Friday, June 23, 2023

Friday 6/23/23 Farmington River Report

Store Hours: 7 days a week, Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, and Sat-Sun 8am-5pm. 


***We have 
FRAA sun shirts in both short & long sleeve in several colors, they came out really nice***

River Conditions:

We will be open until 6pm on weekdays now (probably through September), weekends will stay at 5pm. We open at 8am every day.

The FRAA stocked 57 large rainbow trout in New Hartford on June 8thfrom 19-24” and very fat, ranging from about 3-8#. 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 in the section where they can be harvested (2 fish 12”) through the end of August, but we would hope that people will just take a picture and release them so multiple anglers can have the thrill of hooking and hopefully catching a trophy trout. So far every one I’ve heard of being caught has been released. These are high quality Kamloops Rainbows that come from Harding Hatchery, a very tough strain of trout. They are quite fat with great coloration. If people release them they will hold over, and next year they will be even a bigger.

Diamondback Ideal Nymph 10’ #3’s are in stock, they were unavailable for a long time.

***Check yourself for ticks after you walk through the woods, they have been very active lately***

Our poster girl for this report is customer Alexis with a photogenic brown she got recently at the end of the day. Next down is our own Joey with the fruits of staying until dark- don’t leave early!

Friday morning 6/23/23 Report:
River remains unusually low for late June, but we did get a small shot of rain that boosted Still River flows, giving us a total combined flow in the permanent TMA/C&R of about 107cfs (normal/median flow for today’s date would be 316cfs). Riverton gague is reading 67cfs, the Still River is adding in another 40.5cfs. AM water temps in Riverton start in the mid 40’s and go into the low/mid 50’s. I got 67 degrees in New Hartford (near our shop) Thursday evening. Fortunately the long range forecast calls for highs in the 70’s almost every day, nights averaging low to mid 60’s, with cloudy overcast weather and a chance of showers every day. This will keep water temps down, and provide additional flow to the Still River, which will at least for a while boost and significantly improve the flow situation- ultimately we need the MDC to release more cold water though, as they have always done in the past until 2022- their reservoir system was at 99.4% full as of May 31st. They are only legally required to release 50-150cfs, depending upon the inflow to Colebrook Reservoir. 

Hatches have overall been light this week. There are bugs, but they have been hatching in lesser numbers, and not as predictable as normal- I’m sure this relates to the minimal water release. This is summer, and these are “summer” conditions, so figure accordingly in your strategy. Low water + mostly smaller bugs means you need to be stealthy, and also downsize your flies. The exception to the smaller flies would be Isonychia (#8-12), and big Stoneflies (#6-10). FYI the big stones emerge/crawl out in low light, with the best time to fish nymphs imitating them being first light to about 9 or 10am- the cloudy weather every day in the forecast is better for bug activity, including the big stones. Iso’s normally emerge in fast water, sometime between late afternoon & dark. I caught my largest Farmington dry fly trout at almost 9pm in July one year, it was a female brown trout that taped 23”, on a #10 Iso emerger. 

I fished Thursday night from 6pm to just shy of 8:30pm, and despite minimal bug activity, using small slender nymphs (mostly #18’s) on 6x tippet in faster water, to my surprise I had a very productive outing and landed 20 trout, a mix of wild & stocked Browns, 4 Brookies (stocked), numerous Rainbows (including some holdovers), and even one Salmon Parr. Under current conditions, with the exception of big Golden Stoneflies & Isonychia, think mostly #18-20 nymphs, even 22’s, and maybe 16’s at the biggest. With overcast weather virtually every day for the next 2 weeks, we will likely see Blue Winged Olives in #18-24 hatching, so make sure to keep your eye out for them. If you are nymphing, this typically means slim bodied #18-20 olive colored nymphs. If they are rising, closely match the size Olives you see on the water, fish them on a long 6x to 7x tippet to get a better drag-free presentation, and make sure to accurately place your dries. This is also a productive time of year to fish Ants and Beetles, both blind fishing them, as well as to spordically rising trout when insect activity is minimal. I’d rather fish a #14-16 Ant or Beetle on 6x than have to drop to 7x and a #24 dry. Sometimes you have to, but sometimes you don’t. Bigger foam patterns will also support a small weighted nymph if you want to do Dry/Dropper, a very effective tactic in low water. Normally I’d run the nymph 18-24” below the dry, but 10-12” if fish are feeding on the surface with some regularity. This is a shallow technique for fishing the upper to maybe mid water column, you are not and do not want to dredge the bottom with this method. It works best in riffly water or at least some current, with shorter 3-5 second drifts that present a slowly sinking nymph to the trout. More frequent short drifts are more effective than making less but longer drifts. 

