Giving Currentseams subscribers first chance at April lessons

It’s that time of year when the phone begins to ring. People want to go fishing! Me, too.

Given my schedule, I want to give currentseams followers first dibs for lessons on what looks like a very limited availability in April. Some dates are already out: every weekend, Monday 4/3 and Good Friday. Between other commitments and my own fishing, I will very likely only have a handful of dates available to take people out. Of course, there’s always May. But if you wanted to get out with me in April, jump on it before it’s gone.

If you’re unfamiliar with my guiding/teaching philosophy, you can find that here. I’ve also updated my Trip Checklist which is basically an FAQ. Thank you again for all your support!

A very healthy brown landed by Jake last spring.

Farmington River Report 3/21 & 3/23: “Two skunks walk into a bar…”

I can’t remember the last time I had two consecutive blanks on the river. But there we are. To be fair, I only fished a couple hours on Tuesday, but yesterday I put in a full half day in five locations for not…a…touch. This was my first time to the Farmington since January. Tuesday was sunny and breezy and chilly. I’d planned on hitting the lower river, but settled for a few miles below the PTMA. Still, the water was about 800cfs. BWOs #20 flitting about. Headed up to hobnob with my friends at UpCountry, then with Sal at Legend’s, and then I re-hit the water. Observed airborne: tiny olives, small tan caddis, and early black stones #14. At my third mark, I stuck a fish, but it quickly became unbuttoned — we’re talking about two seconds of head shakes — which was too bad because it didn’t feel small. And that was it.

I should mention that over the two days, I was dedicated to the nymphing cause. I thought Thursday would be better with the warmer air and damp conditions — the olives loved it — but the Still River bumped up and we had over 600cfs in the PTMA. I nymphed the snot out of three marks, then hit two above the PTMA. Zero. Zip. Zelch. It wasn’t just me. Over the course of the two days, I saw one trout hooked among about a dozen anglers over six hours. In hindsight, I probably should have thrown streamers.

Fellow lefty Paul being bold and daring swinging wets in March. He was so kind and willing to share water, and I thank him for his giving spirit and positive energy. He even let me nymph the deep slot in front of him. Neither of us could believe that I blanked.

But what I really wanted to talk about are the new things I tried. I started with a different butt section for my indicator nymph rig. It’s 6′ long, and I flip-flopped the yellow sighter section with the clear section, making the sighter the bottom of two halves. I didn’t like it, so I’ll go back to my original configuration. (On a side note, everyone sees differently, and the yellow really pops to my eyes. Make sure you can see your sighter!)

The next thing I tried was a three-fly team for nymphing. I’d only done it once before, way out west on the South Platte, but the more I thought about it, the more it makes sense. I kept the bottom two patterns fairly close — about 16″ apart. The top dropper was a soft hackle. Obviously, this setup needs far more field testing with some willing subjects. It goes without saying that good casting form and minimal false casting is paramount to prevent tangles (which you will get).

And finally, I played around with some new flies — that early black stone I posted on Instagram, and a slightly larger version of Pat Torrey’s Little BWO. Once again, more field testing required.

Better fishing days are coming.

Thank you, TU225, and a Farmington River Colebook and Goodwin Dam info sheet

Many thanks to my old friends at the Narragansett TU Chapter for hosting me last night. It’s so wonderful to see everyone again, and I thank TU225 for their continued support. The topic was fishing the Farmington River’s West Branch (the official title is: The West Branch — Southern New England’s Blue Ribbon Trout Stream). It’s an overview of the river that covers everything from popular pools to hatches to gear to when and how. If you’re looking to fill a presentation slot for your club this spring, I still have open dates. Here’s a link to my current presentation menu.

Speaking of the Farmington River, here’s an info sheet — one page, one side — that gives you some good, basic information on the Goodwin (AKA Hogback Dam) and Colebrook Dams. It doesn’t explain the dispute between the MDC and the ACE — or why the MDC is holding the river hostage — but at least you can understand why the water releases have been the way they have been. (What a shock! It’s all about money.) Many thanks to Farmington River Watershed Association for sharing!

Goodwin and Colebrook Dam InfoSheet

An (incomplete) update on Farmington River flows

In case you don’t know, here’s a micro-brief recap: since last summer, the MDC has, for whatever reason, been releasing only the minimum amount of cfs required by law from the Hogback dam. This has resulted in, at times, unnecessary ultra-low flows, transforming the Farmington River from a lush aquatic playground into a pathetic rock garden, and certainly damaging fish and wildlife populations. To my knowledge, no one knows what the MDC’s end game is.

Right now, a group of state senators is crafting legislation that seeks greater transparency from the MDC, albeit in the form of such things as an ethics code and approval on water rates. This doesn’t really help anglers; however, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters and the Rivers Alliance of Connecticut are also involved. I plan to reach out to those groups and to the biartisan state senator group to voice my concerns. I’ll let you know what, if anything, I find out.

I do know there is going to be a specific forum in the future for concerned parties to express their concerns about the unconscionable way the MDC is treating the river. When I get data’s on that public comment event, you can be sure I’ll post more about it here.

Man, I really need to get out and fish.

The river should look like this. You know, where you can’t see the bottom half of those boulders…

TGIF, or: A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Today is potpourri post day. To start, other paying work has been getting in the way of posting here — and it’s been getting in the way of fishing. That’s just fundamentally wrong, man. Remedies are being planned and schemed as you read this.

So let’s start with fishing. The Farmington River flows are just about perfect at about 300cfs in the PTMA. Two sections of the river were stocked this week, so there’s a whole crew of newbies in the system. My spies tell me that the more experienced anglers are getting into some nice wild and holdover fish, mostly with nymphs. This can be a tough time of year to fish, but with all this warm weather it could be a better than average March.

