Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Moby Dick Wet - A New Standard Wet Fly

By late February we will be dreaming of those days and evenings of May and June when trout are breaking the surface chasing caddis and mayflies OR if you are beyond hope (like me) we are thinking of those days NOW!!!! We have five months to survive before we see that action. In the meantime we can create those offerings.

I am a sentimental fool for the "old patterns", namely the old wet flies that have performed so well before they fell out of favor. The Moby Dick Wet, first mentioned on this post three years ago, is one of those patterns. Actually it's a new tie in an old form. What will it do? It will nail trout before and during a caddis hatch! One fellow that I guided on the Millers near Erving Center took a half dozen browns in a hour one evening with this pattern. Another took almost as many. I've done the same working those beautiful riffles at the head of a Millers pool. It's caught trout from northern New Hampshire to Connecticut all season long. It has the color and profile that just WORKS!! Fish it in the surface (damp!) and it's irresistible. When the surface action really starts switch to the appropriate dry if you like. I mentioned in that long ago post that I wanted to tie this in a size 6 for night fishing. I did. The trout that I caught were not measured in POUNDS like I had hoped but were good fish that attacked this fly. I will keep my hopes up on this "after hours" thing and will still count on this pattern as the sun sets.

Happy New Year To All Of You!!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Cold December Morning

It seemed like a good idea on Saturday night - get up at 5am Sunday morning and hit the Swift for a few hours. It didn't sound so good when the alarm went off so I ended up buying an extra hour of sleep which resulted in me crossing over the Rt9 bridge at 7:40 instead of the planned earlier hour. Everyone else must of had the same idea/excuse because the Y Pool parking lot was EMPTY!! So was the Pipe lot too!! I guess a sunrise temperature of 14 degrees will do that! Anyway, I had the place to myself from 8 to 9am coaxing a few reluctant bows to the net with serendipities and Marla's jailbird (a very good fly). At 9am George and this other gent made an appearance. The action (?) was slow for all of us. I took four by 10am when I decided to call it quits.

The fish are there but they were like me at 5am. Not in the mood!! Maybe we can get a 50 degree day before our licenses run out.

Merry Christmas!!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mistakes Made Over The Last Season

It's late December and I regret some of those plans that I hatched last February and March when fly fishing plans are usually hatched, namely that I didn't fish where I said that I'd fish. We all know the drill: I'M GOING TO FISH THIS PART OF THE RIVER but you really never get around to it. You go to where the "action" is even if the action doesn't always play out. I did explore and fish the Bondsville section of the Swift. Check off one plan as completed. I spent wonderful hours above the pipe with hardly anyone there. What I didn't do was go back to my haunts of '06,'07and '08 and that's the section above the crib dam up to the "duck pond" on the Swift. '06 through '08 gave us low Summer flows and dry fly action to ants, beetles and other critters. It was great but hard fishing but well worth it. 2009 gave us mid Summer flood conditions that made wading this section life threatening. I said that I would go back to this seldom fished spot this past season (never saw another fly fisher) but I never did. My mistake!!

How come I didn't go below the Bridge Street Pool on the Millers?? Maybe it was because the Millers, like many freestone rivers, were hit by the "2010 Drought". Maybe I was playing it safe by fishing the Kempfield Section which survived the Summer. It was a plan of mine to pack a sandwich or two and spend a day fishing the miles of water below the bridge for outsized smallies and browns. They are there. I should have been there!

We are two weeks away from "New Year Resolution" time. I'm already making a list. Let's hope that I stick to it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Three Rivers - A 2010 Summary

This blog has centered on three rivers in Massachusetts over the past three years and those rivers have been the Millers, the East Branch of the Westfield and the Swift River. If I was to rate the rivers for 2009 they would have been 1. The EB, 2. the Millers and 3. the Swift. What about 2010??

Number 3 - The EB. If I were to ask the gods above for one more season on one river for 2010 it is certain that the EB would be my choice. 2009 was perfection - great flows and rising trout from May through November. I couldn't ask for more. That didn't happen in 2010. The hot weather and the drought wiped this place out. My last trout was taken in July, a far cry from the heavenly, October day in 2009 where the bows sucked in BWO's and my dry fly offerings. It was a sad summer on this river. A normal year, weather wise, would be much appreciated. So would more browns!!

Number 2 - The Millers. 2009 was a cursed with high water. In 2010 fishing for those browns was great until the end of June when the worst drought conditions that I've seen in over 20 years took hold. Did those conditions kill off the river's browns?? The answer is NO. I caught them, as did others, in the early Fall. This river will come back!!

Number 1 - The Swift. A great part of 2009 saw this river turned into a flooded, kayakers dream. This past year saw it running between 45 and 115cfs - perfect flows. What gives this river the top prize for 2010 is the fact that I "discovered" the lower river in Bondsville - no crowds at all and plenty of trout. I really and truly love that lower river. The above photo shows one of my favorite runs on the lower Swift. Solitude and rising trout. Who could ask for more!!

Say a prayer, fly fishers, that 2011 will bring a "normal weather" year.

I'll be on the Swift and probably the Farmington this Winter. I'm also looking forward to a week long fly fishing adventure next June. Tenting, campfires and fly fishing until I drop!! You know the drill. Any suggestions??


