Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB
Fly Fishing The Millers - With over 30 years of fly fishing this river I will claim more knowledge and fish caught than anyone. There are over 40 miles of river and I will take you to the best sections and if you want to sections that never see another angler. Don't be fooled by those who say the Millers is a Spring and Fall river. I'll show you how to have great Summer action. The "EB of the Westfield" - Wild and beautiful is the only way to describe this river. There's a lot of water here but I know where to go to catch trout. After a trip you will too!! Solitude and trout IS the EB. The Swift - 20 trout days are not uncommon on this river if you know what to do and use. I'll show the way and you catch the trout. RATES - Full Day (6 hours) = $150.00 for one, $225 for two (lunch included). Half Day (three hours) $90.00 for one, $155.00 for two. Beginners Class - 3 hours ffor $90.00, all use of rods lines, reels included.

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!!

Ken

31 comments:

browntrout said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
browntrout said...

I agree with you Millers. I fished the upper Swift this past week with a friend for the first time in at least 6 years. It will most likely be my last as it's just as I remember it. Way too many people. That compounded with low clear water makes the fish highly visible and totally exposed. It literally borders on animal harassment in that upper section as they are hammered non stop all day-every day early morning until dark, their only relief being darkness.
I see the upper section as a great place for flyfishermen that might be in their twilight years or handicapped and need easy access -a great refuge for them to continue their favorite hobby. For others, I think there are plenty of other rivers to fish even the Bondsville section as you point out.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Browntrout,

I'm hearing this more and more. I introduced someone to the Swift a month ago. We fished from the bubbler to Bondsville, a top to bottom introduction. The guy said he'd never go back above RT9 again. Too many people and water that's not very interesting.

And don't think that night time will bring relief. Night fishing around the Y Pool is now the "IN" thing.

Bondsville is a great place with lots of water and has been a savior this year.

Anonymous said...

Where abouts is the "pipe" section the a Swift?

Also, is it safe to say the East Branch of the Swift is done until spring? Had a great spring there with some fish topping the measuring sticks at 16'' there! Some QUALITYYYYY fish in that small stream. Beautiful scenery as well. Wondering if that river has the capicity to harbour hold overs? I saw it was down to like 8cfs this summer. :(

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Anonymous,

The "Pipe" section is off of River Rd. appox. 3/4 of a mile downstream from RT9. There's a turn off across from a long iron gate. That's the place.

The East Branch of the Swift is pretty and had the repudation years ago of having holdovers in addition to native brookies.

bert said...

Just my opinion, but the pipe section gets hammered even more on a day to day basis than the stretch above Rt. 9. All fishing activity is concentrated on an area maybe 100 yds long, if that. Its not really fun if you seek quiet.

Its what you get when the swift is the only game in town in some years (like this one).

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ken,

I will surely try to avoid the pipe section if the weather condones "a perfect fishing day"...However, I would like to check it out at some point. I am assuming size 22-24 midges are what the doctor orders for that section?

I will surely be hitting up the bondsville section of the swift soon, after midterms... Does this section hold the reputation of "MICROSCOPIC" flies, much like the northern part? Or are we ableto get away with "normal" size flies here?

Thanks Guys!

bert said...

Anonymous, the fish in the lower section take "normal" dry flies much more readily (not surprising). Things like Adamses work well and I have also had good luck with large black ant patterns. The best way is to walk along the river and look for activity: the density of trout is definitely lower compared to the upper swift. Don't confuse the suckers with trout...:-)

browntrout said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
browntrout said...

The other comment I might make is that if you do not mind city fishing conditions then the swift is fine. Just make sure to fish your way UP river, not down. Most people fish the river the wrong way and as a result spook tones of fish. Come up from behind and they will not see or hear you. The water is low and clear and if you are walking donw river the fish can see and hear you coming from a mile away Its a big no-no.
As I said, its doubtful I will ever return there again, other than maybe to quell a mid winter weekday itch. For years I would fish the Swifts lower section, most every other Thursday. On a bad day I might have run into 4-5 people. Now its even crowded on weekdays. I call it "the retirement hatch". When I was there last week, as typical of what has happened, I was working my way up a nice little stretch of river and had just taken a nice fish, when around the bend comes this bozo walking down river. He proceeds to walk right past me in the river, not even to think I was fishing the run, didn't even bother getting out of the river and walking around, nor even saying hello. I swear he was mad that I was in there and had just released a fish. I came very close to calling home an a-hole but my better side got to me. Still, it was a bummer and only reminded me of why I hadn't fished that river in over 6 years. Apparently the days of fishing etiquette ceased with the advent of the internet.

