Farmington River Report 1/12/17: Of flows and floes

I expected to blank yesterday. Rain, snowmelt, and ice would surely make for some challenging conditions, 56 degree air temps be damned. I fished two spots within the permanent TMA, and the first was that dreaded blank. The second, much to my surprise and delight, produced three trout (three more than the guys fishing corn, he said smugly). Over the course of the day, I left my rod on top of my Jeep and drove a quarter mile before I realized my idiocy. Then I rescued someone’s landing net as it floated by. So much excitement! Here are some details.

The river was running at 300cfs, a (finally) proper level. But the water was staggeringly cold — my analog thermometer only managed 32 degrees at 1pm. Water was off-color at the first spot, and less stained at the second. What really surprised me was the amount of ice still on the surface. A day later I’m sure some of it has flushed, but many of the hero dry fly pools were better suited for skating than fishing. Ice floes were also a problem as the day progressed. It’s unnerving to feel that dull thud against your leg while you’re focusing on your drift.

Lots of this going on. Be wary of shelf ice — plant an imaginary “Keep Off!” sign and do so.  January is a bad time to go swimming on the Farmington.

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I did a little short-line nymphing, but with the water back at a near-normal level, I returned to the indicator for most of the day. I prefer indicator nymphing in conditions like these because I can cover a lot more water. I also like the indicator for the more subtle takes you sometimes get with winter fishing. (However, that wasn’t the case today. All three fish struck hard.) Two came on a Frenchie variant (black bead, UV Red Ice Dub), size 12 scud hook. I also went with 2 BB shot to slow my drift. It made for an abundance of false positives, but I think slower was the way to go.

Pure parr pulchritude. Alliteration aside (alas), this is one gorgeous creature. Check out the halos along the lateral line, and the old mouth wounds. He fought like a tiger, and I had a hard time getting him to sit still for a portrait. I will never tire of catching wild Farmington browns. 

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I find the concept of dark flies on dark days agreeable, so I made my top dropper a Starling and Herl, standard hook size 16. I love fishing soft-hackled flies like nymphs or deep emergers.

This was my biggest fish of the day. Starling and Herl.

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9 comments on “Farmington River Report 1/12/17: Of flows and floes

  1. Alton Blodgett says:

    Very nice! All on the drop shot rig?

  2. Very nice! gonna tie up some starling & herl ‘s
    tonight..Loved your CVTU presentation the other night.

    • Steve Culton says:

      It’s a great fly, and in that size it covers you for anything that’s small and dark (and there are a lot of those in the Farmington) that the trout are feeding on. Thanks again for your kind words.

  3. Pete Simoni says:

    You have a pair of beauties there!! Love them soft hackles!!!

  4. Bill says:

    Haha I like your warning about ice shelves but I walked out on one of them on 2 January to catch my brown trout. I even had a polar bear elevator event: broke off a piece and and sank out under my slowly like an oversize kickboard in the pool. The bottom was only less than 2 feet down and I stepped back up onto the ice and proceeded to go catch my prize 🙂

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