Monday, November 29, 2010

Post Thanksgiving On The Swift - TheTributary

Let's start with the Saturday after Thanksgiving - When I got to the PIPE at 7:30am it was crowded with six anglers jammed into the area from the PIPE down to the TREE. I rigged up while listening to a very loud group that were fishing just below the PIPE. I left the circus atmosphere and fished upstream past the gauge station to the crib dam. A nice morning that saw a half dozen 'bows and brookies playing into my experiment. The experiment was to see what size mattered as far as the trout were concerned. First I rigged a size 14 scud on the top with a size 20 serendipity on the bottom. The smaller fly worked best. I switched the setup but the smaller fly still prevailed. Then I went to a size 20 serendipity on top with a new creation in a size 24. The size 24 won out!! Hmm, this year the smaller fly is the choice!!!

After two hours I walked back to the PIPE where I found one new angler fishing about 30 feet below the PIPE. I decided to take a few casts with my new creation at the PIPE outflow. I immediately took a bow within 5 feet from the PIPE which caused the other angler to say that I was crowding him. I said that if he thought that he was being "crowded" he should of been there three hours before!! I was casting far above (for the pipe) where he was casting and the end of my drift was in water that he wasn't close to fishing. I like solitude but the PIPE is more communal than any other spot on the Swift. One person from the PIPE to the TREE is not a CROWD. When there are three or four in this section I head upstream or downstream. I am certain that I was minding my manners!!

The TRIBUTARY - Sunday afternoon I took a walk down to the above section just to check out the situation. I saw a Hummer parked at the gate which said that George was there with the usual good conversation. That's when he decided to show me the trout in the outflow stream above the PIPE. I've heard of the trout here but never explored the area. We walked past the "No Trespassing" sign (sorry, we were on a mission) and saw dozens of large fish in this outflow. Nice to look at BUT you CAN'T FISH THERE, PERIOD!!!! It reminded me of looking at the outflow from Quabbin into Wachusett years ago. Lots of big fish but NO FISHING!!

The outflow from the hatchery is the largest tributary on the Swift. It's extremely fertile and effects the trout behavior for a surprising distance downstream on the Swift. It is tempting but.......don't fish there!!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

The End Of The Swift!!

No, there wasn't a spill or a fish kill. Today I decided to do some exploring, sans fly rod and waders. The aim was to check out the lower, LOWER Swift and to find where it joined waters with the Ware River. The above photo shows the junction of these two rivers. It's a nice pool. The flow of the Swift meets the Ware head on creating a beautiful drift line that seems to last forever. Below the junction there is a nice set of riffles. Above the junction the Ware offers nice, nice dry fly water. The Swift's cold flow should provide sanctuary for some of those Ware River browns that we hear about. Maybe or maybe not but it was worth the trip. I'll be back to this spot next Summer for sure!!!

More time was spent exploring this lower Swift River and it included me spying on some rising trout! As expected there was nobody there except me and the trout.

Tomorrow morning I'll be working the Swift with some new creations. Will they work? As I said earlier - maybe or maybe not.

We could get out first snow within two or so weeks. Fish Now!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Indian Summer On The Swift

First, let me define "Indian Summer". It's not what the TV weather bunnies claim it to be, namely a warm Fall day with lots of foliage. Here in New England it has traditionally been a warm Fall day AFTER the foliage season. If you don't believe me then ask Robert Frost!!

The day starts with a temperature of 30 degrees and ends in the low 60's. Perfect. I meet Dick at the Pipe parking lot at 7:30am. I forgot to make reservations for the Pipe (haha) so we have to fish the stretch upstream to the crib dam. (actually this was the plan!!).

This stretch, almost always devoid of flyfishers, was ours for over three hours. We fished upstream with Dicks red beadhead and my scud taking and losing 'bows and brookies. Not too bad!!

After working this stretch we went back down to the Pipe to find a few anglers who had decided to drop anchor for the day just below the outflow but the "tree" pool was vacant. We were seated immediately (haha) and began to work a steady rise to midges or something very small. A size 24, mentioned in a recent post, tied onto the business end of a strand of 8x brought a couple of more trout.

It was a good day with good company and good trout. These sunny, comfortable days are in short supply. Fish them if you can!!


Saturday, November 6, 2010

The "light" Season Ends, The "Dark" Season Begins

The alarm is set for 5am. I leave the house at 6:30am after two cups of coffee, a bagel and some drifting on the web. It's dark. Dawn is scheduled for 7:29am which means that you MAY be able to thread on a size #20 to a strand of 6x at 7am. I'm up for this but in a strange way. Tonight we set the clocks back and that's what's bothering me. Sunset on this Saturday is at 5:30 which means that tomorrow sunset will be at 4:30. The best hours of the year, for me, have disappeared into memory. The hours of the "evening hatch", the sublime time between dusk and dark, of shirtsleeves and rising trout, are gone for the next six months. That time means more to me than Hendricksons at 1pm on a late April afternoon. The road ahead means frozen feet, icy guides and lots of fly tying. The "Dark" season is here.

I get to the "pipe" on the Swift at 7:15am. Within a half hour there are six working this crowded water. I hook three and land two. Time to move!!

I almost always have the crib dam section and the water below to myself. The fast water at the base of the dam yields nothing to my rig which consists of a #14 scud at the top and a #20 serendipity at the bottom. Twenty yards below I begin to pick up some small brookies and browns on the scud. From the gauge everything changes!! More small brookies and browns on the scud but now some good bows smash the serendipity!! And these guys want to rip line from my reel!! I take ten from the crib downstream, six are good sized 'bows!! That was it for today.

I went home and raked leaves again, turning a lot of them into the garden soil. It will build up that soil for next Spring. Next Spring......

