Monday, January 29, 2024

Monday 1/29/24 Farmington River Report: Flow Bump, New Products & Hook Sale

Store Hours: 8am-5pm, 7 days a week. 

Don't forget to have a 2024 CT Fishing license plus a $5 Trout/Salmon Stamp if you are planning to fish the Farmington River.

Stop by for some bargains! Select T&T Zone rods are 40% offThomas & Thomas Avantt rods all 40% offHardy Ultralites (not the LL’s) also 40% off

We purchased purchased several huge collections of quality fly tying materials in 2023. Stop by and check it all out. Hooks, dry fly necks, streamer necks, dubbing, flash, squirrel, used vises, tying tools, fur, zonker strips, rubber legs, deer hair, foam, and LOTS more. As we sell through these materials, we keep putting more out. 

UpCountry also purchased a large 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.

Pictured up top is customer John Antolini with a beautiful brown trout from this past weekend in the high water. You can’t win if you don’t play.

Guide Mark Swenson will be doing a Beginner Fly Tying class on Sunday Feburary 11th, it will run from 9:30am-4pm with a lunch break in the middle. Cost is $150, class limit is 6P, contact Mark directly at 203-586-8007 to sign up. Vise & tools can be provided for you if needed, or you can bring your own. Only1 spot left open as of Tuesday 1/30. If there is enough demand, he may do a second class. 

Tuesday morning 1/30 10am Flow Update:
Just received the MDC email, Army Corps of Engineers will be increasing the dam release for flood control, from 430cfs up to 1,200cfs in stages this morning. East Branch remains at spill (no dam release, coming over the spillway). This will put the total flow below the Still River in the permanent TMA/C&R at just over 1,600cfs and slowly dropping- too high to fish until they cut the release back. They will likely keep it like this through Friday and then make a substantial flow cut, but this is just an educated guess. Once they have Colebrook River Lake below 708 feet elevation, they will go back to their “normal” release (since 2022) of 50-150cfs, plus whatever Otis Reservoir is releasing added to that.

The Farmington is high but fishable as I write this, with a total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) of 935cfs and dropping. Riverton is medium-high and very fishable at 495cfs from the Rt 20 bridge and up. The Still River is 440cfs & dropping. Back to more typical winter weather now with the long range highs 30's to low 40's, and nights averaging below freezing. Water temp this morning in Riverton was just over 36.5 degrees, it reached about 37.5 degrees yesterday afternoon. Downstream from the Still River in the mid to lower river the Farmington River has been averaging mid to upper 30’s, depending upon distance from dam, time of day, and weather. Colder snaps will drop water temps. FYI the Still River tends to be a cooling influence in the Winter, especially in the mornings after a colder night. In the Summer it’s a warming influence. Sunny days will see the biggest water temperature increases, with peak water temps in the mid to late afternoons.

Because the MDC has been defaulting to a very frustrating minimum legal flow regime since early 2022 (50cfs–150cfs, plus any water released from Otis Reservoir in MA), that paradigm has kept the reservoirs full (except during droughts), and anytime we get substantial rain they have to dump big water for a few days to a week. Historically they did a good job managing the water and had the reservoirs low by September, and this gave them some ability to buffer heavier hurricane rainfalls & snowmelt. 

New Hardy Marksman rods recently arrived, 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.

Monday afternoon1/29/24 Report:
Before I go into the regular report, just wanted to let you know that new product is finally starting to roll in the door almost daily now. I also put literally hundreds of hooks on sale at about 40% off- it’s a mix of overstocked hooks, ones we are no longer going to carry, and discontinued models. This includes hooks from Hanak (lots of different models & sizes), Fasna (we have to drop them because our supplier dropped them), Tiemco/TMC, Ahrex, and Gamakatsu. FYI these sale hooks are for walk-in customers only, so we will not be taking phone orders for them. Should be getting a BIG Wapsi fly tying materials order in soon (maybe later this week), and I just placed a Fulling Mill order for tungsten beads, hooks, fly boxes, CDC, and stripped dyed Peacock Quills. We are restocked with Rio fly lines, leaders & tippet. We got in a big Rezetti vise order today, and some more Regal vises are on the way, along with a bunch of Scientific Angler fly lines. I’m working on a Hareline fly tying order currently and I’ll place that soon, and after that I’ll do Nature’s Spirit. We are well stocked with the new 2024 Hardy fresh & saltwater fly rods. 

