Friday, May 31, 2024

Friday 5/31/24 Farmington River Report: Great weekend conditions, Sulfurs are here

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8am-6pm Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm on Saturday & Sunday.

Free Fly Casting Clinic with local guide Mark Swenson on Sunday June 16th. Contact Mark directly at 203-586-8007 to sign up or get more details. Class is limited in size, and is for beginners only.

We recently picked up a collection of inexpensive used fly rods, about 20 rods total ranging from 4 to12 weight, all $100 or less.

The new Thomas & Thomas Avantt II fly rods arrived in March, and they have really impressed us. Slightly more flex in the tip, plenty of power in the mid & lower sections, with fantastic crisp recovery and a low swing weight.

Pictured up top is Trevor Musselman (IG @tailsupfishin) with a Stud of a Farmington River wild male brown he nymphed up. The big fish are there, but they don't come easy. You have to put your time in and show the trout what THEY want, not necessarily what you want or think they want. If they aren't rising, go subsurface. If they are rising, watch closely and pick out the biggest fish. No substitute for time on the water. Also, doing a trip with a full-time local guide like Derrick, Zach, Antoine, or Steve Hogan will greatly shorten the learning curve- there is a Guide Services page on our website with all their info. They are all independent of us, so contact them directly. FYI Antoine is doing multiple clinic days with world champion French fly angler Yannick Riviere in July, contact him to find out more about it.

We are seeing hatches, albeit the bug numbers have overall been light, with some exceptions if you are fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. The hatches should get heavier in June, it’s prime hatch time now, and June is the peak month for Sulfurs in the Permanent TMA/C&R. Weekend weather is dry, warm (low 80’s), sunny Saturday, and cloudy on Sunday- love it! #16 Sulfurs (Invaria) are on most of the river now, at least as far upstream as Campground/Whittemore, but not in Riverton yet. Tends to be an evening hatch, but with the cold water tailwater effect from the dam we sometimes see them hatch at other times of the day, and the closer to the dam you are the more this is true (mornings, afternoons). Assorted Caddis averaging #16-18 are on the entire river. They tend to hatch in mid to late mornings, and come back later in the day to egg-lay over the riffles when things cool down and shadows cover the river. Caddis are present in better numbers than other hatches, but still modest numbers overall. Hatches literally vary from pool to pool, so move around. Surface action has improved, but is not entirely predictable. Evenings at dusk seems to be when I’m seeing the most risers, fish until darkness if at all possible. You may see them rise to Caddis in the mornings, but also be prepared to nymph them up with Caddis Pupa- it’s very effective in the mornings. There are a lot of trout holding in faster water right now, so nymph that pocket water, riffles, faster runs & pool heads. Nymphing remains the most consistent tactic, and wet fly fishing is also working.

Permanent TMA/C&R is nice at 447cfs & dropping at a good clip, Riverton is 265cfs from Goodwin/Hogback Dam downstream to the Rt 20 bridge, and the Still River is adding in 182cfs & dropping fast below that. Rain Thursday morning bumped the Still River up a bit, but the weather is dry now and the Still drops quickly. Should be back down into the 300’s for the weekend, which is a great water level. Riverton water temps above the Still River have been ranging from mid to upper 40’s, and downstream it has been averaging mid to upper 50’s during the afternoons. Unionville USGS gauge is reading 729cfs & dropping fast this afternoon, slightly higher than normal but definitely fishable.

I would say the main hatch is still assorted Caddis, and we are seeing some Vitreus in the early evenings, but Sulfur (#16 Invaria) numbers are increasing and on most of the river now (not Riverton). March Browns are hatching- this is a sporadic day-long hatch, a one here & one there deal in the pocket water & riffles.

Nymphing remains the most consistent producer, but there have been some risers during hatching activity (peak hatch times are mornings & evenings). Wet fly guys & streamer fishermen are also putting fish in the net. Caddis typically come back later in the day to egg-lay in the riffles areas where they dump into the pools, and they typically hatch in the morning (can be afternoons up closer to the dam due to the colder water temps there). Trout normally feed on the pupa during the hatch, not so much the adults- this can mean anything from nymphing pupa near the bottom, to swinging pupa/wet flies/soft-hackles mid column, or dead-drifting pupa in the surface film. Dry/dropper with a Caddis dry and a pupa fished 6-12” below it can be effective during the hatch. You get more of the classic dry fly fishing with Caddis dries during the evening egg-laying events. Even then though it’s not a bad idea to drop a Caddisy soft-hackle off the back of your dry fly.

The state has done multiple recent stockings up & down the river, the fish density is about as high as it gets here- if you cannot catch trout here now, than this may not be your sport lol. They put in a lot of fat 14-16” rainbows, some are 17” and well over 2 pounds. Manyof the FRAA trophy rainbows are getting caught and mostly released, they literally have been averaging about 5-7#, a few quite a bit bigger than that too (up to 27”/12#). Many trout are holding in faster water now: riffles, faster runs, and pocket water. Also the FRAA put in 18 Golden Rainbows, and you will see them here & there. They are always a challenge to catch because they stick out like a sore thumb and everybody targets them.

