Farmington River Report 4/28/17: To the Vicky belongs the spoils

I guided Vicky today and she did a bang-up job banging up some trout under the trusty yarn indicator. Vicky vastly undersold her fishing capabilities to me. She did a great job casting, mending, managing her drifts, keeping a positive vibe, and wading into some challenging water (750cfs, 50 degrees below the permanent TMA). Vicky told me she’d only caught five fish on the fly before today; we managed to hook nearly twice that many and land a bunch, all fat, healthy rainbows. We fished a size 14 Rainbow Warrior on top dropper and a size 14 Frenchy variant on point and took fish on both flies.  Our action picked up once the sun warmed the water (weather lottery winners, us) and a few Hendricksons started popping, but persistence and covering water paid off the most.

The skunk is off. We didn’t see a lot of fish caught, but we sure did see a ton of anglers for a weekday. Thanks to everyone who said hi.

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This got to be a familiar sight. Way to go, Vicky!

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Farmington River Report: A good day for Hendricksons (and nymphing)

There’s been plenty of  discussion about the possible negative effects of last year’s drought on the river. One concern was bugs. Friends, I’m here to tell you that the lower river near Unionville — an area that got torched last summer — was buzzing with Hendricksons today. Bugs everywhere. The hatch started around 2:15pm and it was still going in earnest when I left at 3pm. The bad news? High (930cfs) and cold water had only a few scattered trout slashing at the emergers.

Let’s back up a bit. Starting at 11am, I hit six spots below the permanent TMA and found trout willing to jump on in five of them. Most came via nymphing, no surprise, but I did get my first trout of the year on a swung wet. Before the Hendricksonstravaganza, I had seen only one H-word mayfly, seemingly lost among the prolific caddis and midges hatches.

We’re due some relatively dry, warm weather, so the good news will be a drop in cfs and a spike in water temperature. That should really get the trout going. Good luck if you’re out this weekend. Me, I’m avoiding that madness.

Hey! I know you. Missing most of the middle fork of the tail, but still the mayfly we all know and love.

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Lockjaw trout, ravenous stripers

First, Happy Easter!

Next, a few late mini reports. Last week they bumped up the flow from the Hogsback dam. I fished the Farmington below and in the permanent TMA on Thursday. The results were poor: I hit five spots and found fish that wanted to eat in only one of them. Could have been a combination of higher water, cold water, high pressure, or just not my day. But when I guided Joe and Wayne on Friday, the fishing wasn’t any better. The weather was glorious and there was plenty of hatch activity, but we had a tough day. Both Joe and Wayne fished well and hard — in the end, the river won. We’re already looking forward to the re-match.

Third cast on Thursday. And that was it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Good Friday is my traditional striper outing in honor of the greatest fisherman ever, Simon Peter. The Bass-O-Matic was humming along at full tilt — fishing partner Bob Griswold and I caught dozens and dozens of stripers. If you’re a glass is half full kind of person, the good news was that these 14″ fish represent a strong local showing of the class of 2015. There were a few low 2o-inchers in the mix to keep things interesting. The bite shut down at dusk, and we called it a good striper thumb day.

Representing the Class of 2015, Mr. I-Can’t-Keep-Away-From-Your-Fly. Very aggressive feeders, and legions of them. Where’s my five weight?

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Farmington River Report 3/21/17: Trout on the move

The fish didn’t feel that big, so I was surprised when I saw that it was a mid-teens brown. Almost immediately, its lackluster fight, dull colors, and ragged, undersized fins registered: this was a recently stocked fish that had already travelled several miles up or downriver. You see, I was standing in the middle of the permanent TMA, an area that hasn’t yet been visited by the DEEP tanker truck.

I fished two spots. I shared the first with another angler (thank you, kind sir!); he was Euro nymphing, and I went with a mix of tight line and indicator presentations with my trusty drop-shot rig. Despite the sexy water and a decent midge hatch, we both blanked. Off to spot two, where I hooked Mr. Recent Ward Of The State followed by two long-time residents. All fish came on the bottom dropper, a size 14 Frenchie variant.

The takes of the two wild fish were odd. The indicator made a little nudge, immediately followed by a dip. It was as if the nudge was the actual take, and the dip the trout retreating with the prize. I’m constantly trying to refine my technique: playing around with indicator positioning, drift speed, trying to figure what’s bottom and what’s not, ditching the indicator and seeing which takes I can feel and which I can merely see. Every day is different; once I knew what to look for with the indicator, I was ready for that little nudge, and on that second trout I was in the process of setting the hook after the nudge when the yarn went under.

