Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Sunday, January 14, 2018

First Trip Out And Some Questions

"It's gonna happen again. There will be a mix up regarding Winter Stoneflies and Snowflies.  Winter Stoneflies, or early dark stoneflies, begin to appear as the mid March sun begins to break the back of Winter. They will be everywhere until late April and then that's it.  I live on the banks of a trout stream (Mill River) and I see hundreds each year.  They are NOT a major source of food for trout. Let's face it, the streams are high, clouded and cold at that time of year. Also, the streams probably have not been stocked yet and have very few fish in them. This insect hatches by crawling onto the shore. A weighted pheasant tail in a size 16 - 18, fished slowly along the shore, may be your best bet to imitate this bug if conditions permit."

It's a late start to this year of fly fishing due to the worst cold snap in 30 years. I can put up with some ice in the guides but I'll draw the line at fingers frozen to the rod handle. That's why the 11th would be my opening day with temperatures in the upper 40's (just like April) and the hope of some surface action. So, I trudged my way up to the Bubbler Arm of the Swift and took ONE 8 inch rainbow and that was it. I didn't see another trout in that run. Even the Y Pool seemed dead with the best reason being that there is an otter who has taken up residence again. The otter will chase the fish right out of the pool and as usual the trout gather downstream in the shallow water around the hemlocks. So do the fishermen!

Jonathan, a client of mine, seemed to have had the top day on the river when he found a pod of trout and took three bows around 16 inches. Yellow eggs and my mini bugger all scored! Since it's his spot I'll let him tell you where it is. Hint: the place is usually ignored.

Overflow Arm Strategy

Reader Paul asked a question regarding the overflow arm of the Y Pool. I love that place and and it's one of the spots that I can rely on in the early Spring and the Fall. Why is that? This "arm" is basically a deadwater unless there is a overflow coming from Quabbin (usually there isn't) and it's not really effected by the discharge from the bubbler. This deadwater will warm up on an early, sunny, Spring day and
it will have the earliest hatches (winter caddis) on the river. Trout will move into this deadwater all the way up to the very end. The same thing happens in the Fall. In the Summer it's not the best place due to higher water temperature.

Once the shelf ice leaves that spot (along with the otter) I'll be there!!


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Favorite Millers Spot

"Tailwaters are what Thomas McGuane called "the great theme parks of American fly fishing," with their more or less stable water temperatures and artificially inflated populations of insects and fish. They are irresistible for all kinds of reasons, but all of those trout breed the peculiarly postmodern sense that anything short of a 20 fish day is a bust, so when things are slow there's the temptation to lie about numbers or to vaguely allow that you are "getting your share" - John Gierach

One of my favorite spots on the Millers is the "Gorge Pool" approximately a half mile below the Rezendes area in the Bears Den section. I call this the Gorge Pool because that is what it was called over 60 years ago by legendary Millers Fly fishers, the late Bob Rouleau and the ever present Rodney Flagg. They told me that this pool was known as the Gorge Pool when they fished it as kids and young men. Attempts have been made to rename it but they would have none of it. In homage to them and the generations who fished this pool I continued the name when I wrote the Fly F
ishers Guide to the Millers River. (FREE on this site). It's the Gorge Pool!!

Actually it's a double pool with the first section occurring after the long riffle below the Third Run (see the Millers Guide) and then running into another pool after a short heavy riffle.  Both "pools" are DEEP, almost in the swimming hole category and are PERFECT dry fly water. That perfect dry fly water is best visited in the evening when the place really comes alive. Before that it's the land of the deep drifted nymph. In fact, I've never taken a trout on a dry unless it was in the evening in this place. Trout, especially brown trout, love this place and I remember the monster that broke off my 4X leader as I fished a large stonefly and another time when I lost a bugger on the same rig. This pool is a sanctuary for the Summer and the Winter for this rivers trout. I've seen deer prints crossing this river while cross country skiing years ago. It may have had a foot of ice BUT there was many feet of running water below = that's winter holding water!!

When To Fish

Fish it when you can BUT if you can get there in late May through mid June you want to start around 6pm. Follow the path on the north bank down to the first pool but keep going to the tail-out of the second pool and start fishing upstream. Your dry fly drifts will be drag-less (perfect). I work larger flies here with stones, big caddis and the wonderful March Brown. I've never done it but God knows what a mouse pattern would do here!
Looking down at the "first" pool

There are blogs out there that give a flaccid overview of this river including other rivers. That doesn't help you. I can tell you where to fish and also how to fish it to catch trout.


