Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB
Fly Fishing The Millers - With over 30 years of fly fishing this river I will claim more knowledge and fish caught than anyone. There are over 40 miles of river and I will take you to the best sections and if you want to sections that never see another angler. Don't be fooled by those who say the Millers is a Spring and Fall river. I'll show you how to have great Summer action. The "EB of the Westfield" - Wild and beautiful is the only way to describe this river. There's a lot of water here but I know where to go to catch trout. After a trip you will too!! Solitude and trout IS the EB. The Swift - 20 trout days are not uncommon on this river if you know what to do and use. I'll show the way and you catch the trout. RATES - Full Day (6 hours) = $150.00 for one, $225 for two (lunch included). Half Day (three hours) $90.00 for one, $155.00 for two. Beginners Class - 3 hours ffor $90.00, all use of rods lines, reels included.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Time Of The Season

"No man ever steps in the same river twice for it's not the same river and he's not the same man" Heraclitus

The first thing that you notice is the increased birdsong in the early morning. And the walk to the Bubbler Arm at 9:00 am was a slog through crusty snow but the walk back was easy through snowball snow. One can actually feel the sun on your face. That's February! We are now two months past the shortest day of the year and although we could get hammered with snowstorms again the worst is OVER.

It was a good few hours working the above mentioned spot. My top fly was a size 18 WD40 with the bottom being either a size 24 or 26 midge larvae. I fished this run s-l-o-w-l-y, blind casting and then casting to visible fish. My 3 rainbows were all over 16 inches and 2 of the 3 took the WD40 while the last bow and the brookies took the tiny midge. BTW, the water temperature was 36 degrees which is about as cold as it gets on this run.

I can also say that I had the place to myself which has been the case for the last two months. The crowd still stops at the Y Pool!!!

Frequent commentator Will (AKA Hibernation), in response to my post on bead chain flies, sent in this photo of a great looking large trout/smallmouth fly called the Ugly Damsel". Backcast to the comments section of the prior post for info on this fly.

We turn the clocks ahead in three weeks!!!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sinking Lines, Secret Weapons And Book A Trip

"There's no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm" -Patrick F. McManus

Back in the day, back in BG (before graphite) it seemed that nobody with any sense would fish one of our larger rivers during the Spring high water without a sinking line. And I mean a SINKING LINE as in a Cortland Wet Cell 2 as opposed to a sinking tip line by any maker.

Sinking lines get you DOWN so you can short line, tight line and high stick your brains out but still make traditional casts to swing streamers and soft hackles and such. And don't believe the conventional wisdom that these are a bear to cast because they are not. Picking 50 ft of line out of the water may be a task but who does that anyway. Most of our fishing is withing 25 feet.

The key is the length of your leader material (notice that I said "leader material" and not leader) which should be about a 5 foot section of 3x for those high water, heavy fly conditions.

These lines are cheap and you should have one loaded onto a spare reel "just in case". It has saved the day for me on the Squannacook to the EB and especially the Millers over the years.

I love bead chain eyes BECAUSE they actually look like the eyes of a large insect or crayfish plus they add just the right amount of weight to beat heavy flows. I tie them on small buggers meant to imitate dragon fly and damsel fly nymphs and they work. In fact, many years ago when I worked the shores of Wachusett Reservoir for smallmouth it may have been my top fly.

Go to a local hardware store for the beadchain.

Folks, I'm booking up this Spring for the Millers, EB, MB, Ware and the Swift. Just email me and the date is yours without requiring a deposit!!!


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Remembering Special Trout

"Many go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after" Henry David Thoreau

Frequent commentator Sam (aka Parachute Adams) asked if I could brighten up this dreary winter with any remembrance of a special trout that I had crossed paths with over the years. There are a few. The brown that took up home right NEXT to the top rock at the Millers upper Trestle Pool. That trout took me four months to catch and I got it on my 40th birthday. Not big but very difficult.

But the one that has the deepest memories goes back over 40 years ago to the Squannacook River. I first encountered that brown in early June when a well placed Blue Quill Dry landed a few feet up from an old log that partially spanned half of this modest river. I saw all two feet of him come up, follow the fly for about a foot until drag set in and then disappear back under the log. I was shaken to say the least because I didn't think that river could hold a trout of that size!!

I carefully fished for that brown over the next two months but didn't see it again until late Summer when it rose again to THE VERY SAME FLY. This time I could feel the point of the hook scrape the mouth of this huge brown but that's as close as I got. I never saw the brown again.

