a 22” fish on a big streamer on 3/30 during the high water.

Match whatever bugs are hatching when nymphing, and add in #14-18 Frenchies/Pheasant Tails (PT’s), big Stones, Sexy Waltz & plain Walt’s, Caddis Larva (both regular olive/green & Cased), and also Attractor Nymphs (hot spots, fluorescent tags, flash, bright colors) & Junk Flies (Mops, Eggs, Worms). Various Perdigons in #14-20 are working too. The recently stocked trout will hit a wider variety of flies, and often prefer gaudy patterns. You have to work and do everything right for the bigger holdover & wild brown trout, they don’t come easy- typical of pressured rivers. They are more dialed into natural food sources and imitative flies. 5x-6x tippet is about right for most nymphs, and you can go as heavy as 4x with bigger Stoneflies. Don’t neglect smaller jigged streamers on a Euro rig, if fished them slow & deep and can be deadly in the early season before all the major hatches get going. Olive, tan, and white are top streamer colors lately. 

Pro Tips: Caddis Larva (both regular & cased) will be an excellent nymphing choice for April, pair them up with a “Junk Fly”(Egg, Mop, Worm), #8-12 Stonefly, #14-18 Mayfly-type nymph (Pheasant Tail/Frenchy, Hare’s Ear,Hendrickson, etc.), or a #18-22 Zebra Midge (black, olive). 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.


*Baetis/Blue Winged Olives #16-18: afternoons
*Early Black Stonefly #12-16: afternoons, especially on milder/sunny days, nymphs are active subsurface and in the drift
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: hatching in early to mid morning, often go later into the afternoons, adult egg-layers can also be present in the evenings
-Midges #20-28: afternoons, try a Midge Pupa subsurface
-Mole Fly #20-24 (olive, brown): deadly emerger that covers many small bugs & fools difficult trout in flat water

*BWO Nymphs #16-18: best in the afternoons, active in crappy weather
*Early Stonefly Nymph/Strolis Infant Stone #14-16 (black, brown)
*Hendrickson-type Nymphs: not hatching but in the drift, something brown about a #12-14, can use a Pheasant Tail or a BMAR Hendrickson
*Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #14-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs & smaller Stoneflies and are quite effective everywhere- try #12-14 to imitate Hendrickson nymphs
 *Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16: anytime, especially early Spring, lots of these in the river
*Cased Caddis #12-14: abundant and an especially good choice in the early Spring, also during/after flow bumps (knocks larva into the drift) 
-Small Nymphs #18-22: Assorted. The Farmington River is LOADED with small bugs. Experiment and try drab, flashy, and with & without hot-spots. Good on pressured fish.
*Jigged Streamers #8-12: various colors/patterns- dead-drift, twitch, swing & strip
-Zebra Midge #18-22 (black, red, olive, brown): Wintertime staple
-Big Stoneflies #8-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black): anytime, esp. during higher flows
-Antoine’s Perdigons #12-20: various patterns, all year
*Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmies/SJ Worms, Green Weenies): good in cold water, during non-hatch periods, 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
*Attractor Nymphs #14-20: anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot such as Rainbow Warriors, Sexy Waltz, Prince, Triple Threats, etc.- not uncommon for these to outfish drabber, more imitative flies

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Hare's Ear, Partridge & Flash, Leadwing Coachman, March Brown, etc. #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
*especially good for imitating Caddis, Isonychia and other faster swimming/emerging bugs
*in cold water (like now) make sure to fish them deeper using a weighted point fly, and/or sinking leaders/sink-tips/sinking fly lines

Big trout are almost always on the lookout for bigger bites, especially early & late in the day.
-Don’s Peach Bugger #8
-Rich Strolis articulated streamers (assorted), tied by the man himself, restocked recently
-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 (peach, black, olive, white, brown, tan)


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 very unlikely for long/thin leaders or Mono Rigs to work their way outside the frame- a common problem with most modern reels (very few are full frame, 90% have a half 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. The ultra large arbor, large diameter, narrow spool 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 spin it rapidly and 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, very low swing weight, and a blast to play the fish on. It is my current favorite rod, it’s really fun to fish with. The length is ideal for good sized rivers like the Farmington, allowing you to fish & cast further away, make longer drifts, casts easier, gives you faster hook sets, and the soft tip will protect your tippet against big trout. Plenty of power in the butt section to handle bigger trout, and a bit of extra flex in the tip 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, the newer 10’ 10” #6, with more models to come in 2023. Joe Goodspeed, (formerly of Cortland and T&T) designed this new series in 2022, 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 with thinner/micro leaders, 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 (a unique & very fun rod). The 10’ 10” #3 has the backbone to handle larger trout & heavy jigged streamers. I’ve also noticed the 10’ #2 is popular with some top competition anglers.