This seemed like it would be the best day in the foreseeable future to a) shoot some photos for my upcoming Farmington River feature in Eastern Fly Fishing, and b) sneak in a few casts before Arctic winter sets in. So. It was cold. Ice-in-the-eyelets cold, from 11:30am-2:30pm. Water was a low (the new normal!) 680cfs in the permanent TMA. Streamers was the method in the first two hero pools. Not a touch. Went to the nymphing well and did likewise. In the meantime, took many dozens of still life shots and river scenes. Ran into Farmy guide Steve Hogan (who I’ve never met — nice to meet you, Steve!) and got a rack of shots of him nymphing. Mission completed, I drove home.
It’s now 10:35pm and I’m pleased to inform my readers that I am finally warm.
No two winter fishing days are alike.
Nature doesn’t always cooperate with mankind’s timetable, and that was the case this fall with the attempted collection of broodstock browns on the Farmington River. Rain, rain, and more rain — coupled with unusually high releases from Hogback — conspired to muck things up to the point where a Hail Mary had to be called. Many thanks to the DEEP staff and anglers who came out Wednesday to collect broodstock. The results weren’t what we’d hoped for, but you get what you get and you don’t get upset (a nod to Mrs. Kawecki, my kids’ pre-K teacher). Life goes on, as will the Survivor Strain program.
The good news is that the Farmington River browns are in pre-spawn mode, and there’s plenty of water in which to get jiggy. DEEP tells me that the Farmington River wild trout population is doing well, (I can confirm that through personal experience.) What’s more, back at the DEEP reproduction facilities, 16-18″ Survivor Strain trout are also ready to do their thing. Those fish will be released into the Farmington next spring, and their progeny to the Farmington and the Hous.
If you’re interested in reading more about the Farmington River Survivor Strain Program, here’s an article on the subject.
This is why we do it. Not a Survivor Strain brown, but she could be the mother of many.
Due to heavy rains, there was no draw down of the Hogback dam this fall, which meant no broodstock collection for the Survivor Strain program. DEEP is going to try to do it au naturel tomorrow — by fishing with hook and line — and they need your help. How much fun is this job? You fish, catch a big one, the DEEP collects it and takes it back to the hatchery to do its thing. Here are details from Neal Hagstrom:
“I wanted to confirm for you that we will be meeting with anglers at the Greenwoods parking lot on Wed. We will try capturing brown trout to use as Farmington River Survivor Broodstock using hook and line. I will be there with the tank truck about 9 am and will bring smaller live cars for use in the river. There are a couple of anglers who will be starting earlier in the day, so I will be at the river early (7am) and have to leave to get the tank truck from Burlington. I will stay as late as people want. We greatly appreciate everyone’s willingness to help out. Law enforcement has been notified of that effort.”
A Survivor Strain broodstock brown sulks in the shallows. Quality fish like these — and their wild progeny — are counting on you tomorrow to help keep the program going.
Two-and-a-half hours mid-day yesterday, dedicated to the streamer cause. River was still up (670 cfs in the permanent C&R), very lightly stained, and cool (didn’t get a water temp). I hit three spots and found fish willing to jump on in two. Two of the pools had an intense caddis hatch window, about 15 minutes, and the fish were on the emergers, although most of what I saw rising was small. Fished the full sink integrated line with both yellow Zoo Cougars and a cone-head white/chartreuse bugger; all fish came on the latter fly. Gadzooks, the river was crowded for a Monday in October! Didn’t see anyone else hook up, so I took what I could get on this slow day.
Cast, mend, a short swing, a strip, and I felt that old familiar dull thud of a streamer hit. This Survivor Strain brown looks small; in reality, it was mid-teens class and a strong fighter. Taken on the cone head bugger.
Dave wanted to improve his nymphing game, so we arrived on the river rarin’ to go — only to have to wait a couple hours for the thunder to pass. The river was slightly up (about 480cfs in the permanent TMA and a light stain) but very fishable. The trout were mostly uncooperative, but we did manage to put a nice bend in the rod. Best of all, we had the added bonus of having a couple of hero pools all to ourselves. We worked on both tight line and indicator presentations with a drop-shot rig. Great job, Dave, in some tough conditions.
That’s what we like to see!
The Farmy produces yet another wild gem, parr marks still visible.
Yesterday I guided Pete and his son Scott. They wanted to learn the mystical arts of the wet fly, so we had a stream side mini-class then had at it. The water was a little higher than I’d like (400cfs+ in the permanent TMA, 64 degrees) and the hatch activity was about a 2 on the 10 scale, but we managed to move a few trout in Spot A. Still, not the action I was hoping for. Off to Spot B where I noticed a few risers. They weren’t having the wet (this is the second time in two weeks I’ve witnessed this) so I switched Scott over to an X-leg Hopper Caddisy thing with a wet dropper. Second cast, we had a rise. A few casts later, pay dirt. Many thanks to both Pete and Scott for being such swell company. Weather was great, and the river was far less crowded than I expected.
Just as time was running out on the session, Scott nailed this stunning high-teens wild brown. What a gorgeous fish!
I spent yesterday late afternoon/evening shooting Torrey Collins for that Farmington River piece for Eastern Fly Fishing. Mostly work for me (I can think of worse jobs I’ve had) but I did wet a line here and there. The river was up a bit (they bumped the flow from the dam 40cfs to make it 440cfs in the permanent TMA) and the fish were open for business. We hit three spots and found players in all of them. Good hatch window in the first run, and the fish were all over Torrey’s nymphs. I took a break from shooting and swung a couple wets, and given the hatch and surface feeding activity volume, I was surprised to only stick two trout. Caddis and Isonychia were the stars. The last two spots were in heavy water, and we fished until dark, having most of the river to ourselves. Thanks again, Torrey.
Like me, Torrey isn’t bashful about wading into some of the river’s snottier sections to catch trout. Here, his daring is rewarded with a hookup.
Holy pink band, Batman! This photo is all natural, no light or color enhancements. What a gorgeous creature.