I've caught trout close to the same size but there is something special about the ones that get away. Sometimes I think that if I had landed it it would of lost some of its status.
                                                                            Tied by Elsie Darbee

It's been a snowy week with more on the way BUT it's almost 2 months since the shortest day of the year. Spring is not far away.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Hot Fly, A Revelation And Thinking About The Ware

"Fly fishing is solitary, contemplative, misanthropic, scientific in some hands, poetic in others and laced with conflicting aesthetic considerations. It'd not even clear if catching fish is actually the point" John Gierach

Try this fly!!!

Hook - size 20 to 24 Saber scud hook or smaller midge hook
body - Dark Olive 140 denier thread
Rib - ultra thin copper wire
Wing Buds - Crystal flash
Head - black thread

You can tie dozens of these in no time at all due to it's very simple construction and it works because it is so generic. It represents all of those little guys we find in the Swift and can be fished solo or behind something like a WD40. It has worked on the Swift this past month.

The Ware River

By February I'm usually lost in a day dreaming swoon as the urge to fish my freestones in the Spring just takes over. This year I'm dreaming of the Ware River and reliving some of the awesome Spring days of last year. I fished some of the best dry fly water in central Massachusetts on that river. I would work a soft hackle just below the surface on a classic swing and then end up casting upstream with a floating offering as the RISE took over. I caught trout at every location on this river AND I usually had the place to myself. If fly fishing is a social experience for you then you may not feel comfortable on the Ware. That's what the Farmie and the Swift are for!!!

A Revelation -

Sometimes things all come together and seem to make sense at the strangest moments. I've always wondered why "nymphing" has captured the minds of so many fly fishermen while, at least for me, it seemed somewhat familiar and in a way old fashioned.

Then I did a Swift/Millers presentation to a TU group in Poughkeepsie NY last month and it finally came to me and almost derailed my presentation. I kept talking about our rivers but the thought was in my head for the rest of the show AND the ride home. The thought was that I've been "nymphing" since I was 9 years old and I did it with worms as any self respecting 9 year old SHOULD do. I learned the high stick, tight line methods of fishing a worm from pre internet magazines and from watching others who were catching fish. Toss the spinning line (same as a 20 ft leader) out there into the riffles at the head of a pool, keep slack to a minimum and watch for the hesitation in the drift.

I'm beginning to think that there are a lot of river fly fishers who have very few hours (maybe minutes) on a river WITHOUT a fly rod in their hands and that's a shame. It seems that today's revolutionary techniques are really old school techniques that now have a new label.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

The Swift - Lots of snow this weekend but the fish are still there. Go get them!!


Friday, February 3, 2017

Early Stones, Quill Bodies And The "Other" Swift

"Calling Fly Fishing a hobby is like calling Brain Surgery a job." - Paul Schullery

Photo by Thomas Ames Jr.

If there is a harbinger of Spring that will catch the eye of the winter worn fly fisher it is the little Taeniopterygidae Stonefly, known as the Early Dark Stonefly and/or Winter Stonefly. Get a day where the temperature hits the mid 40's and the sun is shining and they will seem to be everywhere. I live on the banks of a decent trout stream and on those mild days my porch, deck and fence posts will be covered with them as they seem to be content to just soak up the rays.

They are a major hatch as far as numbers go but a minor hatch as far as surface activity is concerned. First, they crawl out of the water to hatch in sometimes inhospitable conditions such as high, flooded rivers. Second, most freestones in our area will be pretty empty of trout until the stocking trucks arrive. Third, in the words of Thomas Ames, Jr. "Fish are more likely to rise to early stoneflies when adult females are ovipositing and when there are other insects, like midges or early mayflies, to draw them to the surface."

I'll always have some imitations with me especially on March days at the Y Pool and those imitations will represent this insect's life stages with the egg laying stage being the most important IMNSHO. This also gives me a chance to play with quill bodies which is a fly tying skill that is being lost to the flow of time.

The egg laying stage -

Size 20 dry fly hook

sparse blue dun hackle fibers

body - dark grey stripped quill (Sharpies work well on getting the right shade of color

Hackle - Grey or black

This high floater can be skidded across the surface to imitate egg laying stones and does a good job at imitating the Winter Caddis too!

Now, to imitate the insect as it is hatching you need pattern like the one developed by the great Art Flick. Just take the pattern above,ditch the stiff hackles for small, webby brownish hen hackles and use a browning quill for the body. This fly will be fished around the rocky edges of the shore (Y Pool) just beneath the surface. It can also be used to fish over the spent stoneflies.

This fly is more important for getting your spirits up than for bringing trout up. That's why I'm mentioning it!!

