Friday, March 15, 2024

Friday 3/15/24 Farmington River Report: BIG Flow Cut today, smaller flow cut Sat morning

Store Hours: 8am-5pm, 7 days a week. 

We have a new spot in the Book Room with FREE Fly Tying Materials. We will be adding to it regularly, we have to thin out the 3 massive fly tying collections we bought in the past year or so. There will be some good stuff that will get snapped up quickly so make sure to check it out every time you come in.

Select T&T Zone rods are 40% off. 2023 Thomas & Thomas Avantt rods all 40% off. Hardy Ultralites also 40% off. 

Pictured up top is customer Mike Boyle with his new PB wild brown from last weekend, way to go!

12:45pm update Friday 3/15:
The flow cut for today is going down to 500cfs at the dam, and then down to 300cfs Saturday morning. It will read slightly higher than this on the Riverton USGS gauge, and you need to add 250cfs (and dropping) from the Still River if you are downstream from there (as in the permanent TMA/C&R). Should be a great weekend for fishing with mild weather and greatly improved flows. 

Current Conditions:
The dam release is going down as I write this, and I'll update again this afternoon when we know exactly how low the dam is going to go. The big release over this past week was to get the water level down at Colebrook Reservoir after 3 rain events last week. Not only will this flow cut today put us back to nice conditions, but the water temps will go back up which should get both the trout and the bugs a lot more active. The previous high water this week likely also spread the recently stocked fish out. Heavy water releases in the early season means they are pumping water in the high 30’s out of the dam, and flow reductions mean higher/better water temps. Warm weather here now has the tribs cracking well into the 50’s on sunny afternoons, and this will boost water temps as you go downriver away from the dam. Look for water temps to jump up now that they cut the flow. Current conditions are more like April than March. Early season water temps are always better downstream of the Still River, which is the first major tributary to enter. 

Total flow downstream of the Still River in the permanent TMA/C&R was 1,700cfs at 8am. Riverton USGS gauge was reading 1,450fs, and the Still River was adding in 250cfs. At the 9:30am flow update, Riverton was dropping vertically on the graph and reading 1,290cfs and should go waaaay lower than that. I’m guessing this flow cut will ultimately bring Riverton down to 250-300cfs (again, this is an educated guess)- this will also raise water temps, which in March is a good thing. Riverton was 39.5 degrees this morning at 8am, it reached 41 degrees Thursday afternoon. Downstream water temps, further from the dam, water temps are higher. Sunny days will see the biggest water temperature increases, with peak water temps in the mid to late afternoons.

New Hardy Marksman rods arrived for 2024, this replaces the Ultralite series (not the Ultralite LL though). They are super nice with improved recovery and even better actions/flex patterns. We have the freshwater Marksman from #3-7, and the saltwater Marksman Z (replaces the Zane Pro) from #7-10.

BIG fly tying material orders from both Wapsi & Hareline recently arrived. Nature’s Spirit also arrived this week, with things like Hanak & Daiichi hooks, tying materials from Hends, Sybai, FNF, high quality deer & elk hair, dubbings, and lots of other natural materials. We received a big batch of natural colored CDC from Fulling Mill, and it looks fantastic.

A big Fishpond order arrived recently with lots of assorted packs (including chest packs), waterproof packs/bags, landing nets, and all sorts of accessories. The holes on the walls are getting filled daily, along with some cool new products in the mix. 

I put literally hundreds of hooks on sale in the book room at about 40% off- it’s a mix of overstocked hooks, ones we are no longer going to carry, and discontinued models. This includes includes hooks from Hanak, Fasna, Tiempo, Ahrex, and Gamakatsu. 

Some good fishing reports from last week before the flow increase, and after the flow cut today we should be back to good conditions again. There were plenty of recently stocked trout caught along with some bigger wild & holdover fish. The early season Blue Winged Olive hatch has begun, they run #16-18 and hatch in the afternoons. We are even seeing a few Blue Quills. Last week the state stocked the lower river from the Collinsville dams down to the Rt 177 Unionville bridge, which means that other than the permanent C&R/TMA, the entire river from the dam in Riverton down to Unionville has been recently stocked. The freshly stocked trout compete with the resident fish & wild and will get them feeding more aggressively. If you want to avoid the recent stockers and target mainly holdover & wild browns, then focus on the permanent TMA/C&R, but expect to work a lot harder for each and every fish, but the average size will be larger.
Recently stocked trout don’t know how to feed naturally (takes about 3 weeks), so try things like Junk Flies (Squirmy Worms, Mops, Egg Flies, Green Weenies), Woolly Buggers, and smaller jigged streamers. Frenchies, Walt’s Worms & Sexy Waltz can also be very good. Nymphs with hot spots usually work well. 

