Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Salmon Are Back And A Mystery Fly

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

You knew it was going to happen on the Swift as soon as the overflow started. Surface swimming LL Salmon would follow the current over the spillway and end up in the Y Pool just as in the Autumn of 2011.  I first saw evidence this past Wednesday as huge fish (bigger than the usual trout) began to bat around the Y. I got this photo from reader Hunter of this fish that the angler thought was a large brown.  It isn't!  Sunday my client and I cast for about an hour for some HUGE fish that were cruising the surface with HUGE dorsal fins that reminded me of sharks.

Back in 2011 we caught these fish on everything from tiny smelt streamers to hares ear nymphs right down to a size 30 larvae patterns.  One particular streamer pattern was the Goldie.  Contact Dan Trella for details.

The Swift flow is 192 cfs as I write on 11/12 at 5:45 am and with Tuesdays rain it will continue to go up.  The Bubbler Arm will be a sanctuary for trout hunters because that flow will not be effected by the spillway.  The PIPE is half submerged and may go underwater for the first time in about 4 years.  It appears that the usual brookie spawning spots are effected by this extreme flow.  I know of two spots that have not been effected (that means lots of spawning trout) but I will not fish them this year under these conditions.

Brookies And Blue Wings

 The incredible BWO hatch down in Cady Lane continues unaffected by the rising water. Yesterday around 1pm the water was littered with thousands of size 26ish mayflies which didn't give a damn about rising water or the cold wind/temperatures. Now, this area is fairly empty of it's larger brookies that have headed off upstream to the dance leaving the sub 6 inch fish to provide some entertainment.  THERE ARE THOUSANDS of these fish in that area which bodes well for the future. The question is: where were they last Summer???

Name That Fly

I got this email from reader David L. this weekend:
Hi Ken, 
What is this cone head streamer thing? I pulled it out of a tree while rescuing my own fly on trophy stretch of upper Connecticut. I have since caught several huge fish on it. Good down deep in big water conditions. Can't figure out how to buy more.
Any help appreciated. Couldn't figure out how to post the picture in your blog to get reader help. 
Lets solve this mystery!!!

Next Post: River Wrap Up!


Thursday, November 8, 2018

A Sad Sight And "Natural" Flies

"If I fished only to capture fish my fishing trips would have ended long ago" - Zane Grey

In the Fall of 2017 I was primed to fish this one section of the Swift and that second were the large gravel flats found below the Duck Pond. For the past few years this section had been the the TOP brookie spawning area on the river, period. Hundreds of brook trout built redds and many,many rainbows and browns patrolled the area for the stray eggs.

In late September of 2017 scouted the place out and was dismayed/shocked at the weed growth that had taken over the flats. Needless to say, brookie spawning in that spot was abysmal! I was hoping that 2017 was a freak year. It was not!

The above photo was taken on Wednesday. All of the prime gravel beds are under a sea of green and instead of hundreds of BT I saw 3!
There were a few "open" areas but the increased flow probably makes them unsuitable. Two years ago you saw very little weed growth.

The weeds seem to start at the Duck Pond and head downstream. Above the pond there is very little growth.

Natural Flies

I wish that I had coined the label "Junk Flies". You know, the garish, glitzy, bead headed monstrosities or those squirmy wormy creatures in day glow radioactive colors. When I fish I want the trout think that my fly is the real think and not something to strike out of fear. I get more satisfaction out of catching a trout on a nymph like the one in the photo then catching six on a san juan whatever.

The Weekend

The Millers - 3010 cfs

The EB - 1150 cfs

The Swift - 144 cfs but still very fishable. It is really the only game in town so to speak. If the expected rain on Friday is lighter than the forecast the EB may be fishable by early next week which is not too late for this river. I've had good late November days on the EB. The Millers?? See you next May!!!


Sunday, November 4, 2018

Over The Top And The "Dark Season"

Over the last decade or so, as the growth in the number of fly fishermen has plateaued, it’s become harder and harder for the large wholesale fly companies to grow or even maintain their sales. As a way of combating this, the introduction of new fly patterns is something they’ve come to rely on. The same is true for many fly shops and independent fly tiers. At all levels of distribution, new flies represent both monetary incentive and reward. How well they catch fish isn’t nearly as important as how well they sell. - Hatch Magazine


Well, it had to happen with the two months of steady rain that we have had. The Quabbin finally crested the overflow arm and began to flow into the Swift. The  photo to the left was taken at 9:30 am on Saturday November 3 and although it's not a lot of water it can be enough to change the strategy for this river. Fridays' heavy rain blew the river from 55 cfs to 100 overnight. Much of that increase was due to the RAIN hitting below the dam and not from the overflow but the overflow may keep everything higher than it's been for a few months. The river leveled off  but it may not drop to that "sweet spot" of 55 cfs for a while.  Wherever it lands I hope that the BWO action doesn't stop early.  It's been the best in years.

