Friday, June 2, 2023

Friday 6/2/23 Farmington River Report: Sulfur time!

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


***We have FRAA sun shirts in both short & long sleeve in several colors, they came out really nice***

River Conditions
Just got in a big order for Hareline with lots of tying materials. Wealso recently received a big fly, hook, and fly box order from Fulling Mill.

Diamondback Ideal Nymph 10’ are in stock, they were unavailable for a long time.

***Check yourself for ticks after you walk through the woods, they have been very active lately***

Our poster boy for this report is Trevor Musselman with a beautiful 21” brown, looks wild to me, and as pretty as any trout you might catch in Montana. Next down is a just shy of 22” rainbow by guide Derrick- the same outing also included several browns from 18 to 19 ½”. Third pic is local John Stratton with yet another high quality brown. Although a lot more trout have been surface feeding this past week, most of the better fish are getting caught on nymphs, typically either Caddis pupa, or Sulfur & Vitreus nymphs.

Friday morning 6/2/23 Report:
The big news is #16 Sulfurs (Invaria) have been hatching on most of the river this week, and a light hatch is as far upstream as Whittemore/Roberts/Pipeline/Lyman’s Rock. Further up is colder water, and the hatch times will vary according to that. Evenings or late afternoons is more typical as you get downriver and the river behaves more like a freestone stream, but more upstream you will see them early/mid afternoons, and often again in the eves. Flows are getting on the low side now- despite full reservoirs, the MDC flow/release in Riverton is 165cfs at the USGS gauge, and the Still River is adding in another 40cfs, giving a total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release of a medium-low 205cs. Normal/median total flow for today’s date would be 353cfs.

Quick Tip
In lower flows and sunny conditions, look for shade & structure. Trout will move to shady areas, and the biggest trout will be near or in structure (bigger rocks, downed trees, undercut banks, tree roots, etc.). Choppy/broken water is also a “cover” of sorts, as it obscures the view of trout from avian (bird) predators. 

On hotter days like yesterday (Thursday) and today (Friday), if you are out in the evening make sure to stay until full darkness, it often pushes the bugs off until the last half hour or so. Didn’t see much bug activity last night until 8pm, and then in the riffly water lots of egg-laying Caddis suddenly appeared. Further upriver colder water temps means the evening fishing starts and often ends earlier, I was in New Hartford. Cooler weekend weather (highs in the 60’s) should be nothing but good for the fishing. Be prepared with dries & nymphs matching both Caddis & Sulfurs. We are seeing a wide variety of Caddis from about #14 down to 22’s in various colors (especially tan ones), the Sulfurs are running about #16, and we still have Vitreus on the mid & upper river. 

If you have been struggling to catch fish, the fish in the permanent TMA/C&R receive the most pressure and will be the most “educated”, and the rest of the river will see trout that are somewhat less pressured and more willing to eat on average. The stocked rainbows are easier to fool than the holdover & wild browns. As usual, fishing pressure has been high, so start early (and/or stay late), cover plenty of water, and experiment with fly patterns & presentations. Nymphing can catch trout all day, but trout are looking up now and there are rising trout if you you are there during a hatch. If you are out in the evenings, stay until dark! Lately the best dry fly action in the eves has been in the last hour of light. June is the big month for Sulfurs in the permanent TMA/C&R.

Water temp in Riverton this morning was 45 degrees, it reached 51 degrees yesterday afternoon, New Hartford (where UpCountry is) has been low 50’s in the morning and getting up into the upper 50’s/low 60’s on warmer sunny days. Unionville USGS gauge is reading a low and very wadeable 303cfs, median/normal down there for today’s date would be 582cfs.

If you are nymphing, make sure you have a Caddis pupa & Sulfur nymphs in your rig. Use #14-18 Caddis in tan, olive/green. Color (and size) sometimes makes a BIG difference so experiment! Dead drift them, but always let them swing up at the end of the drift- Caddis are a very active bug and a good swimmers. Caddis have been hatching in the mornings and early afternoons, and coming back in the low light of evenings to egg-lay. Also fish Sulfur & Vitreus type nymphs in #14-16, at moments the trout show a distinct preference for them. March Brown nymphs are also in the drift, guessing that hatch is already going downriver- the nymphs migrate to the edges of pocket water 1-2 weeks before they hatch. Try a #10-12 March Brown (MB)nymph, Fox Squirrel, or Hare’s Ear to imitate them. 

