Farmington River Report 11/5/19: Early fireworks

I guided Drew today, and to celebrate Guy Fawkes’ Day we started off with a bang: two trout on two casts! Drew is new to the Farmington and relatively new to trout fishing, so given the time of year and conditions (cold, 310cfs) our task was to cover some water and work on the nymphing game. The specific method was indicator nymphing, drop shot rig, and we went with a sz 14 Frenchie Variant and a sz 18 SHPT. The trout liked both, the Frenchie being the favorite.

First cast, the indicator merely twitched. Look for a reason to set the hook on every drift!

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Second cast. At this point it was proposed that we quit and go get coffee and doughnuts. The motion failed.

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Angler traffic was light, and we did not see any other fish hooked today. (Thanks to the one gentleman who offered to share the water!) We hit four marks and found fish in two of them. Four trout to net, a few more lost at hookset, and we called it a very good day.  Nice job, Drew!

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Farmington River Report 6/28/19: The summer pattern arrives

I guided longtime client Mark yesterday and we found the Farmington in its classic summer pattern: long stretches of nothing punctuated by bursts of frantic activity. We fished from noon-7pm. The method for the first five hours was a team of three wets, including some shot-on-the-leader presentations in deep pools. While we found some trout willing to jump on (See that tree over there? There’s always a trout hiding underneath it…) the bug/bird/bite activity was dramatically slower than it has been, no doubt due to the bright sun and soaring temperatures. We fished below and within the Permanent TMA. Late afternoon found us ensconced in one of Mark’s favorite dry fly runs, and as we moved toward evening, it was no surprise that the trout became a little more active. Nonetheless, I found the hatch to be disappointing-to-mediocre-at-best. But we persevered and stuck a few trout on tiny sulphur Comparaduns. (It was sulphurs, caddis, and some guest Isos, but mostly sulphurs, especially after 7:30pm) I fished past the time I could no longer see my fly, and called it quits after the last take. By this time the surface was simmering. Hello, summer!

Mark has a knack for this: I tell him I’m going to shore to put on my jacket, and that I’ll recognize him from a distance due to the bent rod. Yesterday I took about ten steps and suddenly I heard splashing. True dis: it’s happened two years in a row. In the same spot. Way to go, Mark!

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Farmington River Report 4/18/16: that was fun

Spent three hours below the permanent TMA, from noon to 3pm. Some caddis and a few stray Hendricksons in the air. Water cool, clear, and about 300cfs. Walked a snotty run and swung a team of three wets (from top to bottom: Squirrel and Ginger, Dark Hendrickson, BHSHPT). One recent ward of the state liked the point fly on the dangle. Ended up at the pool the run dumps into and that’s when things got fun. Landed a dozen fish — including a double — that were a mix of stocked browns and rainbows, all on the S&G and the PT. Two of the fish were active risers that I targeted; the rest were holding in likely places. Took them on the dead drift, the swing, and the dangle. Some friends fishing nearby had great success nymphing during this same period.

I thought we might be in the midst of a day to remember, but sometime around 1:30 someone hit the off switch. An hour later, some more Hendricksons came off, and a few fish began slashing at the emergers. But whatever mojo I had earlier in the day disappeared, and I could only manage one more trout.

Poor me (he said, tongue planted firmly in cheek).

What are they doing in the Hendrickson House? I’d give today’s hatch a four out of ten.

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Farmington River Report 1/26/16: Avoiding crowds — and fish

Where there’s one trout, there’s probably a bunch more. That’s a fair statement for winter fishing on the Farmington, and one that Torrey Collins reiterated to me as I walked out the door of UpCountry. But you could also say the same for winter trout fishers. And today I wanted to avoid crowds. If there were any fish in that bargain, I would embrace it as a bonus.

I’ve been fairly stubborn about Spot A this winter. I know there’s a healthy population of trout, but I’ve only hit them in the mood to eat once. I spent ninety obstinate minutes bouncing nymphs along the bottom (I had too many false positives to count) and swinging/stripping streamers before I decided enough.

Spot B was a what-the-heck roll of the dice. I don’t like it in lower water (230 cfs, 35 degrees in the permanent TMA) but you don’t know if you don’t go. Ten minutes was all I gave it. Blanked.

The run in Spot C is deep and moving at a good walking pace. The yarn went under with the speed and depth that indicates a substantial fish has committed to your fly. Or you’ve found a fly-eating rock. Bottom 1, Steve 0, and I set about re-tying my rig. Thirty minutes later, another blank.

And that’s when you realize that solitude is nice, but you should probably just deal with whoever’s there and go fishing where the willing-to-eat fish are. Third cast, the indicator goes under and the bottom fights back.

Clearly, this calls for a second cigar.

Down periscope. A nice kype beginning to form on this some-teen inch brown that took a size 12 (2x short) SHBHPT, the day’s clear favorite (they showed no interest in eggs or SH Zebra Midges).

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Farmington River Report 7/12/15: Nice. I think.

M*A*S*H’s Frank Burns once said, “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.” He’s right. I met some nice people on and off the river last night. Some of them shared water, conversation and positive energy. Some of the fish, though, weren’t particularly nice to me. Nor were my leader and tippet, which insisted on repeatedly wrapping around my rod. Oh. My casting also sucked (I’d rate it somewhere between incompetent and atrocious). A fatalist might offer that the nicest thing about last night was that it proved that every day is different. But to quote George Formby, it turned out nice again.

