Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Brown Trout - Why They Matter!

Backcast 40 years ago when a long haired(me)budding fly fisher began plying sections of the Squannacook River on idyllic Summer evenings for the chance to take a rising trout. That trout, on almost all occasions on every section of that river, was a brown trout. Oh, I caught rainbows and brook trout but I learned quickly that these were the "Spring fish" - dumped in to satisfy the hordes that worked that river to a froth during the first month or so. By mid June those fish disappeared but not the BROWNS!! They stuck around, allowing that piscatorial tug of war, through the Summer and into the beginning of the "dark season". They were the survivors and the saviors. They made me become a fly fisher for trout!! Their legacy continues for over 25 seasons on the Millers - the other species will pull a disappearing act but the browns come out to play during that magical time, the evening hatch!!!! They are the fish that makes the season.

SO WHY DOES THE STATE (MA) CONTINUE TO WASTE THEIR RESOURCES WITH RAISING AND STOCKING OUR FREESTONE RIVERS WITH SO MANY RAINBOWS???? There are a few "official" answers to this. One is that people want to catch (big) trout easily and rainbows fill the bill. But this crowd that is catered to is mostly a seasonal crowd of bait and lure slingers who keep score by the size of the stringers. By early June they're off doing something else. Are season long fly fishers being catered to?? I think not!!

Here are some numbers to cast over: The State of Connecticut stocks browns that equal appox. 53% of the trout that they stock on a yearly basis. The Baystate stocks browns equal to appox. 27% of the trout stocked. The "official" response is that Massachusetts stocks so many more trout than Connecticut BUT they only do BECAUSE they decided to rely on rainbows for the bulk of their stocking. Connecticut stocks far more browns than Massachusetts. Again, why rely on a species that will not survive through the Summer? Does Connecticut have it right? I think so!!

Massachusetts throws clonebows into Jamaica Pond (downtown Boston) and into the wilds of Lake Cochituate (Framingham). So be it. Stock your freezers but that's not trout fishing. Take all of the 'bows that you toss into the Millers and salt those urban angling destinations with those fish. I wouldn't mind. Just put more browns in the Millers and other similar rivers.

Some rivers seem to work well with rainbows through the season. I can't include the Swift because it's a tailwater river, a different breed of river. The EB of the Westfield holds rainbows when other freestone rivers don't but conditions have to be very good for that to happen. I'd like to see more browns in that river. The Deerfield has had a great reputation as a rainbow fishery but the photos on the HARRISON ANGLERS website show something else - photo after photo of steroid browns. I can remember the TU talk twenty years ago that there were few browns in that river. Photos of big browns mean that browns are holding over and/or are reproducing in that river.

The Millers is a brown trout river. So is the Squannacook, the Deerfield, the Nissitissit, the Housatonic and many other stocked rivers in this State.

An Afterthought - The sport of fly fishing continues to grow. I see far more fly fishers during the season than I did 30 years ago. I've seen fewer mobs of stringer fillers over the years on our rivers. The cost of a decent fly line, not to mention a fly rod or fly reel, is much more than a seasons worth of crawlers or power bait or shinners. To the Ma. DFW: Where's your future???

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Millers River - Early Season Spots

Ok, I know that we are all going crazy looking for a place to fish especially on the Millers. There are a few things that we know. Spring stocking doesn't start in the central or western parts of the State until next week at the very earliest. It will probably start a few weeks after that. Even then, the flows on the Millers will be high - count on it. So the question is: where can I drift my buggers, streamers or heavy stonefly imitations with a limited chance of drowning AND a good chance of landing a few trout?

My first choice would be the Bridge St. Pool of the Millers just below Farley Flats. Check out the above photo. This WIDE riffle/pool section fishes well in higher water because it is WIDE - the flow is spread out through the riffles before it hits the deep pool below the bridge. Even with flows over 500cfs you have a good chance of working the bottom especially with a weighted fly and especially with a sinking tip AND EVEN MORE SO with a full sinking line. (Note: full sinking lines were the weapon of choice years ago until someone invented the sinking tip. I'll fish a full sinker over a sinking tip in high Spring water any day).

There was a raw Spring day a few years ago when I worked this riffle/pool stretch in heavy water. The clone bows hit that weighted stonefly but so did that 20 inch brown. A beautiful holdover fish.

A few pointers: 1.BRING A WADING STAFF!! I didn't say that it was easy wading, just a fishable section. 2. Get to the head of the riffles by walking under the bridge while heading upstream. It's safer!!

I had a great time at Charlie's this past Sunday. Lots of old friends and lots of new friends and lots of questions during my presentation. It was GREAT!!


Friday, March 18, 2011

A Swift River Update

What a difference a year makes!! Last year, on this week, I fished the upper Swift (bubbler run to above the Y Pool) and caught about 60 trout in 4 outings. My one trip this week resulted in a total strike out. I didn't see a fish in the bubbler run and saw one fish taken in the "Y". In the parking lot I talked to an old "regular" who said that he caught trout in the overflow arm of the Y Pool. The trout were circling the outside edge of the ice. One minute you'd have a hit and then have to wait a while before they circled around again. I don't like the Y Pool and certainly don't like that circling setup.

