Something to Consider After Heavy Rains and Increased Flows

This past week, we were lucky to get some much needed rains here in New England.  My home river, the Farmington, was a beneficiary and got a nice push of water with the total flows peaking at about 3500 cfs. Now I love flows between 300-500 cfs and will fish comfortably up to 1200 cfs, but, that’s about all that is what I consider safe.  When the water is super high, I recommend waiting for the flows to come back down. Then, have a plan for how to fish the river after the big push of water.  Today I’ll tell you about my day and what I did after those exact conditions.

I had another busy week and knew I wouldn’t be able to fish until later in the week. So, I kept an eye on the flow gauges and the weather forecast.  As it turned out, the flows were dropping nicely and they were forecasting highs in the 70s for Friday, so, that was gonna be my day. The forecast said it would be breezy because of a pending front coming through, so, I set up my indicator rig. I love to Euro-nymph, but when the wind is blowing, you’ll get better drifts and have better control of your flies with an indicator setup.

I arrived at the river a little before 7 am, and, even though it was still dark, the air temperature was already 52…man, that’s a gift in November.  I suited up and headed down to the river without another angler in sight.  The river was flowing right around 300 cfs, and the water was a bit stained from the leaves and debris in the water…almost like a light tea color.  The water felt good and a quick temp at first light read 52 degrees. I took the water temp around noon and got a reading of 56…again, a gift in November.

The fishing started out hot again. Within a few drifts, I was linked up with a feisty rainbow.  I kept working water and found plenty of hungry fish.  A nice mix of ‘bows and browns from my first section of river that quickly put me in double digits.  Now I should be happy at this point, but, I wasn’t linking up with my target fish.  My best fish for my effort up to this point was a clean two-year old Survivor Strain.

Decent Survivor Strain Brown
Crayfish that went for a Squirmy

So, on to my next spot, where I went to meet up with a friend to help set up his reel with a French leader and sighter so he’d be ready for when his new Euro rod arrived in the mail next week.  While I was waiting for him to arrive, I fished the most popular spot (Church Pool) and managed to put three browns in the net before heading to the parking lot to help out my friend.  I set up his reel, shot the bull for a bit and got on with my fishing.

The next section of river was an area I had planned on based on the recent high flows that I hadn’t fished in a while.  I started low and fished up.  Within three casts, I was linked up with a perfect little wild brown. I thought that was a good sign and it was. A few casts later, I was on to a colored-up holdover ‘bow.

Nice Holdover Rainbow

I kept fishing this section and kept linking up. I rolled a big brown and dropped him quick.  I kept my head down and kept covering water. Plenty of smaller wild fish but not the target fish I was looking for. Then in a nice looking depression, I threw my flies and linked up with a solid brown that I saw and quickly dropped him.  I was thinking that this wasn’t going to be my day for putting a nice fish in the net, but, I quickly threw my flies to the same spot, and, this time it was a solid hook-up and, finally, success. I had a decent fish in the net. It took a while but I could finally call the day a success.

Beautiful Healthy Brown

After I was done covering that water I moved to my last section of river.  While I was walking in, I ran into Damon (@d_throw on Instagram) I told him and his friend what was working, what my plan was, and that I was still hunting for a trophy brown.  Within minutes of talking to them, I was onto my best fish of the day.  I think a lot of my success is about good karma. I share and help others, and the river rewards me.

Best fish of the day.

I kept fishing and the fish kept coming.   Great productivity, but, more important, what I consider high-quality fish.

Another stunner brown.

So, the day was a success.

Now for the advice. When we get a big push of water, fish often move to areas of shelter.  Lots of times, this means side braids or channels that typically hold little water in normal flows.  It’s amazing to me how quickly trout will migrate to these side channels when the water comes up and they tend to stick around for a while before moving back to the main river. All the fish posted today came from these sections of river.  It’s often a little tight so you need to be careful casting, but, as you can see, it can be worth it.  The best patterns today were Squirmy Worms, Eggs, Cased Caddis and Stones.

Until next time, tight lines.

Andrew Lyons


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6 thoughts on “Something to Consider After Heavy Rains and Increased Flows

  1. Great pictures and advice Andy. Plan to fish tomorrow. I assume small nymph patterns under lower flows. Missed last week unfortunately.

    1. John,
      Until the leaf hatch is over I keep my patterns bigger. If you go small make sure you have a trigger on your pattern. So a hot spot or some flash to get attention. Small natural patterns will have a hard time getting noticed.
      Good luck.

  2. Frenchies, red darts and rainbow W. I’ll throw some Jamieson Spindrift yarn in the car in case I bump into you.

  3. High quality fish? I’ll say! Those browns are spectacular! Thanks for the report, and once again, good advice on flies to try this time of year.

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