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.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Dropping A Dime, Another Winter Fly And Happy Thanksgiving

"Creeps and idiots cannot conceal themselves for long on a trout stream" - John Gierach

I week ago I reported that I found a small treble hook on the Swift. I wrote about it on this blog and reported it to the Environmental Police. Now I've been told that another has been found.

Treble hooks, even ones with power bait festooned to them, are snagging tools and HAVE TO BE REPORTED. Take the phone number that's on the top of this page and stick it in your phone. The "game wardens" have been very responsive and I've heard that they've nabbed some creeps these past two weeks. If you see a violation do one thing: report it. That gets the police down there.

Do not confront the creeps or try to reason with them. Some "good guys" have the force of presence to make someone back down and leave but most don't so drop a dime on them. It's the best way. That means not just talking about it but doing it!!!

My Swift River Serendipity is always with me from November through March. This small (sizes 18 through 24) fly just seems to wake them up on the coldest of days. I eliminated the deer hair wing on the standard dressing and replaced it with white turkey flat to sink it quickly. There is no bead or weight of any kind built into the fly, just the optional tiny split shot. Some say that it represents an aquatic worm with the red color but I believe that's wishful thinking. It's as close as I get to an attractor pattern and in the Spring it's tied in olive and becomes a real insect!

A word on split shot - I seldom use weight but when I do it's not incorporated into the fly any longer but in the form of tiny shot anywhere between a foot to 20 inches above the fly. There are some reasons for this. First, weighted flies do not have the action of unweighted flies dancing below a split shot. Second, I lose more weighted flies than unweighted flies. If anything, I snag the shot but since the shot is tied onto a tag it easily slips off with a few tugs.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!!!!


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Why I Like Soft Hackles And December Guiding

Note 1 - originally posted on Sunday 11/19

Note 2
Read commentator Gary Cranston's comment on 11/14/17 about fishing the EB this past week WITHOUT WADERS. It's not too late!!!

"There's always a hot new fly. Precious few of these patterns are genuine breakthroughs destined to last for a hundred years, but more often they're idle comments on existing traditions, explorations of half-baked theories, attempts to use new and interesting materials to impress other tiers or excuses to rename old patterns. The results are often pointless fads like the craze in some pretentious restaurants of plopping fried quail eggs on everything and calling sandwiches panninis." - John Gierach

Ok, I'm known as the Soft Hackle guy and for good reason. Under every condition other than flooded rivers the Soft Hackle Fly, in all of it's sizes, is the deadliest  fly that you can attach to your leader BECAUSE it represents the living insect better than any other fly. Now, I'm not talking about plutonium glow, super root beer estaz glitz that doesn't even make an attempt to look like you are TRYING to imitate anything that lives in that stream you're fishing. You are not imitating anything BECAUSE all trout food in a stream relies on some for of camouflage to survive. You have entered the murky world of attractor fishing that brings up the question of why a trout would bite that thing. Even Thomas Ames couldn't solve the question of why a trout would hit a bead head nymph. Was it the body material or the bead? Two years ago I answered the question by gluing a bead to a hook, no material added, and caught some stream wise Swift River browns with it. I haven't been able to hook a trout on a bare hook yet but will keep trying.

What makes soft hackles work. It's the movement of the flimsy hackles that we use AND the profile of the body that we tie. It looks and acts like a living insect and that is the key. The colors are muted and found in the aquatic insect world. And wrapping a soft hackle around the thorax of some space age concoction doesn't make it a soft hackle, sorry.

The more natural the better and that means natural materials. Try working more with natural materials such as body furs and natural fibers such as silk and cotton.

Every aquatic insect in the size 8 to size 18 range can be imitated with a SH and that's all of the mayflies, caddis, stoneflies and such and that includes ALL of their life stages. I will add that a soft hackle, swung in the current initiates a heavy strike, much heavier than the take of a weighted nymph. That's what I look forward to!!

Dress them sparsely by not overdoing the hackles and body. Keep them THIN! The last 30 trout taken by my clients have been on sparse partridge and olives in sizes 16 and 18 including a brute 20 inch bow this week. So, ditch the glitter, present the fly correctly and go catch some trout!!!

December is a lot warmer than January and some days in the past have been fairly balmy. The fishing has been great so book me!!!!


Rating The Rivers 2017

"There are no dams on it, and it runs clear, cold, and clean for most of the year. This attribute attracts trout from the main stem and other branches when the water levels there are high and roiled in the spring and again in the summer when the other waters can warm to dangerous levels". - Tom Fuller on the West Branch of the Westfield in Trout Streams of Southern New England

Rating The Rivers, a yearly feature of this blog, is now going into its 7th season. Things change on a river from year to year and one can see it in how it fishes. This feature is basically a review and a casual ranking of the rivers that I fish and guide on. Much of the ranking is based in comparison to the ranking of previous years. Here we go!


