Late Farmington River Report 5/26/23: Like son, like father

I guided Jerry and his 8 year-old son Wesley on Friday. Both are very beginning fly fishers, and neither had ever fished the Farmington River before. But, this a great time to fish the river, and we had outstanding weather: sunny, 70 degrees, flows at 270cfs in the PTMA and 435cfs downriver. On that day, 11am-3pm, the story was caddis, caddis, and caddis. Wesley hooked up first, then dad, and we ended up with five in the hoop. What a tremendous job for both anglers. Well done, gentleman and lad!

As you can see, Wesley is a little guy. After I rigged him up, I held his hand as we waded out to the spot, telling him that I had him in case he slipped. “Do you trust me?” I asked. “No,” he replied, without a moment’s hesitation. Too funny! (Photo by Jerry Ezold)
Wesley’s first Farmington River trout! He did a great job of managing his drifts (we started off with indicator drop shot nymphing) and especially with looking for a reason to set the hook on every drift. I had both father and son fishing an Electric Caddis larva on point; Wesely with tan, and Jerry with bright green. Both worked. There are many versions of that fly bouncing around the web, so I’ll try to get you the recipe I use soon. It’s produced every time out.
After spending the bulk of the time at one mark, we moved to a second within the PTMA to finish the session. I switched both anglers to a two-fly wet fly team. I had both fishing Mike Lawson’s Partridge Caddis Emerger in tan on top and both connected. (This was the first time I had ever fished that pattern, which was designed for Henry’s Fork but of course works very well back east.) Jerry scored this gorgeous wild brown on his point fly, my bead head Squirrel and Ginger. A great first time on the Farmington, guys, and you were both a pleasure to fish with. (Photo by Jerry Ezold)

The Farmington River is now moving into late spring/early summer mode. The hatches will begin to transition to heavier in the evenings, although caddis will still come off mornings/early afternoons, with egg layers returning later in the day. As you may have read, I am totally booked for June. Here’s hoping you get out to fish, and if you see me, please come say hello.

Farmington River Report 5/16/23: Things are starting to heat up

Last night’s cold front notwithstanding, the hatches, the water, and (finally!) the action are all starting to heat up on our favorite tailwater. I guided Alan yesterday from 10:30am-2:30pm, and we bounced around to three different marks below the PTMA. The Unionville gauge was reading 507cfs, and the river was running cool and clear. Our focus was drop-shot nymphing under an indicator, a good strategy for that time window this time of year. To give you an idea of how a typical lesson goes, we try to start in some water that isn’t too technical. (Great minds think alike, as Farmington River guide extraordinaire Antoine Bissieux showed up with his client at the same mark.) I showed Alan how I build a drop shot rig, then we moved to fly selection.

Right now, the hero hatch is caddis, caddis, and more caddis. I put an Electric Caddis with bright green caddis LifeCycle dubbing and no bead on point, size 12. For a top dropper I used one of my experimental caddis pupa (as yet un-named, details to come soon) soft-hackles, green body, size 14. Alan did a good job of getting his rig where it needed to be; casting that unwieldy shebang takes a bit of getting used to. Much of nymphing success hinges on managing drifts and setting downstream; those can also be challenging because there’s a lot to think about and tend to in a short period of time. I guess Alan did OK (he said, tongue planted firmly in cheek) as he brought a half dozen trout to net at the first mark!

I remain one of the last holdouts when it comes to client fish photos. There’ll be no arms locked, fully extended, thrusting fish into the camera on this website. This was our first fish, a spunky rainbow that taped between 15 and 16″. Nicely done, Alan! We took two trout on the Electric Caddis, and I’m delighted to report that the rest came on my experiment, which has yet to let me down this spring — every time I’ve tied it on a client’s rig, it has produced.
The second mark was a blank. I think the bulk of the feeding activity took place before noon. We did score this lovely wild brown, about 9″ long, haloed spots and parr marks, in a section of river that got torched last summer. Nature finds a way! This was a good nymphing lesson fish because he took ever so subtly — the indicator never went under, it simply stalled — and Alan, who by now was looking for a reason to set the hook on every drift, drilled it. Great job, Alan!