Water flow: 320
Water temp: n/a
Water conditions: good
Hatches: Winter/Summer Caddis 20-24, are out in good numbers in the early to mid morning. Blue Wing Olives 22-24 mid-morning and again in the afternoon. Tan Caddis 16-18 sporadic throughout the day.
Comments: The Winter/Summer Caddis have been on the water in the early mornings bringing lots of fish to the surface to feed on them. I love this hatch and enjoy fishing it with just a couple of simple foam and CDC pupae imitations. If you don’t fish this hatch…you should! It’s longevity and potency are matched by no other hatch on the river. Most trout will be feeding on this hatch all winter long. Presentation can be tricky but if you take a moment to observe the naturals and how they act and skitter across the surface on their way to the rocks along the riverbank to finish their transformation into adult Caddis. The skittering is the important part for the angler you must make your presentation act like the natural. By observing the pupae themselves you can make a better judgment on whether to use an upstream or downstream approach. I often try both until I find which one is best suited for a particular hole or stretch of water. Don’t forget you can fish the Winter/Summer Caddis Larvae as well! Nymphing with these tiny larvae may intimidate some but these small nymphs fished in an 18 or 20 can really get it done.
BWOlives have been coming off fairly well at the larger pools on the Farmington. Other smaller areas that I like to fish on the Farmy have seen spotty hatches of the Blue winged olives. Parachute patterns with just a thread body work well on these. I have been catching most fish on 24 BWO wet fly dropper that I have tied off the bend of my parachute dry fly. Fish tend to refuse the parachute and sip the wet fly trailing a short distance behind. On these windy fall days it can be hard to tell if trout are taking these tiny insects, many times they are taking them under the film, and masked by the ripples created on the water. Look closely and observe the shoreline for BWO’s that have been blown into the grass and vegetation along the waters edge. If these little green troopers are a no-show, or I don’t notice the trout taking them in the film, I normally switch to fishing nymphs rather quickly trying some small BWO nymphs instead.
The fall is a great time of the year to hit these hatches which can be spectacular but remember to have a plan “B” and be prepared to fish streamers or nymphs when they are not producing. Good luck and we hope to catch you out there on the water!
The summer doldrums have officially set in and the numbers of fisherman have dwindled; leaving the banks littered with fewer fisherman and plenty of exposed boulders and log jams. The fish are weary and easily spooked as the low water levels and higher water temperatures force trout to be less active in the heat of the day. We’ve all been there and few have mastered the art of long leader, small diameter tippet, dry fly fishing. Hooking these educated fish in low water can try the patience of even the most experienced of fly fishermen. For the last month I have been trying some alternative summer tactics. Though the tackle may be a great deal heavier and somewhat unconventional the results have been undeniable.
Twilight and nightime hours when the water is at its coolest temperatures of the day and many natural predators have gone to roost provides predatory fish with the perfect set of circumstances to take advantage of large food items ie, mice, frogs, or injured baitfish that are finding their way onto the river at night. Larger fish actually seek these things out; cruising shallow tail outs, pocket water and even riffles with water barely covering their back.
With these thoughts in mind I was off, on a mission. I started experimenting with a few old bass patterns mixed with some newer, quicker, and easier tying materials. Like a true mad scientist I twisted and turned, cut and glued until Whalaaaaa! I called upon a few of my choice specimens to accompany me on my midnight spooks.
Warning! If all the teenage horror movies that you watched as a teenager didn’t provoke absolute fear of the darkness and what’s in it, fishing in complete darkness just may. How about a few bats zinging dangerously close to your head or a beaver/muskrat/racoon approaching you in darkness and erupting a few feet away when startled by you! Wow, I hate that. Explosive strikes from trout at a close proximity can be teeth chattering. These circumstances are just unsuitable, and undesirable to most; however once tamed the anxiety transforms to the quiet focus of your primal senses. The fear of not being able to see slowly diminishes and once relaxed you are amazed at how much you can actually see! The unknown becomes know and those fishermen who master this beast can be in for some exhilarating and rewarding experiences involving trout of monstrous proportions.
The easiest way to tame the beast, so to speak, is to just call a fishing buddy or two and have them join in on the fun. Teaming up is definitely the most productive and safest way to enjoy this method of fishing. Two or more fishermen can cover water swiftly and provide comfort, sanity and safety to your expedition.
Many other precautions should be taken as well. The first and most vital piece of equipment would be a couple of good, reliable lights. I say couple because if one fails you may be left trudging around in complete darkness. Nothing would be more horrifying than trying to hike back to your vehicle through briars, and dense underbrush with a flyrod in your hand. On the other hand breaking a fly off early on in your trip without any light to re tie could bring an early end to your evening. Carrying two good reliable lights with batteries that you maintain regularly is a must.
Scouting is another indispensable tool. If deep cuts and drop offs exist you want to know ahead of time. Big rocks and other tangles such as logs, brush and other debris make scouting the area you want to fish absolutely necessary.
Carrying a cell phone on these trips or any trips for that matter is a must for me (makes my spouse happy too). Being able to dial 911 in case of an emergency can obviously save your life, The built in GPS tracking signal can aide local law enforcement in the event that you somehow become lost or injured. When it comes to safety don’t take any chances, cover all angles, and always double check!
Put a variety of patterns in your box that both sink and float which will provide lots of options on the water. Good floating patterns should include cork poppers to mimic frogs and wounded baitfish. Mice are a must on the list of most effective; floating flies as well. These floating patterns should be tied with durable materials, large trout have no remorse and will quickly eradicate inferior patterns. Even the sturdiest of patterns will require maintenance. Like a patchwork quilt many of my patterns left tailless from ferocious strikes have new tails scabbed to the hook shank. Though most materials are hardly a match for the large knifelike teeth of predatory trout, the destruction can be kept to a minimum by reinforcing your patterns with some good heavy thread and strong cement. For sinking flies you will want go to large streamers that replicate the baitfish that are present in the water you fish. The term baitfish is used loosely here as many of these large night feeding fish are certainly cannibalistic making all smaller fish suitable prey.
