Farmington River Report 7/21/14: Just the facts

Borrowed from L.A. Confidential (just finished watching it for the Xth time), whose writers borrowed it from Dragnet, so I might as well borrow it for a fishing report.

Where: Upper TMA, 476cfs, 58 degrees

When: 5:45pm-9:00pm

Hatches: Size 16 BWOs (fairly heavy). Size 14 sulphurs (a few). Size 10-12 March Browns (even fewer). Size 16 tan caddis (some). Size 18-20 summer stenos (fairly heavy).

Hello, old friend. I missed you. You’re here on July 21st right when you’re supposed to be. Summer stenos are the hatch I hate to love. I can’t think of another hatch that has caused me so much pain — and joy.

Summer Steno

Who: Ran into Steve Cook, a gentleman who took my wet fly tying course this winter. He did well, hooking trout after trout. We were also in the company of the illustrious Grady Allen, owner of UpCountry Sportfishing. Grady was there with his friend Ron. We shared the water with a half dozen other anglers, but we all had a generous amount of space to operate in, and no shortage of fish to present to.

Flies: Started with a size 16 Magic Fly, then switched to a 20. The 20 worked best. Ended the evening with the size 12 Light Cahill Catskill, until I couldn’t even see that.

Feeding: Weird. For the bulk of the evening I had no consistent risers in front of me. Most of the active fish from late afternoon to early evening were JV salmon. Most of the active fish were behind me, along a shallow bank, until dark, when the deep water switch got thrown. I took two nice browns, one a small wild fish, the other a low teens holdover, just by prospecting along the bank. All the other trout I hooked were actively feeding. The fish were mainly on emergers; I witnessed dozens of rises followed by an escaping mayfly that materialized from the disturbance. At dark it was spinner central, with dozens of backs visible as the trout porpoised.

Best fish: See below.

This is the biggest brown I’ve taken on a dry in a couple years — high teens long, thick, ham-like shoulders and a few pounds on her. She was feeding in about two feet of water ten feet off the bank. I’ve been trying to learn to play larger fish with the bamboo rod, the click-and-pawl reel, 6x tippet and small dries for years — losing plenty of bruisers in the process — and last night was the first time I felt like I wasn’t going to mess it up.

Big Brown on Magic Fly





Farmington River Report: Wet, dry, hot, cold

On Saturday I guided Randy and John from noon to evening. We spent the bulk of our time walking a long stretch of the upper TMA swinging wets. The fishing was great — we barely saw another soul (contrast to Church Pool, populated by a good dozen-and-half anglers when we drove over the bridge). The catching, not so much. Despite the cloud cover and the threat of precipitation, the BWO hatch never really got going. We pricked a few fish, and John lost a pig in a secluded side stem, but other than that it was a lot of casting and wading. That we had such a good time anyway is a testament to my two clients: they fished hard, they fished well, and they realized that some days the bear eats you.

John exploring the nooks and crannies of one of the Farmington’s many side stems.


Randy working the seams, ready for a take that never came.


On to Plan B: catch the evening rise. We found some lovely dry fly water at 5pm that we had all to ourselves. By 7pm it looked like we had been teleported to Church Pool. Where the heck did all those people come from? Our focus was on fishing wets like dries, particularly the Magic Fly. The bugs certainly cooperated: sulphurs (size 14 and 18), March Browns, 16-18 BWOs and some size 16 tan caddis. For two-and-a-half hours, it was JV salmon city. Then the trout came out to play. When our time wound up, John and Randy graciously shared the water with your humble scribe. I was fortunate to connect with four lovely wild browns, cookie cutter in their length (10-12″) and unique in their markings: one had an odd scarcity of spots; another was rainbow-like in the density of his spotting; yet another still had faint traces of parr marks. Exquisite.


Sunday night I ventured to a different spot to check out the summer steno situation. They did their part, but sadly the trout didn’t cooperate. I had fair enough action from about 5:45pm-7pm (size 16 sulphurs hatching). Past 7pm it was total shutdown, even during the magic hour of 8-9pm. The summer stenos were out in force, but the trout weren’t interested. Massive spinner fall at dark with nothing on it. Perhaps when the water warms and drops a bit more (last night 57 degrees and 516 cfs).

An abundance of spent mayflies on the surface Sunday night, but a strange lack of sippers.