Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Friday, December 30, 2011

Last Post Of 2011 - Swift Salmon

This River is FULL of Salmon!!!! Say the same thing about the Lakers. I took one of each, another two fly fishers took two salmon each and another took ten lakers. His secret?? Think MONO!!!

I swung a size 12 Orange and Grouse Soft Hackle and caught both at the end of the swing. Two others fished small beadheads under an indicator and the "Laker Man" fished a streamer. The Summary - put the fly in the zone (deep) and they will hit. That doesn't explain my swinging soft hackle which resulted in nice subsurface (just below)hit.

Smelt have been found along the submerged bushes and that has added to the game. Fish a smelt pattern and catch an salmon. Fish a size 30 larvae (yes, it's true) and catch a salmon. Fish soft hackles, beadhead nymphs, streamers, wooley buggers, lefty's deceivers (scratch the last fly although it seems like it could catch fish here) and you could do well.

I don't expect a horde of anglers to hit this place, the Y-Pool section, because it's hit by hordes already. Find a spot and fish it. The salmon fishing will last as long as the overflow and it's near 600cfs flow continues.

The above photo isn't a salmon but a rainbow from the Y Pool section and an older photo at that. I've managed to leave the camera in the car. Just imagine a much larger fish!!!!!!

Have a great 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Who Fishes Our Rivers - The 2011 Survey

Last Spring I began to rant against one of my biggest concerns (actually it's my biggest concern)dealing with trout stocking and that is our State's reliance on rainbow trout as the premier fish as far as numbers of fish stocked are concerned. They are dumped into every freestone river in this State in numbers far exceeding brown trout. Appox. 60% of the trout stocked in Massachusetts are rainbow trout. Browns make up about 25%. Our DFW states that rainbows grow quicker and larger and people want large fish quickly. How come Connecticut and New York have numbers that are the reverse of our stocking numbers but seem to have great fishing? Is this a problem??

The answer is YES if you want season long fishing since the bows disappear by mid July.(DFW are on record as saying just that for the Millers and the Housy) It's NOT a problem if you only fish the rivers in the Spring which is the strategy of the hardware and bait fishermen. Our State has always stated that they must cater to the majority of fishermen so they enact a policy geared to non fly fishers as if they were the majority on our rivers. It simply isn't true!!

Last Spring I asked the readers of this blog to do a head count of who they saw on the rivers that they fished. Fly Fishing Only rivers/sections were excluded, of course. Count the fly fishers and count the non fly fishers - that simple. 22 different rivers and streams were surveyed starting in late April. Who fishes our rivers?? It's fly fishers by a long shot!!

April had one week on the survey and it was a 50/50 draw. 21 fly fishers and 21 others for that one week. Then came May when the fly fishers were in the majority 55% to 45% (240 to 190). From June 1st onward it was a landslide, 90% to 10% (215 to 23).

Now granted, this is a small sample survey but so are the polls coming out of Iowa over the past year. There were a little over 700 "heads" counted. And the majority of counts were done on rivers that had just general regulations and no C&R status.

What does all of this mean? Here's the answer. When I took up fly fishing for trout in 1970 it was in the era of "Opening Day" when EVERYBODY had to get out there and fish. Rivers were crowded, worms and lures were flying through the air and stringers of trout were proudly displayed. The non fly fisher on our rivers was in the majority but the State got rid of that opening day nonsense by 1977. I believe, by doing just that, it killed the urge to fish rivers for many people and those people were not fly fishers. I see, over the last few decades, less non fly fishers on our rivers. Where are they?? Drive by any stocked lake or pond (even Jamaica Pond in BOSTON) and you will find these casual anglers. It's easier there. THEY ARE NOT ON THE RIVERS!!

If anything this survey should cast a shadow on the idea that Billy Baitbucket and Harry Hardware should be catered too when it comes to setting stocking policy for RIVERS. THEY ARE NOT THERE ANYMORE!!! That policy includes the species of trout stocked and the regulations concerning the fishing for them.

Thanks to Jack T. for a all your info!!

Happy New Year!!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Late December On The Swift

Forget the ice shown in the above photo. It's an older photo of the Swift spillway from six or so years ago BUT it shows the condition of this river now. The PIPE is under a foot or so of water. The Y Pool really cannot be waded. The Bubbler Arm is flowing very high with the bows and salmon hugging the banks. In fact they are hugging the banks throughout the river. Places where we waded two weeks ago are now too deep and fast to wade successfully. That's what a 740 cfs flow will do and this may be the condition for many weeks if history is any indication. We passed the 700 flow range in July of '09 and it lasted for weeks and that was with Summer evaporation and vegetation draw up. There's none of that now.

Wait and see.

I worked the areas where one could safely waded and had a short strike or two using a smelt pattern. Why not?? LL Salmon and smelt patterns seem to be a good bet but the current conditions of high water really limit us.

Let's hope for a lower flow.

Merry Christmas to all of you!!!!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Soft Hackle Success

Backcast to October 2006 when I took this lady on a guided trip to the Swift. She could cast pretty well but hadn't had a lot of success catching fish. I rigged her up with a size 14 grouse and flash and all hell broke loose. Most everyone down at the Pipe were throwing size 18 what-ever and beyond but she (a good student) kept a short line and landed 10 rainbows. Was she an expert? NO! Did she fish a fly that everyone else didn't fish? Yes! Did this fly represent an impending hatch? No way!! The fly was different but it had the lifelike attributes of a real insect and that made it a target for the Swift River 'Bows. That's what soft hackles do!!

Salmon have come over the spillway into the Swift. These fish have grown to these impressive sizes by feeding on FISH but they still hit those small soft hackles. Why? The answer is that this fly style is pretty much irresistible to most fish that feed, or have fed, on insects. The resident 'bows of the Swift love them.

