Farmington River Report 6/26/18: Subsurface Success

Chris wanted to work on his subsurface game, so we spent the morning nymphing and swinging wets. Success! We fished three spots below the permanent TMA and found players in two of them.

We started off indicator nymphing (using my homebrew indicators) with a drop shot rig, and I continued my catching-a-fish-while-doing-a-demo streak. (If you want to look cool, pretend you meant to do it.) Chris took over and made a bunch of quality drifts with no love. All of a sudden, it happened. An unseen hatch was underway, the trout were feeding, and we hooked a bunch if fish in 15 minutes.

Wets were next. Run A was a blank, and Run B did not produce in the areas it usually does. No worries — Chris kept a positive attitude (confidence catches fish), and it rapid succession he stuck a bunch of trout tight to the bank. Great job, Chris! The trout should be worried.

We won the weather lottery: Bluebird skies, warm sun, cool air. Of course, a tight line makes any day sunnier.

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We spotted a distressed rainbow in the shallows. It had been hooked, lost, and had the terminal tackle and a short length of mono still attached. Unfortunately, we failed in out attempts to net it.

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Chris kept pounding the banks in a shade line, mended swing presentation, and was rewarded with several slashing strikes. This gorgeous wild brown took the top dropper on his team of three wets, a Squirrel and Ginger.

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After our session, I spent two very entertaining hours swinging wets. I fished a Squirrel & Ginger (caddis) on top, a Drowned Ant middle dropper, and a Light Cahill on point. I saw all three insects out and about, as well as tiny BWOs, midges, inch worms, and sedges. Among the players today were three wild brookies. Funny thing! They all took the Drowned Ant. I don’t think it was a coincidence. This stunner is clearly from the Farmington River hatchery.

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Another hat trick today, thankfully without a broken rod. This low-teens wild brown was feeding just along a shade line in about a foot of water. First cast, bang! Squirrel and Ginger. Catch-and-release works in the wild, too — note the long-ago healed bird wound just above the gill plate. I bounced around to three spots, found hungry fish in all of them, and lost track of both time and fish landed.

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Farmington River Report 7/9/17: Swell fishing. Catching? Ummmm….

My Wet Flies 101 class won the weather lottery yesterday. Sadly, the price of the ticket was one of the worst bites I’ve seen all season on the Farmy. (I’m going with the cold front coming through the night before theory.) There was enough hatch activity (Isos and caddis) to keep our hopes up, and a few splashy risers here and there, but folks, it was tough sledding. The guys did a most excellent job of staying positive and refining their newly learned craft. Keep at it, gents, and you’ll have enough days that will make you chuckle when you think of yesterday. (Really.)

As an instructor, I find sessions where everyone blanks as frustrating as the students. So I fished the lower river on the way home. The run I targeted was located in a section that got annihilated by last summer’s drought. Yet, I took two beautiful wild browns in 30 minutes. The water was swift and snotty (not well-suited for a class) so maybe that was the difference.

Nature finds a way. This is the first fish. He clobbered the Squirrel and Ginger on the dead drift in a deep pocket. Love the way the wild ones hit and battle, and you just don’t get coloration like this at the factory.

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Farmington River Report 6/14/17: Confidence catches fish, Sulphur City

I guided Keith on Thursday and his goal was to leave the river with more confidence than when he arrived. I think we accomplished that. Where to fish, how to fish, which flies to use — keeping it simple is usually a good place to start. So we headed of to a spot below the permanent TMA for some nymphing basics. Spring mornings are almost always a good time to nymph. We did both short line and indicator, and on this day indicator was the more successful method. We took fish on both the dropper (size 18 2x short Starling and Herl) and the point fly (BH Squirrel and Ginger).

Next up: Wet Flies 101. I was disappointed with this second location, downriver from the first. Our drifts were good and we covered some fishy water, but you can’t catch what doesn’t want to eat — or what isn’t there — so we headed off to trout central, AKA the permanent TMA.

