Winter Store Hours: 7 days a week, Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, and Sat-Sun 8am-5pm.
Don’t forget to get a 2023 CT fishing license, as of December 1st they can be purchased online or in our store. All CT 2022 fishing/hunting licenses expire after Dec 31st, 2022.
Guide Mark Swenson is doing another Beginner Fly Tying Class on Sunday January 15, 2023 from 9:30am to 4pm- cost is $150. Contact him directly at 203-586-8007 to grab a spot. Classes max out at 6 people so don’t wait or the class will be full, the January class is always the most popular one.
Another giant tying material collection walked through our doors recently. It includes are variety of items, including a ton of high quality bucktails (it's been harder to get quality bucktails in 2022), priced to sell at $7 each. Currently bucktail prices have gone up and average retail is $10 or more now from our suppliers, and that’s with us pricing them at a shorter than normal margin to try to keep them affordable. A lot of saltwater & Great Lakes steelhead/salmon tying materials in this collection.
We will be limiting the pictures in the reports to 2 or 3 in total. Additional pics & videos will be posted on our Facebook and Instagram “Stories” (they stay up for 24 hours there). Up top is Derrick with his first trout of 2023 that he nymphed up.Next down is Zach’s client David with a big brown he nailed on a jigged streamer fished on a Euro rig Wednesday. Third pic is proof that patience pays off- a brief bite window opened up for Aidan Bridwell the other day and in 10 minutes he landed two big browns on jigged streamers, one of which you see here.
Purchase our favorite and arguably the best Euro rod, the T&T Contact II from us this Winter, and we will throw in a free Euro Nymphing line of your choice from our wall plus free setup and advice. Call or stop by the shop for details.
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 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, with more models to come. Joe Goodspeed, (formerly of Cortland and T&T) designed this series, 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 entire upper 21 miles of the Farmington River, from the dam in Riverton downstream to the Rt 177 Unionville bridge, is now Catch & Release from 9/1/22 until the second Saturday in April 2023at 6am. If you see people violating this and keeping fish, PLEASE make sure to call the DEEP hotline at 800-842-HELP (4357). Program the number into your cell phone, and call!! Even if they cannot respond fast enough, the call & location of the offense is logged. The DEEP field officers add the vehicle descriptions to their database and will catch repeat offenders, but ONLY if you call it in.
The latest update is that due to an overfull reservoir from recent rains, the Corps of Engineers has mandated a bigger flow bump as of Wednesday to lower the lake water level, they increased it from 415cfs to 815cfs, the total flow in the permanent TMA/C&R (catch & release) is 1,168cfs and slowly creeping slightly upward (Riverton is 884cfs at the USGS gauge, Still River is 284cfs and slowly increasing). Because the extra water is mostly coming from the dam and not so much the Still River, you don’t have the option to go to Riverton above the Still River for better/lower water conditions. In fact due to the much narrower river width in Riverton, the water conditions are actually better downriver where the river is much wider and the flow can spread out & slow more. Having said that, 1,100+cfs is very high and if you do decide to brave the conditions, be very careful, stay on the river edges, and pick your spots VERY carefully. Stop by the store and we can point you to fishable areas. If you have a boat/raft, 1,000+ CFS is a very nice level to drift at. Either way, you will mostly be fishing near the banks on the current edges, with streamers and medium to large nymphs/“Junk Flies” (eggs, mops, worms, green weenies). You can also bump your tippet size up. Because trout will often move to shallower water near the banks when flows are high, ironically I often find myself using less weight to sink my flies due to the shallower water close to the banks they are often holding in during high water.
Remember that Winter trout like to hold in slow to medium speed water. They don’t have to eat as much due to a much slower metabolism when it’s cold, and there is far less food available, so their main concerns are minimizing energy expenditure & safety- typically this means trout are holding is slower currents with adequate depth. Sometimes during milder afternoons they may slide up into medium speed riffles to feed on drifting nymphs/larva. They will often pod up in optimum Winter holding water, so if you catch one trout, and you may find a bunch more nearby. But….you have to catch a Bite Window when they turn on & feed. Be patient, it can be the difference between zero fish and a successful outing. If nymphing, this means lots of drifts in prime areas, and expect the hits to be subtle most of the time- set the hook gently but quickly on anything remotely suspicious. If you are streamer fishing, play around with retrieves, but on average think slow & deep (with some exceptions for reasons only the fish know). Try faster retrieves occasionally if slower presentations are not making it happen, you never know what will work at any given moment until you try it. Also play with streamer color, pattern, and size, they can all affect things- color can make a profound difference some days. And fishing a jigged streamer slow & deep with a European Nymphing approach incorporating occasional gentle twitches can elicit strikes some days when trout are not willing to chase streamers.
