Friday, July 29, 2016

Thursday evening session

a pocket water brown
We are getting some much needed rain today with the possibility of strong thundershowers throughout the day and into the evening. I thought a quick trip to the Farmington last night ahead of the rain would be my best shot to fish for the next few days.

With the hot dry weather lately, I figured the fish might be up in the faster moving, more oxygenated water so I headed to a stretch of pocket water that I have wanted to explore but hadn't until last night.

My hunch proved accurate as I worked up through the faster water, I found fish in almost all the pockets like the one pictured to the left. The wading was a bit slippery but I managed to stay mostly upright and in two hours I had found close to a dozen fish.  Some took a Walt's Worm and the rest a small DDT nymph.  Hopefully the 2 inches of rain predicted will bring some new life to our local streams.

Another pretty Farmington rainbow

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bead head pheasant tail soft hackle

It's been a while since I put up a tying video.  Here's one of my favorite soft hackles.  I fish this as a dropper on a two nymph rig, as the dropper off a large dry, and as a wet fly.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

An evening session

The first brown of the evening taken on #18 olive parachute
Earlier this week, I met my neighbor Mike up on the Farmington river for a short evening session after work.  Mike was up on the river ahead of me and found a nice quite spot where he found fish rising to small olives.  After arriving, I strung up my 8.5' 4wt dry fly rod and put on a #18 olive parachute and found my first brown of the evening.  While I was fishing the olive parachute, I noticed several smaller fish following the fly but not take it, so I switched to #20 parachute Adams which worked out very well.  For the next 90 minutes, we both enjoyed some of the best dry fly action I've seen this season.

I have been fishing a small parachute Adams a lot this season and it has become the first fly out of my box when I suspect the fish are taking small flies, especially olives.  The fly is effective and the white parachute post makes it easier for me to see on the water.

After the dry fly action slacked off, I went back to the truck to get a jacket and rig my nymphing rod. Mike had introduced me to a section of the river that I had not fished before and I wanted to explore the long series of riffles and pockets.  Overall, the run looked to be about 3-5' deep with a "walking pace" flow and lots rocks to for cover.  I ended up taking another handful of browns and rainbows on a small olive nymph before Mike suggested we relocate before the sun set.

With about an hour of light left we headed to a popular dry fly pool that I had never fished before.  I tend to stay away from those areas that get a lot of attention.  I asked Mike if he thought we could find a place to fish there.  He was confident that we could so we made the move.  I watched the river for a little and did see rising fish.  After observing for a little, I tried to figure out where I should be to target them.  I had to move around a bit to get into a good position but, as darkness came, a few fish started working.  I couldn't see exactly what they were taking but it looked like the sort of rise you see when fish are taking spinners.  This along with the fact that I did see some large pale spinners in the air convinced me to try I a Cahill spinner.  I was rewarded with a decent fish that solidly took the fly.  We contined to fish into the dark and I had one final pull, fishing the spinner downstream on a tight line but I didn't connect.  At that point it was just too dark to really see what we were doing so we ended a great evening on the river.  We enjoyed some great dry fly action and I got to fish a couple of areas that were new to me thanks to Mike.

Finishing up the night brown that took the Cahill spinner

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Hot days and isos

Summer and roadside tiger lilies
Hot days are the norm now that midsummer is here. This past week, the occasional thundershower brought some needed rain, but it's probably a good idea to take a break from fishing the local small streams.  However, the Farmington River, which is fed by water released from the bottom of a large dam, continues to have a good flow of cool water.

One evening this past week, I took a co-worker fishing after work.  He fishes mostly in the saltwater and we've talked many times over the last couple years about getting out on the Farmington.  He has had some experience fishing in freshwater and even casting a fly rod, so it wasn't long before he got his casting stroke down and put the fly over fish.  It took him a few fish before he got the feel of hooking and landing fish on a light tippet, but eventually he was able to land a few rainbows.  It's always fun helping someone catch their first fish on a dry fly.  Between the two of us, we managed a good number of fish using an iso comparadun in slower riffles and pocket water.

Mike's first rainbow taken on a dry fly!

