Farmington River Report 7/14/20: A learning experience (for me, too)

I guided Michael yesterday from 2pm-6pm. Michael is new to fly fishing, so we had a lot to work on. We stayed within the Permanent TMA, where conditions were excellent:  280cfs flow and water plenty cold. Hatch and feeding activity was again low, although we did experience a 15-minute window where there was something going on underwater and the feed was on. We spent the first half of the lesson on indicator drop-shot nymphing. Once Michael got used to the nuances of the rig, he stuck four fish. Great job, Michael, on a day when the bite was slow. (A seasoned angler remarked to us as we were gearing down that the fishing “stunk today.”) We finished up swinging wets and managed a juvenile Atlantic Salmon. So, while I was disappointed in the activity, I was excited to watch Michael’s skills develop in a matter of hours.

Hey, this indicator nymphing thing really works! Our first fish was a rainbow that treated us to a couple of aerials. 

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After our session I headed upriver where the water was even colder. The evening rise was OK — 5/10 for feeding and hatch activity. What was a learning experience for me was my success presenting a team of three wet flies upstream to feeding fish. I caught four of the six trout I took on wets this way. All the takers were in faster water with a broken, curling surface, all were active feeders, and all took my Light Cahill winged wet or Partridge and Light Cahill flies. Most success I’ve ever had fishing that way. At 8pm I switched over to dries and caught trout well into dark.

This chunky rainbow was slashing at emergers about 30 feet above me. First cast, upstream presentation, dead drift, bang! Light Cahill winged wet. As you can see, this guy’s been caught before. What a handsome fish! Love the spots and coloration.

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Rose = Vitreus. Oh, + Smallmouth

Like clockwork, the first rose bloom in my garden means the Vitreus are popping. Funny thing: I went last night not to the Farmington, but to the Housatonic. (All this warm, humid weather had my smallmouth juices running.) Sure enough, there was a substantial hatch of Light Cahills. When we left the river at 8:30pm, there were clouds of spinners overhead. The fish surely ate well after dark. To the fishing: a little slow, but a few smallmouth were brought to hand on deerhair head topwater flies. My first smallie of the year came on a Countermeasure. That seems right.

My Grenada hybrid tea is usually the first out of the gate, and the Light Cahills were out in force. My Housy spies tell me that the spawning beds have cleared, and that the smallie action is picking up. I think a couple more weeks of warm weather would help. And of course there’s the Farmington…hmmm…decisions, decisions.

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Farmington River Report 6/20/18: Going out with a wet fly bang

The last day of spring 2018 was a memorable one for me. The evening wet fly bite was spectacular (where one loses count of fish). I had a Farmington River hat trick (brown, brookie, rainbow). And I landed a porcine high teens rainbow (after it snapped the tip of my cane rod mid-battle).

But let’s focus on the positive. I fished below the permanent TMA from 5:30pm- 9pm. Water was a perfect height and still plenty cold. The bug activity was an 8 out of 10. I had much to work with: midges, a few small (size 18) caddis, lots of size 16 sulphurs and size 14 Light Cahills, and some mongo mayflies (10-12) that were perhaps March Browns or Isos. I fished a three fly team until 7:30pm: Snipe and Yellow size 14 on top, size 16 Magic Fly in the middle, and a winged Light Cahill size 12 on point. All three flies produced. The conditions were perfect for wet flies: bugs, birds working, and a multitude of sloppy, splashy rise forms that went on for hours. I spent most of my time targeting active fish, and often the take came on the first cast. I even caught one dangling my line in the current below me as I walked to the shore to put on my jacket.

Then, disaster. The hit came suddenly and with ferocity. It felt like a decent enough fish, but once I got it in close I could see it was a big rainbow in the upper teens. Fat, spirited, and uncompromising in its belligerence. I didn’t even feel the rod tip snap; suddenly, it seemed, it was just broken. I cursed my luck (as it was). Fortunately, I had brought a second rod stream side: I waded out, re-rigged, and was back at it.

I finished the session throwing dries: Magic Flies, Usuals, and Light Cahills. The trout liked all three. As the gloaming lost its struggle against darkness, I walked back to the truck, unsure how to process the conflicting sensations of delight and regret.

At this size and coloration, most certainly not from the factory. You can’t see it here, but the dorsal side of these fish is dramatically dark. They almost look like chrome steelhead when you’re bringing them in.

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The culprit. The opening of my net is 17″; this little piggy exceeded that. So far, the best trout hit of the year. She took the Pale Watery wingless (Magic Fly), not the Cahill as I previously posted.

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Farmington River Report: “I usually get skunked.”

That was Wayne’s general assessment of his Farmington River experiences.

Of course, that was before Thursday. Wayne put on a wet fly clinic, hooking nearly double-digits in trout and landing most of them. I had Wayne fishing a traditional three-fly team, and he saw action on both the top dropper (Squirrel and Ginger size 12) and the point fly (SHBHPT size 12). We fished three locations within and outside of the permanent TMA, and found customers in all of them. Caddis, midges, and in the afternoon some Light Cahills and smaller BWOs. Water a terrific wet fly height, 350cfs, and a cool 54 degrees. Hats off to Wayne for an outstanding day.

“Are you still there?” Yes,  he was, and as a result we have this bent rod to deal with. 

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Wayne admires his handiwork.

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A different perspective on the release.

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Farmington River Report 6/9/14: Patience is a virtue

I guided John and his son Mike on the Farmington River for a full day of wet fly fishing. If you live in Connecticut, I don’t need to tell you that it was a dank, rather gloomy day. We had lots of fog and about two hours of a cold rain. Water in the upper end of the river was running at 360cfs and was 51 degrees. There was just a hint of stain to the water.

John materializes out of the mists. No, really. If you look closely you can see him in the center of the river.

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To the fishing: well, it was one of those days where you had to work hard for every trout. We drew a blank at the first spot. The second was a little kinder; we rigged for a deep, short line wet presentation and both father and son hooked up. Downstream a ways, Mike lost a nice fish that hit on the swing. Spot C was unresponsive to our offerings. By now it was early afternoon, and we started to see a few size 16 BWOs (for the most of the morning it was a caddis and midges, though not in any great numbers). Off to the last spot of the day, and that’s when things got interesting. John and Mike had been fighting the good fight for hours with little to show. A little help from Mother Nature, please? Yes. A few more caddis, a building olive hatch, and then some creamy mayflies, about a size 12-14. For the first time all day, we had consistent risers.

John netted this stunning brown on a size 16 Partridge and Olive. Well done, sir.

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Just when the going got good, I had to get going. So much for my brilliant plan to stay after the gig and fish. Not to worry, Father and son carried on quite nicely for a few more hours. Great job today, guys, in some very tough conditions.

Mike presenting up and across to a couple fish that were taking emergers along a seam. Sadly, they weren’t taking Mike’s flies. No worries. He knows where they live.

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