Current low water conditions often favor dry flies, dry/dropper, and wet flies/soft hackles. Over the past 2 weeks, quite a few of the big FRAA stocked rainbows have been landed in the New Hartford section- everyone thus far has taken a pic & released them, thank you all for doing that. If you are nymphing, look for faster/deeper water, and use MUCH lighter flies than you normally would. At just over 100cfs, the river is very low, and if you fish 3.5-4mm tungsten bead nymphs you will hang bottom on every drift. 2, 2.5 and maybe 3mm beads (in deeper/faster spots) are the size range to work in. Remember you don’t have to always fish 2 flies when Euro Nymphing, in low flows a single nymph can be a better option, especially in shallower runs. Also, in low water often the key is fishing smaller #18-20 patterns, even 22’s. If you are Indicator Nymphing with unweighted or brass bead nymphs, one or two #4 split shot will get it done most of the time. 

Sulfurs are averaging #16-18 now, with the main hatch about from the upper permanent TMA/C&R (think Campground) up to the dam. The 16’s are Invaria, and the 18’s are Dorothea. Assorted Caddis running from #14-22 are on the water, averaging #16-18 with tan, gray, and olive green bodies the most common colors, but there are other colors too. #20 Attenuata are hatching & have replaced Sulfurs in the evenings on much of the river- see a couple paragraphs down for specific info on Attenuata. Big Isonychia averaging #10, but running #8-12, are as far up as Pipeline/Lyman’s Rock, but overall haven’t been a consistent dry fly hatch as yet, (with some exceptions)- you can however blind fish them successfully. July is typically the peak month in the permanent TMA/C&R for Isonychia. However, Iso nymphs are working subsurface. 

12’ plus leaders with long 3-6’ 6x tippet are a good match for the majority of dry flies, but bigger flies (like Isonychia) will require 5x, and tiny stuff fishes better on 7x. With very low summertime type conditions, think summer tactics. Smaller flies on average (unless you are matching the hatch of a bigger bug like March Browns, Isonychia, Potamanthus, etc.), longer leaders, lighter tippet, longer tippets, try to stay a bit further away, dress in drab clothing, look for shade & structure, and emphasize fishing both early & late in the day. Caddis tend to hatch in the mornings, and come back in the lower light of evenings to egg lay, giving you 2 shots at them. Closer to the dam the water is colder (mid 40’s to mid 50’s) but also even lower, and hatches can be good at unusual time of the day. The further you go downriver, the more the river acts like a rain-fed freestone stream due to bigger water temperature swing. In New Hartford by us, water temps have been averaging from upper 50’s to mid 60’s. 

While we wish MDC was releasing a normal amount of water from their 99%+ full reservoir system, the upside of low flows is that during a hatch a lot of trout will rise because it becomes more energetically efficient for them to do so (slower & shallower water is easier to feed on the surface). Also makes for easier wading and access. When it’s sunny out and there isn’t a hatch, the trout, especially the better ones, will hunker down in cover in the deeper spots, seeking shade whenever possible. The Still River is currently adding in some water, albeit it also warms the river, which can be both good & bad. The water coming from the dam can be icy cold (40’s), and the addition of warmer water can boost temps into the ideal range, at least for a ways downriver. But…. if you go too far downstream on hotter, sunny days it can put temps too high in the afternoons. 

Hatches have varied quite a bit lately and been lighter spotty compared to the previous weeks, and on average have tended to be best early & late in the day- stay until dark if you can! At moments it’s dead, and at others it’s very good. It will also vary quite a bit depending how far up or downriver you are. Late morning through early evening, when bugs aren’t hatching, is a good time to fish terrestrials like ants and beetles. The bigger Invaria Sulfur (averages #16, can be as big as #14) are moving upriver, and #20 Attenuata have been hatching at dusk in sections of the river where the Sulfur hatch is now done. When I was younger I called those “Olive Sulfurs”, but they are not a Sulfur and you will get a ton of refusals if you fish #16-18 Sulfurs to imitate them. They are closer to a 20, and have a brightly colored light green to almost chartreuse body, with cream wings and legs. It’s easy to mistake them for a smaller Sulfur. As you move upriver, you will once again get into Sulfur hatches, and with low flows and rising water temps, we are seeing more of the smaller Dorothea Sulfurs (average #18, but can be as small as #20 on the Farmington) now. Campground and up if you are looking for Sulfur hatches. They can pop at just about anytime of day on this river, from about mid morning and up until darkness and beyond. Don’t forget about the spinners! Spinners cannot get away, and big trout will often key in on them. When riseforms go from more obvious to subtle & sippy, it often means they switched to spinners. Dimpling rises and also gently porpoising rises are typical during spinner falls.

