Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Day After Thanksgiving - The Swift River

Up at 5:30am, some fast coffee and a bagel and then off to the Swift. Traffic was light but probably not an hour before. The parking lots for BEST BUY anf TARGET were JAMMED with those who actually thought that they would save some $$$ or get something in short supply! Enough of that! Made the water at the "pipe" at 7:00. First one there. Moments later a regular showed up and within less then two hours I was one of SIX working that crowded venue. I had a few taps but no landed fish so I decided to work the section from the crib dam downstream. Good choice! I fished with an indicator (seldom used by me) and a red SJW. I crossed just above the stream gauge and made my way upstream. The result-2 hours by myself with six hard fighting rainbows coming to the net. The video is kind of funny. Here I am with a rod in my right hand and a camera in my left hand. There's no way that I can bring that fish to the net with one hand! I guess I need a cameraman for that stunt. I played that fish longer then I should of but it flew off when I released it so all is well, I hope. I did shoot a photo of it before it's release.

This "crib dam" section is really a charm. It doesn't have the numbers (trout) that the pipe has but the fishing is sublime. Trout come out of nowhere and one has the place to oneself. The section around the gauge station produced really well and remember, this is a section that most just walk by to get to the honey hole downstream.

When I left I saw two flyfishers right below the crib dam. One had a fish on. This is a good place!!

Maybe I'll make a New Year Resolution NOT to fish the pipe if there are more then two other anglers in that section. Maybe!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The "Gorge Section" Of The Westfield River

The "Gorge" section of the Westfield River! This is an incredible place to get away from it all and fish in a beautiful, remote place that is easily within the idea of a "day trip" in Massachusetts. The photos in this post were taken during a 4 mile hike through the C&R section of the "Gorge" on a September Saturday where I took photos of the ONLY fishermenn that I saw. (I did the same trip two years ago during a weekend in May and saw just a few more anglers). I saw countless runs and pools that were EMPTY of fishermen during this long walk. The long walk was on a dirt road that ran along the river that gave easy access to anywhere along the river. It is the only road that you will see!! If you are a vetern of TU's "Indian Hollow" weekends you might be interested to know that
all of this water is ABOVE the area that you will commonly fish on that occasion. So much water!!!!!
I moved to this area in July and have been slogging around trying to find a spot that looked good. So far I haven't been skunked!! There are plenty of trout around and although I've heard word that the fishing dies off during the summer months I am inclined to not believe it. There are enough deep holding areas that will provide refuge for trout. A prolonged drought might change this but that is the case for most freestone streams. The morning sun arrives late and the afternoon shadows come early to this river section. It is TROUT LAND!!
Everything will work here from WB's to small BWO's. Just have a good assortment of freestone flies and you will be set regardless of the season.
HOW GET THERE - Take Rt9 out of Northampton, through Williamsburg, to Rt 143. Go uphill to Chesterfield and then go downhill to a bridge over the Westfield River. Take the left after the bridge and then look for a sign for the "Westfield River Gorge" on the left. Take that left. Go past the TRUSTEES OF RESERVATIONS" parking lot and follow the dirt road (be careful of road conditions). You will find a number of TURNOFFS for the next two miles until you come to a gate. Any of these turnoffs are adjacent to great pools and runs. Beyond the gate are more great pools and runs. Knock yourself out here, guys!! This place is Great!!
Remember, the "Gorge" Section is just a piece of the "East Branch" which does not include the upper section which includes the "Pork Barrel". I haven't mentioned the "Middle Branch" or the "West Branch" or the "Main River" which all of the previous mentioned sections flow into. I think one could say "give me the Gorge on a June evening and you can have the rest of the world - I won't need it!" (I lifted the last statement from someone who years ago said the same thing about the Beaverkill River in May).
BTW, the LADY in the second photo is my girlfriend who caught her first fly caught trout on the Swift River late this summer. She did well on the Westfield on the day this picture was taken. I think she's hooked!!
Happy Thanksgiving,

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cold Morning On The Swift

What a difference a week makes!! On Sat. Nov.15 I was met with temps. in the mid fifties and a light rain that morphed into a downpour while on the Swift. One week later I'm on the lower C&R of the Swift at dawn with the temps. in the mid teens and a steady wind out of the north. I stayed from 7am until 8:30, took three 'bows and then went home. I was able to capture some of this early morning experiencewith a video camera which proves that I was the only one there. I went back in the afternoon to see if I could record some fish catching action for this blog by other anglers but the few souls who were there looked half frozen and were just going through the motions.