I like to fish a grouse and orange above a pinhead or hot spot on the Swift. Trout on this river seem to hit the G&O early and then go to the smaller fly as the water and air warm up. On the Millers and the EB it's the bottom fly below any bushy dry fly.

Soft Hackles rule!!!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Salmon On The Swift

There are so many of them. The past month has seen some impressive catches of Landlocked salmon below the Quabbin. One local fish hawk rose 31 and landed 15 in a two week period. It has also almost depopulated the Y Pool because the salmon have moved into better lies downstream and the fly fishers have followed.

Friday saw a mixed bag of trout and two salmon strikes which threw the hook. The above salmon in the photo belongs to my friend Rick who landed the brute that was about 22 to 24 inches. The fly?? A size 14 orange and grouse soft hackle. Eggs and streamers will also work well.

Again, don't trust the gauge. It's not even half of the +650cfs flow that's advertised. So use up what's left of your 2011 license and hit the Swift.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Don't Trust The Gauge!!

I hit the "Pipe" at 7:15am just like a week ago. Water was just barely covering that metal tube, again, just like a week ago but the gauge is reading a flow in the HIGH 400's today while last week it was in the mid 300 cfs range. The electronic gauge must be off. The Pipe will be my gauge going forward. That high reading may be the reason why I fished alone for two hours before the next guy showed up.

That high reading was the reason that I took along two size 12 marabou streamers to try out. The tiny marabou streamers did the early morning trick. Six bows smashed them on the drift with four landed. Next came the reliable Hot Spot which took another six with a few throwing the hook.

There is a lot of action above RT 9 dealing with the "spillway salmon". I'll fish for them but not during the weekend. Too many people. Maybe that's why the Pipe was all mine this morning.

To all of you - Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!!


Monday, November 14, 2011

A November Morning On The Swift

It's that time of year again. The Dark Season is upon us, all five months of it but there are a few golden days in November where the sun shines and the temperature nudges past 60 degrees. This is the real Indian Summer of New England lore, when the color has left the trees and it gets unseasonably warm. We had a few days of that as the weekend approached and it killed me not to be on a trout stream but Sunday dawned with the promise of a good day as I headed down Rt. 9 towards the Swift.

The flow at the "Pipe" was high, very high, although the gauge that morning read 180cfs. Two weeks before, at 209cfs, one could still see six inches of the pipe. Now it was totally underwater. They fixed the gauge after the snowstorm but it still needs an adjustment. Keep that in mind.

The fly fishing - I first tied on a hot pink SJW 18 inches below a split shot to just wake those guys up. One came to the net, one got away as they have been doing in this high water. I switched to a Swift Serendipity and got another hit but couldn't fool another. Next came a #16 Hot Spot and that's when the game changed. 18 bows took the fly, 10 where landed. I will remember one large bow that hit, jumped and then ran to the top of top of the Tree Pool (I was at the Pipe!!) before jumping again and throwing the hook.

Fall is wonderful on the Swift. One has the opportunity to fish for actively feeding trout, with surface action thrown in, while most of our other rivers are really winding down. Get out there if you can especially if the temperature on these last golden days nudges past 60 degrees!!!!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

After The Snow Storm And The Top River For The Year

Driving down the turn off to the Pipe this morning was like driving through a clear cut zone. Lots of trees and branches down, lots of chain saw work. If you wondered why you can't get a flow reading for the Swift the simple reason is that the antenna at the gauge is resting on the ground. Who knows when that will get fixed. The flow is high with just the tip of the pipe showing. That is a +250cfs flow if my memory serves me.

The flow is one thing but the tree debris in the river is another. I with I had taken my camera to record this although I believe the trees and limbs will be there for a while. The short pipe stretch is graced with a large tree that broke in two. There are other "new arrivals" up and down the river and I would just as soon leave them there. This river can stand more trout cover and more woody debris (bug food), especially the former and certainly the latter. Lets hope no well intentioned soul decides he's going to spend a day doing "stream improvements".

Over the last two years I've rated my three rivers, the Millers, EB and the Swift for their yearly performance. In 2009 the EB was the best, followed by the high water Millers and the flooded out Swift. In 2010 the order was reversed. The Swift won by being a refuge during the worst heat wave/drought that I can remember. 2011??? It's the SWIFT. It was not a runaway decision.. The Millers and the EB fished well up through early July but fell victim to another drought and heat wave for most of July and August. Then came Irene!! The Millers hasn't seen a 400cfs day since August 28 and Irene killed the access to the EB and it's Fall stocking. Meanwhile, the Swift just purred along from 45 to 120 cfs all Summer and provided great fishing. Ok, it has an unfair advantage being a tailwater but ......who cares!! It's just a great place to spend a Summer day working over highly educated trout!!!!

I'll be there this winter, half frozen and thinking of sulphurs and short sleeves!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Fall Day On The Swift

It was a good day on the Swift. Cloudy, cool October weather and eager trout. It seems like nobody fishes the "Pipe" this season. That's a mistake. There are plenty of fish there but few fly fishers. Lots of hooked trout and some landed.
That's the case for the last month.

The "bubbler arm" or the "brook" has been working well with anything that resembles anything that is tiny and dark. We even found a lot of room at the Y Pool to work over a sparse hatch of small BWO's.

It's snowing as I write this. There will be some warm November days where everything will connect, maybe even on the Millers if the flow keeps dropping. BUT the "Dark Season" is almost upon us. The freestones will freeze up. That will leave the Swift for the wading Massachusetts fly fisher to ply their trade. We will fish through the Winter dreaming of Hendericksons on some beautiful Spring day.

Here we go!!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Upper, Upper Swift River

The West Branch of the Swift River rises in the highlands of Shutesbury and flows southeast into the Quabbin. It is a small woodland stream that has one important feature: It is the spawning ground and nursery for Quabbin's landlocked salmon population or at least a great portion of it. In a good year (good flows) hundreds of BIG salmon work their way upstream through many obstacles to spawn in it's upper reaches.

