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, February 9, 2016

Damselflies And Their Imitations

"Many go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish that they are after" Henry David Thoreau

Photo by Thomas Ames, Jr.

If you've fished the EB or the Millers or any freestone river in late May to early June and have not seen this insect hatching at your feet then you're paying attention. Look for a warm sunny morning in early June and you will see THOUSANDS of these critters climbing onto rocks or the shore to hatch.

The insect that I'm talking about is a large, light green damselfly and this adult form is of no interest to the trout. It's the nymph that gets the attention!

I have seen and caught trout on the EB and the Millers that were chasing these fast swimming nymphs in water only 3 inches deep. I've seen one Millers brown actually beach itself trying to grab a nymph that had just made it to shore.

You may witness the greatest concentration of trout in certain areas for the whole season.

Where and When to fish - You NEED a BRIGHT sunny morning in late May or early June. Damsels like to hatch in the sun. Cast close to shore and use a snappy, short retrieve.

Where to fish - Freestones with sunny exposed areas are the best.

What to Use - Polly Roseborough's Casual Dress nymph is perfect in size, color and profile. So are some of Jack Gartside's creations. Size 8 and 10 with a little weight will do the trick. No beads please!

This June I'll get some photos of this insect busting out of it's nymph skin. A two inch insect emerging from a one inch casing. Amazing!!!

Ken

Sunday, February 7, 2016

It's Finally Winter On The Swift And A Charlies Reminder

Fly tackle has improved considerably since 1676 when Charles Cotton advised anglers to "fish fine and far off" but no one has ever improved on that statement. John Gierach


We got away with one this past week with only 3 inches of snow at my home in Northampton but 20 miles to the east in Belchertown it was more along the lines of 8 to 10 inches. That left the PIPE lot EMPTY on Saturday morning (16 degrees helped too) with only two sets of tracks left in the snow from the day before. From 8:30 to noon I saw ONE other fly fisher from the gauge down to Cady Lane. Mine were the first tracks in the snow.

The fishing was slow as one would expect with water temperatures down to 38 degrees but a Pellet Hatch erupted which brought at least a dozen trout to the surface at the Tree Pool BUT not at the PIPE where you always see trout chasing "pellets". There are no trout there because they're all now in deeper water.

We've been lucky this year compared to last year. We are past the half way point in this winter. The sun sets after 5:00 pm. Just one more month to go!

Don't forget to be at Charlie Shaden's Evening Sun Fly Shop on Sunday February 21 from 10:00 till 2:00 pm to tie and talk flies and to view my presentation on the Millers. It's always a good time.

Just a thought - It seems that I'm seeing fewer and fewer people fishing with strike indicators. I've been beating the drum for years against those things and now it seems to be paying off. There's a time and a place for bobbers but not all of the time and not in every place.

Ken


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Booking Trips for 2016, New Rivers to Fish and Those Caddis Flies

"I fell in love with a fly fisherman....I can't believe my competition is a fish and not another woman"Allison Moir




First - I'm booking up quickly for this 2016 season on my three rivers - The Millers, the EB and The Swift. Also I'm working on developing some trips out in western Massachusetts on the Middle Branch of the Westfield and the Hoosic System. The Middle Branch (MB) may be the most beautiful, remote mid size stream in this State. You've probably never fished it but it's gorgeous and worth your while. There are fish there. The Hoosic and it's branches are a regional secret and fish well for oversized browns. Now, most of my clients come from eastern Massachusetts and this is a haul for you. Most likely an overnight stay to get on the water early for best success. Contact me and we will work it out.

I am getting BIG interest on the Millers this winter. Let's fish it. 90% of the flyfishing is done on 5% of the water. Do what my clients do - explore the river and become familiar with this river.

Also - I've kept my prices at the same rate for the past three years.

Also - I must be doing something right because some regional guide actually lifted a paragraph from my blog on Beginner Lessons. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery they say!!!!


Caddis - If you fish freestones in Massachusetts you can't avoid them. I could do three posts and hardly scratch the surface. In general most of the successful presentations are done subsurface and the photo of those wet flies are PERFECT. My friend Ric introduced me to this pattern 20 years ago. A dry pattern is also shown and this works too although it takes a bit more skill to tie. The wet pattern is made of gray or tan dubbing with some partridge fibers on the top and brown or black ostrch herl behind the head. The dry is turkey quill (glued or taped) over a dull body and a head of black dubbing. They work!!

