Monday, December 11, 2023

Monday 12/11/23 Farmington River Report: keep an eye on flows

Store Hours: 8am-5pm, 7 days a week. 

Stop by for some bargains! Select T&T Zone rods are 40% offThomas & Thomas Avantt rods all 40% offHardy Ultralites (not the LL’s) also 40% off. Take an extra 10% off used rods over $500, and an extra 10% off used & clearance fly reels (in store only on the extra 10% discount). Clothing is 20% off the marked price. All Landing Nets are 10% off the marked price.

We recently purchased another huge collection of quality fly tying materials. Stop by and check it out. Hooks, dry fly necks, streamer necks, dubbing, flash, squirrel, used vises, tying tools, fur, zonker strips, rubber legs, deer hair, foam, and LOTS more. 

UpCountry has also purchased a large collection of Used graphite, bamboo & fiberglass fly rods, used fly reels & classic fly reels. Most of this equipment is very affordably priced and will only be offered in store to our walk in customers. There are lots of classic Orvis, Hardy, Pfleuger, custom and much more. Come and take a look before someone gets there first. Most items are between $10 - $200 with a few higher end bamboo rods mixed in. If you have ever considered buying an affordable bamboo rod to fish with, this is the time, we have some great rods from $100-500 dollars and a few premium ones for the more experienced bamboo aficionado. 

Pictured up top is Andy A. with a big brown form the weekend. He caught Sunday morning on a Squirmy Worm he purchased at UpCountry Sunday morning right before he hit the river, after he had just told us he doesn't usually catch big trout lol. 

Morning Flow Level:
The total flow in the permanent TMA/C&R quite high at 1,451cfs due to the rain Sunday/Sunday night- I'd look for it to get back under 1,000cfs to fish it. Flow has peaked and will now drop- the flow increase is from the Still River, and now that it’s done raining it should drop fast over the next few days. Riverton above the Still River is only 241cfs and very fishable as I write this, but that could change if/when they release more water to get the reservoir level down. The water temp below the dam is 43 degrees this morning, the bottom release from the dam moderates the water temp up there. Downstream from the Still River in the mid to lower river has been averaging upper 30’s  to low 40’s, depending upon distance from dam, time of day, and weather. FYI the Still River is a cooling influence in the late Fall & Winter, especially in the mornings after a colder night. Sunny days will see the biggest water temperature increases, with peak water temps in the mid to late afternoons.

New Hardy Marksman rods just arrived, this replaces the Ultralite series (notthe Ultralite LL though). They are super nice with improved recovery and even better actions/flex patterns. We have the freshwater Marksman from #3-7, and the saltwater Marksman Z (replaces the Zane Pro) from #7-10. 

Monday morning 12/11:
Although the flow from the Still River shot up from the flow (total flow in the permanent TMA/C&Ris about 1,450cfs & dropping now), we must not have gotten the full 3” predicted or we would likely be closer to 3,000cfs. The Still River will drop fast now that the rain is done, I’m glad we didn’t get whacked to hard. As I write this report, Riverton above the Still is very fishable at on 241cfs & dropping.The only wildcard is with the reservoir system already about full, they will likely have to dump water out of the damfor a little bitthis week to get the lake level down, especially since they went to a minimum 50cfs release in anticipation of therain event Sunday. MDC has also been doing the absolute legal bare minimum releases (50-150cfs plus whatever Otis Reservoir is or isn’t releasing)since last year, which tendskeeps the lakes full (historically they always lowered them for the Fall in the past), and that leaves zero ability for the lakes to absorb/cushion bigger rain events. With higher flows, fish closer to the banks in the softer water off the heavier main current. Streamers, Junk Flies (Eggs, Worms, Mops), bigger Stoneflies, and hot-spot nymphs and good choices when flows are up and/or off color. When flows come back to normal, go back to more natural & smaller flies. 

We have a bunch of days (7/10)in the long range forecast with highs pushinginto the 40’s. With higher flows, subsurface with nymphs & streamers will be your most consistent tactic, but as flows come back to normal, in the afternoons look for small Blue Winged Olives to bring a few trout to the surface in the bigger, wider, slower pools. Midges are the other afternoon hatch, and there are Winter Caddis in the early to mid mornings. We have a good selection of the specialized Winter Caddis dry fly patterns from #18-24, it’s a unique hatch that you don’t normally find on other rivers (exception: Swift River in MA also has them). The Winter Caddis larva are about a #18 and yellowish in color, and are also worth fishing this time of year. That same fly imitates Black Caddis larva (also yellow & small), as well as some Midges- killing 3 birds with one stone. Small nymphs are typically good this time of year, with the smaller size often being more important than the exact pattern. 