Looks like the crappy rain/snow/sleet/slush is behind us now, with more typical cool winter weather here the rest of the week. I thought the MDC would increase the dam release today, but thus far they have not. They may well still put it up to 1,000+ cfs out of the dam in the next day or two, or maybe they will keep this medium high release goingthe rest of the week. They don’t normally tell us in advance so we will have to wait and see. With a total flow in the permanent TMA/C&R in the low 900cfs range and going down, that’s a fishable high level. Riverton is proportionally lower at 495cfs if you want a medium-high level. As I said above though, this could all change so check the flows before you head out. Most of you are familiar with the high water game that’s been all too common this fall & winter: fish near the banks, out of the heavy current, with a mix of streamers, “Junk Flies” (Mops, Egg Flies, Squirmy Worms, Green Weenies), and larger nymphs (like Stoneflies, Princes, etc.). 

The best time to be out in the Winter is typically late morning through dusk (early to mid morning Winter Caddis hatch excepted). This is when it’s the most comfortable, water temps are rising and/or at their highest, bugs are most likely to be active, and the time of day when trout are most apt to do a little feeding. Trout don’t normally feed heavily in the Winter- cold temps slow down their metabolism a lot so they don’t need to eat much, plus there are minimal hatches and food is much less available.

During higher flows think “Junk Flies” (Eggs, Mops, Squirmy Worms), various Caddis Larva, Attractor nymphs (with flash, hotspots, and/or gaudy colors), larger nymphs like Stoneflies, and of course Streamers in tan, white, olive. During typical moderate flows, think normal Winter Mode: streamers fished slow & deep, Caddis Larva (regular olive/green & cased), small Midges (black, olive, red), small Mayfly Nymphs, Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms), Winter Caddis Larva, and Attractor Nymphs (with flash, hotspots, or bright/fluorescent colors). Streamers can be fished conventionally, using either weighted flies/split, sink-tips, or sinking leaders to get them deep, or… heavy jigged small to medium streamers fished on a Euro rig (deadly!). 

Nymphs can be either fished under an Indicator (best for slower water, fishing farther away, and on windy days), or tight-line/Euro style (better on riffle drop-offs and up close where you have at least some current). Trout are holding in Winter water now, which means slower & deeper water. They may move up into moderate riffles to feed in the afternoons. They will often pod up this time of year, so if you find one, thoroughly fish that area as there are likely a bunch more nearby. Refuge from the current & predators supersedes access to food in the Winter, as their metabolism is slower. This means they don’t have to eat very much, plus there is way less food available & not a lot hatching. However, under normal flows, trout will sometimes rise to the morning Winter Caddis & afternoon Midges. 

During normal flows, in the afternoons look for Midges to bring a few trout to the surface in the bigger, wider, slower pools. There are also Winter Caddis in the early to mid mornings. 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 (exception: Swift River in MA also has them). 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. Small nymphs are typically good this time of year, with the smaller size often being more important than the exact pattern. 

Nymphing remains a consistent producer if you are proficient at it, no surprise there. Sometimes in the colder water of Winter, gaudy and/or large nymphs can be the ticket when more imitative flies aren’t working. Think flash, UV materials, hot spots, bigger Stoneflies, Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Green Weenies), etc. Probably due to far less bug activity this time of year, fish become more opportunistic, and gaudier and/or bigger flies sometimes do a better job getting their attention and triggering an eat. Remember though, colder water equals a slower metabolism, which means they don’t have to eat as much. This coincides nicely with the reduced food supply in Winter. Having said that, currently many of the medium to large brown trout are extra hungry due to weight loss during the Fall spawn. A small jigged streamer nymphed Euro style with occasional twitches can be just the ticket- looks like a mouthful of food, and it’s easy to eat because it’s right in their face. It also represents a LOT more calories to the trout, and sometimes a fish that won’t move slightly to eat a nymph will suck in a jigged streamer- just what a hungry post-spawn brown trout needs to put some weight back on. 

Traditional Streamers fished slow & deep are having their moments- play with colors and retrieves to find out what works, it can vary. Lately the top streamer colors are tan, white, and olive- color can make a BIG difference some days, so don’t get hung up on only one color. Tan has been hot lately, but other colors can be better at moments. Effective nymphs have included assorted smaller #18-20 patterns, egg flies, Junk Flies (Mops, Squirmy/San Juan Worms), Caddis larva, and attractor/hot-spot flies. Fish have seen a LOT of egg patterns, so make sure to pair egg flies with a nymph to give them another option. 

