Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Backcast to 1971. The Squannacook River spills over the dam at Townsend Harbor and dances over riffles for a few hundred yards until it slows down to form a long slow pool before it hits a bank and takes a 90 degree right turn before entering a riffle flow again. I'm at the top of those last riffles when I see it - a rising trout right in the pool formed by the above mentioned bend. I've been fly fishing for a year, have caught a good amount of trout, many on my own primitive sunken offerings but NEVER have I caught one on a dry, my known or anyone else's. Now is my chance. Off goes the nymph and on goes my own hand tied, size 14 light cahill with a tail that's too short, wings that are too long and oversized hackle that was lathered on hiding most of the hook eye. But it's my dry fly and I'm in the classic position for an upstream approach. A few casts and that dry fly disappears and I bring a 12 inch brown to the net. That did it. I was hooked on the dry fly.

The next few years found me fishing Summer evenings on the Squannacock using dries exclusively. The habit continued on the Millers where I met the evening rise on the Upper Trestle Pool or the Kempfield with an upstream approach. In fact, I've never fished the Upper Trestle after 6pm without a dry offering on the end of a leader. The same can be said about the EB's Bliss Pool. I've also worked and I mean WORKED over the years to perfect my tying of dries. I guess that I'm hooked!!

Do I still fish subsurface flies? Of course but dries are more fun. Last winter I read the great early 20th century author George LaBranche's "The Dry Fly And Fast Water". LaBranche, ever the purist, didn't need rising trout to fish a dry. He worked likely looking water the same way that we do with subsurface flies and got them to rise. It works - believe me!

Maybe some season I'll take the plunge and right at hendrickson time I'll switch to dries for the rest of the season. No soft hackles, no possum nymphs, only flies that I can see. Or maybe I won't. All of these ideas sound good in the depths of January.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

The lower, LOWER Millers River

I've been beating the drum for this river for some time, from the Bears Den down to the Kempfield Section. I've also talked about the Lower River, the section below the town of Erving, and have guided some to the top of this section but I've only guided one fly fisher who said that they HAD to fish this lower river. Did we catch trout = yes! Did we catch outsized smallies = yes! Did we see another angler = NO! Was it fun = Totally!!

How to get there - Start at the Bridge St. Pool (order my guide for directions) and fish downstream or find the RR tracks on the south side of the river and fish the places that look good to you. There will be many! The mouths of Mormon Hollow Brook and Lyons Brook are good spots. If you want an easy way of doing this than drive past Farley Flats on Rt2 west until you see a rest area on the left. CAREFULLY enter the rest area, suit up and walk down through the trees until you see the river. You will see a long, slow pool. The head of this pool is known as the "Funnel", a kayaker death trap in high water. In lower water it's great fly fishing. It's about three miles below the last stocking spot but the trout are there. So are the smallmouth who come up from the CT. River to spawn in May and June. These fish are measured in pounds instead of inches. I know that from experience!!

I wish that it was the second week of May right now!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The January Doldrums Part 2 - Flies To Tie

Ok, it's mid January. I went to the Marlboro Show which really was a flat line event. As I said in the previous post a person new to the sport will feel like it's Christmas morning but the longer that you live a fly fishers life the older this show gets. I did pick up a collection of Theodore Gordon's work and a fly tying tool that is now discontinued. That is that!!

January is a good time to make sense of that growing inventory of fly tying material that we just can't seem to get enough of even if we don't use half of it. While plowing through the boxes I found a rust colored hares mask that seemed like a good idea to have two years ago. The short story is that I never used it! The long story is that a light went on in that brain of mine that this color/texture would make great thorax material for some soft hackle flies that have been drifting around in my subconscious. (Yes, flies and trout drift in my subconscious) The above photo is the result of these ramblings.

The Partridge and Orange has worked very well for me for over 30 years. The body was always made up of orange silk or orange floss. The thorax (I tie most of my soft hackles with a thorax) was usually olive or gray. They worked but just never looked RIGHT! The rust colored hares ear is perfect. I'll ask my friend Rodney Flagg if he knows of a rust colored dye that I can use on that mountain of Australian possum which I think will work even better.

Let's go back to the body - I dumped silk and floss years ago and now tie my soft hackle bodies with 3/0 kevlar. This "glass" actually has a waxy glow to it which just beats the look of the older materials. Try it out!!

I downloaded my license and am ready for the 2011 season. Let's hope it stops snowing!!


Sunday, January 9, 2011

The January Doldrums - Things To Do

January - I've always thought of this month as the direct opposite of July and as far as those who have an interest of climate cycles it IS the opposite of July. July is the warmest month for us. January is the coldest. July has the second highest amount of daylight, January the second lowest amount of daylight. I can make you feel better by saying that the Groundhog will roll his dice in about three weeks or that the sap lines will be flowing in six weeks but that doesn't do much for me either. Us hardy New Englanders will just stoically bear this dark season as we always have by doing the following:

The Swift - it's very fishable right now. The flows are good, much better than some of the past years, and the "keep um" crowd hasn't been in evidence below rt 9 to any extent. I'll be out soon as soon I can grab some weekend hours.

The Marlboro Show - I usually walk through this show every other year and even then it still seems to be much of the same. That's the case with ANY show that is centered around a specialized activity. There are some book sellers that may get me out to pick up some Winter reading. Last year I picked up an old copy of THE DRY FLY AND FAST WATER by Labranche - a classic!!!!!

My presentation on the Lower Swift - It's at Charlie's EVENING SUN FLY SHOP on March 21 (I believe). Check Charlie's site and mine for this event. I'll throw in the Millers River and answer all questions (as usual)!!

Order the Millers Fly Fishing Guide - So many of you have done this and have thanked me for making it available. I say "THANK YOU"!! It's the best ten bucks that you will ever spend if you want to know where to go on this river. It's not a "map" but a 30+ page guide with many photos of great runs and stretches and directions on how to get there and what to do once you are there. Ordering directions are on this blog.

Tie Flies - I don't think that I have to tell you. The REAL DIEHARDS are at it already.

One More Thing - Some well intentioned but misinformed people are raising a ruckus about how beavers are bad for brook trout. They ignore the fact that beavers and brook trout THRIVED together for thousands of years and still do in areas that didn't have beavers eliminated (read Robert Travers). They want a return to the time of 1750 to 1980 when beavers were missing. Of course, this was the period that saw a great reduction in beaver/brookie habitat! Hmm...? See the connection??? I've caught enough native brookies behind beaver dams in Ma. in the last twenty years to know that the native brookie fishing is better NOW than BEFORE those dams were created!! And I know that we have waterfowl in places where we didn't have them before those beaver dams came on the scene. Ditto for more wetlands too!!

Where beavers threaten property something has to be done but if you think that your fishing has suffered because of beavers then I suggest that you improve your angling skills because the brookies are there, bigger and better than ever!!