I should have a category for seasonal streams and if I did the MB would win it every time. First, It is beautiful. Second, it runs clear and cold and third it is fun to fish. It's one drawback is that it does get bony by late June during a dry spell and that is the time that one just drops down to where it empties into Littleville Reservoir especially on June evenings. Put the MB on your April, May list.

5th Place - The EB

Ok, it's beautiful, wild and scenic and six miles of catch and release BUT it seems like it's been treated like a redheaded stepson the last year. First, It's not stocked from the Gorge downstream until the 3rd week in May and when it is the fish are dumped in two or three spots which will give a lucky angler a 50 fish day. Second, it got left off the Fall stocking list this year because the DFW said it was "too low and warm". It wasn't and I told them that. How to improve things: First, kill off that 3rd week of May TU stocking and stock this river in late April at the FIRST TURNOFF below the Gorge in high water. The trout, mostly bows, will drift down through the entire C&R instead of ganging up at stocking points which is what happens now. The fishing experience will improve.

Was it all bad this year? No, actually late August and early September were very good with a flow around 60 cfs (too low according the the experts) and water temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees (too warm according to the experts). We had good evening fishing and the early morning outings were fabulous but what few fish we had were concentrated in summer holding areas. A Fall stocking would have given a fishing opportunity for many before the season winds down.

4th Place The West Branch Of The Westfield

First time on the list for this gorgeous river!! The WB reminds me of the "New Girl in School", the head turner that makes everyone else become an afterthought! Tom Fuller's quote at the top of this blog talks about the physical qualities of this river. I'm astounded by the beauty of it and began to ignore some other streams last Spring just to spend time here. I did some scouting, was given the chef's tour by Gary and ended up catching fish up and down the river. It is an average size river with all the trappings that we look for: deep pools, riffles and runs. It is a CADDIS river for sure. Fish it in 2018!

3rd Place - The Ware River

Best Hatches of 2017 (Quill Gordons and Hendricksons)
Best flows of Spring 2017
A Spring stocking of browns that were still around being caught in October.
A river that is much cooler than one thinks it is. (temperatures are online)

While the Millers was running high during May the Ware stayed in its banks and provided GREAT fishing. This fertile stream is a mayfly heaven and it produced the best looking, dark browns to be caught during October (the DFW didn't stock browns in the Fall, just bows). One of it's charms is that it will probably never be overfished because that other river is just over the hill and grabs all the attention. Good for us!!!

2nd Place - The Swift

Sorry, but tailwaters are held to a higher standard. While freestones are in flood a tailwater has a fishable flow (mostly). When freestones are running warm a tailwater is in the high 50's and it's trout are dancing in the open current while freestone trout seek springs and undercut banks (another reason to like freestones). What's not to like about tailwaters? Nothing mostly, but since I brought it up:
1. Crowd control is an issue. Why do people flock to the same spots on this river?? TRY ANOTHER SPOT!! You might surprise yourself. 2. Stocking of trout - Stable flows and stable temperatures don't give trout much incentive to move around and we see this year after year. A little effort at stocking the 2nd turnoff on River Rd and FINALLY stocking at the gauge would buy some goodwill.

How was the fishing? The June 30 stocking below RT 9 WAS BELOW the numbers of fish stocked in previous years. (This was stated in an email exchange between one of my readers and the DFW) Word has it that 2016 and 2015 had surpluses of fish stocked. 2017 didn't. People were used to the higher numbers, complained and began to stay away. IT WAS WONDERFUL!! That pesky problem of crowd waters was diminished a bit. It was weird to show up during a Summer evening at the Tree Pool and find NOBODY there. The Brook Trout - they keep adding to their numbers and also getting bigger all of the time. There will be a tipping point in the future and that may be due to the expanding BROWN TROUT population. A 17lb brown was recorded by the DFW and numerous 5 to 10lb monsters are seen frequently. The brook trout provide forage which will also help their population too.

The Swift is a gem without a trout management program as advertised in Connecticut and that's very cool!

1ST Place - The Millers!

Most of May was a washout but then this river whipped into shape and gave us a June and July that was memorable. Evening fishing held up all Summer and the browns that were stocked in early May were still there at Labor Day. October had the best mid day, dry fly fishing that I've ever experienced on this river in over 30 years of fishing it and that lasted until Mother Nature shut it down. Still, it was the best and made the best memories. That's what it's all about, right??


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Big Brookies, A Change In Spawning Habitat, And Treble Hooks

"We do have to think seriously about conservation now, although it is chilling to realize there are catch-and-release fishermen alive today who don't know how to clean and cook a fish" - John Gierach

The brook trout are bigger this year on the Swift and there are more of them. Client Ray took two that were over a foot long yesterday on a size 16 partridge and orange swung along the bottom in six inches of water. The P&O did a great job and the bows and brookies accounting for all 18 fish (6 bows, 12 brookies). We covered water from the Tree Pool all the way up to the Bubbler Run and took fish everywhere. It was a good day.