The TMA was packed for a Tuesday in March. Most of the anglers I spoke to said the action was fair to slow. Water was 233cfs and 37 degrees. Runoff may have impacted the bite. Many road entrances and dirt pulloffs (like Greenwoods and Woodshop) were still inaccessible.

That’s more like it. An equinox wild brown with an impressive power train. Note the deep gold coloring from the underside of the mouth to the gill plate.

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Farmington River Report 3/7/17: What’s all this, then?

Let’s start with some good news, where a picture is worth 200cfs:

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Add to that 100+cfs from the Still, and we finally have a proper level in the permanent TMA, running clear and 34 degrees. Of course, we need to keep those rain dances at the ready. A little more snow in the Berkshires wouldn’t hurt, either.

To the fishing. Spot A was a blank, and friends, I want to tell you that I nymphed the snot out of that run for the better part of 90 minutes without a touch. Spots B and C were dedicated to the streamer cause but with the same result. At this point I paused to reflect upon the manifest iniquity of fishing — and to consider newly received intel that there had been a recent significant melting of ice shelves where I had been fishing .

La Aroma De Cuba Reserva Bellicoso in hand (well, mouth, too) I headed north.

And that’s where I found a whole bunch of trout that were most eager to eat my nymphs. They were fairly split between the size 16 Weisner’s midge dropper and the size 14 Frenchie variant. I used two BB shot to keep my drifts nice and slow. The takes were on the subtle side, but nonetheless my indicator received a good soaking. By 3pm the action had tailed off, and I called it a day.

Several of my fish were well-fed browns in the mid teens. No wonder this hen gave me a battle. Look at the size of her pectoral fin.

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Another fine specimen from the chilly waters of the permanent TMA.

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Farmington River Report 1/12/17: Of flows and floes

I expected to blank yesterday. Rain, snowmelt, and ice would surely make for some challenging conditions, 56 degree air temps be damned. I fished two spots within the permanent TMA, and the first was that dreaded blank. The second, much to my surprise and delight, produced three trout (three more than the guys fishing corn, he said smugly). Over the course of the day, I left my rod on top of my Jeep and drove a quarter mile before I realized my idiocy. Then I rescued someone’s landing net as it floated by. So much excitement! Here are some details.

The river was running at 300cfs, a (finally) proper level. But the water was staggeringly cold — my analog thermometer only managed 32 degrees at 1pm. Water was off-color at the first spot, and less stained at the second. What really surprised me was the amount of ice still on the surface. A day later I’m sure some of it has flushed, but many of the hero dry fly pools were better suited for skating than fishing. Ice floes were also a problem as the day progressed. It’s unnerving to feel that dull thud against your leg while you’re focusing on your drift.

Lots of this going on. Be wary of shelf ice — plant an imaginary “Keep Off!” sign and do so.  January is a bad time to go swimming on the Farmington.

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I did a little short-line nymphing, but with the water back at a near-normal level, I returned to the indicator for most of the day. I prefer indicator nymphing in conditions like these because I can cover a lot more water. I also like the indicator for the more subtle takes you sometimes get with winter fishing. (However, that wasn’t the case today. All three fish struck hard.) Two came on a Frenchie variant (black bead, UV Red Ice Dub), size 12 scud hook. I also went with 2 BB shot to slow my drift. It made for an abundance of false positives, but I think slower was the way to go.

Pure parr pulchritude. Alliteration aside (alas), this is one gorgeous creature. Check out the halos along the lateral line, and the old mouth wounds. He fought like a tiger, and I had a hard time getting him to sit still for a portrait. I will never tire of catching wild Farmington browns. 

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I find the concept of dark flies on dark days agreeable, so I made my top dropper a Starling and Herl, standard hook size 16. I love fishing soft-hackled flies like nymphs or deep emergers.

This was my biggest fish of the day. Starling and Herl.

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Farmington River Report 1/5/17: Ice cold (the weather, too)

In my experience, sudden changes in temperature — especially a drop — are usually bad for business. So it went today. I fished three spots within the permanent TMA, nymphs and streamers, and blanked. Okay, I did have a firm tug on a streamer (solid enough to make me wonder why hook point never found mouth) but that was it. Hatches were virtually nonexistent, and ice was a problem all day. It’s not supposed to get much warmer for a while, and today was my day to get out, so I can live with the skunk.

Note: as I drove past the entrance to Greenwoods/Boneyard, I noticed the dirt road is not plowed and is covered with ice. I wouldn’t plan on trying to navigate it unless you’ve got really good tires and a reliable 4WD. Good luck if you head out, and remember: the fish don’t know that it’s cold.

Shaving cream — be nice and clean — shave every day and you’ll always look keen. Actually, this stuff was frozen solid. It also reminded me of baked Alaska.

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