Anonymous said...

Brown,

As much as I agree with you, I have to object. The conditions of the rivers this summer was pitiful. I saw rivers that normally run at 75cfs down to 8! While the Swift was low at times, it was always cool. I realize the swift gets a lot of attention regardless of the condtions of the other rivers, however this summer it was to be expected. Have to give credit to the fishermen who had enough sense NOT fish for trout in most others streams due to the possibility of killing them because of stress, thus directing their attention to a river that is capable of holding a temperature conducive to the successful fighting and release of fish.

There was no excuse for that gentleman to walk through your run. Hell, sometimes I just sit on the bank and watch others fish. I find it just as rewarding. Not many states around us can say they have a tail water fishery that harbours 18" plus fish year round, with temps rarely approaching temperatures in the 60's...

While you sit at home and mope about too many fisherman, I will be out getting my flies wet and just enjoying being outdoors, surrounded by fishermen or not. I welcome a friendly convo or an exchange of flies. Thats what fishing is all about.

Falsecast said...

Great posts.

I too will support the Swift even though it is an aquarium!

It's a unique opportunity to fish for very tough trout. I always tell people that if you can catch fish there, you can catch them anywhere in the country. Is it a "wild" or even a "normal" experience, no, but I have had some great days there. I once fished the headwaters of the Clark Fork in Montana. Everyone said don't fish there as there are a lot of people and phd trout. They have to have signs posted about fishing etiquette it gets so bad there. I moved slightly downstream, put on 6/7X and pulled out my Swift flies. I caught about 10 fish with more than 1/2 over 20 inches. A lot of the locals couldn't do that, but then again they don't have the Swift training! :)

For years I avoided the FFO area above rte 9. I began fishing it, with all of the other people, and while I do get sick of it, it can be rewarding. I try to fish the Caddis, when the Sulphers are still out. A lot of folks don't realize that all the big fish are on the caddis while everything else is on the Sulphers. Around teh bubbler Hopper fishing can be good to great depending on the year and location. Skip the Y pool and pick up the hoppers again downstream. I've sat up the spillway catching and releasing great fish while the Y pool has a dozen people cued up. That said, it certainly has its drawbacks,but is the only real tailwater in town. Also, I love night fishing up there and only once ran into a "group" of people that apparently fish it all night??

The EB is beautiful, but I don't believe has many holdovers as the granite gets very hot. Ken is the expert there. I do agree with him that is one of the best rivers around. The Millers, I am sorry to say, isn't on my high list. I've only fished it 4 or 5 times, but NEVER have caught a fish. It is not close to my house so requires a drive, but I usually hedge my bets with the Swift. I've been eaten alive in the Bearsden a couple of times. Tried another section up by a flood control dam and once went to the Kempfield Pool when the water was 600 cfs. I would like to learn it more and should by Ken's book.

I caught a ton of fish at the Nissitissit this weekend. The Squannakook was also fishing well. Both of these rivers were critically low this summer too. If you've never been to them, I recommend it and am glad to suggest some spots/flies. Fall fishing there can be good, but there are no shortage of leaves on these slow moving rivers.

Sorry to have trounced through your run browntrout :-) Just kidding! I am usually the guy who tries to get out quietly upstream, but wipes out on a rock and splashes you out!

Tight Lines and Peace!

Anonymous said...

Falsecast,

I attend law school in andover, so the Niss. and Squan are close. How is the stream anatomy there? Is it mostly slow moving water? I prefer high stickin nymph water...thanks!

Millers River Flyfisher said...

I agree with all of you. The Swift can be the only game in town which makes it a crowded town most of the time BUT NOT LAST NIGHT!! I fished the pipe from 4:45 to 5:45 and saw only Marla with a client. In that hour I took 16 rainbows of various sizes mostly on a fly that I put together this past weekend. It worked well in size 18, 20 and 22. I'll write about it soon.

