Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Tuesday 4/18/23 Farmington River Report: Hendrickson hatch: light but improving

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


River Conditions:

We will be giving away FREE fly tying materials for FRAA members only for the next week. If you aren’t a member, you can join right here on the spot FYI, there’s a code you can scan right at the front counter. We received some large batches of tying materials from donors. Also if you join the FRAA now, your will automatically be entered into a drawing for a premium Orvis fly rod later this year.

We have the Diamondback Ideal Nymph 10’ #3 in stock.

Pictured up top is Dave Machowski with a beautiful wild brown on a Hendrickson dry- that hatch has been light so far, but he got it done! Next down is Tony Fillie, who won the Riverton Derby Saturday 4/15 with a 9# plus rainbow on a streamer, pictured here Sunday morning with an 8# rainbow he caught & released on an obnoxiously gaudy fly I gave him. Third pic is Tony again with one of two big Goldens he landed and released, this one was 22”. 

Tuesday afternoon 4/17:
Looks like back to normal-ish April weather for the 10 day forecast, averaging in the 50s/60’s, with 80 on Friday and 77 Saturday. Last week’s hot weather (85-90) has the trees starting to leaf out now- this is early for our area. Flows remain medium low & very wadeable,with a total flow of about 259cfs in the permanent TMA/C&R today (157cfs in Riverton, plus 102cfs from the Still River)- historical median flow for today would be 485cfs. Water temps in Riverton are in the mid 40’s, downstream in New Hartford by us they have been starting in the 50’s in the mornings and peaking out at 60 degrees or so on sunny afternoons, this is about a 15+ degree water temp jump in the past 2-3 weeks. Warmer weather + lower dam release = rising water temps. Reservoirs are full, normally MDC would be releasing 250-300cfs in mid April, but they are only doing the bare legal minimum (which ranges from 50-150cfs). We should see Hendrickson hatches improve as this week goes on, they also should continue to move upstream. It’s still a light hatch overall, with the more bugs from New Hartford downstream through Canton, Collinsville, Unionville. We’ve seen a few at least as far upstream as Church Pool. Surface activity has been light but improving, it’s still early in the hatch and it should noticeably improve during this week. Those people in the right place at the right time have taken some nice fish on dries, but it hasn’t really gotten hot & heavy as yet on the surface, and it’s been better downriver. We are still seeing trout rising to Olives- both are normally mid/late afternoon hatches, but some days in the past week we’ve seen trickle hatches of Hendricksons going from 10am to 7pm, maybe due to last weeks heat wave? I’ve been doing well in the afternoons with #14 Hendrickson nymphs, even when I’m only seeing a few and the trout aren’t rising. Various smaller nymphs in the #16-20 range have been working at other times,along with “Junk Flies” (mops, worms, eggs).

A lot of anglers have been out and about, 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. With the rise in water temps, the 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. Many of the stocked trout are still podded up in groups. Quite a few big trout have been landed recently, with a mix of holdover browns, wild browns, and broodstock rainbows, browns & golden rainbows. The bigger wilds/holdovers have been in the 18-22’’ range, and some giant recently stocked rainbows & goldens were landed over the weekend. Tony Fillie won the Riverton Derby Saturday with a 9# plus rainbow landed on a streamer, and he also caught and released 20” & 22” golden rainbows that were all stocked for the derby ($14,000 worth of trout were privately stocked by the Trophy Trout Club). And then Sunday morning he caught & released an 8# rainbow on an obnoxiously gaudy nymph I tied for him. Quite the big fish weekend!

The river is currently stocked to the gills from top to bottom, so there are lots of willing unsophisticated trout, albeit they take about 3 weeks to really dial in on real bugs & hatches and start surface feeding. Mixed in with those fresh stockers are some very nice holdovers & wilds, sometimes it’s hard to get past the stocked trout and find the wilds. I’ve had to change flies a lot to dial into what’s working for the better fish, and it changes as the day progresses due to water temps rising, bug activity, and light levels. FYI almost every time out I’m picking up some bigger wild browns fishing jigged streamers, and the other sleeper fly is an egg pattern. Suckers are spawning right now, so eggs are in the drift, plus fresh stocked trout love egg flies. Both flies have caught me fish lately, with the jigged streamers often getting the biggest fish of the day. 

The first few weeks fresh stocked trout will hit a variety of nymphs, wet flies & streamers, including some pretty gaudy stuff. Junk Flies (eggs, mops, worms, green weenies) can be very effective, frequently outproducing traditional drabber more imitative flies. Also small to medium Buggers & streamers in olive, black. A natural colored Walt’s Worm or a Sexy Waltz can work great, maybe because Hare’s Ear dubbing isthe color of a trout food pellet haha. Nymphs with hot spots typically work great. Don’t forget about wet flies & soft-hackles, sometimes a swung fly is just what it takes for a trout to pull the trigger, freshly stocked trout often key on movement. FYI you can also swing and slightly jig your nymphs, sometimes that works better than a dead-drift, even more so when bugs are hatching (especially Caddis). 

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. 5x-6x tippet is about right for most nymphs, and you can go as heavy as 4x with bigger Stoneflies. Don’t neglect smaller jigged streamers on a Euro rig, if fished them slow & deep and can be deadly in the early season before all the major hatches get going. Olive, tan, and white are top streamer colors lately. 

Pro Tips: Caddis Larva (both regular & cased) will be an excellent nymphing choice for April, pair them up with a “Junk Fly”(Egg, Mop, Worm), #8-12 Stonefly, #14-18 Mayfly-type nymph (Pheasant Tail/Frenchy, Hare’s Ear, Hendrickson, etc.), or a #18-22 Zebra Midge (black, olive). 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.


-Hendricksons #12-14: light hatch so far, better downriver in Canton/Collinsville/Unionville. New Hartford has seen a light hatch, and there are a few up at least as far as Church Pool. Be prepared to fish nymphs and/or wet flies if you don’t have risers! Hatch should improve as this week goes on.
*Baetis/Blue Winged Olives #16-18: afternoons, mid to upper river
*Early Black Stonefly #12-16: afternoons, especially on milder/sunny days, nymphs are active subsurface and in the drift, hatch is near the end, best in mid/upper river
-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: afternoons, try a Midge Pupa subsurface
-Mole Fly #20-24 (olive, brown): deadly emerger that covers many small bugs & fools difficult trout in flat water

*BWO Nymphs #16-18: best in the afternoons, active in crappy weather
*Early Stonefly Nymph/Strolis Infant Stone #14-16 (black, brown)
*Hendrickson-type Nymphs: something brown about a #12-14, can use a Pheasant Tail/Frenchy or a BMAR Hendrickson
*Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #14-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs & smaller Stoneflies and are quite effective everywhere- try #12-14 to imitate Hendrickson nymphs
 *Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16: anytime, especially early Spring, lots of these in the river
*Cased Caddis #12-14: abundant and an especially good choice in the early Spring, also 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
-Zebra Midge #18-22 (black, red, olive, brown)
-Big Stoneflies #8-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black): anytime, esp. during higher flows
-Antoine’s Perdigons #12-20: various patterns, all year
*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

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, 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
-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 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 rat Joey. The length is ideal for good sized Hendricksons rivers like the Farmington, allowing you to fish & cast further away, make longer drifts, casts easier, gives you 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 popular with some top competition anglers.