Friday, June 9, 2023

Friday 6/9/23 Farmington River Report: Sulfur City

Store Hours: 7 days a week, Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, 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:

We will be open until 6pm on weekdays now (probably through September), weekends will stay at 5pm.

Recently received a big order from Hareline with lots of tying materials, and also a big fly, hook, and fly box order from Fulling Mill. I’m working on a Wapsi fly tying order, but it will probably be a couple of weeks before that’s done and we receive it. 

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 guide Steve Hogan with a beautiful wild brown fooled with a Sulfur dry fly in the afternoon. Next down is one of 3 big wilds I got on #16 Sulfur nymphs the past 2 days, the fish gods were very generous with me. Third pic is Toby Lapinski with a big wild brown on a soft hackle while guided by Steve Culton- Steve reports great fishing on wets & soft hackles swung in the fast water lately. The Sulfur hatch has been on fire this week.

Friday morning 6/9/23 Report:
Sulfurs have been THE bug this week. Both the nymphing and the dry fly fishing has been very good. I had ridiculous nymphing with #16 Sulfur nymphs the past two days, literally 90% of the trout were on them, despite trying numerous other patterns. The trout are totally dialed into the Sulfur nymphs & dries to the point where it’s been hard to catch them on other flies- a good problem to have I guess. Due to unusually low flows (120cfs total flow in the permanent TMA/C&R despite full reservoirs..., the historical median/normal for today would be 311cfs), when there are bugs the trout are rising everywhere. Low flows + a hatch = lots of rising trout. Most of the Sulfurs I’m seeing are #16 Invaria, especially in the faster and riffly water, but in the slower water I’m seeing some smaller Dorothea averaging #18, even down to #20. They are on the water anytime from mid/late mornings right up until dark. Look for a change to sipping rises just before dark, this typically means they have swithched over to spent Sulfur spinners. Last night, right at dusk I saw a bunch of March Brown spinners in the air over the riffles, think #10-12 for them. They are a trickle hatch during the day, one here and one there in faster water, but the spinners fall in concentrated numbers at dusk over riffles & pocket water. Downriver in Canton, Collinsville & Unionville, Isonychia are a legit hatch, mostly #10-12, with a few pushing a #8. A few in New Hartford, but not enough to call it a hatch. Remember that Iso’s are a fast water bug, so look for them there. Still Caddis hatches up in Riverton above the Still River, I don’t know if Sulfurs are up there yet but they may be, and if not, they will be very soon. I haven’t seen Vitreus in New Hartford this week, but they should still be hatching upriver (Campground through 

This is also a great time to fish wet flies, guide and wet fly/soft hackle aficionado Steve Culton has reported excellent fishing swinging wets lately. A lot of the “surface activity” I’ve seen this week appears to be fish intercepting nymphs just below the surface, and emergers in the film. Big trout will key on the easier to catch prey, and a classic Mayfly dun can fly off the water at any time, but a nymph or emerger cannot. Fishing wets is fun, productive, and relaxing. Fish them 2-3 at a time, on tag end droppers, 20-30” apart. Make sure not to use light tippet, and keep your rod tip up to cushion the strike- this also creates a slight bow which allows the trout to inhale your fly, you need some controlled slack or you will get a lot of hits that don’t convert into hooked fish. Dead-drift, swing, twitch, retrieve, skitter & bounce, the trout will tell you how they want them presented, and it will vary.

Further upstream and closer to the dam is colder water (coming out in the mid 40’s), and the hatch times will vary according to that. Flows are low right now- despite full reservoirs (over 99% capacity), the MDC is doing the minimum legal release, this morning it’s 78cfs at the Riverton USGS gauge, and the Still River is adding in another 42cfs, giving a total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release of 120cs. In their current paradigm, they typically adjust the flow on Monday to match the average inflow from the previous week, from a minimum of 50cfs to a maximum of 150cfs, and if Otis Reservoir is releasing, they have to also add that in. Unionville is an unusually low 201cfs, normal/median flow for today would be 486cfs. We need rain. The upside to lower flows is easier wading, and when there is a hatch more trout will feed on the surface. Lower water = more rising trout.

Quick Tip:
In lower flows and sunny conditions, look for shade & structure during the daytime. 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. 

Sulfurs are the main hatch and averaging #16 (Invaria) and running #14-20 (smaller ones are Dorothea), and we still have Vitreus on upper river (Campground through Riverton).We are seeing a wide variety of Caddis  in the upper river (from about Campground up to the dam) from about #14 down to 22’s in various colors (especially tan ones, but also olive, green, black, brown, and gray). Trickle hatch of #10-12 March Browns from mid to upper river in faster water, with a spinner fall at dusk. Isonychia are making an appearance from Canton & downstream, averaging #10-12, can be as big a #8. Look for Iso’s in faster water sometime between late afternoon & dark. They should be into the permanent TMA/C&R by later June, with July normally being the prime month for them in that river section. We have a great new locally tied Iso pattern, the Trigger Point Iso Emerger, check it out. But remember, currently you need to go downriver to hit that hatch.

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! June is the big month for Sulfurs in the permanent TMA/C&R.

Water temp in Riverton this morning was 45 degrees, it reached 49+ 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. 

If you are nymphing, make sure you have a Sulfur nymph in your rig, #16 is currently the ticket. Dead drift them, but always let them swing up at the end of the drift to imitate an emerging/hatching nymph. March Brown nymphs are also in the drift- 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. Small Blue Winged Olive nymphs #18-20 are often a great choice, especially on cloudy and/or cooler days.

A LOT of anglers have been fishing, 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. Ask people what direction they are working in (upstream, downstream), and if it’s okay if you jump in above or below them. Don’t jump ahead of people working upstream or downstream and high hole/low hole them, it’s bad etiquette. A little courtesy goes a long way. Trout have spread 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 (also at midnight) when the light is low, and creates a big spike in subsurface bug activity. FYI many nymphs in the drift are smaller and in the #16-20 range. 

You have to work and do everything right for the bigger holdover & wild brown trout, they don’t come easy- typical of pressured rivers. FYI big trout are everywhere on the river, even in the kill zones where bait guys routinely kill their limit (2 fish, 12”). Bigger fish that have been in the river for years 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 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 and it’s an ideal time and situation to fish wet flies & soft hackles. 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, and on bright sunny days look for shade. 


*Sulfur #16 (Invaria): on most of the river, all the way up to just below the Still River, and maybe further up than that, focus on water with a little current, spinner falls at dusk. Hatching anytime from mid/late mornings until dark.
-Sulfur #18 (Dorothea): seeing some, mostly in slower water
-Assorted Caddis #14-22 (tan, olive/green most common): best hatching is currently upriver, more towards Riverton
-March Brown #10-12: mid to upper river, trickle hatch in faster water during the day, concentrated spinner fall at dusk over riffles & pocket water
-Vitreus #12-16: upriver only (about Campground to dam in Riverton), evening hatch in faster water
-Isonychia #10-12: downstream only currently- Canton, Collinsville, Unionville, faster
water insect, late afternoon through dark
-Baetis/Blue Winged Olives #20-24: late afternoon & eves, esp. cooler cloudy days
-Flying Ants #22-24: a few some days
-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 & eves, 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 #12-14 to imitate Vitreus nymphs, #16 for Sulfurs
-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.