Ken

browntrout said...

Falsecast-point well taken on the practice training you get from working "picky aquarium fish". I get the sense that the swift is relatively convenient for you (within a 20 minute drive). If that is the case, I could see a person willing to frequent it more often and accept it for what it is.
However for those of us who may need to drive 11/2 hours each way to get there - to only then run into throngs of people, it really can be a let down, especially for a days commitment on a river.
Anonymous- Even if you put this summers drought aside, ask anyone, they will tell you the Swift is without a doubt one of, if not the most crowded fishery we have. The upper and lower parking lots speak for themselves. Having fished the Swift for some 15 years I've had my fill of it and do not feel I am missing anything. I am glad you enjoy your time there. In the end, that's what really is most important. No need to worry about me as I will not be "moping". Still plenty of other water to fish this time of year including a local pond within 10 minutes of my house where the browns are in the shallows right now and very aggressive to a fly.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

I will leave a spot on the Swift or any other river if it gets too crowded. I can usually find an unoccupied stretch with little effort. That's why I love Bondsville!!

BTW, the flow shot up to 112cfs.

Ken

bert said...

I agree the Swift does have its charms. Sometimes I imagine its fishing must be somewhat similar to that in the crystal clear rivers in New Zealand, fishing for fussy trout.
Hope to one day see whether that comparison holds!

Falsecast said...

Anonymous -- You are correct, I would say there is a lot of mud hole brown trout fishing in both rivers. Each one has small riffley runs where one can get "their Nymph on", but that is not what they are known for. Very twisting, snaggy, silty in some places too, but fishing the edges and bends does yield some good fish. The Squannie holds fish better, but the Niss is more wadeable. Good dry fly action, but with slow, long drifts. Ants, Hopper and bigger flies too. Very dark water. I do find both rivers very pretty and fun to fish as they are in WMA locations. Some ATV interruptions, but really not bad.

Brown -- I actually live 1 1/2 hrs from the Swift (Watertown) so my "home waters" within an hour drive are the Quinnepoxet/Stillwater (fun small streams) and the Squannie/Niss. I usually drive to the /SwiftWestfield/Housie/Deerfield or up North. Not the Miller's hence how I found this blog.

Ken, you have a great site here. I hope get "hooked" on the Millers too. I have noted you feel the only fish that should be stocked are Browns. Why is that if the holdover rate is low? I could see it if the Bows get wiped out each year, but the Browns holdover well. Do they?

Anonymous said...

Had some time this morning so thought I would hit the Pipe area...about 8:15....drove past Rt.9 parking area...EMPTY...I felt good about possibly being the only one at the Pipe....WRONG....5 cars there...so I headed back up and fished the Y pool....boy I wish there was no one at the Pipe...maybe next time...Tom

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Falsecast,

The brown holdover rate during this past decade has been pretty good on the Millers. We've caught rising browns in the Spring in the lower C&R BEFORE the annual brown trout stocking. Ken Simmons of the DFW verified that the trout that we saw rising in the bears den BEFORE the annual stocking were feeding browns.

The same can't be said for rainbows.

browntrout said...

Falsecast,

Sounds similar to me however my home waters are a 3 hour drive and well worth it. Cannot get up thre as much as I like but been doing it for 27 years.
Between my home here in MA and my place up north, there are all the regular rivers we hear about. But I have spent time in the last few years looking for other spots that are not on most's radar and within 2 hours. They are out there. Its more about having the time and energy to find and learn them AND keeping them to yourself or a choice few...

Anonymous said...

Marla was there at noon time on the 19th, too, along with 6 others within 50 yards of the pipe. They raised the water level that afternoon to it's present 110cfs. I've heard that there's work going on at the spillway and they need to lower the Quabbin some - I can't verify if that's the reason or not.