Monday, January 8, 2018

Spring, Booking Your Trip and the Tups Indispensable

"An ethical angler does more than what is required and less that what is allowed" - John Gierach

Yes, I'm playing with your collective heads. I found this photo of the Bondsville section of the Swift which was taken two years ago in early June with the air temperature at 70, the water temperature around 58, the air beginning to fill with early sulphurs and the river full of hungry trout. You've got to admit - it looks better than a picture of a frozen river!!! By May this ice age will be a memory and we will be feeling the tug of a trout.

Booking Your Trip It's not too early to do this as some of you already know. Time slots for April, May and June have already been claimed. This is a smart move BECAUSE you don't have to layout any $$$ because I don't require a deposit. My fees are very reasonable AND I guide on rivers where no other guides
work. The Millers, Swift, EB of the Westfield, West and Middle Branches of the Westfield, the Ware, the Mill and North Rivers are yours to explore. So, don't wait too long. The last two years were very busy. Claim your day soon!!!

The Tups Indispensable

This is one of the grand old flies that you have heard about but probably have never tied, let alone fished. It's also a fly that has a wet AND dry version although Sylvester Nemes swore by the wet, or soft hackled version and I believe everything he ever said!!!

Now, you owe it to yourself to google this fly to find its history and the origin of its name. Hint: A "Tup" is an old term for a male sheep! It's a funny story!!!

Hook - Standard wet or dry size 12 to 16

Tail - light blue dun hackle fibers

Body - yellow thread or floss

Thorax - pinkish orange dubbing (I use rabbit)

Hackle - soft, blue dun wet fly hackle


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Another Look At Hen Hackles

"A trout is a moment of beauty known only to those who seek it. - Arnold Gingrich

I've ignored this hackle material for a while and I shouldn't have. Hen hackle is dirt cheap, easily available, (word has it that partridge is going to get scarce) and can be dyed any number of buggy colors. It winds onto the hook very well in sizes 10 through 14 which will fill the bill for those larger Springtime mayflies and caddis. The above fly is a study in OLIVE:

Hook - size 12 wet fly hook
Body - olive rabbit tied buggy
Rib - fine copper wire
Hackle - olive dyed hen hackle.

If this fly doesn't look like an emerging caddis I don't know what does!!!!!

As I said, this material comes in many colors and is widely available. I bought mine at the Deerfield Fly Shop.

Keep tying and experimenting. Spring will be here soon enough!


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Sharpies Work

"Midge feeders are notoriously hard nuts to crack. A popular fly pattern is the simple Griffith's Gnat.
This fly is simply a palmered version of the venerable Grey Hackle - a peacock herl body with a grizzly hackle wound palmer style through the herl. Apart from being a great all around pattern, in
small sizes the Griffith's Gnat has proven to work on very difficult trout during a midge hatch."  - Bob Wyatt, What Trout Want

I love Sharpies because they give me the color that I want and they do a good job of getting rid of the color that I don't want. Even though I go through many full partridge skins a year tying those venerable soft hackles I will always run short of the correct size in the full color that I want. A good example are the beautiful brown toned feathers, always in the size 12 to 14 range that have that annoying light tan stripe running along the stem.  Maybe the trout don't care but I do - I hate that stripe!! The photo above shows two of them. My remedy is this: pull a feather from the skin and run a brown sharpie down the stem.
The next photo shows one of the feathers WITH NO TAN STRIPE!!! This color resists water and will last a long time until you put the fly in a tree or give it to a trout.
As you see, the pictured fly has no tan mass near its thorax which you would have if you didn't color it and now you will have more hackles that are usable. In fact, you can take a light grey hackle and color it any color you want and it will work fine. (Note - sorry for the fat head on that SH. I think my fingers are cold!!)

Sharpies spruce up streamer patterns by giving you lateral lines and parr markings which have been neglected for decades on most baitfish pattern.

Today we get a blizzard and the next two days may be the coldest of the season. Maybe more snow early next week but a warming trend sets in and let's hope it lasts. We need to fish!!!!!


