Farmington River Report 5/2/18: Cold, slow, crowded and beautiful

Believe it or not, before yesterday I had not fished the Farmington since January. I had 15 minutes before I had to head north for my gig with Jeff, so I shook off the rust with a fat rainbow in some prime water below the permanent TMA.

Jeff wanted to work on his subsurface skills, particularly nymphing. We met up at a favorite spot of his and I looped on the same drop-shot rig I had used earlier. Wowee, crowded everywhere — we were one cog in a wheel of a half-dozen anglers on this stretch. And cold! My thermometer wouldn’t budge above 43 degrees. Hatch activity was decent (mostly caddis) but there was very little in the way of surface activity, not surprising given the water’s height and temperature. We done good, though — we saw three fish landed, and two belonged to Jeff. We tried some wet fly, but found no love, before moving downstream to another favorite run. Two anglers from Maryland were happy to share the water (thanks for the positive energy, guys!), but they likewise reported very slow action (only two fish all day for them). And yes, we did see a couple of the H fly.

Great job by Jeff, who is turning into a dangerous subsurface machine.

What a gorgeous wild brown — haloed spots, kype starting to form, full, unmolested fins, intact adipose. All our fish today came on the top fly in the nymph rig, a black bead head Hare & Copper, size 14.

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After catching such a beauty, is there anything more satisfying than releasing it?

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Two more spaces are open for the class I’m leading on Saturday, May 5. From the UpCountry website: There are two spots still available in “Fishing Wet Flies & Soft-Hackles” class this Saturday 5/5 – Steve Culton will be teaching this one, – call the store at 860-379-1952 to sign up.

 

Farmington River Report 5/6/16: Hendricksons (and then some)

Sometimes I have no idea what I’m talking about.

Exhibit A: As we waded into the Farmington at 2pm, I remarked to my client Paul, “We’re going to out fish those guys four-to-one.” Some splashy rises had me convinced we were going to clean up with wet flies in this snotty run. The two anglers below us were casting dries in a more moderate flow. Cue game show wrong buzzer sfx. They got one, we got one.

Exhibit B: On Wednesday, I said to Paul, “The Hendricksons are pretty much finished here,” “here” being near the bottom of the permanent TMA. Yesterday, we were fishing well downriver, and the splashy rises were due to an outstanding Hendrickson emergence. The water surface soon became littered with Hendrickson duns. How strong was the hatch? It was raining steadily, and the flies were still easy to pick out on a mottled surface flecked with raindrops. The problem was there was nothing feasting on these easy meals. Paul persevered, and induced a rainbow to eat the middle dropper, a gray/brownish wingless wet.

We decided to head upstream. This is where it got good. The hike to our spot took us past some glassy water where a large pod of trout were picking off Hendrickson duns at will.  We gave them a brief sniff of the wets — nothing. Then I suggested that we clip off the subsurface patterns in favor of a dry. The Usual size 12 was the fly, and the trout loved it. (Apparently, sometimes I do know what I’m talking about.) All you had to do was drift it over a feeder, and BANG! Game on. It was one of the better Hendrickson hatches I’ve experienced on this river. I know Paul had fun.

We went back to the wets for the last hour and managed a couple more trout. A very productive four hours, in terms of both catching and learning. Paul is well on his way.

Water was 275cfs, 49 degrees and clear. Air was 60, clouds and rain. The fishing was quite a bit hotter.

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This isn’t the best underwater shot I’ve taken, but I do like the reflection of the spots on the surface film. Since I know where you live, see you sometime this summer.

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Farmington River Report 4/19/16: “I suck at nymphing.”

That’s how my client David summed up his subsurface skills on the phone.

It may have been true a few days ago. But not today. No sir.  Today, friends, David was a steely-eyed nymphing missile man. He put a hurting on the trout with a yarn indicator, a single BB shot, some Pheasant Tails, and a fierce resolve to overcome that northern banshee we call wind. I don’t usually count fish, but we surpassed the dozen mark today. Way to go, David!

It must be the height of Hendrickson madness if the UpCountry lot is full at 8:45am on a Tuesday. We fished two spots outside the permanent TMA, and did well in both locations. (You know it’s going to be a good day when you hook a fish on your first demo cast.)  We fished a drop-shot rig under one of my home-brew yarn indicators; the top dropper was a size 16 soft-hackled Pheasant Tail, and our point fly was a size 12 BHSHPT or an Eagan’s Frenchie (thanks, Pete!) We took fish on all three flies.

Wind was a constant challenge, but I think we’ll take unfavorable conditions if a good bite is part of the package. Hatches were meh. There was a micro burst of Hendricksons shortly before 3pm, but it was over in a matter of minutes. David capped off his day by swinging a team of wets and hooking his first trout on that setup.

Yup. Today did not suck.

A portrait of a dangerous nymphing machine.

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Farmington River Report 4/18/16: that was fun

Spent three hours below the permanent TMA, from noon to 3pm. Some caddis and a few stray Hendricksons in the air. Water cool, clear, and about 300cfs. Walked a snotty run and swung a team of three wets (from top to bottom: Squirrel and Ginger, Dark Hendrickson, BHSHPT). One recent ward of the state liked the point fly on the dangle. Ended up at the pool the run dumps into and that’s when things got fun. Landed a dozen fish — including a double — that were a mix of stocked browns and rainbows, all on the S&G and the PT. Two of the fish were active risers that I targeted; the rest were holding in likely places. Took them on the dead drift, the swing, and the dangle. Some friends fishing nearby had great success nymphing during this same period.

