Back to the Salmon River

Back to the Salmon River: I went back to the Salmon River today. (For the record I’m referring to the one in Colchester, Connecticut.) Conditions were fairly good. Water was down a hair, but running at a respectable 57 degrees. Nice temperature that. No the river wasn’t crowded. Loved that too. And get this: a decent hatch came off.

Back to the Salmon River

What was hatching? Well this river isn’t known for its abundant insect life, but mid-morning I saw a decent number of yellowish/ olive mayflies size 14/16 flying over the pool. There were upwards of 20 in the air at a time. Sulphurs? Likely. But they might also have been Epeorus vitreus. These two mayflies can come off together. Are very similar in appearance. And therefore hard to separate at times.

The mayflies today emerged in fast water, shooting straight skyward. Vitreus? Yet they had reddish eyes like Emphemerella dorothea. Ummmmm. Oh hell, take your choice. Either way, unfortunately, there wasn’t any real dry fly action. The duns spent zero time on the surface. Truth is I never saw one floating downstream? I did see a few small fish slashing at micro caddis, I believe. But no real risers.

   Okay, once again nymphs saved my day. Four nice rainbows clamped down on a size 18 zebra nymph, dangling off a size 16 bead-head caddis. None of the them were big trout. Nevertheless they fought well and I’m grateful for them. All in all, a good day on the water!

Now for an interesting aside. Ninety percent of the time I fish “glass” fly rods for trout, my favorite being an 8 foot Winston. Honestly I prefer “glass” rods for their action, especially in small water situations, where light lines and finesse rule the day. Typically I use one rod all day, but this time I brought along two – a Diamondglass and a Kabuto. In the morning I worked an 8 foot, 4wt. Diamondglass, then switching to a short, 3wt Kabuto later in the day.

What I noticed was how much the action of your rod affects how you fish. The “faster” Diamondglass (s-glass) had me fishing farther out and moving quicker along the stream. While the “slower” Kabuto (e-glass) made me fish closer in and at a more relaxed pace. Yes, your choice of fly rod truly has an effect, controlling the rhythm, and tempo of the day.

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The Farmington River is Slow

The Farmington River is Slow: The Farmington River is slow – right now. No question, it could bust wide open tomorrow, but still the present situation is surprising. The weather is good, the flow is good, water temperatures are good (53-55), Hendricksons coming off.  But clearly the fish aren’t happy. No risers, and working a nymph is damn slow business. Strangioso.

The Farmington River is Slow

This picture speaks volumes. Here’s two anglers parking their butts on the edge of one of the best pools on the river! They told me there were duns on the water but not a single fish working. Believe me I felt their grief. I visited 5 pools yesterday, from Collinsville to the extreme upper end of TMA and everywhere it was the same deal. Dead. Zilch, zero, nothing doing. It took me all stinking day to catch two small rainbows. Ouch. Guess I should have know something was up by the scarcity of anglers. Yesterday there was gobs of room to fish, all up and own the river! How often do you see that?

Why no rising fish? Damn good question. This happened last week too. Hendricksons popping all over the place, and no slurping trout? One popular theory being floated is this: the water has been so cold the fish are locked on the bottom. Sounded plausible, but an angler told me that weeks ago – when the water was considerably colder – the trout were free rising! His theory? He feels when the hatchery fish got stocked, the holdover fish shut down. Possible. Who knows?

PS Today held a bonus. Early in the morning, as I stood in the river, a large bird swooped over my head. Riding wide black wings, it came to rest on a tree across the river, flashing glimpses of red and white. Pileated woodpecker? You bet! While not unknown in New England, they’re something of a rare sight. Always great to see one.

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Connecticut’s Salmon River

Connecticut’s Salmon River: Spent a day on Connecticut’s Salmon River. I did last

Connecticut’s SalmonRiver

spring as well and others. A freestone river, small and picturesque, it wanders through the hardwood forests of Marlborough and Colchester. Its headwaters are formed by the Black Ledge and the Jeremy. Later on the Salmon is joined by many tributaries, including the Dickerson, Day Pond Brook, Dawn, Flat Brook, and others before eventually reaching the Connecticut River.

