Farmington River mini-report 9/25/17

A quick dash to the lower river to see if anyone was home. Water was low, 175cfs, about half of what it normally is this time of year, and felt like it was in the 60s. (Brief editorial: I must confess the logic behind water releases from the dam often escapes me. If periods of drought are the new norm, and September and October are traditionally low water periods, why run 300+cfs from the dam from April through July? Would we have more water now if they only ran 250 or even 200cfs all those months? What am I missing here?)

To the fishing: I swung wets in two runs for about 15 minutes each and came up with two customers, a nice 11″ wild brown and a much bigger, recently stocked rainbow. Both fish took the top dropper, a Squirrel and Ginger caddis. Lots of bug activity (caddis, midges) but nothing rising to it.

 

Farmington River Report 8/29/17: Slow and getting low

I guided Ed today, and we were faced with a river that hasn’t been this low in months. Fear not, there’s still plenty of water (190 cfs in the permanent TMA) and plenty of trout, although the latter were a bit bashful today.

We worked on Ed’s nymphing and wet fly presentations which were pretty darn good already, a testament to the slowness of the day. Spot A was below the PTMA — there were a few bugs coming off, but the only trout we played with was a camera-shy rainbow that came on a nymph.

Ed presenting his wet fly wares.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Off to Spot B within the PTMA. Same story — a few bugs coming off and a few random slasher/risers, but nothing consistent. We covered that pool subsurface top (wets) and bottom (nymphing, both indicator and short-line) to no avail, until the 11th hour.

Keep on keeping on, Ed, and the rewards will be measured in pounds, not inches.

Last cast, we managed this vividly-colored 16″ wild brown with paddle fins and dramatic spotting. Taken on a 2x short size 14 Frenchie variant. A good way to end a slow day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Farmington River Report 7/26/17: “Get out the chapeaus!”

Or so Jack Edwards might have said if were calling my fishing game. An odd Farmington River hat trick, consisting of browns, a rainbow, and…what? Smallmouth bass? Read on…

I value my fishing solitude as much as anyone. Many days, I choose where I fish as much for alone time as I do for fish-catching potential. I started off yesterday at 6pm on the lower river in a stretch where I might expect to see a dozen anglers all season. Holy mob scene, Batman! Six cars and ten anglers later, I was dragging my horrified self to parts less populated.

For a guy who’s fairly well-known for wet fly fishing, I haven’t done a lot of it in the evening. Most summers, I’m content park myself in some dry fly water and wait for the evening rise. I’m doing things a little differently this week, swinging wets as afternoon transitions into night. Same three fly team as yesterday: S&G, Magic Fly, hackled MB. The hatch activity in this second location was about a 3 on the 10 scale. Sulphurs were the prominent bug. Very little bird activity and even fewer risers. The smallie came first, plowing into the March Brown on the dangle. A few aerials for my viewing pleasure, and for a moment I thought that maybe I was on the Hous. A few minutes later, I was saying out loud to myself (it’s OK, I do that) “There’s really nothing going on here,” when WHACK! Also on March Brown.

I had been dead-drifting the wet fly team through some water better suited for dries when my line came tight with a vengeance. You could count the spots on this guy, and the pattern is about as linear and symmetrical as I’ve seen on a brown. 12″ long and the parr marks have yet to vanish. Full adipose.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

Next, I fished a steep riffle that rushes into a deep, compact pool. No bugs, nothing rising, and I was thinking that maybe I should rig for depth charge when a stout rainbow clobbered the fly as it swirled near the surface. Here’s a trippy low-light shot that begs the question: Is this what C&R looks like at a rave?

DCIM100GOPROG0024644.

~

I‘ve said it before and I’ll say it again: dusk can be a magic time. The trout went bonkers on the surface just at the moment when you could no longer see your fly. This brown measured 17″. Full adipose, and look at the size of the anal fin and tail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Farmington River Report 7/25/17: The method and the madness

Let the binge fishing begin!

I started fishing at 6:30 last night in a run I usually reserve for mornings and afternoons. The hatch activity was immense: sulphurs, small BWOs, caddis, Isos — and the cedar waxwings and swallows were going to town on the duns and spinners. I’ve never seen so many birds over the river. It was like being an observer in WWII dogfight. I lost count of the number of birds that flew so close I could hear their wings.

The method was wet flies. Given the amount of bug activity, I was expecting to catch 20 trout in this 300 yard stretch. The final number was a bit more modest, but I found plenty of fish willing to jump on. One of them was a camera-shy, low teens rainbow that had been in the river a while: dense spotting, intact fins, wide pink lateral band. I found players on all three flies (Squirrel & Ginger, Pale Watery wingless, hackled March Brown).

