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.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Skinny On Low Water And Fish The Ware

"Quiet stretches of freestone streams and rivers always support at least modest populations of swimmer mayflies.  Swimmer nymphs also live in riffles. But they generally shelter in the spaces between rocks, in fast water, where trout need jackhammers to get at them.  Most species that live in riffles are small and it's rare that trout feed on them selectively in brisk water." - Dave Hughes, Handbook of Hatches





Every Spring we get the predictions on how our rivers will hold up through the summer. The Conventional Wisdom states that a snowy winter will insure good river flows into the summer. Well, it may help but it doesn't insure it. For the Millers I remember the winters of 2001/2002 and 1992/1993. Unbelievable amounts of snow followed by bone crushing drought by late spring that lasted into the Fall. It took the life out of that river. The opposite has happened too as late as 2007/2008 with a mild, dry winter followed by a very wet summer. How do we know what the State Of Our Rivers are right now and what ground(water) has to be made up because of this drought?

The answer is easy. Follow these steps:

1. Go to the USGS stream section of this blog and click on a river.

2. Go to the upper right corner of the page to the "geographic area" window and hit "Massachusetts".

You have just entered the state wide river flow map for this state. You will see many colored dots.
Black means a historically high flow,
Green means an average flow
Orange means a below normal flow
Red means a very low flow.

You can click the colored dots to bring you to the page for that river. Of REAL importance is the MEDIAN FLOW line graph. It's basically a record of the average daily flow measured over decades and in some cases over a hundred years!!! Click around to your favorite rivers and the thing that you will see is that the CURRENT FLOW is lower than the MEDIAN (historical) flow. (tailwaters don't usually fit this model). The short answer is that we need some wet YEARS to make things up and some wet summers to keep the rivers from getting too low and warm.

I check this state wide chart many times during the week because certain weather events can have results that are only local. A thunderstorm may cause your stream to overflow but not effect a river 10 miles away.


Here's a chance to fish a local river that's big enough to spend all day exploring, low enough to wade comfortably, seldom fished as everyone heads to the Swift and it just got stocked. Fish the Ware!!!!!
Here's a hint: Find the Airport!

Ken













Monday, March 20, 2017

Another Overlooked Stream

"Fly fishing isn't really about catching fish.  Fly casting is a great part of it, and in a sense a rod is like a baseball bat. If you hit the ball just right, you really nail it. It feels good.  You've found the sweet spot in the bat. A fly rod should deliver that kind of joy: the joy of casting" - Tom Dorsey, founder of Thomas & Thomas Rod Company

If you are a regular on the EB and head west to get there you have certainly passed that little jewel of a stream along Route 9 in Haydenville and Williamsburg. It's the Mill River and contrary to some sources it HOLDS TROUT through the entire Summer (I had to get that out of the way). Chances are you've only seen that small section along Route 9 just as many have only seen the Millers from a short section of Route 2. There is really so much more.

Let's compare it to a similar river. The Squannacook River, as I write this, is flowing at 87 cfs and has a decades old median flow for this date of 180 cfs. The Mill River is flowing at 63 cfs and it's median rate is 133. They are similar in size but let it be known that the Mill wasn't ravaged by last summers drought like the Squannacook was. It's trout made it through the entire summer.

Where do I fish it?? Get Google Maps and look up River Road in Haydenville/Northampton. That's all you need to know. April and May are perfect throughout the entire river with the slower, deeper pools holding trout through the heat of summer. Most of my trout have been taken with reliable comparaduns and with Tenkara presentations.

So if you still have a few casts left in that arm after a day on the EB stop and try the Mill River or just fish the Mill. You will have it to yourself no doubt!!!

I had to reprint the quote from Tom Dorsey of Thomas & Thomas fame after hearing more about "artificial bait fishing" (nymphing). As I wrote not too long ago if you are fishing with mostly mono beyond the rod tip you are probably not REALLY fly fishing but pulling a page from the stream bait fishers manual. It's the same style I used as a kid until I fell in love with the look and feel of an unfolding fly line. One gets the feeling that Dorsey has in mind those beautiful casting wands that he makes as opposed to butt heavy hinged weight throwers.

Just my opinion!

Ken



Thursday, March 16, 2017

Overlooked Spots - Erving Center On The Millers

"All of the romance of trout fishing exists in the mind of the angler and is in no way shared by the fish" - Harold Blaisdell


Ok, you know who you are. You probably have a copy of the Millers Fly Fishing Guide but you keep going to the same old spots: Rezendes, Orcutt Brook (especially Orcutt!) The Kempfield Section and that pretty much wraps it up. One of the BEST sections gets little or no attention and that is Erving Center which is on Arch Street and marks the end of the lower C&R section on the Millers.