Now, I don't want to be accused of spilling the beans on some secret spot. This stream and it's Fall run are well known. There is some fly fishing done, most of it catch and release. There's also some snagging done by a few locals and that's why I'm writing this. I've fished this run on occasion, caught a few, but mostly I've just walked this section just to look at the spawning salmon and to look for snaggers. I've got the DFW law enforcement number in my cell phone and will use it and so should you.

I would not mind seeing this stream placed off limits during the Fall. That would make it hard for the snaggers to get away with what they do. This stream is just too valuable as a resource and placing it off limits would not put a dent in anyone's yearly fishing hours.

So, take a walk with a good camera within the next few weeks on the West Branch. It's really a great sight!!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Columbus Weekend On The Swift

Sunday morning was strange. I thought that maybe I should of made reservations for the "Pipe" section. At 8:15am I was the only one there and for the next 4 plus hours I had ONE fishing companion named John. We took turns turning trout that slept in until 10am. A sparse hatch of BWO's turned these fish on and we got takes. I hooked 10 and landed only 4 but it was a ball. Monday morning my two clients hooked fish. The landing was another story with the same batting average that I had the day before. Then we went to the bubbler arm and hooked, landed and lost more fish. The 'bows in this river are full of fight and have seemed to have learned how to throw the hook!! BTW, even with 20 cars at the Y Pool parking area we had plenty of room on that Bubbler Arm. Everyone was at the Y and downstream. The Bubbler has about 100+ yards of water with plenty of water to fish.

I'm back on Wednesday (today) to revisit the Bubbler. Three fish in an hour with #18 hotspots and then nothing for the next two hours. Such is life!!

Fall fishing for me means low water and smart trout. The Swift has it.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Miller/EB Season Wrap Up

Yes, that's right. I'm wrapping up the Millers for the season. At 1500cfs it is pretty safe to say that the flows will not get down to the flows that we have normally had at this time of the year. I looked back on my October posts from 2007 and 2008 and read about evenings with normal flows and rising browns. Not this year. And the idea of chasing freshly stocked rainbows does nothing for me.

Ditto for the EB. It's flows drop quicker than the Millers BUT Hurricane Irene hurt this river and closed the access road. Jack, a contributor to this blog, found out that the DFW will not stock the EB this Fall because of access problems. I think that this will not bode well for the Spring. Roads are not repaired in the Winter so the same excuse might hold up next May. Lets hope not.

So that leaves the Swift which seems to be slowly rising. It's always a delayed reaction behind that dam. It takes a while for that "pond" to fill up. Let's hope that we don't get into an overflow situation. That could last for months!!!!

It's been a strange season!!!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Early Fall Morning on the Swift And the Kayak Dam

First, let me get this off my chest. I don't like having to hear a full throated F-bomb because you lost a fish. That happens. Grow up and get over it!!Have some class. Second, don't feel that you have a constitutional right to crowd others out. The Swift is heavily fished BUT not that heavily fished this morning. (the Pipe, four flyfishers). Have some manners and try not to talk so much either.

Outside of the above "events" it was a good morning with some bows landed. The best part was seeing (first seen on Labor Day Weekend) the giant pine that fell and crossed the river a few hundred yards below the Tree Pool. This will keep those dim witted kayakers from moving upstream to the Pipe section. Let's hear it for Mother Nature!!!!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Short Evening On The Millers

First, sorry for the old photo. I believe that I used it last year BUT it shows that change-of-season that is now upon us. It's my blog and I will do what I want (haha).

5:30 to 7ish was the time frame. The flow was at 322cfs at 3:00pm. Close enough to hope for some surface action. MY surface action didn't happen. I took two browns on a subsurface offering that, well, is an odd ball nymph that I didn't have much confidence in. I saw no rising trout in the Upper Kemfield Run which is usually (20 years and running) a good spot. I met another fly fisher who claimed to take a 15 inch brown on a hopper at the tail of the large Kempfield Pool. I saw him hook another fish at mid pool, on a hopper, that broke him off. It fought like a brown. I believe in his 15 inch fish.

The browns are there including the occasional rainbow. Dry Fly fishing, real sight fishing, will begin once the river flow drops into the sub 300cfs range. That is when it begins in the late Summer/Early Fall.

Let's hope that the rains that are predicted for the weekend hold off. That would be great!

I still plan to hit the Swift.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Start Exploring The Swift!!

All the rivers are blown out!! That leaves us that little jewel called the Swift River. The trout are there, the fishing has been great. I've had double digit days with dry flies BUT I have basically fished alone. Why? Because everyone heads to the Y pool. It's a common sight to see over 20 cars parked at the RT9 turn off and I know where the everyone is going - Upstream!!! Why not do some exploring!!! This past Sunday morning, after a late start, a friend and I had the ENTIRE section from the Duck Pond to the Pipe to ourselves!! We caught fish and it was great.

The section above RT9 has a lot of fish BUT it has a lot of fishermen. Let's spread it out. There are trout everywhere. Check my posts from the Summer of 2010 for info on the Lower Swift. It's great down there too AND it looks like a trout stream.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The EB - Labor Day Weekend

Sunday morning September 4. The above photo says it all for the access road along the EB. Just a 100 or so feet beyond the Bliss State Park sign the road gave way during Hurricane Irene. There is a ditch, actually a sink hole, that is appox 50 feet long, eight feet wide and up to four feet deep. The road beyond is in rough shape too. The Town of Chesterfield, which added more material to the road blockage since last Wednesday, appears to be dumping fill in the large parking lot at the top of the road. Maybe it's to fix this road, maybe not. In any event, fishing the EB will be a walk in affair until things are fixed.

The River - it was STILL cloudy a week after the deluge even though the flow resembled the third week of May!! In fact, it's cloudier than early Spring!! That is very disturbing since this river usually clears up very quickly. There's a lot of sand/clay material along the shore. It's safe to say that it's still suspended in the water. A major flow will expose sand or clay (worse)deposits which can discolor a river for weeks. To make matter worse I saw "NEW" rocks in the Bliss Pool!! I know that spot pretty well and know that the large, flat rocks leaning on end against larger rocks are new arrivals. I wonder how the trout did.