I'll fish through this Dark Season but my mind is on next Spring!!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tiny Flies For The Swift

Things will change on this river. Five seasons ago a #16 olive soft hackle made dark colored trout go nuts during the Fall. Since then it's been a second tier player. Scuds and hot spots have had great days and always will BUT something has surpassed them at least for this season. The above photo shows what I have been using up and down the river. Size #18 through size #26 works and have produced 43 trout in my last five hours on this river. Early morning or late afternoon seem to work best for this pattern. Maybe it's because these hours yield the least fishing pressure or maybe because the air is full (especially in the late afternoon) of tiny flies. In any event this fly works! I like it!!

There is the occasional post concerning my generosity dealing with naming locations on certain rivers. It has now spilled over to my sublime posting of fly patterns which work on the Swift, Millers and the Westfield Rivers. Frankly, I don't understand it. I really want people to do well on these rivers! I'll continue to post locations, conditions and patterns on this blog because it's my blog. But for this pattern I'll give the pattern instructions to anyone who emails me on the email address that I have on this blog. If you want to tie this fly then just email me. If you don't want to know about this fly then keep fly fishing and have fun!!

Daylight Savings Time ends this Saturday night. Sunday morning (11/7) will have light at 6am but darkness around 5:30pm. Bummer!!!! The "Dark Season" begins!!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Swift - 10/18 to 10/23, What Crowds??

A lot has been said about the crowds on the Swift. Lots of fish and lots of fly fishers!!! Here's my experience over this past week.

Monday, October 18th found me stepping into the pipe section at 5pm. There was one other fisher down by the "tree" and that was it for the hour that I was there. I took 16 'bows mostly on a tiny creation that I worked up the night before.

Thursday, October 28th I scouted the same spot around 5:30pm. Only one fly fisher!!!

On both of these days the Y Pool parking lot was full.

Saturday (yesterday)found me sleeping until 7:30am (that's considered "sleeping in" for me), eating breakfast, doing a 40 minute hard walk, picking the last of the green tomatoes and then a full raking of the backyard. Then came lunch followed by a trip to the Swift.

The Y Pool lot had a dozen cars but the Pipe lot was almost empty at 2pm!!!! On a Saturday????? The lone car belonged to Marla Blair. You can make out the car on the extreme right of the photo. It was a temptation to stop right here and take advantage of the rare elbow room but I had been thinking of one stretch at Bondsville (above photo) so downstream I went.

I fished Bondsville for a a little less than 2 hours, caught two 'bows, and then went back to the Pipe. It's still a ghost town and now Marla is leaving. She said the place was empty when she got there at mid day and remained so. Very odd!!

I fished the pipe totally alone from 5 to 6pm and took 20 'bows on that same creation I used Monday. The fly was one of a two fly rig and it was the only thing they wanted. It worked in sizes 18 through 26. More on that latter.

I can't think of a reason why the Pipe would be as lonely as Bondsville on a Saturday. Maybe it was just a fluke. It may be a good bet to hit the Pipe in the LATE afternoon to avoid the "practice green" atmosphere that we usually see.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Millers/EB - This Past Season

How do I explain this season on my two favorite rivers. 2008 and 2009 were mid season washouts for the Millers with great May through early June fly fishing followed by flood conditions that thankfully ended by late August which gave us very good Fall fly fishing. The EB of the Westfield was heaven during those past two seasons - dry fly HEAVEN!! This season, the driest in the last twenty years, brought these two rivers to their knees!! Browns survived in the lower Millers, rainbows in the EB are another story. Things like this will happen. In over three decades of fishing the Millers I know that some fish will survive although the number of survivors will be fewer than years past. The rivers are running at strong levels as I write which should help for winter refuge on the Millers. Let's hope so. I keep thinking of the dozens of Autumn trips on this river where we fished and fished for rising trout. Not this year.

The Swift - steady flow, cold water, lots of fish. Also lots of fly fishers. Take a break and go downstream to Bondsville. Steady flow, a good number of fish and very few anglers. It's soooooo... different from the tee time atmosphere that you encounter up by RT9.

Check it out!!


Friday, October 8, 2010

What They Are Rising To...

Here's a short post. I was fishing the pipe section, catching a few, while watching a local fish hawk hammer one 'bow after another. The fish are there. Sometimes we will wonder what the trout are after when we see the surface action which was evident. Well, a good indicator can be found on the new leaf deflector panels that the DFW have installed a few feet from the intake building above the pipe. (the photo is an old one, minus the leaf deflector panels) The panels are just a few feet into the current.

The panels are made of pexiglass which seem attract mayflies. On an early Thursday evening (yesterday) the panels were covered with blue wing olives duns running about a size 20. And I mean COVERED!!

There you go!!


Saturday, October 2, 2010

September Review - Early October

The rains finally came. Not in a series of wet days but in a 4 inch deluge which brought the lower Millers up to the 600cfs level and the Westfield EB roaring at 1800cfs. When it rains it pours!!!!!

The Millers needs this deluge. The rising browns that we caught last April need some depth of water to make it through the winter again. This recharging will do that, I hope. Those fish are still there and they survived this horrid Summer but they need water for the Winter. Hopefully they will have it.

The Swift - The flow was reduced from 112cfs to the mid 40cfs range just prior to the storm. This morning the Bondsville section was low, clear and wonderful. And I got skunked!! Trout were rising but in a very odd fashion. Two and three quick rises and then nothing for as long as 20 minutes. I couldn't get them to cooperate whether it was to a small olive emerger or to my trusty soft hackle flies. That's ok!! The Autumn sun was warm, the flow was perfect and two and a half hours just drifted by. Not a bad day for me.

The attached photo shows the location of those rising trout. You may recognize the spot or if you are new to the lower Swift you can easily find it easily.

