Monday, March 4, 2024

Monday 3/4/24 Farmington River Report: Mild & Fishy

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. All 2023 CT fishing licenses expired after December 31st.

Stop by for some bargains! Select T&T Zone rods are 40% off2023 Thomas & 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 in 2023. 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. 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 James Nicholas with the best of 4 fish from the weekend, and below that is Gordon Perkins with a handful of quality butter.

Morning Conditions 3/4/24:

Currently the Riverton USGS gauge is reading 165cfs at the Rt 20 bridge (above the Still River), and the Still River is adding in 293cfs & dropping below this, giving us a total flow in the Permanent TMA/Catch & Release of 458cfs & dropping- I’d call this a medium flow and a nice water level to fish in many spots. Water temp this morning in Riverton was is 39 degrees, it reached 42.5 degrees yesterday afternoon in Riverton. Downstream from the Still River in the mid to lower river the Farmington River has been averaging upper 30’s to mid 40’s, depending upon distance from dam, time of day, and weather. When you have sunny & mild weather the Still River becomes a warming influence on water temps in the afternoons. Sunny days will see the biggest water temperature increases (especially after a milder night), 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, but they stopped doing this in 2022. 

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.

Monday Morning 3/4/24 Report:
 fly tying material orders (and some fly boxes) from both Wapsi & Hareline recently arrived, and both are up on the walls now. We also received a large Simms preseason order, which includes the new heavy duty brand new Simms Confluence Wader. A big Fishpond order arrived last week. I placed a Nature’s Spirit order (things like Hanak & Daiichi hooks, and tying materials from Hends, Sybai, FNF, high quality deer & elk hair, dubbings, and lots of natural materials), so we should see that next week. The holes on the walls are getting filled weekly, 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 overstocked & discontinued hooks from Hanak (lots of different models & sizes), Fasna (we have to drop them because our supplier dropped them), Tiemco/TMCAhrex, and Gamakatsu. FYI these sale hooks are for walk-in customers only, so we will not be taking phone orders for them. We got in a big Rezetti vise order, more Regal vises, and we are well stocked with the brand new 2024 Hardy fresh & saltwater fly rods. 

A lot of anglers were out over the past weekend, taking advantage of the amazing mild weather, nice water levels, and recently stocked trout (see paragraph below for where they stocked). Mixed in with the stocked rainbows, there were some nice holdover & wild browns. It seems like the freshly stocked trout compete with the resident fish and 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. Quality over quantity. FYI, in March bigger wild & holdover brown trout will often start to move into somewhat faster water to feed in. Water temps are rising, and even right below the dam is getting into the low 40’s on mild/sunny afternoons, and downstream is warmer than that in the afternoons. I got 46.5 degrees for a water temp in the Still River late on Sunday, making it a warming influence on the Farmington River from the junction and downstream. 

Early last week, the state stocked the upper river (Whittmore to the dam in Riverton), and below the 219 bridge in New Hartford (the Wall) all the way downstream to a little below the 202 bridge in Canton. These trout will be more willing to eat your flies than the holdovers & wilds already in the river, and the competition from the fresh stockers should get the resident fish eating more aggressively. We received a big batch of natural colored CDC from Fulling Mill (it was backordered), and it looks fantastic- at least as good as the now unavailable TroutHunter CDC. We also have a limited quantity of their Mustard Walt’s Dubbing. 

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. Walt’s Worms & Sexy Waltz can also be very good. Nymphs with hot spots usually work well too. 

The holdover & wild fish you will catch in the next month or two will typically average the biggest of the year. As you’ve seen from the pictures posted, some browns in 18-22” range are getting landed every day by persistent anglers, with some big holdover FRAA rainbows showing up. Sometimes it’s on imitative nymphs/larva, sometimes Junk Flies, sometimes dry flies, and sometimes on streamers fished slow & deep. Be flexible!

There has been some limited dry fly activity, both in the mornings to Winter/Summer Caddis, and in the afternoons to 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 #18-22 fly in a darker color that could imitate things like Tiny Black Winter Stoneflies or Midges. Early to mid morning Winter Caddis hatch aside, the bug activity is confined to the afternoons when water temps rise a little. 

Streamers often don’t 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 the winter on stocked trout, holdover trout, and even wild trout.

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 still mainly holding in Winter water, which means slower & deeper water. They may move up into moderate riffles to feed in the afternoons- this is especially true of wild & holdover 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 (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.


The state has just begun stocking the Farmington River, but not the permanent TMA/C&R- that gets stocked in April. 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 2023 with quite a few pretty rainbows and they are still there (it's C&R in that section from 9/1 until the second Saturday in April).



***Midges are the main afternoon hatch, with Winter/Summer Caddis in the mornings. The Tiny/Micro Black Winter Stones have started up (afternoons), and we are beginning to see Early Black Stones and even a few Early Brown Stones***

-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

-Tiny Black Winter Stoneflies #18-24: afternoons

-Early Black Stoneflies #14-16: afternoons, just starting

-Early Brown Stoneflies #14-16: afternoons, a few


-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. These always sell out fast. 

-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 in the winter when nothing seems to be working. 

-Egg Flies #12-18: Egg flies will continue to produce right through the Winter/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 February/March, and Suckers in April.  

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

-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. These catch fresh stockers, holdovers, and big wilds too. 

-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, are an especially good fly to use in late winter/early spring. 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, but can also be drifted under an indicator. 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


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 in 2024 have been white, tan, and olive.

-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 tradtional featherwing & bucktail streamers work better than bulky modern patterns, maybe due to their mostly slimmer profiles & drabber designs. Or maybe it’s because not many people fish them anymore, who knows. Especially in low/clear water with sunshine, these sparser/drabber flies can be just the ticket. Use split shot, sinking leaders, or sink-tip/sinking fly lines to get these flies down (unless you are fishing shallow water).
Try: Black Nosed Dace, Muddler Minnow, Marabou Muddler (especially white!), Grey Ghost, Black Ghost, Baby Brown Trout, Mickey Finn, Hornberg, etc.