I fished dries (or wets as dries) from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. The hatches were about a five on the Bug-o-Meter scale: small olives, summer stenos, sulphurs, creamy midges. No caddis that I could see. Sadly, all the consistent risers were either above me or below me for the first 90 minutes. I raised fish on a size 22 BWO parachute, size 20 Magic Fly, and a size 18 Usual. But no hook sets. Surprisingly, I saw some refusals to the Magic Fly. I think a sparse tie on a size 22 hook is in order. I’ll let you know how that plays out.

Jeff, who was kind enough to share the water, was fishing above me and took two trout in the first 90 minutes. By 8:00pm the trout got a little more hungry, and fed until dark.  I switched over to classic Catskills Light Cahils, size 18-12 (I increase the size as dusk deepens) and started hooking trout.

First customer of the evening, a small vessel of a wild brown. Caught him in a — you guessed it — current seam.

And so we ended game one of the twi-night doubleheader. I re-rigged for streamers and tried to warm up (wow, the water is cold for this time of year!) before heading back into the foggy void. Two anglers in the lot said they had done well in the last hour on sulphur spinners. When I got back into the water all signs of feeding (from what I could see) had ended.

I started with a Sex Dungeon (behave, now) which is a dumbbell-eyed, deer-hair headed articulated monstrosity (I use the M-word in a most positive manner). I blanked on it in Run A and Deep Pool B. For Run C, I started with something a little more casting friendly, a horrible black marabou leech mutation of my own doing. No. When I got to some flatter water, I tied on a Zoo Cougar, another one of Kelly Galloup’s patterns (the Sex Dungeon is his). The Zoo Cougar is meant to be fished on a sinking line, but I liked the idea of something quasi-mousy-sculpiny. And what’s there not to like about a commotion near the surface in the near absence of light? Precious little. In a thirty yard stretch of water, I connected with three trout. All of them first whacked the prey to stun it. Two came back for the coup de grace. One, I had a lousy hook set, and since it didn’t feel particularly big, I wasn’t upset when we parted ways. The other was a rather nice way to end the night.

Not super big at sixteen inches, but this wild brown buck (note full fins and intact adipose) gave me a worthy battle as the clock neared the witching hour.

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Farmington River Report 7/9/15: That’ll put a bend in the old cane

It may seem foolish to drive 90 minutes to fish for 90 minutes, but I have no issues when it comes to irrational behavior in the name of fishing. On the water at 7:30pm (many thanks to the angler from Massachusetts for sharing the run) and was greeted by some sporadic splashy rises. The hatch activity was off-the-charts strong, with vast numbers of sulphurs (16-18), summer stenos (18-20), BWOs (18-20) and midges. Unfortunately, the rises were inconsistent and not as plentiful as I would have liked for that level of bug activity. Still, you get what you get and you don’t get upset.

I was fishing the traditional cane rod in some untraditional dry fly water — this was more of a wet fly run, current moving at a good walking pace and with a very mottled surface. I had swings and misses on a size 18 creamy Usual, a size 20 BWO parachute, and two Magic Flies (18 and 20). Nothing on the big guns (Isonychia). The angler below report similar swings and misses.

Air was dense, overcast, with a sprinkle here and there. The hatch ended around 8:15, and the surface activity wound downward.

One small fish had vexed me for the better part of an hour. He’d come up gently. Then disappear. Then resume feeding. Then stop. Couldn’t get a sniff from him, and the little ones are usually easier to fool. At 8:30, for no reason other than visibility in the rapidly advancing darkness, I tied on a size 20 sulphur comparadun. On the second cast, ker-pow! Good hook set. Felt great to finally be on. But why won’t this fish come to net? The current is strong, but this is ridiculous for a fish that size. Unless it’s not a fish that size. Turns out it was hulking brute of a Survivor Strain brown in the high teens length, hooked neatly in the corner of the mouth.

The photo does not do the fish justice, but my hands were shaking and Fred here wouldn’t stay still. Wild and Survivor Strain browns are a different animal on the Farmington — cantankerous comes to mind. What a bend he put in the cane rod, and I was happy to have 5x on so I could get Medieval on him when I needed to. My best guess is that’s a dark green elastomer, making this a four year-old fish that was planted as a yearling in 2012.

Farmington River Mini Report 5/15/15: Trout (nearly) everywhere

Fished from 11:30am till 3:45pm today with the goal of hitting seven spots. I made five, which doesn’t suck. What doesn’t suck even more — or is that less? — is that I found trout willing to jump on in four of the five places I fished (two within the permanent TMA and three outside it — wouldn’t you know the only place I blanked was inside the TMA). I spent most of the time dedicated to the nymphing cause, but at my last stop I switched over to a team of wets and connected with a fat rainbow on a size 12 Dark Hendrickson wet. All the trout today were rainbows.

They bumped up the flow from the dam, and we currently have about 275cfs of cold water coming through the permanent TMA. I didn’t take a temp, but I’m guessing 50 degrees — if that. Hatch activity was slow: caddis, midges, some BWOs, a few stray Hendricksons. There were very few rising fish, even with the low water levels, and what was rising was doing so sporadically. Damn fine weather, and a lovely day for a post-lunch Rocky Patel The Edge Toro.

Fred here smacked my size 12 copper bead head UV pink hot spot dark hare’s ear nymph like it owed him money.

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