Time to think of seasons past. Just one year in this case. Check out my post for October 23 of last year. It tells a tale of a warm cloudy day on the EB when dark colored 'bows took in my dry fly offerings in a way that leaves memories for fly fishers who look for memories. It was a perfect day but it was after two perfect Summers with good flows. We didn't see those conditions this year. It is something to feel sad about. Hopefully next year things will return to normal - everywhere!!

Last night I had a vivid dream of catching stripers with Jim off the mouth of the Merrimack. Some dream of other things but.....

Fall on the Millers and the Swift - I'm looking forward to it!!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Millers - It Has Survived!!!

This past week was hard. Sometimes personal things change everything and they did. Fly fishing was something far from my mind as my drive back home found me near Wendell Depot. I needed a break and the chance to check out the Kempfield, take some low water photos and the idea to just chill a bit seemed right. With only my camera a took the walk over the trestle, into the woods and down the hill to the top of the Run. The island at the top of this run is now connected by dry land. (see above photos) I've never seen that before. The big, slow pool at the end has a large rock breaking the surface. Never seen that before either. I've never seen such a low water condition on this river!! I hadn't been here since early July. I saw the low flow online, heard the stories of dieing trout and even began to believe that my brown trout would not make it. Like I said, I've never seen it this bad before. I sat down and spent a half hour just taking it in.

In a while the sun sank below on of the tall pines on the opposite shore, putting me in the shade. The air felt cool. It was 6pm with an hour till sundown and that's when I saw it - A RISE!!! Back to the car I went for waders and a 4wt (never leave home without it) and then back to the spot.

Here's what happened. The water felt cool and a quick temperature check registered 67 degrees - the same range as every 20+ years on this river on an early September evening. The air was filling with a small (#18) yellowish mayfly and rises were beginning to mark the surface in that beautiful glide above the large, slow pool. I fished for a half an hour and took three dark, beautiful browns on dries. I could of fished longer but after snapping the leader on the last release I called it a night. The browns fought hard with that bulldog "nose in the gravel" battle that browns are known for.

I've fished this river, this spot, for 26 seasons and have never seen such dry conditions. Even I, who have waved the pom-poms for browns for all these decades, began to lose faith in their survival. I STAND CORRECTED!!!!!

As I say on my home page - Browns are the ONLY trout that belong in the Millers!!

There's your proof!


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Labor Day Weekend On The Swift - So Far..

I was the first at the "Pipe" at 7:15am this Labor Day Saturday. What a difference a week makes!! The flow at the mid 40cfs range should not have mattered. It didn't a week or so ago when big, dark rainbows charged the fly. My hour alone produced one middle size 'bow. So I walked upstream just below the gauge and cast a few dry fly casts to those riffles. Above me was a young father, a dog and a young daughter. Dad had a fly rod and both he and the girl waded wet across the stream to fish that set of riffles. Dad hooks a trout, the girl is spellbound and the dog even seems interested. It reminded me of years ago when I would take my girls on trips such as this. That dad is doing the right thing!!

Upstream I go to the crib dam. A land a "triple" - 'bows, browns and a brookie!! All are on an olive parachute, size 16. All are small. The rainbows are between 5 and 7 inches, the browns run 7 to 8 inches and the brookie (so beautiful)made the 10 inch mark. For a while I forget that this is a tailwater where cold water means lots of trout, even big trout. For a while I was in a Northern New England state-of-mind!!! I'll take those small fish. They remind me that I am damn lucky to find rising trout at the tail end of a horridly hot and dry Summer here in the Baystate.

You will know when you get there that this water below the "dam" is best fished from the left side, looking upstream.

I've highlighted this section before. A number of you have commented on it (thank you) but I usually still have the place to myself. Then again, I fish during the early morning and in the evenings.

I posted a photo of the short section that is directly across from the hatchery intake. Last year it was the home of rainbows. This year it's the home of brookies!! Here's the catch - there are a lot of 5 inch fish here but if you work the water carefully and totally the 10-12 inch brookie will show. I fish size 18 CDC emergers on a short line. These fish are beautiful and a lot of fun.

I hope to be there tomorrow (or maybe Bondsville)


Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Swift - 8/26 through 8/29

The 122cfs flow fell like a rock on this Thursday afternoon. A 7:am check read 112cfs but at noon the flow was shut down to the 45cfs level and that was the story for the "pipe" section. Where were the trout?? They were there!! I took 13 below the pipe using scud patterns with and without a bead head. These fish were BIG, dark colored bows.

Sunday morning, 8/29 - I'm the only one there from 7am until 8:45am. I took 10 using a size 14 flashback scud with a micro-shot about a foot above the fly. It was heaven!! By 10AM I had 5 fly fishers working this area so I took a look upstream. Just across from the intake I saw rising trout. The place was alive with rising brookies, all small, but RISING!! I took 7 of these beautiful fish on size 18 dries. All of the brookies were between 6 and 9 inches but they made the morning for me!! My 4wt seemed heavy for these guys. The 3wt was in the car, the 2wt bamboo was back home. Go with what you have!!

The Swift is a special place. Cold water, an good flow (60CFS would be PERFECT) and lots of trout that are wise to us fly fishers!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Swift - 8/21 Through Now

It was strange to find myself at the "Pipe", at 10:30am on a weekend morning, and find NOBODY THERE!! The trout were there, maybe not in the numbers of seasons past, but they were there and the few souls who ventured there caught fish. The 'bows were old timers, nice and dark, as was the tiny five inch brown that also came to the net. I took five, two on hot spots and three on hoppers (yes!!).

Bondsville had me dualing with some very selective fish last Friday evening. Rainbows and brookies were working the surface but I could only manage three fish. The rest kept me puzzled. A rise here, a rise there but nothing chasing the sparse mayfly hatch that was in the air. In any event it was fun.

