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 30, 2013

Goodbye 2013


This year is up and I hope that it was a good year for all of you especially when it comes to fly fishing for trout!

I spent Sunday, December 29, on the Swift trying to squeeze a few more catches out of my 2013 license. Actually my license acted more like a debit card with insufficient funds - I hooked a bunch of trout but was only able to land one. Anyway, I met some friends and had a good time and it was worth it.

SOME POINTS
I took the advice from one of the blog's contributors and switched to a pinhead (my fly) and finally got a trout. How did I not fish that fly??

A rafting guide came down the 48cfs flow, one sitting in the raft and three walking/steering the raft along, and then stopped to wade fish below the Tree Pool. First, they didn't need a raft to get to that point and two, how would they feel if another raft came through and they had to move out of the way. Why float this skinny flow?? Answer: Float The Deerfield!

Check out the January/February 2014 issue of EASTERN FLY FISHING MAGAZINE to see a good write up by Christophe Perez on the Swift River. I'm lucky enough to have had the opportunity to contribute to this article as other Swift River regulars did.

I'm beginning to book up for guiding on the EB/Millers/Swift for this Winter and Spring. Drop an email if you are looking for a day on these rivers.

Finally, thank you for reading and contributing over the past year on this blog. After seven seasons this endeavor has not grown old. From what I've been told it's still appreciated. I'm looking forward to 2014!!!!

Thank You,

Ken


Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Word On Tenkara And What Happened To My Blog


Somehow, my blog got F'd up. Everything got rearranged without me having anything to do with it. I reconstructed it to something that resembles the original. It's not a virus thing but a google thing. I will work it out. The message will continue but I have to post again my Tenkara comments.

Tenkara- This technique has worked its way into the fly fishing word. It was developed in the mountain streams of Japan for their trout. I have used this technique on and off for the past 18 months. Here are my thoughts and observations.

THE GOOD

It is fly fishing, pure and simple! A 12 ft (on average) rod with a mono line attached to the tip of the rod delivers a fly. A 12 ft. rod generally has 12 ft of heavy mono to which 5 or 6 ft of 5 x leader material is attached. Even though there is no reel or standard fly line it is still fly fishing. It is wonderfully basic. Remember that a lot of "high sticking" is done without any standard fly line touching the water. We are all guilty of that!

Tenkara rids us of dealing with drag that comes with using a standard floating fly line. One can pick pockets at leisure and catch trout. It is perfect for mountain streams and pocket water on larger rivers.

THE NOT SO GOOD

LANDING TROUT is not so easy. Check out the standard Tenkara video and you will see an angler hooking a fish, playing it out and then skidding it over the top of the water to a Tenkara net. Two things are obvious: the trout are small (6 to 12 inches) and the Tenkara net is SMALL. Remember, this technique was developed in Japans mountain streams. Small water usually means small fish. Hook a 15 inch Swift River Bow with a Tenkara outfit and you will not be able to let that fish run (the line is attached to the tip of the rod) and you will have to chase it. I have done that fully knowing that a standard reel would have given me a distinct advantage. I have snapped the leader doing that have seen other Tenkara anglers do that and had Dan Trela, the Dean of the Swift, say that he has seen the same thing. What is the remedy? Have someone with a net close by to assist you or be prepared to run downstream with those larger, aggressive trout.

My new wife has caught trout with a tenkara setup. It is perfect in a mountain stream filled with small, beautiful native trout. It may be the best setup for that environment.

TENKARA FLIES - Fagetabotit!!!! Japanese entomology has years to go before it's at a western level. Where are the size 20 BWO, the scuds, the streamers, the basic nymphs?? Those Tenkara flies are so huge and generic that they may only be dependable on small mountain brooks. I'd use soft hackles instead.

Tenkara - It has it's place and it is very enjoyable in that place.

Ken

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Making Over Another Lousy Fly - The San Juan Worm


Yes, this fly does catch trout although most don't want to admit that they actually use it. I have used it with success BUT I have a problem with the way that it is tied. It's tied by lashing the chenille at the mid point to the hook. Some add a bead at this point because we just have to add a bead to anything that doesn't float. In any event this tying method causes the chenille to kink and fold over on itself. Aquatic and earthworms don't fold over on themselves but just wiggle around as the current moves them.

