Out to the Farmington today to take some scenics for my upcoming feature in Eastern Fly Fishing. As you might have imagined, the warm weather brought out anglers in force; it seemed like every major pool or run had a rod probing its depths. Didn’t see any fish hooked. Wished I was fishing. But I had decided to visit a small stream after my photography work was done.
Not surprisingly, much of it was unfishable. Part of this brook flows through a hollow, and the sun had yet to work its melting magic.
I did find some relatively open water. Not a touch for me today; again, no surprise, probably due to snow melt which tends to drop that water temp. Here’s a helpful small stream hint: sometimes I purposefully cast my line or leader over a rock to hang up the fly in the current. The waking fly is particularly attractive to kamikaze wild trout. I try to make sure the fly is holding over a likely lie. In this case, I was fishing a dry/dropper — this is a great tactic for a submerged soft hackle. You can see the leader going over the left third of the rock; the fly is at 10 o’clock.
Come see my friend Matt Supinski speak at the FRAA meeting tomorrow night, Wednesday January 23, 7pm, at the Farmington Senior Center, 321 New Britain Avenue, Unionville, CT. His presentation is Into the Mind of a Brown Trout, and it dovetails nicely with his new book, The Brown Trout Atlantic Salmon Nexus. Matt is a fun and engaging speaker, not to mention he knows how to fly fish — and then some! The meeting is FREE and open to everyone.
The official event poster.
The Didymo hits just keep on coming. It’s all over the local media, but in case you missed it, here’s the story that appeared in this morning’s Courant.
While the news is discouraging, the sky has not yet fallen. If you fish the Farmington River, please use safe wading practices and common sense. I have a dedicated pair of boots and waders for the Farmington. If you don’t want to go to those lengths, be sure to clean/dry your gear before you venture elsewhere. You can learn more about preventing the spread of Didymo by doing an internet search.
Fred says: “A new species of rock snot? That blows.” This photo was taken well downstream of the invasive algae blooms.
The Governor’s obtuse, short-sighted recommendation that funding for Connecticut’s hatcheries be eliminated met with a stalemate. A special session of the legislature has been called for Tuesday, December 8. If you have not done so already, please contact the Governor’s office and your representative to voice your opinion. A link with more information from the CT River Salmon Association and ways to contact the Governor and legislators can be found here.
Also, here is a pdf from the Fisheries Advisory Council with supporting information: CostofCuttingHatcheries1.
Make your voice heard!
No hatcheries, no Farmington River Survivor Strain.
Once again, the Governor of the jolly old yo-ho-ho State of Connecticut has decided that a good way to save money would be to close our hatcheries. Never mind all that stuff about Connecticut and the Farmington River being a destination for anglers all over the northeast, or those bothersome guides and small businesses that would go under without a viable fishery, and never mind all the pesky retail sales and business entity taxes — who has time to count all that up, anyway?.
(The author of this post now gives out a long sigh, and searches for a word that best describes Governor Malloy’s thinking. Ah. “Obtuse.” Yes, that’s it.)
So, here’s how you can help. Sign this petition.
Fred here is in favor of keeping our hatcheries. But Fred can’t sign the petition. Help a brother out, will you?
When it comes to soft-hackles, feathers get all the juice. That’s perfectly understandable. But certain furs – like fox squirrel – make excellent hackling material. The results are often deliciously buggy.
Such is the case with the Squirrel and Ginger caddis emerger. This humble creation is something I made up a few summers ago. I took the Ginger Caddis Larva fuzzy nymph and swapped out the standard wet fly hook for a scud hook. Added a flashy rib. And replaced the rabbit fur thorax with a hackle of fox squirrel.
The first time I fished this fly was on a brilliant July day that was devoid of hatch activity or rising fish. The sun was high, the air was steamy, and felt a little foolish for making the drive to the Farmington. Until I started hooking fish after fish on this little caddis emerger. It was the middle fly in a team of three, and the trout stated in no uncertain terms that this was their favorite.
The Squirrel and Ginger is a fine introduction to fur-hackled flies. It is fairly easy to tie. Best of all, it’s a wet fly you can have confidence in.
Hook: TMC 2457 (2x strong, 2x wide, 2x short scud) size 12
Thread: Orange or hot orange
Body: Ginger Angora goat
Rib: Green Krystal flash
Hackle: Fox squirrel fur
The Squirrel and Ginger Rogues’ Gallery
7/8/13, Farmington River
4/24/13, Farmington River
7/31/13, wild brown, Farmington River
4/29/15, 17″ holdover brown, Farmington River
10/8/19, 20″ holdover brown, Housatonic River
Many thanks to the New York City Trout Unlimited chapter for hosting me last night. We got off to a fine start with a cheeseburger, fries and Shackmeister Ale at the Shake Shack at Grand Central. As you have no doubt read here before, a fed presenter is a happy presenter. Then, a short two-blocks-and-change walk to the Orvis store in Manhattan. How convenient.
Dim the lights and we’ll get this party started (photo courtesy of Rob Ceccarini).