I'm still praying for rain to bring the Millers back to normal. September is approaching and that is my favorite month on that river.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Plum Island Strpers And Blues

It was a much need break from the drought and heat that has blasted the trout fishing scene through much of New England. It had been two years since I took out the 8wt or tied up anything larger than a size 4 but I did just that to prep myself for a week at Plum Island. I had some good early morning tide changes to play with which would leave the rest of the day to spend with my other half. Not a bad deal!!

The first thing that I wanted to do was catch a blue for the grill. That was easy and it was delicious. The second thing was to break the 28 inch striped bass barrier, a feat that I hadn't accomplished in 15 years. That wasn't easy! This shore bound angler got as close as 24 inches with one of the two bass that I landed. That's when blog reader Jim Chase came to the rescue.

Jim, by the way, is a Plum Island resident and had read that I was staying there. He called me and extended an invitation to get "on the water". Invitation accepted!! At 5:15AM we were heading down to the mouth of the Merrimack in Jim's 21 footer. The next four hours were pretty good if you like catching striped bass!!

A few notes must be made:

1. Jim knows what he's doing. His 10wt and large flies resulted in 15+ fish in the 24 to 36 inch range.

2. My 8wt was not up to the task of throwing the large flies (rambos) or fighting the wind. Note to self: invest in a heavier option!!

3. I had forgotten that my backing was a goofy yellow color. I saw my backing on a number of runs. Thanks Jim!

4. I have no "sea legs".

5. I still managed to cast well enough to take 5 bass. The 28 inch barrier was broken!!! Thanks again Jim!!

I'm back home in Northampton where I plan to hit the lower Swift in a day or so. I've noticed that this Bondsville section is now being mentioned on various blogs and forums which I think is a good thing. I'm also scouring the internet for a 10wt set up which will not break the bank. That will be a good thing too!!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

July - A Review

It may have been the hottest and driest July on record or at least it was in my memory. I've always said that heat by itself is not the culprit in slamming trout streams but that drought is the main enemy. 2006 is a good example - very hot BUT very wet and the fishing held up on the Millers. This year is another story. The photo of the lone fly fisher was taken on July 31 from the bridge on Bridge St. looking downstream. Too much exposed stream bed for my taste. Pray for rain!!

The EB - I'm waiting for a good deluge here too.

And that leaves the Swift, especially the Bondsville section that has been a pleasant surprise. With the exception of today (8/1) I've caught trout on every outing. The dry fly fishing has been great. I don't know what's up with the flow on this river which has seen levels of 38cfs 115cfs, 55cfs, 38cfs, and now 110cfs over the past three weeks. I'm not complaining. It's COLD water and there's plenty of it.

On August 7th I head to Plum Island for a week of striper chasing. Maybe my week at the beach will end the drought!! I'll squeeze in a trip or two this week in the evening. Maybe the EB!!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Lower Swift - Very Different And Very Cool!

The Heat is on and has been on for three weeks. Add in a lack of rain over the last two months and you will a situation that we don't want to see. The Millers is too low to fish and the EB is right behind it. That leaves our little tailwater - the Swift.

Late afternoon on July 20th found me eyeing the 8-10 cars at the Y Pool lot. No way!! The "Pipe" section had almost as many. It was then that the old idea came back - what about the Lower Swift? Not Cady Lane but much further downstream, that Bondsville section. Why not.

Five miles later found me looking at a river that was totally different than its upstream section. Gone were the shallow, placid runs with their sand and gravel bottom. In their place was a shaded, turbulent (for the Swift) river with plenty of boulders but with plenty of deep pools mixed in with plenty of riffles. What was also missing from the lower river were the hordes of anglers (I was alone)and the kayaks and tubers! The water was clear but not the gin clear condition seen miles upstream. One thing that it had in common with the river around rt9 was the water temperature. It registered 62 degrees which was surprising when one thinks of the impoundments just upstream.

The fishing - it was all dry fly. First with a stimulator in the heavier water and ending with #16 sulphurs as the hatch began. I took ten rainbows on this trip and they ran from some pint sized 10 inch trout to a few that pushed the fifteen inch mark. BTW, this place is a nymph fishers dream. It's classic water is that respect.

So, in this horrid Summer I have found an intimate, shaded river that looks like a mountain stream that is running in the low 60 degree range. Will it now become crowded?? I doubt it. The "Y" and the "Pipe" will continue to draw their faithful but if you are looking for some solitude go WAY down river!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Millers Update

Let's backcast a bit. 1993, 1995, 2002, 2007 and now 2010. These are the low water/drought seasons that I have witnessed on this river. One would think that after two high water blow out seasons in 2008 and 2009 we would have a "normal season". No such luck! The Millers is very low and warmer than we would like to see. What does this mean?? Are the trout dead and gone?? Is the season a waste??

The answer is NO!! If this season is like the previously mentioned seasons we will know one thing - the browns will weather this condition and will begin to play with us once the rains come or the water temperatures drop. 2007 was a a good example. Heat and low water brought fishing to a stop in July but August and September, with it's lower temperatures, brought the river back to life with minimal rain. I helped land that 22 inch brown that took a dry in very skinny water in early September!

We need some rain. Enough rain to raise the Erving section to about 200cfs. That will get things going for the evening angler. With enough rain the September fly fisher will have some memorable morning outings. By late September we will all be able to fish over rising browns during most hours.

The rainbows - say "goodbye"!! In every one of the above mentioned years this breed of trout failed to make it through the Summer. Be it angler survey or electro shocking survey rainbows give up the ghost so to speak. THIS IS A BROWN TROUT RIVER, PURE AND SIMPLE!!

I love this river! After 25 years I have a good feel for how it works especially under these conditions. Every one of the previously mentioned "dry seasons" had very good Autumn season. The browns make it through this condition. They will be waiting. I'll be ready for them!!

I'll keep you posted.


P.S. There were rising browns below Whetstone Brook this week. That's their refuge under these conditions and I didn't have the mind or heart to go after them. Try a bugger for the smallmouth who will play with you. Try exploring the lower river below the Bridge Street Pool for these critters.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Swift - Very Cool

This long, hot, dry spell has made the Swift an oasis. Water temperatures at the Pipe section range from 55 to 58 degrees and now we have a recent stocking. Along with the hot weather/cool water come the kayaks, rafts, tubes (see above photo) which put things on hold for us. The fishing - it's been good. Not up to the best that this section serves up but good anyway. Serendipities seem to get the job done. So have beetles on the surface. I took the advice of one fly fisher and tied on the only one that I had. The result - caught one and then lost the beetle on another fish.

Check out the section above the pump house. There's always rising trout there.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

EB And Millers Update

What a difference a year makes. The water is LOW, everywhere!! But even with these conditions one can find decent fly fishing. The EB - Tuesday evening found low flows BUT rising trout. All the action started after 6pm, first in the shaded pools with rising fish. Size 16 sulphurs brought the 'bows up although I didn't see one brown joining in. Last night I hit the Kempfield Pool on the Millers where I saw the same odd surface action that I saw during the low water June of '07 - browns flying out of the water on the south bank of the long, slow pool at the end of this stretch. Their action was "odd". These fish were smashing the surface or jumping two feet into the air for SOMETHING!! The surface was littered with sulphur spinners but that's not what they wanted. I caught one on a spinner out of the dozen that playing around. After a while I quit that scene and managed two browns among the rocks upstream. The ROCKS - I've always said that dry fly action starts when you can see the rocks. Well, the rocks are now one to two feet above the surface. We need rain!!!

Hit these rivers in the early morning or in the evening. The water temperature is ok and with a morning air temperature today of 46 degrees and with 43 degrees predicted for Friday morning things will not heat up too badly.

Pray for rain, the exact opposite of the last two years.


Monday, June 28, 2010

The Swift Is Normal (?) Again

It's been a busy week but not on the fly fishing scene. Work, family and thunderstorms canceled out my planned trips to the local waters. On the 21st I fished the "Pipe" section with the flow around 100cfs. By Thursday it had dropped to 38cfs which is about a bit below normal but ok. Sunday I guided on this section. We had great low flow, a 54 degree water temperature and ONE OTHER FLY FISHER!!! The reasons: High water for the last two months have scattered the trout(maybe)or the hardware guys fished them out (maybe again). The trout were certainly there but in less numbers than before. We had some on. The "one other fly fisher" floated the theory that with the end of the hardware season on 7/1 the DFW will bless us with a summertime stocking. Let's hope so.

Now, for a great story. The "one other fly fisher" hooked a large 'bow (20inch) about 30 feet below the pipe. The fish tore off downstream and then went flying upstream, dragging the fly fisher with him. Up PAST the pump house the bow went with his angler in tow. The last I saw of them was as they rounded the bend in the stream, at least 150 yards+ from the spot of the strike.

Maybe a foul hook but entertaining anyway!!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This Past Weekend On The EB

The EB of the Westfield was my place this weekend. Summer is here and with it comes a change in tactics. You can fish during banking hours or you can fish in the evening or early morning if you want to catch trout. Both times worked for me. I was there on the evening of June 19th. A "new" spot just below the final gate yielded a good time but no trout. Upstream, at the Slant Rock Pool, brought one brown and a few misses to my dry fly offering. Then came the Bliss Pool . Browns and 'bows came to a #16 olive emmerger which made a nice end to the evening.

Sunday morning I set the alarm for 4:30am but managed to "sleep in" - a major error. I like being the first at the Swift! I goofed, pure and simple. So off to the EB I went to salvage a few hours. My two hours were well spent at Slant Rock and at the Bliss. Browns and 'Bows were working the surface between 8 and 10am. I caught a bunch!!!! Basically any olive dun/emmerger in size 16 did the trick. Water temperature was around 70 in the evening and around 55 in the morning. This was great fly fishing!!!

Went to the "pipe" on the Swift on Monday evening ( 6/21). STRUCK OUT in two hours. Took a water temperature and it read 64 degrees. So I ask: just a bad outing for me or are we in the doldrums for this spot?

I can honestly say that Summer Fly Fishing is may favorite time to cast a fly to eager trout. It's the most exciting form of fly fishing. On the Millers and the EB of the Westfield it lasts all Summer!!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday Morning On The EB

The rain was supposed to hold off until mid day but 10am found a light drizzle turning into a light rain turning into a ........ You get the message.

8:45am found me at slant rock pool only because I was too lazy to work the section below the gate a half mile or so into this section. There is a stretch below the gate that has entered my dreams - deep, smooth, classic, but I chickened out. I'll pay for that with "could of, should of" dreams for the next week. Anyway, slant rock forgave me. Five 'bows came to the dry. The tail end of this pool will keep you awake at night. Classic dry fly water!!!!

Next stop was the Bliss Pool. Three more surfaced to take a large stone fly. I made the mistake of tying this #10 stone to a 5x tippet. Talk about a messed up tippet!! 4X brought three 'bows up in the fast water at the head of this pool.

I thought about this river as I cut vines and other invasive growth away from my deck over looking the Mill River this early afternoon. Maybe tonight.......