Now for some disturbing observations. First, one of the PRIME spawning runs of the last few years seems to be out of commission and that is the riffle and gravel runs below the Duck Pond. Last year at this time it provided the best fishing, especially for bows who followed the brookies upstream to the vast gravel/spawning beds in the area. That has changed this year. I was there scouting in early October and noticed the gravel was mostly buried in weeds that were not there last year. There were no brookies either. Forward cast into mid November and the place is barren with nothing but weed growth over what was once clean gravel.

What causes this? Rapid weed growth is usually the result of an increased nutrient load in the river. Looks like a bit of study by the DFW and TU is in order. It is also a reality check for the hand wringers who don't like people fishing over brookies in the Fall. The LOSS OF HABITAT is ALWAYS the culprit!

NOTICE : I found an interesting rig at the Pipe lot Monday morning. It was a tiny treble hook embedded in a hunk of power bait!!!  The leader was still attached and it was light, maybe around 4x, and could of been used with a fly rod.

KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN!!! This is OUR river at least till January 1st when we are forced to share it. Until then, turn them in!!!!!!  800-632-8075 is the number!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Western NY Trip

"I love hearing theories about flies. True or not, they always sound so good" - John Gierach

What does a guide do when he has a day off? He drives 5 1/2 hours to western New York to fish a private section of an excellent "lake run" stream for outsized browns and rainbows. He's also greeted by some mid November western NY "ambiance" in the form of 2 inches of frozen slush, gale force winds, highs in the teens and a wind chill around zero. I loved every minute of it!!!!

My client Matt arranged the trip and set us up with Guide Jason Franz. Jason really knows his stuff from the river, to the flies and to the fish. And unlike some other guides who treat every trip like it's the Invasion of Normandy, Jason has a sense of calm while always pointing us in the right direction. He's a very friendly guy!

The 24 hour shift to subarctic conditions killed the bite. Matt had and lost a bow about 20 inches. He was the only angler that I saw that had a hit that day - except me! Came close to landing a 5lb bow but landed it's twin a short time later. The prize of the trip and the reason for the trip was the 6 to 7lb male brown that dug deep and made a slug fest out of it.

First time with a switch rod. It could get habit forming!!!

If you're interested in a future trip just contact: or look him up at or call at 585-615-6504. THE STEELHEAD WILL BE THERE IN THE SPRING.

As you know, I get no discounts for this endorsement.


The "Lost" Post About Swift Browns

One shouldn't get too cute on the keyboard when one is on zero sleep. I ended up deleting the Post on the Swift River browns and the 13 reader comments that went with it.

I can re-post the photos but not the comments.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

November On The Fly - From Soft Hackles To Dries!

" The style of nymph fishing in which a small nymph is tied on eighteen or twenty inches below a split shot and fished on a short line is often called the South Platte method and stories about it on the river date back at least to the 1930's, when a member of the Wigman Club was asked to stop fishing that way or be ejected from the club for catching too many trout. To be fair, though, the method is so obvious and so much like bait fishing that it was probably independently invented at one time or another on every river in America, although it wasn't until the 1970's that it began to be seen as anything more than cheating." - John Gierach (His view on the origins of tight-line nymphing??)

Some days just seem to work out nicely and yesterday was one of them. I met my client at 7:45 at a crowded Swift River(Pipe) parking lot. The neat thing was instead of making a beeline to the pipe etc we worked our own stretch of water that is overlooked by most and then spent the next 3 hours covering about 200 yards of gorgeous water pursuing spawning bows (well, trying to spawn) while meeting only one angler.

The bows were ganging up on the gravel and my "sure bet" egg fly struck out. So on went a size 16 P&O SH and all hell broke loose. So did the 6 big bows that grabbed that fly! I think that they have the advantage when fighting in shallow water. No undone knots and nothing foul hooked. Just hook pull outs.

We then worked our way downstream to meet our first angler of the morning who claimed that he couldn't get the pod of brookies he was fishing over to take anything. My client went to work and and immediately landed brookies including one around 12 inches and and another about the same size that got away!

Now for the Pipe. Remember that I said that the parking lot was full in the early morning? Well, by 10 am I saw a significant thinning of the ranks as evidenced by the steady stream of waders heading back to the parking lot. By 11 am we we stepped into the river at the tail of the pipe run and with only two other anglers within sight, one at the pipe and one at the end of the Tree Pool.

Trout were smacking the P&O but there was a significant hatch going on that looked like winter caddis. Off went the SH and on went the #22 caddis dry. It was exactly the correct offering as brookies and bows both rose to this fly.

All told we got into the double digits before we broke for lunch and then took a trip to the Y Pool which my client had never seen before. There were only two other anglers there which seemed odd.

This season isn't over by a long shot. The average daily high temperature for November is comparable to that of April and if you want we can start later in the day when it's warmer. So, if you want to wring out the last of the hours left in your fishing license just contact me!!