Friday, March 8, 2024

Friday 3/8/24 Farmington River Report: More Stocking & Big Trout

Store Hours: 8am-5pm, 7 days a week.

Stop by for some bargains! Select T&T Zone rods are 40% off. 2023 Thomas & Thomas Avantt rods all 40% off. Hardy Ultralites also 40% off. 

Pictured first is Will Ryan with a beautiful wild brown caught Wed. on a black Stonefly. Also caught were a bunch of stocked rainbows using Frenchies, Sexy Waltz, Mops & streamers. Second pic is local guide Zach St. Amand with a 20” brown.

Morning Conditions 3/8/24:
Currently the Riverton USGS gauge is reading 142cfs at the Rt 20 bridge (above the Still River), and the Still River is adding in 808cfs, giving us a total flow in the permanent Catch & Release area of 950cfs & dropping- I’d call this a high flow for sure, but not unfishable. Water temps reached 43 degrees yesterday afternoon in Riverton. Downstream from the Still River to the lower Farmington River has been averaging up to there mid 40’s. On days with sunny & mild weather the Still River becomes a warming influence in the afternoons. 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, 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), we will see that very soon. The holes on the walls are getting filled daily, along with some cool new products in the mix. We received a big batch of natural colored CDC from Fulling Mill, 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.

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, Fasna, Tiempo, Ahrex, and Gamakatsu.

Flows are currently are 950cfs and dropping in the permanent TMA/C&R- pretty high but fishable with standard high water tactics (Junk flies, streamers, bigger and/or attractor nymphs, all fished close to the bank, out of the heavy main current.). Today (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday) will be the best window of fishing, and the Still River is dropping fast. Potentially heavy rain Saturday night may change things totally around for Sunday, although Riverton above the Still River will likely remain fishable due to them holding back water at the dam and only releasing about 150 cfs as of this morning.

Some good fishing reports from this week, with 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. This 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 (about 6 miles), 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.

Early last week, the state stocked the upper river (Whittemore 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.

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.

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 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).



-Blue Winged Olives #16-18 (Baetis Tricauditus, formerly Vagans): afternoons

-Early Black Stoneflies #14-16: afternoons

-Early Brown Stoneflies #14-16: afternoons

-Midges #22-28: afternoons up until dusk

-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


-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.

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

-Assorted Small Nymphs #18-22: many of the bugs 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.

-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 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


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

-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