Monday, September 4, 2023

Monday 9/4/23 Farmington River Labor Day Fishing Report: It's all C&R now, holiday hours

Store Hours have changed to 5pm, 7 days a week, not 6pm anymore: 
Mon-Fri 8am-5pm & Sat-Sun 8am-5pm

Monday 9/4 Labor Day Store Hours will be 8am-3pm.

We recently purchased another huge collection of fly tying materials and have most of it priced and put out now. Stop by and check it out. All sorts of stuff: dubbing, flash, hooks, hackle, squirrel, pheasant, threads, tying tools, fur, Zonker strips, rubber legs, deer hair, foam, and LOTS more. 

Our summer sale has changed a bit: 
SALE is now 
10% off used & clearance fly rods & reels over $500 in store only-this is an additional discount off the marked price. Most clothing is 20% off the marked price. Select packs & vests are also 20% off the marked price. All Landing Nets are 10% off the marked price. The sale merchandise is going fast as it's rare that we mark things down during the height of the season.... but we can use some income during this slower summer, and you, our loyal customers, should benefit. 

Derrick & Zach are doing a two ½ day fly tying classes on Sunday September 24th, the title is “Tying Flies for Pressured Trout- to to the Classes page on our website for a detailed description, call UpCountry at 860-379-1952 to reserve a spot, there’s only 8 in each class. 

Monday morning 9/4:
Beautiful black & white Farmington River scenic picture by local artist Jim Decesare. 

As of September 1st, the entire Farmington River is Catch & Release from the dam in Riverton to downstream 21 miles to the Unionville Rt 177 bridge until the 2nd Saturday in April 2024. 

We will be closing at 5pm every day now and opening at 8am.
Hope y’all are enjoying the 3 day holiday weekend, we will close at 3pm today, Labor Day, Monday 9/4. With a heat wave moving in for the next few days (highs 88-93 through Thursday, lows 67-71), please consider giving the trout a break until things cool off on the weekend. If you have to fish, go out in the mornings from first light to maybe 9-10am when water temps are at their lowest, then knock off for the day- that should keep you in water temps in the 60’s. By noonish, almost the entire river will exceed 70 degrees- too hot to trout fish, and poor fishing also at those temps. Water is coming out of the dam at about 66 degrees, and it rapidly warms in the afternoons on hot sunny days as you go below the dam. Riverton bridge cracked 71 degrees at about 2pm Sunday. Heat breaks on the weekend, and next week will be low/mid 70’s and nights down into the low 50’s- that’s what you want to see. Fall weather is coming, and with it better fishing.

FYI if you are taking water temps, there are two points to be aware of: 1) you need to take it in the current. If you take the temp in the edge near the bank in water with little to no current, it will give you a higher reading that what main flow is, and 2) make sure you shade your thermometer because sunlight can give you a higher reading.

Water levels are medium-low at 196cfs total flow below the Still River and in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R). Riverton is 162fs at the USGS gauge, and the Still River is adding in 34cfs a little below that. Water coming out of the dam remains at about 66 degrees (67 at the Riverton Rt 20 bridge at 8am), which means you need to keep a very close eye on water temps, especially on warmer sunny afternoons- Riverton bridge peaked out at 71+ degrees Sunday afternoon and will get even hotter this week with the 90+ degree highs. Mornings after a night down into the 50’s are ideal (next week), giving you the lowest water temps and the longest window of better fishing conditions (cooler water and lower light conditions). On sunny, warmer days you will still need to migrate upriver by late morning to stay in water that is 68 degrees or less, and by the afternoon on those same days you will likely need to move up to Beaver Pool or even closer to the dam. 

