2017 Farmington River Broodstock Report

The collection for the next generation of Farmington River Survivor Strain broodstock was completed on Monday. The river is now back to a normal medium height (about 240cfs in the permanent TMA). Here are some details on the collection, conducted within the permanent TMA, from Fisheries Biologist extraordinaire Neal Hagstrom:

“We captured approximately 90 brown trout that we took to the Burlington Hatchery for broodstock. The largest was a 22+inch wild male. The state facebook page has some streaming video of the fish workups (visit the CT DEEP Facebook page and scroll down to September 11 — neat stuff!). We also took 15 other smaller or injured trout for general background health checks of diseases, something we do every year.”

Some of the broodstock are Survivor Strain from this year (left red elastomer) and last year (left yellow). About half of the older fish showed no signs of spawning and were returned to the river. The DEEP looks for genetic elasticity in their broodstock combinations, so there is a broad range of sizes, Survivor Strain and wild, and of course  both sexes in the sampling.

Neal commented that while there were plenty of fine specimens, there weren’t a lot of trophy trout. This dovetails with my experience this year: an abundance of high teens browns but not a lot of true brutes. He said the fish should be returned to the river in early December, “and no, we did not take everything. There are still plenty there.”

Thanks, Neal, and thanks to the DEEP for this amazing fishery and breeding program.

We grow ’em bigger than your net. A true 20″ Survivor Strain brown (clipped adipose) taken this summer. It’s hard to photograph a fish this big by yourself, but it’s surely a most wonderful dilemma.

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Summer Presentation: “The Little Things” at the Long Island Fly Rodders, Tuesday, August 1

Most fishing clubs go on summer hiatus. Not the Long Island Fly Rodders. In fact, they’ve booked yours truly to kick off their fall meeting season with “The Little Things.” I’ve heard rumors of a pre-meeting barbecue, so how can I resist?  Tuesday, August 1, 6:30pm, at the Levittown VFW Hall, 55 Hickory Lane, Levittown, NY. For more information, visit liflyrodders.org.

Speaking of presentations, I’m currently working on “The Little Things 3.0” and an as yet untitled one on how I fish for striped bass.

If you want to catch big stripers like her, pay attention to the little things. (Using a floating line and learning the greased line swing doesn’t hurt, either.)

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500 Followers Contest Winners

Drew landed as first seed. He passed on the North Country Spiders and will get a selection of early season Farmington River bugs.

Old pro Pete Simoni took the second slot and snapped up those NoCo Spiders like hot cakes. Smart man.

Greg Tarris, where are you? I sent an email to the address I have on file but have not heard back from you. You are the third lucky winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered. Thanks for your readership. And thanks for your loyalty. It’s much appreciated. And now, on to 600.

Second place swag. Picture any of them seated perfectly in the corner of a trout’s mouth.

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Farmington River Report 3/21/17: Trout on the move

The fish didn’t feel that big, so I was surprised when I saw that it was a mid-teens brown. Almost immediately, its lackluster fight, dull colors, and ragged, undersized fins registered: this was a recently stocked fish that had already travelled several miles up or downriver. You see, I was standing in the middle of the permanent TMA, an area that hasn’t yet been visited by the DEEP tanker truck.

I fished two spots. I shared the first with another angler (thank you, kind sir!); he was Euro nymphing, and I went with a mix of tight line and indicator presentations with my trusty drop-shot rig. Despite the sexy water and a decent midge hatch, we both blanked. Off to spot two, where I hooked Mr. Recent Ward Of The State followed by two long-time residents. All fish came on the bottom dropper, a size 14 Frenchie variant.

The takes of the two wild fish were odd. The indicator made a little nudge, immediately followed by a dip. It was as if the nudge was the actual take, and the dip the trout retreating with the prize. I’m constantly trying to refine my technique: playing around with indicator positioning, drift speed, trying to figure what’s bottom and what’s not, ditching the indicator and seeing which takes I can feel and which I can merely see. Every day is different; once I knew what to look for with the indicator, I was ready for that little nudge, and on that second trout I was in the process of setting the hook after the nudge when the yarn went under.

The TMA was packed for a Tuesday in March. Most of the anglers I spoke to said the action was fair to slow. Water was 233cfs and 37 degrees. Runoff may have impacted the bite. Many road entrances and dirt pulloffs (like Greenwoods and Woodshop) were still inaccessible.

That’s more like it. An equinox wild brown with an impressive power train. Note the deep gold coloring from the underside of the mouth to the gill plate.

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Farmington River Report 1/5/17: Ice cold (the weather, too)

In my experience, sudden changes in temperature — especially a drop — are usually bad for business. So it went today. I fished three spots within the permanent TMA, nymphs and streamers, and blanked. Okay, I did have a firm tug on a streamer (solid enough to make me wonder why hook point never found mouth) but that was it. Hatches were virtually nonexistent, and ice was a problem all day. It’s not supposed to get much warmer for a while, and today was my day to get out, so I can live with the skunk.