The presentation’s formal title is “The West Branch: Southern New England’s Blue Ribbon Trout Stream.” But we like to keep things fun and loose, so there’s very little formality other than talking about what magically pops up on the screen. It’s always gratifying to have a strong turnout, and I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to listen, talk to me, and ask questions.
Now, all this Farmington River business has got me in the mood for some fishing. Maybe later this week.
Reminder: My next appearance is tomorrow night, Wednesday, April 8, at the CFFA Tyers’ Roundtable, 7pm at Veterans Memorial Clubhouse, East Hartford, CT. Hope to see you there.
The deadline for the Appropriations Sub-Committee addressing the DEEP budget which includes Kensington Hatchery is this Wednesday April 1st. If any of the committee members represent your town, you are encouraged to phone or email them directly, even if you have already submitted testimony to the entire committee. Please see the link below for Sub-Committee members and phone or email them if you live in a town they represent. The hatchery must survive this step in the process if it is to remain alive. Ask your friends in these towns to also contact their reps.
Here is a link to the list and contact information on flyaddict: http://www.flyaddict.com/forums/showthread.php?10694-Critical-Hatchery-vote-scheduled-for-next-week
A little help, please?
Contrary to popular belief, the best time to go fishing isn’t when you can.
The best time to go fishing is when your mother-in-law has come to visit for the weekend.
The idea of sub-freezing temperatures and snow sounded just about right. Steelhead weather. I figured the river would be deserted (it was — I had my pick of the water). I also figured between the romance of snow flakes and deep overcast, the big browns would come out to play (I figured wrong — only one half-hearted bump in three hours).
Stanley’s Ice-Off Paste is a nice concept, but it’s only good for about a half-hour. Fishing streamers doesn’t help.
I bounced all over the TMA. Spot A was an overhead deep run. Next, I walked several hundred yards through the woods to be able to fish a quarter-mile stretch of water. Then, a sortie to a new honey hole I had discovered last time out. One bump, no return. Ended up at another way-deep run where I caught a very nice stick and lost two flies. Streamers were the method, and I experimented with both bright and muted colors as well as retrieves. No interest in anything. River was down, about 225cfs, and running clear. Water temp was down, too, to 34 degrees, and I’m sure that was a negative influence. A few stray midges and some W/S Caddis here and there.
How Mother Nature cleans house. After Wednesday’s and Thursday’s wind, the forest floor was littered with shards of dead trees.
But I was alone and fishing. If anyone had asked me, “Any luck?” I surely would have answered yes.
When it comes to fly design, I always ask, “What do I want the fly to do?” With the Deep Threat, the answers came easy. I wanted a fly that would sink quickly. I wanted a fly that was highly impressionistic (Sculpin? Salamander? Frog?). I wanted a fly that would create the illusion of life, even if it were at rest. A fly rendered in natural earth tones. Most of all, I wanted a fly I could fish along the bottom, hook point up, in the cold winter waters of the Farmington River.
And here it is. The Deep Threat draws from many patterns. You can see little bits of Woolly Bugger, Zonker, Peanut Envy, and Alaskabou in its lineage. Its core of natural materials will whisper to the trout, “I’m alive.” There’s a calculated minimal use of flash and sparkle; enough to get a brown’s attention without overwhelming the pattern. I’ve been testing the Deep Threat for months, and I’ve been able to get to the bottom of some very deep pools on the Farmington using a full sink tip line and some mends. The fly is officially trout-approved. Fish it, like I do, with confidence.
The Deep Threat
Hook: TMC 2220 size 4
Cone: Large black tungsten
Thread: Olive 6/0
Tail: Grizzly rabbit strip the length of the shaft, inverted; 8 strands green Krystal flash on sides
Body: Olive Ice Dub, palmered with olive schlappen
Legs: 3 strands Golden yellow/pearl flake Crazy Legs, divided
Hackle: 3-4 turns olive marabou
Collar: Olive Ice Dub
Here’s another version of the Deep Threat that uses browns and oranges.
Hook: TMC 2220 size 4
Cone: Large black tungsten
Thread: Olive 6/0
Tail: Crawfish orange rabbit strip the length of the shaft, inverted; 8 strands green Krystal flash on sides
Body: Rusty brown Ice Dub, palmered with fiery brown schlappen
Legs: Golden yellow/pearl flake Crazy Legs
Hackle: 3-4 turns rusty brown marabou
Collar: Rusty brown Ice Dub
Tying notes: Since the fly rides hook point up, be sure to invert the tail. Total length of the fly is just over 3″. I don’t use a dubbing loop for the Ice Dub. The schlappen is palmered for 6-7 wraps. Pull the Crazy Legs off in a group of three, and leave the ends connected until the fly is complete. 3-4 wraps of marabou are all you need; you’re just creating a veil around the body.
The Deep Threat Rogues’ Gallery
Eighteen-inch brown, Farmington River, 12/3/15
Seventeen-inch brown, Farmington River 3/10/15.
Someteen-inch Farmington River brown, December 2014