Friday, June 21, 2024

Friday 6/21/2024 Farmington River Report: Hot air, cold water

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

Pictured up top is customer & amazing fly tier Nathan Mumford with a gorgeous brown trout he fooled last week with a Sulfur CDC dry fly he tied.

We received a BIG Fulling Mill order on Wednesday with lots of flies (restocks on best sellers & some cool new patterns too) and other things (hooks, fly boxes, beads, other tying materials, etc.). We have their awesome fly patch box in stock, you should definitely check it out. It’s basically a fly patch & working fly box all in one. We recently received a very large book order (includes some great new titles, and restocks of best sellers we were out of), along with orders from Korkers (huge order), Smith sunglasses (big order), Cortland, and Scientific Anglers.

Despite the heat wave this week, the Farmington River is still coming out of the dam icy cold in the mid 40’s and then slowly warming as it flows downstream. Joey got 63 degrees in New Hartford a 4pm Wednesday on a sunny, 90 degree plus afternoon, and 56 degrees at Campground at 6pm- those are great temps. I’d say water temps are optimal from the dam in Riverton down through Canton, but I’d stay away from Collinsville/Unionville and below because water temps are higher down there and you don’t want to stress the trout out. Lowest water temps will be in the mornings, and the highest will be around 4pm.

Hatchwise you are looking at a mix of bugs including assorted Caddis, Sulfurs (#16 Invaria & #18 Dorothea), Isonychia (“Iso’s”), Light Cahills, March Browns, and small Olives (more on cloudy/crappy days). Hot weather can sometimes push hatches earlier & later in the day, so try to be flexible with when & where you fish. They also hatch at different times of the day depending upon the hatch, and also depending upon how far below the dam you are. Sulfurs run #16-18 (Invaria & Dorothea), Caddis average #16-18 (some bigger and also much smaller ones too, various colors), March Browns are #10-12, Light Cahills run #12-14, and #8-12 Isonychia (up through New Hartford but still very light in the Permanent TMA/C&R) are all hatching. Blue Winged Olives in #20-24 hatch on cloudy days, and you may see some in the evenings even on warmer, sunny days. Sulfurs remain a major hatch on most of the river, and there are probably more of the smaller #18 Dorothea now than the slightly bigger #16 Invaria- make sure to match the size correctly. Light Cahills are an evening bug, but we've also been seeing them in the afternoons some days.

If you have a good eye you can pick out the biggest rising trout and focus on them. You won’t catch as many, but that’s how you get the big ones on dries. If you pick your river sections wisely, you can be over rising trout from mid morning until dark. And there are Summer/Winter Caddis popping in early to mid mornings. The majority of anglers are concentrating on dry fly fishing, but good nymphers are racking up great catches in the faster water, and wet flies/soft hackles are producing well too. Streamers are at their best during the low light on mornings & evenings, or overcast/rainy days. But…. Some of my customers are reporting doing well on bigger streamers fished in fast water, even in the middle of a bright sunny day. This is also the time of year you can mouse after dark, swing big bulky black streamers, of fish a string of 2-3 big wet flies.

Depending upon how far below the dam you are, hatches will vary. Historically July is the peak month in the Permanent TMA/C&R for the first batch of that bug (#8-12), and then we get another batch of them in the fall that are smaller (#12-16). Typically they hatch between late afternoon and dusk, but that is not set in stone- we often see them earlier in the day than that. Hot weather often makes the morning bugs happen earlier, and the afternoon/evening bugs happen closer to dusk. Caddis are typically hatching in mid to late mornings, and coming back in the evening to egg-lay, and Sulfurs are hatching anywhere from about 2pm to dusk (2 to 5pm has been typical in the Permanent TMA/C&R and above, with another batch at dusk).

Seeing a lot more trout rising now, but it still pays to be flexible and be willing to fish wet flies & nymphs as subsurface methods have been consistent and producing well. June is typically the peak month for Sulfurs in the Permanent TMA, but remember there are miles of river above & below that with good fish numbers, good hatches, big trout, good fishing, and less anglers. Because we are a cold tailwater, bugs often hatch at times that vary from a freestone river. The closer to the dam you go, the more this is true. This is due to icy cold water coming out of the dam (mid 40’s) and then warming into the 50’s and 60’s as you move downstream.

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 #8-12 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. Fishing these big nymphs will net you some bigger fish, especially if you fish the fast water from first light to mid-morning. You can beef your tippet up when fishing bigger bugs like this for bigger trout- 4x to 5x is not to heavy, and if you have a really big trout located near a snag, 3x will probably work well.

Hatches 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 into New Hartford & Canton. Collinsville, Unionville, and Farmington are too warm with the current hot weather.Things like air temps and light conditions affect hatches and can have a profound effect on bugs, and every day is different. Evenings at dusk can be great, fish until dark if at all possible. Mid-mornings through mid afternoons have also been prime on the mid 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.

Permanent TMA/C&R is super fishable at 228cfs. Riverton is 201cfs from Goodwin/Hogback Dam downstream to the Rt 20 bridge, and the Still River is adding in 27cfs below that. Unionville is medium-low at 285cfs. Riverton water temps at the USGS gauge (Rt 20 bridge) have been running icy cold in the upper 40’s to just over 50 degrees, depending upon the weather and the time of day. Collinsville and downstream (Unionville, Farmington) are too warm to trout fish currently (water temps down there can push into the 70’s during prolonged hot weather), so stay from Canton/New Hartford and above.

Wet fly/soft hackle guys are putting fish in the net at a good clip, and streamers are producing early & late in the day (low light). 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. Don’t forget to try twitching and even skating your Caddis dries, they are a very active insect and sometimes the trout key on the movement and won’t touch a dead-difted fly.

The state has done multiple stockings up & down the river, the fish density is about as high as it gets here. 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.

Trout don’t always rise, so be prepared to go subsurface with Caddis pupa, Sulfur nymphs, wet flies/soft hackles, and streamers. Also try BWO nymphs #16-22 (especially on overcast days), #12-20 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.

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) on nymphs & dry flies. He does things with dry flies that we had never seen or heard of. 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.

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



-Sulfur #16 (Invaria): moving upstream, not sure where the lower boundary is currently
-Sulfur #18 (Dorothea): on most of the river now
-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 #12-14: eves, but can pop in the afternoons on the mid/upper river
-Ants & Beetles #12-18: very effective, especially when you have sporadic risers without any major hatch occuring
-Blue Wing Olive #20-24: cloudy afternoons, eves too sometimes
-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:

-Sulfur Nymph #16-18: can use specific imitations, also Frenchies/Pheasant Tails are effective
-Caddis Pupa #14-18 (tan, olive/green)
-Pheasant Tails/Frenchies #12-20: imitates a wide range of Mayflies from Sulfurs, to Isonychia, to Blue Winged Olives and more
-Stonefly #8-12: excellent in early to mid mornings when they crawl out in low light onto the rocks to emerge in fast water. They emerge from June through October on the Farmington River, and can produce some bigger fish.
-Wet Flies & Soft Hackles #12-16: assorted colors/patterns, try to imitate the main hatches and also use flashy attractor patterns
-Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmy Worms, Green Weenie)
-Blue Winged Olive Nymphs #16-22, 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, Pink Bead Pheasant Tails, 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