Hatches are improved a little, but still slower than normal. Flying Ants have been on the water in the afternoons/early evenings lately, and bringing trout to the surface. Nymphing the fast water is currently the most consistent tactic- that’s where most of the bugs live, and fast water holds more oxygen. The morning Trico hatch/spinner fall finally started up recently-better late than never. It’s not heavy, but it is fishable. The main event is the spinner fall, and this happens when air temps hit approximately 68 degrees (give or take a smidge). Make sure you have the matching #22-26 spinner patterns, they average #24. Look also for Summer/Winter Caddis in the early to mid mornings.There have been modest regular Caddis hatches on cooler mornings in riffly areas, running #16-18, not sure on the body colors (try tan and olive/green). Late morning to early eves try beetles & ants, they are summertime staple dry flies. Dusk to dark typically offers up a brief 15-30 minute window of bugs & rising trout. Light Cahills/Summer Stenos, Isonychia, and assorted Caddis (they egg-lay in the evenings) would be the main players. Iso hatches have been slow this summer, but it doesn’t take more than a few on the water to get the trout on them. Think dries, nymphs & wets when it comes to Isonychia. They live in fast water, the same habitat as larger Stoneflies prefer. The are active from late afternoon until darkness normally.

The Still River is a warming influence this time of year, so the coolest water during sunny afternoons will be above that. But, after colder nights it will actually be cooler for the first few hours of daylight below the Still River, and then temps will rise after that. On warmer sunny days it’s been cracking 70+ degrees, even at the Rt 20 bridge in Riverton (Hitchcock/Riverton Self Storage). On days like that, if you are fishing in the afternoon you need to stay from about Beaver Pool up to the dam. Not a long stretch of water at all, but it should keep you in water temps of 68 degrees or less. Direct sunlight is the biggest driver of increased water temps. 

Your longest window of lower water temps is first light to mid mornings, especially after a night that goes down into the 50’s followed by an overcast morning. When it’s like that, you can venture downstream into the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R), maybe even into New Hartford (where UpCountry is). But…. by late morning to noonish, you better be up in Riverton above the Still River, and you may need to stay from Canal/Beaver Pools and up on hotter sunny afternoons to stay in water that is 68 degrees or cooler (it’s coming out of the dam at about 66 degrees currently). Overall the most consistent morning tactic has been nymphing the faster water & pockets. A favored AM nymph rig would be a bigger #8-10 Stonefly nymph paired up with a #16 Caddis Pupa or a #18-20 nymph like a Pheasant Tail/Frenchy, Walt’s Worm, or a Blue Winged Olive Nymph. While bigger trout have been scarce lately, I have gotten a few reports of 18-20” fish caught nymphing fast water in the early mornings. 

Please DO NOT fish in 70+ degree water or you will stress the trout out and can potentially kill them by catching and releasing at those temps (not enough oxygen in warmer water). If you are fishing in Church Pool on a sunny afternoon, you will 100% be fishing in 70+ degree water. Don’t be that person. If you have a thermometer, please use it- it will show you where & when you should and should not fish. Pretty much on sunny days by about 10am you better be up in Riverton above the Still River (it’s a warming influence that dumps in warm to hot water in the summer), and you may need to move even closer to the dam release in the afternoons to stay in cool enough water. When water temps move into the mid 60’s or higher, many trout will hold in the faster water due to the higher oxygen content. FYI when you take the water temp, make sure you are in the current and your thermometer is shaded, otherwise it will give you a reading higher than the actual temp. 

It’s not so much the actual water temp per se that creates issues for the trout when temps get into the 70’s, but rather the lack of oxygen in the water. Water that is faster and turbulent holds more oxygen, and trout will often prefer to hold in faster water as water temps move into the 60’s. Think riffles, rapids, and pocket water. Optimum water temps for brown trout and rainbow trout is about 50-65 degrees, 75+ is very stressful and trout will migrate to find cooler water (closer to bottom release dams, tributaries, spring holes) if it stays there for a while, and sustained periods at 80+ degrees are typically lethal (it literally suffocates them due to the low oxygen content). FYI for Brook Trout you can subtract about 5 degrees from the above water temps, they require colder water.

Overall the best dry fly reports have been from those fishing Beetles & Ants, as well as blind fishing attractor dries in faster water with or without a nymph dropper 18-24” below. We are seeing Yellow Sally Stoneflies, they average #14-18. It’s not uncommon to see clusters of Yellow Sally shucks on the downstream side of rocks, I’ve seen as many as 50+ shucks on some rocks, August/September is peak time for them on the Farmington River. I find imitating them with nymphs more productive than dries, they look like a miniature Golden Stone and can be imitated with a #14-18 yellow brown Sulfur type nymph pattern. There are a few Isonychia around in the faster water averaging #10-12, some small #24 Blue Winged Olives, a few assorted Caddis, some Summer/Winter Caddis in the early to mid mornings, and at dusk a few Light Cahills/Summer Stenonema #12-22. If you are out in the evenings, stay until full dark and you may hit a 15-30 minute window at dusk of good bugs hatching & rising trout feeding on them. 