More rain came today and sent many rivers into flood stage. More rain comes tomorrow. What a difference a year makes.

Yes, I took some casts but fishing silty water in September........

Thursday, September 1, 2011

After Irene - The EB And The MIllers

It's Thursday, September 1st and I've taken a drive to check out the EB. First - the road is closed (see above photo). So I parked at the top and walked down. The river looked great at it's flow which I guessed was around 300 to 400cfs except for it's cloudy condition. This branch runs clear but not at this moment. I walked past the first turn off (on the right) and saw the condition of the bank side vegetation. It looked dead, stripped of all greenery (see above photo)! My real concern was the condition of the road over the next hundred yards. There have always been two fairly deep ditches which you had to drive over carefully. The storm has leveled them out! It is easier to drive this stretch of dirt road than before the hurricane. I walked past the swimming hole stretch which looked unchanged and walked half way to the Bliss Pool. The river looked the same as it was when I walked it this past Saturday.

Some observations - First, I stood 50 feet from the river and looked UP at flood debris that was caught in a tree (see above photo). The debris was about a foot over my head. I'm six foot two!! Needless to say the river was beyond flood stage. Second, the road didn't have much of any blow down litter that one would expect from this tropical storm. There certainly were not any trees/branches blocking the road. It was a rain event and not a wind event.

Summary - You will have to walk to fish the EB until the road is opened to vehicular traffic. The road seems to be in good shape. The river seems unchanged, just cloudy at this point.

The Millers - As I write this the Erving flow is at 2540cfs!!! Kiss the next two weeks goodbye!! There's always the Swift where I spent a lovely three hours this past Monday evening doing what I love to do in the late Summer: fooling trout with dry flies!!!!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Here Comes Irene - There Goes The Fishing

I'm not going to rain on anyone's parade. Hurricane Irene will do that starting Saturday. The forecast states the possibility (where the smart money is) of 5 to 10 inches of rain in Central New England for this weekend. Here's what it means for the three rivers that I write about:

The Millers - A flow in excess of 2000cfs is a real possibility. In June of '08 a 3 to 4 inch storm drove the river from 250cfs to 1600cfs in 30 hours. It took a few weeks for it to come down. The same happened in '09. This river doesn't like to give up it's water!! Wadable water may have to wait until September.

The EB - It will soar up like a rocket and then drop like a rock! In the Summer of '09 I saw an 1800cfs flow fall to 500cfs in about three days. Lack of big tribs means a quick drop in the flow.

The Swift - The above photo is of the spillway in July of "09 when the overflow brought the river up to 700cfs where it stayed until the water stopped going over the spillway. It took a few weeks, at least. The key for this storm is whether there is enough unused capacity in Quabbin to collect the rainfall and still not breach the spillway. Also remember that Quabbin overflow is always a delayed reaction - the "pond" has to fill up first and then the river rises. That could be days AFTER the hurricane passes. Also realize that the rain that falls ON the Catch & Release areas will be of little consequence. It's what happens behind the dam that counts. My prediction - a 5 to 10 inch storm will cause overflow and the Swift will go up. I hope I'm wrong!

Check the stream gauge links at the bottom of this blog for updates.

Have fun tying flies!!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Two Days - Two Very Different Rivers

My Friday night plan was to hit the EB early Saturday morning. At 5:30 Saturday morning I checked the online gauge and saw that the river had gone from about 120cfs early Friday evening to just a hair below 600cfs by midnight but had now dropped to 445cfs. That's fishable but I should have known better. You can't have that kind of flow increase without the dreaded effect. As I drove down the access road the river had the color of a Dunkin Donuts coffee, one cream, no sugar!! The submerged rocks, usually easily seen, were hidden in the murky flow. I had left the big, heavy flashy stuff at home because, well, I don't like to use it at this time of year. So I spent a couple of hours working a dull hares ear dropper below a a large Wulff dry. No runs, no hits and no errors!! I did see one health rise which let me know that something had survived that hot, dry July. I'll be back.

Sunday morning found me heading east on RT9 for a few hours on the Swift. 8am and the Y Pool lot has 8 cars but that place was not my destination. Neither was the PIPE. I took the right onto River Road and drove a few hundred yards to my "spot".

I love this place in the Summer. It doesn't have the number of trout as the two previously mentioned areas but that means it doesn't have the fishermen! The thin water means that the trout will be VERY difficult. That's OK because it gives me what I want - the chance to fish a dry fly slowly upstream in what amounts to my own private spring creek.

The flow was in the mid 40 range, down from the 120 flow of the previous week. That made the fishing even more difficult. I took two and lost another two in two hours and had a ball.

I could of stayed longer but my grandson's birthday party trumped any thought of that. I'll be back this week in the late afternoon.

I had plans to hit the Millers after the party but the thunderstorms in the air and in the forecast for the evening killed that idea. I'll be there too!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Quiet Places On The Swift

I've been spending a few late afternoons during the week this past month plying the Swift. So, it seems, is everyone else!! The Y Pool should have a reservation system installed and the Pipe has it's usual crew plus it's been bombarded with hardware tossers. This leads me to find quiet places. The Gauge Stretch is nice to fish but this season it just seems "off". Still good but not like last year. From the Gauge to the Crib Dam is reliable and like the previous two spots it doesn't get hammered much except on weekends. Are these the only spots? No!

I'll let you guess where I took the above photos. The water is low and gin clear. The rainbows hold behind the occasional rock or log and sip tiny offerings from the surface. Careless wading or poor casting will send them running. A slow upstream approach fishing with dries will do the trick. They'll take most surface flies from mayfly to ant imitations and they will rip line from your reel when the hook is set. Friday afternoon I took five 'bows and a brookie on this quite water, watching them rise to the surface through water that seemed like liquid air.

