If you decided to play hooky yesterday and fish the Farmy, you weren’t alone. I would officially describe the permanent TMA as “mobbed” (for a Tuesday in December the week before Christmas). Air temps in the upper 40s, water temp in the mid 30s, flow at 210cfs. A few bugs flitting about (midges, W/S caddis, small grey stones) but no observed risers. I carpet bombed one pool with nymphs, both indicator and tight line, for about two hours and could manage only one trout. Chucked streamers for 15 minutes to no avail, then moved upriver.
Now dedicated to the streamer cause, I fished an overhead-deep pool and blanked. Moved downstream with about 15 minutes left in my session and connected with a nice mid-teens brown — and decided to leave on a high note.
The Hi-Liter produces again! The Hi-Liter is one of my high-confidence winter streamers. I like it on bright days and medium flows, and you can learn how to tie it here. A cast, a mend, and as I came tight to the line, a dull thud. Many thanks to Nick who graciously shared the pool with me.
Holy crowds, Batman! But what else could you expect on a 70 degree mostly sunny November Friday? Water was 300cfs in the permanent TMA and probably high 40s/low50s. Leaves were a minor issue today. Hatch activity was virtually nil and I didn’t see any risers. I visited two spots in the PTMA and found fish in both, although the action was slow. I carpet bombed Spot A with nymphs for two hours and produced only two hookups. Indicator nymphing was the method, and both takes were very subtle twitches rather than total submergence. Spot B was a quick in-and-out, one fish in about 20 minutes. Thanks to every who shared water and took the time to say hello. (A reminder that if you see me on the water, you’re not bothering me with questions or hellos. I rather enjoy it!)
What the heck? This used to be a Snipe and Purple. I guess the bozo who tied it didn’t fully secure the silk. Out came the nippers and on went a Zebra Midge soft hackle.
The ZMSH was a good choice. At least this lovely wild brown thought so.
A batch o’ nymphs and wets for a client. I used a couple of these patterns today.
Once again, they’ve lowered the flow from the dam, giving us (with the help of the Still River) 75cfs in the permanent TMA. The water is plenty cold and the trout are still there, but it makes for some challenging fishing. David was up to the task, and we attacked multiple locations above and within the PTMA. While we found fish and had a few bumps, we were unable to bring any trout to net. David did a great job keeping up his enthusiasm — perseverance is a powerful asset when the fishing is tough. Short line and indicator nymphing were the methods. We saw a fairly strong caddis hatch above the PTMA at 10am. Most of the risers we witnessed came in the afternoon. The river was mobbed for a Tuesday afternoon in October — surprising given the conditions.
David fighting the good fight. We had a momentary rush of glory in this run in about a foot-and-a-half of water.
I guided Ira and Dan yesterday. Hot, sunny, low flows (105 cfs above the permanent TMA), but the water was plenty cold. We spent the first half of the trip sifting through the pockets and seams of a 200 yard-long boulder field with a team of wets. After my success doing likewise on Monday, I was surprised that we didn’t get a touch. I was demoing a short line deep presentation in a deeper run when hook point connected with salmonid mouth. Armed with that new intel, we headed downstream and re-rigged for nymphing.
And that proved to be the difference between fishing and catching. We found fish in the hot water at the head of the run and just below in the front end. Both Dan and Ira proved themselves to be capable, thoughtful anglers, and it was rewarding to see their persistence pay off. The method was short line, no indicator, drop shot.
Ira probing current seams in the boulder field.
A ray of light. Our first fish was this fine native, taken on a size 14 Frenchie variant.
Dan being the man. He hooked a bunch of trout in this medium-sized pocket.
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.
Last night’s rain’s added too much water to the system (over 130cfs from the Still) so the broodstock collection has been rescheduled for Monday, September 11. I do not know if they will increase the dam outflow (currently 50cfs) this weekend, so check before you head out.
The collection takes place within the Permanent TMA. Yes, you can still fish, but anglers are asked to give the DEEP crews a wide berth. Quite frankly, I’d skip fishing until the water gets back to a more sporting level, but if you must go, why not volunteer to help out on the collection crew? It’s a great way to give back to the fishery, plus you get to see where the big boys and girls hang out…
If you’re interested in learning more about the Survivor Strain Program, here’s a short piece I wrote a few years ago for The Drake. Survivor: Farmington
The trusty DEEP sampling crew in action.
If you’re a regular reader, you should no longer be falling for that scandalous teaser headline. We’re talking about the DEEP’s annual electroshocking/sampling/broodstock collection that eventually produces those wonderful wild and Survivor Strain browns.
You may have noticed the Riverton USGS gauge dropping like a stone:
Here’s the word from DEEP Fisheries Biologist Neal Hagstrom:
“The hope is to get the broodstock collected tomorrow if the river is low enough. If not we will try again on Monday. They are changing out a gate at Rainbow Dam and need the reservoir down to do the work. They are looking at refiling the reservoir on Wed late/Thursday. The river should return to normal flows then. Of course, hurricanes can change everything…”