Monday, June 10, 2024

Monday 6/10/24 Farmington River Report: Hatches are picking up

Store Hours
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.

Antoine Bissieux, the “French Flyfisherman”, is doing several clinic days that cover competition nymphing & secret French dry fly techniques with world champion French competition fly angler Yannick Riviere in July- contact Antoine directly to find out more about it. This is a do-not-miss! Yannick is truly a magician with the fly rod and seems to be able to catch Farmington trout at will (he’s been here twice so far). He does things with dry flies that we had never seen or heard of before. Yannick also has won the individual gold medal in the World Fly Fishing Championships before. Call Antoine at 860-759-4463 to find out more or sign up, spots are limited.

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 Dave Machowski’s client Dr. Peter with a 21” plus wild (I think) brown trout on a Sulfur dry fly on Sunday. So many pics of big trout from the weekend it was hard to chose one, check out our Story on Instagram for lots more big fish pics. A pile of 20-24” plus FRAA rainbows were landed over the past several days.

Everything seems to be coming together lately. Flows are fantastic, and the hatches have noticeably improved over the past several days. A lot of big trout are getting caught, a mix on holdovers, wild brown, and large stocked rainbows (mostly from the FRAA). You still need to be in the right place at the right time, but when things line up there have been a good number of trout eating on the surface. Skilled nymphers are racking up some impressive numbers, and the wet fly fishing has been solid. I would generally consider May through July to be a great time to fish the river, especially if you are a dry fly guy. Because we are a cold tailwater, bugs often hatch at times that vary from a freestone river. It’s common to see Sulfurs in the early afternoons here, where on most rivers it’s an evening hatch. We see them in the evenings here too. Caddis have been hatching mid to late mornings, with adults coming back to egg-lay in the eves.

Conditions remain excellent, with medium flows and good water temps (upper 40’s to low 60’s depending on the time of day and how close to the dam you are). Sulfurs #16-18 are the current glamour hatch, there are also good #10-12 March Brown hatches (sporadic light hatch from late morning through evenings, spinners fall at dusk), assorted Caddis averaging #16-18, and some #14 Light Cahills in the evenings. Large Golden Stoneflies are crawling out on the rocks to emerge between first light and mid mornings, they run from about a #4 down to a #12. Imitate them with #8-10 nymphs in the fast water, big trout key in on them. They will be active & emerging from June through October- look for their empty shucks on protruding rocks in fast water, you’ll also see a bunch on concrete bridge abutments.

Hatches literally vary from pool to pool, so move around. It’s fishing well from the dam in Riverton, down through the permanent TMA/C&R, and all the way downstream to Collinsville & Unionville. Surface action has improved, but is not 100% predictable- things like air temps and light conditions can have a profound effect on bugs, and every day is different. Evenings at dusk seems to be when I’m seeing the most risers, fish until darkness if at all possible. Mid/late mornings through early afternoons have also been prime. There have been some good early afternoon Sulfur hatches on the middle to upper river. Don’t forget about Ants & Beetles, they fool a lot of rising trout this time of year, especially when you see sporadic rising and the trout aren’t locked into a specific hatch. You may see them rise to Caddis in the mornings, but also expect to nymph them up with Caddis Pupa during the morning hatch. 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 working well (especially when bugs are hatching).

Permanent TMA/C&R is looking great & very wadeable at 267cfs , Riverton is 213cfs from Goodwin/Hogback Dam downstream to the Rt 20 bridge, and the Still River is adding in 54cfs below that. Riverton water temps above the Still River have been ranging from mid 40’s up to 50 degrees (depending upon weather & time of day), and below that in the permanent TMA/C&R it has been averaging mid to upper 50’s during the afternoons, and can hit low 60’s on the lower river (Collinsville/Unionville) on warm, sunny afternoons. Unionville is medium-low and very wadeable at 363cfs (median USGS flow for today is 478cfss).

I would say the main hatches are assorted Caddis averaging #16-18, #16 Sulfurs (Invaria), #18 Sulfurs (Dorothea), #14 Light Cahills (eves), and #10-12 March Browns (MB’s). MB’s are a sporadic day-long hatch, a one here & one there deal in the pocket water & riffles. However, the spinners fall all at once, usually at dusk above riffles & faster water. Isonychia #8-12 are a possibility on the lower river. Sulfurs have been on the water anytime from early afternoon to late evenings, depending upon the day and how far up or down the river you are- the closer to the dam, the more apt you are to see an early afternoon hatch of them. 

Nymphing is a consistent producer no matter what, but there have been risers during hatching activity (peak hatch times are late mornings/early afternoons & evenings, but that varies depending upon river section & weather). Wet fly guys are putting fish in the net at a good clip, and streamers are producing early & late in the day. 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, you can just about walk across the river on their backs- if you cannot catch trout now, than this may not be your sport lol. They put in a lot of fat 14-16” rainbows, some are 17” and over 2 pounds. Many of 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, along with the leftover ones in the upper river from the Riverton Derby in early April. 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. Caddis are a very active bug, 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 tan ones in #14-18 along with olive/green ones in #16-18, along with some other assorted Caddis from about #14 down to micro Caddis as small as a #24. The Sulfurs #16 (Invaria) and #18 (Dorothea) and hatching on most of the river, and the March Browns run #10-12. 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 occurrence), 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 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.

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 (60’s to low 70’s currently, it gets warm 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 in the upper river occur in the late mornings or early/mid afternoons.



-Caddis #14-18 (olive/green, tan): major hatch
-Sulfur #16 (Invaria)
-Sulfur #18 (Dorothea)
-March Brown #10-12: a sporadic day-long emerger in faster water, one here one there kinda hatch from late morning until dusk. Spinners fall all at once at dusk over fast water.
-Light Cahill #14: eves
-Ants & Beetles #12-18: very effective, especially when you have sporadic risers without any major hatch occuring
-Blue Wing Olive #20-24: 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 Nymph #16-18: can use specific imitations, also Frenchies/Pheasant Tails
-Stonefly #8-10: excellent in early to mid mornings when they crawl out in low light onto the rocks to emerge in fast water. They emerage from June through October on the Farmington River, and can produce some bigger fish.
-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. Often work better than drabber, more imitative flies.


-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