Dry was the next method, practiced from 8pm to dark. I rose a half dozen fish on tiny rusty spinners and Magic Flies, but my hook points found no purchase. Back to the truck for the streamer kit, and I walked out of the pool drifting/swinging a mouse, then a conehead Woolly Bugger. A few bumps, but no takers.

I was disappointed with the dry and streamer action. This may have had something to do with the fact that we had October temperatures; hopefully things will pick up as we get into a warming trend. At least we have water! Speaking of which, 340cfs and 54 degrees.

Swinging a team of wets in pocket water during a hatch is like this handsome brown: butter. He chose the Magic Fly, fished subsurface.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Farmington River Report 7/9/17: Swell fishing. Catching? Ummmm….

My Wet Flies 101 class won the weather lottery yesterday. Sadly, the price of the ticket was one of the worst bites I’ve seen all season on the Farmy. (I’m going with the cold front coming through the night before theory.) There was enough hatch activity (Isos and caddis) to keep our hopes up, and a few splashy risers here and there, but folks, it was tough sledding. The guys did a most excellent job of staying positive and refining their newly learned craft. Keep at it, gents, and you’ll have enough days that will make you chuckle when you think of yesterday. (Really.)

As an instructor, I find sessions where everyone blanks as frustrating as the students. So I fished the lower river on the way home. The run I targeted was located in a section that got annihilated by last summer’s drought. Yet, I took two beautiful wild browns in 30 minutes. The water was swift and snotty (not well-suited for a class) so maybe that was the difference.

Nature finds a way. This is the first fish. He clobbered the Squirrel and Ginger on the dead drift in a deep pocket. Love the way the wild ones hit and battle, and you just don’t get coloration like this at the factory.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Celebrating summer

July is a darn good month to be an angler in these parts. I just returned from a week on Block Island, and while the fishing wasn’t great (spotty action and smaller fish) I did get into bass every night. Detailed report and pics to come.

I’m really looking forward to getting back to the Farmington, in particular to swinging some wets. The spring’s cool temps and voluminous water supply should make for some terrific wet fly outings over the next several weeks. Speaking of wet flies, there’s one more opening in Sunday’s UpCountry Wet Flies 101 class. Jump on it and become the envy of all your trout angling friends. You can’t sign up with me; you have to do it through the store here.

Speaking of jumping on things, if you’re planning on booking a lesson/outing/trip with me, best to inquire now. My days are filling up (two gigs next week) and I am going to jealously guard my personal fishing time. You know where to find me.

Client John with a fine example of what is possible on the Farmington River at noon on a sunny day in July.

Jon21%22er

Farmington River Report 6/14/17: Confidence catches fish, Sulphur City

I guided Keith on Thursday and his goal was to leave the river with more confidence than when he arrived. I think we accomplished that. Where to fish, how to fish, which flies to use — keeping it simple is usually a good place to start. So we headed of to a spot below the permanent TMA for some nymphing basics. Spring mornings are almost always a good time to nymph. We did both short line and indicator, and on this day indicator was the more successful method. We took fish on both the dropper (size 18 2x short Starling and Herl) and the point fly (BH Squirrel and Ginger).

Next up: Wet Flies 101. I was disappointed with this second location, downriver from the first. Our drifts were good and we covered some fishy water, but you can’t catch what doesn’t want to eat — or what isn’t there — so we headed off to trout central, AKA the permanent TMA.

Good call. As we worked our way downstream into some slower water, we saw active feeders. Even though the water was better suited for dries, properly presented soft hackles can be deadly during a hatch. Caddis was the bug, and we had two caddis patterns on our team of three (S&G top dropper and Winter Brown on point) with a dark fly (Drowned Ant) in the middle.  It wasn’t long before Keith’s line came tight to beautiful brown.

Keith shows us how it’s done, much to the delight of his instructor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

We took fish on all three flies, but only one on the dark middle fly. We got nearly into double-digit numbers, a mix of stocked browns, rainbows, a Survivor Strain brown and a few wild ones. I was intrigued by the parr marks on this rainbow. He wasn’t all that delicate, though, putting on an impressive aerial display during the fight.

DCIM100GOPROG0024412.

~

Finally, I fished from 5pm-7:15pm way downstream in an area that got torched by last summer’s drought. I wanted to see what the Sulphur hatch was like, and, more important, was anything taking advantage of it? Good news, bad news: tremendous sulphur hatch (I’d give it an 8 out of 10) with swarms of yellow bugs everywhere. Bad news: like my experience in April in the same area with Hendrickson, precious little surface activity. Sure, there were a few trout that were feeding, but the rises were infrequent and seemingly random. I rose three trout but failed to get a hookset. Also witnessed were caddis, tiny BWOs, and a few Isonychia. I think we’ll have to wait another year or two for the trout to re-establish.

Hello, old friend. Always happy to see your face.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA