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.

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!!

Ken

14 comments:

Tony said...

Ken,

This spring I wrote a letter to the MASS DFW requesting that a local stream to me, the Charles in specifically Medway but also Norlfok and Millis by sprinkled with some browns. I watched it all year throghout 2010 and frequented it for some kibber and bass fishing, just to log some hours in the waders, get out on the water and spread out the line.

I specified that the flows were manageable, and the temps were not as detrimental as some of the ponds that they stocked.

The response letter I got back, which I still have somewhere, not only took about 5-6 weeks back but was a slap in the face to me. It specified that the portion of river in which I had requested reached "lethal" levels by early June. (note I actually temp tested it in late july and it was only 73-75* when a good stocked pond breaks 80+*) and that there were no public land to access the river not only for stocking but for fisherman as well. (Which there are, the Charles is Not a Privately owned 79 mile river mind you). They also stated that it was not their objective to create a renewable fishery on that river. Which yes, it is a river that is not fished with the presence of the Big named rivers in this state, but those aforementioned towns hold beautiful Freestone sections. Below, into Dover/Sherborn/Natick become weedy and muddy, then its all over entering Wellesley and Newton and up into Walthem.
But at the foothold of the river, Medway/Norfolk/Millis looks a bit like a thinner Millers/lower Swift (below the Rt. 9 bridge) to me.

Anyhow, I'm all for guys getting their kids out there and soaking a few worms in the spring, believe me I'll be one of them this coming spring. Introducing a kid to trout fishing and managment is the best thing we can do for our sport. But having the objective of a Put-and-take only fishery in this state, regardless of which river IS their ultimate objective, and it's pretty aggressive. My father always said Money talks and S*** walks. Guess thats true in regards to license sales in this state.

Anyhow tight lines to all in the new year. Hitting the Swift on Thursday from the Bubbler to the Pipe. Any reports?!

(I'll make it a point to find that leter for you Ken and e-mail you it verbtum.)

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Tony,

It's the same song and dance. They say "lethal levels" which they probably don't have the data to support but you have to refute it. They say "no public access" which means no road crossings or angling group to help stock the trout. Again, not a good argument. "Not their objective to create a renewable fishery on that river"??? Why not????????? They are saying that they don't want to do it BUT they didn't say that it couldn't be done. If it can be done it should be done. It would work well in that part of the State.

Ken

Tony said...

Exactly!! They actually stock (probably about 40-50 or so) trout in the Charles in Medway in 2 spots that I'm aware of. In August, I was on the river playing with some kibbers on small foam hoppers I had whipped up the night before. And I could swear, in a deep pool under a large bridge, about 100' below a dam which is about 6'-8' high, I saw swimming with some bass and kibbers a trout or trout shaped fish. This wasnt a pickeral, or carp believe me. This was about a 12"-14" brook or rainbow. Couldn't fool him, but he was there...IN AUGUST! IN THE CHARLES!!

Oh well, guess I'll just have to not only buy my license buy pay state fuel taxes by driving to actually be able to fish, when I have a beautiful freestone in walking distance.

Anonymous said...

I saw something incredible this past spring when the blue back herring were running up the charles. There was a young guy conducting a fish survey in the fish ladder at the spillway near watertown square. He asked if i wanted to see a fish up close, and i said ofcourse. However, when he scooped up a fish, it was not a silvery herring, but an decent size brookie. I'm not sure where it came from, but it was beautiful!

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Anonymous,

A sea run brookie for sure!!!

Tony,

Years ago I knew this guy in Dover who made a pond in his backyard by damming a small brook. The next spring brook trout appeared in his pond. That stream was not stocked!!

Ken

Anonymous said...

I've been happy the past few years as I've caught literally 3:1 browns to rainbow's on my home river, the EB of the swift. I've definately caught plenty of bow's, but way more browns than ever before, and amazingly more than the rainbow's lately.

That catch has gone into mid july, when I'd end up on other water due to low flow rates... but, come late august, on a cool day, I was able to catch some then prior to fall stocking as well...

My suspicion is that some streams/rivers are getting more browns than in the past.

I'd love to see more catch and release areas or at least, seasons - for example, make June 1 through April 15 C and R. 95% of the Catch and Keep guys are done at that point any way on most rivers. There are some amazing stretches of river/stream in this state that could be fantastic year round fisheries (until they are frozen at least) in that situation.

Will

Mike said...

Ken, thanks for the survey results - hopefully they don;t fall on deaf ears. It is a shame that the Mass DFW continue with their head-in-the-sand, defend the old paradigms approach. We have some beautiful rivers in this state - not only the EB, Swift, and Millers, that could benefit from management for WILD browns and brookies. The Quinnipoxet for one could be a gem of a river if they took down the damn dam, stopped stocking, and managed it for C&R - and we could have one hell of a landlocked salmon run! Likewise for the Stillwater, and there are some beautiful streams up by Ashby that are great habitat for wild brookies - why they waste the time and money to stock those streams when "leaving well enough alone" would result in much better fishing, is beyond me.

Maybe if we keep beating this drum, someday we will be heard!

Anonymous said...

Agree on the browns. Started doing a lot of small stream fishing this season. Some of these were state stocked streams. I was surprised with the amount of browns "stream born" I caught miles from stocking sites. Some of these were as small as four inches. In these streams it seemed the browns and native brook trout were coexisting nicely.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

A word about the State's catch & release policy: there most be 50% public access for any river section to qualify!

I don't understand this policy because the state doesn't have this restriction for it's other policy concerning stocking.

Personally, I've evolved beyond "C&R sections" and would eliminate them in favor of "C&R status" for, say, brown trout. On the Millers the State only stocks browns in the C&R sections leaving some better sections with no stocked browns.

Ken

Mike said...

Ken, How do you feel about FFO or ALO (Artificial Lures Only) sections and rules? I see your point on C&R, and most of us (flyfisherman at least) probably release 90%+ of the trout we catch anyway.

Anonymous said...

Tony - I know they stocked browns in the Charles years ago (the 80s). I caught a couple on a visit to the old ice rink area in Norfolk. I'm not sure if the rink is even there anymore.

Al

Tony said...

To Al,

The rink is still there and running strong! 5am-midnight ice times it's crazy busy! Yeah that's a good stretch down there in the spring after stocking until about 2 weeks into June or so, depending on flows, rainfall and temps (which, by the way determine more so if non-fly fisherman will be fishing and frying rather then the water not being able to support the fish). The River is beautiful, it just needs fish!!! The fishing could be better if it were tended to. Much like many small streams throughout this state. Oh well...
I've read that Atlantics used to run up the Charles...what a change.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Mike,

I'm not really against artificial lures as long as the anglers, if they are in C&R sections, handle the fish with care. From what I see they don't.

It's the bait fishers that cause the mortality and there are studies to prove that. That Moffitt hook system, which was aimed at the fly fishing market, would have worked great with bait fishers.

Ken

Tony said...

Hit the swift today for a tough 3 hours. Sadly no takes. Literally bouncing soft hackles and #20-#24 midges off thier noses! But the trip was worth seeing the salmon holding in the water. Lots in the bubbler arm. Looked lively and healthy too. Gorgeous fish!
I was very surprised to see just how high the water was though. I've read reports, talked to anglers, shops and guides...the flow I thought wasn't as quick as expected but the high water was crazy for that river! I definetly under estimated the height of the river. Hopefully they turn off the faucet soon and it will return to fishable levels. Winter is a great time to fine tune your midge and nymph game.
Oh well, such is fishing... Off to the bench now! Gotta tie down to #30s as one gentleman showed me and reported good sucess.

Happy New Years Everyone!!!

-Tony