Will I find this place packed with anglers because of this entry? I don't think so. First, my description fits a lot of spots on this river. Second, the average Swift River fly fisher has his or her favorite spot and they will fish there regardless of the crowds.

Am I writing about a certain section of this trout filled river OR am I writing about ANY place on the Swift where you can fish alone?? I'll let you decide!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Summer Evning On The Swift - Cut Short

All day long we had blue skies but at 5pm I was flying down RT 9 to beat the T-storms that seemed to be hovering in all directions. My three hours of planned fishing ended in an hour of fishing BUT it was a good hour!

The Y Pool lot was FULL but nobody was at the Pipe lot. I've heard that there's lot of fish above Rt 9 but that means lots of fisherman. I had the Pipe and beyond to myself and that was great.

First, I caught a bunch of those 8 inch escapees on my Swift Serendipity. Thunder rattled close by as I moved downstream to the "tree pool". Another four 'bows, in the 16 inch club, smacked that Serendipity. But then the skies opened up, the lightning flashed and I was out of there.

I saw something last night that I have seen on occasion on the Swift. A trout will make a beeline of over five feet to take a fly. We have been taught that trout really need to have that subsurface offering bounced off of their nose but that is not the case. The bow TRAVELED to take the tiny serendipity. It was great to see it in that skinny water!

High Summer will slowly drift into Late Summer and then into Early Fall. Swift Serendipities and Pinheads will will get the job done as the seasons slowly change on the Swift. It will be a great time!!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Swift And Thoughts On HOT Weather Fishing

First, The Swift - Everything is RIGHT! The July 1st stockers have wised up and the days of double digit catches of 12 inch or better bows are now, for me, a memory. I fished the PIPE and below starting at 5:45 Sunday morning and took ten bows but all were in the six to eight inch range. It was a far cry from the Sunday before. That's fly fishing. Next time will be better!!

Now for the topic that seems to have taken over some blogs this Summer and that's if it is ETHICAL to fish during heat waves on freestone rivers. Here's how I feel.

One can go out on the Millers or any similar river when the temperatures are in the 90's, fish the pools and runs that you had great success on during April, May and June and you will NOT have a detrimental effect on the trout population for one simple reason: YOU will not catch ANY trout!!!

There's a reason for that. I am still amazed that there are those out there that still believe that trout must constantly feed to maintain vitality to survive and that the catching of trout in mid Summer will weaken them. The "science" is below.

Trout are cold blooded animals, their metabolism is based on their SURROUNDINGS, namely the temperature of the water that they live in. They have a temperature ZONE that is optimal for their metabolism. Take this example - You're fishing your favorite pool (if you can) on the last week of February, hoping for holdovers, and if you catch anything, while fishing slow and deep, it will be an event!! Why?? Because the trout, in that 35 degree water, are in slow mode because of the temperature and do not require that much food. I worked in a trout hatchery 20+ years ago and the time of slowest growth and less food consumption was during the Winter. Their "motors" are not in second gear yet. They are not active because of the temperature and don't require much food, pure and simple.

Now forward cast to the second week in May. The water temperature is in the mid 50's, we are catching trout on EVERYTHING, and we are all experts. Why is that? It's because trout, in that low 50 to mid 60 degree range, are at their most active behavior. So is everything that they feed on. It all depends on water temperature for most trout. That temperature range is their comfort range.

The heat wave and July drought that we have experienced will kill off any worthwhile fishing. You may catch a FEW but not the numbers that you did a month and a half ago and that will not be detrimental to the whole population because the trout are not actively feeding. The bulk of the trout population has found a place to hunker down to make it through the Summer. They will not respond to you.

Robert Behnke, maybe the world's foremost authority on trout, has stated that the greatest cause of natural trout mortality on freestone streams is WINTER kill, not Summer kill.

Many of you will say that "You fish the Millers during the Summer". That's RIGHT! I fish during NORMAL Summer weather. I didn't fish the Millers in 2010 from the end of June to late August. It was too hot and dry. In normal Summers I will fish as long as it isn't too hot and dry and I catch trout (browns) in the evening. There's a reason for that.

Browns handle warmer water better than rainbows and brookies in the Millers. I've seen dozens of browns rising (they are feeding) at dusk in July and August after a normal Summer day especially when there is a healthy (normal) flow. That's why I am pushing for more browns on this river. They will survive the weather and US. They swim away strongly when released because they adjust to this river nicely.

Behnke spoke of this ability to adjust (over many centuries) when he spoke of catching a high country desert population of rainbows that rose to dry flies and swam away briskly in 83 degree water!! Millers River browns don't need centuries to adjust, just a few months on the Millers.

One person said to me that he stopped fishing when the water temperature hit 65 degrees. Too bad. No science there!


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer On The Swift - Low And Cold

It felt like ice water or as cold as 54 degree water can feel at 6am on the Swift this past Saturday. The flow had dropped from the 120+ range to the high 40cfs flow which brought the temperature down as predicted. This is my favorite time on this river; skinny cold flows, small flies and thin tippets. It's how I always think of the Swift.

I was the first at the PIPE except for the blue heron that was intent on the flow below that outflow. I settled into the "tree pool", had made a cast or two and lost one fish, when two other anglers appeared above and below me. Five minutes later three more showed up so I went downstream to the first set of riffles. You find yourself casting under trees here but it was great. The 'bows grabbed my serendipity and that 20 yard section yielded a number of them.

The great section around the gauge yielded two rainbows and the PIPE brought four or five 6 inch bows, most likely recent escapees. All told I took about 15 fish from in that three hour span.

