Farmington River Mini-Report 4/29/14: The C Word

Everyone wants to know, “When will the Hendricksons be here?” It’s a fair question, but there’s another hatch that happens around now that doesn’t get much juice: tan caddis. I love fishing under that hatch, and today’s glorious weather made it even more enjoyable. The caddis were out in good numbers (as were anglers), with a fair amount of trout feeding on them (the caddis, not the anglers). I fished the upper and lower TMAs and by far my best action was in the upper. Part of this was due to some recently stocked fish; the caddis hatch also worked in my favor. Not much going in in the way of hatch activity for points south. Most of the trout I caught today were recent wards of the state, but I did get one wild brown and a fat 17″ holdover hen, with a head that was dwarfed by her prodigious girth. Wow, did she ever clobber my Squirrel and Ginger on the dangle. That was par for the course today: the stockees were all nip, nip, nip, and the old hands were take-no-prisoners-I’m-gonna-murder-that-fly. Water was at a good height in the upper TMA (433 cfs), and clear (sorry, no temperature, but it felt bracingly cold).

I want to go back. Now.

This 17″ chubbette picked out the Squirrel and Ginger from a team of three different wet flies.

Fat Farmy Hen 4:15

Avoiding crowds, finding fish

You would have thought it was the weekend on the Farmington River Upper TMA. Mobs of anglers everywhere, eager to get their Hendrickson hatch on. Fortunately, Carl and his son Joel wanted to brush up on their wet fly technique today, so we were able to play keep-away from most of the crowd.  We found two spots that were not only productive, but also without another angler in sight. Both Carl and Joel are experienced fly anglers who took to the wet fly like they’ve been doing it for years.

Carl with a good bend in the rod. He worked hard for that fish — well done, sir.

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Things got a little weird from the get-go. How about Hendrickson egg layers swarming at 9:30am, and a spinnerfall at 11am? Never seen that before. We found dozens of active risers that proved a challenge to hook. Both Carl and Joel solved the puzzle, though, and we were off to a strong start.

A handful of spinners. Scads of them in the film this morning.

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We buzzed around the Upper TMA before ending the day on a section of river that rarely gets fished. Another good Hendrickson hatch, but this time precious little feeding on it. We still managed to get into fish.

Here’s Joel, net at the ready, about to savor another trout he put some serious time into fooling. Some fish don’t come easy, but when they do come, how sweet it is.

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Today’s runaway favorite fly was a size 10 bead head soft-hackle Pheasant Tail. River was medium high at 575cfs, noon water temperature of 53 degrees. Glorious sunshine, solitude, and two fly fishermen that are now officially dangerous wet fly swinging machines. Thanks again, guys. You made my job an easy one.

Partake in this madness? Fuggedaboutit. We found our pleasures in water no one was fishing.

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The hatch awards

I had the pleasure of guiding Don and Dave on Monday. Like a lot of people I take out, they were interested in my Wet Flies 101 course. As with last Friday, the day claimed two-out-of-three positive ingredients: lovely weather (blazing, brilliant sunshine), significant hatch activity (caddis, midges, stones, mayflies) — but sadly, not much going on feeding-wise. The guys made the best of it with good spirits and an enthusiasm for learning. Don focused mainly on near-surface presentations like the mended swing, and Dave plumbed the depths with short-line dead drifts. Both methods were right today, as both caught trout. Well done, gentlemen. You are both well on your way to having some terrific days. Water temperature was 44 degrees in the upper TMA. That’s cold for this late in April. We had to get out and warm up every so often.

Man working: Don making some upstream mends, watching his drift like a hawk. Rats! I forgot to get a picture of Dave. My bad.

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They’ll stone you when you’re trying to be so good.

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After we wrapped up, I ventured downstream to see if the H-word was out. Yes, in decent numbers. But due to high, cold water, predators were few and far between. Still managed my first trout of the year on Hendrickson wet, dapping it over a feeding fish. Ker-pow!

Hello, my three-tailed friend. I missed you.

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And, we’re underway

Kicked off my 2014 guiding season yesterday with Matt. Matt wanted to take my Wet Flies 101 half-day course, and we headed to the upper TMA in search of feeding fish. Two-thirds of nature cooperated; an absolutely glorious late April sunshine, and a snow flurries-like caddis hatch (with a few Quill-something mayflies and mounds of midges for good measure). Unfortunately, the third that really counts was in absentia. Not a damn riser anywhere. Nothing for the nymphers, and even the spin guy only managed one on his Rooster Tail. Off to below the upper TMA, where Matt rousted up a nice brown on a bead head soft-hackle Pheasant Tail. Speaking of Matt, it was gratifying to see how much he improved over the course of just a few hours. So often, you get out of something only what you put in, and he worked hard on his mending and wet fly presentations. By the end of the day, quality drifts were the rule rather than the exception. Well done, Matt!

Matt executing a mended swing, focused, intent, and best of all having fun.

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After our session ended, we headed downstream where we found some fish willing to jump on. I also saw the first Hendricksons of the year, although two doesn’t make me do handsprings — and there was nothing rising to them. Not to be a wet blanket, but my enthusiasm is also tempered by the fact that we’re in for some cold, wet weather over the next few days. But come, they will.

An intriguingly marked rainbow that took my BHSHPT. Love the colors on the gill plate. Landed a nice wild brown as well, and LDRed a third. A fun way to end the day.

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