I thought we might be in the midst of a day to remember, but sometime around 1:30 someone hit the off switch. An hour later, some more Hendricksons came off, and a few fish began slashing at the emergers. But whatever mojo I had earlier in the day disappeared, and I could only manage one more trout.

Poor me (he said, tongue planted firmly in cheek).

What are they doing in the Hendrickson House? I’d give today’s hatch a four out of ten.

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Farmington River Report 3/31/16: Beware of the Double-H

You know of the HH: Hendrickson Hype.

Yes, Hendricksons have been spotted on the lower river. No, the hatch has not yet begun in earnest. Of course, as a currentseams reader, you have a measured response to the HH. You know that nature is always on time no matter when she shows up. And that the hatch will happen when it happens, and not a moment before, no matter how much one wishes it were so.

I can tell you it didn’t happen today. I visited four locations on the lower river from Canton to Unionville, and there wasn’t a single subvaria to be found. On the other hand, there were plenty of caddis — the Rodney Dangerfield of early spring hatches — and though there were no risers, the trout were ready and willing to jump on a swung wet fly. On my second cast of the spring with a team of three wets, whack! A fine, fat rainbow on the top dropper, a Squirrel and Ginger. How glorious to feel that tug as the flies dangled in the current below me.

Warm but uncomfortably windy today. I nymphed for about an hour, but had no takers.  The bite dropped off after all those seed thingys blew into the water. 420cfs and clear.

Soon, my friends in fly fishing. Soon.

My top dropper today — heck, it’s usually my top dropper from April through August. Size 12 on a 2x short scud hook.

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Farmington River Report 5/8/15: We’ll take six

Jefferson took my Wet Flies 101 class today, and he chose a helluva fine day to be out fishing. Sunny, warm, good flows (264cfs, 52 degrees)…and anglers. Lots and lots of anglers. Everywhere. (I didn’t know you could fit that many cars into the Woodshop dirt lot. Whoa! Is that Church Pool or the Wire Hole in Pulaski?) Still, we managed to find some water to call our own not once, but three times around the upper TMA.

Jefferson did a splendid job with his team of three wets. Here he’s making that critical first mend after his cast. And yes, the weather and the river were indeed as clear and lovely as they look.

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To the fishing. I have been hearing a lot of reports of strong hatch activity with no fish rising to the bugs. That was our experience today. Spot A was heavy with midges, moderate with caddis, but very little surface activity. What risers we saw never got into any feeding rhythm; it was all rather haphazard. Jefferson still managed to stick four trout, which was four more than I saw anyone else hook. Spot B was largely devoid of hatch activity, except when the sun hid behind the clouds and we had a micro hatch of size 14-16 BWOs. Two fish on at Spot B. Spot C was the scene of a strong Hendrickson hatch (2:00pm-2:30pm) with one lonely trout making a few furtive slashes. He proved most uncooperative. But, we know where he lives. Thanks again to Jefferson for a fun day.

Mr. H stops by to say hello.

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Farmington River Report 5/4/15: In we go

Today was a rather nice day to fall into the river. A missed step. The current pushes you in directions you wish it wouldn’t. Balance is nearly recovered, then lost. Set on your ass, you feel that first shocking trickle that says the top of your waders have been breached. Standing up only makes it worse, because what was up now rushes down, and if you’ve worn old-school cotton/poly sweatpants instead of straight synthetics, the fabric acts like a giant cold water-eating sponge. Yes. From your waist down to your toes. And in front with the junk.

And that’s how I found myself kneeling on the banks of the Farmington River with my waders bunched around my ankles, backside pointing toward the heavens, hoping the the sun and the wind could do their thing right quick.

But, enough of my bathing habits. You will want to know about the fishing.

Aware of the sure thing that is the recently stocked upper TMA had me in a contrary, adventurous mood. Let’s see what parts elsewhere bring. Spot A was a bust. Nymphed. Not a touch. But I’ve never done well there, so perhaps disappointment is my lot. Plenty of bugs out. And a few Hendricksons at 11:30am.

Spot B was where I went for a swim. It’s also where I caught three trout on wet flies, all bruiser rainbows who declared in no uncertain terms that my intentions of landing them would be met with fierce combat. The genetic trait that compels them to leap is a marvel of nature. Steelhead in Connecticut, albeit on a miniature scale.

We could always call them “pearlescent trout.”

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Spot C was a bust, despite a solid Hendrickson hatch. No trout on all those mayflies? Really? Yes, so it would seem. Hard to believe. But I know when I’m beaten, so off I went to greener pastures.

Spot D. Many more of those H-bombs. Clusters of them blowing in the wind. And a few slashing risers that…I could not catch. I think that’s a first for me on this river (swinging wets over trout feeding on Hendricksons and not even getting a courtesy swipe). Finally, some love from a rather large juvenile Atlantic salmon.

I wish I could say I know for sure why there was so little activity on so many bugs. But I can’t. Good thing, though, because that means I need to perform some more intensive research. And soon.

It felt good to be fishing on the warmest day of the year. Even the wild flowers were glowing.

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