Nymphing has been the best tactic lately, hatches have been weak overall. Fish that faster water with nymphs. Bigger #8-10 Stoneflies will crawl out to emerge between first light and about 10am, making that pattern a good choice to nymph faster water in the mornings- look for the empty shucks on rocks in fast water, as well as on bridge abutments. Pair them up with a #16 Caddis pupa or a #18-20 Mayfly type nymph such as a small Pheasant Tail/Frenchy. From mid afternoon onward you can pair an Isonychia type nymph (use an imitative pattern, a Prince nymph, or a big Pheasant Tail) with a smaller nymph. Mornings are a great time to get out there and nymph and also catch the lowest water temps of the day. If ever there was a time of year to wake up early and be on the water at first light, the time is now.

We sometimes get pushback from customers who always fish the same pools in the permanent TMA/C&R and don’t want to hear the truth about water temps. “Oh, your taking the SURFACE water temperature” is the reaction I often get when taking water temps in Church Pool, and a regular asks me what the water temp is and I give them a high number they don’t like. If you’re fishing Church Pool in the afternoon on a warm, sunny day right now, you WILL be fishing in water that is 70+ degrees. Don’t be that person. In rivers there is not any significant degree of thermal stratification, so don’t tell us that the trout are sitting in cold water on the bottom, because it’s BS. In the deepest, slowest pools there is maybe 1 degree of temp difference between the surface and the bottom. Every time water moves through riffles, pocket water, and rapids, it all mixes together. And every trout you catch has to be pulled through the water at the surface anyway. Don’t rationalize unsporting behavior and selfish behavior. 

Saltwater anglers take note, we have quite a few saltwater rods on sale or clearance, including models from both Sage & Hardy.

The FRAA stocked 57 large rainbow trout in New Hartford on June 8th from 19-24” and very fat, ranging from about 3-4# up to 7-8#. 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 high quality Kamloops Rainbows that come from Harding Hatchery, a very tough strain of trout. They are quite fat with great coloration.


Hatches have been very light, with dusk to dark being the best window, albeit a short window- don’t leave too early! We are starting to see morning Trico spinner falls, along with some regular Caddis hatching on cooler mornings.
-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
-Tricos #22-26: light but fishable, the spinner fall is the main event and it happens at about 68 degrees air temp
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: hatching in early to mid morning
-Summer Stenos/Cream Cahills #12-22: evenings at dusk
-Assorted Caddis #14-22 (tan, olive/green most common): hatching in early to mid AM, come back to egg lay at dusk in the riffles
-Isonychia #10-12: fast water insect, late afternoon through dark, spotty hatch this year
-Blue Winged Olives #22-26: esp. cooler cloudy days
-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


Early to mid mornings are the longest & best window of lower water temps right now, focus on the faster water when nymphing (more oxygen & more trout). Other than night fishing, your best bet for an 18” or bigger trout is nymphing the fast water with a bigger Stonefly nymph from first light to about 10am.

-Big Stoneflies #8-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black): early to mid AM in fast water, you will see the shucks on the rocks, as well as on cement bridge abutments
-Yellow Sally #14-18: use a yellow brown Sulfur nymph to imitate them
-Isonychia Nymph #10-12: nymphs are working, fish in fast water, both dead-drift & swing them. Princes & large Pheasant Tails work well to imitate them.
-Caddis Pupa #16-18 (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 (BWO, Sulfur, Iso, etc.) & smaller Stoneflies and are quite effective everywhere
-Antoine’s Perdigons #12-20: various patterns, all year
-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) 
-Jigged Streamers #8-12: various colors/patterns- dead-drift, twitch, swing & strip, best 
on a Euro rod & leader
-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
-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

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. 
-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 #2-8 (peach, black, olive, white, brown, tan)


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 2022, and it 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 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 micro 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 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 soon. 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, Joe really nailed it on this particular rod.