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, 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???

25 comments:

River Hunter Flies said...

I hear what you are saying, and I agree with you 100%. They stock the rivers around here with Rainbows for the "Put & Take" crowd. I don't think they really care about the Fly Fisher, or anyone who fishes for trout seriously. I couldn't believe it when I arrived at a local pond the day after it received a stocking. I watched as a pod of about 100 Browns only about 25' from shore get slammed by the "Take Crowd". Like the saying goes, they were fishing in a bucket! I would LOVE to see the state put 100 brown trout in my local rivers & brooks. For me it's gotten to the point where I fish for warm water species now, more than ever. With another season upon us and high fuel prices, it's hard for me to make the drive 1 1/2 hrs or more to find good trout water. Plus 1/2 of my fee's would go into the gas tank! LOL Seeing that I live 2 miles from the ocean, I'm seriously thinking of focusing more on attracting warm water and salt water clients. But, when your addicted to Trout it's a tough habbit to break :)

Cluster said...

I dont think you're going to find too many serious anglers who wouldn't like to see more brown trout. They are an all around more tenacious species from what I can tell. I'd certainly support seeing more brown trout, even if it meant less money spent on the rainbows.

Scott said...

You are preaching to the choir Ken !
There's a reason I purchase a CT license every year even though I don't reside there. The Commonwealth (the Mother of all misnomers !) uses it's resources, which it confiscates from OUR resources, to follow the path of least resistance. They are not interested in providing sport or sustainability and betterment to
the ecosystem. As with nearly all state management here the DFW is operated by political appointees (read: Hacks)who got there because of who they know or are related to.

We are all fallen trees in an otherwise empty forest.

Scott

BKill said...

I wrote about a similar phenomena on my home river. I think you'll find it apropos.

http://therustyspinner.blogspot.com/2010/08/on-shame-and-nubby-fins-redux.html

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Scott and River Hunter,

We all agree!! I showed a DFW official RISING BROWNS on the Millers a few minutes BEFORE we stocked that section of the river. My guided client and myself caught rising browns two weeks BEFORE the annual brown trout stocking. These fish are hardy. They survive!!! River Hunter - I'm addicted to trout but may feel the need to hunt other species. Carp sound interesting.

Cluster - Come home young man!!! Don't let LA blind you!!!! I'd like to see you on the EB someday soon!!

browntrout said...

Ken,
Absolutely agree. How MA Fish and game can be so ignorant of this is beyond me. How difficualt would it be for our state to designate 7-8 rivers as predominant brown trout fisheries and stock at an 80-20 level browns to rainbows? Seems most places I ever see bait fishermen these days is ponds, so why not stock the ponds 80/20 rainbows to browns if they want to appease that crowd. Also, considering both the water quality and temperatures that most of our MA rivers are now subject to and the fact that browns have a much higher resistance level, seems it would only makes sense to stock more of them in our rivers. Plus, it would cost the state less money as they would not haveto stock as many as they do knowing the fatality rates of rainbows.
Has anyone ever considered petitioning MA Fish & Game over this? I'd put my name at the top of the list!
-BT

Millers River Flyfisher said...

BT,

I've discussed this with the DFW in the past but they seem to have a fear of offending the hook and bullet crowd by stocking more browns than rainbows.

On the Millers browns are only stocked in the C&R sections. The rationale is that browns, because they are survivors, will accumulate PCB's and should not be kept. Although browns don't recognize our "boundaries" they are found outside of the C&R sections but not to any great extent. A lot of river is wasted. I once proposed that we dump the C&R sections and give browns C&R status for the entire river.

Some group or a few activists could draft a petition. That puts it on the table.

Good point about the lack of bait boys on our rivers. I've noticed that too.

Ken

Mark Clements said...

This phenomenon actually has a lot to do with biology and economics. Brown trout are more territorial and more cannibalistic. They do not do well under typical (cramped) hatchery/rearing conditions. They generally cannot be reared in high densities like rainbow or brook trout. Rainbow trout tend to grow faster in aquaculture and thus attain catchable size limit faster; so they cost less to produce. Now, I'm not saying that I agree with MA in primarily stocking rainbows, but it you have to realize that it boils down to biology and economics (unfortunately). I grew up in VA and the VDGIF uses browns to stock rivers like the Millers. To justify the cost and offset the higher demands of producing brown trout, they stock a lot fingerlings in streams that can support hold over trout but may not have suitable spawning habitat. MA should adopt this kind of management strategy.

Mark
www.ichthyographia.blogspot.com

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Mark,

Excellent response!! I once worked at a trout hatchery and can back up what you say. Browns do cost more but I for one would pay more for a quality fly fishing experience.

Ken

browntrout said...

Ken,

How do you go about drafting a petition kije this and who would you need to send it to? Between local TU chapters, Evening Sun, Lower Forty and several other shops in the area it seems it would not take much to get several hundred names signed on a petition like this. Blogs like yours & mine could ceratinly get the word out of where to go to put your John Hancock.
Concerning costs to raise browns, I may not be a fish biologist but consider the following example;
if 100 rainbows are stocked every year by the state knowing that 90% of them would either be caught or die due to the elements of weather /river vs. 100 browns stocked by the state and 40% surviving under to the same variables, would it not cost the state LESS money in each of the following years as less fish would need be stocked to replenish the fishery?
-BT
http://fishtalesofnewengland.blogspot.com/

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Bt,

A petition would have to be sent to the DFW Board of Directors with a copy sent to Ken Simmonds who manages the hatchery program. Ken is vital to this and his support is important.

