Friday, July 28, 2023

Friday 7/28/23 Farmington River Report: Big flow cut!

Store Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-6pm & Sat-Sun 8am-5pm.

Pictured is guide Zach St. Amand with a big beautiful streamer eating brown trout from this morning, looks wild to me. 

Finally, some good news on water levels! The MDC cut the dam release Thursday from 1,100cfs down to 500cfs now that Colebrook River Lake is down to the “appropriate stage”. They are reducing it more today, it’s 477cfs this morning (Friday). The Still River is 249cfs and dropping fast (we got a brief but heavy T-Storm Thursday afternoon), giving a total flow from there down and in the permanent TMA/C&R of 726cfs and dropping. Bear in mind the USGS gauge is by the Rt 20 bridge, so it will read higher than the release due to runoff and several small brooks up there. It’s possible you will see another small flow cut today, but as of now it’s low 700cfs total flow below the Still River. Substantial improvement! 

Morning water temp was 64.5 degrees at the Rt 20 bridge in Riverton, it reached 67+ degrees yesterday afternoon. Keep an eye on water temps today (Friday), and tomorrow (Saturday), especially in the afternoons- the further downstream you go, the more you will see afternoon water temps rise on warm, sunny days- sunlight is the biggest driver of temp increases. Due to the big water releases in July, we lost a lot of the coldest water at the bottom of the reservoir system. Things cool off noticeably starting Saturday night and onward. When you are fishing, look for water temps of 68 or less, preferably even lower. Morning water temps will be the lowest, and the closer to the dam you get, the lower the water temps will be. If temps hit 70 degrees as the day progresses (and they can), please move upriver until you find 68 degree or colder water. Carry a thermometer!It’s better for the trout, and it will lead to better fishing & catching. Please make sure to play your trout hard, land them quickly, keep them in the water when you are releasing them. Use a landing net to speed up the landing process, it’s a big help. Bigger landing nets make it easier & faster to land the fish. 

Prior to this flow cut it was very high water and mostly Junk Flies (Mops, Squirmies, Eggs) & streamers, fished on the edges out of the heavy current. Flow is still moderately high and dropping, but much more fishable & accessible. You can think about using some more typical & normal flies now, but Junk Flies & streamers are still in play. As the water continues to drop more over the next week, you will likely see some dry fly fishing in the evenings. 

As an incentive to get some foot traffic, we are doing 20% off used & clearance fly rods & reels sale in store only. Most clothing, plus clearance packs, clearance vests, and clearance waders are on sale as well. The sale merchandise is going fast as it's rare that we have the opportunity to mark things down during the height of the season.... but because of the high water we can use some income and you, our loyal customers should benefit. 

Saltwater anglers take note, we have quite a few saltwater rods on sale or clearance, including models from both Sage & Hardy.

The FRAA stocked 57 large rainbow trout in New Hartford on June 8th from 19-24” and very fat, ranging from about 3-4# up to 7-8#. They were stocked from below the Rt 219 bridge (the Wall) down to Satan’s Kingdom. These fish are spreading out above & below that, and quite a few have been hooked, lost & landed since then. These are high quality Kamloops Rainbows that come from Harding Hatchery, a very tough strain of trout. They are quite fat with great coloration.


High flows push trout to the banks, out of the heavy current, and that is where you should focus on. Look for wider pools that can spread out and slow down the current, obstructions like large boulders tight to the bank, as well as inside turns where there is less current. For flies think subsurface and bigger/gaudier/darker. High water knocks bigger food items loose, plus it’s easier for trout to find bigger flies in the higher, stained, faster water. Medium to large streamers can move top end trout in high water. Play with colors & retrieves. Good colors right now are olive, yellow, black, brown, or combinations of them. Bump up your nymph sizes. Fish heavier flies and/or with larger split shot. Think about using flies with flash, hot spots, and/or darker flies (black, brown, dark olive) that throw a more pronounced silhouette. You can bump up your tippet size, and more closely approach the trout. Don’t jump in the water to start fishing, in higher water, trout hold closer to the bank. You will spook the fish that you could have potentially caught. Often in really high flows like this, start out fishing from the bank, and work your way into the water. 

A good high water nymph rig is a Junk Fly (Mop, Squirmy Worm, Eggs, Green Weenie) or a jigged streamer paired with a regular nymph #12-18 (Pheasant Tail/Frenchy, Sulfur Nymph, Isonychia Nymph, Hare’s Ear, Caddis Larva/Pupa, Blue Winged Olive (BWO/Olive) Nymph, etc.). I noticed quite a few large Stonefly shucks on the river, making a #6-10 Stonefly Nymph a good choice in golden, brown, or black. They are especially effective in the mornings, as they crawl out to emerge overnight and in the early AM. Another big bug we get in the summertime: Isonychia (#8-12) normally emerge in fast water, sometime between late afternoon & dark.  

-Sulfur #18 (Dorothea): Riverton only, near the end, mostly in slower/moderate water
-Assorted Caddis #14-22 (tan, olive/green most common): hatching in early to mid AM, come back to egg lay at dusk
-Isonychia #10-12: fast water insect, late afternoon through dark, spotty hatch this year. July is normally the big Iso month in the permanent TMA/C&R
-Blue Winged Olives #20-26: esp. cooler cloudy days
-Summer Stenos/Cahills #12-20: evenings
-Ants & Beetles #12-20: good choice late morning through early eves when bugs aren’t hatching but trout are sporadically sipping small stuff, you can also blind fish bigger ones
-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

-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
-Big Stoneflies #8-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black): early to mid AM in fast water, you will see the shucks on the rocks, as well as on cement bridge abutments
-Isonychia Nymph #10-12: nymphs are working, fish in fast water, both dead-drift & swing them. As far upstream as Pipeline/Lyman’s Rock.
-Caddis Pupa #14-18 (mostly tan or olive/green): dead-drift & swing in medium to fast water, especially early & late in the day, entire river
-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs (BWO, Sulfur, Iso, etc.) & smaller Stoneflies and are quite effective everywhere
-Antoine’s Perdigons #12-20: various patterns, all year
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16: anytime, lots of these in the river
-Cased Caddis #12-14: abundant bug, effective during/after flow bumps (knocks larva into the drift) 
-Jigged Streamers #8-12: various colors/patterns- dead-drift, twitch, swing & strip, best 
on a Euro rod & leader
-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

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. 
-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 #2-8 (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 it 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, 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 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 soon. 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.