Good call. As we worked our way downstream into some slower water, we saw active feeders. Even though the water was better suited for dries, properly presented soft hackles can be deadly during a hatch. Caddis was the bug, and we had two caddis patterns on our team of three (S&G top dropper and Winter Brown on point) with a dark fly (Drowned Ant) in the middle.  It wasn’t long before Keith’s line came tight to beautiful brown.

Keith shows us how it’s done, much to the delight of his instructor.

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We took fish on all three flies, but only one on the dark middle fly. We got nearly into double-digit numbers, a mix of stocked browns, rainbows, a Survivor Strain brown and a few wild ones. I was intrigued by the parr marks on this rainbow. He wasn’t all that delicate, though, putting on an impressive aerial display during the fight.

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Finally, I fished from 5pm-7:15pm way downstream in an area that got torched by last summer’s drought. I wanted to see what the Sulphur hatch was like, and, more important, was anything taking advantage of it? Good news, bad news: tremendous sulphur hatch (I’d give it an 8 out of 10) with swarms of yellow bugs everywhere. Bad news: like my experience in April in the same area with Hendrickson, precious little surface activity. Sure, there were a few trout that were feeding, but the rises were infrequent and seemingly random. I rose three trout but failed to get a hookset. Also witnessed were caddis, tiny BWOs, and a few Isonychia. I think we’ll have to wait another year or two for the trout to re-establish.

Hello, old friend. Always happy to see your face.

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Farmington River 7/18/16: Hot and not

Today was the kind of day where we had to work hard for every trout. I guided Josh and his dad, and they both did a great job persevering under some truly difficult conditions. We started off with an indicator nymphing session, and though we gave it an A+ effort, the results simply weren’t there. Not so with wets, which is where we saw all our action. Wouldn’t you know it? Right when things started to pick up, the weather rolled in, so we had to call the outing. We’ll get ’em next time, guys!

Got him! Josh’s first fish, a Survivor Strain brown taken on a Squirrel and Ginger.

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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 5/4/16: Another double-digit day

The river continues to be kind to those who are inclined to swing wet flies. I had Paul out for a full day yesterday to learn the ancient and traditional subsurface method. We fished three spots and found fish willing to jump on in all of them. They took the top dropper (old reliable Squirrel and Ginger), the middle dropper (Dark Hendrickson, even though we saw no such hatch), and the point fly (BHSHPT…what else?).

How gratifying to see so much action in some truly tough conditions: river up a hundred cfs or so (350cfs in the permanent TMA), slightly stained, cold at 47 degrees. The weather was downright chilly, overcast, and it rained or misted or drizzled on us for much of the day. Very little in the way of observed hatch activity: a few stray BWOs (16-18) and some micro midges. We did see swallows feasting on some unIDed flies a hundred feet overhead in the morning. Late afternoon found a mystery hatch below the permanent TMA that had a dozen trout slashing heartily at the flies.

Well done, Paul! You’re on your way.

It’s tricky trying to figure out the hook set of a tight-line presentation, especially when you’re fairly new to the game. Paul did a great job of locating that precious equilibrium — are you still there? — as this chunky brown can confirm.

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Farmington River Report: Let’s swing

Avram wanted to learn the black arts of wet fly fishing, so our session was dedicated to the three fly wet team. Okay, there were some issues with wind and tangles. But — and it’s a good but — there were lots of hookups (at least a dozen). There were fish caught on all three flies (Squirrel and Ginger, Dark Hendrickson, BHSHPT, all Avram’s ties — how cool is that?). And there was the satisfaction of learning something new (and doing well at it). Like Tuesday, the hatches were meh, but we basked in our glorious solitude, and were thankful for all the fish that decided to jump on.

I haven’t hooked a tiger trout in some time. But Avram has.

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He got into some bigger fish too, like this snub-nosed rainbow.

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There he goes again. Avram took them on the mended swing, the dangle, and short-line deep.

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Some lovely spring color against drab earth tones.

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