Friday, October 20, 2023

Friday 10/20/23 Farmington River Report: Foliage, Flows & Electroshocking

Store Hours: 8am-5pm, 7 days a week. 

We recently purchased another huge collection of quality fly tying materials.
 Stop by and check it out. Hooks, dryfly necks, streamer necks, dubbing, flash, squirrel, used vises, tying tools, fur, zonker strips, rubber legs, deer hair, foam, and LOTS more. 

Additional 10% off used & clearance fly rods & reels over $500. Clothing is 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 after the slow summer we had, and you, our loyal customers, should benefit. 

UpCountry recently purchased a giant collection of Used graphite, bamboo & fiberglass fly rods, Used fly Reels & Classic fly reels. Most of this equipment is very affordably priced and will only be offered in store to our walk in customers. There are lots of classic Orvis, Hardy, Pfleuger, custom and much more. Come and take a look before someone gets there first.  Most items are between $10 - $200 with a few higher end bamboo rods mixed in. If you have ever considered buying an affordable bamboo rod to fish with, this is the time, we have some great rods from $100-500 dollars and a few premium ones for the more experienced bamboo aficionado.  

Friday morning 10/20:
Pictured up top is Zach’s son Hunter with a new PB brown trout he landed yesterday, Zach got a big one too. Next pic is customer Paul Liberty with a net filling beautiful wild brown on a black Woolly Bugger. 

A few things to touch base on for this weekend. First, they cut the flow down low just for today (Friday), 144cfs total,, so they can electroshock to collect brood stock browns for the Survivor Strain program. You should see the total flow go back to around 300cfs for the weekend. Some bigger trout are starting to get caught in past few days. Fish aren’t spawning yet, but literally any day they will start up. Usually they are already spawning by the 15th, so we are slightly late. Foliage is near peak, I’d say this weekend through next should be the peak fall color week in our area. 

The most successful tactics for bigger trout this past week has been either streamers (regular or jigged) or tan Caddis pupa. Any day egg flies will get hot, as soon as they start spawning and dropping eggs. For streamers, both conventionally fished bigger streamers (can be single hook or articulated) and jigged ones fished on a tight-line Euro rig have been effective. Play with streamer color & retrieve, it can make a BIG difference. Good colors of late are olive, tan, yellow, and other colors paired with yellow such as brown/yellow, olive/yellow, and tan/yellow. There have been some trout rising to small olives #22-26 in the afternoons in the pools. Quite a few tan Caddis #16-18 some days, especially in the mornings & mid/late afternoons. Pupa fished subsurface have outfished the Caddis dries. Small Blue Winged Olive (BWO) nymphs #18-22 are worth trying in the afternoons too- fish them paired up with another slightly bigger nymph to get the trout’s attention. Water temps have averaged mid 50’s to low 60’s this week, depending upon where & when.

Any day now the spawn will begin, so keep your eye out for redds and don’t walk on or immediately below these areas- see a few paragraphs down for info on what to do & what not to do during the spawn. This October the most common catch has been smaller wild browns averaging 6-10”, along with some Salmon Parr and the occasional rainbow. Normally the egg bite starts right about now, should be any day. One day you are lucky to catch a trout on an egg fly, but when the egg bite starts up an egg pattern is lights out. Streamers are still a good bet to possibly pull a larger fish that you might not see on a nymph, browns are aggressive due to the spawn. Nymphing is producing smaller wild browns as I mentioned above.

The Riverton gauge is reading 57cfs this morning, and the Still River is adding in 87cfs, giving us a total flow below that in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) of a low 144cfs. Close to 1.5” of rain is predicted for today (Friday) and into Saturday, so you will see the additional flow from the Still River bump up this weekend- when that happens, think medium to large streamers in colors like black or yellow, and also nymphing with Junk Flies (Mops, Squirmy Worms, Eggs, Green Weenies). 

The state stocked the river on October 10th from just below the Rt 219 bridge in New Hartford (1 mile upstream from us) all the way down to Avon- please remember that as of 9/1, the entire river from the dam all the way down to the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville is strictly Catch & Release. 

Small wild browns 4-10” have been VERY active the past few weeks, along with small Atlantic Salmon Parr. The most active bug has been tan Caddis #16-18, but we are also seeing some small Blue Winged Olives #22-26 and a few Isonychia #12-14. Best fishing by far has been subsurface with nymphs & streamers, dry fly action has been spotty and is best when flows are lower. 