The above photo is an old photo. I didn't have my camera today. Sorry!!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Light Cahill Evening On The Millers

Thomas Ames would call them Cream Cahills or Light Cahills but for the fact that it was a spinner fall that I witnessed I'll call them Cream Cahills BECAUSE he said that light cahill spinners fall long after dusk and these were definitly spinners - dropping gently on the surface, a bounce or two, and then lying flat after that. I think that I'll just call them Light Cahills - close enough.

It was not a blizzard of flies but a steady fall which brought the browns up. The #14 cdc comparaduns fooled enough trout to make the two hours that I was there worthwhile. Where was I??? The Kempfield was the spot. The Upper Trestle Pool did well before "the fall" with a large dry stone fooling some bows and browns in the fast water at the head of this stretch. when was I there?? Monday night and I had the river all to myself.

It's Summer on the Millers and evenings will produce for the next few months. Enjoy it if you can!!


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Home Waters

Sometimes it's right in your back yard. I live in Northampton and the little Mill River flows right behind my house. I've heard of this stream - a seasonal catch and keep flow that serves the Spring time bait and hardware guys for two months before it's forgotten. I've never seen a fly fisher on this water and I have ignored it for better fare on the EB, Swift, Farmington and the Millers rivers. Three years ago I saw a rainbow rise right behind my house on Mothers Day. I thought "dumb 'bow, soon to be the victim of warm water" or something like that. No fly was cast.

But things began to change. On a muggy, hot afternoon last July I saw a bait fisher below one of the dams that cross this river. I threw out the "catch anything" question only to be answered with a stringer of two 14-18 inch rainbows. Hmm.......the fly fishing guide that I own states that the river warms up too much for trout survival during the Summer. I made note of it but didn't fish the river that Summer. This winter I thought that some effort should be made here but May found me on the big waters. Then came Memorial Day. I had some time on my hands at midday so I took a walk along the Mill River. This place is a favorite swimming spot for the locals so it took some time to find undisturbed water. I found it, at noon with the temperatures in the high 80's. I also found RISING TROUT throughout this section!!!

Forward cast to 8am this Saturday morning. Into the Mill River I went with boots, swim trunks and a pocket full of flies and leader material. The first thing that I noticed was that the water was COLD! I've waded wet before and know what Summertime water feels like. This was cold. This water also had a RISING TROUT mid way through the section that I was at. Three casts later the #16 sulphur was taken by a 'bow that ran up and down this this small pool. It was released and swam off like a rocket. Two more trout were seen rising at the head of this section. My first thoughts were "this will be easy" BUT I managed to put both of these guys down.

This was fun. A little 3wt, small flies, short casts and nobody around!!!! It was almost like having my own private trout stream!!!

I'll spend more time here this Summer. If we have normal rainfall this season this place will be very nice.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Millers In Summer Mode

Maybe it was the string of thunderstorms that rolled through the Millers valley on this Memorial Day Saturday because the parking spot at Wendell Depot was EMPTY at 4pm. The threat of lightning kept me car bound for a good half hour before I headed upstream to the Upper Trestle Pool. Conditions were perfect but the trout, with the exception of one rainbow, didn't want to play. Two fly rodding gents waved and headed upstream. I, in turn, headed for the Kempfield where I had the place to myself. Nothing was working the surface at the head or middle of the stretch BUT trout were making some splashy rises in the calm water of the big pool. The rises said "caddis" but there certainly was a lack of this insect in the air. Then I noticed that the shoreline on my side of the river was swarming with dark caddis. The logical choice was made and for an hour I threw adult and emerger imitations with no results. These fish were cruising around with no set positions which gave the game a "chuck and chance it" feel.

I was about to throw in the towel when I saw a rise in the current. One rise and then another = a trout in a feeding location. Off came the caddis and on went a dark tan cdc dun. It only took two casts before I set the hook. A few minutes later I was admiring the brute, a beautiful brown that ran about 18 inches. It was well worth the wait!!!

The Millers has entered it's summer phase. Mornings and evenings will be the rule until September. I love Summer evenings on the Millers. So do the Browns!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Really Nicely Looking Hatch On The EB

It was Tuesday evening and it was HOT as most of you know. I figured that it would be a good idea to hit the East Branch to tempt some trout to rise or at least just cool off. That's when I was fortunate to glimpse the rare EB hatch that I had only heard about. It's a hatch that only occurs in the hottest weather. As I drove down the dirt road by the first turnoff there she was. Twenty something, good looking and totally sans clothing!
Her and her friend (in swimwear) didn't seem to mind my rubber neck response or the fact that the Gorge had a good number of people in it. Sorry, no photos!

Now for the fly fishing. The Bliss Pool was occupied so down the road I went to the Slant Rock Pool. I made one pass upstream through this gem of a stretch with my dry offering but I knew that the blazing sun would have to set a bit and put this pool in an evening shadow before I'd see any surface action. The sun left the water and at 6:30 I saw my first rise. A second rise came a few minutes later. That's when I and a #16 olive cdc dry began to ply the water.

Forty minutes later I took my fifth trout. Four 'bows and a nice brown came to the net and then quickly swam away upon release.

The water dropped below the 100cfs mark today. The flow is still adequate for the fish but we need some rain. A good, local thunderstorm will bring this river up. A good day and a half of light rain would be better.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Another Millers/Westfield Update

Things couldn't be much better on these two rivers. On the 19th I took two hours in the evening on the EB and had great dry fly fishing for rising rainbows using a hendrickson spinner. That hatch, which is over on this river, still produced. I guess the trout have good memories!