I have some footage of a tustle with a rainbow for another post. Seems that you can't take a video of a fish and have a chance of catching it either.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The "Pellet Fly" On The Swift

Maybe you've heard of it or maybe you haven't but one of the oddities that you will find on this stream is a critter called the "pellet fly". In short it's nothing more then a piece of cork shaped like a trout pellet that is lashed to a hook. It accounts for (at times) some outstanding catches. One long time flyfisher of this stream says that it will catch trout between every 5 to 10 casts. He mentions that this fly ONLY works from the hatchery pipe outflow downstream for a few dozen yards. I can't claim any success with it because I can't bring myself to tie it or use it but I've talked to a few that have used it and they praise it's effectivness.
Why was this fly developed? It's simple. Every so often one will see the "pipe" area explode with slashing rising trout. The mayhem lasts for a minute or two and then stops. It may happen again within a few minutes or it may not. The "logic" is that they are feeding trout in the hatchery and the excess pellets make their way through the outflow. This logic doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Yes, trout will "remember" pellets as food and will strike regardless of any trout feeding activity in the hatchery. Hence the success of the pellet fly but I believe, due to my past experience of working for a commercial trout hatchery, that this explosive feeding activity is due to the regular cleaning maintainence that is done at the hatchery.
Every trout hatchery has this in common: a series of troughs which are interconnected. All of the outflow is sent to "settling ponds" which capture the waste before it is sent to the (Swift) river. Most of the pellets are fed to fish and are consumed by fish. The remainder make their way to the settling ponds where they may or may not dissolve. To have a flush of pellets make their way through the pond and into the river ( a long journey in this case) to cause rapid feeding of river trout is a stretch. The rapid feeding of trout below the pipe is most likely caused by the cleaning of troughs and screens just before the final outflow from the hatchery. I've witnessed this before at the hatchery that I worked at. The screens and the sides of the troughs are loaded with a bazillion tiny organisms that trout will feed upon. They are flushed out in mass and this is what causes dozens of trout to start their short lived feeding frenzy. Yes, there will be some pellets in the mix and like I said trout have a good memory and will hit them but the bulk of the feeding is due to something else, not necessarily pellets.
Use the pellet fly if you must. Maybe someday I might too but don't bet on it.
The above photo shows the effective range of this "fly". Good luck!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Crib Dam On The Swift

It seems that most fly fishers that make the trip to the Swift will either head for the "Y" Pool area or the "Hatchery Pipe". I am guilty of hitting the latter more often then not but there are times when the crowds, which will include some flyfishing classes, become just a bit too much. That's when I hit the "Crib Dam" (some call it the Iceman Dam) for some elbow room and great fishing.
It can be easily reached by parking in the Pipe parking lot and heading straight for the gauge structure. You can make out the dam which lies a 100 yds or so upstream. Cross the river at this point (water level permitting) and make your way upstream because it's best fished from the opposite bank.
The pool above the dam ALWAYS holds rising fish but its the broken water below the dam where I've had the most success. You can fish all the way down to the hatchery intake and usually have all of it to yourself. After that you can always check for a vacancy below the pipe!!
The photo above shows the approach to the crib dam from below. Good water!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Season On The Millers

I'm afraid this is it, the end of the season for the Millers. It's been the same ending for the last 20+ seasons. The rains come, the river rises and the great Fall dry fly action sadly comes to an end. Notice that I said "dry fly action". You can still go out and brave the 600 cfs current and toss weighted buggers with 6wts (I might still do that) but the rising fish will be very far and few between. There will be the yearly Fall draw down of Tully Lake which should keep the river up through this month. I can only recall one year, 1994, where the water was low enough to fish successfully in late November. Overall, we have been plagued by high water events from July till now which will label this year as "so-so". I'm still greatful for the good days of this past Summer/Fall and can only hope that next year will be better.

The Westfield and the Swift - Maybe I should change the name of this forum since I've spent so much time on these rivers. The Westfield is new to me and my exploring of this river the last few months has made me fall in love with it. Great water, great scenery and lots of rainbows which do very well here. No crowds either!! The C&R section at Chesterfield Gorge is a true gem!! My last trip there was on 11/5 and although I was only there for an hour I took 3 'bows on a small pheasant tail.

The Swift- This will be home for the next 4 months. Fishing for selective trout with tiny drys in the dead of winter is something that has to be experienced. I've taken a few dozen (that's one in the above photo) over the last few weeks on the lower C&R on everything from small SJW's and scuds to #24 midges. We are lucky to have this river.

The season, except for the Millers, never ends.


Monday, November 3, 2008

High Water= Go To The Swift

I made two trips to the Swift over the last seven days for one simple and now redundant reason- the rains blew out the Millers and the Westfield. This past saturdays' trip was interesting. I got down to the "pipe" at 7am and found myself alone for over an hour. By 9:30 I had company but it wasn't too crowded and the group was pretty cordial. All told I hooked 14 and landed 5. I started with #14 and #16 scuds and ended up chasing those famous reluctant risers who appeared to be chasing some emerging grey midges. My smallest fly was a #22 and I wished that I had some #26 or smaller because the response to the #22 was so-so to say the least. In any event it was a good day which ended with a large 'bow in the fast water below the crib dam just upstream on a hot pink SJW.

The Millers is still running in the 500cfs range - good for slinging WBs' but not for the surface action that I'm still looking for. The East Branch of the Westfield (Gorge) has come down nicely and that may be worth a trip soon. I REALLY LIKE THAT RIVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!