Ken

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Really Good Winter Morning, Welcome To the Swift Below Route 9 And What's In Your Fly Box


I frankly don't make much of a living, but I make a hell of of a life" Jack Gartside

It was a great Sunday morning on the Swift. I took trout from the start, had my hat handed to me by some very crazy, timid bows in the mid hours and then got the guys to play with me by noon. It was great as the temperatures kissed 50 degrees on this last day on January.

I feel very good knowing that fly fishermen are "coming down" below Rt 9 and finding water that they had never fished. Today I met guys who decided to take the leap and go below Rt 9. In my opinion it's the BEST water on this river. I like letting people (fly fishers) know of this because every section of river needs its "fans". Two years ago some property owners down in Bondsville were scaring the hell out of people by saying that if a certain dam was to be removed the trout fishing miles above would be ruined. It was pure garbage and fly fishermen knew it. Always keep your eye open to this stuff.

My "go to" fly today was a size 20 McPhail Buzzer without the UV cure. It worked great!

I'm not one to carry a lot of things that I don't need. People that I've guided and fished with know that I don't change flies every five minutes. Changing flies often on any river shows that you have a lack of confidence in your selection of flies OR your presentation needs some work. Most nymphs that we work actually represent a number of subsurface insects. It's how we work them that counts.

I have TWO fly packs when I trout fish the Swift, the EB and the Millers. My Swift pack has three slim profile boxes that have just what I need for this river. One slim box has size 14 through 18 soft hackles and some Pheasant Tails from 16 through 22.
The other has some scuds and some larvae patterns in small sizes. Then there is the Dry Fly Box that has generics from size 16 through 30. That's it!!


On the Millers and the EB I will bring the heavy duty stuff. Woolly Buggers and other heavy duty artillery will never find their place in my box when I'm on the Swift. The Swift is special for me and I like fooling trout with something that LOOKS like an insect instead of a lure. My WB's (and other heavy stuff) that I fish subsurface on the EB and the Millers actually look like critters that live in those rivers. My fly packs for the EB and Millers have the heavy stuff AND the larger SH's and Dry flies suited for those rivers.

Two funny things happened this weekend: On Saturday I had close to a hundred robins in my back yard. Twoday I found a nightcrawler on the banks of the Swift. Climate change????

Ken

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

An Important Mayfly: The March Brown And Where To Find Info On This Blog Plus Name That Mayfly!

Creeps and idiots cannot conceal themselves for long on a fishing trip John Gierach


Behold the March Brown, the first of the LARGE mayflies that will grace many of our central and eastern Massachusetts streams. Forget the word "March" because that is the English name given to a mayfly that appears in early spring across the "pond". This handsome critter begins to show itself in May and lingers into early July in these waters. The guy in the photo posed for this photo in early June at the Rezendes Pool on the Millers. He stayed in one spot while I fumbled for my camera - a true camera hog.

It's a big mayfly that will make it's appearance in slower water than it's earlier cousins, the Quill Gordon and the Hendrickson. Look for the edges of currents and not the fastest water. Also it's a late afternoon/evening hatch and you will see trout making lazy rises to the struggling emerging insect and then the rise for the real thing - the adult insect.


I don't go after the nymph stage with this fly. There is so much in the water at this time of year that anything will work BUT I wait to see the duns on the surface because trout will ignore anything else for this morsel. This is also when I go back to tradition and work a large (size 12/14) dry in classic dress. Count the Adams into this group. Size and colors are perfect!!


My fly is this:
Hook - 12 to 14 standard dry fly
tail - brown dyed grizzly hackle barbs
body - grey or yellow/olive dubbing
wing - grey CDC (new this year. I know it's gonna work!!)
hackle - brown dyed grizzly
( the hackle is my short-cut compromise. Instead of tying in a grizzly and a brown hackle aka Adams I make due with a brown grizzly. No grizzly hackle points for wings - they suck!!)

The color tones between the natural and the imitation are pretty close.

Now, I get tons of emails from people that have questions about different flies and different rivers. In the last month I've gotten many from people looking for soft hackle info. I respond to them all BUT if you want immediate gratification just do the following:

1. Go to the upper LEFT hand corner of my blog to the search box.

2. Type in the subject (soft hackles, dry flies, Millers River ect), hit enter and get over 8 years of posts on the chosen subject.

