Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Monday, December 28, 2009

The End Of '09

A warm, drizzly day in late December equals a cold, drizzly day in late March. At least that's what it felt like Sunday morning as I walked across the field to the gauge and pipe sections of the Swift except I knew that Spring was not right around the corner but was a full three months away and that this balmy weather was nothing more than a brief tease. Time to make the best of it!!

The pipe was full so I headed up to the gauge where the size 16 serendipity did it's thing in those skinny riffles. Then down to the pipe where the 'bows attacked it. All told I took seven in two hours and missed a few more. The serendipity that I tied was a bit different than the common one that we use and I was pleased with how it performed. That makes a few good trips under it's belt!

Winter is a time when we tie and dream and occasionally fish if the Swift behaves itself. I'll be doing all three plus posting on these activities. I've been tying A LOT!!

Happy New Year and Stay Tuned!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Swift On A Cold Sunday Morning

Yahoo Weather said that it was 9 degrees in Amherst at 7am. It was 9 degrees EVERYWHERE! But at 8:30 the water at the pipe didn't feel so bad ( only 42 degrees) and I was the only one there at the "pipe". I had to get out there, get my waders wet and feel that drifting fly at the end of my leader. I was dressed for the weather and was ready to go and the thought of NOT going was too much to bare.

It was "fly guessing time". What to use? After a little self imposed deliberation I chose a size 18 serendipity and that was all that was needed. In the two plus hours there I took 13 'bows. The "dark" fish were sluggish, the one or two "bright" fish fought like hell. Another regular showed up towards the end and we had fun gabbing about water levels, why some don't catch fish, the Farmington all the while playing with the 'bows.

I like the Swift especially when the sulphurs are popping up on a late June evening with water levels being "just right". The Swift has a job to do: keeping me involved and happy during these dark months. I have to admit that my mind drifted to those perfect days on the Millers and the EB when everything is the way it should be, at least in my day dreams. Until then I'll be bundled and layered up on the Swift, working my favorite tiny flies and dreaming of Hendricksons.

This may not be the last post of the year but if it is I wish all of you a great and wonderful Christmas Season. Many of you have responded in the past year with some very nice things to say and I appreciate all of it.

May next season be the best season for all!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

The EB Of The Westfield - A Season In Review

Yes, I'm calling it a season on this river. There's snow on the lawn outside my window and the air temperature is hovering around 30 degrees. The next snow will probably be measured in inches instead of this overnight dusting and that will close down the dirt access road that runs through the Gorge and that will be the end of it until April. Ok, I could be brave and dodge the snowmobiles that will be racing up and down the Gorge but that will leave me ice covered boulders and just patches of open water to play in. No dice. That's what the Swift and the Farmington are for.

How do I sum up this season? It may have been one of the BEST seasons I've had on ANY RIVER!! First, it is the beautiful remoteness of this river that I've fallen in love with. I've guided two people on the EB and both said it was like fishing in the Rockies. Sure, summer weekends can find swimmers in the upper reaches but a short walk leaves all of that behind. Weekdays are perfect!!!

This is reliable RAINBOW COUNTRY which is a rarity here in Massachusetts. Most freestone streams give up their 'bows by July 4th but not this place. I had free rising rainbows from May through October and I bet they were rising during some of those Indian Summer days in November THAT I MISSED!! And during the last two years the fly fishing never really slowed down during the height of Summer. Evenings were sublime, early mornings even better. One hot weekend day I took a walk down to Indian hollow and back and saw rising fish throughout the river especially at the Hemlock Pool. You can rely on this place.

The EB actually saved the season for me with the Millers and the Swift flowing at full bore for much of the Summer. We would get a storm which would blow the river from 300 to 1000cfs
overnight but in a day and a half it was down to 500cfs while the Millers was still rising and RISING! This roadless, forested land keeps it's water too. The tribs and springs ran steadily all summer keeping the main river cool. I do wonder what a severe drought would do to the EB. The last two summers were very wet and I can see where the river could get a bit boney but I believe that the EB and it's trout can weather a "normal" summer. I'm not going to worry about it.

I'll fish the Swift this winter if the water level stays reasonable. I'll spend the winter tying flies too, but I'll be daydreaming about the East Branch during these dark months.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wild Morning On The East Branch!

The flows seemed a bit high but still manageable so off I headed to the East Branch of the Westfield. On the drive to the Gorge I kept noticing the wind and even had a branch come down and hit the roof of my car just before I turned onto the dirt access road. I parked my car just past the Bliss turnoff and noticed that the limb that hit my vehicle left a "bing" on my roof. While suiting up I met a hiker with his dog. We said "hi" and I was then off to the river. THE WIND!!!!!! It took 20 feet of my 5wt line and had it flapping in the air like a skinny flag. It was hardly a good omen. One 12 inch rainbow fell to the heavy stonefly nymph before I called it a day after only an hour. That's when the fun started. I drove back up the road and when I came to the second turn-off my way was blocked by a MONSTER OAK that had been blown down taking three other fir trees with it. This was an event that I had thought about while driving out of this place during summer thundersorms and now it finally happened!!! What to do?? There's no cell service here and I thought of the walk out to find a house where I could make a call to the Chesterfield Police for some assistance. But what help could I get on a weekend in this small town? It was then that I saw the yellow DPW truck coming down the road. "We had a call" was what the driver said. One look at the massive tree brought this response, "I'll have to get the backhoe, be back in 30 minutes". 30 minutes later a truck arrived with a backhoe right behind. Chainsaws and mechanical brute force made quick work of this "tree slide".

