Some people measure the season by when the stocking trucks begin to roll. Others by the first bugs they see on the water. I know the season is in full swing when the Hendricksons emerge. On Thursday my fishing buddy/guiding partner Jim and I headed down to fish the Farmington River in northwest Connecticut. I have been following the fishing reports and online forums, so I knew that the hatch started a little over a week ago. I wanted to make sure we not only hit the emergence in the afternoon, but the spinner fall in the evening, which doesn't happen until there is a critical mass of adult may flies to start the mating swarms. It is a 2.75 hour drive from my house to New Hartford, so I wanted to make the most of the trip.
No worries. For once we hit it just right. For the afternoon emergence we fished the upper river, not too far from the village of Riverton, having parked in one of the People's Forest parking lots. There were a few cars in the parking lot, but only one guy fishing in the main pool. Jim and I moved upstream of the main pool into the area where a fast riffle ran into a deep run and then into the final riffle above the pool. We had the whole run to ourselves. There were a few insects buzzing around, but no hatching may flies. While we waited for the emergence, we fish nymphs. I used a size 12 flash-back pheasant tail and caught 4 or five rainbows and a brown trout. None were much over 12 inches, but all fought hard, using the fast current to their advantage. When we started to see more hatching may flies, I added a soft hackle as a dropper behind the nymph and caught a couple more fish. Around 3PM the hatch got pretty strong and fish were actively rising and we had quite a few hook-ups. About then another angler came squeezing in between Jim and I. We thought we were fishing fairly close to each other already, and felt crowded by the interloper. We didn't say anything and after getting only one fish during the height of the action, he left the water to Jim and I. We each caught a few more fish until the flies stopped hatching and the rises slowed down. After eating our lunch we looked at a few more pools, going as far up as the Beaver Pool, where we saw no rises and few flies. The water temp had been 56F where we caught all the fish and it was only 46F when we checked the temp in the run below the Riverton Bridge, so it appears that the hatch still has ways to go above where the Still River dumps warmer water into the Farmington River.
We went downriver to New Hartford to one of my favorite pools for the spinner-fall. WE hit that lucky as well. When we got there one guy was just leaving and another was fishing in the lower part of the pool, leaving the entire upper pool vacant. Jim and I set up in a prime location and before long we started seeing Hendricksons. None were on the water yet, but soon we saw the females swarming with their bright yellow egg-sacs aglow. To make a long story short, we reeled up at 7PM while there were still bugs over the water and fish still rising. We had caught enough fish, so we decided to leave a few for the next time.