After looking at countless pictures of standard tied SJW's I found a photo of a length of chenille tied to the hook at the end. This made sense even if the tier had a bead attached. I ditched the beads and tied some up. The chenille moved in the current in a very natural way and the Swift Bows approved. I guess I was looking for something to do because I tied a few with tiny glass/plastic beads for eyes. This was easy. Get some tiny beads (found in craft stores) and run a length of thick mono through both beads. Keep a tiny space between the two beads and then super glue them to the mono. After the glue dries trim the extra mono and then tie the "eyes" to the hook followed by the chenille. I like the way it looks. BTW, I always use micro chenille.

This is what happens when you are forced by Winter to spend early evenings thinking about fly fishing instead of actually doing it!! Actually it was fun!

Ken


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My Lousy Fly Box And Some New Lousy Flies


It's this time of year that I begin to wonder how I caught any trout over the last few months. My fly boxes are a mess! What had started earlier in the year as something that was well stocked and organized ended up with being a collection of worn out flies in many sizes that I don't really need and this happened even with the fact that I am always tying flies throughout the season. My fly box has a collection of "can't miss" flies that looked good during last Winter but struck out during the season. The great idea of last May ended up being a dud in June. They are still there! There are two ways to look at this: First, I shouldn't feel inferior when someone that I guide shows me their "perfectly stocked fly box". Maybe they don't fish as often as me and don't lose as many flies OR they only use one or two patterns, the other flies are window dressing. Anyway, my fly boxes contain few "patterns" but they are in many sizes. The good sizes get lost, the bad sizes remain. I am trying my best to restore order, whatever that is.

Now for Lousy Flies - The "pellet fly" is a lousy fly BUT you have to have a few during that time when it "Happens" at the Pipe. Seeing dozens of trout slashing the surface for 10 minutes will drive you crazy so this awful thing has it's place. There is a problem. The standard piece of cork lashed/glued to a hook will cause some missed strikes because the cork just takes up too much room. Solution: Run a length of 6x mono (with a sewing needle)through the cork (glue it) and then lash this to the hook a quarter of an inch from the cork. The trout will rise to the cork and take in the hook (size 16 works fine).The trout will be hooked in the mouth. It works! Tie on a size 20 emerger instead of the bare hook and have an indicator pattern an inch from the surface.

Maybe this has been done before but I don't know anyone who is doing this. Try it out.

Next Up - Improving the worlds worst fly (if I have the guts to do it)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tomorrow Is Thanksgiving Day



The EB started today at 160cfs. It's now at 1060cfs. The Millers is doing the same dance, from 150cfs to 1270cfs. We know what we have to do tomorrow - spend time with our family and friends and be thankful for another good year!

I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving and certainly many more!!

Thought that you would appreciate a month of May photo of me changing flies or trying to undo a wind knot. Take your pick!

Ken

Saturday, November 23, 2013

One Day - Two Rivers


7:00 am on the Saturday Morning and there are NO cars at the Y Pool parking lot on the Swift. There are three cars at the PIPE parking lot as I suit up at 7;15. The PIPE section is crowded (three cars will do that) so I work my way downstream to the Gauge and pick up two bows until I work around one angler at the PIPE.

I fished the tree pool, brake off one, land one, and catch 4 tiny brookies that went for my size 22.

Time to hit the EB!!

Went home, made soup and a sandwich and the headed west and had the EB to myself. I felt that after the good reports I had to show something. This place amazes me. This beautiful river is full of trout. I took 6 in the hour and a half that I was there. It really is the best freestone river that I write about!!!

One Note - A very REGULAR fly fisher (he is very good) said that the trout have left the Y Pool. I found him below the IPE WHERE HE IS SELDOM found.

A word to the wise!!

Ken

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winter On The Swift

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Ok, it's Winter and the only game in town will be the Swift at least from late December through mid March but maybe even earlier. As you know the Swift is a neat tailwater that doesn't freeze over and provides good fishing through these dark months but some winters are different than others.