Water temps in Riverton peaked at just under 40 degrees yesterday, it is 39.5 degrees this morning. Most afternoons of late they have crept into the low 40’s in the permanent TMA/C&R, especially on sunny days- sun is a BIG driver of increasing water temps. Cloudy days see much smaller water temps changes.
When flows come back down, for the morning Winter Caddis hatch target the early to mid mornings, with the hatch sometimes going into the afternoons on certain days. You need to be patient in the Winter as there are periods when the trout just aren’t feeding, and then a switch will flip and they will suddenly feed for an hour or two. Most days there has been a subsurface “bite window” in the mid to late morning period, and usually again at some point in mid to late afternoons when water temps peak. There have been Midges in the afternoons- if they were not rising (often the case, especially with the flows up like they are now), nymphing subsurface with #18-22 Midge patterns (Zebra Midges, Pupa, etc.) can be effective. The lower the flow, the more likely you are to see rising trout. Church Pool is one spot that is almost immune to higher flows, there are almost always at least a few risers somewhere in that big, long pool no matter what the flow.
As you can see by the pictures posted every week here and on our social media (Instagram & Facebook), those paying their dues have been catching some nice trout. Not every outing, but if you put in the time you can catch some very good ones. Typically the morning Winter/Summer Caddis is an early to mid morning hatch, but some days it’s been going into mid/late afternoon. First the pupa hatch, and then the winged adults come back later to egg-lay. When they are not rising, fish subsurface with nymphs & streamers. Slow and deep is generally the name of the game in the Winter.
We are in Winter conditions now, meaning cold water temps (30’s, maybe low 40’s during warm/sunny weather), so keep your expectations reasonable and expect to work for your fish on most of the time. Sunny days will see water temp increases (unless there is a lot of snow on the ground), and often the best subsurface fishing is in the afternoons when water temps are rising and at their highest. This increases both the trout’s metabolism, as well as insect activity. However, the Winter/Summer Caddis is the exception to this, typically emerging in the mornings if you are looking for some dry fly action.
If you are nymphing, read the water carefully, take your best educated guess where the prime lies are (usually in slow to medium speed water with decent depth near structure, drop-offs, current breaks/seams, etc.), and fish them slowly & thoroughly. In cold water, trout often pod up but won’t move far for your fly, to you need to thoroughly fish the good water. So if you catch one in a nice looking spot, there could be many more close by. The smaller your fly, the shorter the distance the trout will move for it, so with #18-22 nymphs make more casts in an area then you would do with #14-16 flies. Trout will move the furthest for “Junk Flies” (Mops, Eggs, Worms) & larger #8-12 Stoneflies, so you can cover water faster when fishing them. Also expect the strikes to be more subtle in cold water- when in doubt, set the hook quickly & gently, “hook sets are free”. Be patient, because after hours of slow fishing a “bite window” can open up for an hour or two where the fish suddenly go on the feed, but if you give up & leave early you would never know that. Many times during cold weather the last 1-2 hours of the day has redeemed an otherwise slow day for me. Plus bigger browns are more active in low light, and the water temps are highest in mid to late afternoon.
Pro Tip: Caddis Larva (both regular & cased) will be an excellent nymphing choice for the next several months, pair them up with a “Junk Fly”(Egg, Mop, Worm), #8-12 Stonefly, #16-20 Mayfly-type nymph (could even be a Pheasant Tail/Frenchy or a Hare’s Ear), or a #18-22 Zebra Midge (black, red, olive). Overall anglers are working for their fish, but some quality 16-20”+ holdover/wild browns & holdover bows are showing up in the catches, mixed in with 6-12” wild browns and averaged sized (12-14”)stocked rainbows.