The Bubbler Arm will be the least affected but this rain. There is no increase in the release so it should be fine.

What to expect - the overflow may last for months meaning that there may be some LL Salmon taking the plunge as in 2011. There was a lot more water back then so we will see. It also means if that if the overflow continues through the Winter and Spring we could have some SUPER dry fly action on that arm on warm March and early April days. We always have. My concern is if we have too much water downstream it may hinder the brookie spawning. Again we will see.

The Dark Season

I'm a traditionalist which makes me lean towards freestones and the best time to fish freestones is on a Spring or Summer evening. Insects are hatching and trout are rising and I am in heaven.  Sadly, those days are gone until late March where we will have longer days without balmy temperatures for a while.  Until then the tailwaters will have to do.

The Quote At The Top

I found that quote to be fairly accurate but a bit limited in scope.  If the number of flyfishers have "plateaued" then it would effect all parts of our game and not just flies.  There are many more types of rods now than "back in the day" and I believe that it is an attempt to squeeze every $$$ out of us by creating  a solution in search of a problem. We now seem to need a rod for every situation instead of a rod for all occasions. The industry is turning many of us into gear heads.  I still fish 10 and 20 year old rods and never felt undergunned or handicapped.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Big Brookies

Hi Ken - 

Was out on the swift for a bit Monday and had some luck with your partridge and orange size 16. There were 4 cars where we usually meet so I tried up at the Y pool and got one bow at the log just before the pool and then another in the pool. Never would have had the knowledge or the confidence to do this without your helpful teaching - much appreciated and many thanks !  - Client Comment

The Swift brookies seem larger this year with two in the 12 inch plus range plus other large brookies being spotted. The run hasn't reached Rt 9 yet (I have spies there) but it will. Remember, STAY OFF THE GRAVEL!!!!!!!

The brookie in the net was taken with a size 26 BWO snowshoe emerger. There has been a large steady hatch of this insect over the last few weeks with duns running down to size 30 (they say). I think that they are larger than that and I've been using 26 and 28 size flies and catching fish. Size 24 in that pattern took an 18 inch brown and hooked a larger one that threw the hook for my client. Dry fly fishing in October??  Don't miss it.

Some don't like fishing over these tiny flies but it is really a blast and a challenge. You should try it!!!

The "Other" Rivers

Just as soon as things were getting good the rains will come again. The EB is at 399 as of 7am 11/1 and will go up by tomorrow evening and then rise some more on Saturday. The Ware is at 288 and that will increase. The Millers? Forgetaboutit!!! The EB and Ware should be fishable by next Tuesday!  The Swift, as usual, knows how to behave with a nice skinny flow of 50 cfs.

The BWO Emerger

The magic is in the wing material because it will float the front of the fly while the back end sinks. I will use snowshoe hair OR very fine wing post material.  Olive thread and light olive dubbing for the thorax right down to size 28 and then no thorax on smaller sizes.  They are easy to tie but a bitch to tie to the leader in low light!

Happy November


Monday, October 29, 2018

The BROOKIES Are Back!!

"A very nice read and guide to the Millers, thank you. Of course I have my favorite spots, many that coincide with yours. I am sure that I will re read your guide several times. The most important thing for me is, how to fish the spots, not necessarily where the spots are".- Reader comments about the Millers Guide  and the MAIN reason why I guide on the Millers which is SOMETIMES YOU NEED A GUIDE!!!


THEY'RE BACK and they came back with a vengeance. The wave of brookies are leaving their summer homes and are heading upstream. I took a beautiful 12 inch male in the gauge run and saw several others along with the browns. I have heard that the BT are scarce above RT 9 but that should change soon. So tie up some eggs, tie up some Partridge and Orange SH and get at it. Remember, don't walk on spawning grounds and that is everywhere you find clean gravel. Walk on weeds,leaves,sand or any debris to reach your location.

For the record - according to this blog the brook trout began their upstream march in 2017 on 10/22. It was earlier the year before and a week later this year.

Autumn On The EB

How are the other rivers doing? Well, here are the current flows for them as of 5:30 am on 10/29:

Millers - 949 and rising.  I may have to write this river off for the season. Even with no rain for November the seasonal draw down from Lake Tully will fix that. (Thank you Bill from Tully for the info)

Ware - 167 and dropping. It's hard to believe that the flow is excellent here after all this rain.  FISH THIS RIVER

The EB - 563 and dropping. And it will drop a lot with every dry day that we get. I'm looking at a flow of below 500 to hit some areas and a flow below 400 to hit most of the river. That will happen by mid week hopefully.