I always make it a point to introduce new people to this section because it is just a great spot that has a few personality quirks of it's own. First, it's one of the narrowest sections on the Millers with a large hill guarding it's southern bank. It funnels the water into a fairly narrow space that makes for dangerous wading when most of the upper river is easily fished. 300 cfs is perfect everywhere else on the Millers but here it is a problem. This section fishes best at 250cfs and below which makes it a perfect early morning or evening location during the heat of Summer. BTW, the hill on the southern bank and a large tree canopy will shade much of this river through the dog days! Secondly, it's the best LATE SEASON spot on this river with catches right into December as long as the water is low enough.

This section has been my Mop Fly proving grounds this past season!!!!!


My best fishing has been from the bridge spanning the river DOWNSTREAM. This whole section can be reached by carefully wading/fishing downstream or just take the dirt road on the south bank down for a half mile or so. For those who need to know: the DFW stocks the entire length of this section.


So when Orcutt gets a bit sun stroked by the end of June head downstream and into the shade of Erving Center. It's a good decision!!

Don't worry about the snow. It will be gone in no time!!


Ken










Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sulphurs And The Swift



"I have fished through fishless days that I remember happily without regret" Roderick Haig-Brown

Photo by Thomas Ames, Jr.

It is the premier MAYFLY found on the Swift River and its June/mid July appearance is anticipated above all other mayflies including the hendricksons and the scattered BWO hatches. It's numbers can be astounding one year and just "GOOD" on another year but it rarely fails us.

Ephemerella Dorothea is the name that Thomas Ames uses and I do too although some may want to split hairs over WHICH sulphur is really hatching. Don't worry about it because the difference in the different species it too small to care about. Sizes 14 through 18 in standard dressings will get the job done.

The nymph of this species loves the riffles found in places like the riffles above the Gauge Run. There have been many June mornings where I've seen bankside spider webs LOADED with sulphur duns and spinners from the Gauge downstream. But the greatest numbers that I've seen are down in Bondsville. On a mid day last June every trout that I took was stuffed to the gills with sulphur nymphs yet they continued to chase my fly. My Fly?? A Partridge and Yellow or Partridge and Olive swung just below the surface was all that was needed.


Why would Bondsville have greater numbers of this insect (in my opinion) than the Route 9 area? The answer is that it has a good riffle environment and it has water that is a bit warmer and more fertile than the waters upstream. It's strange but Bondsville is always overlooked. A big mistake!!!

So they started stocking just in time for a Northeaster!!!!

Ken







Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Thin Blue Lines Vs. The Swift And Spring Time Flies

"All of my fly selections are filtered through my prejudices regarding imitation and fly tying. For example, there are few nymph patterns that incorporate beadheads. There's no denying that they work superbly, but I can never be sure if it isn't the bead rather than the pattern that attracts the fish". Thomas Ames Jr in Hatch Guide for New England Streams Note: the answer to Mr. Ames question can be found on my June 5 2016 post on the subject.


I used to play out this ritual nearly every Spring and that was to visit a favorite unstocked stream or two and fish for the real McCoy: Native Brook Trout. These were certainly natives because there wasn't a road within at least a mile of any one of these brooks for a hatchery truck to use and local "bucket biologists" didn't exist there. And it was always in the Spring because you would always have enough cool water to fish through. These trips were always fun and I always managed to fool a few of those guys using small, gaudy wet flies. This went on for years.


Then came the Swift and my brookie hunting days changed dramatically. This river exploded with brookies starting around 2010 and it hasn't let up. Where my "thin blue lines" might get me into the double digits if conditions were good the Swift can offer up dozens especially in the Cady Lane area AND there is some size to them. A backwoods brook may offer up an eight incher on occasion but that's becoming a daily occurrence on the Swift with fish over 12 inches now the norm!

We are lucky to have the Swift and lucky to know that the brookies are thriving in this MAN MADE environment and that is the key. Without that cold water release it would of never happened. That makes the-out-of-the-way wooded rills and secluded beaver ponds just that much more special. Would I like to catch an eight inch stream born brookie from the Swift or from my very secret spot? The answer is both BUT the secret spot wins first prize.


Spring is the time that we have the great opportunity to fish our wide selection of freestone rivers and when we fish freestones we will be fishing with larger flies. First, the insects in freestones are larger than those found in tailwaters and secondly the bait fish population is more varied giving us more opportunities to land trout.

