Boy, what an odd day yesterday was. Jon and I went to the Farmington hoping to find few fisherman and tubers and hungry fish due to the day's bad forecast. Indeed, I thought the conditions looked exceptional. It was cloudy for much of the morning, then in the afternoon storms rolled in and rain and started knocking terrestrials into the water. But let's start from the beginning.
I've been told many times to stay away from the stretch bellow Collinsville during July and August. That's just dumb. Sure, it gets warmer than the majority of the West Branch, but it still never gets much above the mid 60's. It's bigger warmer water with higher insect and bait fish biomass, and as such it has big fish. So we spent a little while down there in the morning and unfortunately had a hard time getting fish that were sporadically munching on moths. I did get two solid takes on a little all black Bunny Clouser, but no hook ups. I was tempted to stay, but I also wasn't really feelin' it. So we went up further. What we found was not exactly what I had hoped for... big fish munching on tiny mayflies. The annoying part is that fish in faster water were chasing streamers. I hooked and lost one GIANT rainbow in a typically productive slick. I was getting fish in one stretch to hit an olive and orange bugger, and in another stretch got a few short strikes from big browns on a bigger rabbit strip streamer, but it was just too easy to get sucked into trying to get those giants that were doing gorgeous head and tail rises in the slow water. They were not going to be easy to catch by any means, and it didn't help that I was just not willing to bother with the smaller ones when the 18-24 inchers were right in the same areas. It was a futile venture. 6x and size 20 klinkhamers and emergers wouldn't even warrant a half-assed rise.
This gorgeous wild brookie was one of a few fish in that particular riffle that was willing to chase the orange and olive wooly bugger.
We spent some time hunting around in different sections of river before deciding to go back to the first long stretch where I lost the big bow. A storm was right on our heals. I tied on an Ausable Ugly and nailed a gorgeous jumping wild brown right as the storm crept up on us. I was pretty thrilled with that, two fish to hand already and neither was of the tank scrubbing variety.
After I released that gorgeous animal, the thunder began to roll. I quickly got down to where Jon was and we chatted for a moment before noticing something startling. The pool bellow us was boiling. Not with rising fish, but billions of giant raindrops. It was hardly sprinkling where we were standing, but down there... it was just a waterfall. We didn't make it to the car in time. We were both drenched.
It didn't last long. When we got back in the river I had a hard time focusing on the fishing. What was going on with the fog and the play of light and shadowfrom the setting sun was just amazing. At one point, we had what looked like halos around our shadows. It was really incredible.
I was hoping Jon would hook up in that last hour or so, and he struck gold. He had tied on a little olive bugger and it was taken by a small trout. That wouldn't have been very interesting had it not been a wild rainbow! There are very few of these in the Farmington, in fact they are probably the least common fish you'd run across aside from a wild tiger or brown/salmon hybrid. What made it even cooler is that it completed a wild trout slam! We had caught three different trout species, and none were stocked. Very cool. Quite an end to an interesting day.