Book a November Trip

We have fished the EB well into November over the years and have had excellent catches.  I remember client Van tossing a stimulator into the run on the right and having it smashed by a large hungry bow! Want to get in on the action on the Swift?  Book me for a 3 or 6 hour trip.  Want to explore the Ware? Same answer as above.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Looking For Browns

(g) Swift River: From the Windsor Dam to the Rte. 9 bridge crossing. In addition to the provisions of 321 CMR 4.01(2)(a), fly fishing only is permitted on the Swift River between Windsor Dam and the Rte. 9 crossing. All anglers must use a conventional fly rod and fly line. -  Ma. DFW Regulations: Tenkara and tight line nymphers beware!!!   

                                                               Can You See Him?
The Rainbows of the Pipe and the Y Pool swim in wide open areas  during broad daylight. They will let you break the current for them and have been known to swim between your boots. In short, they are accustomed to us. They provide sport which is important.  Browns are different. Browns don't trust us! They like to hide next to logs and weeds and undercut banks. A bright sunny day will just turn them off.  Clouds and drizzle work fine and night is even better. They are my favorite trout.

They saved trout fishing in the Eastern U.S. 130 years ago when transplanted from Scotland and Germany by filling the void left by our brook trout and in fact populated rivers or sections of rivers that had never or seldom had trout. (The Millers may have been one of these). They established themselves nicely in their new home and grew bigger and faster than the brookies did. They were also blamed for preying on brook trout populations, a fact that we tend to celebrate on the Swift today.

I think it is safe to say that the browns have established themselves in more streams and rivers than the rainbow has, at least in Massachusetts. Two thirds of the trout that are stocked in this State are rainbows but they don't reproduce well (sterile females?). Every once and awhile we get a few 5 inch bows over a short period of time in the Swift but they are always 5 inches not 3 to 6 inches which would be evidence of some year classes (like the brookies) and not just escapees from the same tank.  It's a different story with the browns. I've caught them from 3 inches to 6 inches in the Swift and in the Millers.  Not a lot but enough to prove a point.
Browns like places that a lot of nymphing fly fishers don't like to fish - slow current, lots of trout cover, (weeds and wood), undercut banks (as in the photo) and overhanging trees. All of this will make your garden variety tightline nympher head for the hills or the nearest safe and civilized riffle. Fans of brown trout search these wild places out.  I have fished this one section of the Millers that is a pile of rocks and logs and brown trout AND HAVE NEVER SEEN ANOTHER ANGLER THERE. I don't think I ever will!!!

Last, but not least, the brown is wired to feeding on the surface. Sure, you can bounce a rainbow warrior off it's nose and he might snap at it but the real fun is to take a sub #18 dry and follow that slow deliberate rise to that magic moment.  As friend Matt said after releasing an 18 inch brown from a size 18 dry "Sure you can fish a subsurface fly but why would you?"

Browns are magic!  They make you work for them.  Browns are my favorite trout!  I like brook trout too but.......

Blue Wing Olives

It has been a great Autumn for this mayfly on the Swift.  I've heard tales of size 30 and 32 BWO but size 22 and 24 emerger flies have done very well.  The fly?? A BWO emerger tied like a Wyatt's DHE but with snowshoe hair or slate grey post wing material for the wing.  The rear of the body sinks but the wing keeps it in the surface film. It is a killer!  If the Millers comes down it will be my fly like it was last Autumn but the Millers has to come down for that dainty morsel to be used.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Millers, The Swift And Book Me

"There is a lot of room for good lures in our trout fly boxes, as the purpose for them will exist as long as there are trout. And designs meant to be swung (as opposed to dangled under a bobber) will always fill a sporty niche."  The Soft Hackle Journal - Trout Spey And The Art Of The Swing

At 660 CFS one would have an outside chance of catching something so off to the the reliable Bridge Street Pool of the Millers on Tuesday morning. The flow was manageable if I didn't wade too far out and the hunch paid off with two browns coming to the net within an hour. It's a big difference from the last two years where low flows kept the trout schooled up and double digit numbers were easy. This year you have to hunt for them. As it turned out the flow increased overnight and is now running over 700 cfs. I'll keep the faith and hope that November will be good on this river. It always has.

Big Browns - Browns are not like rainbows. They will not be found  swimming around in the open especially in broad daylight. Instead they seek the  cover of brush piles, logs and undercut banks. If you are not seeing big browns you are looking in the wrong places.  Also, the rise form is discreet, almost dainty and one would think that a tiny brook trout was at play until 18 inches or more of brown trout explodes across the pool.

Book Me - We still have a good month of good conditions. The Swift, EB and Ware all have great flows and have been stocked so what's stopping you?  Contact me!                                                   

Since Monday we have spied browns on the Swift that were in the 4lb range and have hooked and or landed browns in excess of 18 inches and all of them rose to size 20 to 24 BWO!!!