Some trout are still near spawning areas, but most have slid into Wintering lies (slower/deeper water) as the water temps continue to slowly drop. Downstream temps can be colder than this during cold weather, especially in the mornings after a cold night- temps normally rise in the afternoons, especially on sunny days. Currently you can find fish anywhere from slow to medium speed water, depending upon the time of day and hatching activity. Skip the really fast stuff until next Spring. Feeding trout in the afternoons will often move into medium speed riffle water to eat, before that you may find them backed down into somewhat slower/deeper water near structure.
This time of year, I generally recommend a later start to let things warm up a bit, and dress warmly in layers of synthetics (FYI make sure to bring a warm hat, heavy wool socks & insulated fingerless gloves). Best bet is to focus on the mid morning to dusk time slot when water temps are rising/highest, the trout & aquatic insects are more active, and it’s a more pleasant time to be out. Exception: the early to mid morning Winter/Summer Caddis hatch. Other than that though, no need to start early. Midges #20-28 are a distinct possibility in the afternoons- if they don’t rise to them, then fish subsurface. Long leaders, light tippets, and accurate drag-free floats are key to success when fishing tiny dry flies on flat, slow water. Jigged streamers are pulling nice trout, as are standard streamers- you can go big (4-6”) with articulated patterns if you are willing to have less action but increase your odds of sticking a 20” plus brown.
The vast majority of trout that are going to spawn (sexually mature adults) have done so already, and many of the better fish of late have that thinner spawned-out look to them. There will still be smaller numbers of late spawning trout as late as January. DON’T WALK ON THE REDDS OR THE FIRST 10-15 FEET BELOW THEM OR YOU WILL CRUSH THE EGGS! All those eggs are future WILD trout.
If you are nymphing (and you probably should be more often than not right now), think Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmy/SJ Worms), Stoneflies, and hedge your bet by adding a smaller more imitative, drabber fly. Eggs remain a key fly (especially in the mornings), and streamers are another very good option. 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.
FYI people are unknowingly walking through redds (the light colored oval/circular patchs in gravelly riffles where trout deposit their eggs), so please educate yourself & pay attention to where you walk. Also avoid the first 10-15 feet below them, as many of the eggs drift slightly below the redds. The eggs will hatch into Fry normally at some point in February- IF you don’t step on the eggs……
Riverton was stocked in early October by the MDC, from the dam going downstream about 4 miles to Whittemore (right above the Campground).
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: hatching well in early to mid morning, often go later in to the afternoons, adult egg-layers can also be present in the evenings
-Midges #20-28: afternoons, if they don’t rise then nymph subsurface
-Mole Fly #20-24 (olive, brown): deadly emerger that covers many small bugs & fools difficult trout
-Small Nymphs #18-22: Assorted. Most nymphs are small this time of year with a few exceptions (some Stoneflies, some Cased Caddis). Experiment and try drab, flashy, and with & without hot-spots.
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16: anytime, especially Winter through early Spring, lots of these in the river
-Cased Caddis #12-14: abundant and a good choice in the Winter & early Spring, especially during/after flow bumps (knocks larva into the drift)
-Zebra Midge #18-22 (black, red, olive, brown): Wintertime staple
-BWO Nymphs #16-22: various patterns, anytime, they Behavioral Drift a lot
-Big Stoneflies #8-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black): anytime, esp. during higher flows
-Antoine’s Perdigons #12-20: various patterns
-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #14-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs & smaller Stoneflies and are quite effective
-Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmies/SJ Worms, Green Weenies): good during the Winter, 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
-Jigged Streamers #8-12: various colors/patterns- dead-drift, twitch, swing & strip
-Attractor Nymphs #14-20: anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot such as Rainbow Warriors, Sexy Waltz, Prince, Triple Threats, etc.
-Hare's Ear, Partridge & Flash, Leadwing Coachman, March Brown #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 make sure to fish them deeper using a weighted point fly, and/or sinking leaders/sink-tips/sinking fly lines
Early Winter is still PRIME TIME to fish streamers, as brown trout finish spawning they are HUNGRY. Big trout are almost always looking for bigger bites.
-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 (black, olive, white, brown, tan)
-JJ Special/Autumn Splendor/Tequeely #4-8 (brown & yellow streamers)
-Matuka #4-8 (yellow, olive, brown)