Terminal gear for this kind of fishing is greatly changed to facilitate the casting of these rather big flies. With this in mind 5-7 weight rods are ideal and will greatly aid in casting. A good stout 6-7 ft leader is also in order. I like to use a butt section of 50lb test to help me turn these monster flies over on the water. I taper this butt section down using 30lb and then 20lb mono to facilitate the 1x tippet. This may sound brash I know, but believe me the fish are preoccupied with what’s on the end of your leader and don’t seem to mind or care about your leader at all. I find heavier leaders necessary to minimize break offs and allow the angler to quickly subdue large fish. Minimizing stress and exhaustion levels the fish endure before release is crucial when low water and higher water temperatures already have trout stressed. For best results rotate your locations to ensure your on fresh fish and not one’s you’ve spooked or put down.
Nightime flyfishing can be a rewarding experience if the approach is thoughtful and organized. It would be irresponsible for me to suggest this method without outlining safety concerns, proper gear and talking about the health and welfare of the fish caught in the light of the moon. Thanks for appearances by my friends Brian, Mike and Steve I would have been very limited in water without them. Good luck and tight lines to all!
Water Condition: low-water
Access Point: upper TMA
Hatches (in order of importance): winter/summer caddis 20-22 a.m., Needhami duns 22-24 midmorning, Isonychia 10-14 p.m., midges 22-20 a.m.
Comments: The winter summer caddis hatch continues to be a spectacle during the a.m. hours. Many fish line up on soft water seams rising to take these tiny Pupae as they row along in the meniscus to the shoreline to finish their emergence on the rocks and logs near the edge of the river. I had one of my best days on the river this past weekend when this hatch came on at 6a.m. and started winding down at 11a.m., we caught trout on everything from foam pupae patterns to french nymphing small winter/summer caddis larvae patterns.
Needhami Duns are rolling off the water midmorning, their small spinners can drive fisherman nuts. Their small sizes make them very difficult to see on the water. The Duns however can be recognized flying in the air by their long sweeping tails.
Isonychia have been filling the skies in the evening hours. Trout like these tasty morsels and will move greater distances from their feeding lanes to swipe at this super sized evening hatcher. When these insects start coming off the water in good numbers I prefer to fish a CDC Iso emerger pattern then as darkness sets in I switch off to a larger Iso parachute pattern, which doubles as a big spinner pattern and I fish this into the darkness.
If you are fishing mid day I would suggest using terrestrials such as small ants, beetles, crickets, and hoppers. For all those fishing nymphs you can’t be beat fishing green caddis larvae 14-18 and Isonychia nymphs 10-14, with golden stone flies 6-12 rounding out the mix. Fishing on the Farmington River has gotten tougher forcing fishermen to take their tippet down to 7 or 8X when fishing smaller hatches such as winter summer caddis pupae and Needhami Spinners. Good luck on the river. Remember, if you’re fishing into the afternoon hours, bring plenty of water it has been scorching out there on the river after 10a.m.
Action! At Last Light. Stack the deck in your Favor!
Have you ever truly realized the potential of flyfishing in low light conditions? Large trout have a tendency to feed more actively in dim conditions. The cover of darkness is a great way for trout to avoid predators and take advantage of food sources that becomes available under these conditions. These food sources can be comprised of various mayfly spinners in a whole array of sizes. Some spinners can come in very small sizes and can be hard to spot lying flat on the water so keep your eyes peeled and look at the water closely if you are not sure of their presence. Some mayflies hatch right into darkness and patterns that imitate them are excellent pattern choices. Take Isonychia for example, the duns can continue to emerge right into total darkness and throughout the night. I love to fish these bad boys in size 10-12 after dusk while listening to the fish come up and sip well into nightfall. Sipping trout actually make a slurping sound when feeding. Listening is a very effective way of detecting strikes in this night game.
Low light conditions also eliminate many obstacles between fishermen and the feeding trout. First it allows you to use much larger tippet sizes because of the low visibility. The increased breaking strength of a heavier tippet is always handy when trying to land larger trout. Next, fish aren’t as easily spooked by your flyline and leader landing near them. As they feed on naturals and the light decreases, they are comforted by a darkened sky and the natural presence of fewer fishermen. Many have already left the water when the action starts ramping up. Fish typically develop a rhythm of picking off insects as they float in the drift. At times the feeding frenzy can be furious leaving them vulnerable to a well placed fly.
This low light condition is not specific to nighttime, it also applies to early morning when the sun hasn’t fully risen. Fish can feed heavily on spinners in the early morning hours, creating a wonderful opportunity to get on some heavy fish. Many trout cruise pocket water and back eddies during early morning hours slurping up spinners and any insects left from the night before. There’s nothing like leftovers! Some types of Caddis become active in the morning causing trout to opportunistically feed on Caddis larvae and pupae during the wee hours of the morning. These make excellent fly choices.
Often large trout cannot be seen sipping insects from long distances as the light recedes or reappears, causing many fly fisherman to overlook a subtle take from a large trout or simply not see them feeding at all. Don’t let this happen to you. When darkness moves in or the sun is far from rising over the mountains, move quietly and slowly to feeding trout. The goal being to perfectly present your fly at shorter distances with laser like precision; Meanwhile staying ever keen using your other senses to detect the presence of nearby gently sipping trout. The next time your on the water and the sun is on its way up or down put this logic to good use and take away the trouts instinctive advantages over you. With a little luck you will put a few more trout in your net. Good luck!