No need to start early now (due to colder water temps), unless you want to hit the early to mid morning Winter Caddis hatch (7am-10am is typical for that, but can be earlier or later). Typically this time of year the fishing just seems to improve as the day progresses and water temps rise, and morning Winter Caddis excepted, most of the hatching activity is all in the afternoons. Nymphs, dries & streamers are all possibilities right now. When water temps get truly cold like they are now (30’s mostly), rising water temps during the day tends to get the trout active and feeding. Overall, afternoons have fished a lot better than mornings. This is especially true after a colder night- when you get a mild overnight the early morning fishing can be good. Nymphing is the most consistent tactic, but streamers are also producing some nice fish.

Fishing Advice After the Spawn:
Keep an eye out for redds, the oval light colored depressions in gravel riffles where trout deposit their eggs. These are commonly located in riffle water in pool tailouts and in side channels, often in shallow water. Trout look to spawn where there is pea sized gravel with the right amount of current. Avoid those areas and the first 10-15 feet below them (many eggs drift downstream), otherwise you will crush the eggs if you walk there. The eggs don’t hatch out until about February/early March, so watch where you walk or you will be crushing & killing future wild trout


The state stocked the river with good sized brown trout in early October from just below the Rt 219 bridge in New Hartford all the way down to Collinsville & Unionville and below that too. 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. The MDC stocked the upper river (above the permanent TMA/C&R up to the dam) in early/mid October with quite a few pretty rainbows.



***Midges are the main afternoon hatch, with Winter/Summer Caddis in the mornings***

-Midges #22-28: afternoons up until dusk, all Winter long

-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: hatching in early to mid morning, all year long, with peak hatching in both the Winter & Summer


-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. Good also when nothing seems to be working. 

-Egg Flies #12-18: spawn is done, but egg flies will continue to produce right through the Winter/early Spring. Try shades of yellow, pink, orange. 

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

-Winter Caddis Larva #18: suprisingly the larva are yellow, not brown. Can also imitate Black Caddis Larva (also yellow) & Yellow Midge Larva (common color). 

-Blue Winged Olives (BWO) Nymphs #18-22, assorted patterns, all year long

-Assorted Small Nymphs #18-22: most of the bugs in the Winter are small & skinny, and darker colors such as brown, black & dark olive are common. Try Zebra Midges (black, red, olive), Pheasant Tails (natural, flashback, Frenchies, and in assorted colors like olive, black, chocolate brown, etc.), BWO/Olive nymphs, Winter Caddis Larva, etc. The size, shape & presentation are generally more important than exact fly pattern. Play with drab, flash, UV, hot-spots, and no hot spots to see what works best, because it can and will vary depending on the day, time of day, and light conditions. Fishing pressure will also affect fly preferences. High fishing pressure usually means you want to fish drabber & smaller flies that are more natural looking. Black beadheads can be good on trout that have seen too many gold, copper & silver beads.

-Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #14-22: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs (BWO, Isonychia, Sulfur, Iso, etc.) & smaller Stoneflies and are quite effective everywhere, all year long. A Pheasant Tail in #16-20 is rarely a bad choice on the Farmington River.

-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16: anytime, lots of these in the river. Good choice when you aren’t sure what to fish, work especially well in the late Fall, Winter & early Spring.

-Cased Caddis #10-16: underfished pattern, there are tons of these in the river. Many are dislodged during high water & flow bumps from the dam. They also Behavioral Drift in the daytime, unlike most bugs that do it in low light or even in the dark.

-Jigged Streamers #8-12: various colors/patterns- dead-drift, twitch, swing & strip, best on a Euro rod & leader, excellent choice to fish in the Winter. Tan, olive, and white have been the best lately.

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

-Wet Flies & Soft-Hackles #10-18: assorted patterns, Partridge & Orange can be very good almost anytime


After the fall brown trout spawn, in Winter many trout have lost weight and are depleted and are looking to put weight back on, and 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. 

-Jigged Streamers #8-12: various patterns/colors, deadly fished on a tight-line/Euro rig

-Woolly 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

-Classic Streamers #6-10: Sometimes they work better than bulky modern streamers, maybe due to their mostly slimmer profiles & drabber designs. Or maybe it’s because not many people fish them anymore, who knows. 
Try: Black Nosed Dace, Muddler Minnow, Marabou Muddler (especially white!), Grey Ghost, Black Ghost, Baby Brown Trout, Mickey Finn, Hornberg, etc.