The "Pipe" has been dead according to my sources which are pretty good. I think that this cold, snowy winter has sent the trout into wintering quarters - deeper spots.

Things should get better as March turns to April. They will start stocking, of course, and holdovers will stop hiding.

I can't wait.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Few Caddis For The Millers - And Other Rivers

I've never felt good about standard caddis dry flies. They either seems too bulky (elk hair caddis) or too weird as in Henryville Caddis. They work at times but so do many patterns. How about this: an appropriate body color, a tent wing of CDC (appropriate color, of course) and a semi-palmered collar. Nice and light and a buoyant construction. Maiden voyages worked well on the Millers until the Great Drought last year. I'll have them ready this year especially on the lower Millers around Erving Center which is, of course, pure caddis land!!!

The snow melt in the Millers and Westfield Watersheds has been heavy during the last two weeks. I'd like to see things slow down a bit. High Spring flows are no indication of late Spring or Summer flows. A slow melt with NORMAL rainfall will keep the rivers HIGH for April but can give us very good May/early June flows. If we don't have a drought after the 4th of July we will have a NORMAL Summer for the above two rivers. A normal Summer is a great Summer for the Millers and the EB!!


Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Hidden Millers Run

Check out the above photo. Many Millers fly fishers will recognize where this photo was taken - from the railroad trestle upstream from the Kempfield section. Check out the fly fisher in the photo. (click to enlarge) I had to take this photo BECAUSE this guy was the first fly fisher that I have ever seen working that stretch above the gateway rock that marks the beginning of the Kempfield. Throughout the season this section, with it's fast water chute, is always overlooked by fly fishers as they make their way down the hill to get to the fabled water. I will do the same thing if there is no one (or one) downstream. But if there are "a few" working the bend I'll work this section. Why fish it? First, it's fast chute at the head of the run is a great place to throw a big, bushy dry on a Summer evening. Second, the run is deep and rocky with plenty of holding area for browns and 'bows. Third, it always produces whether you are on the surface or slinging heavy buggers. In fact, heavy buggers work very well here. Fourth, it's a good lookout spot during the low flows of Fall to keep an eye open for rising browns in the big railroad pool just upstream. There have been a few late season evenings where my plans of fishing "around the bend" were canceled because of the upstream action. The drawback, as I see it, is that it can be slightly dangerous with it's many rocks during the high flows of Spring. Watch your step and always carry a wading staff. The bottom is totally different then the bottom just a hundred yards downstream.

So tuck this tidbit away for the next two months. When Hendricksons fade to March Browns this section will be ready!!!


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spring - It's Almost Here And A Sunday At Charlie's

SPRING - At 6am this past Sunday morning I saw a cat walking across the frozen Mill River which runs behind my house. At 6am on Monday the ice was gone, replaced with a raging torrent that was the fourth highest flow recorded on that river. The snow pack behind my yard shrank by at least ten inches in those 24 hours and now I see the sap lines and buckets on my daily travels. There are more birds singing at dawn. Spring is unofficially here and that is a very good thing. I'll hit the Swift this week to get the kinks out of my cast and to just be on the water. It's been a LONG winter.

Two things to look forward to - I'll be at Charlie's EVENING SUN FLY SHOP at noon on Sunday, March 20th. I'll be showing a presentation on the Bondsville section of the Swift and some sections less cast to on the Millers. It will be a good time to get some information for the coming season. BRING A PEN AND PAPER to write down some directions!!

Second, I'm working on an added feature. I hope to throw it on the blogosphere by the end of the month after those kinks are worked out. Stay tuned!!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Millers Update And Some Dry Fly Ideas

A Millers Update - sorry but I have nothing to offer. The river on this first day of March is buried in snow and ice as is the entire watershed. April flows will be high and our best bet will be mid May for anything other than deep dredged WB's and streamers. Ditto for the EB which is buried in the same winter conditions.

Here we go about Dry Flies again!! Back around 2005 a newbie to fly fishing (that's how he described himself) asked me the question: How come dry May Fly imitations have wings pointing straight up (90 degrees of the hook shank) BUT real mayflies have wings pointing back up to 45 degrees of the hook shank?? How is that an imitation?? My answer: I have no idea!!! "Matching the Hatch" has dealt with color and size for decades but not profile. This "newbie" was on the right course. Mayfly wings slant backwards!!!!! All imitations over the past hundred years, except for the "sidewinder" no hackle patterns had wings standing upright like ship masts! Some of our other dries, like elk hair caddis have the right profile but just too much material to be passed off as a mayfly. Is there a way to imitate this wing position??

Try this - I've fished comparadun patterns for years and have FORCED the wing material BACK with some heavy dubbing towards the front of the fly. The wing material is pushed back in a position that resembled a natural position. The above photo shows (just barely)a comparadun with the wing slanted backwards.

What about hackled dries - The above photo shows a style that I will offer this Spring/Summer if I have the nerve. It's goofy looking BUT it is very much like the profile that Theodore Gordon first tied as a dry offering. The slant back wing worked for him. I'll try it out!!

Last year, at the end of April, I and those that I guided caught rising browns working hendericksons. Not this year. Look to mid May for real fly fishing!!