Friday, April 28, 2023

Friday 4/28/23 Farmington River Report: Thursday flow cut & Friday afternoon flow cut/update

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 few weeks. 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, just got them in recently, they were unavailable for a long time.

Pictured up top is Richie B. with a hammer of a brown trout, he’s out there getting it done. Second pic is Mike Querfeld, again lol, with a brown that is well past his Fishpond net opening. Mike has been getting a lot of big browns here lately, both on dries & nymphs. 

Friday afternoon 2/28 flow change/update:

Another flow cut today, at 9am they reduced the dam release in Riverton by 150cfs, going from 457cfs down to 307cfs. This puts the total flow in the permanent C&R/TMA at about 565cfs and slowly dropping. The East Branch comes in about 1/2 mile below UpCountry, and it remains at 400cfs, making the flow from there down significantly higher but fishable. 

Friday morning 4/28:
With a big flow cut yesterday from 817cfs down to 457cfs, the river is much more fishable & accessible. We are at a total flow of 730cfs and dropping in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R)- I’d call this moderately high, but very fishable. It does decrease the dry fly fishing, but you can still find rising trout during hatches in the bigger, wider, slower pools. Riverton above the Still River is reading 234cfs at the Rt. 20 USGS gauge 2 miles below the dam. The majority of the current release is being mandated by the Army Corps of Engineers (320cfs), the other 137cfs is from the MDC. It’s possible they could cut the flow again today if they have the reservoir level down far enough (they were over 100%), I will update this report if they do. If not, they will likely bump the release up again on Monday due to 1.5”+ of rain predicted overnight Saturday and on Sunday. So far this week they did 2 flow increases (Monday & Wednesday) and 1 flow cut Thursday. 

Hendrickson hatch is basically all the way up to just below the Still River (much colder water upstream of the Still, hatch gets up there last and goes well into May), up to Whittemore/Pipeline/Lyman’s Rock, and all throughout the permanent TMA/C&R. Hatches have been pretty good this week, despite the somewhat cooler temps. They have been coming off later than usual, more towards late afternoon/early evening. Also, as long as it’s not too cold, wet or windy, keep your eyes out for Spinners in the air over the riffles. You will see the rusty brown female spinners with yellow egg sacks in the air, and if they hit the water it can be some fantastic dry fly fishing that will bring even the bigger fish to the surface. If they aren’t rising (frequently the case), go subsurface with nymphs & streamers. Make sure to have Hendrickson nymph, but also some smaller ones to imitate things like Blue Winged Olives/Baetis, Paraleps (Blue Quills), etc. Caddis larva can be good, especially in the mornings.

Standard high water tactics apply right now: fish subsurface, closer to the banks & out of the main current, with medium to large nymph & streamers, as well as Junk Flies (Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Egg flies, and Green Weenies). You can also increase your tippet/leader size. 

Normally Hendricksons are a mid/late afternoon deal and hatch better on milder, sunny days, but bugs don’t read entomology books. Church Pool is one of those rare spots where fish seem to rise 365 days a year, even during high flows. Overall, other than the bigger, wider, slower pools, high water puts a crimp on the dry fly action. The trout don’t care though, they just feed heavily subsurface on the nymph, larvae & pupa that are getting delivered to them at a faster rate than normal. Higher flows dislodge many insects and knock them into the drift, including bugs like medium to large cased Caddis, big Stoneflies, Helgramites, Fishflies (like a Helgramite but only about 1” long, a common bug in the drift here during high water in the Spring), big Craneflies (try a Mop fly!), and more. It also brings the big trout out to feed on minnows & small trout. High water is your friend if you like to use larger 4-6" articulated streamers to target trophy trout. 

Hendricksons typically hatch from about 2:30pm until 4 or 5pm, but that is not set in stone- this week they’ve been coming off later than that, so be flexible. Make sure you have nymphs to imitate them, emergers, and spinners. You can also fish wet flies/soft-hackles. Emergers typically outfish standard dry fly/dun patterns, because theyare more vulnerable and easier for the trout to catch & eat. And yes, we are seeing spinner falls now. The bug books say Hendrickson spinner falls are an evening event, but on the Farmington we commonly see spinners on the water anytime from mid to late morning, during the hatch, and in the evenings. They require mild air temps, minimal wind, and no rain. The spinners gather and mate in the air above the riffles and then gradually descend in elevation until they hit the water, and then all hell breaks loose. The female spinners have very visible yellow egg sacks on them. Unlike the duns, the spinners cannot fly off the water, so they are very vulnerable and the big trout take notice- try one of Don’s Egg Sack Parachute Spinners. FYI the male & female Hendrickson duns are different colors: females are more of a tan, with hints of brown, olive, and pink. The males are more of a medium brown to rusty brown. The Spinners of both sexes molt, and their bodies all become rusty brown, and the wings change from gray to clear & glassy. 

Make sure to experiment with your flies when nymphing, the “hot” fly will vary, and it often is different in the morning, during the hatch, and after the hatch. During and just before the afternoon hatch it’s hard to go wrong with a #12-14 brown Hendrickson type nymph- can be a BMAR Hendrickson nymph, but can also be a Pheasant Tail (regular, flashback, hotspot, soft-hackle), brown Perdigon, brown dubbed nymph, etc. Some fish are sitting in quite fast water now. 

Hendrickson hatches will continue to move upstream on a daily basis, there is a light to medium hatch of them as far upstream as Pipeline & Lyman’s Rock now. Above that, without the influence of the warmer water from the Still River, the water in the low/mid 40’s from the dam delays the hatch up there. Usually when it’s about done in the permanent TMA/C&R, it’s just getting going up in Riverton. We are still seeing trout rising to Olives at moments. 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, especially in the mornings & evenings, along with “Junk Flies” (mops, worms, eggs) and smaller jigged streamers.

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. FYI many nymphs in the drift are smaller and in the #16-20 range. Some 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 & golden rainbows were also landed. 

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. There are still a few Suckers spawning, so eggs can be 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 freshly 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 is the 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. Under normal flows, 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 when trout aren’t eating bugs. Olive, tan, and white are top streamer colors lately. 

Pro Tips
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: legit hatch now, as far upstream as Pipeline & Lyman’s Rock. Be prepared to fish nymphs and/or wet flies if you don’t have risers! 
*Hendrickson Spinners #12-14: books say it’s an evening deal, and it often is, but on the Farmington is can happen mid to late morning & during the afternoon hatch too. Needs to be mild, not windy, with no rain for a spinner fall to happen. Brings BIG fish up.
-Baetis/Blue Winged Olives #16-18: afternoons, mid to 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

*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
*BWO Nymphs #16-18: best in the afternoons, active in crappy weather
-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.