Farmington River Report 7/25/17: The method and the madness

Let the binge fishing begin!

I started fishing at 6:30 last night in a run I usually reserve for mornings and afternoons. The hatch activity was immense: sulphurs, small BWOs, caddis, Isos — and the cedar waxwings and swallows were going to town on the duns and spinners. I’ve never seen so many birds over the river. It was like being an observer in WWII dogfight. I lost count of the number of birds that flew so close I could hear their wings.

The method was wet flies. Given the amount of bug activity, I was expecting to catch 20 trout in this 300 yard stretch. The final number was a bit more modest, but I found plenty of fish willing to jump on. One of them was a camera-shy, low teens rainbow that had been in the river a while: dense spotting, intact fins, wide pink lateral band. I found players on all three flies (Squirrel & Ginger, Pale Watery wingless, hackled March Brown).

Dry was the next method, practiced from 8pm to dark. I rose a half dozen fish on tiny rusty spinners and Magic Flies, but my hook points found no purchase. Back to the truck for the streamer kit, and I walked out of the pool drifting/swinging a mouse, then a conehead Woolly Bugger. A few bumps, but no takers.

I was disappointed with the dry and streamer action. This may have had something to do with the fact that we had October temperatures; hopefully things will pick up as we get into a warming trend. At least we have water! Speaking of which, 340cfs and 54 degrees.

Swinging a team of wets in pocket water during a hatch is like this handsome brown: butter. He chose the Magic Fly, fished subsurface.

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Celebrating summer

July is a darn good month to be an angler in these parts. I just returned from a week on Block Island, and while the fishing wasn’t great (spotty action and smaller fish) I did get into bass every night. Detailed report and pics to come.

I’m really looking forward to getting back to the Farmington, in particular to swinging some wets. The spring’s cool temps and voluminous water supply should make for some terrific wet fly outings over the next several weeks. Speaking of wet flies, there’s one more opening in Sunday’s UpCountry Wet Flies 101 class. Jump on it and become the envy of all your trout angling friends. You can’t sign up with me; you have to do it through the store here.

Speaking of jumping on things, if you’re planning on booking a lesson/outing/trip with me, best to inquire now. My days are filling up (two gigs next week) and I am going to jealously guard my personal fishing time. You know where to find me.

Client John with a fine example of what is possible on the Farmington River at noon on a sunny day in July.

Jon21%22er

Wet Fly 101 class, articles, and guiding trips

Busy as usual, but I think there’s some fishing light at the end of the tunnel! Sulphurs, grass shrimp, Block Island sand eels, evening spinner falls, walking some snotty water swinging wets….these are all on my mind right now. And tying. I don’t know about you, but my fly boxes need some serious attention. But first…

Sunday, July 9, 9am-2pm, Wet Flies 101 class through Upcountry Sportfishing. This is both a stream side and an on-the-water class. It’s intended as a basic intro to wet fly fishing. Given our early season water levels, I think this will be a dynamite summer for wets on the Farmington. If you want to catch more fish, the art of the wet fly is a skill set you should have. Please note: you cannot sign up for this class here. You have to do it through UpCountry. For more information, click this link.

Taken on a soft-hackled March Brown on a hot August afternoon. The lengthwise opening of the net is 17″. As your GPS would say, “recalculating…”

20" brown on a soft-hackle

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I recently saw the galley proof for my summer smallmouth article. It’s titled, “Hot Bronze,” and you can read it in the August 2017 issue of Field & StreamMultiple articles coming up in American Angler, too. And if you’re in charge of booking speakers for your club, some new presentations as well.

Finally, if you’re planning on doing a guide trip with me, its a good idea to get out the calendar and pick some date options. Summer is as time-space continuum-challenging for me as the school year, with multiple sports camps/tournaments for the boys and me mostly doing pickup/dropoff. For more information on my philosophy, rates, and contact info, click here.

And as always, thanks for reading currentseams.

 

 

Tying video: Snipe and Purple North Country Spider

The Snipe and Purple (sometimes called the Dark Snipe) is a classic North Country spider. North Country spiders aren’t particularly hard to tie, but there are some techniques you can use to help create the classic umbrella shape of the hackle fibers and keep the body neat and trim. This Snipe and Purple is often referred to as a good match for the Iron Blue Dun. The Iron Blue is frequently mentioned in older texts, from numerous Yorkshire anglers to Pennsylvania’s  James Leisenring,  but you hardly ever hear about it today. I like the Snipe and Purple for small, dark stoneflies and especially midges. I also tie this fly on a 1x short, 2x stout hook, add a gold rib, and fish it for steelhead.

Thanks TVTU and on to Marlborough

The threat of freezing rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the members of the Thames Valley Chapter of TU. We had a great crowd for “The Little Things,” and some intriguing post-presentation discussions. This is a group that is passionate about fly fishing. A thousand apologies for forgetting your name, but I’ll balance that with a thousand thank yous to the gentleman who gave me the Nat Sherman Metropolitan Selection Explorer. I’ll be enjoying that on a future Farmington River outing.

On to Marlborough! Hard to believe that The Fly Fishing Show is already here.

“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! 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. I may be tying after the presentation and will let you know if that’s the case. For more information, visit the Fly Fishing Show website.

Wet Flies 101

New event added: “Farmington River Favorites” Tying Demo at The Compleat Angler, 2/11/17.

My friends at The Compleat Angler in Darien, CT, have invited me back for their winter tying series. (I must be doing something right. Or at least not sucking at it.) I added the information to the appearances post I made the other day. You can read all about it here.

Tying up a storm at a previous Compleat Angler event.

Tying Black Crawler

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