The Millers, with it's LOW WATER, is doing very nicely! Browns and rainbows are hitting the surface and March Browns are beginning to make their appearance and should be doing their thing for the next month. Times are good!!

Something to watch - we could use a little rain. Just a light, steady rain that would last for a day. Not the monster downpours of the last two years. That would be good!!

I'm starting to think of the Swift again. The flows have become reasonable which gives us a third option. I'd love to hit all three this week. That would be GREAT!!


Monday, May 17, 2010

The Millers And The Westfield - An Update

It probably can't get any better on the Millers right now. The browns are in and with the holdover browns that we have been catching a great Spring and Summer are in store as long as the flow levels stay reasonable. The surface action has been great this month which is an added bonus since May has always been "average" on this river as far as dry fly fishing is concerned.

The Westfield - I know that the EB gets a big slug of 'bows a few days before TU's weekend jamboree but I decided to check the place out anyway Sunday morning. The Gorge seemed empty which leads one to believe that angling was not up to the usual standard. But I was on a mission to get those quill body drys that I tied up this winter off my brain. As it turned out I began to see the occasional rise from the Bliss Pool. Six trout came to the fly and I landed three in the two and a half hours that I fished. It was great watching those #16 drys gliding back towards me with the occasional 'bow rising from the depths to make contact!!

That's dry fly fishing!!!!!!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

If A Tree Falls Into The Kempfield Pool.......

Word had it that a giant pine blew down into the Kempfield a week or so ago. My first thoughts were that it had hopefully fallen into the quite water below the mouth of Whetestone Brook and NOT ABOVE IT. That would ruin the best spot on this stretch. Thankfully it landed below the mouth of the brook across from the large boulders marking the beginning of the slow water. In fact, it probably IMPROVED the flow by channeling floating (flies) material away from the south bank and closer to the north bank where the approach is ALWAYS best.

The browns are in at the bears den and folks are catching them. The lower section gets their browns on the 14th but we have been catching holdover browns and stocked rainbows regardless.

Hit the river. It's prime time for the Millers!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Millers Sunday

I guided a fellow from New Hampshire on his first Millers trip on Sunday. We started at the Bridge Pool in Farley where he lost two good fish. After a while we headed upstream to Erving Center and fished below the end of the C&R. Again we had a good fish on but it throw the hook. Finally we made our way to the Kempfield Pool where we were greeted with a good number of rising browns. My client caught his first two trout on dry flies!! The first holdover brown was an easy 18 inches, the second just a bit shy of that. They both fell to a size 14 BWO dun. After the guiding session I went back and caught one of the two remaining browns that were still rising. They were all dark, beautiful fish!!

It was a good way to start the season.

One note: there's no such place as the Power Station or Power Pool on the Millers. The real name is the Kempfield Pool and it is a name that was used in the 1940's and that is documented. The "Power" label was thrown at this beautiful stretch about ten years ago by people who park near an electrical sub-station and fish from the WRONG side of the river.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Millers - Now is the TIME!

Hit this river NOW!! The last two years have been crazy with flows that broken records over the last two Summers. But this dry April has gotten this river down below 500cfs which is PRIME as far as flows are concerned. The browns go in on the first two Fridays in May but the bows have provided plenty of sport. Even the hendricksons are getting into the act on the lower river.

Temperatures will be in the '80's this weekend. It should be great!!!!! See you there!!

The photo is from the Cable Pool on the lower Millers.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Millers Update

Saturday, April 17, and the Erving gauge reads 820cfs. The Bears Den comes in at 465cfs. It's hard to believe but April has been a bit on the dry side and the flow readings are showing that. In fact, the Millers is running BELOW normal. If the Bears Den reading is to be believed then we can safely say that it is very fishable right now. Once the Erving gauge hits 500cfs we will be out there regardless of the stocking reports. BTW, the DFW site says that the lower Millers has been stocked a few weeks ago. If it was then the trout (rainbows) will be scattered due to the high water at that time. It appears that the Bears Den will get it's browns on May 7th with the lower C&R getting it's browns on the 14th. That's when the season starts for me!!!

The above photo is of the pool at the mouth of Mormon Hollow Brook on the LOWER river. I love fishing this section starting at the Bridge Pool and working downstream. It's lonesome fishing for sure. Very few want to take the walk to get there but it is certainly worth the trip. An added bonus in this section is the awesome smallmouth fishing. I'm not talking about 8 to 10 inch bass but bass that are 15inches plus!! In May and June, I've been told, that smallies come up from the Connecticut River to spawn and these fish are BIG! They're measured in POUNDS, not inches. I can't say if the spawning theory is true but I've caught many big bass here that may be Millers River bass.

Here's a fishing trip for you: start in the late morning during June swinging buggers, muddlers or leeches through the big pools and runs of the lower Millers. Fish through the afternoon catching good size bass and some trout. Have a sandwich around 5pm and then head upstream to the Kempfield or the Upper Trestle for the evening rise. THAT would be a good day on the Millers!!

The Lady with the bass?? Caught on the lower Millers on a June afternoon.

Monday, April 12, 2010

April Update

Elliot said that April was the cruelest month. He must have been a Massachusetts fly fisher!!! The Swift and the Millers are roaring along at flood stage. The EB and the other branches of the Westfield have been stocked (they say) but nobody is catching anything and it appears that very few are fishing. I made a dawn trip to the Middle Branch Saturday morning. Nothing - and no other fishermen. I took a walk through the EB in the early afternoon. The water looked good but I saw only two fly fishers. The road is still closed AND the "Bliss" sign was crushed by a falling tree over the winter!! My neighbor fished the main stem of the Westfield Sunday morning. No fish!!

Things will get better!!!!