3 I'll still answer all the emails that I get. I love it!!!


Two mayfly photos from Dennis in S. New Hampshire. Of interest is the black Mayfly. That photo was taken in early April and my wild guess is that it's a Mahogany Dun. Any opinions??

Ken

Ken

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Generic Nymphs And The Fly Show

"The great charm of fly fishing is that we are always learning." Theodore Gordon

I seldom tie to a pattern or a set of instructions or materials because I find that it is usually unnecessary and I like the idea of throwing a new set of wrinkles into the fabric of fly tying. In fact, most of the time I find myself eliminating steps/materials to see if the final product will work. It usually does.

One of the most satisfying methods of fly fishing is to fish an emerging nymph in the surface film. This bare bones fly does it all in sizes 16 through 26.

Hook - dry fly or scud in the above mentioned sizes

Tail - a short strand of olive brown floss

Body - olive brown floss or thread

Thorax - a ball of lighter olive dubbing combed out with a dubbing brush (one can use CDC here but the fuzzy dubbing ball works well when treated with powder)


This is a good BWO imitation and also seems to work for other species too.

Went to the Fly Show on Friday and felt that it should be renamed the Incredible Shrinking Fly Show. It's getting smaller every year!! Now if you're new to the sport it will still seem like Christmas morning to you but ten years ago it was packed with exhibitors especially the "destination" exhibitors. Two of my favorite booths are gone from Marlboro but still do the other locations. "Not enough people" was the reason one owner gave.

The promoter should try to study this. New England is a hotbed of fly fishing and and we certainly have the population to support an event like this.

Ken

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

May Fly Dreaming - The Hendricksons

"Really, the only thing a psychiatrist can do that a good fishing guide can't is write prescriptions" John Gierach

Photo by Thomas Ames Jr.

A.E. Hendrickson was a wealthy shipping magnate out of the greater New York City area during the first third of the 20th century. He purchased flies from Theodore Gordon until Gordon's death in 1915 and then bought flies from the only person Gordon had taught to tie flies - Roy Steenrod. Both of these men were working the Beaverkill one spring day in 1918 when a good hatch appeared. After lunch Roy tied up some imitations which proved very successful. A. E. asked what the name of the fly was and Steenrod said "it's the Hendrickson!" Thus was created the name that is forever linked to dry fly fishing in this country. It is the most sought after hatch on our eastern rivers and will make the dry fly angler go into a swoon at just the thought of that perfect day in April/May when flotillas for these dainty insects float downstream into the mouths of waiting trout. For some it's the highlight of the season!

This is a widespread insect that's found on the Millers, the Ware and the Quaboag rivers to name a few. It's found on the Swift in decent numbers but I've never really seen it on the EB to brag about. It's confused with the Quill Gordon on that river and on others. One thing that frustrates the angler is that if the water is too high you can have a zillion hendricksons on the surface but no rising trout. I've seen this on the Millers and Dan Trella has seen it on the Quaboag. But if the flow is right you could have the best days of the season.

A few days before "hatch day", when the water temperature moves into the mid fifties, the nymphs of this species begin to become active AND noticeably darken in the wing pad area. Always run a black sharpie along this area. Fish the nymph along the bottom through riffle areas where they live. The hatch usually starts around noon or so and a soft hackle of the appropriate colors will mimic this activity perfectly.

The emerging insect, like all insects in this stage, is a sitting duck for the waiting trout. Busting through the surface film and shedding it's skin takes time unlike the quick change artist, the Quill Gordon (see previous post), that was on stage a week or so before. A neat emerger pattern is found in Thomas Ames Jr's book Hatch Guide for New England Streams. and that's the Parachute Vertical Emerger. I ditched the hybrid hook and the parachute hackle and keyed into the focal point of this fly: the two toned body that's half dark exoskeleton and half lighter emerging insect. Hackles are wrapped on in a traditional style either undersized or clipped below.


Yes, you can tie the dun the way Steenrod and generations did after him in the time honored Catskill style but the comparadun works fine. Also you don't need the "pinkish, urine stained fur from the underbelly of a vixen fox" (I'm not kidding) for the body. Any dun or pinkish synthetic dubbing will do. Touch up your hair wings with a grey sharpie.

There are flies to represent both male and female of this species. Center on the female. The spinner stage is important but you have to be on the stream later in the day for that event. A darker body in a parachute style will get that job done.

Ken