Nymphing remains a consistent producer if you are proficient at it, no surprise there. Sometimes in the colder water of late Fall & Winter, gaudy and/or large nymphs can be the ticket when more imitative flies aren’t working. Think flash, UV materials, hot spots, bigger Stoneflies, Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Green Weenies), etc. Probably due to far less bug activity this time of year, fish become more opportunistic, and gaudier or bigger flies sometimes do a better job getting their attention and triggering an eat. Remember though, colder water equals a slower metabolism, which means they don’t have to eat as much. This coincides nicely with the reduced food supply in Winter. Having said that, currently many of the medium to large brown trout are extra hungry due to weight loss during the recent spawn. A small jigged streamer nymphed Euro style with occasional twitches can be just the ticket- looks like a mouthful of food, and it’s easy to eat because it’s right in their face. It also represents a LOT more calories to the trout, and sometimes a fish that won’t move slightly to eat a nymph will suck in a jigged streamer- just what a hungry post-spawn brown trout needs to put some weight back on. 

Traditional Streamers fished slow & deep are having their moments- play with colors and retrieves to find out what works, it can vary. Lately the top streamer colors are tan, white, and olive- color can make a BIG difference some days, so don’t get hung up on only one color. Tan has been hot lately, but other colors can be better at moments. Effective nymphs have included assorted smaller #18-20 patterns, egg flies, Junk Flies (Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms), Caddis larva, and attractor/hot-spot flies. Fish have seen a LOT of egg patterns this Fall, so make sure to pair egg flies with a nymph to give them another option. The spawn is basically over, but there are always a few late spawners, sometimes as late as early/mid January. Stay clear of the redds and the first 15 feet below them, otherwise you will walk on and crush the eggs. They don’t hatch out until February/early March. 

No need to start early now (due to colder water temps), unless you want to hit the early to mid morning Winter Caddis hatch (7am-10am is typical for that, but can be earlier or later). Typically this time of year the fishing just seems to improve as the day progresses and water temps rise, and morning Winter Caddis excepted, most of the hatching activity is all in the afternoons. Nymphs, dries & streamers are all possibilities right now. When water temps get truly cold (below 45 degrees), rising water temps during the day tends to get the trout active and feeding. 

The main dry fly hatch is Blue Winged Olives #22-28 in the afternoons with rising trout in the bigger, wider, slower pools. Tiny Midges are also hatching in the afternoons, as late as dusk. Overall, afternoons have fished a lot better than mornings, probably due to rising water temps and increased insect activity/hatching. This is especially true after colder night- when you get a mild overnight the early morning fishing can be good. Nymphing is the most consistent tactic, but streamers are also producing some nice fish.

Please be careful not to step on or just below brown trout spawning redds. Walking on these areas crushes the eggs. Redds are the light colored oval areas in gravelly riffles where the brown trout spawn. By December the browns have mostly completed spawning. Even though the spawn is basically done now, egg flies will continue to work well straight through the Winter. Pair them up with a smaller nymph for best results.

The best flies lately have been Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmy Worms), smaller nymphs #16-22, and various streamers. If trout are rising, match the hatch- BWO’s are the current glamour hatch. With the normal flows here now, think smaller more imitative nymphs, and that should also lead to more dry fly fishing on small Blue Winged Olives & Midges, and in the mornings Winter Caddis. Look for bigger, wider, flatter pools to find rising trout. Streamers are always in play in the Fall, especially early & late in the day and on cloudy days- play with colors & retrieves, it can make a big difference. I’d slow your streamer presentations up now and try to fish them deeper- colder water temps slows the trout down. Post-spawn trout are depleted and hungry, looking to put weight on and a streamer looks like a lot of calories to them.  

