Monday, April 10, 2023

Monday 4/10/23 Farmington River Report: Flow Cut & fantastic weather

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


River Conditions:

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 recentlyincluding 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 Zach St. Amand, doing what he does bet, catching big wild & holdover trout. Next down is customer Rich Foster with a hefty brown he landed on a jigged streamer. 3rddown is Colby Perkins with a big rainbow.

FYI the Riverton Derby was postponed from the traditional 2ndweekend in April due to Easter, it will be this upcoming Saturday 4/15 at 6am.

Monday 4/10 12:45pm Flow Update:
Just got the email from the MDC, at 9am they cut the dam release from 405cfs down to 200cfs (150cfs MDC/”Natural Flow”, 50cfs Army Corps of Engineers for flood control). The East Branch was reduced from 125cfs to 25cfs. This puts the permanent TMA/C&R in the mid 300cfs range, a medium and near perfect flow. The entire river from top to bottom is now quite fishable. It will also help to raise water temps and hopefully get the Hendrickson hatch kick-started later this week (as I write this it has not yet started), fingers crossed! Should also mean more rising trout & easier wading/better access, even the lower river in Farmington/Collinsville/Unionville is very accessible at current flows. They expect to keep the river at this level the rest of the week, and there is no rain in sight. Combined with mild to warm air temps, should be a great week to fish. 

Monday morning 4/10:
Just another day in paradise. Looks like a fantastic week ahead of us with afternoons reaching into the low 60’s to mid 80’s! Wow. More like early June weather. No rain in sight either, with nights only down into the 50’s starting Tuesday night. Not only will this make for nice, comfortable fishing, but it will raise water temps and get both the trout & bugs more active. I would expect to see the Hendricksons popping downriver very soon, possiblyas early as mid/late week (educated guess)in Farmington, Unionville, Collinsville. The water coming out of the dam is upper 30’s/low 40’s, and as you go downriver in the Spring it warms up, so hatches start first downstream and then work upriver. With sunshine and highs in the low/mid 80’s on Thursday/Friday, I would not be surprised to see the Hendricksons start to hatch as far upstream as New Hartford/lower end of permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) by this upcoming weekend- this is just an educated guess though, and not a guarantee. Usually the hatch starts when water temps crack 50 degrees for a few days. I can tell you for sure that the Hendrickson nymphs have been active subsurface and in the drift, so if you are nymphing make sure to fish some brown Mayfly-type nymphs in #12-14. Try a BMAR Hendrickson nymph, Pheasant Tails, Frenchies, or a brown Perdigon. 

The river was stocked for a second time lastweek with thousands of trout (including some big ones), from the dam in Riverton downstream to the Rt 177 Unionville Bridge, excluding the permanent TMA/C&Rwhich gets stocked once per year in April- should be very soonfor that,anytime between this week and the end of this month.Fresh stocked trout will hit a variety of nymphs, wet flies & streamers, including some pretty gaudy stuff. Junk Flies (eggs, mops, worms, green weenies) can be very effective. Also small to medium Buggers & streamers in olive, black. A natural colored Walt’s Worm or a Sexy Waltz can work great, maybe because Hare’s Ear dubbing in the color of a trout food pellet haha. Nymphs with hot spots can work great. Don’t forget about wet flies & soft-hackles, sometimes a swung fly is just what it takes for a trout to pull the trigger. FYI you can also swing and slightly jig your nymphs, sometimes that works better than a dead-drift, even more so when bugs are hatching (especially Caddis). 

Water levels are improved, with a total flow of 582cfs in the permanent TMA/C&R- I’d call this medium-high and very fishable.It’s 419cfs from the dam in Riverton, plus 163cfs & dropping from the Still River. They had bumped it up last week to get Colebrook Reservoir down, due to rain & snowmelt, and then cut it back by 400cfs on lastThursday & Friday. I’m guessing you will see a flow reduction today, but that’s just an educated guess- if/when they cut it back today/tomorrow, I’ll update it here.Even at the current level, trout have been rising to #16-18 Blue Winged Olives (Baetis/Olives) in the bigger wider pools, although you may need to go down to a #20 dry to fool them. 

For the Olive Nymphs & Stonefly Nymphs, make sure the patterns you choose or tie have skinny abdomens like the naturals do, Perdigons can be a good choice for that. Hendrickson nymphs are a Clinger nymph and are somewhat blockier in the abdomen- something brownish and a little thicker will imitate them. Hatchwise, 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. 

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, hatch is near the end
-Hendricksons #12-14: not hatching yet, but any day now, will start downriver first in Farmington/Unionville/Collinsville, maybe later this week?
-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/Frenchy 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.