"Thank You" to the Chesterfield DPW who cleared the way. They were good guys and they were very good natured about it. Who called them? I bet it was the hiker with the dog. "THANK YOU" who ever you are!!

I'll be back but I'll keep an eye on the wind going forward! That "bing" on my car's roof seems like a small concern right now!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Millers - A Season Review

It's about time that I said something about this season on the Millers. A washout? Maybe!! I first cast a fly on this river in the Spring of 1985. For over 20 years this river never failed me as far as the fishing conditions were concerned, especially from June onward. There were some high water events but they seemed rare compared to the last two seasons. I've never seen anything like this. I guided two gents on the lower Millers back on June 11th. The flow was about 250cfs, perfect for the dry fly fishing that we were after. The next day the flow topped 1200cfs and it didn't drop below 500cfs until late August. I thought I'd never see another 2008 but I did and it was worse. We all salvaged some days this Fall and that's a good thing.

Do I give up on the place? NO WAY!! It's just too good when things are right and I'm sure things will get back to normal. I'm waiting for next season!!

The Swift - 38cfs means more patience and a slower approach. I spent two hours Sunday morning working from the crib dam downstream. One small rainbow on a scud. That was it.

Happy Thanksgiving!!! I'm hoping that the Westfield will work for me on Friday!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Swift River Alert - Stop The Poachers!!!1

Ok, it's time to put up or shut up! Marla Blair had her tires slashed last Thursday because she had the nerve to confront some poachers!! Now, we fish the Swift, we love the Swift, we bitch about the fish hogs on the Swift BUT they are worse than ever and that is because they feel they can get away with it. WE need to bring this to an end! The best way to do that is to get some well publicized arrests! If you see someone with bait on this river before Jan. 1st, turn them in! If you see stringers of fish well over the limit between Jan 1st and the end of July, turn them in! The DFW number is 800-632-8075. The State Police number at Quabbin is 413-323-7561. Write these numbers down and keep them with your license. Use your cell phone!!

We all know that fly fishers respect the rules about this river. Watch out for the others. Some bait users obey the laws but enough don't and that's the problem.

Let's protect this resource!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Late Season Hour On The East Branch

This would have been an easy decision three months ago. Just leave work at the end of the day and spend three peaceful hours until dark fishing the East Branch of the Westfield. Now darkness comes at 5:30 and I knew when I made the decision to "go for it" that it was an ever shrinking window of opportunity. I had maybe an hour.

I hadn't tied on anything but a dry fly for this river since late June and I didn't want to end the streak. At first glance there was nothing rising on the Bliss Pool but then I saw a swirl at the head of the pool. There were no insects in the air so I used an old strategy: nothing in the air, use something BIG. On went a size 12 muddler with a good dose of floatant. It was on about the fourth cast when the 14 inch 'bow rose up and smashed the muddler.

This will probably be my last "evening trip" of the season and it was a pleasure to take that trout on the surface. I may hit the Millers on Sunday if Saturday's rains don't blow it out but it will be a mid day trip if I do. No more "evening rises" until next May. That's a long way off!!!


Monday, November 9, 2009

The Swift's "Duck Pond"

It was a very busy weekend with only a two hour window to cast a fly and that window was in the early afternoon on Saturday. The two major parking lots on the Swift were jammed (counted 23 cars) but there were no cars at the first spot that I had ever fished on this river: the Duck Pond. This place, a few hundred yards downstream from the Rt 9 bridge, gets it's name from the "pen" of ducks that a land owner constructed on the river. (there were no ducks on Saturday) It is also the spot of the remains of a stone structure that had collapsed into the river years ago. It was thought that this "dam" backed the water up on this stretch of river so the local TU chapter had it taken away. The promised riffles never materialized and the upstream stretch remains about the same as it did 20 years ago when I first fished it.
There is a good holding pool below the remains of the structure and my 2nd cast of a scud pattern took a good rainbow. I really wanted to check out the riffles that are downstream from this section but as I made my way downstream I saw two flyfishers working that water. Upstream of the "dam" I could see two more anglers working that slow water.
It pays to hit the water early!! Next weekend.....

