Farmington River Report: Low, slow, hot, cold, small.

And there it is, in a nutshell.

Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of low water. But that’s what we have, and it’s up to Ma Nature to remedy that. (It may get worse before it gets better. More on that later.)

So. I’ve been out four times this week, evenings into dark. Here’s what I can tell you. The evening rise has been active and at times productive, but where I’ve been it’s been a small, smaller, smallest game. For example, last night I went through a couple flies sizes 18-20 before I gave in and tied on a tiny (22? 24?) rusty spinner. First cast, fish on. Managing dry fly drifts has been critical — that is, find a fish in a lane, and feed him that fly dead-balls-on-target with a dragless drift. My trusty Catskills Light Cahills have also been working as darkness falls — starting around 8:30pm. Size 16 is the smallest I can go and still have an eyeball on the fly. For all you micro-tippet fans, I’ve been fishing with 6x. (A plea here to use the heaviest tippet possible under these potentially stressful conditions. Get those fish in fast!) In fact, I broke off a pig of a brown last night on my 6x. Better that than a stressed fish.

The bite last night shut down at 9pm, even though the water surface was littered with spinners for the next hour.

Finally, to the conditions. Don’t be misled by last night’s rain — it didn’t even make a dent in the flows or the deficit. The closer you are to the dam, the cooler the water (I got just under 60 degrees last night near Riverton) . I wouldn’t fish below the permanent TMA. You may want to consider not fishing during the day — or not fishing at all. This is a tough time for the trout, so get your hooked fish in FAST. And it may get worse, says Neal Hagstrom of the DEEP: “Hang on, the flows are going to drop again shortly. We will be looking at 50-60cfs soon if there is no significant rain. Thankfully there is still some cold water behind the dam.”

Chillin’ on the bottom. I almost stepped on this big brown on my way out of the pool. It’s either stressed or on Xanax to let me get this close. Check out that old bird wound.

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As I walked out of the pool at dark, I threw a size 6 olive Zoo Cougar, letting it swing and then giving it some micro strips. A fat wild hen in the mid-teens found that presentation to her liking. When taking photos during this stressful time, please consider keeping your catch in the water as much as possible.

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Farmington River Report 7/12/15: Nice. I think.

M*A*S*H’s Frank Burns once said, “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.” He’s right. I met some nice people on and off the river last night. Some of them shared water, conversation and positive energy. Some of the fish, though, weren’t particularly nice to me. Nor were my leader and tippet, which insisted on repeatedly wrapping around my rod. Oh. My casting also sucked (I’d rate it somewhere between incompetent and atrocious). A fatalist might offer that the nicest thing about last night was that it proved that every day is different. But to quote George Formby, it turned out nice again.

I fished dries (or wets as dries) from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. The hatches were about a five on the Bug-o-Meter scale: small olives, summer stenos, sulphurs, creamy midges. No caddis that I could see. Sadly, all the consistent risers were either above me or below me for the first 90 minutes. I raised fish on a size 22 BWO parachute, size 20 Magic Fly, and a size 18 Usual. But no hook sets. Surprisingly, I saw some refusals to the Magic Fly. I think a sparse tie on a size 22 hook is in order. I’ll let you know how that plays out.

Jeff, who was kind enough to share the water, was fishing above me and took two trout in the first 90 minutes. By 8:00pm the trout got a little more hungry, and fed until dark.  I switched over to classic Catskills Light Cahils, size 18-12 (I increase the size as dusk deepens) and started hooking trout.

First customer of the evening, a small vessel of a wild brown. Caught him in a — you guessed it — current seam.

And so we ended game one of the twi-night doubleheader. I re-rigged for streamers and tried to warm up (wow, the water is cold for this time of year!) before heading back into the foggy void. Two anglers in the lot said they had done well in the last hour on sulphur spinners. When I got back into the water all signs of feeding (from what I could see) had ended.

I started with a Sex Dungeon (behave, now) which is a dumbbell-eyed, deer-hair headed articulated monstrosity (I use the M-word in a most positive manner). I blanked on it in Run A and Deep Pool B. For Run C, I started with something a little more casting friendly, a horrible black marabou leech mutation of my own doing. No. When I got to some flatter water, I tied on a Zoo Cougar, another one of Kelly Galloup’s patterns (the Sex Dungeon is his). The Zoo Cougar is meant to be fished on a sinking line, but I liked the idea of something quasi-mousy-sculpiny. And what’s there not to like about a commotion near the surface in the near absence of light? Precious little. In a thirty yard stretch of water, I connected with three trout. All of them first whacked the prey to stun it. Two came back for the coup de grace. One, I had a lousy hook set, and since it didn’t feel particularly big, I wasn’t upset when we parted ways. The other was a rather nice way to end the night.

Not super big at sixteen inches, but this wild brown buck (note full fins and intact adipose) gave me a worthy battle as the clock neared the witching hour.

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