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Swift Right Now And Who Reads This Blog

"When the facts change, it makes sense to adjust our options to fit the facts, rather than just stick to our guns. This may seem like a chickenhearted approach to life, but otherwise what you have is reactionary chauvinism of one stripe or another. I guess it depends on whether you think your dyed goose biots are worth a stand-up fight"  Bob Wyatt, What Trout Want

So..... I took a break from tying many, many flies and decided to check out the Swift. This is what happens when there is no REAL break from fly fishing. It's on the brain everyday and there is no real cure. My recourse is to check out some open water and that means the Swift and hopefully there will be some relief. What does the Swift look like? (I wasn't fishing at 3 degrees)

This morning I passed the Y Pool parking lot at 9am and saw no cars. I parked at the Pipe with the same result. I walked down to the Pipe and saw only dozens of mallards taking advantage of the open water, yes open water. There were many footprints but no anglers (as late last week). I believe that the water down by Cady Lane was icing over as it was above the crib dam and the ducks were looking for something to swim in. In fact, ice was forming on the edges of the flat below the gauge just like 2015.
                                                                         Open Water At Quabbin

I was a bit surprised that Quabbin was, at least for a mile out as I could see, was ice free. Quabbin freezes over many times but I think that the north wind as kept it open a bit longer. It's water is COLD and it will probably freeze up if the temperatures stay low and the winds die down.

Is it worth fishing? Probably not for you or the trout. In late January and through February the air temperature will rise into the 30's and the 40's and that will will change things. The Y Pool, on a sunny day, can bring feeding fish near the surface. The best of the Swift anglers will target that spot!!!

2017 was a GREAT year for this blog which was it's 10th year. I measure reader comments as the first indicator of strong readership. Second comes page views and last is "Hits"

Visits count first, page views are second and, in a meaningless way, hits come in third.

Here's the accepted equation:  3 page views generate, on average, 45 hits. "Hits" are the total of files downloaded during a visit. Many times the "person" who pulled up the site, pulled up a bunch of files. It's not the total of people pulling up the site. It's not "people" but files!!!!

This blog has a LOT of page views and that's all that really counts because hits don't comment.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Happy New Year, Snowshoe Flies And Mono Rigs

"It wouldn't matter what fly you used as long as it presented the right attitude, especially that half sunk posture in the surface film. The situation required a highly visible fly of roughly the right size and distinct body profile, fished half submerged in the surface film like an emerging mayfly." Bob Wyatt in What The Trout Said"

First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you. Overall, it was a pretty good year without Springtime floods and Summertime droughts. It would be nice to finish 2017 with some milder weather but I will not complain. I'd like to thank everyone who availed themselves to my guide services this year AND to thank everyone who bothered to post comments throughout the year. This blog is the best source for information on fly fishing
for trout in Massachusetts!!!

Maybe it's these single digit days but I can't get rising trout off my brain. That means that it's time to tie some dry flies and not tiny flies either. I'm thinking of May and June evenings with hatching mayflies and caddis getting the trout active. And I'm also not thinking of placid glides but choppy riffles with trout poking their noses through the surface. It is my favorite dry fly water but it takes a fly that can stay visible through that rough ride. That's why I'm a convert to snowshoe hare wings. Above you see a size 14 emerger with parachute hackle. This critter is big and gives the impression of life (read trigger). Built on a curved hook it will require no tail but will float down riffles with it's ass-end sunk below the surface just like the real thing.

I've told the old story about how I was on the Deerfield around Pelham Brook when I encountered this guy wading downstream with a lightweight spinning rod and a bobber. I asked him how he was doing and what was he using. He said he caught and released two trout and was using a big, gnarly MONTANA NYMPH. "It's the only way I know how to fly fish" he said. I wished him luck and thought Buddy, you're not fly fishing. That was 1988.

It is amazing how this sport has changed over the years. What we would never consider "fly fishing" is now accepted as such. "Bounce Nymphing " became a west coast rage 10 or so years ago. It's formula is two or more flies tied to mono a few inches above a split shot. The rig is bounced along the bottom. Articles on this rig state that one can use a fly rod or, even better, a spinning rod and reel!!!! Again, I repeat,Buddy, you're not flyfishing.

People who toss 30 feet of mono with heavy nymph rigs are doing the same thing as my friend did on the Deerfield 30 years ago. You may call it fly fishing but it can only be considered a crude form of the sport. Yes, you can catch trout but you can do that with power bait too. BTW, there are "fly fishers" who argue for and use, scented flies!!!! Again,Buddy, you're not fly fishing!