Housy & Farmy Mini-Reports: Water, water, everywhere

A couple of hardy anglers had the temerity to fish the Hous Friday evening. 1,300cfs is certainly doable, if not challenging. We hit three spots and found fish in two of them. I had my first customer on that marabou crayfish prototype, and it was a solid smallie, just under a foot. I had the brilliant idea that I should try to catch a bass on the surface in that turbid flood, and by casting back to the bank…what do you know, a couple of  customers. Both were too small to get their mouth around the hook, but I’d had my fun. Today the river is even higher and rising. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

This morning I had a 90 minute window, so I nymphed two spots on the lower Farmington. 550cfs, very cold for this time of year. First spot was a blank. Very surprised by that. I know I was getting deep enough because I lost my drop shot tag. Move around, find the fish, etc., so I changed locations and first cast, bang, a hefty rainbow that broke my leader at the top fly junction. After post-loss inspection, the leader above the break was frayed, so it was either compromised before hookup or Mr. Rainbow took me for a ride around a rock. Re-rigged, and landed one of the nicest brook trout I’ve ever taken on the Farmington. Both fish hit the top dropper in the rig, a size 16 Wingless March Brown.

Mr. Long Kype Jaw also has some shoulders and a complete set of dramatically contrasted fontenalis fins.

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Getting your word’s worth

The word machine is humming along. In fact, I’m taking a break right now from one of the many pieces I’m working on. (Despite the sunny weather, I made the command decision to write today. With all the high water and piss-stinking miserable humidity, and thunderstorms later, the fishing will have to wait.) Here’s what’s in the pipeline:

“Steel Deal,” a feature on Great Lakes steelhead tactics, coming this fall in Field & Stream

A feature on the Housatonic River for Eastern Fly Fishing, scheduled for March/April 2019

A feature on the Farmington River for Eastern Fly Fishing, scheduled for Fall 2019

“The Little Things 3.0” — I’ve completed this and I’m pretty sure Field & Stream is going to buy it for publication next year.

Please support these magazines, even if it’s just to buy a copy of the issue with the article. No readers means no more pubs which means no more interesting articles from folks like me.

Then, there are the new presentations I’m working on for the Fly Fishing Show…

And I haven’t forgotten about that new smallie bug. I promise it will be worth the wait!

No. Not happening right now.

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Farmington River Report 7/19/18: Generation Next

Yesterday I had the pleasure of guiding the next generation of Farmington River fly anglers. Patrick and his cousin David and I spent the afternoon walking a stretch of water I call “The River Wild.” Wow, a lot of anglers were out enjoying the weather. Seemed more like a Saturday than a Thursday in the middle of the summer. The fishing was slow, but both Patrick and David got into fish. I had Patrick fishing a Stim with a small BHPT dropper, and David fishing a two-fly wet team. The trout liked the Stim and the top dropper on David’s rig, a Squirrel and Ginger. Good job, guys. That was fun, and keep on keepin’ on!

David working the seams of run. We moved into this pool moments after another angler left, and connected with a trout on our second cast.

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This is Patrick’s first ever Farmington River brown. He hit is a snotty riffle in about 18″ of water. 

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Afterwards I went dry fly fishing. Holy crowds, Batman! Nine anglers in Campground Pool at 5pm. So I sought my pleasures elsewhere. I had a tough night of sorts — I fooled well over a dozen fish (they were on larger sulphurs, Dorothea, and tiny BWOs) but only connected with four of them. I completely botched the hookset on one; another broke off at my tippet/leader connection (that’s the end of that old spool, and if you catch a nice brown with a Hendrickson Usual in its mouth, please remove it); the remainder made it in and were released to fight another day. We are now firmly in the summer dry fly fishing pattern. That is, lower water, smaller flies, trout on emergers and spinners, hatches (and therefore action) that seems to randomly wax and wane. I recommend a long tippet/leader setup  (I’ve been going about 13 feet) and be advised that the fish may not be feeding on those bright yellow bugs. The 7:30-to-dark window continues to be productive.

I think it’s about time I headed over to the Hous for some smallies…

Farmington River Report 7/17/18: Big Bang Boom

I guided Paul for four hours yesterday before the fireworks began. Atmospheric, that is — although the fishing was slow, we managed to conjure up plenty of electric action. We fished three locations within the permanent TMA and found players in all of them. The water was down to 237cfs (they dropped the dam 100cfs) but still plenty cold. Wet flies were the first order of business, and we induced a savage strike from a lovely wild brown in the snotty water at the head of a run. Upstream there were trout smutting in that difficult-to-present-to frog water along the edge of a faster current. Then I saw a moth skitter across the surface, and one of the trout snapped at it. We clipped off the SHBHPT on point and tied on a Stimulator. Three trout later, we moved to another spot. This was a very sexy run, but we had no interest in swung wets. I figured there were trout in residence, so we added a BB shot to the middle dropper knot and presented along the bottom. Ding! We have a winner, with Paul landing a gorgeous kyped Survivor Strain brown. Great job by Paul with his casting, wading, presenting, and especially his no-time-wasted landing those trout. They just didn’t stand a chance. A pleasure, sir!