The river outside of the permanent TMA/C&R was stocked for the 5th time just before Memorial Day, we are literally LOADED with trout. It can take fresh stockers a few weeks to dial into eating real bugs (especially on the surface), so don’t forget to try Junk Flies (Mops, Eggs, Squirmy Worms, Green Weenies), Walt’s Worms (both plain & Sexy), and Woolly Buggers (black, olive). Caddis & Sulfurs are the 2 main hatches currently. Much of the fishing with Caddis is subsurface, nymphing with pupa in medium to fast water. Trout tend to focus on the pupa during the emergence, anywhere from near the bottom to just under the surface. Dead-drift your pupa, but always allow them to swing up at the end of the drift. You can also fish wet flies & soft hackles for Caddis. Evening can see rising trout when they are egg-laying, but don’t rule out swinging wets/soft hackles to imitate diving/swimming egg-layers (some also bounce on the water). Try both dead-drifting AND twitching/skating your Caddis dries, they are a very active bug.

A LOT of anglers have been out and about when the weather & flows line up, so be flexible on where you fish and please don’t crowd other anglers- give them the room you would want somebody to give you. Trout are spreading out and can be found in a variety of water types, including faster water now. Bigger holdover & wild trout will often move into the current during bug activity to feed on hatching nymphs & pupa, as well as the Behavioral Drift of nymphs & larvae. Behavioral Drift happens early and late in the day when the light is low, and creates a spike in subsurface bug activity. FYI many nymphs in the drift are smaller and in the #16-20 range. Quite a few big trout have been landed in May, with a mix of holdover browns, wild browns, and broodstock rainbows, browns & golden rainbows. 

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 in general. Under normal flows, 5x-6x tippet is about right for most nymphs, and you can often go as heavy as 4x with bigger Stoneflies & Mops. For dries, we recommend longer leaders (12 feet or longer) with added tippet in the 5x-7x range, matched to your fly size/wind resistance. Don’t neglect small, heavy jigged streamers on a Euro rig, if you fish them slow & deep, they can be deadly when trout aren’t eating bugs- especially bigger fish. Olive, tan, and white are top streamer colors lately, but always experiment. Try running a streamer through a run after you nymph it, sometimes you will pull a big trout that wouldn’t move to eat a nymph.

Pro Tips
Just because there is a hatch does not automatically mean dry flies. Look for risers, but often there are few if any fish feeding on top, and you are better off matching the hatch by fishing subsurface with nymphs, pupa, larva, wet flies, and soft hackles. Many bigger trout rarely feed on top, and only at very specific, brief moments. This time of year many trout have spread out into faster water in the riffles, runs & pocket water. When the fishing is slow, you can often turn things around by focusing on drifting your flies near the rocks in sections of pocket water. 


*Sulfur #16 (Invaria): on most of the river, all the way up to just below the Still River
*Assorted Caddis #14-222 (tan, olive/green most common): entire river
*Vitreus #12-16: evening hatch in faster water, entire river
-Baetis/Blue Winged Olives #20-24: late afternoon & eves
-Flying Ants #22-24: a few have been out some days lately
-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: mornings, try a Midge Pupa subsurface
-Mole Fly #20-24 (olive, brown): deadly emerger that covers many small bugs & fools difficult trout in flat water


*Caddis Pupa #14-18 (mostly tan or olive/green): dead-drift & swing in medium to fast water, anytime
*Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs & smaller Stoneflies and are quite effective everywhere- try #12-16 to imitate Vitreus nymphs
-Antoine’s Perdigons #12-20: various patterns, all year
-BWO Nymphs #16-20: just about anytime
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16: anytime, lots of these in the river
-Cased Caddis #12-14: abundant bug, very effective 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, with & without hot-spots. Good on pressured fish, even big fish.
-Jigged Streamers #8-12: various colors/patterns- dead-drift, twitch, swing & strip, best 
on a Euro rod & leader
-Zebra Midge #18-22 (black, red, olive, brown)
-Big Stoneflies #8-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black): anytime, esp. during higher flows
-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, even on big wild browns

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, Vitreus, Isonychia and other faster swimming/emerging bugs

Big trout are almost always on the lookout for bigger bites, especially early & late in the day and during lulls in bug activity. Also a great choice anytime the flow is up or off-color. 
-Don’s Peach Bugger #8
-Rich Strolis articulated streamers (assorted), tied by the man himself, restocked recently 2 times
-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 debuted in the spring of 2022, and itis 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, and guides Zach St. Amand & Derrick Kirkpatrick are also big fans of it, as is shop employee/shop rat Joey. The length is ideal for rivers like the Farmington, allowing you to fish & cast further away, make longer drifts, cast easier, faster hook sets, and the soft tip will protect your tippet against big trout. Enough power in the butt section to handle bigger trout when necessary, 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 is the “all 'rounder” for Euro Nymphing. 

The new (as of 2022) 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’ #3, 10’ 10” 3wt, 10’ 10” 4wt, and 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 very popular with top competition anglers who have access to any rods they want.