Farmington River Report 6/8/20: Our Lady of Blessed Magic Fly, or: spectacular sulphur wet and dry fly action

I fished last night from 5:45pm until 9:15pm, well past when I could no longer see my fly. I started out swinging and dead-drifting wets, sometimes prospecting, but mostly casting to active feeders. I had to work for my fish, but that was OK since some of them were larger wild browns. My rig was a size 12 Squirrel and Ginger top dropper, size 14 Partridge and Light Cahill middle dropper, and Light Cahill winged wet on point. All three patterns took fish. Hatch activity was a 7/10: caddis, sulphurs, Light Cahills, mobs of midges, and a few stray Isos. Around 7pm I switched out the winged Light Cahill for a size 14 Magic Fly after I saw a batch of larger sulphurs hatching. The fish opened their mouths in approval.

You can’t tell from the photo, but this is a high teens wild brown, taken on the Squirrel and Ginger. He was feeding in a narrow slot about a foot deep. The presentation was an oblique angle upstream cast, then dead drift. WHACK! (Editorial: I’m proud to say that on this website there are no photos of trout being thrust into camera lenses, angler arms fully extended. I know my readers are far too intelligent and sophisticated to put up with such shenanigans.)

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All the while, I was vastly outfishing the anglers around me. I mention this not as a brag point, but rather as a teaching point. Properly presented wet flies have been, and will continue to be, the best way to fool trout during the early stages of a sulphur hatch. Every other angler was fishing dry, which can work, provided you’ve got the right pattern and presentation. But when trout are on sulphur emergers, I’ll go with a team of wets every time.

However, there comes a time during every hatch where the trout begin want the topwater fly rather than the subsurface wet. So at 7:30pm I switched to surface presentations, mostly the Magic Fly (dusted with silica powder), a few drifts with creamy-colored The Usual, and finishing off with Catskills Light Cahills. Classic spectacular dry fly action: I took trout after trout until darkness enveloped me. By then I was gloriously alone. Well, not really. Just me, the trout, and about a million bugs.

Life is good with a cane rod on a sunny June evening on the Farmy. I thought it both poetic and proper that my first surface Magic Fly trout this year was a chunky mid-teens wild brown.

Housy Report 10/8/19: BWOs and Truttasaurus

I fished the four marks within the Housatonic River TMA today, late morning to early afternoon, and while the action was spotty I was able to score my biggest brown of the season on a Squirrel and Ginger.

I began the day dedicated to the streamer cause, but after 45 minutes I’d only had one bump. Since there were tiny BWOs (size 18-22) and caddis (size 16) in the air, I switched over to a three-fly wet fly team. That produced one stocker rainbow. The third mark was a blank, so I returned to where I’d seen some fish rising earlier. Not really classic wet fly water but the trout were clearly on small stuff (as evidenced by the sipping rise rings) and emergers of some sort (the tell of splashy rises). I missed two before connecting with a 20″ holdover brown.

The take was gentle but unmistakable, as was the fish’s size once it realized it was hooked. Love the comfort factor of fishing with Maxima 4-pound — ain’t no trout in this river going to break that.

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It’s hard to take a beauty shot mid stream when you’re flying solo, so this is the best I could do. Still, you get some sense of this truttasaurus‘ length, and check out the ginormous tail. The mouth of my net is 17″ — this one did not slide in easy. We like that problem! Wet flies fished in the film, delivered to active feeders, continue to be a highly productive big fish method. 

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River conditions: 450cfs and rising, light stain, some leaves and pine needles, 58 degrees. And crowded for a Tuesday in October! Thanks to everyone who greeted me by name today, and as always, if you’re on the river and you see me please say hello.

 

A little Leisenring, a little Culton, a little North Country Spider

Soft hackles and wingless wets ready to swim. Clockwise from upper left: Pale Watery Dun, Grey Watchet, Old Blue Dun (and a random Partridge and Rusty Brown), Squirrel and Ginger, Pale Watery Wingless AKA Magic Fly.

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Farmington River Report 5/23/19: Nymph-o-Mania!

You know it’s a great 2 hours of fishing when you lose count of the trout you land. Drop-shot nymphing was the method, straight line and indicator, and the action was hot from start to finish. Since the lower river was below 1,000cfs for the first time in a month, and I had limited time, that’s where I headed. I made it to three pools from 12:30pm-2:30pm. and in each of them the trout were eager to jump on: two produced fish on the third cast, the other the first. Despite a strong caddis hatch, I didn’t see any risers, and unfortunately I didn’t make time to swing wets. But if you’re ready to do some nymphing, and you’re looking to book a date, now’s a good time to do it. Thanks to everyone who said hello!

Indicator Nymphing Tips #1 & 2: An upstream wind is great time to indicator nymph, because it slows the pace of the indicator on the surface. Look for a reason to set the hook on every drift. If that indicator twitches, stalls, slows, deviates — it doesn’t need to go under — set the hook! This lovely rainbow was such a case. My yellow yarn was bouncing merrily downstream, then slowed for just a moment. Bam. Set. Fish on.

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When there’s a substantial caddis hatch, and you’re nymphing with two flies, it’s almost never a bad idea to make your top dropper a Squirrel and Ginger. About half my fish came on this pattern (point fly was a Frenchie variant).

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I also had plenty of dramatic takes on the indicator, as in: now you see it, now you don’t. Likewise when I was tight line nymphing. I felt every single hit. This guy, looking very wild, clobbered the fly and fought well above his weight class.

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