Best of 2020 #2: Big Farmington River Browns

Every year is different, and this year I just didn’t fish the Farmington River as much as I usually do. Part of it was my growing smallmouth obsession. Part of it was the unprecedented number of anglers on the river (thanks, Covid!). But I still managed to connect with some very respectable truttasauruses (truttasuari?). It was a good year for big trout on the Farmy, and there were dozens of reports on the UpCountry site of fish that cracked the 20″ mark. If you’re interested in targeting browns that can be measured in pounds rather than inches, I have two bits of advice. First, fish subsurface. Second, fish in low/no light conditions. And then, hang on.

The belly of the beast, an early April 2020 Farmington River Survivor Strain brown. Please take fish-friendly photos: keep your fish wet until you’re ready to shoot, and then only expose the fish to air a few seconds at a time. (Be sure to wet your hands before handling the fish.) I took this shot with my GoPro, which was set to auto shoot, so the trout was out of the water for less time than it takes you to read this sentence.

Guide Trips and All This Damn Water

Many of you have reached out to me regarding guide trips on the Farmington, in particular learning how to fish wet flies. My advice remains the same: we should wait out this water volume. Yes, the Farmington is fishable at this level (850cfs and change in the Permanent TMA as I write this) and yes, I know of people who have been catching trout on dries. But if it were me, I’d be focusing on nymphs and streamers at this water level. So: if you really need to get out on the river, sure, let’s do it. There are a ton of fish to be had. But if you really want to focus on wet flies, let’s wait until the water gets to 500cfs or below. (Don’t even get me started on the lower Farmington — 1380cfs right now — or the Hous, a disgustingly high 2710cfs.) And of course, there are always small streams. You know where to find me.

Last year at this time it was sunny and the Farmington was — dare I say it? Wadeable.

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