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Rainy Morning On The Swift

Saturday, October 31 - I made it to the lower Swift parking lot at 6:30am with drizzle in the air before anyone else. Within a minute or two a van pulled up with two guys setting a record for suiting up and heading for the "pipe". I didn't mind because I had my mind on fishing alone from the crib dam downstream over that beautiful stretch that runs beyond the gauge station. I wasn't disappointed. I had the place to myself except for one angler who explored the crib dam after I left it. I could here the cars coming and going during the two hours that I was there. Nobody seemed to stay to long probably due to the weather - off and on downpours that put a lot of leaves in the water and tested the resolve of anyone who ventured out on that morning. I would have stayed longer but home activities were waiting.

This was fun!! Very skinny water due to the 60cfs flow and trout being found in water that barely covered them. Five 'bows came to the net with one four inch brookie that grabbed my fly almost at my feet! I still had egg patterns on the brain but luckily so did the trout. The fly was a micro egg #20 which these guys just can't resist. The small size was probably the reason for the lost fish but that's ok.

The Fall is nice but it really is the end of months of fishing AT ANY TIME when I'm not at my day job. No more evenings casting to rising trout during the week. I HATE IT!!!!! The next five months will find us working the Swift or the Farmington during the daylight on weekends unless we work a vacation day into the mix. The two above mentioned rivers are a godsend to us during the "dark months" and it sure beats ice fishing!!! Speaking of the Farmington - the word is out that CT. licenses are DOUBLING in cost for 2010. Oh well.

Let's hope for some balmy weekends in November and December. It can happen!


P.S. The first photo was taken from the gauge station two days before. Fish from the opposite shore through the whole stretch.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Why I Hate Indicators

Ok, I don't really hate indicators, I just don't like them very much. Here's a story that may explain things clearly. Backcast to 1987. It's an early May morning on the Deerfield River and our TU Chapter is out there posting signs on our newest conquest - the new C&R section from Pelham Brook to the Mohawk Campground. It was late in the morning when we began to wrap things up by Pelham Brook when I noticed a wading angler with a spinning rod making his way down into the new C&R section. His rig consisted of a spinning rod and a bobber. I asked him about his bait and he said he didn't use bait. "I use flies" he said. He then reeled in and showed me the ugliest Montana Nymph that I ever saw. "I've caught four so far" he said as he headed back upstream.
That was it - a nymph suspended under a bobber!!! I began to think of the Deerfield being lined with spin fisherman casting flies with bobbers or worse, flyfisherman giving up the long rod and casting flies with bobbers. Instead I lived long enough to see fly fishers casting bobbers with their flyrods.

Now, if that's how you were taught or that's what you want to do then go for it but fly fishing WITHOUT AN INDICATOR will increase your chances to catch trout under all subsurface conditions. Indicators made the first step in subsurface fly fishing easier for a lot of new people but it keeps them at that level. It becomes a crutch. Fishing without an indicator opens more possibilities.

A year ago last Spring I was at my barbers waiting my turn when I picked up a Field & Stream. There's only one reason to read this magazine and that is because the Fishing Column is written by John Merwin, a past Editor of Flyfisherman Magazine and the creator of what would be finally called Fly Rod & Reel Magazine. The photo that accompanied the article showed a trash can full of strike indicators. The article was a full blown rant against those critters. I'm not alone!!

The next time you're on the river take off the indicator and follow your line and leader, adjusting your depth through line mending as you go. It works now as it has worked for a century.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Late Season Dry Fly Action - The East Branch

I had one day of vacation time left for this year and it was going to be today, Friday the 23rd. Actually it started at 4pm on Thursday when I found myself basking in the warm sun at the Bliss Pool on the Westfield's East Branch. The temp. was 70 degrees and ANTS were all over the water as they were a month ago. Trout were rising at a steady pace and I took three and lost a few more in the 90 minutes that I was there. It gave me a quick fix to the dry fly fever that has left me a mumbling fool on this river over the past Summer. My favorite dry fly river, the Millers, has been out of commission for most of the Summer. The Westfield has filled in nicely - very nicely!! I haven't cast a sunken fly in two months on this river!!

Ok, that's Thursday evening. Where to go on Friday?? My plan had been to hit the Swift after a few morning chores but the weatherman was talking about 1 to 2 inches of rain on Saturday. That would blow out the East Branch for a few days. Should I make another trip before the flood?? Of course.

I hit the Hemlock Pool at 11am and spent an uneventful 45 minutes trying to tempt the occasional riser in the slack water to my BWO dry. NOTHING!!! Then I began to work the fast riffles at the head of the pool. All hell broke loose!! The bows were stacked into this skinny water and were slashing at the BWO's that came down from above. I took six and lost another two.

Slant Rock Pool came next - the water was littered with olives but no fish were showing at the tail or the smooth mid section. "Maybe they're at the head of the pool just like at Hemlock" I thought. That's where they were. Another two came to the net. I will always remember NOT catching the 'bow that came up THREE CONSECUTIVE TIMES to my dry.

I finished the day at the Bliss Pool catching one and missing another. It was getting cold and the wind was picking up. The sky had the look of winter, a far cry from the balmy evening the day before.

I'm glad I made the EB my choice for the day. I may not have another day of surface action like this until next Spring. Until then the Swift will always be there.