The skunk was off with this lovely wild brown. Man, did he open up a can of whupass on the wet fly.

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Men at work: Paul demonstrating the advantages of a ten-foot rod on the Farmington.

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What the fly saw moments before the take. A good fish, Survivor Strain, well-earned. (There’ll be no pictures of anglers thrusting fish into the camera at arm’s length on this site.)

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Farmington River Report 7/11/18: The heat of the moment

Friends, I’m here to tell you that the Farmington River is cold. Readings of 58 and 54 degrees confirm that, as will Mark, my client — and he’ll also testify that the fishing is incendiary!

So. Mark came to me with the request — like so many of my clients do — to tell him “what I’m doing wrong.” In most of these cases, it’s not so much one grand point of error as it is a bunch of little things that could be improved upon. We started out below the permanent TMA for a little indicator nymphing. Mark took to it nicely, and we stuck a pile of fish on both a size 14 Rainbow Warrior (point) and a size 14 March Brown wingless (dropper).

Off we went upstream for the evening rise, which was that and then some. From 5:00 to 8:30 it seemed like there was always a target to cast to, and often multiple options within a couple rod lengths. We stuck fish on the Magic Fly, the Usual, Catskills Light Cahill, and Sulphur comparadun. The bug activity was mostly tiny BWOs, a few sulphurs, but mostly Dorotheas and perhaps some summer Stenos. The trout were on the emergers as well as duns on the surface. It was an easy night to be a guide. Well done, Mark! You were doing a lot of things right, as your fish count confirms.

Mark landed this nice wild brown on a March Brown wingless. The fish were taking the nymphs in the faster water at the head of the pool.

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The sweet sight of success: bent rod, splashy combatant. (Wide smile on client’s face not visible.) Speaking of visibility, we had varying degrees of fog for most of the evening. It didn’t seem to bother the fish.

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Farmington River report 7/9/18: Presentation is Everything

I guided David yesterday afternoon into the evening. David wanted to work on his presentations — a man after my own heart — and we began by swinging wets through some choppy water in the permanent TMA. Bug and surface activity was light — nonetheless, I was surprised that we didn’t find any players. We then headed upstream to some classic dry fly water to prepare for the evening rise. We had surface activity from around 4pm through darkness, and a lot more bugs in this pool: sulphurs, Light Cahills, mats of midges and a few caddis. The fishing wasn’t easy — David had dozens of quality drifts that went unscathed — but we fooled quite a few trout and netted some beauties. We fished with a 13-foot leader (9′ 5x) and tippet (4′ 6x) system, and took fish on the Pale Watery wingless (16), Catskills Light Cahill (14-16) and Sulphur Comparadun (18). Great job, David! And man, was that water cold. 56 degrees. I haven’t shivered that much since the winter. Double layers next time.

Mr. Presentation, getting it done.

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The size of the rise doesn’t always belie the size of the fish. This high teens Survivor Strain brown was making tiny swirls along the edge of some frog water. David did an exemplary job with his hook set and landing. All the fish we hooked were fat, healthy, and happy.

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Farmington River Report 6/26/18: Subsurface Success

Chris wanted to work on his subsurface game, so we spent the morning nymphing and swinging wets. Success! We fished three spots below the permanent TMA and found players in two of them.

We started off indicator nymphing (using my homebrew indicators) with a drop shot rig, and I continued my catching-a-fish-while-doing-a-demo streak. (If you want to look cool, pretend you meant to do it.) Chris took over and made a bunch of quality drifts with no love. All of a sudden, it happened. An unseen hatch was underway, the trout were feeding, and we hooked a bunch if fish in 15 minutes.

Wets were next. Run A was a blank, and Run B did not produce in the areas it usually does. No worries — Chris kept a positive attitude (confidence catches fish), and it rapid succession he stuck a bunch of trout tight to the bank. Great job, Chris! The trout should be worried.

We won the weather lottery: Bluebird skies, warm sun, cool air. Of course, a tight line makes any day sunnier.

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We spotted a distressed rainbow in the shallows. It had been hooked, lost, and had the terminal tackle and a short length of mono still attached. Unfortunately, we failed in out attempts to net it.

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Chris kept pounding the banks in a shade line, mended swing presentation, and was rewarded with several slashing strikes. This gorgeous wild brown took the top dropper on his team of three wets, a Squirrel and Ginger.

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After our session, I spent two very entertaining hours swinging wets. I fished a Squirrel & Ginger (caddis) on top, a Drowned Ant middle dropper, and a Light Cahill on point. I saw all three insects out and about, as well as tiny BWOs, midges, inch worms, and sedges. Among the players today were three wild brookies. Funny thing! They all took the Drowned Ant. I don’t think it was a coincidence. This stunner is clearly from the Farmington River hatchery.

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Another hat trick today, thankfully without a broken rod. This low-teens wild brown was feeding just along a shade line in about a foot of water. First cast, bang! Squirrel and Ginger. Catch-and-release works in the wild, too — note the long-ago healed bird wound just above the gill plate. I bounced around to three spots, found hungry fish in all of them, and lost track of both time and fish landed.

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