Friday, June 16, 2017

Farmington Outing (6-14-17)

Rik is leaving CT soon, moving to Oregon. So before he leaves we wanted to get up to the Farmington again, and did so on Wednesday. I was pretty exhausted as I had worked that morning and been awake since 2:30 A.M. but we got up to the river around 4:00 in the afternoon. Time to pound bank water and shadows with big streamers. I was getting takes very quickly with a Meal Ticket. Eventually one stuck, and it was a gorgeous and extremely chunky rainbow.

Three casts later I hooked another nice fat fish, this time a survivor strain brown. 

Though neither of those fish were particularly long they were very healthy and fought hard. I kept on working with the streamers and had a number of other takes, some of which I really would have liked to have landed, but other than those two no other trout were landed on streamers. Rik was Euro nymphing. He caught a wild brookie and a huge white sucker (24-25 inches), so he had the natives down pat. 

Very late in the evening some sulfurs and vitreous came off, and fish started to rise all over. A lot were small wild browns. I caught a few fish on small hackle stacker style dries and usuals, three wild browns, one wild rainbow, and one holdover brown. I really wasn't feeling like dealing with the camera in the middle of the river in the dark, so the only one I took a photo of was the first. It was a little gem of a brown trout.

The Farmington is a great river, but fishing the Catskills for a whole week definitely put into perspective just how difficult it is. Too much pressure, not enough water in close proximity, not enough really big hatches. Honestly it has become a little too publicized. I'll keep fishing it though, but I sure won't be stomach pumping fish and under fighting them with 6x and 7x all the time. Or fishing it when the water is ultra low. Too much pressure kills and damages fish. It's hard for me to see fish that have been caught so often their mandibles are completely gone. We're not really doing our job to protect these fish. 


  1. RM - exciting post per usual! It's your last few sentences that caught my eye though - under fighting on super light tippet's. I see that up here on the Swift - people using 7-8x and having to fight fish for very long periods. That's a lot of stress on the fish.

    The past few years, I've shifted, and even on very small flies (24 and down, if I go there at all) I have not gone under 5x flouro tippet. The fish are landed much faster and seem to have fight in the net to spare - zipping away fast on release. No need to hold the fish and help them revive.

    I've seen others suggest similarly, and discussed it with some anglers on the river as well.

    What's your thought on that? Perhaps some times it really is essential, but with modern gear - where's the line? Not a fan of "telling others how to fish"... But your comment there seemed to suggest a similar thought. Made me curious - what's your view on fish stress and tippets? You lay down some well thought out ideas and it would be interesting to see your ideas.

    1. Well, I personally won't touch 7x unless the water is very cold and it's absolutely necessary. It is very possible to land fish quickly on light tippets if you know how to fight fish well, but I almost never see the average Joe Angler fighting trout properly. I watched a guy on the West Branch of the Delaware spend almost 20 minutes fighting an 18 inch brown. I hooked, fought, landed (without a net), photographed, and released a similarly sized fish in less than a quarter of the time and I was using a short glass rod and 6x... if everyone knew how to handle fish it wouldn't be so much of an issue, but with the popularity of light tippets for both dry fly and Euro nymphing on the Farmington on the rise, every idiot out there is using tippets far lighter than necessary and killing fish by fighting them for too long. 5x and 4x work just fine on all but the super slow water, and why even bother using 7x for nymphing? If you think you can do better than me with light tippets using the same techniques, I say prove it.

    2. I can't even tie a successful blood knot on finer than 5x. I have 6x and 7x in my bag but they don't get used. 5x goes into the eye of my midges (22 and 24)but 4x does not.

      As for "not fighting trout properly" I wouldn't be surprised if I am one of them. Except that I almost always pretty much just pull them in as fast as possible. I'm curious what the specifics are that you are thinking of. (See, I fish on auto pilot from childhood--for the most part. I try to learn new things but in the "heat of battle" I am sure I am doing whatever I did when I was 12. I have some amusing--to me at least--aneecdotes about that.)

    3. Some specifics on fighting fish:
      1: Until the fish is ready to be landed, tailed, or netted, never pull it in the direction it is going. In other words, go "down and dirty and apply side pressure whenever you can.

      2: Fight from the butt of the rod, not the tip. I see too many people fight trout with their rods almost straight up, putting the least amount of pressure on the fish possible without just letting the line limp.

      3: Don't stand in one place. I get it, some people are no longer quick and nimble enough to chase a fish that needs to be chased, but no trout over 14 inches should be fought from one position. MOVE! If the fish goes downstream, let off pressure and run to get below it. If it goes up, walk out if you can to get directly downstream of the fish and put the muscle on him.

    4. I'm not even sure what I do in the heat of battle.
      But tonight I landed 2 largemouth and I lost two unknown large (bass or trout) under water. Last night I also landed one bass and lost one larger bass. two broke me off.
      In the trout department, in the 13 I've positively caught, I've had another 6-9 or so positive hook throws or lost bona fide hookups. Some of the brook trout on one particular day literally turned belly up and just floated happily in front of me! See here:
      Because I have small old reels, and grew up not using them in the fight, I never remember to try to get the line on the reel and when I rarely try (on a sunfish for instance for practice) it takes too long, so I am always handlining through the guides and even past the tip in the end of the fight--even the rockfish in salt. Haha.

  2. Nice fat trout and you are right about over fishing. The pressure on that river must be over whelming.
    Tie, fish, write and photo on...

    1. It's heartbreaking to watch fish that have gotten so picky they actually refuse some of the natural flies.

    2. Ironically, my 2016 trout drought (not one!) was broken on January 2--on my first trip to the Farmington. Only took 2 other trips. Skunked both times.