Friday, October 16, 2009

The Swift On A Very Late Afternoon

It's surprising what can be done in an hour which is all of the time that I could muster late Thursday afternoon. My destination again was the "gauge station" section of the Swift. There were enough cars in the parking lot to tell me that the "pipe" would be busy. I didn't mind at all simply because the gauge section is LOADED with trout. I took eight and lost another five or so in the 1 1/2 hours that Iwas there. The fly was a micro egg in sizes 18 and 20. They smashed that fly and left the larger ones alone.

This piece of water is best fished on the west side of the river with a very short line. One could make a long morning or afternoon starting up by the crib dam and working downstream plying every likely spot. You'll probably be the only one there.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Columbus Day Weekend - The Millers/The Swift

Saturday afternoon on the Millers was a time I'd like to forget. Gale force winds out of the west made casting a chore and fishing miserable. The air was full of BWO's that were being blown all over. I saw one rise during my two hours on the Kempfield and when I managed to hook my hat because of the wind I decided to call it a day and made plans for an early morning attack on the Swift.

Sunday morning, air temp. at 31 degrees, and the "Pipe" has five anglers at 7:15am. Gary says that on Thursday there were hundreds of trout just below the outflow with one angler hooking about 50 of them. Today it was a different story. Too few trout to be seen and too many anglers. So I crossed over the river and headed upstream to work the riffles from the gauge station downstream. I've had egg patterns on the brain lately so the fly choice was obvious. The results were good. Five good 'bows ordered eggs for breakfast! I added another in the riffles below the pipe section. It was a good 2 1/2 hours away from the crowd. The pipe is a good section especially if you're the only one there which is rare. It pays to move around and "explore". Double-click the middle photo to check out the "crew" at the Pipe.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Three Westfield Trips And A "New Spot"

The East Branch never fails me. On September 29 I took a quick trip to the Bliss Pool and it was really a quick trip. One hour was spent casting an Isonychia dry and that fly drove six trout to the surface where three were landed. The two browns looked like they were new to the river but the rainbow was dark and red, a beautiful fish. On October 1st I guided a fellow in the late afternoon and we repeated the score from Tuesday - two browns which rose to a caddis an a 'bow which grabbed a bugger as darkness fell. Not too bad!!

But I've had mind mind on some "new water", at least new to me. In August I took a drive to the the Middle Branch above Littleville Lake to check this place out. The lake has a good population of browns I am told which feast on the smelt which populate that body of water. Browns spawn in the Fall and it seemed logical that they would run up the Middle Branch if water conditions are right. Well, we had a rainy Saturday an an early Sunday morning look at the online gauge showed an increased flow. Off I went.

The Middle Branch is a beautiful place and I spent a few hours casting egg patterns and a few streamers over all the likely spots. I'd like to say that a 4lb brown came to the net but I'd be telling a tall tale. I caught nothing and saw the same but the misty morning light coupled with the early Fall colors made it all with while.

I'm sure that there is some kind of run up from the lake and I'll be back. I can see it now - A cloudy day after a heavy rain in early November. My little marabou ghost, swinging through the current, suddenly STOPS!

That's what we live for, right??


Monday, September 28, 2009

Millers Update - 9/25, 9/26

Maybe it was worth the wait. After the wettest summer in memory the Millers is actually flowing AT OR BELOW it's historical average. This has given us prime dry fly conditions and the browns are supplying the entertainment!! One Friday the 25th I guided two anglers who were rather new to the sport, at least to fishing dries. They both caught fish at the Upper Trestle Pool.

I headed to the UTP myself late Saturday afternoon and wasn't disappointed. I took five browns using a pumpkin caddis first and then finishing with a #16 olive emerger. I then left this spot and headed downstream with plans for the Kempfield Pool. I never made it. I spent the last hour and a half fishing the big pool below the trestle at the head of the Kempfield. It's best to approach this spot from the RIGHT side as you are facing downstream. The casting and wading is much easier. That's the pool in the photo taken from the trestle. There was a good, steady rise on this pool which allowed me to take an additional seven browns before darkness. One note - this is a hard pool to get to and very hard getting out in the darkness. Be careful!!

Good Luck!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Westfield's Bliss Pool And The Ant Swarm

This past Tuesday (9/22) found me at the Bliss Pool at 5:15. It was a strange day. I remembered that it was 31 years ago, almost to the hour, where I was cut out of a crushed Toyota and then spent three weeks watching a hospital TV. The Bliss Pool is a much better place to be.

I realized as I hit the river's edge that this would be a special night. The top half of the pool was alive with RISING TROUT. I could see an insect on the surface or more accurately I could see HUNDREDS of insects on the surface. At first and from a distance they looked like small BWO's but close inspection revealed ANTS, red ants, about size 18. I had some ants in that size (a lesson that I learned on the Farmington: bring ants) but they were black.

It didn't matter because it was one trout after another. As dark began to fall the ants disappeared but the trout continued to rise at the very head of the pool. On went a #14 Isonychia to finish the evening.