The book project continues to chug along. I’m talking to a publisher, and am working on some sample chapters for their review. You can be sure I’ll give you updates as they happen.

While my show season is over, I’m still out and about presenting. My next gig is next Wednesday at TU225 in Rhode Island. The topic is the Farmington River.

I’ve also got an upcoming article for Surfcasters Journal on fishing two-handed rods in the salt.

I hope all is well with you, and that you’re getting a chance to fish.

“That is all.”

“Beyond Cast & Strip: Presentation Flies for Striped Bass” Promo Video

Just a short promo for the upcoming Fly Fishing Shows in Marlborough and Edison. You can attend my seminar, watch a tying demo, or take a class with me. Here’s the schedule.

Marlborough Friday, Jan 20: 1:00pm, main show floor, Featured Fly Tier, Presentation Flies for Striped Bass4:30pm, Seminar, Release RoomBeyond Cast & Strip: Presentation Flies for Striped Bass.

Marlborough Sunday, January 22: Classes With The Experts, 8:30am-11:00amPresentation Flies for Striped Bass. You must pre-register for this class

Edison Friday, Jan 27: 2:00pm-4:30pmClasses With The Experts, Beyond Cast & Strip: Presentation Flies for Striped Bass. You must pre-register for this class. 

Farmington River Mini-Report 12/8/22: A streamer skunking

I had a brilliant plan to fish the Farmington yesterday, but it turns out I probably picked the wrong day. Wednesday would have likely been better, with warmer temps, total cloud cover, a little higher and more stained water, and no cold front moving through. But I couldn’t fish Wednesday, so there it is.

Water conditions were 540cfs in the PTMA and a very slight stain. I didn’t take a water temp, but I’m guessing about 40 degrees. I hit three marks in two hours, and blanked in all of them. A measly single bump would have been nice, but so goes the winter streamer game; it’s either on or it’s not, and this was an emphatic Not day. The first mark was a popular, large dry fly pool; the second another popular spot, albeit on a much smaller scale; then back to another large, popular dry fly pool for the third. I fished my full sink tip line with a 3-foot leader of 8-pound Seagar Red. I started with a Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow then switched to a Hi-Liter. I know I was fishing deep and slow enough because I brought over a dozen leaves to hand. Yes, I did switch up retrieves, varying from swing to dangle to slow to short, jerky and fast. I covered water, actively moving though each mark. Not happening.

At least I’m warm now.

No shelf ice yet. This is a Sparkle Minnow, which is a good all-around generic flashy streamer.

Farmington River Report 10/20/22: My favorite fall color is…wild brown

I guided Jon yesterday from late morning to mid-afternoon. We had abundant sunshine, the air was crisp and chilly, and we had a bit of a breeze to contend with. But by far the most challenging part was the sheer volume of leaves in the water. It was never-ending. Still, the trout have to eat. The trick is to keep at it, and I like to use flies that offer some contrast to all the yellow and orange and red in the water. We fished four marks in the lower river, which was running about 225cfs, a very respectable height, and far better than the double-digit CFSs we’ve had to suffer though in the Permanent TMA.

So: Jon is a beginning fly angler. We spent the session drop-shot nymphing under an indicator. Jon did a great job sticking with it despite all the infernal flora. And what do you know? The indicator dipped, the hook was set, the battle won, and…Jon’s first Farmington River trout was wild brown! Way to go, Jon!

Sparse spotting, lovely halos, perfect rays on the fins, no edge damage to the fins, intact adipose — and a stubborn unwillingness to come to net — all hallmarks of a stream-born wild brown. It was especially gratifying to find this fish in an area of the river that got torched this summer. Nature finds a way (again). A tremendous first Farmington River trout for Jon.

Breaking News: Thermal Refuge Restrictions for the Farmington

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Farmington River is so low, and the weather so hot, that the DEEP has announced thermal refuge areas that are closed to fishing. My opening reference was to a similar decree in the summer of 2016. The difference this year is that the water coming out of the dam is significantly colder.

This would be the good news.

Rather than parrot the temporary regs, here’s a link to the DEEP site that will tell you everything you need to know. The decree goes into effect today, Saturday August 6. As always, I urge you to carry a thermometer, don’t fish if the water is above 68, stick to the upper end of the river, and fish early or late.

Farmington River Report 7/26/22: Low, cold, getting going at dusk

I guided Matt and his son John yesterday afternoon from 3:15-7:15. We started off nymphing in the PTMA. Water was 115cfs, a tad low for my liking, but plenty cold! Matt went tight line and John fished under an indicator, both drop shot. The fish, however, weren’t very cooperative, so we moved to another mark. Here we found some smaller fish, smutting. Whatever they were eating, we failed to duplicate the process. We held council and decided to try our luck at the evening rise.

The mark I wanted to fish was on lockdown, so we headed to Plan B Spot which we had to ourselves. The pool was dead as Julius Caesar, but summer evenings on the Farmington being what they are, I knew it wouldn’t be long before the natives got restless. To make a long story short: we had a modest hatch. Midges, sulphurs, caddis, but mostly attenuata. Attenuata can be a very frustrating hatch to fish — the rise-to-hook-stick ratio can be maddening — but we kept at it and had a blast fooling trout. I stuck around after the session and fished until dark. I rose a good two dozen trout, but had only one partial hookset. (Sigh.) The spinner fall was not that great, and we called at dark.

We like tight lines. So, like father…
…like son. We a treat to be able to guide two enthusiastic anglers. We got to cover nymphing and dry fly basics, plus a little bit of wet fly for good measure. Excellent job, Matt and John, in some very technically difficult conditions. Dry fly tip of the week: longer leaders make for better drifts. Think a minimum of 13 feet, and you don’t need to go below 6x.