Last winter we started a flow rate of about 50 cfs which continues. This rate is fairly low which will cause the water to cool off more quickly than if the flow was higher. You saw ice forming around the PIPE section last year in places that it had never appeared before. This colder water will lower the trout's metabolism which will decrease their need for food. The Y Pool isn't really effected because the water hasn't had time to cool off yet. (We're talking about ice close to the current and not along the shore, shore ice is common).

Am I complaining? Sort of. Fishing seemed a bit slow below Rt.9 last Winter and I believe that's the reason. The remedy? Bring the flow up to 100 cfs. It's a good flow and most anglers like it better than 50 cfs. Will it happen?? No way unless we get pounded by rain but we are in a drought that doesn't seem to want to end.

Things are still doing well on the EB. Get there before it freezes over!!

Time to tie some flies.

Ken

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Rating The Rivers And WCVB Chronicle Show


First things first. WCVB Channel 5 Chronicle Magazine will air a segment on the "Hidden Hills" of Massachusetts on Monday, November 11 at 7:30pm. It will contain a segment on fly fishing the EB in which I was able to contribute in a small way. I haven't seen it yet so we will all have a laugh.

This time of year I like to rate the three rivers that I write about. All rivers are good but some just have better "fishing years" than others.

Here's the list and my reasons.

Third Place - The Millers

This was an off year for the Millers and I can't find a reason for it. Most anglers that I met or wrote to caught very few from June onward and some got skunked every time. One stretch that has been a favorite of mine for 25 years seemed devoid of fish!! I did notice huge concentrations of browns back in May in certain deep holes and heard a rumor that the float stocking crews purposely dumped them in concentrations instead of spreading them out.

I'll be back there later today for another shot at the Millers.

Second Place - The East Branch of the Westfield

The EB was great through June, hung tough through the Summer when it usually gives up and has been my favorite river since Labor Day. I ranked the EB number 1 in 2009 because we had a wet Summer which resulted in great Summer fishing that year. 2013 was not that far behind. The browns, pretty much absent in 2009, were the prevailing species this past Summer and they were gorgeous fish. Second place but just missing First Place for the EB.

First Place - The Swift

First place is not a "given" for this river. Things can go wrong like a high water year or a yo-yo water level but this year things stayed at 50 cfs for months at a time with only a bump in the flow in late Summer. It was very manageable. That 50 cfs flow also kept the tuber traffic at a minimum and it seemed to create some very steady and lengthy fly hatches right through the Summer. And of course, there are many trout!!! I'll be there all Winter.

All rivers are good and all rivers should have friends and be protected.

Ken

Friday, November 1, 2013

The "Dark Time" Is Here And My Favorite Swift Fly for 2013


It happens Sunday morning at 2:am as it does every year. We turn the clocks back and evening fishing, as we like it, comes to an end. The Dark Time is here and we have to put up with it until March. I hate this moment because it puts a simple pleasure of someone (me)to an end: evening fishing. November and some of December will give us some glorious days with warm temperatures and willing trout BUT it will condense the traffic on some streams (Swift) to a 7-4 schedule and my evening trips to the EB are gone until Spring. I should stop complaining because I am old enough to remember when ALL FISHING ended on the last day of February and didn't start again until the 3rd Saturday in April. Now I'll fish right through the Winter on the Swift which makes me grateful for living close by to this wonderful stream but as I fish these coming months I'll be thinking of Spring, those balmy days, those rising trout.....

Anyone who has followed this blog will remember the Hot Spot, a personal favorite, which continues to catch many Swift river trout. But I like to play with ideas and in doing so made up with another fly that worked very well over the past year and a half.

First, I am sold on the theory that trout like some contrast in the color makeup of a fly. The Hot Spot proved this but this fly, using the same theory, seems to work better. I call it the Turkey Top.

Second, It looks like another fly that has a foam "bubble" tied into the top of the fly. I admit that but I wanted to tie something quickly and in good numbers and this fly does it. The foam part doesn't seem to make a difference and it's easy to tie in quantity.

Hook - size 18-22 scud hook (choose your brand) Experiment with this. Use any size you want.
Body - olive/brown rabbit dubbing tied in fairly loose
Wing cap - a strip of WHITE turkey flat or any white feather material. I like turkey because I have a mountain of it!

That's it! No science required. It fooled Swift trout all season long and I believe it always will. From the Bubbler to the Pipe it catches trout! If you look closely the rainbow in the photo has one in its lower left jaw.

