Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Season Is Starting, Some Myth Busting And Booking A Trip

I think of fly rods the same way Bill Belechick thinks of position players. Can you play guard AND center? Can you play tight end AND be a long snapper or whatever. Versatility!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've got a closet full of rods but I haven't bought a graphite rod since 2008 because everything that I have works plus I spend too much $$ on bamboo which is great to own and just admire. It's fun to fish with it too! 

Ok, the stocking trucks are rolling and have hit area ponds and lakes (stocking lakes keeps the bait boys off the rivers, somewhat) and the Swift River. There will be some easy fishing at the Swift until the trout earn their graduate degrees in about a week.

The other rivers look like this for 3/22:

Millers - 675 cfs, current flow  1060 cfs yearly average

Ware - 187 cfs  360 cfs yearly average

WB Westfield 134 cfs  299 cfs yearly average

EB Westfield 344 cfs  464 cfs yearly average

Swift 52 cfs doesn't matter!

My prediction - things will get a bit worse in the next week as the snow begins to melt and the rivers begin to rise AND get colder (snow melt chills down a river). That may even keep the stocking trucks off the bigger freestones for a week or two which is not a bad thing. In the meantime tie some big, heavy stoneflies such as the one pictured above. Also tie all of the weighted buggers that you want. Remember, March is still very early to hit the freestones.  I remember OPENING DAY years ago on the third Saturday in APRIL when the rivers were cold and flooded.  Such is New England. And remember, heavy snows in the winter are no predictor of late spring or summer flows. I've seen rivers almost dry up after very snowy winters!!!

Where's The Rust?

I've been fishing the surf in a warm climate (someone has to do it) for a week now and carrying on an experiment that started a few years ago, namely, testing the corrosive resistance of freshwater metals in a saltwater environment. Now, I have traditional saltwater fly fishing gear but I've been using streamers tied on 3XL freshwater hooks and I've been catching fish. These streamers have been used in the salt for 2 years and show no metal rot!! They are still sharp and hard. Secondly, I'm using a very inexpensive fly reel (Cabela's Wind River reel) made from machined aluminum which resists corrosion. It's the second year for this reel and there's no rust and everything works fine. All I do is a freshwater rinse after fishing.  BTW, this setup is a 6wt with a full sinking line with an 8 1/2 foot rod. I've been catching blues in the 16 to 18 inch range and it reminds me of catching schoolies with this rig  on the North Shore. Lots of fun. Word has it that bigger fish are on the way so the 8wt will come into play.

Book Now

Don't wait too long.  I have a calendar that is booking up quickly but since I guide 7 days a week plus offer 3 and 6 hour trips I can always find a spot for you.  Plus I guide on more rivers than anyone around.  Contact me!!!!!


Monday, March 19, 2018

Random Thoughts About Fishing And Booking A Trip.

"I think I fish, in part, because it's an anti-social, bohemian business that, when gone about properly, puts you forever outside the mainstream culture without actually landing you in an institution" - John Gierach 

It was easily over 35 years ago when a fly fishing magazine published an article on Oregon's Deschutes River accompanied by a beautiful photo of a solitary angler with the caption that went something like this: "A lonely flyfisher plies the Deschutes at sunset". In that pre-internet age we had to wait until the next issue of the magazine when a comment on that photo appeared in the Letters to the Editor column which went like this: "I disagree with your photo caption. A flyfisher may be alone but is never lonely". The writer of that letter described the culture of fly fishing for many of us in the way that John Gierach does in the quote at the top of this post. Fly fishing has been, historically, a solitary endeavor AND if my guiding requests are any indication it still is one. "I don't want to fish in a crowded spot" is the constant refrain and I am very happy to oblige them so off we go to where I fish and if time permits we will visit the crowded spots!

But things are changing. Gierach's  bohemian aspect is being challenged because fly fishing is now becoming a mainstream activity. I've known two people who had to choose between fly fishing or golf as a #1 activity. Golf is the great social sport but fly fishing really never had that kind of element but now...

1. I had the feeling back in the 80's when Jane Fonda said that when she dies she wants to come back as a Montana fly fishing guide that the things were going bad. Here are some other observations that are disturbing:

2. I've known some fly fishers that like to leave freestones at dusk. That's why we have tailwaters!

3. I've known some  fly fishers who don't like to travel alone on a trout stream. (I had one guy who asked if I was afraid to meet any weird people out here. My response was that they are more afraid of me!) The BEST fly fishers that I know always seem to fish alone. They will meet people and old friends on the stream but still fish mostly alone.