Usually brown trout start spawning around mid October on the Farmington River, with peak spawn in late October/early November, but some will spawn as late as December, and I’ve seen browns spawning as late as the 2nd week of January! Keep an eye out for redds, the oval light colored depressions in gravelly riffles where trout deposit there eggs. Avoid those areas and the first 10-15 feet below them, otherwise you may crush the eggs if you walk there. Also, don’t fish to actively spawning fish, they are already stressed out, so don’t add to it, just let them reproduce in peace. 

The three main October hatches are Tan Caddis #16-18, small Blue Winged Olives #22-26, and Isonychia (Iso’s) #12-14. You may see a few other bugs too, such as Giant October Caddis #6-10 or Light Cahills/Summer Stenos #12-14. Caddis hatch in the mornings and come back to egg-lay in the riffles mid/late afternoons, BWO’s hatch in slower/softer water in the afternoons (especially cloudy days), and Isonychia hatch in faster water in mid/late afternoons. 

Streamers are a great option in the Fall as brown trout get extra aggessive due to spawning. Some good Fall streamer colors include olive, white, brown, brown & yellow, olive & yellow, and all yellow. Browns react aggressively to the color yellow in the Fall due to spawning (yellow represents a heighted spawning color). I’d stick to small to medium size (1.5”-3”) if you’re looking for numbers, but you can go 4-6” if you want to head hunt for trophy trout and are willing to catch less fish. Tight-lining them on a Euro rig can be deadly and often outfishes conventional presentations because you are fishing them slower and down deep, making it easy for them to eat your fly and not have to chase it. Sometimes throwing the meat will aggravate brown trout in the Fall and draw a strike when the nymph fishing is slow. Play with colors & retrieves, let the trout tell you what they want. Don’t be afraid to strip them in fast, sometimes that is the trigger to get them to eat. Early & late in the day is prime time (low light), but midday can be good if you look for shade & structure. Cover as much water as possible when streamer fishing. You are looking for aggressive trout, which typically strike quickly, or not at all. 

A favored AM nymph rig would be a bigger #8-12 Stonefly nymph paired up with a #16 Caddis Pupa or a #18-20 nymph like a Pheasant Tail/Frenchy, Walt’s Worm/Sexy Waltz, or a Blue Winged Olive Nymph. From mid/late afternoon onward replace the big Stonefly with a #12-14 Isonychia-type fly- can be a specific imiation, or just a #12-14 Pheasant Tail or Prince Nymph. 



Hatches are improving, Tan Caddis & small Blue Winged Olives are the main two, and there are a few Isonychia around- we have been seeing more Caddis by far. 

-Fall Caddis #16-18 (tan/light brown): hatching in early to mid AM, and returning to lay eggs in the riffles mid afternoon to dusk.

-Blue Winged Olives #22-26: afternoons, esp. on cooler/cloudy days

-Isonychia #12-14: a few around, fast water insect, mid/late afternoon

-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

-Summer Stenos/Cream Cahills #12-16: evenings at dusk

-Giant October Caddis #8-12: mid/late afternoons, sporadic/light hatch

-Midges #20-28: anytime, try a Midge Pupa subsurface


-Caddis Pupa #16-18 (mostly tan right now): dead-drift & swing in medium to fast water.

-Blue Winged Olives (BWO) #18-22: fish in afternoons

-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

-Isonychia Nymph #12-14: a few around, fish in fast water mid/late afternoons, dead-drift & swing them. Prince nymphs & large Pheasant Tails work well to imitate them.

-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs (BWO, Isonychia, Sulfur, Iso, etc.) & smaller Stoneflies and are quite effective everywhere

-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16: anytime, lots of these in the river

-Jigged Streamers #8-12: various colors/patterns- dead-drift, twitch, swing & strip, best on a Euro rod & leader, excellent choice to fish in September/October with aggressive pre-spawn brown trout

-Attractor Nymphs #14-20: anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot such as Sexy Waltz, Rainbow Warriors, Prince, Triple Threats, etc

-Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmies/SJ Worms, Green Weenies): especially good in high/stained water, or as a change-up fly after you have fished a good run with standard nymphs, also killer on recently stocked trout


With Fall at hand and aggressive brown trout ready to spawn, now is prime time to fish the meat. Big trout are almost always on the lookout for bigger bites, especially early & late in the day (low light) and during lulls in bug activity. Also a great choice anytime the flow is up or off-color. 

-Rich Strolis articulated streamers (assorted)

-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 excellent 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 length & line weight.