Now, off to a weekend on the Millers and the EB before Winter sets in!

Ken


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Squeezing Out The Last Of Summer - The Swift, The EB


It gets so dark early now. We who are luck enough to live close to trout water have about a week and a half to fish those increasingly shorter evenings. Sundown occurred before 6pm this week and I'm making the most of it.

Monday at 5pm found me playing around at the PIPE. I met a friend who was getting it done with surface feeding trout. He had to leave which gave me the tree pool which was full of rising bows. The air was full of knats which covered my waders within minutes. The air also had a good population of BWO's or something that looked like that in a size 22-24. I took three bows in that hour on the appropriate size cdc olive dry before I had to leave. Someone else arrived and he had the place to himself.

Tonight was an hour spent on the EB. I took two rainbows at the exact place I had been dreaming about taking bows since this past weekend and they were taken with the trusty grouse and orange which has worked so well on this river in the last two weeks. I can't stress enough how YOU should fish this river before the hard cold sets in. I'm hoping for a mild November. I want to squeeze every opportunity that I can get on this river. If we don't get any floods and if the weather stays somewhat mild this place will be awesome.

Keep Fishing!!!!

Ken

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The EBEBEBEBEBEB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Ok, it's a post about the East Branch of the Westfield River or the "EB" as we now seem to call it. I spent the last three days working this beautiful river ending today at mid day. It was very good.

Sunday I guided two flyfishers who landed one fish but missed others. It was a day that seemed perfect but the trout just wouldn't cooperate. Monday I went out alone for three hours to see if things were different. They were different!! I took five bows working the same spots as the day before swinging and drifting soft hackles (grouse and orange). I met two other fly fishers who said that Sunday was so-so but Monday was so much better. Why?? Who knows. Both days were identical with bluebird skies and the water levels were the same.

Then came Tuesday (today) morning. I guided a camera crew from a Boston TV station for some morning fishing on this great river. The trout couldn't wait to get hooked!! I'll fill you in on the station when I find out when their program will air.

Fish the EB!!! It's loaded with trout, it's uncrowded and it is the most beautiful trout stream in this State! We have another month or two before Winter hits this part of the State.

Fish the EB!!

Ken

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Where Have I Been


Where have I been over the last two weeks?

First, I got MARRIED and then spent the better part of a week in Bermuda. My wonderful wife and I spent days just enjoying the wonderful climate of this sunny island (80 degrees every day)and just doing what newly weds do. I did not go fishing BUT I met a good guide for bones and tarpon which is on the list for next year. I plan to be there.

It took less than 24 hours for me to get a three weight in my hands after we touched down. The Swift (yesterday) was sublime with just the right amount of Swift frustration to bring back reality. I took two bows from the gauge downstream until I ran into Dan (the best flyfisher on the Swift) who was working the occasional sippers below the Pipe. He caught some and missed some just as I did in that area. My #20 bwo rose some, landed two but most of the time the trout rose and then refused the fly. I also hooked some tiny (4-6 inch) brookies that seem to be everywhere. This has happened over the last two months. Hatchery escapees? I don't think so.

So, who is this woman that I'm involved with? She's GREAT! She's also very good with a tenkara rod, VERY GOOD. She loves the Swift and loves when I fly fish and guide. I'm a lucky guy!!

I also went to the EB and did nothing in three hours today. It's on the Fall stocking list but.... Does anyone know anything about the EB.

Fall is here. October and November are great months especially on the Swift as they always are.

Keep Fishing!!

Ken

Friday, September 20, 2013

September Browns On The EB, The Swift And The Millers Stocking


Mid September and fly fishing has been good, mostly.

The browns on the EB survived the Summer and have been rising at dusk for me. Sunset is around 6:50 now and these fish didn't start to dance until about 6:30. I took two at the Bliss Pool this week between 6:30 and 7:00pm. Two browns came to the net on size 14 olive comparaduns which seemed to match the large mayfly (maybe a cream cahill)that was hatching. One brown went 18 inches, a very good fish and the other was about 14 inches. I live 15 minutes from this gem of a river so I can time these evening trips pretty well. I was there for only an hour. It was worth it.

