Farmington River Report 6/17/21: Wet Fly Wizardry

I guided Joe yesterday, and while it wasn’t a textbook wet fly day, we experienced some tremendous action (I lost count of how many trout we hooked and landed). Joe is an experienced angler who has dabbled in wet flies, but wanted some serious instruction in the ancient and traditional subsurface art. We fished from 2:15-6:15pm, and visited two marks, one within the Permanent TMA and one below it, 385cfs and 465cfs respectively. It was a strange kind of wet fly day in that there was no voluminous hatch, nor were there frequent, consistent risers to target. Nonetheless, Joe slayed ’em. This speaks not only to Joe’s abilities, but also to the efficiency of the wet fly. It may not look like anything is going on, but there can indeed be mischief afoot underwater. Joe fished a three fly team of a Squirrel and Ginger top dropper, Light Cahill winged middle dropper, and Hackled March Brown on point. All three flies took trout, a mix of rainbows and wild browns. Several of the rainbows we landed had bird wounds — watch out, trout! A great job by Joe and a fun afternoon of fishing and catching.

After our session, I headed north to catch the “evening rise.” The quotes are sarcastic, as the hatch never materialized. Oh, sure, there were a few caddis and suplhurs and some huge creamy duns, but they were few and far between. The river never got to boiling — the best it could muster was a brief simmer around 8:45pm. I had several swings and misses (I was fishing dry fly) and only stuck two trout. A disappointing performance by Mother Nature, but there are worse ways to spend two hours than standing in a river, waving a stick, and enjoying a fine cigar.

This was the scene for much of the afternoon. I told Joe he was going to become a dangerous wet fly machine, and here’s your proof.

2 comments on “Farmington River Report 6/17/21: Wet Fly Wizardry

  1. James Joseph Berry says:

    How do you tell if its a wild brown

    • Steve Culton says:

      There are several. One begins with how the fish fights. A 13″ recently stocked brown will not tussle nearly as hard as a 9″ wild brown. Size can also be a factor: most browns stocked in the Farmington are over 9″ long. So if you catch one smaller, it’s likely to be wild. Next, look at the fins. Wild fish will have large pectoral fins with perfect rays (hatchery fish do not need to develop this fin in a holding tank), large intact tails (no frayed or chewed up edges from other trout, another tell of life in a pen) and an intact adipose fin. (The adipose fin is removed on Survivor Strain trout, so that’s one way to tell if you’ve caught one.) Check for colored elastomers near the eye; a left eye elastomer indicates broodstock Survivor Strain, a right eye elastomer indicates yearling Survivor Strain. Survivor Strain are not wild fish, but they may be descendents of wild fish, and they fight and behave like wild fish. Finally, look at coloration and spotting. Wild fish frequently present with any combination of: fewer spots; dramatically haloed spots; parr markings; beautiful, undisturbed scaling. Hope that helps!

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