Serendipities and hot spots did the trick. It was fun!!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Strange Night On The Millers

It may have been the world's largest comparadun!! I was crossing the trestle Saturday evening when I saw something swimming downstream towards me. At first I thought it was a beaver BUT beavers don't have long ears or a long snout. It was a young deer, not a fawn but no more than a yearling. It came out from under the bridge where I snapped the photo. I've seen deer in this river before but they were the unlucky ones that drowned in winter or spring or were walking cross in the shallows. In any event it swam another 100 feet and then hopped up onto the shore.

The Fishing: I started at the bottom end of the C&R in Erving. I like this place because the tree cover shades this stretch during the day which means that things usually start earlier. They did. I noticed the rise behind a rock and then dropped a #12 MDW just above that spot. The 14 inch brown took it and was soon in the net. Another brown, slightly small, did a repeat performance further downstream.

I ended the evening at the Kempfield where I saw one rising brown but failed to get it to take. Blind casting to the rocks resulted in a another brown taken on a #12 stonefly dry.

Then another strange thing happened. I heard a splash to my left right up next to the bank. I figured that it must be a bass chasing something only to be surprised to see a brown, 14 to 16 inches, CLEAR the water six inches from the shore. What was he chasing? Minnows, crayfish, some thing that moves quickly obviously. It was a nice show but I wish that he was in midstream taking mayflies instead.

Try the Erving Center Stretch. It's a good place.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Millers, EB and Swift Update

So what has been happening?? Here it is.

The Millers is into an early morning/evening mode which is normal for this river. My game plan is either to hit this river very early (6am) or wait until the evening rise. I did see rising browns at two in the afternoon just a day or so ago but this is not the norm. I'll be fishing this river in the evening for it's rising browns!

The EB is HOT but it will become an early morning/evening fishery soon enough unless the flow stays high. If this river reads 200cfs or greater than fish it during banking hours but below 200cfs it's an early morning/evening fishery. I have had great luck using a large dry (stimulator) or such through the fast water. I took a 17 inch brown doing just that this past week.

The Swift - The trout are there but not in the usual places. The Pipe? forget it! The "tree pool"?? Same thing!! The trout are there but they are downstream and there are many of them and many are BIG. The Pipe was stocked July 1st but they were spread out all the way down to Caddy Lane. Chances are they will end up in the usual spots over the next few weeks. C&R rules until New Years below route 9.

BTW, the temperature below the Pipe stood at 64 degrees at 9am. This "high" temperature is due to the overflow which is still running into the river. This will end shortly (hopefully) which means that the temperature will drop into the mid 50's which is what we want for the Summer.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What's Up With The Swift??

Ok, what's going on with this river?? If you have had success below rt9 then hats off to you. At the beginning of April I caught a number of holdover rainbows during a two hour trip. I thought that this would be the start of something great but April came and went without SEEING a trout in this section. Nobody that I knew had seen any either. By May 1st the river passed the 200cfs mark and then peaked around 300 and stayed there for a while. I revisited the Swift today at 7am with the flow around 185cfs. I was the second car there. The first belonged to a few casual hardware guys and they caught nothing. No other fly fishers were there. I caught and saw no trout in the quick hour that I spent working this water.

I remember, only a few years ago, when I would brave 200cfs currents and have double digit days on this river. Have I lost my touch?? I don't think so!! Are you doing better? I hope so!

When I first passed the Y Pool parking area I saw one car. An hour later I saw a second car. By 8am on a Saturday in June, with most other rivers blown out by the rain, one would expect more fly fishing traffic on the Swift.

What's up with this river???

The attached photo is from a much better time!!


Monday, June 20, 2011

An Evening Rise

It's that time of the year. The trout know it - the insects, which graced the waters during balmy Spring days, have been replaced by other species of mayflies and caddis. These are the evening insects and they will be with us for the next few months. They start to emerge as the shadows lengthen over the pools and runs of my favorite freestone rivers, the Millers and the EB. They were there tonight on the EB.

My little gem, the Slant Rock Pool which is classic dry fly water if there ever was any, was slow tonight. One bow came to my Harrop Hairwing Dun so I moved up to the Bliss. With the same fly I began to work the water from the mid section heading upstream, casting that dry and taking an upstream step every few casts.

The rises began. It was a slow, casual sip of the surface which reminded me of Millers River browns and not the EB's slam bang rainbows. That's because THEY WERE BROWNS!!! I took four on that Harrop dry and failed to entice the rest before I decided to call it a night.

The emerging insects were large. A dusky caddis and a dusky mayfly. My offering actually looked like the mayfly as they drifted together in mid pool!!

The evening rise is what I live for. Everything before hand in April and for most of May is a warm up act. Let the shadows fall on the water, let the insects begin to hatch and let the trout begin to rise. You can have the rest. I will not need it!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

NOW For The Millers And An Odd Fish

What a difference a year makes!! Last year at this time we were praying for rain which really never came. Now things are perfect on this river. Although the flow topped the 400cfs level yesterday it is now on the way down which will give us the best mid June flows since 2007 and it's reasonable to suggest that these flows will last through the weekend at least. The browns are working the surface so get to them!!

I've had stoneflies on the brain (an annual June affliction) and evenings on the EB and photos like the one above only reinforce it. This fly, dropped into the heads of pools and danced around the glassy tailouts, will cause trout to lose caution and smash this imitation. Don't leave home without it!!

The "Odd Fish". This happened this past Sunday while guiding two fellows on the lower Millers. We brought a fish to the net which at first defied description. It was 9 to 10 inches long. If it was 4 to 6 inches we would of known the species. It was the LARGEST Atlantic Salmon smolt that I've seen on this river. Smolt stage salmon are usually in the 12cm to 15cm (4-6 inch) range. This fellow was WAY over that. Now, a quick web check revealed that the last parr stocking in this river was in 2008. Correct me if I'm wrong. That means that this fellow was at least three years old. I would assume by it's size that it was older. All parr stocking for the last 15 years has been done in Royalston which means that this fish may have been heading to sea as a very large 3 year old or as an older fish. Anyway, it was a surprise and it was released quickly.

