Friday, July 29, 2016

Two Awesome Dry Fly Days on the Farmington

Right now the only trout fishing game in town is the West Branch of the Farmington, and even that is forecast to drop to bellow fisheable levels within the next week or so. For now though, it is low but comforable fisheable. I prefer it at about 200-250 cfs and it is way lower than that, so streamer fish was not really a priority though every now and then I tied on a smaller streamer and I managed a couple takes from big browns or bows. I used a hornberg ever now and then but I was fishing it as a dry.

On Wednesday Jon and I went up in the morning and met Alan. He had already been out for some time that morning and had caught some brookies and a hefty brown on caddis patterns and a small fuzzy nymph that imitates the little scuplins we were seeing all over the place. We headed to a sot that we all know and that holds a lot of wild brown and brook trout. It didn't take long before Alan was into a very nice brook trout that put quite the bend in his rod.

There were a lot of fish rising as the morning progressed, and I worked a pod of fish at the end of a currant tongue with 7x and a tiny CDC caddis. It took some work but eventually I hooked into a typical rainbow.

I could see a few fish sipping in an area adjacent to where Alan was, so I quietly waded down there and made a cast. Up came a nice native brookie to take the micro caddis. It had a very stunning marbled pattern and fought powerfully for the size.

I went back to the pod of risers again, as they had gotten back into a feeding mood after the rainbow I hooked put them down. It only took me a moment before I was into a nice wild brown, which would turn out to be the primary catch of the day. Out of twelve fish nine ended up being wild brown trout. That is just awesome. 

At that point it was already noon and Alan had to leave, but he told up where he had luck that morning and it was an area I had not fished yet so Jon and I decided to check it out. When we go down to the river Jon headed off downstream. I spotted a couple of risers in the tail of the pool just above, so I decided to sneak up on those fish. There were a few small brook trout on river left, but hugging the bank on river right was a large brown doing a classic head and tail rise for some small winter caddis. I could see the fish clearly and watched how it reacted to natural insects drifting over. Since the water was ripping through the tailout and getting a dead drift with a normal cast wouldn't be possible I waded down bellow the fish and made a pile cast to its left. It ignore the first drift. I repeated the action and it came up and ate the caddis. I let it turn down and gently set the hook. Luckily the size 22 hook held and I brought to hand a nice holdover example of Salmo trutta. 

I went downstream and had a couple small brook trout screwing around with a BHHE before working over some fish in a shallow flat. I had a few takes but no hookups. Where Jon was though I found a whole pile of wild brown trout rising. I caught two on the CDC caddis.

That ended up being that for that section. My friend Dave Goodson met us at the parking lot and we headed up river to one of my favorite sections. Dave worked over a large rising trout will Jon and I hopped around in the pocket water looking for active fish. Though we saw a few, including some big ones, they weren't really in a feeding mood. The story was the same with a big flat pool that I fished four years ago and did well in. I did manage to get two brief hookups on a big streamer, but they weren't on for long. On the way back down I did get another wild brown on the micro caddis, clearly the fly of the day. 

By this point in the afternoon the water had began to warm up that far down so we decided to go upstream to fish some pocket water closer to the dam where the water rarely gets above 60 degrees. I started out with an olive and orange bugger, and it wasn't long before I hooked up with a solid bow. 

Shortly after I caught that fish, the riffle where it had been erupted with a strong caddis hatch. There were some big fish rising, even in the shallowest fastest part. I targeted those fish because I figured that the would be more likely to hit a hornburg skating on the surface. I got two nice wild browns with that technique.

We moved one last time in a spot where we were hoping to get some big nightime browns. I managed one more wild brown and a salmon parr before the light left, but mice and streamers failed to give up the goods for Dave and I as we waited till the last minute. Jon got a really nice rainbow on a woolly bugger and Dave did get a nice wild brookie, but clearly this was not going to be that good of a night.

Thursday afternoon David Gallipoli and I returned looking for the big one. My first three fish were not big, but like Wednesday they were all different species. With the trout slam out of the way that soon I was able to concentrate on the lunkers.

On a whim I decided we should fish that pocket water again. Good decision! We were into fish fairly quickly. David worked up, I worked down. I missed a couple of browns on a big Lime Trude before up came a big rainbow. I set the hook and the fish went away powerfully. It was clearly not a huge fish, but it was in the upper teens in length and VERY fat and boy did it give me a run for my money. It used up every bit of space in that pool, tearing line of the real and jumping and tail walking all over the place. I actually had to give chase! That was my big fish for the evening. I hooked a bigger one five minutes later, probably 20 inches long, but it must not have been hooked well because it did a strong head shake and threw the hook. And, at the bottom of a long riffle at the edge of darkness I missed a take from a large brown trout. I'm not going to let those losses distract me from that one big rainbow though, what a nice fish that was:

Hopefully I will be able to get back up there again before MDC drops the flow again. If not, it's bass or bust for this fly fisherman!


  1. Wow! That is a heck of a day! Great pictures and report. Hopefully we get rain soon. The driest summer I ever recall.

    1. Two days, both equally awesome! This summer is setting some record low stream flows... the Fenton, Salmon, Natchaug are all beating their previous record lows! The Fenton is a 1cfs!

  2. That was GREAT! Good fishing, friends and weather on the river. Loved the story and photos. In spite of low water and heat you did great. Felt like I was there, WAHOOO!!
    Tie, fish, write and photo on...

    1. Thanks.
      Fortunately the Farmington has some immunity to the issues plaguing our other rivers.

  3. Well Done!! You have some quality fish there!! nice job! We need rain, badly!

    1. Thanks Pete, a few of those came from one of your favorite spots ;)
      We are getting an answer to our prayers now, but I fear it is still not nearly enough!

  4. Nice fish and story.
    Wishing you tight lines and fresh water.

  5. Rowan, glad we were able to get up there and that you enjoyed some unprecedented success. That bow from the second day was a hell of a fish. I was happy to grab that nice bow at the end of the day. I'll figure out that River some day. Until then I'll keep swinging! What are they cutting the flows down to? I also cannot believe the Fenton is 1 cfs. That makes me very very worried. The Browns and brookies in that stream are probably not faring too well. We need August to be a wet one. Until then I'll be hitting the bass ponds and the swift.

    1. Any time Jon!
      The often cut the flow down to about 60cfs in early fall, although it is a little early for them to do so this year. Last year it was low enough to sight fish in that deep pool in our favorite stretch there!