The bigger Invaria Sulfurs (#14-16) hatch in medium to fast current, and the smaller Dorothea Sulfurs hatch in medium to slow current. Trout can get very picky during Sulfur hatches, so make sure to have a good variety of dries, emergers, cripples, and spinners. Use a long 6x tippet (as in 3-6’, depending upon wind) to get a good drag-free float when dry fly fishing. When they are not rising, a Sulfur type nymph in about a #16-18 has often been the ticket, but don’t forget about Caddis pupa and other small nymphs like Olives and even Midges. Dry/Dropper is a great tactic in low flows- gives you a stealthy presentation and keeps your nymphs off the bottom. Wet flies & soft hackles are also good choices. With late Summer water levels, you don’t need much weight when nymphing or you will be too deep and hanging bottom constantly. Look for those sections that are frequently too fast & deep to nymph, and these very low water levels those sections will be just about perfect. 

Look for a change to sipping rises just before dark, this typically means they have switched over to spent Sulfur spinners. You may see March Brown spinners in the air over the riffles at dusk, think #10-12 for them- this hatch is limited to Riverton above the Still River now. They are a trickle hatch during the day, one here and one there in faster water, but the spinners fall in concentrated numbers at dusk over riffles & pocket water. 

This is also a good time to fish wet flies, it’s an efficient way of systematically covering the water when nothing is happening, and will often outfish dry flies during hatches. A lot of the “surface activity” I’ve seen appears to be fish intercepting nymphs just below the surface, egg laying/diving Caddis, and Mayfly emergers in the film. Big trout will key on the easier to catch prey, and a classic Mayfly dun can fly off the water at any time, but a nymph or emerger cannot. Fishing wets is fun, productive, and relaxing. Fish them 2-3 at a time, on tag end droppers, 20-30” apart. Make sure not to use light tippet, and keep your rod tip up to cushion the strike- this also creates a slight bow which allows the trout to inhale your fly, you need some controlled slack or you will get a lot of hits that don’t convert into hooked fish. Dead-drift, swing, twitch, retrieve, skitter & bounce, the trout will tell you how they want them presented, and it will vary.

In their current paradigm, they typically adjust the flow on Monday to match the average inflow from the previous week, from a minimum of 50cfs to a maximum of 150cfs, and if Otis Reservoir is releasing, they have to also add that in. Unionville is very low at at 166cfs, normal/median flow for today would be 455cfs! We need rain, and we need the MDC to stop artificially choking the flow back when they have full reservoirs. The upside to lower flows is easier wading, and when there is a hatch more trout will feed on the surface. Lower water = more rising trout.

Quick Tip:
In lower flows and sunny conditions, look for shade & structure during the daytime. Trout will move to shady areas, and the biggest trout will be near or in structure (bigger rocks, downed trees, undercut banks, tree roots, etc.). Choppy/broken water is also a “cover” of sorts, as it obscures the view of trout from avian (bird) predators. Bigger trout will come out to feed during low water conditions early & late in the day during reduced light levels & higher insect activity. You also get Behavioral Driftat first and last light, where a certain percentage of the immature nymphs & larva free drift in the current to redistribute the insect population- this can be a great time to nymph. 

Sulfurs are are hatching sporadically from about about Campground & up, averaging #16 (Invaria) and #18 (Dorothea)- there are still a few as far down as about New Hartford Rt 219 bridge. We are seeing a various Caddis averaging #14 to #18 in assorted colors (especially tan ones, but also olive, green, black, brown, and gray). Attenuata in #20 are hatching in the evenings at dusk at least as far upstream as the upper permanent TMA/C&R (Campground). Trickle hatch of #10-12 March Browns above the Still River in Riverton, with a spinner fall at dusk. Isonychia are making an appearance as far up as Pipeline/Lyman’s Rock now, averaging #10-12, can be as big a #8- but it’s been a spotty hatch thus far. Look for Iso’s in faster water sometime between late afternoon & dark. July is normally the prime Iso month in the permanent TMA/C&R. Iso nymphs are fishing well now. We have a great new locally tied Iso dry pattern, the Trigger Point Iso Emerger, check it out. 