There has been some limited dry fly activity, both in the mornings to Winter/Summer Caddis, and in the afternoons to Blue Winged Olives/Baetis, Paraleps, small Midges, and potentially Early Black Stones. Underwater, all three varieties of Stoneflies are active & in the drift (Tiny Winter Black, Early Black, and Early Brown). Nymphing has generally been more consistent than streamer fishing over the past several weeks. I’d pair up something in the #12-16 range that could be imitative of an Early Stonefly (black, brown), immature Golden Stone, or a smaller Hendrickson nymph (something Mayfly shaped & brown), with a slim #18-20 fly in a darker color that could imitate things like Baetis/BWO nymphs & Midges. Early to mid morning Winter Caddis hatch aside, the bug activity is confined to the afternoons when water temps rise a little. 

Streamers don’t always catch the most fish, but often enough they do trigger bigger fish to eat your fly. Better streamers colors lately are tan, olive, and white- fish them slow & deep for best results. 
Winter nymphs typically include Junk Flies (especially Eggs & Mops), Midges #18-22 in black/red/olive (Zebra Midge, etc.), Winter Caddis Larva #18, and small Mayfly Nymphs #16-20 such as Pheasant Tails & BWO’s (Blue Winged Olive). Also Olive/Green Caddis Larva #14-16, Cased Caddis #10-16, Walt’s Worms/Sexy Waltz #10-18, Attractor & Hot-Spot Nymphs #14-18 (Triple Threats, Frenchies, Perdigons, etc.). Nymphs with metallic pink beads can be above average producers in cold water on stocked trout, holdover trout, and even big wild brown trout. 

We have a good selection of the specialized Winter Caddis dry fly patterns from #18-24, it’s a unique hatch that you don’t normally find on other rivers  The Winter Caddis larva are about a #18 and yellowish in color, and are also worth fishing this time of year. That same fly imitates Black Caddis larva (also yellow & small), as well as some Midges- killing 3 birds with one stone.

The state has begun stocking the Farmington River, but not the permanent TMA/C&R which will be stocked in April. Remember that from September 1, the entire river from the dam all the way down to the Rt 177 bridge in Unionville is strictly Catch & Release until the second Saturday in April.




-Summer/Winter Caddis#18-24: hatching in early to mid morning, all year long

-Blue Winged Olives #16-18: afternoons

-Early Black Stoneflies #14-16: afternoons

-Early Brown Stonefly #14-16: afternoons

-Midges #22-28: afternoons through dusk

-Blue Quills/Mahogany Dun (Paraleptophlebia) #16-18: afternoons


-Strolis Infant Stones #14 (black, brown): this popular pattern imitates the Early Brown & Early Black Stoneflies, with the brown version also passing for a Hendrickson nymph.

-Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmies/SJ Worms, Green Weenies): killer on recently stocked trout, good in high/stained water, or as a change-up fly after you have fished a good run with standard nymphs. Good also when nothing seems to be working. 

-Blue Winged Olive Nymphs #16-18, hatching in afternoons

-Egg Flies #12-18: will continue to produce right through the early Spring, and are also very good on recently stocked trout- they will hammer an egg fly until they get dialed in on real nymphs, larva & pupa. Try shades of yellow, pink, orange. There will also be spawning Rainbows in March, and Suckers in April.  

-Zebra Midge #18-22: black, olive, red, purple

-Winter Caddis Larva #18: surprisingly the larva are yellow, not brown.

-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #14-22: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs (BWO, Isonychia, Sulfur, Isonychia, etc.) & smaller Stoneflies and are quite effective everywhere, all year long. 

-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16: anytime, lots of these in the river. Good choice when you aren’t sure what to fish

-Jigged Streamers #8-12: various colors/patterns- dead-drift, twitch, swing & strip, best on a Euro rod & leader, but can also be drifted under an indicator. Excellent choice to fish in March, especially for bigger trout, or after you have nymphed a run. Tan, olive, and white have been the best recently.

-Attractor Nymphs #14-20: anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot such as Sexy Waltz, Rainbow Warriors, Frenchies, Prince, Triple Threats, etc. Great on recently stocked fish, but big holdovers & wilds eat them too. 

To a trout a streamer represents a lot of potential calories. 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. Hot colors recently have been white, tan, and olive.

-Jigged Streamers #8-12: various patterns/colors, deadly fished on a tight-line/Euro rig, often sorts out bigger fish. Great to use as a clean-up fly after you nymph a run.

-Wooly Bugger #4-12: assorted colors
-Zonker #4-6: white, natural

-BMAR Yellow Matuka #6. Also standard Matuka in olive, brown

-Zuddler #4-8: olive, yellow, white, brown, black

-Complex & Mini Twist Bugger #2-6: assorted colors