I gave up carrying traditional streamer flies and went over to very small marabou streamer patterns tied on short shank scud hooks after seeing the schools of emerald shiners on the EB and the unknown small minnows on the Millers. The short shanked hook allows the material to move around and if kept two inches or less in length will not result in short strikes.

Layer your marabou from light (white) on the bottom layer to darker layers as you move up. Throw in a strip of mylar and your done.


Ken




Saturday, March 4, 2017

EB Dreaming, Booking Evenings And Blog Stats



"When caddis are in the air the first step in selecting the right pattern is always to note whether they are newly hatched adults or egg layers. If the winged adults are a uniform size and are dropping heavily to the surface, they are egg laying adult females" Thomas Ames, Hatch Guide For New England Streams


It's been too long!! It felt like I hardly fished the EB last summer because of the drought and this is a shame because I live a mere 15 minutes from the place. It was a remake of the summer of 2010 when the place just shut down by early July. Now, you can fish some holdover holes and some did but there comes a point when you have to give the trout a break. The rain came in October and it was well received but it didn't take the gloom off of the year.


There are great memories about the EB and I'm not talking about the 50 fish days which are common and the courtesy of a very recent stocking. What I'm talking about are June mornings when the air is full of damsel flies and the large yellow stones are beginning to appear and a Millers Bivisible with a Partridge and Olive dropper worked over the riffles will get it done. Or the sublime July and August evenings when I change over from a stimulator to a #16 cahill because that steady drumbeat of rising trout has begun. And the BEST dry fly fishing that I've EVER had was on the EB on a cloudy October day when the air was thick with BWO's. It is a special river and if we get just NORMAL rainfall this Summer it will be back in form again. It always does.

A note about the EB - The moniker "EB" first appeared in print in 2009 on this blog because I got tired of pounding out "East Branch of the Westfield" all of the time. It has spread to other websites and has entered the lexicon for fly fishing in Central New England. I did a presentation in New York this past January and was asked questions about the EB!!! Good news spreads fast!


Evening Trips - My three hour evening trips have become more popular every year. From beginners who need some basic skills to highly skilled fly fishers who are looking for a good introduction to a certain river this three hour session gets it done. I like to start these in April when we have enough light and the winter chill is a memory. The Swift, EB, MB, Millers and the Ware Rivers are all offered. Book me!!!

One of the statistics that this blog generates is something that I am proud of and THANKFUL for and that is the Reader Comments. Blog hosting platforms cannot tell the difference between reader and blog author comments so some blogs will appear to be more popular than they are. You readers carry the weight when it comes to commenting on this site. The 10 previous blog posts generated 121 comments (!!!) of which only 32 were mine (occasionally I'm asked a question and I'll answer it). That means 89 comments (73.5%) were from YOU and that is a VERY high, much higher than most other blogs. This blog has generated double digit comment totals per post for years which indicates a high readership as opposed to flip through visits. And, I might add, the quality of the comments is first rate!!

This blog, which started as a fragile experiment over 10 years ago, will continue to be generous with news, insight and ORIGINAL COPY on the 5 rivers that I cover. Count on it!!!

Ken








Monday, February 27, 2017

Spring Was Here And Then......Spawning Bows

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


On Saturday morning the temperature crossed 60 degrees for the third day in a row which isn't bad for late February. In fact, it was above 50 degrees since early in the week which brought the hordes out to the Swift throughout the week. " I couldn't find a place to park" was the lament from Bill about conditions at the Pipe on Tuesday and Thursday. That was not the case on
Saturday morning as Bill and Joe were the ONLY ones working that section!!!

Word has it that the hot fly for the week was the Henderickson nymph, a bit early but it worked!!


One thing of interest on that Saturday morning was the spawning behavior of rainbows above and below the Pipe. Nest digging was observed just above the pump house and down below the Pipe. (the accompanying photo is of a 16 inch bow caught in the act).

This is the time of year for wild bows to spawn and that urge is still in play for the hatchery fish but it is a useless exercise because THESE rainbows are (they say) sterile. "Triploid" bows are sterile bows that can be stocked over native bows providing increased numbers WITHOUT deluding the native gene pool. Sounds like a good idea except why is this done on the Swift where there are no stream born rainbows? One would think that it would be great to have reproducing bows to join with the brook trout and browns. Just thinking out loud..


I've made an effort to devote more energy to caddis imitations this year and have become intrigued with using plastic beads (No. 11 seed beads to be exact) to represent the larva stage of this insect. The olive color should work and if need be I'll switch to a bright green color.

It's 24 degrees at 5:00am as I write this. Winter is back!!!

Ken