All told I took a dozen, all 'bows except for two browns. It was my best night yet on this beautiful river.

The ants - No chernybols here. You need it small with a dubbed body. Also, these were winged ants. My ant is tied with a dubbed body with a tight "waist". Two turns of body matching hackle at the waist with a small pair of blue dun hackle points for wings. It almost looks real.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Kempfield On The Millers - Sept. 19

I hit the Kempfield Pool at 4pm on Saturday afternoon to find that I was the 6th one there soon to be part of a group of 8 that were working this great section. It was like fishing the Farmington - lots of anglers and lots of rising browns. First, there was a great hatch of BWO's being blown around by the wind. Soon the wind let up and a large mayfly appeared. I'd like to call it the "white fly" but I'll refrain from that. It was white for sure but a bit smaller than the famous white fly. The browns began a steady attack on this insect until the air was full of what looked like a pumkin caddis. I was covered with them!!
I took three good browns and lost three others. It was a good three hours on the Millers. The best dry fly fishing of the year is RIGHT NOW. Don't miss it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Early Autumn On The Westfield

You can see and feel the change. Gone are the hot evenings where one will wade wet because of the heat and humidity. Gone is the light in the sky at 8:30 that makes it easy to see your tiny dry offering as it glides down through that perfect run. Dusk is here at 7pm and so is that slight chill that fills the air. One look at the streamside or up along the ridges will show the occasional tree that is changing too. Summer is waving goodbye. There will be a hot day or three within the next few weeks but Autumn is already claiming the valleys and the rivers that flow through them. It is a time of change. I knew that Wednesday evening as I paid a repeat visit to the East Branch of the Westfield at Chesterfield Gorge. Among the other things that I noticed was that I was alone on this river for the second straight evening. Maybe my flyfishing brothers/sisters will be found during mid day which should produce great angling through September and October. I hope so!
The results of this outing: two rainbows at Slant Rock and one at the head of the Bliss Pool. All on #16 olive parachutes. I decided to pass up the Swimming Hole (mentioned in the last post) and went upstream to the first turn-off below the Trustees parking lot. This spot is fished by people who are new to the Gorge and seldom fished by people who know the Gorge. I like this spot! I caught my first EB trout here and I've found the calm, flat water just upstream to be a nice place to float a dry fly. That belief was re-enforced by the 'bow that broke me off. It was then that I tied on the stimulator that I found on the previous trip and began to work the fast water at the tail of this section. One good swipe was all I could get as darkness fell.
There once was a time, in the heat of Summer, that I begged for Autumn. September is my favorite month - temps in the 60-70's, no bugs - but I know what's just around the corner. I'll make the best of these next eight weeks before I'm bundled up while plying the Swift and the Farmington through the "dark months' or working the tying bench and dreaming of Hendricksons.
Time is short! Flyfish if you can.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Three Pools On The East Branch

I figured that everyone would be fished out after the Labor Day weekend and that's why I found myself on the East Branch of the Westfield early Tuesday evening. I drove past the Bliss Pool, exactly 4/10ths of a mile to a place that I call "Slant Rock". The EB has a lot of stretches that can qualify for that label. Lots of sedimentary rock that have been turned on edge by the forces that made the place we call Chesterfield Gorge. This pool has more of that then the others so hence the name. It's beautiful spot, a pinched down flow that is smooth and glassy and perfect for a dry fly float. I took three 'bows, a leaper from the tail and two from the mid section, all on a cream colored parachute.

Without taking the waders off or breaking down my rod I drove up to the Bliss Pool. I looked strange to the couple that were walking down the road with my arm out the window holding my fly rod.

The Bliss Pool failed me. No surface action and no rises to my well placed dry. So I repeated my driving technique and drove up the road to a turn-off on the right (it's the first turn-off on the LEFT when you're heading downstream). I'll call it the "Swimming Hole' only because it's a favorite spot for non fishers. It's another classic dry fly pool, rapids at the top end that smooth and fan out to a great tail section. Two more 'bows fell to the parachute before dark settled it. Both of these fish took to the air at hook set and had lots of fight, testing the new tiny click and pawl reel that was on it's maiden voyage. It was a good night.

BTW, at the Bliss Pool I noticed a large stimulator type fly hanging from an overhanging branch. Thank you whoever you are. I'll put it to use!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Millers (finally) On Labor Day Weekend

Friday night (Sept 4th) found me on the Kempfield Pool with flows around 470cfs. The rocks were barely a ripple on the water's surface but conditions after this very wet summer were good enough. I took five browns, all on emergers, and they were all very difficult fish. It was an evening of bulging rises, all dorsals and tails and it was a reeducation after casting to the willing 'bows of the Westfield. I had one young angler for company at the beginning and another by evening's end. That was it for angling traffic.

Foreward cast to early monday morning. The Swift was jammed with flyfishers and from what I've been told jammed with kayaks later in the day. What about the Millers? I couldn't swing an evening trip but mid day would work. It's also the time of day during the summer when one should stay away if one wants surface action but it would be the only game in town so off I went. Flows were in the mid 200cfs range and the Kemfield rocks were fully exposed. The result - one small brown on a parachute up against the far bank. The Upper Trestle looked great but produced a zero in the mid day sun.