The Millers River is a difficult river to depend on. If an inch of rain dumps in the area over a few hours, the river roars for several days - add another rain before it gets down, it's high for several weeks. This past summer it got too low and stayed that way. It got cooked from the hot and dry weather pattern we were in for weeks. I was there twice last week before this recent surge from last Friday's rains and caught some of the recently stocked rainbows where browns would usually be and a bunch of chubs. Did not see any browns rising or any of the usual good fall bugs. Only saw 1 beaver and he didn't even bother to bother me. Real nice scenery but not the fishing of last season or other seasons past. I'll be back there next spring, though, I hope the beaver(s) aren't.

Al

Mike said...

Interesting conversation ... Pipe vs. Y-Pool - it is funny, some days the upper lot is full, lower empty, and others vice-versa - probably correlated to what various posts on the web are saying. You don't HAVE to fish only these two spots - was at the pipe a couple weeks ago having a pretty good morning - when it started to get crowded, I explored a ways upstream, and picked up a couple of nice rainbows. There are literally miles of this river that are not above Rt. 9 or the "Pipe" - and you will likely have all the solitude you want if you venture off the beaten path. The swift also has a legitimate native brookie population and it is a treat to run into a pod of these away from the usual haunts. BTW fished the Stillwater and Quinnipoxet yesterday - there were a few 18" salmon holding in a pool above the 1st bridge on the Stillwater, with about 8 guys throwing everything they had at them - gotta feel bad for those fish, but they weren't biting so its all good. Caught a mess of salmon parr from 3-7" - good to see that the natural reproduction is happening despite the beaver dams. The Quinni was beautiful, but there was not a hint of life (sort of like the Bearsden) - hope the wild brookies and browns found some place to hole up this past summer and will be back come spring.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

To Anonymous and Mike,

This blog has been trying over the past few years to try to redirect the Swift traffic to less fished areas of that river. I've posted about the great fishing in the hundreds of yards ABOVE the pipe, in front of the intake, the glassy run above that, the perfect riffles by the gauge and the great water leading up to the crib dam. On a weekend day you may see two or three anglers working those areas but no more than that. Everyone is drifting the stretch from the pipe to the "tree". If I see a crowd at the pipe (three is a crowd to me)I fish upstream and catch trout. As stated earlier I fished the pipe area on the 18th, at 5pm, and had only one other angler. I got trout!! Yesterday I took a walk to the pipe (a non-fishing trip) at 5pm and saw one angler. Late afternoon is a good time for this spot if you can do it.

I've been waving the pom-poms for the Bondsville section for months now. From the dam downstream one has more water to fish than you have from the bubbler to the pipe. You can't "SEE" the fish because it's not overstocked but there are plenty of trout there. It's a REAL trout stream, not a ditch like above RT9. You will NEVER see the crowds of the Y Pool or the Pipe at Bondsville. there's just too much productive water there.

I'm beginning to think that many fly fishers just like the company of crowds.

The Millers is a large stream with a large watershed and it takes days/weeks to recover from a very heavy rain. This year was the opposite and it did hurt the river. Even so, it's my favorite river in Ma. to fish. The browns are picky but a challenge. I had double digit evenings catching browns on the surface in late September/October over the years which will keep me coming back.

Ken

browntrout said...

Mike,,

Thanks for the update on the Stillwater, another river I fished for years before the crowds and beavers showed up. I've picked up some beautiful LL's there in days past during the fall run. Again, 15 years ago, a place where on a weekday you could walk from the mouth of the river to the singing bridge and maybe run into one or two fisherman tops.
But like anything, with the advent of the internet, fishing changed. Flyfishing sites started up. Back in the 90's information was a bit more tight lipped and could only be found at the local shop or occasionally in fishing magazines. The internet blew that up and the information went public to the masses 1,000 fold. The crowds arrived, coupled by changes to F&G regulations and the beavers arrived. Now the place gets slammed. And the river has changed with limited runs of flowing and fly fishable water due to several beaver dams.
Hearing your comment about seeing a group of guys at the bridge dunking worms over salmon redds is just plain sad. One of the last years I fished the Still, I witnessed it and found it painful to watch. If F&G had there act together they would change the regs on that river; remove the trapping ban, create a catch and release stretch and close the upper reaches from mid october -thanksgiving allowing LL to spawn.
If that were to happend coupled with the installation of a quality fish ladder on the Quinnie and that entire Wachusett area could become an amazing fishery.

Anonymous said...

