With water low and big bug hatches over, I decided to focus on tightline nymphing. Days 1 and 2 were similar. Sunny weather, little wind, and both Caddis and BWOs hatching throughout the day. I was surprised by the number of bugs in the air. Hooked up with about 12 fish one day and about 18 the next. Caught brookies, rainbows and browns. Most were small, but a few good-sized fish showed up. The boulders are very mossy and slippery. I slipped once or twice a day. But, it was all worth it.
The best flies? Small Perdigón flies, both in bright and subdued color combinations. The single-best fly was a #20 CDC olive soft hackle. Tied as a dropper about 20″ above the anchor fly. Many takes by small fish were on the CDC fly, on the rise.
The best technique? Slowly coming up on the best runs from below and kneeling down while you cast. Commando-style fishing. The big fish are lying low during the day for the most part, according to guide Zach St. Amand.
The best spots? It is a pretty challenging time right now. Nymphing expert Andy Lyons generously shared many insights. I periodically connect with Grady Allen and Torrey Collins at UpCountry Sportfishing, and they’re both incredibly knowledgeable about the Farmington
I also took a long hard look at Google Maps and ran some ideas by Sal and Zach. If you tightline nymph, look for choke points where the river creates deeper runs. If you like throwing dry flies, shoot for overcast days or the afternoons. If you don’t have much time, I strongly suggest you hire Zach.
Here are some fish from the first two days. A 16″ rainbow.
A 15″ brown.
A 16″ brown.
Day 3 was cold and there was rain all day. Very few anglers were out. I love days like that. Fish are less inhibited. A 17.5″ brown was the fish of the trip. It leapt three times, like a rainbow, and showed incredible muscle. I was throwing my usual flies and pulled out a small brown and a rainbow at the tail end of the run. Through luck, I was able to pull the fish down river with the hopes of not spooking other fish.
I decided to keep casting. Nothing. On a hunch, I put on one of my “Glam Frenchies.” There is nothing subtle about it: a chartreuse ice dub thorax, quail for the soft hackle, a bright thread collar, light-colored Coq de Leon for the tail, and a #8 competition-style jig-style hook. First cast. Wham!
In the afternoon, I found a quiet stretch with many fish rising. It was a great deal of fun to see fish take dries. A #20 X-Caddis did very well. I also swung some wet flies, and a simple #18 bead head soft hackle Pheasant Tail did the trick. The rainbows in that run fought like crazy and a few jammed themselves under rocks. All in, Day 3 yielded about 10 fish.
Day 4 was a pack-and-drive day. There was a frost warning in the morning, which usually dampens the fishing. But, I couldn’t resist fishing a few hours. The short answer is few things went right. Somehow, my nippers and hook sharpener fell off my bag and into the river. Groping the river’s bottom with my feet and hand didn’t do much. I walked back to the car and got some old nippers. Back to the river.
Two fish were on and then fell off quickly. I then accidentally dropped the second nippers in the water. The metal O-ring on my net bent out of whack and I nearly lost my net.
Then, I decided to enjoy the view. Beautiful trees, just starting to turn. Not a soul around me. Amazing water. So, I just sat there for a few minutes, taking it all in. In front of me was a quiet stretch with a very deep channel. Why not? I put on a dry. Out of the blue, a take. A rainbow.
With that, I reeled up and walked back to the car, all smiles. I made a PB&J sandwich and savored my lunch. So simple, yet so good.
So, that was my annual Columbus Day fishing trip. Hope everyone had a good long weekend!