Hopefully this river will stay down through the rest of the season. The browns are still there!!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September 1st - A Classic Night on the East Branch

Yes, it's September. Cooler days with water temps to match. We all look forward to this season with it's day long flyfishing opportunities but we know that we are entering the home stretch as far as the season goes. It's bittersweet for sure, especially after this flood ravaged summer which cut down our opportunities to work the longrod. The East Branch of the Westfield saved the Summer for me and last night was the best night for sure.
The first pool down the road was occupied and a father/son team was gearing up to flyfish the water by the first turnaround. I didn't want to hit the Bliss Pool but it was empty and I had only two hours to fish so I waded in. It was sometime in July that I last fished a sunken fly here. It's been a dry fly heaven for weeks so why change now. On went a #14 olive parachute and I then took my position and began a classic UPSTREAM approach hitting every glide and seam the current had to offer. There were no rises to hatching insects during that first hour but it didn't stop the 'bows and browns from doing their thing. During the last half hour I began to see an occasional rise at the tail of the pool. It was here that a very good fish snapped me off and took the fly that landed 7 'bows and 2 browns for me. It was a good night!!
I'm hoping to spend this Friday night on the Millers if the water will drop into the 500cfs range. Hopefully......
Three months ago we were chasing trout on an early Summer evening. Three months from now we may be shoveling snow!! The Fall is a golden time to flyfish especially on the Millers. Don't miss it!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Storm On The Way, Again!

It's almost like being cursed. This summer has been the wettest for my three favorite watersheds, the Millers, the Swift and the Westfield. The Millers, with the exception of a few days were the flow dropped into the 300 cfs range, has been roaring. The placid Swift has had extra water from the overflow which ruined most of July. Only the EB of the Westfield has come through for us. It rises quickly but drops just as fast. As I write the Millers is at 280cfs and the Westfield is around 180. Perfect for both rivers. But Friday/Saturday we will hit by a hurricane which is expected to dump 3 to 4 inches on us. The Millers and the Westfield will rise quickly. Even the Swift will be effected if the Quabbin overflows. Put some good thoughts into the air, folks. Pray it doesn't happen!

In the meantime - The Swift below Rt 9 has been deserted by 5pm on weeknights. Plenty of elbow room and plenty of rainbows and a few small brookies thrown in. Not much surface action but if the water drops (haha) dry fly fishing should pick up. "Hotspots" are my fly of choice.

I spent two hours at the Bliss Pool on the EB Tuesday evening. Caught two and missed two on dries - a grasshopper for the first and then #16 sulphurs after that. Rises were sporatic at best. Met a "bamboo" guy who landed a monster 'bow at the head of the pool while fishing a dry. Nice fish!!

Check the flow links on this site from Friday onward. They could save you some time.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Swift - August 20, August 22

Thursday evening found me on the Swift at the "pipe" section. It was different from the week before when "rubber hatch people" were sailing through. I was the only one there except for one other flyfisher who left shortly. I took four 'bows, all crazy on the longrod, and lost two others. The fly that worked was the reliable "hotspot". (check posts from early '08, I believe, for tying directions) I was hoping for some surface activity above this section but the "fog" was on the river and that seems to kill any hopes of that.
A awoke Saturday morning at 5am to find thunder and lightening in the sky. I waited through an extra cup of coffee and then headed out. The Westfield had gone from 130cfs to 800cfs overnight so the Swift was a sure choice. At 7:30am I found one other flyfisher working the lower section of the pipe. This is very strange. A year ago you needed reservations!! First I took two small brookies that didn't look that they were in the river that long. A good 'bow struck next and I will consider it a "catch' even though I lost it at the end of a tough fight. I then ended upstream and took another brookie just below the gauge. I then headed downstream and found the "fallen tree pool" vacant so in I went. A very good 'bow came next and I missed another. Every fish was brought to the net via the "hotspot" in size 14. This may be my "go to" sub-surface Swift River fly. Two years running and it's caught a lot of trout. It's utterly easy to tie.
I don't know why the "pipe" section is so underfished this year! Maybe the high water of July scared people off their routine but this section is loaded with fish and you should try to get out there. If the "pipe" or the water directly below it is occupied then go upstream or downstream. It all works. Another thing: take the indicator off and cast upstream and follow your leader/line and watch for "stoppage'. I outfish "indicator" anglers 4/1. I firmly believe that watching a "bobber" restricts your success. Try it the "old way". Everything about your fly presentation will improve.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Hemlock Pool On The East Branch