A powerful rainbow taken on an iso in the pocket water

Later in the week, my buddy Ben from the Atlantic Salmon Flies blog and I were able to spend an afternoon and evening together after trying all spring to get together.

 I started a few hours before Ben, so I chose to explore a new stretch of river.  As I walked along the river, I spotted a dead tree along the bank with a little depression running next to it that looked promising.  I sent the double nymph rig along the brush and found two gorgeous wild browns.  I love finding wild trout in the Farmington; not only are they beautiful fish but they fight hard despite their smaller size.  Both fish took the smaller #18 olive-type nymph.

the first of a brace of wild browns

After Ben and I met, we fished another out-of-the-way run, and I caught another wild brown on the nymph rig and missed a pair on an iso in a shallow run.  All the wild browns caught on a nymph took a small #18 olive nymph, while the fish taken on a dry preferred the large iso, which is pretty typical for this time of year.

We decided to move locations late afternoon and ended up in a run where fish were sipping a tiny emerger or midge.  Ben was able to fool one on a #24 something.  I ended up fishing a #22 griffth's gnat and had lots of fish look at the fly and refuse it.  It was probably too big but hey, I have my limits!  If the fish aren't interested in anything bigger than a #22, it's time to move on.  After about an hour of trying multiple tiny flies, I looked at Ben and asked, "Do you want to try plan B?"  I heard him laugh and indicate that he was thinking it was time to move on as well.

We ended up finishing the evening with a handful of fish each.  He was able to coax some fish to take
a Catskill style light Cahill and I fished the pocket water with an iso comparadun.  As darkness engulfed the river, the water was covered with light Cahill spinners, but the trout were not all that interested, so we didn't hang around too late.  Ben and I finished the evening off at a local burger joint catching up with each other.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Enjoying another afternoon on the Farmington

Nothing special to report on my last trip to the Farmington.  Nymphing was good in the early afternoon and the day started off with a brook trout, a rainbow, and then a brown in that order.  Three fish and one of each species within the first half hour of fishing!.  I switched the rig up from a frenchie/bead head green caddis combo to a walt's worm/PT softhackle combination and caught two more rainbows.  I finished up with an iso dry fly with a PT soft hackle dropper and fished some water that was beyond the reach of the my tight line nymphing rig and caught another rainbow on the dropper.

Fish #1



At this point I was ready to move on and try another spot.  My second location was a run/pool combination.  I thought that a brown on two may have worked up into the faster water at the head of the pool.  The spot I had in mind is a small break in the river where some water runs around a small island and up against a bank before rejoining the main current.  I've caught browns in the faster water of this break before so I thought a big iso dry might draw a rise.  Sure enough, on the first drift through the break a little wild brown crushed the iso.  While it wasn't the biggest fish of the afternoon, it was the most satisfying to catch since it a wild fish was holding right were I thought one might be, reacting to the fly I had in mind.

That fringe of red on the adipose and in the tail are characteristic of a wild brown
Stop #3 was a favorite out of the way spot that I haven't fished yet this season.  As I was walking up from downstream I noticed a rise in a gentle run just off an overgrown bank.  The big iso drew a rise but the fish turned before taking the fly so I switched to a sulfur and got the same response, a rise but no take.  Thinking the a smaller fly might be the ticket, I tied on a #18 parachute Adams.  Within a couple drifts a nice brown followed the Adams for a little and then took the fly.  I had it on for a breif couple of seconds before the hook popped out but I was pleased to have raised the fish and hooked it.
I finished up the afternoon tossing the iso in some pocket water waiting for the sulfur hatch to begin.  I did connect with one decent fish but as is often the case fishing pocket water, the fish used current and structure to work free.  Before any hatch could get going, rain showers moved in.  I fished in the rain for about an hour thinking the shower might pass but with no sign of letting up, I made a early departure for home, thankful to see some much needed rain falling.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

