Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

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!!


Monday, July 20, 2009

The Swift - Kayaks and Flyfishing

Sunday evening found me on the Swift due to the yo-yo flows on my favorite Millers. Actually, I had my mind on this great little tailwater that is home to the great flat that is just above the intake down by the "pipe". I was hoping for rising trout and I wasn't disappointed. Two bent the bamboo and one look upstream revealed a half dozen other rising fish. Perfect I thought. That's when I heard them - two kayakers banging away from downstream. They paddled right through the pool by the fallen tree and proceeded upstream with no regard to the flyfisher who was working that stretch of lovely water. Next it was my turn. Up they came, splashing away, right through my stretch without making any attempt to hug the opposite shore. Needless to say, all the rising trout scattered. By the time that they hit the guage they were walking their boats right through the riffle where I took rising fish on Saturday morning. I thought that maybe they needed to get back to their car by rt 9 so I sat down and waited for things to calm down to salvage the evening. No luck!! Back they came with the same "I own the river" attitude that I saw 15 minutes earlier.

Now, I can be politically correct and say that the "river belongs to all" and that their recreation is "GREEN" and all of that crap but the SWIFT IS NOT A KAYAK RIVER ESPECIALLY WHEN IT'S FLOWING AT 60CFS!!!!! "They" had a ball with their pasttime at our expense. Our recreation was ruined for the evening!!

I've had encounters with kayakers on this river before. A few are very curtious and sail clear of where a flyfisher is casting. I can live with that, I guess, but many are just oblivious to what we are trying to do. That goes for the two pinheads I had the non-pleasure of meeting last night. I've told many to stay clear in the past but I didn't want the boyfriend kayaker to feel that his girlfriend was being threatened.

BTW, a great hatch of little evening sulphurs were coming off the surface before the evening was ruined.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fog On The Swift River

You can "cut the air with a knife" as the saying goes. Mid summer will bring on the humidity and the cold current of the Swift River is certainly a welcome relief. You will also encounter the "Swift River Fog". Warm, moist air meets cold water= FOG. Thursday evening I made my way down to the "pipe" section. There were two others working the area so I walked upstream past the intake to the flat water above. There were trout rising throughout that stretch. I took three on a little olive cdc emerger. Then I saw it! A bank of fog began to form over the river and that shut down the surface activity. Fog will do that. The small tan mayflies were still riding the surface but the trout wouldn't go after them. Maybe they can't see them? I don't know. In any event I felt good about the evening and headed home.
This morning (Sat) I was at the same place with the same foggy conditions (check out the photo above). There were a few mayflies and caddis but no rising fish and I couldn't tempt them with that little emerger. So off goes the emerger and on goes a #12 Millers River Bivisible. BANG - two rainbows came to the net within the next 15 minutes. Maybe, under those conditions, I just needed a larger fly that they could see.
Or maybe I just got lucky!!
The Millers tomorrow evening (maybe)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Week On The East Branch - Westfield River

I love this river!!! Living only 15 minutes from it's tumbling currents probably adds to that but having a lot of eager, RISING TROUT certainly helps. This is where I've been flexing the bamboo over the last week except for a non fishing trip (yup, that happens) to the White Mountains over last weekend.
Where do I begin? There are miles of great holding water but I limited myself to two stretches. I'll call the first the "Bliss Pool". One trip down the dirt road from the top of the gorge and you will find it. You will know when you are there by one telltale sign. (remember the word:Bliss). This long piece of holding water has been the home of rising trout early in the evening. Remember, the East Branch is a freestone river and in the depths of summer the action is in the early morning and in the evening. BWO's and any tan mayfly dry will bring them up. If you're there early then tempt them up with a large stonefly dry. It works!!
Last night I decided to give that stretch a rest and worked a tempting run a 1/4 mile above it. It was a relief!! No large, slippery boulders to negociate, just lots of fine gravel, nice water and rising trout. I took four 'bows and a brown and lost others from that stretch. There was a concentrated spinner fall of some large mayfly at the fast water at the head of the pool. At first I thought that they might be isonychia but there where no telltale nymph shucks on the shoreline rocks. My guess was that they were Grey Drake spinners. My offering was refused but I made up for that with the sipping trout at the tail of the pool. They loved that olive emerger!!
As darkness fell I began to think of the Millers. It cracked the 500cfs barrier and will continue to drop. It looked like I would have to visit the wilds of NYC this weekend but the flyfishing gods have smiled on me. That trip is out and the Millers looks like a sure bet right now.
The Millers or the Westfield?????

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Westfield-Thunder, Lightning And A Great Night!

I took some time early Monday evening and headed out to the East Branch of the Westfield. I took a rainbow on a #12 stonefly dry and then decided to scout around. There seemed to be a lot of flyfishers for a Monday night and their success was spotty. I sat down and watched two anglers working one nice stretch for some rising 'bows and saw one trout brought to the net. Hmm...maybe I should come back the following night and see what I could do.
Tuesday afternoon found me driving through a real cloudburst. This would bring the water up but maybe not too much to ruin the conditions that I hoped for - low, cool water. A quick check of the weather map showed that the thunderstorm line had past the Connecticut River valley but another line was forming in eastern NY and heading for the Berkshires. A tight window for sure but certainly worth the effort.
5pm had me on the banks of a favorite pool with the telltale clouds forming to the west. The water level was up and a bit cloudy but very fishable. What to use?? There were no rises so I began prospecting with the stonefly from the night before. What happened?? I took five 'bows that came up and smashed that large fly in forty minutes. That's when the sky began to darken accompanied with the sound of distant thunder and that's when the 'bows began to rise in earnest. Don't believe the wives tale about fish going off the feed when a storm aproaches. I switched to a #16 olive emerger with a cdc wing and took and lost another fish. That's when I saw the first flash of lightning. The first thing that came into my mind was whether bamboo is a lightning rod (I've asked myself this for decades). A very stupid question to say the least!! I headed back to the car to try to wait out the storm but this was futile as the heavens opened up with a blinding cloudburst. The ride home was a full wiper ordeal but made very easy because of the hour or so that the flyfishing gods smiled on me.
The East Branch rises and falls quickly. Not like the Millers which stays high much longer with the same amount of rain. Hit the East Branch!!
P.S. Those five inch salmon look sooo beautiful. Too bad it's a lost cause!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th Of July - The Good And The Bad

Early last week I had plans for a July 4th weekend hat trick: The Millers, the Swift and the Westfield. If you remember I made a prediction that the Millers would kiss the 500cfs level by 7/1. Fat chance!! It blew out that Wednesday and came close to 2000cfs by the 3rd. I fished the Swift very early Friday morning. Fished it hard but had only one brown taken by the gauge on a sulphur to show for my efforts. That leaves the East Branch of the Westfield. I hit that in the early evening of the 2nd. The water was high but not unfishable. Two good rainbows came to the net thanks to a #10 soft hackle with one more breaking me off. I was there for two hours.
Now, while I was at the Swift I ran into a friend who has been getting the rainbows and browns of the Swift to chase his streamers!! When I got home I tied up a few small marabou streamers to hit the East Branch with the next morning. Sunday morning found me on the Westfield swinging streamers through the currents and landing rainbows. The rainbow in the picture was my second that morning. All told, four bent the bamboo and one threw the hook after a brief aeriel display.
I don't know when the Millers will be back to normal, whatever that is. It has been very high (+500cfs) since 6/11. Say a pray!! I'll be back at the Westfield this week.