Fishing Advice During & After the Spawn:
Keep an eye out for redds, the oval light colored depressions in gravel riffles where trout deposit their eggs. These are commonly located in riffle water in pool tailouts and in side channels, often in shallow water. Trout look to spawn where there is pea sized gravel with the right amount of current. Avoid those areas and the first 10-15 feet below them (many eggs drift downstream), otherwise you will crush the eggs if you walk there. The eggs don’t hatch out until about February/early March, so watch where you walk or you will be crushing & killing future wild troutDo NOT fish to actively spawning fish on redds, they are already stressed out, just let them reproduce in peace and make more wild browns. Fish the deeper, darker water downstream of the redds, there will be plenty of unseen non-spawning trout gobling up drifting eggs.


The state stocked the river with good sized brown trout in early October from just below the Rt 219 bridge in New Hartford all the way down to Collinsville & Unionville and below that too. Please remember that as of 9/1, the entire river from the dam all the way down to the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville is strictly Catch & Release. The MDC stocked the upper river (above the permanent TMA/C&R up to the dam) in early/mid October with quite a few pretty rainbows.



***Small Blue Winged Olives & Midges are the 2 main afternoon hatches***

-Blue Winged Olives #22-28: afternoons, especially on cooler/cloudy days- this

hatch will go all November and well into December

-Midges #22-28: afternoons up until dusk

-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: hatching in early to mid morning, all year long, with peak hatching in both the Winter & Summer


-Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmies/SJ Worms, Green Weenies): especially good in high/stained water, or as a change-up fly after you have fished a good run with standard nymphs, also killer on recently stocked trout

-Egg Flies #12-18: spawn is basically done, but egg flies will continue to produce right through the Winter. Try shades of yellow, pink, orange. 

-Blue Winged Olives (BWO) Nymphs #18-22, assorted patterns: fish in the afternoons when they are active

-Zebra Midge #18-22: black, olive, red

-Assorted Small Nymphs #18-22: most of the bugs from late Fall through the Winter are small & skinny, and darker colors such as brown, black & dark olive are common. Try Zebra Midges (black, red, olive), Pheasant Tails (natural, flashback, Frenchies, olive, black, chocolate brown, etc.), BWO/Olive nymphs, Winter Caddis Larva, etc. The size, shape & presentation are generally more important than exact fly pattern. Play with drab, flash, UV, hot-spots, and no hot spots to see what works best, because it can and will vary depending on the day, time of day, and light conditions. Fishing pressure will also affect fly preferences.

-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #14-22: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs (BWO, Isonychia, Sulfur, Iso, etc.) & smaller Stoneflies and are quite effective everywhere, all year long. A small Pheasant Tail #16-20 is rarely a bad choice on the Farmington River.

-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16: anytime, lots of these in the river. Good choice when you aren’t sure what to fish, work well in the late Fall & Winter.

-Cased Caddis #10-16: underfished pattern, there are tons of these in the river

-Jigged Streamers #8-12: various colors/patterns- dead-drift, twitch, swing & strip, best on a Euro rod & leader, excellent choice to fish in the Fall

-Attractor Nymphs #14-20: anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot such as Sexy Waltz, Rainbow Warriors, Frenchies, Prince, Triple Threats, etc

-Wet Flies & Soft-Hackles #10-18: assorted patterns, Partridge & Orange can be very good in the Fall


In the Fall, before, during & after brown trout spawning, trout are more aggressive and it is prime time to fish the meat. And after they spawn, trout have lost weight and are depleted and are looking to put weight back on, and to a trout a streamer represent a lot of potential calories. Big trout are almost always on the lookout for bigger bites, especially early & late in the day (low light) and during lulls in bug activity. Also a great choice anytime the flow is up or off-color. 

-Jigged Streamers #8-12: various patterns/colors, deadly fished on a tight-line/Euro rig

-Woolly Bugger #4-12: assorted colors

-Zonker #4-6: white, natural

-BMAR Yellow Matuka #6. Also standard Matuka in olive, brown

-Zuddler #4-8: olive, yellow, white, brown, black

-Complex & Mini Twist Bugger #2-6: assorted colors

-Classic Streamers #6-10: Sometimes they work better than bulky modern streamers, maybe due to their mostly slimmer profiles & drabber designs. Or maybe it’s because not many people fish them anymore, who knows. 
Try: Black Nosed Dace, Muddler Minnow, Marabou Muddler, Grey Ghost, Black Ghost, Baby Brown Trout, Mickey Finn, Hornberg, etc.