This is a great time to swing wet flies & soft hackles in the riffles, they fish best 2-3 at a time, tied 20-30” apart on tag end droppers- stop by the shop and we can explain how to set things up. Both Caddis & Vitreus are very active bugs, making wet fly fishing a great way to imitate them. Wet fly fishing is also a relaxing, super fun way to fish. Much less technical than nymphing & flat water dry fly fishing, and less tiring than streamer fishing. Also a very efficient way to cover a lot of water, especially when you aren’t sure exactly where the trout are located.

The main Caddis varieties are a mix of olive/green #16-18 and tan ones in #14-18, along with some other assorted Caddis. Vitreus mayflies (aka Pink Ladies) average #12-14 currently and are active in the faster riffly water. The Sulfurs (Invaria) are #16 and hatching in light numbers, and the March Browns run #10-12. Good numbers of Craneflies have been hatching some days, they are light colored and some people mistake them for a Sulfur. When trout aren’t rising (a frequent occurence), expect it to be more of a subsurface game with nymphs, wet flies/soft hackles, and streamers. New hatches start downriver first (warmer water temps) and progress upstream.

Trout don’t always rise to hatches, so be prepared to go subsurface with Caddis pupa, Sulfur/Vitreus nymphs, wet flies/soft hackles, and streamers. Also try BWO nymphs #16-20 (especially on overcast days), #14-18 Pheasant Tails/Frenchies and other assorted nymphs. Cream Mops & Squirmy Worms (pink, red) are always worth a try, especially as a clean up fly after you nymph a run, or if trout are not responding to your usual more imitative patterns. They can also be good in the early morning before the bugs get active. Don’t neglect attractor nymphs that have flash, fluorescent colors, UV, or gaudy colors- pink beaded nymphs have been very effective this spring.

Nymphing with Caddis Pupa can be deadly when they are hatching in the mornings & afternoons, target current breaks in faster water. When they come back to egg lay (typically later in the day), that’s when you are most apt to see trout rising to them. Swinging wet flies & soft hackles are often very effective when Caddis are hatching or egg-laying. Nymphing with a variety of different patterns is a consistent tactic. Try a pair of nymphs, with one attractor/gaudier type fly, and another that is more imitative. Streamers, especially jigged ones on a long leader/Mono Euro rig, have been been catching some nice trout- try olive, tan, black, white. Experiment with how you present your streamer to the fish: dead-drift, twitched, swung, and various retrieves.

The Still River runs warmer (upper 50’s to upper 60’s currently, and can crack 70 on hot, sunny days), while the water from the dam is coming out in the mid 40’s and slowly rises as you move downstream from the dam. This makes hatches happen later in Riverton above the Still River. Hatches start in the lower river, move up into the permanent TMA/Catch & Release, and then up above the Still into Riverton.The cold water from the dam can also make evening hatches occur in the mornings or afternoons.



-Caddis #14-18 (olive/green, tan): majorhatch
-Vitreus #12-16: early eves, mid to upper river
-Sulfur (Invaria) #16: on most of the river now, up to Campground/Whittemore, but not Riverton
-March Brown #10-12: a sporadic day-long emerger in faster water, one here one there kinda hatch
-Blue Wing Olive #18-24: cloudy afternoons
-Craneflies #14-16: often mistaken for Sulfurs
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: hatching in early to mid morning, all year long
-Midges #24-28: afternoons through dusk

Nymphs & Wet Flies/Soft Hackles:

-Caddis Pupa #14-18 (olive/green, tan)
-Pheasant Tails/Frenchies #12-20
-Sulfur/Vitreus Nymph #14-16: can use specific imitations, also Frenchies/Pheasant Tails
-Wet Flies & Soft Hackles #12-16: assorted colors/patterns
-Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmy Worms, Green Weenie)
-Blue Winged Olive Nymphs #16-20, good all year
-Zebra Midge #18-22: black, olive, red
-Winter/Summer Caddis Larva #18 (yellow): can also imitate Midge larva
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16: lots of these in the river
-Cased Caddis #12-14: underfished pattern, abundant in the Farmington
-Attractor Nymphs #14-20: such as Sexy Waltz, Rainbow Warriors, Frenchies, Prince, Triple Threats, Pink Bead Walt’s Worm, etc.


-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.
-Ice Picks (tan, gray, white, yellow): tied by Rich Strolis, a very nice single hook baitfish pattern
-Wooly Bugger #4-12: assorted colors, try also Don's Peach Bugger
-Zonker #4-6: a classic fish catcher! In white, natural
-BMAR Yellow Matuka #6: deadly fly! Also standard Matuka in olive, brown
-Zuddler #4-8: one of our favorites, in olive, white, brown, black
-Complex & Mini Twist Bugger #2-6: assorted colors, very effective