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…”
I guided Ed today, and we were faced with a river that hasn’t been this low in months. Fear not, there’s still plenty of water (190 cfs in the permanent TMA) and plenty of trout, although the latter were a bit bashful today.
We worked on Ed’s nymphing and wet fly presentations which were pretty darn good already, a testament to the slowness of the day. Spot A was below the PTMA — there were a few bugs coming off, but the only trout we played with was a camera-shy rainbow that came on a nymph.
Ed presenting his wet fly wares.
Off to Spot B within the PTMA. Same story — a few bugs coming off and a few random slasher/risers, but nothing consistent. We covered that pool subsurface top (wets) and bottom (nymphing, both indicator and short-line) to no avail, until the 11th hour.
Keep on keeping on, Ed, and the rewards will be measured in pounds, not inches.
Last cast, we managed this vividly-colored 16″ wild brown with paddle fins and dramatic spotting. Taken on a 2x short size 14 Frenchie variant. A good way to end a slow day.
Glass houses, stones, and all that. So this week when I hooked into a 20+” Survivor Strain brown on the Farmington, I started the clock. 93 seconds — hand-stripped, no reel — from hook set to net. (And it was only that long because I had trouble fitting him into the net first swipe.)
Unfortunately, I had camera disasters. I was using my main shooter for a different project earlier in the day and hadn’t changed the setting, so I ended up with out-of-focus mush. Then I attempted a GoPro movie of the release, only to discover that the battery was dead. So you’ll have to use your imagination: kype, clipped adipose, leopard spotting, brawny, and no match for an angler with a sharp hook and a reliable leader.