Good God, man! Has it been over a month since I fished the Farmington? Incessant rain, work, and home improvement projects have kept me from my beloved river. But not yesterday. There would be fishing for trout, come hell or high water.
As it turns out, I ended up with both.
Started off in the Upper TMA in a run that rarely gets fished. While most of what I’ve caught there in the past few years has been of the smaller, home-grown-in-the-river variety, there are some big trout that lurk within. I fish it not only because it’s textbook wet fly water, but also, as my friend Eric once said, to keep it honest.
It was still steambath hot at 6pm, and even in the cool confines of the water I was dripping with sweat after a few minutes of wading. I was mostly fishing lazy wet fly swings and dangles as I worked my way downstream, with the occasional upstream presentation. In certain spots, the saplings extended a fair distance over the river, and an upstream water haul, lob, and heave was the only way to cast. My wet fly team consisted of a Squirrel and Ginger top dropper, Partridge and Cahill middle dropper, and an Alexandra on point. I had a few touches in the first 50 yards, but no hookups.
Then, in a nondescript run, I was making a series of upstream casts, taking in the slack line as the rig flowed toward me, then throwing mends as the flies continued downstream. On one of those casts, my floating line stalled. I immediately set the hook.
I fought the good fight with the hand-stripping method, but in the end this big brown buck made the put-it-on-the-reel decision for me. Twice I almost had it to net. Twice, it darted away into the current, pectoral fins flared and tail powering it with strong, determined strokes.
Someteen inches of holdover Farmington River brown, taken on an an upstream wet fly presentation. It choose my Squirrel and Ginger caddis emerger, the top dropper on a team of three wet flies. The more I fish this fly, the more it proves itself as a core subsurface pattern.
There’s a logjam just below the run I was fishing. I took two of his little brothers, both on the Alexandra, then decided to seek my pleasures elsewhere.
Classic wet fly water: broken surface, about three-to-four feet deep, and moving at a brisk walking pace. I’m thinking that nymphing here is now on the short-term bucket list.
I love fishing wets, but since I missed the June sulphur hatch I thought I’d better make it up to myself with a little dry fly until dark session. The good news was that I had one of the upper TMA’s most popular pools to myself; the bad was that at nearly 600cfs, it wasn’t the placid, easily wadeable water I love to fish on the surface. What few trout were rising were out of reach for me. Since there was no hatch to speak of, I thought I’d make one. I tied on a size 16 Usual variant with an Antron tail. I had just released a fine 9″ wild brown when I head the low grumble of thunder. A steady drizzle soon followed. As I waded toward shore to put on my raincoat, lightning shattered the rapidly darkening skies. Moments later, I was in a good old-fashioned southern Baptist downpour. Picture me crouched on the forest floor in an electrical storm with rain so heavy it extinguished my cigar. When I timed a lightning strike at less than a quarter mile away, I made the command decision to sprint for the car.
By the time I reached Canton, the rain was over. I relit my cigar. I had just enough of it to last me till I got to Five Guys, where I had a very important appointment with a cheeseburger.