Those LLs in that pool must have not fallen back before the water got too low again? I was there last Saturday when the water was still high but they still had not come up yet. Some showery weather next week will help.

Compared to other rivers, the Stillwater and the Quinny don't get that much internet exposure. I've been to both with pretty much nothing more than maps from Google and some mentions of the "popular" flies. I got a lot of "no answers" or "I don't knows" from shops and locals.

The spawn activity from the Wachusetts is an amazing event and something I hope the state biologists are watching closely. When or if there are diminishing returns happening, I hope they don't wait til it's down to nothing before trying to put restrictions in place. Mike - I came across a lot of parr, too.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Browntrout,

I don't think that the internet ruined the Stillwater by bringing in the hordes. You mentioned few people fishing during the weekdays 15 years ago. Well, I beg to differ. I lived 5 minutes from the Stillwater from 1978 to 1985 (25 to 32 years ago)and the place was crowded during the weekdays and a disaster on weekends during the Fall salmon run. The same was true during the Spring "opening day" scenario. This happened long before the internet came on the scene.

Know need to close angling in the upper reaches of this river since the hordes of anglers for the past 30 years haven't put a dent in salmon reproduction. Culling some beavers would be nice and destroying that dreaded dam on the Quinnie would be much better.

Ken

browntrout said...

Ken,
My bad... the internet did not "ruin" the Stillwater but it has certainly only made matters there worse. There are several shops and fishing websites that put the word out on line when the run is on. With thousands of lurkers between these and (most here know them all) that's all it takes. No longer does one have to drive to a shop to find out whats going on, now they can simply click and go. And it certainly takes the guesswork out of it. I am sure people are willing to travel from greater distances as well once they see reports of people catching salmon as they now they are now in there.
I guess times changed from 32 years ago to 15 years ago because I fished that stretch numerous times for a good 8-10 years (my office was 15 minutes away. Some days it was mornings and other days afternoons, all on weekdays. Very seldom did I find it to be what I would consider to call crowded, certainly nothing like the Swift.
I agree that the removal of the Quinnie Dam would be a huge boost to both fishemen and the fishery itself and could really provide a great deal more fishing opportunities while helping to reduce the pressure the Stillwater now gets.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Browntrout,

The internet didn't make things worse on the Stillwater as it didn't make things worse at Pulaski. The hordes on these rivers and many others pre date the internet. Local shops and "word of mouth" did that as they always have. How many times did fishermen start early, drive for miles, only to be greeted with a blown out, flooded river. Now we can check these things and prepare/redirect our efforts.

I think that I may be in the same age bracket as you but unlike you I like having fishing information that is only a key stroke away.

The "good old days" before the internet were not that good. I love looking at river reports, love tying flies off of my computer screen and love knowing what someone did on a particular river just hours before. I love the quick interaction!!!

Change is tough.

Ken

browntrout said...

Ken,
I would agree that you and I are somewhat similar in age. I too, enjoy the internet in certain regards; for work, communicating with friends or in forums such as this with philosophical debate. We will continue to agree that we disagree on the downsides of the internet, and that's fine. The more important matter is that we both have a deep passion for fly fishing and try our best to protect it in our own way from the future ruins of society.

Scott said...

Hi Guys,

I think in one respect we are giving a lot of fishermen (myself among them)too much credit. Just because there is an abundance of traffic on a given stretch of water does not necessarily mean that fish are being caught, spooked perhaps, but only caught by a small portion of the crowd. Mike, your experience on the Quinnie (my most local stream) is a good example. I have fished there on days where every other cast brought a trout, but primarily I find you must be willing to hike and skulk in order to tie into the spooky brownies (not as much for the few 'bows in there). Likewise, I have found sections that were consistently void of anything. I have found this to be true on the Stillwater and Quaboag as well. Maybe it's me or maybe they really aren't in the spots I'm fishing.
The fish density in New England is paltry when compared to those waters in the glossy Mags. I just think it fits our traditional Yankee ethic to have to work a little harder for less return than everyone else and be proud of it too !
Mike, on the Quinnie be mindful of your drift (I fish wets) - I have caught many fish only after adjusting my depth and speed. There are so many holes in that stream they can literally be anywhere. Hope that helps.