Friday, June 28, 2024

Friday 6/28/24 Farmington River Report: Cool nights, cold water

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Pictured up top is a 23” rainbow landed this morning by Alain Barthelemy, he’s having quite the outing with large Stonefly nymphs & French style Pheasant Tails. The cool night seems to have the bigger fish fired up this morning- he broke off two very large browns also, as well as landing some nice wild ones. 

We received a BIG Fulling Mill order last week with plenty of flies. Restocks on best sellers & some cool new patterns too. 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, including some great new titles.

Nice to be back to historically normal weather for a few days. Actually had to wear a light jacket into work this morning, with air temps in the mid 50’s. Take advantage of this pleasant weather and get out on the water. My buddy was out super early this morning and got a water temp of 61 degrees in the lower river (Collinsville/Unionville). They bumped the dam release up by about 50cfs on Tuesday, and that's a good thing. The increased volume of cold water combined with cooler nights is keeping the river cooler. On hotter, sunny days you want to stay from about Canton/New Hartford & upstream as the lower river can get into the 70’s on hot, sunny afternoons. Use a thermometer this time of year! The dam is still releasing water in the mid 40’s, and it slowly warms as you progress downriver.

Hatches are diverse, and vary depending upon the section of river and time of day. Attenuata #18-20 have joined the fray, and are as far upstream as Mathie’s Grove/People’s Forest. Often mistaken for a Sulfur from a distance, Attenuata are small (usually a #18-20) evening Mayfly hatch with a bright lime green body with cream wings & legs. Sulfurs are still going strong on the mid to upper river, and overall we are seeing more #18’s than #16's. Isonychia hatches are progressing upstream and a few are being seen as far up as Campground. My best Farmington River dry fly fish was 23” and came to a #10 Isonychia dry right at dark in the month of July. I thought I was throwing to a 12” rainbow (lol), boy was I surprised. Typically in the Permanent TMA Iso’s are a late afternoon to evening hatch, but sometimes we see them earlier especially up in Riverton closer to the dam in the icy cold water. They run #8-12 this time of year and average about a #10. Iso’s live & hatch in faster water, so look for them there, not in flat pool water. Needhami (Tiny Chocolate Dun) #22-26 have started, they are a morning hatch and both the duns & spinners are important. The spinners fall earlier in the morning, with the duns hatching during and/or after that. We are also seeing assorted Caddis, Light Cahills, March Browns, and small Blue WingOlives (more on cloudy/crappy days). This is also a good time of year to fish Ants & Beetles, especially when you have sporadic risers but no real hatch. You can even drop a small nymph under them to increase your odds of success. 

The permanent TMA/C&R is in great shape at 310cfs. Riverton is 265cfs from Goodwin/Hogback Dam downstream to the Rt 20 bridge, and the Still River is adding in 45cfs below that. Unionville is medium to medium-low at 413cfs- please keep an eye on water temps if fishing downriver, it’s often too warm (over 70 degrees) to ethically target trout down there. Riverton water temps at the USGS gauge (Rt 20 bridge) have been running icy cold in the upper 40’s to low 50’s, depending upon the weather and the time of day. The Permanent TMA/C&R is running anywhere from the 50’s to low 60’s, just about perfect water temps for trout.

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, hint hint. 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 (until about 10am). 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, 3x will probably work well.

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.

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, more mid to upper river now (Mathie's/Campground & above)
-Sulfur #18 (Dorothea): on most of the river
-Isonychia #10-12: typically a late afternoon through dusk hatch in fast water. Some hatching at least as far upstream as Campground, but a better hatch downstream. July is normally the peak month for Iso's in the Permanent TMA/C&R.
-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. Mid to upper river mainly.
-Attenuata #18-20: eves, upstream as far as Mathie's Grove/People's Forest. Often mistaken for a Sulfur, but it's a bright lime green and smaller.
-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
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: hatching in early to mid morning, all year long
-Needhami #22-26: mornings, spinners & duns, at least as far up as Church Pool

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.
-Isonychia Nymph #10-12: fish in fast water
-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