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The West Branch of the Farmington River in northcentral Connecticut is a tremendous tailwater fishery. Cold water from the Colebrook and West Branch reservoirs help make this river an excellent year-round trout fishery. It is well stocked with brook, brown, and rainbow trout. And you'll find good numbers of wild and holdover browns and rainbows to 18-plus inches thriving in the cool waters.

The upper portion of the West Branch of the Farmington, from the Hogback Dam to the Still River by Riverton, is a beautiful piece of gin-clear water with deep, flat pools broken up by classic riffles and runs. There are good numbers of large fish. The water depth is deceiving, due to its clarity, and fishing here could surprisingly produce a lunker. Trout as large as 20-plus inches have been caught here, and fish up to 15-plus inches are caught reegularly. On the east side of the river, Hogback and East River roads parallel the river, so there are plenty of areas to park and walk down to the water.

From the spot the Still River enters the West Branch to a mile above the crossing of Route 318, the West Branch develops more character. With the help of the Still River, this piece of water has a better population of mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies.

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Here the river widens and acquires more sediment from the Still River which, in turn, provides more nutrients for the invertabrates. Fishing on the West Branch, below the Still River, usually is a little more productive than the section above. It also has deep, mysterious pools followed by charming pockets, riffles and runs. Flowing through areas with overhanging hemlocks, this section of river has exceptional pools and runs that harbor impressive numbers of trout--many of which are large. Here the West Branch can be accessed by East River and West River roads, which parallel the river on both sides.
Hatch Chart
A mile above Route 318, at the crossing of a power wire, marks the beginning of a trout management area. The trout management area starts at the power wire in Pleasant Valley and extends downriver approximately four miles to the upriver side of the Route 219 bridge. This area is one of the more popular sections of river. Holdover, wild and annually-stocked trout abound. To entice anglers of all skill, this section offers many large fish, as well as newly stocked fish. This part of the river has very deep, slow pools, along with tumbling runs and pocket water. For the most part, the river is lined with trees that provide shade and, even at times when the sun is high, good dry-fly fishing. This area is accessible from Route 44 and Route 181, and other secondary roads.

From Route 219 south to Collinsville, the river is still a tremendous trout fishery. Here the river offers anglers many areas of exceptional pocket water, runs and pools. Large trout lurk in this section of river, always raising the hopes of anglers' catching a real trophy. The water remains relatively cool from the cold water releases, although you should keep in mind that the farther downstream you venture, the warmer you'll find the water temperatures. The East Branch of the Farmington enters the river here, just south of New Hartford. Rainbows and browns hide throughout this section, mostly in pockets created by rocks and boulders. You can gain access to this part of the river via Route 44 and the secondary roads that parallel or cross its course. Below Collinsville, the river begins to change to a warmwater fishery. The river begins to slow. It is so distant from the coldwater source that it cannot remain cool enough to support the numbers of trout found north of this section. You'll find a few trout here, but most anglers fish for bass, panfish, and other warmwater species. The river turns north at Farmington and eventually flows into the Connecticut River.

Hatches on the West Branch of the Farmington are excellent. Cold flows year round support good numbers of mayflies, Ccaddisflies, and stoneflies. You'll find fantastic early-season hatches from April to late May: Early black stones, hendricksons, bluewinged olives, and blue quills are a few of the earliest hatches. Sulphurs, March Browns, and green drakes represent some of the fantastic dry-fly action through May. Late summer dry-fly fishing is best accomplished using extremely light tippets and midges. You'll also find an abundance of larger mayflies that also hatch on the river. A good population of terrestrials, such as flying ants and beetles, also can be found here during the summer months. For fall fishing, olives and Isonycias usually produce best. And fishing nymphs and streamers is always productive.

The West Branch of the Farmington is a great river that flows through beautiful Connecticut surroundings. It offers anglers diverse water and great fishing opportunities. Its flows are usually very consistent, so you can plan your trip to this river well in advance. Why not take a trip to northcentral Connecticut and give the West Branch of the Farmington a try? Most anglers who are new to this river are glad they did.