The "Other" Swift River

Massachusetts has two Swift Rivers with the western river being a free flowing jewel. It's also a major tributary of the EB, dumping in to that river in the town of Cummington. It is a cool, mossy and shaded place that is one of those thin, blue lines that we all want to fish but.....

It's not hard to find and you should give it a try.

The Ground Hog is wrong!!!!!


Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Day On The Swift And Another Word On Emergers

"The term _Blue-Winged Olive" includes the Autumn emerger formerly called Pseudocloeon as well as Baetis, Diphetor, Acentrella, acerpenna, Procloeon, Centroptilum and others... What the winged stages have in common are their small size, a graceful taper, their apparent lack of a hind wing, and twin tails that they wag from side to side like a happy dog." Thomas Ames Jr. Hatch Guide For New England Streams

Size 20 BWO Emerger

First the Emergers - Bob Wyatt's DHE Emerger may be all that you need to represent that insect that is struggling to leave it's watery world and become airborne. But one thing that he does do is neglect the use of CDC which which is a MUST for the imitations size 18 and smaller. The little olives that play with us on the Millers every Fall are best imitated with a low lying, in the film pattern. Remember, trout will rise and break the surface for that emerger that is just under the surface and ignore the adult fly in the process. Emergers are easier to get to!!

The flies above are two styles of emergers. The tail end sinks below the surface but the thorax of loose dubbing and CDC floats the front end which gives this message to the trout: insect trapped in the film, free lunch!!!!

You can basically represent any mayfly species with this style of emerger. Along with Comparaduns I will not leave home without them.

Size 18 Crippled Dun

Now for the Swift - Last Friday was one of those days where it was warmer at 8 am than at Noon. The wind picked up and really made for some tough going for the few brave souls fishing below the gauge. How was the fishing? It was good! I picked up two bows up by the gauge run and then another in the flats below. I finally joined the crew down at the Pipe where caught one and dropped two. By Noon everyone had left.

Some observations - The fishing this Winter on the Swift has been very good. It is nothing like two years ago when snow, ice and brutal cold made the trout disappear. In fact, they seem to be spread out all along the river. There are also tales of some over sized browns being taken within the last two weeks. All you have to do is dress warm and pick a day that isn't windy.

Swift regular "Bill" told me of getting tangled in a long length of leader material that had 4 flies tied to it!!!. Needless to say that ultra Czech rig is totally illegal in this state. Two flies are the limit! We've never had to worry about fly fishers breaking the law. Let's keep it that way!!!


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mid Winter Musings - A Freestone Spring And Freestone Flies

The simple matter of drawing a fish up from the depths to the top for any surface fly is more of a thrill than having the same fish take the fly well under and getting first indication of his presence by a pull on the tackle rather than by sight.  In the words of Jack Young, a guide on the Serpentine River, "I don't believe there's a more beautiful thing in the world than to see a trout rise to a dry fly."  Lee Wulff

We are one month past the shortest day of the year  and in less than a month the sap lines and buckets will be working in the sugar bush. And every year it happens: I start thinking of Freestones. After the dry-as-a-bone 2016 I especially need to fish the Millers, EB and the Ware during the Spring and the Summer.  Now, our tailwaters saved the day and I'll be guiding this weekend on the Swift BUT I really want that big river fix and need to fish some big (compared to tailwaters) flies. Here's what I'm working on.


This great old fly has stayed true to pattern for a 100 years but now I'm changing the wing to CDC BECAUSE this insect sheds it's nymphal case on the bottom of the stream and swims to the top with its wings trailing behind it. Ditch the wood duck and go with CDC. (I also ditched the quill body)

MOBY DICK WET - Last Summer I wanted to show a friend my example of a Moby Dick Wet but realized that I didn't have any in my tackle bag. It's really a Millers River fly and kind of useless on the Swift. It's a great fly to have in late May and June while fishing the late afternoon and evening rise on the Millers. That rise will probably mean caddis are coming up and this fly, swung through the riffles, will get the job done. It's a busy fly to tie but it's a good change of pace from tailwater tiny!


The bushes along the Ware and the Millers will have millions of these caddis by the 2nd week of May. I've never liked the standard elk hair imitations because the seemed to have more of a May fly imitation than a caddis. It was about 5 years ago that I posted on this fly with it's wings reinforced with SCOTT TAPE. You get a REAL tent wing profile and the tape holds up really well.

Keep tying, Fish the Swift and Farmie, maybe hit the "thin blue lines" in a month if we're lucky and pray for an early Spring.

BTW, The Farmington is still very low for this time of year. Maybe they're trying to fill the resevoirs by holding water back OR maybe they have little water to hold back. It will be an interesting Spring.