If you have been struggling to catch fish, the fish in the permanent TMA/C&R receive the most pressure and will be the most “educated”, and the rest of the river will see trout that are somewhat less pressured and more willing to eat on average. The stocked rainbows are easier to fool than the holdover & wild browns. As usual, fishing pressure has been high, so start early (and/or stay late), cover plenty of water, fish the “B” & “C” water, and experiment with fly patterns & presentations. Nymphing can catch trout all day if you know what you are doing, but trout are looking up now and there are rising trout if you you are there during a hatch. If you are out in the evenings, stay until dark! June is the big month for Sulfurs in the permanent TMA/C&R.

A LOT of anglers have been fishing, 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. Ask people what direction they are working in (upstream, downstream), and if it’s okay if you jump in above or below them. Don’t jump ahead of people working upstream or downstream and high hole/low hole them, it’s bad etiquette. If a spot is already crowded, don’t make it even more crowded- find some other water with less anglers in it. A little courtesy goes a long way. Trout have spread out and can be found in a variety of water types, including faster water. 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 (also at midnight) when the light is low, and creates a big spike in subsurface bug activity. FYI many nymphs in the drift are smaller and in the #16-22 range. 

You have to work and do everything right for the bigger holdover & wild brown trout, they don’t come easy- typical of pressured rivers. FYI big trout are everywhere on the river, even in the kill zones where bait guys routinely kill their limit (2 fish, 12”). Bigger fish that have been in the river for years are more dialed into natural food sources and imitative flies in general. Under normal flows, 5x-6x tippet is about right for most nymphs, and you can go as heavy as 4x with bigger Stoneflies & Mops. For dries, we recommend longer leaders (12 feet or longer) with added tippet in the 5x-7x range, matched to your fly size/wind resistance. Don’t neglect small, heavy jigged streamers on a Euro rig, if you fish them slow & deep, they can be deadly when trout aren’t eating bugs- especially bigger fish. Olive, tan, and white are top streamer colors lately, but always experiment. Try running a streamer through a run after you nymph it, sometimes you will pull a big trout that wouldn’t move to eat a nymph.

Pro Tips
Just because there is a hatch does not automatically mean dry flies. Look for risers, but often there are few if any fish feeding on top, and you are better off matching the hatch by fishing subsurface with nymphs, pupa, larva, wet flies, and soft hackles. Many bigger trout rarely feed on top, and only at very specific, brief moments. This time of year many trout have spread out into faster water in the riffles, runs & pocket water and it’s an ideal time and situation to fish wet flies & soft hackles. When the fishing is slow, you can often turn things around by focusing on drifting your flies near the rocks in sections of pocket water, and on bright sunny days look for shade. 


-Sulfur #16 (Invaria): from about Campground to the dam in Riverton, focus on water with some current, spinner falls at dusk. Hatching anytime from mid/late mornings until dark.
-Sulfur #18 (Dorothea): also from Campground to the dam, 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
-March Brown #10-12: Riverton only, hatch near the end, light trickle hatch in faster water during the day, concentrated spinner fall at dusk over riffles & pocket water
-Isonychia #8-12: as far upstream as Pipeline/Lyman’s Rock, fast water insect, late afternoon through dark, spotty hatch so far. July is the big Iso month in the permanent TMA/C&R
-Blue Winged Olives #18-24: late afternoon & eves, esp. cooler cloudy days
-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

Flows are low, don’t fish heavy nymphs or you will hang up every cast.
-Sulfur Nymph #16-18: Fish from about Campground up to the dam
-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 & smaller Stoneflies and are quite effective everywhere
-Isonychia Nymph #10-12: nymphs are working, fish in fast water, both dead-drift & swing them. As far upstream as Pipeline/Lyman’s Rock.
-Antoine’s Perdigons #12-20: various patterns, all year
-BWO Nymphs #16-20: just about anytime, especially cloudy days
-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) 
-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. Good during low water conditions in the Summer.
-Jigged Streamers #8-12: various colors/patterns- dead-drift, twitch, swing & strip, best 
on a Euro rod & leader
-Zebra Midge #18-22 (black, red, olive, brown): an often neglected bug to imitate
-Big Stoneflies #8-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black): early to mid AM in fast 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
*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

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, Vitreus, 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 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 #2-14 (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 debuted in the spring of 2022, and itis 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 (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 very popular with top competition anglers who have access to any rods they want.