This is a spot that almost made me go back on my"fish and tell" philosophy. Someone told me about the "Hemlock Pool" on the East Branch of the Westfield. It was "way down river" as the story went. I had a good idea of a pool that fit the description and had actually posted a photo last August of someone fishing what might be this place while I was hiking through the area. So last Saturday, in the heat of mid-day, I threw on some swimming trucks and grabbed my 4wt and headed out to really "find" the place. I did, hemlocks and all!!! I also found rising trout and landed two, a brown and a rainbow all in 85 degree heat. I went back Monday evening, fished for a half hour and broke off a large trout that came up for my ant imitation.
This is a classic pool, long and deep, with a great set of riffles at the head. Casting is easy and the dry fly floats are long and drag free. It is truly a great place.
Now, I feel confident that there will not be a traffic jam of anglers at this spot because it is a BRISK 20 minute walk from the gate. That's 40 minutes of traveling time which will cut into your evening fishing. Daytime in the Fall should be great there. With it's size this spot can easily accomodate 3 or 4 anglers.
BTW, all the trout swam away quickly, no ill effects.
If you like to hike try the Hemlock Pool.
Now, there's a huge gorge even further downstream. I've seen it but haven't fished it. Soon...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Swift - August 14th

Well, the flows were reading 215cfs for a couple of days which meant that some stability has finally settled on the Swift. The water is high but fishable so off I go. I would have suspected more cars in the "pipe" parking area at 5pm on a Friday night. There was only one other. The pipe was deserted. You could fish this place for years, even in the dead of winter, and never be alone.
I wasn't alone for long. The first flotilla, two rubber rafts and an inflatable CHAIR, sailored by four giggling girls, went drifting by. Fifteen minutes later a paddle comes floating by and hangs up at the "fallen tree". Ten minutes after that two dudes in kayaks appear. Only one has a paddle. I point out where the other paddle is, they thank me and then ask if I've seen "another" paddle. Sure enough, two more explorers in kayaks make their way onto the scene and yes, only one has a paddle. Finally they drift away. Maybe this is why I was alone at the "pipe" at prime time.
The fishing - I guarded one bank during the naval excersises and that long stretch of water yielded five 'bows, all good size and very full of fight. A size 16 serendipity was the fly used.
The photo above is of that beautiful stretch above the pipe. It's great dry fly water and should pick up when the flow drops another 50cfs.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Secret Spots

Most of the time I get good reviews about the content of this forum but every so often I get an email questioning why I am so liberal about disclosing the location of certain "spots" on various rivers, namely the Millers, Swift and the EB of the Westfield. The emails usually run the course of "now there are more flyfishers there" and how I might be "ruining the fishing". First, I'm not ruining anything. Maybe there's been an up -click on the traffic but most of the time I fish alone or with the customary traffic after running this blog into it's third season. I flyfish these rivers every week and I haven't been forced off my favorite spots yet. That brings me to a pet peeve that I have with some of the "forums" out there. Their "rules" say that you can't disclose the location of a pool on a river even though the great evening that you are having has been witnessed by a number of anglers. This is especially true for the Farmington River and the forum(s) that center on it. What's even more amasing are the forums centered around striper fishing!!! Some anglers have withdrawn their posts concerning coastal locations because of the deluge of private PM's that they get, all not positive.
I do this because I like to share experiences and hope that others can enjoy the same. Nobody, including TU, wanted to get into a "where to go, what to use" dialoge concerning the Millers even though few of them actually fished the river on a frequent basis. I'll tell you where to go and how to position yourself for a good outing.
Years ago, when I took up this sport, I would read about the great rivers of the Catskills, the Beaverkill, the Willow, the Niversink. All of the literature spoke of magical times on the great pools and runs of those rivers. " A great evening on Cairns", "Lost a monster at the Wagon Tracks", it goes on and on. Those storied places were popular back then but it didn't stop those great writers from writing about them and creating the legacy that those river deserve. Are we so tight lipped about certain rivers that we don't want anyone else there even though we may fish it infrequently?? I hope not.
I will continue to "fish and tell". If you fish these rivers after reading these posts I sincerely hope you will have an experience equal or better then mine!!
Hit the Millers!!! The flows are right!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Two Short Trips To The East Branch

I decided to play it fast and loose on the Westfield on the 6th of August. Out came this 6ft bamboo matched to a 3wt line. It had done well in AA ball (small brooks) and got the side out in AAA on an excursion to the Swift. But now it was big league time. Could it handle the 30ft+ casts needed for a dry fly presentation. the answer: Nope!! this rod casts the 3wt like a rocket
but you can't play the trout at all. I was about to land a 'bow when I realized the butt of my leader was already wrapped onto the reel. A nice small stream rod but not major league.
Saturday Morning - worked a stretch below the Bliss Pool for two hours starting at 7:30. I would have gotten there earlier if it wasn't for the 15 inning nightmare against the Yankees the night before. Caught two and broke off two working dries through the water pictured in the photo above. It is interesting to note that the morning sun doesn't hit a lot of promising water until late in the AM. At 9:30am I had a water temp of 58 degrees. Not bad for the 8th of August.
Off to the Millers tomorrow, I hope!!
P.S. the photo above is of the 6ft. cutey that was out of it's league. The other is of a early morning on the east branch.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Fishable East Branch - August 3rd

The online gauge read 500cfs. Time to go hit the EB of the Westfield. I spent most of the weekend at Plum Island (No, I didn't fish for stripers. Go back to the post of June '08 for my reasons) having a lot of fun but now I needed to chase trout. I got there about 5:30pm and found a spot that I visited two weeks ago loaded with swimmers so I chose my second spot which was "unoccupied". The pool was still bathed in full sun so on went a #12 dry stone to work the fast water at the head of this great piece of water. Two 'bows crushed this fly before the shadows began to cover the north bank. Then came the telltale rise so I switched over to size 16 light comparadun pattern.