4. I've known some  fly fishers who can't stop talking about equipment. This is understandable with newbies  (or golfers) but you would like to think that they would outgrow this stage and realize that there are fly fishers who will out fish them with a broom handle BECAUSE it's SKILL that matters, not equipment. Will six inches of rod length and one size lighter in line REALLY make a difference? I know of one individual in the fly fishing business who doesn't like the Swift because it's too crowded and people talk too much!!

4. I've heard that fly fishers are the anglers that are the most devoted to their sport. I disagree because I've gotten to know some "dyed in the wool" surf casters that can claim that title and I don't mean seaworm dunkers but the guys that turn or mold their own plugs or work metal to build a lure.  They are the guys that follow the tides around the clock and will fish through the night if things look right. They are diabolical in their devotion and if you see one of them coming off the beach at dawn you will know what I mean!

Ok, I confess - I'm in my second week of a Florida vacation with temperatures in the 70's and 80's. The fishing has been "fair" to this point with blues creating the action. Yes, I know that New England's weather for the past week has SUCKED but adversity builds strength  so you will be better for it.  Just don't complain when it's 90 degrees in July.

My calendar is filling up quickly but I have dates available in April, May and June on 8 different rivers for 3 or 6 hour trips WITH NO ANNOYING DEPOSIT required and at prices that are the most reasonable.  Want to get away from the crowds?  Book a trip!!!!


Friday, March 16, 2018

Freestones Part 2 -The "Other" Westfield, The WB

A miserable concoction of wire and wool, a thing anyone could make in less than a minute, and which to the human eye has not the slightest resemblance to any living creature’. Frank Sawyer on his Killer Bug

The WB of The Westfield

I was suiting up on the banks of the West Branch of the Westfield when this pickup pulls up. "Any luck" the driver said. I said I was just getting ready and then asked the same question to him. I caught him! Been after him for two weeks". The "Him" was a rainbow about 22 inches that was caught and released and he did this on one of the most beautiful streams in western Massachusetts - The WB.

This river is truly a "branch" of the Westfield unlike the so called "East Branch" which is really the main stem of the Westfield (ask the Army Corp of Engineers, they'll tell you). The EB carries twice as much water as the WB which doesn't make it a branch at all. But even with half the volume it is just as good a trout river as the EB and maybe even better. First, this watershed runs through a fairly narrow valley meaning that the river is not that wide and spread out so it keeps its depth. Second, being a fairly narrow stream it benefits from the shade canopy. Maybe that's why it runs so cool in the summer.

Yes, Rt 20 runs along its length but you don't have the steady stream of bathers, bikers, hikers and dog walkers that you get on the popular EB.

You Are Alone

If solitude is your style this is the river. If you meet anyone it will be a fisherman. I have fished for hours and seen nobody.

The Fishing

This river reminds me of the Deerfield but drawn down to scale. Bows and browns rule the roost and it is the summer home of main branch trout seeking relief from the heat. A drawback will occur when we hit a mid summer drought but that occurs on any freestone.

The Wb is a gem and is not too hard to find. Take a brake from the EB and try the WB. Standard offerings used in central New England will work here.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Saying Goodbye To Lefty

 “I feel that many people who are not really versed in the sport have either written or spoken about it, and they have attempted to create a concept that this is a very difficult sport to master. That simply isn’t true.” Lefty Kreh

We want things to last forever but they simply do not.  Lefty Kreh, the greastest instructor of fly fishing in print and in person, Passed away today at 93.  Active past the age of 90, he was truly our ambassador in a sport that needs an ambassador as one can glean from his quote from the top of the page. He was the real thing, the genuine article without a hint of pretense or snobbery and there may never be another  like him.

I met him years ago at a fishing show and it was like meeting Ted Williams or Pedro Martinez. You knew you were in a special place, in rarefied air as they say, and Lefty made it special by taking a real interest in your question regardless of how many times he had been asked it. It was almost as if you had always known him!

He is gone but will not be forgotten.  Read his work if you haven't or read it again if you have.  You'll be the better for it!