The Millers season is just beginning!!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

An EB Evening And A Word On The Millers

Tuesday evening and I'm heading for the EB for a few hours by myself. Between guiding and filling fly orders I find myself without the usual casting time. This would be the quick fix!!

The guy who likes to throw sticks into the Swimming Hole Pool for his black lab was there so I headed down to the Bliss Pool where I found two women and three dogs. Ok, down to Slant Rock. I was in the water at 5:30 and I had the place to myself UNTIL two fly fishers showed up at the head of the run and began to walk through the BEST holding areas. Now, these guys were fishing by the book and by that I mean they were nymphing which is ok BUT this run screams DRY FLIES!! I took two on a Harrop deer hair dun before I gave up and headed back to the Bliss Pool.

The dogs and the ladies were gone and I had this beautiful pool all to myself. I've had stoneflies-on-the-brain since Memorial Day so tonight I would work the cure with a size 10 dry stonefly.

I took thirteen out of that pool, all rainbows except that 16 inch brown that had the color of butter in a frying pan. The stonefly was beaten to death. I had a ball!!

The Millers - there are fish all over the river BUT they have wised up since early May. It's becoming an early morning/evening game right now and that will last through the Summer. FISH THE EVENINGS and catch some rainbows before they disappear. The Browns?? I bet they are rising as I write this!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend On The Millers - Bears Den

I didn't cast a fly this weekend but the guys that I guided did. Two days were spent working the Bears Den From S. Royalston to the Gorge Pool. The crowds that I thought that we would encounter failed to materialize. We saw six fly fishers on Saturday and five on Sunday. Watching and asking showed that my guys took about 80% of the trout (all browns). The flies making the honor roll were: black and olive buggers (duh), the Moby Dick Wet (it took a NATIVE brown), a black nose dace (1st trout caught on a fly that my client tied!!!!!!!!!!!!)and a size 10 white marabou streamer.

I remember a Memorial Day weekend six or so years ago when the Rezendes Pool exploded with rises at 11am. That didn't happen this weekend but I believe, if the past is any indication, that June evenings will provide that surface action.

I hate to do this BUT let's hope for a little rain. Maybe one good rainy day a week. That would be nice!!

The EB is PERFECT right now!!!


The "green fly" is a damsel fly. They will be hatching all over the stream banks this week. It's the nymph that matters.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Short Trip To The EB, A New Fly And My Favorite Mayfly

I live close to The Swift and the Millers which allows me to take some nice after work trips to spend an hour or two working these rivers. I do it a lot! I live VERY CLOSE to the EB so when a short window of opportunity comes around I take it and drive the 10 minutes to the Gorge. Tonight was one of those nights and the 75 minutes were well spent. First, I tried out this creation which had it's first test on the Millers two weeks ago. The fly was too large and resulted in short takes. Tonight's revision, in a wet fly style, took 7 in that short period. I'll post the instructions when I come up with a name. All I can say is that this fly is proof that trout are at times not too finicky.

The EB has dropped from 1100cfs to the high 400's since Sunday. It is perfect. It will also be perfect for the Memorial Day non-fishing hordes that will fill the first 1/4 mile below the Gorge this weekend at mid day. Get there early or just go downstream for solitude.

A neat thing happened tonight. For the second time in the last 5 years a March Brown landed on my left hand in the same spot as one of the same species had before. I've used the first photo of that Millers MB in my slide show of that river and now I can add this critter to the Westfield show. I took some photos and just watched it for a while before it flew away and it made me realize again why we pursue this sport. That fly was beautiful! The late writer, Robert Traver, once said that trout can only exist in beautiful places. He was right. This activity has always been a quite endeavor, vastly more contemplative than competitive, always a more measured response instead of pom-pom waving enthusiasm. Let's hope it stays that way.

See you on the Millers this weekend!!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

EB Update

The fish are in the Chesterfield Gorge section of the EB - that's for sure!! The only thing is you have to work hard for them. This morning I parked at the first turn off on the right and walked to the first turn off on the left and then scampered down the hill to the spot I call the "Swimming Hole". Visit this spot at noon on any Summer weekend and you will know why I gave it that label. It's a neat run to fish on Summer evenings and today I was hoping that this pool would offer holding area for trout from the high flows. I was right but just barely.

The weapons of choice were a 5wt equipped with a full sinking line. The ammo was the dreaded, bead headed bugger assortment. I "rediscovered" my sinking line strategy after many years of plying floating lines in heavy flows. It worked on the Millers two weeks ago and it worked today.

I took five 'bows and a brookie in the two hour trip. First, the fish were smaller than the fish of the last few seasons. All were around 12 inches except for the 8 inch brookie. I'm not complaining because these guys will provide great surface action with 3 and 4wt rods and tiny flies soon enough. Maybe the larger fish just didn't feel like playing today.

The EB drops like a rock from flood flows to that 250-500cfs range quickly. That should happen over this coming week (at least to 500cfs, anyway)if the rain holds off. Let's hope so!!!


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Helping The EB And A Millers Update

First, It's May 15th and the EB of the Westfield River, through the Chesterfield Gorge, has been a trout desert. Rumor has it that because TU moved their weekend party to the Quinnie the Gorge, the longest single C&R section in the State, may be put on the back burner. So please do this before next weekend - email the DFW and say you want the traditional May stocking of that river section to continue. The email address is: This is a quick way to bury them with our concerns. Let's show our strength!!!!!!

The Millers - Yup, the fish tales of 20 fish and 30 fish days are all true. That's what happens when you fish within a day of a stocking. But the browns are BIG and they swam quickly away when released so no harm done. And yes, it was fun catching them. The predicted rains will not move these fish around like it does with rainbows. They will just become harder to catch and will soon begin to shy away from those buggers we've been tossing. By late May/early June dries and emergers will rule the day.