Note: as I drove past the entrance to Greenwoods/Boneyard, I noticed the dirt road is not plowed and is covered with ice. I wouldn’t plan on trying to navigate it unless you’ve got really good tires and a reliable 4WD. Good luck if you head out, and remember: the fish don’t know that it’s cold.

Shaving cream — be nice and clean — shave every day and you’ll always look keen. Actually, this stuff was frozen solid. It also reminded me of baked Alaska.

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Winter 2017 Appearances and Presentations

There’s still fishing, but winter is prime presentation season. Hope to see you on the river, at a club meeting, fly shop, or a show. There may be more additions to this list, so stay tuned. (Like right now. I’m adding a date on January 17th.)

“The Little Things,” Wednesday, January 11, 7pm, at Candlewood Valley TU, Bethel, CT. This is the original Little Things (there are currently two with a third on the way) presentation. From the CVTU website: Our meetings are free and open to members, guests and the general public. They are held at Stony Hill Fire Department, 59 Stony Hill Road, Bethel and start at 7:30 p.m. but doors open at 7 p.m. for pizza, soda and some good conversation with fellow anglers. For more information, visit cvtu.org.

“The Little Things,” Tuesday, January 17, 7pm, at Thames Valley TU, Bozrah, CT. Like above, this is the original Little Things. From the TVTU website: Fly tying starts at 6:00 p.m. and the meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. Meetings are open to the public and there is no charge so come and join us. For directions and stuff, visit thamesvalleytu.org.

“Wet Flies 101,” at the Fly Fishing Show, Marlborough, MA, Friday, January 20, 1pm, Catch Room. We’re in the big room for this one, so come out and support your friendly local fly fishing writer guy! I may be tying after the presentation. I’ll let you know if that’s so. For more information, visit the Fly Fishing Show website.

“Wet Flies 101,” at the Fly Fishing Show, Marlborough, MA, Saturday, January 21, 10am, Destination Theater, Room A. Smaller room, same energy and information. Ditto maybe tying after the presentation. For more information, visit the Fly Fishing Show website.

Tying at the CFFA Fly Fishing Expo & Banquet, Saturday, February 4, Maneely’s, South Windsor, CT. Come see why the Expo is the best little fly fishing show going. I’ll be there from the morning thru early afternoon. For more information, click here.

“The West Branch of the Farmington River,” Wednesday, February 8, at East Jersey TU, Rochelle Park, NJ. Have Farmington River enthusiasm, will travel. For more information, visit the EJTU website.

“Farmington River Favorites” Tying Demo, Saturday, February 11, 10am-2pm at The Compleat Angler, Darien, CT.  At this demo, I’ll be tying some of my favorite patterns for the Farmington River. There will be a little bit of everything: wets, dries, nymphs, and streamers, from traditional classics to new designs. These are all high-confidence, proven patterns, and I’ll also discuss how and when I like to fish them. For directions and stuff, visit the CA website.

“The Little Things 2.0,” Thursday, March 16, 6:30pm, at Farmington Valley TU, New Britain, CT. This is the followup to the original Little Things, and it’s currently one of my most popular presentations. For more information, visit the fvtu website.

Whew! That should keep me busy. I’m still trying to finalize some tying classes/demos as scheduling permits. Thanks for your support, and as always, if you come out to see me, please be sure to say hi.

Moving up to the big room in Marlborough, Friday, January 20, at 1pm.

Wet Flies 101

The Partridge Family

Surely any aficionado of the soft-hackled fly knows the value of the partridge. Although James Leisenring committed the act of understatement when he said, “The English or Hungarian partridge provides the flytier with some valuable gray and brown speckled feathers.” Some? There are enough glorious feathers on a full partridge skin to keep you in soft hackles for decades. I know, because I just bought my second skin. I still have the first one, purchased a decade ago, and it still has many seasons of flies left in it.

Forget the packaged bags of partridge feathers. Then listen to Dave Hughes, who said, “I cannot urge you strongly enough to purchase an entire skin, wings and all.” This one came from UpCountry Sportfishing. I like to buy hackle in person so I can eyeball the skin. And of course, it’s a good idea to support your local fly shop.

partridgeskin1

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I use feathers from all over the skin — for saltwater flies, too — but the hackles I value most are the silver-grey and brownish feathers that line the neck, shoulders, and back. These are the feathers that are used in the North-Country spiders and dozens of other traditional patterns. The closer you go to the neck of the bird, the smaller the feathers. Look for a skin that is densely packed with these smaller feathers.

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A hook, a partridge feather, and some thread. Simple, buggy spiders like these have been fooling fish for centuries.

Partridge and Light Cahills