The evening rise never really developed. Just a rise here and there. The three other trout (2 'bows and a brown) came to the net by just blind casting this dry fly to likely spots. This also resulted in two missed fish due to day dreaming on my part. Anyway, it was a good night. I had another flyfisher working the lower end of the pool that I was on. I should of taken a photo of him - he was centered perfectly at the lower end of this water with the rapids in the background. His casting was textbook and he was obviously enjoying himself. He probably really enjoyed himself after I left the pool at 7:45 (I was starving and the thought of those steaks on the grill was too much). I hope he did well.

BTW - I was on the Bliss Pool. I would like to head far downstream some evening but don't like the idea of driving too far out in my little car after nightfall. After Labor Day, when daytime flyfishing comes back into it's own, .........


P.S. the photo is of my 4wt, 7ft 3in. bamboo that I bought for $100 back in 1980. The hardware is fair, the handle is too big but I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, July 31, 2009

All This Rain - River Report

I took this photo at 6pm last night on the East Branch while the river was humming along at 1800cfs!!!! It dropped like a stone overnight and through this morning but has now (4pm) registered a click upward. It will be roaring tomorrow morning.

The Swift is near 600cfs. The "pipe" is underwater and the water temp is 68 degrees thanks to the overflow at the spillway. Forget about this place for a while.

The Millers was actually dropping at a slow rate but I'm sure that it's watershed will not escape the rain.

I've never seen conditions like this especially for two summers in a row. Drought scares me the most and I usually pray for rain but certainly not this much. Last year things dried out in August. Let's hope for the same.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Trout And Hot Weather

It's finally happened! June was the coolest month in Massachusetts in 115 years and one of the wettest. July has been overly wet but the heat had held off - until now. This past weekend was warm and humid but Monday, the 27th, brought us temps in the high 80's. I decided to test the only waters that were not flowing over their banks and that was the EB of the Westfield. 5:45 found me on the Bliss Pool with my 3wt bamboo, wading shoes and swimming trunks. The water temp was 70 and it felt great. Would the EB 'bows be in the mood? The shadows hit the far bank first on this stretch as the sun began to slide behind the tree tops. It was like clockwork!! A rise here, slowly at first, and then another. Those large cream colored mayflies began it lift off the water but the trout were not chasing those critters. It was something else. I tied on a #16 light olive emerger and took five 'bows before a rogue thunderstorm forced me from the river at 7pm. Trout were rising as I left.

The Westfield, like the Millers and many of our rivers, are freestone flows without benefit of a bottom release like the Swift. Fishing them during banking hours in July is a waste of time. How many times have I heard that "this river sucks, it's too warm". Those who say that are fishing at the wrong time of day. Very early morning and in the evening are the witching hours on freestone streams. I'm lucky because I have spent the last 25 years living only 15 minutes from good trout water. I can fish past dark and be home in no time. If you must travel some distance in July through mid August to fish freestones plan to get there at 4pm and stay until 9pm. Your ride back home will be worth it. Or you can go to the Swift or the Deerfield and brave those crazy currents.

BTW, the 'bows jumped and fought like hell!!! I did bring them to the net quickly and they swam away strong.

BTW again, there is ONE BIG FISH in that pool! I saw the swirl. It was BIG! It looked like it was chasing something but the thunder drove me off the river. Next time!!

Double click the photo. Nice shot of an EB rainbow.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thank God For The East Branch!!

Sunday morning, 6:30am - the Millers is at 2580cfs and RISING (that breaks the record of 1700cfs for this date set last year). The Swift is at 455 and RISING. The East Branch of the Westfield is at 535 and DROPPING!!!!. So off I go to the "Gorge" section of the EB hoping for some wadable water. What I found surprised me. 535cfs isn't that bad for this section of the river. The 'bows seemed to agree because they were working the surface, not in a steady rising fashion but at a pace that kept me interested enough to stay for two hours. I took six, all on a large cream comparadun that matched what was flying off the waters surface. The EB isn't golden drake water but that large mayfly sure looked like one.

The above photo is of the Quabbin spillway at noon, Friday the 24th. If you like high water then the Swift will be your place for the next three weeks. Ditto for the Millers. It would be REALLY NICE to see a break in this rain. I thought last summer was bad but this summer owns the record books.

The Westfield rises quickly but falls quickly. You know where to go for a flyfishing fix!!