Anonymous said...

I don't think TU would endorse this effort. They are interested in protecting existing and restoring prior cold water fisheries habitat and this would not fall into that category. TU let the work that was done by the North Adams Chapter on the Deerfield River slip away with little fight. They don't care about the fisherman - only about the habitat.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Anonymous,

It's sad to say but you are right about that organization. A few years ago, in an effort to show environmental purity, they put public access on the back burner. It was only after the rank and file rebelled that they backed off. They are an environmental group BUT their membership is made up of trout anglers - anglers that value the existence of non native trout and the niche that they fill.

Ken

Anonymous said...

Seems I am a bit confused about the cost argument. I can follow the notion that brown trout are more expensive to grow in hatcheries and release into rivers than rainbows. But if rainbows are dying off every year due to water temps, and must be stocked from scratch every year, wouldn't the fact that browns are survivors and would have to be stocked with less fish annually to support a sustainable fishery negate the up front cost issues.

On the TU front, if as you state, Ken, that the rivers we fiah were predominantly brown trout rivers 30 years ago, it would seem that environmentalists looking to support and restore natural habitats would have that natural restoration as a top priority. Seems like the folks there, while well meaning, might be speaking a little lip service as to their mission.
As a side note, Ken, I caught my first brown trout ever with you last year, and as they say, i am hooked.

John

Millers River Flyfisher said...

John,

Nice to hear from you and I am glad that you are HOOKED ON BROWNS!!

Stocking rainbows in most of our Massachusetts rivers is a waste of money. Also, many of our rivers were brown trout rivers a hundred years ago.

Ken

Mark Clements said...

I don't think that the mission of the state hatcheries in MA is too provide anglers with a sustainable fishery in the Millers. From the stand point of sustainability, then yes the stocking of rainbows in ecosystems in which they can not survive is less cost effective. Hatcheries are commissioned to produce catchable size trout and stock those in waters to be caught. They do not necessarily care about what happens to that fish after it leaves the hatchery. Rainbows allow hatcheries to achieve the latter goal more cost effectively.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Mark,

You give every reason why the stocking system should change. Connecticut stocks many more browns than we do even with less trout rearing capacity than we have. In New York browns are the backbone of their trout rearing program and even if those fish may not hold over (many do) they will provide season long angling where our reliance on clonebows falls far short.

This sport is changing. There are far more fly fishers (mostly C&R) now than years ago and fewer bait and lure fishers (mostly catch and keep) on our rivers than in years past. Yet the stocking protocol is meant to satisfy a shrinking group. Maybe we should begin to act. If the responses to this post are any indication than maybe we have some support.

DRYFLYGUY said...

Millers River Fly Fisher, your so right on all faces of this Post. I myself live in the berkshires, and the Housi is my Fly fishing destination most of the time. I would love to see the state stock more browns over bows and season.

Tightlines.........DRYFLYGUY

bert said...

Excellent posts on here. I'm wondering what it costs to rear brown trout per head? With the underlying thought "would it be possible for a group of dedicated fishermen to pay for more browns to be raised (by a hatchery) and to be released in a few suitable watersheds in spots that are not likely to be visited by the meat catchers?" Again I have no idea if this would be feasible costwise...

I mean, plenty of people pay good money to go fishing for a day with a guide. Why not pay for improved fisheries?

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Bert,

The cost of browns, grown to a catchable size, is higher than rainbows but rainbows don't survive in rivers like the Millers or the Housy. Stocking fingerling browns, a standard procedure decades ago in NY and Massachusetts, may show long term, positive results. Subsidizing catchable browns with smaller browns and studying the catch results may give us some viable information. Do the smaller fish survive and grow? Browns and Atlantic Salmon parr thrive in the Millers while other salmonid species do not. There's a lot to be studied here.

I'm willing to keep beating the drum on this!!

Ken

dale said...

I agree with pretty much everything that's already been said. I'd love to see more brown trout, more C&R areas on rivers, and more of a focus on habitat improvement and better fish populations. Dump all those rainbows in the ponds & lakes where I see most of the catch & keep fishermen anyways. And I'd be more than happy to help provide catch results info from my fishing log.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Dale,

Good points! I intend to keep an informal count of anglers keeping fish in the general areas of the Millers, which I fish often, this season. I think (I can almost say "I know") that most who I will meet are fly fishers and they release their catch. The point of this? That "WE" are the "USERS" and our needs should be heard.

Ken

Anonymous said...

Ken,

If you are interested in tracking Millers catch totals, species, etc., you could just attach an online creel link to the front page of your blog. Let others do the work for you.

John

Falsecast said...

I think the Housy is only stocked with Browns, why not the Millers?

WOW Gold said...

They are not thinking about delivering hobby or sustainability and betterment for the ecosystem.
How can we WOW Gold for sale through the internet? We must make it safe and trust those people who buy our's products, and we can
Buy WOW Gold
of other games.