R.I.P. Lefty


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Home Waters - The Freestones, Part 1

"I don't know about you, but I can get tired of fishing in a crowd, even when the fishing itself is real good.....I can even be sociable and have made some friends along trout rivers, but to me a large part of fly fishing is the quiet and solitude" - John Gierach, Fly Fishing Small Streams

I like freestone rivers and central Massachusetts has a bunch of them. One of the reasons that I like them is that they all have a different personality. Tailwaters? Not so much. Turn off the cold water tap and you mayhave an trout stream, maybe not. Freestones shine in the Spring, reward the angler who knows enough not to fish them until the sun is low on Summer evenings and then shine again to the skillful angler in the Fall. Trout fishing on a freestone long after the stocking truck leaves is like trout hunting. A tailwater is close to being a hunting preserve: trout everywhere with, it seems, little regard to your attempts to catch it.

There are no second rate freestones!!

The Ware - this river came into my world a bit late. I now think of how many Quill Gordon and Hendrickson blizzards I missed over the years and according to the old timers that I've met there were a lot! This river is rich and full of insect and like the Millers it holds onto it's browns. Last Spring browns were stocked and browns made up 50% of my catches this past Fall although the Ware didn't get any Fall browns!!

Swing a soft hackle over it's riffles and runs and you will catch fish. A Partridge and Orange and Partridge and olive in sizes 10 through 14 will do the trick. It was also my #1 streamer river last year!

This river is never crowded even at the stocking points and you can have it pretty much to yourself at any time.

The next post will deal with two sister rivers: the West and Middle Branches of the Westfield River.

Keep tying flies and scouting rivers, especially those "thin blue lines." These are the streams whose name and location I never divulge. The DFW still likes to stock some of these little gems with stockers dumped on top of native born fish, I'll divulge those streams but not the real McCoys!!


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Jazzing Up Your Mops And Spring Will Come

" I've gone fishing thousands of times in my life and I have never once felt unlucky of poorly paid for those hours on the water." William Tapply

Nothing looks worse than your standard mop fly. You know what I'm talking about - a one color mop finger with a bead head. There is no creativity here and we know it! We can do better with a little imagination!

Remember, what comes out of our vises is supposed to look like a living creature because that's what trout like to eat. They don't want to eat squiggly pieces of cotton that are lashed to a hook but will snap at them due to, well, territorial rage. Let's make something that looks REAL and ALIVE!! And it's going to be easy!

First, you'll ditch the bead head and use BEAD CHAIN EYES. Nothing looks more alive than a fly with eyes. (check out saltwater streamers if you don't believe me) Tie them in on top of the hook shank to get the fly to ride hook up and below the hook shank for the standard effect.

Second, put a collar on this fly of either buggy dubbing or dub on some marabou to get an even buggier effect.

Third, use a sharpie to add to lifelike color to the creation. I like brown.

Forth, notice that the top fly has a collar of large partridge. Do anything that you want. Remember, I've caught trout with this fly on almost every river that I used it on. (the river where it failed was on the WB of the Westfield. I'll fix that this spring!)


Saturday, March 3, 2018

A Swift Surprise And This Blog

"There are lies, damned lies, and statistics" - Benjamin Disraeli

Well, I wasn't going back there and by that I mean the Y Pool. If it wasn't for the deep snow and cold of this rapidly fading winter I may not have fished it at all. Let's face it. It's just too damn crowded up there!.But this deep spot was the only game in town or so we thought. The Pipe and the Tree Pool were supposed to be dead as a door nail and I've heard stories of regulars getting skunked for weeks on end and then just giving up. Time to check it out. After all, it's been a few months since I've fished down there.

Both parking lots on Rt 9 were full at 9am so off to the Pipe parking area where there was one vehicle and he was leaving. I suited up and walked downstream where I found one young fly fisher working the Tree Pool and catching fish!!! I took a small brookie in the first hour while he landed about 6 bows. He had found the trout. He asked me about the fishing downstream and I told him about the brookies and the monster browns. That was all he needed to hear and off he went. I then took two bows and another brookie from the vacated spot and then surrendered the pool to another fly fisher. It was a surprising two hours!! It's best not to listen to gossip but to check it out yourself!

I was told that there is a website that can rank blog popularity and specifically fly fishing blog popularity. A key component of the ranking is the use of the Alexa ranking, a standard tool to measure website popularity. Now, I looked up this site and I'm not on that top 75 list even although my Alexa ranking would put me into the top 20. I'm not there BECAUSE I didn't sign up for that company's service.

I don't think I have to pay for a ranking. It is amazing that this little regional blog does as well as it does. (Note: one blog, ranked ranked eight millionth in popularity with only two posts per month, is in the top 12!!! That's all I need to hear.