Although the name implies a salmon run, sadly there is none. The Connecticut stocks the Salmon River well, however, with browns, brookies and rainbows. And there is a popular fly-fishing only section in the upper reaches. Overall the Salmon is mainly a springtime  fishery, with many hardcore devoted anglers. By mid-summer water levels drop very low, however, and anglers depart for other waters. But they return most falls. And the Salmon can fish well in the winter too.

Although the river is pretty, it is not terribly productive. Large black stoneflies exist, along with some caddis, and midges. But don’t expect thick mayfly hatches;  they’re scarce here. Why so little life on the bottom? I believe the water is hard courtesy of iron ore. Still, some dry fly action is possible.

My choice for the day was an 8 foot, 4wt Diamondglass fly rod armed with a floating line, and a 9 foot 4x leader. With the weather cool and the water only 51 degrees, fishing deep made the most sense. So I slid a strike indicator up the leader (Air-lock). Then tied on a bead-head caddis, and off the bend dangled a small soft hackle. These flies are an effective team.

It took awhile, but the rig worked, taking a couple of decent rainbows. Above the Diamondglass bends with a fish aboard. In the picture below, you’ll see a rainbow fighting for the bottom. It took the soft hackle. All in all an enjoyable day on a river I have fished since my youth.

This Rainbow took the soft hackle

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Hendricksons on the Farmington River

Hendricksons on the Farmington River: Wonderful news. The Hendricksons are on the Farmington River. In New England, this is one of the best and most anticipated hatches of the year. And its a moveable feat too. What do I mean? Well the Farmington River is a bottom release tailwater fishery. So water temperatures warm as you move downstream. Consequently the Hendericksons (Ephemeralla subvaria) come off first way down in Unionville, Connecticut and then slowly travel upstream with each passing sunny day, eventually reaching the Hogback Dam in Riverton. All told there should be Hendricksons popping somewhere on the river for nearly a month!

Hendricksons on the Farmington River

Got up on the river yesterday. Right off I went to Upcountry Sportfishing and spoke with Bruce Marino to get the latest info. Bruce told me the Hendricksons have come up into the New Hartford stretch, adding typically there are “spinners” on the water in the morning, followed by duns around 2PM, and then a “spinner fall” near 6PM. Sounded great. So I asked world class fly tyer Bruce to pick out a few of his favorite flies for me, and then headed to the water.

Extended body Hendrickson Dries

Hendrickson Emerger







The previous day had been very windy. And this morning’s low was near freezing. As we all know weather plays a big role in any hatch. Well, no “spinners” showed in the morning, but the duns appeared on schedule. Nice. The hatch wasn’t very thick, however, and came in fits and starts. Worst yet, the only rising trout were small hatchery fish. (They preferred the “emerger” over the dun.) On the other hand, the big boys browns the Farmington River is legendary for stayed down out of sight. (Yes I tried nymph, but no luck.) Believe me the poor dry fly action had everyone around me disappointed. We all struggled. But hey, that’s life. Fishing is wishing and your dreams don’t always come true.

Hendricksons are on the Farmington River

Standing in water under 50 degrees for five hours has an effect on you. Man oh man my cojones were blue! And I think that cold water was also the reason the better trout were nailed to the bottom. I pulled stakes around 4PM, and limped to the car. Still I enjoyed the couple fish I caught. Always great to be on the river. By the way, right now the Beaverkill and Delaware Rivers are blown out. Hence, mucho anglers from New York and Pennsylvania are over here on the Farmington. The river is crowded, my friend. Best to get on the water early to secure a spot! I’m not kidding.

If you stay for the evening spinner fall, later you will be looking for a good place to dine. I recommend the Parrott-Delaney Tavern. Good food, good atmosphere and a good selection of craft beers. How can you beat that?

Parrott-Delaney Tavern in New Hartford, Connecticut

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