An evening session

A passenger in the car the next morning
My neighbor and fishing buddy Mike and I decided to fish the Farmington river after work late last week.  Mike was on the river earlier and had done well.  We each checked out a couple places and then met at our best option for the evening.  At first the river was quite so I started off nymphing and managed my first fish, nice rainbow that took the nymph in some pocket water.  As evening approached we both noticed a couple of fish occasionally rising under some trees on the opposite bank.  I traded the nymph rod for my dry fly rod and put a large cream comparadun along the bank.  The fish came up but struck short.  After working the comparadun all along the bank and failing to raise any more fish, I switched to a usual on a short shanked hook.  A nice brown took the usual just a few feet off the bank.  A few more browns were taken on the usual including one that took it on the swing across some shallow riffles.  I love how you can fish a usual in so many ways.

The first of a few browns on the usual

As the sun went down,a couple fish were working a riffle right in front of me.  They would come up occasionally for something that I could match.  More out of frustration than insight, I switched back to the nymph rig and worked the channel where I saw the rises.  It only took a few good drifts before the Walt's worm connected with a hefty fish.  After a couple of strong runs, I got my first look at the beast of a brown that I had hooked.  I really wanted to land this fish so I worked hard to stay below the fish and managed to lead it through the faster moving, boulder filled run, around some large rocks at the tail of the run and into the softer pool below.  Mike came up to give me hand and I eventually was able to get the net under it, which it just barely fit in.  We measured the fish at an honest 20", my biggest Farmington brown to date.  With Mike's help, we took a few pictures and released the fish.

My best Farmington Brown to date (photo courtesy of Mike Shannon)

We ended the evening fishing over some picky trout.  I did entice a couple to take a small spinner but the fish were largely ignoring my fly.  Lack of success and the maddening effect of being eaten alive by what we thought were mosquito led us to quit not long after dark.  It wasn't until a drive the next morning that it all started to coming together in my mind.  My wife said she was trying to get a flying ant out of the truck when the light bulb went on, flying ants!  We were getting bit by flying ants and that is probably what the fish were keyed on the previous evening.  This whole scenario has happened to me before and I should have remembered those maddening bites but it usually occurs much later in the summer around here. Hopefully, I will be more alert the next time I run into ants but at least I will have a few small flies in my box since I just put a few in the box!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Rain refreshes the Adirondacks

The Adirondacks have been dry, just like the rest of the northeast but some afternoon and evening thunderstorm activity brought some refreshing rain to the mountains.  I was up early the next morning and hiking up into a mountain valley at first light.  I could hear a healthy flow coming down through the mountain valley but since this valley is dominated by hemlock, I was curious how clear the brook would be.  My first look confirmed my suspicion, the brook was darkly stained and quite off-color.

A quick location change to a nearby brook that typically remains clear proved a better option.  I am often amazed by the difference in the character of these two brooks even though they are only a few miles apart.  I started out the early morning fishing my two favorites, the Royal Wulff and the Ausable Bomber.  Both brought up brook trout but they weren't taking the flies with the typical authority.  I switched to a foam ant which seemed to attract more attention, so I fished the ant the rest of the morning.

Fish were found mostly in the heads of the plunge pools.  After working downstream through a nice stretch of stream and catching quite a few brook trout, I decided to go back and re-investigate the upper section of the brook I had fished with the Royal Wulff and Bomber just to see if the ant would bring up some fish that the other flies did not.  The results of that experiment are evident in the photos below

In one of those previously fished pools, the largeest brook trout I've ever come across in this stream came up for the ant but when I lifted the rod the fly easily came out of it's mouth.  A second attempt, brought the fish up again but the hook failed to take hold a second time.  After a little break, I tried once again and this time to hook found a home .  As I worked into position to land the fish, the hook gave way and the big brookie slowly eased back into the water. Throughout this whole sequence I got a very good look at the fish, a well colored specimen in the 10" range or possibly larger with an immense tail.  Hopefully this fish will be holding in the same spot in the future so that I can get a picture of this gorgeous fish, although experience tells me that brook trout move around a fair bit in this stream.

It was great morning to be out in the mountains after some refreshing rain.  The moisture on the blooming daisies, winterberry, and campion was a lovely sight as the early morning sun invaded the valley.