Farmington River 7/19/16: Persistence pays off

I first met Mike when I presented to his TU chapter a couple years ago. He expressed an interest then in learning the black arts of the wet fly, and today we finally got around to making it happen. Conditions were far nicer than yesterday, with lower temperatures, lower humidity, and a good breeze out of the north. However, the fishing was still slow, and we again had to work hard for every fish. Hatch activity was virtually nonexistent, and we saw precious few risers. Mike did a great job persevering and never lost faith in the method, even when it wasn’t producing. Well done, Mike! One of my favorite parts of today’s outing was taking Mike to some deep, dark, mysterious holes that I believe are rarely fished. It is truly rewarding to hook a trout on a wet fly in spots like that.

Mike’s first trout on a wet fly came about two hours into our session. Almost every fish we connected with today came in the transition zone between the main current and the softer edges by the riverbank.

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Portrait of a soon-to-be-dangerous wet fly machine hard at work.

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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: 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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A record-setting wet fly class

Many thanks to the six soon-to-be-dangerous-wet-fly-machines who took yesterday’s Wet Flies and Fuzzy Nymphs for the Farmington River tying class — and thanks to UpCountry Sportfishing for hosting.

Leading a tying class is fun because your pupils are usually eager and engaged. Leading a wet fly tying class even more so because if the fly comes out a little messed up — and the first attempt at a pattern often does — the trout are probably still going to love it.

We covered eight patterns and a bunch of new techniques yesterday. The eight flies is the most I’ve ever covered in a four-hour class. The credit goes to the tiers, who did a tremendous job at their vises. Well done, all!

The aftermath of the tying storm.

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The Marlborough Man

I hadn’t been to the Fly Fishing Show in years. It wasn’t due to indifference — mostly it was scheduling, and that I had made up my mind that my next visit would be in a professional capacity. This year the stars aligned (thanks for squeezing me in, Ben) and I did two days as a Destination Theater presenter in Marlborough, MA. (Cue up the “Theme from The Magnificent Seven”.)

My first gig was Friday at 2pm, and I got there early enough to be able to take a quick walk around the show floor, say hi to some old friends, and make some introductions to new ones. I also wanted to support my fellow local presenters, so I caught most of Rich Strolis’ Tying Flies for the Toughest Fish, and Strategies for Fishing Them. Rich likes to fish a basic emerger template for rising trout; he simply varies the size and color of the pattern to match the hatch. As a wet fly (and snowshoe rabbit fur) aficionado, I liked that.

Having no idea what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised by the crowd that gathered to see and hear Wet Flies 101. I counted close to forty people. If you were in attendance, thanks so much for coming out, and especially for laughing at all my jokes.

On the A Team. Good room, and an even better audience.

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Saturday was a little dicey because of the impending doom generated by the approaching storm. However, fortune smiled upon me as the drive up and back were relatively snow-free. As I set up in an empty room at 9:45am, I realized that I might be presenting to just a few hardy souls. Not a chance. What started as a flurry turned into a measurable accumulation by showtime, and I want to thank everyone again for taking the time to come out. I stuck around to see some of Marla Blair’s The Hatch & Body Language of Trout for Choosing the Right Patterns. Marla’s explanation of how the rise forms translate into the feeding attitude of trout is something I have long embraced (and I think we both love stupid fish).

Can’t say you properly attended a show without buying something, so at 1pm I was walking back to my truck with a gorgeous red flatwing saddle I found buried in the piles at the Keough booth.

See you next year.

Upcoming events:

Still a couple slots open for next Saturday’s (January 30) tying class at UpCountry, “Wet Flies and Fuzzy Nymphs for the Farmington.” Call the store to register at 860-379-1952.

I’ll be on Fly Tyers’ Row at the CFFA Show on Saturday, February 6, Maneely’s Banquet Facility, 65 Rye St., South Windsor, CT. I’ll be there from show open until early afternoon. This is one of the best local shows anywhere. For more information and directions, visit http://www.ctflyfish.org.

 

 

 

 

Farmington River Mini Report 4/30/15: A good day for wets

My best guess is that everyone looked at the five day forecast and decided that yesterday would be ideal for playing hooky. How else to explain the dramatic reduction in angler traffic today? Not that I’m complaining. I bounced around to several spots on the upper TMA, and fished all by myself for two glorious hours.

Conditions: Cooler than yesterday, mix of sun and clouds, chilly breeze (dammit, I left my fleece vest in the truck). Water 425cfs, 48 degrees, crystal clear. Not nearly as many caddis as yesterday, and that resulted in no takes on the Squirrel and Ginger. Size 12 SHBHPT was the runaway favorite fly. Plenty of midges, and some size 16-18 BWOs. No H bugs. Saw only one rise (as opposed to dozens yesterday).

Yes, dear, you have something on your lip. Hold still and I’ll take it out.

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How I fished: three fly team of wets, two size 12 S&Gs and the pictured BHSHPT. The bead was copper tungsten. Mostly casting down and across, but I did some upstream and  short-line deep presentations. I caught them on the swing, the mended swing, the dangle, and the short-line deep. A fair mix of standard-issue and Survivor Strain stockees. I stopped counting after a dozen. I say this not to brag (if you were there you would have likewise caught a multitude) but rather to illustrate how good the fishing was on the wet. If Woody Allen fished, he might have said, “80% of success is just showing up…with wet flies..after they’ve stocked the upper TMA.”

“Tell me, Two Caddis Humping, why do you ask?”

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Lessons re-learned: If there’s a sudden pause in what has been fairly constant action, check your three-fly rig for tangles. Yep, that’s not helping. Make sure the line lays out flat on the cast. The wind will screw you every chance it gets. If you’re fishing wets, let the new standard-issue stockees take the fly before you set the hook. If you try to set on the bump/tap, you’ll miss the fish. Let them hook themselves. The Survivor Strain and holdover/wild fish will simply clobber the fly. Bless them. Expect a good fight. Some of the new SS fish are shaped like a rugby ball.

The obesity crisis in Survivor Strain browns. For newly stocked fish, they sure can swim. This one had to be coerced into the net.

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