BTW, word has it that the Erving Center bridge (the end of the lower C&R)on downstream was stocked heavily this past week. It's a beautiful section that gets little pressure and holds trout all Summer. If you want to try a new spot.........


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Millers And EB Update

The fish are there!!! The EB has them although they seem to be fairly spread out. Last Friday found me on the Bliss Pool where I saw one 'bow dead on the bottom of the pool. I fished that pool hard for an our looking for survivors but found none. The base of the Gorge brought two to the net on a hornberg, a fly that seems to work on that river when I'm forced to fish subsurface. BTW, the big tree that fell across the road has been removed and the road seems to be drying out nicely.

The next day I visited the lower Millers to fish one of my favorite springtime runs - The Bridge Street Pool. Two 'bows came to the net, one on a Millers Stone and another on a brown bugger. Then I took my first trip of the year to the Kempfield. The 600cfs flow hid all of the familiar rocks. The bugger took another rainbow. BTW again - I fished with a FULL SINKING LINE!! It was the standard procedure years ago to go with a sinking line in the spring until the flows dropped and the trout rose. Don't leave home without one!!

We're starting to get into the REAL fly fishing season! Warmer days, lower flows, more insects and RISING TROUT. The data that many of you have emailed to me shows something else - the hardware/bait season has peaked on many of our rivers and fly fishers now outnumber the others. Keep the data rolling in!!!

Also, I've gotten a lot of Millers Guide and fly orders. THANK YOU!!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Open Guide Dates And Reporting For The Study

A short note: I have open guiding dates (full days) for the Millers, EB of the Westfield or the Swift on the following dates - May 29, June 4 and JUNE 12. It's first come, first served. Just email me at to reserve a spot.

My full day trips end by mid June on the Millers and we switch into a late afternoon/evening mode for that river. The EB can work a bit later in the season if water conditions permit although it offers GREAT evening fishing during the Summer. One can fish the Swift ANY TIME of day all season long.

The fly fishing/non fly fishing study - please report your observations to my email address which is It's just so much easier for me to keep track of.



Sunday, May 1, 2011

Three River Update And Your Help Requested

Here we go: The EB of the Westfield is running at 490cfs, the Bears Den of the Millers is at 545cfs, The lower Millers has finally dipped below the thousand mark at 975. All have been stocked and with the right flies (weight) and presentation should be producing trout. Let's hope that the deluge forecast for Wednesday doesn't happen. Hey, what about the third river?? The Swift is RISING and has climbed above 200cfs for the first time in months. I was at the pipe Friday evening and saw only two other fly fishers and NO TROUT. Without a doubt it is the strangest April that I've seen on this river. If anyone has caught anything at the pipe section during the past two weeks than you are much better than me.

The Millers will get it's stocking of browns over the next two weeks. GOOD!!!!!

Now, I need your help for a little "study". Going forward please keep a mental note when you fish on one of our Ma. river of the number of flyfishers that you see on each trip vs. the number of non flyfishers that you see for each trip. Example: fished the Quinni and saw 4 flyfishers and 2 non flyfishers. When you get back just email me the results. Don't include Fly Fishing Only locations, of course.

Good Fishing!!!!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fly Hatches For The Millers

I have been asked many times to provide a "hatch guide" for the Millers River. In short, there is no hatch guide for the Millers. Here's the reason: The Millers is very much like many freestone rivers in central New England. The flies that you find on the Millers are very much the same as the flies that you encounter on other central New England rivers. The hatch times are pretty much the same as on other central New England rivers. Now, our fly boxes are loaded with every creation to "match the hatch" as the saying goes, so why worry! If there are hendricksons hatching we have the right fly. If it's March Browns, Sulphurs, or BWO's we have that too for every stage. In short, worrying about hatches is a fools game. We have enough flies to match what's happening, period!

If you want to have a "guide" to the important insects then buy Tom Ames " Hatch Guide For New England Streams". That is all that you will need.

Here are a few pointers: The Millers is loaded with Hendricksons BUT they are a minor event. I have seen the river loaded with them but with no rising fish. So have the Harrison Brothers who claimed that their paddles drowned hundreds of these flies without seeing a trout rise. The great rod maker Dan Trella says the same thing about the Quaboag River - lots of Hendricksons but no rising fish. Last year's low water brought a great hatch at the Kempfield with RISING BROWNS but it was a rare event.

March Browns - This large fly is a standby from mid May through late June. It's always there and brings the evening fish to the surface. Any March Brown pattern will work if the presentation is correct.

The "Tan Flies" - Sulphurs, Cahills, you name them. They can be all over the river at times from late May through September. ANY tan pattern will work ( I know this from experience)if the size and presentation is right. Sizes 14 through 18 will fill the bill in most occasions.

Caddis - Don't go crazy with the array of surface/sub surface patterns that are out there. Caddis patterns, for the Millers, work best in the top six inches on the water column. My Moby Dick Wet pattern has been doing the trick over caddis water for years as long as the presentation is right. I hardly fish a dry caddis anymore!

In short, don't fret too much over what's hatching. You probably have enough of the right flies to be successful. The again there's always the wooley bugger!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The EB Gorge - It's Still Winter/Our Stocking Philosophy, read the comment section!!

You've read the stocking reports of all branches of the Westfield getting their first stocking of trout over the past week or so. That made me take a trip (non fishing) to check out the EB on a balmy Saturday afternoon. The river looked great above the Gorge but the access road at the Gorge was still covered with ice and snow. The mountain of plowed snow, at least five feet high, will keep vehicles out for another two weeks.

I saw NOBODY fishing at the Gorge or above it. Where are the stocking truck chasers?? Was there an actual stocking?? Hmm.....

A late Friday afternoon trip to the Pipe on the Swift produced a goose egg. I saw no trout and no anglers. This NEVER happens on the Swift during April. Water conditions are perfect which makes this scene a total mystery. Maybe next week will be better.

I'm starting to book up for trips to the Millers. Things start in May. Don't wait!!