The Swift has been producing as usual despite the flow changes. Just adjust your tactics. One fly fishing site said the dry fly fishing on the Swift was off. Think again!! Low flows bring the bows up and it's been like that all Summer.

The Millers - This is my 30th season on this river and it has been sub normal. Normal means rising browns when flows are good and the flows have been ok through July and August but things are, to me, different and the reports that I've received back that up. If you have been doing well then that's very good for you but for me it hasn't been that good. An "off" year?? Maybe but why? Things seem the same as they have been but the action just really isn't there.

Maybe the Fall bow stocking will wake the browns up. We have another month or so to find out.

Let me know how your're doing on the Millers. Maybe it's just my luck or.....

Footnote (9/23)- Heard that the Millers will get stocked with Browns this Friday.

Ken

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Swift - It's Ups And Downs



The Swift ran at 50 cfs since last Fall and then made the jump to 125 almost three weeks ago. Then it fell back to 50 on on Monday but jumped back up to 125 eight hours before I wrote this. That low flow on the Connecticut River controls much of this but it doesn't put a damper on the trout fishing. It's been good regardless of the flow although 50 cfs requires more finesse than 125.

Earlier this week I spent a short evening below the gauge just hours after the tap was turned down. There were plenty of trout and I caught my share on a size 18 nymph that I will write about in a later post. That nymph will work now even when the flow is higher.

"Spent a short evening" were the words that I wrote. The evenings are getting shorter. Sundown that evening was at 7:06 pm, light enough to fish but not for long. I was fortunate for the two hours on the river but I kept thinking of the light at that time two months ago and the long cold season ahead. Short evening trips will soon be a thing of the past. Soon the trips will be full daytime trips much like anglers that have to put on the miles to find good fly fishing. I guess I'm lucky to live close to good rivers.

The Swift is fishing well. Fish the Swift!

Ken

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Swift - Late August Into September


It's that time of year again. If you are unfortunate enough to not live close to trout streams then you may not realize that shorter days are here. If you can only fish from 8am to 4am then you will only know that the sun rises later each day and that full sunlight in very early July means that you can fish at 5am and may need sunscreen. Not now. Fly tying light without a flashlight is after 6am and the evenings are much shorter. I live close to trout streams and my weekends are there BUT my evening trips are getting shorter. 8:30 in early July meant sunlight. Now it means darkness. The dreaded dark season will be here soon.

The Swift has been a charm and I'm talking about below route 9. The whole place is full of trout. Since the flow increased from 50 to 125 cfs the trout have moved around and are not stuck in the same places that we saw them when the flows were lower. Last Sunday morning I was the only one at the Pipe at 6:30 and saw only one other flyfisher until 10:30 when I left. I hooked about 14 and managed to land 9 and they were all strong, eager rainbows except for a 3 inch brookie that decided to get into the act. It was good fishing from the Crib Dam to the Pipe. The trout fell to a swift serendipity and (mostly) to a fly that I will mention later.

The Swift is this State's only tailwater trout fishery. We have to realize what this means to us and protect it. There are those who would want to see this as a "multi-use" recreational water resource but we are the dominate recreational user and have been for decades. Let's keep it this way.

Ken

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Rise Of The Swift


This was not expected although it should have been. The Swift has been flowing like clockwork at 50cfs since last Winter. And then today it jumps to 125cfs and levels off. I was always interested in these Summer jumps and was given an answer on this blog a few years back. When the Connecticut River hits a certain low flow at the gauge at Montague water HAS to be released from Quabbin by mandate. This will last until we get rain anywhere from Montague to northern Vermont which will raise the river and then turn down the Swift tap to a normal flow. This condition could last two days or two weeks. We will see.

Now, this flow may have some anglers waving the pom-poms BUT I like that 50-60 flow which is why I spent last night working up a bunch of size 22 to 26 emergers to continue the low flow, tiny flies for large trout battle from the week before. Yes, it's funny that I didn't bother to check my own blog for the flow reading at 4pm when I left to hit this river but the flow had not changed even with this mini drought UNTIL TODAY.

The flow was up and so was the angling pressure from the gauge downstream. I worked the riffles in this section with a monster size 14 grouse and orange 24 inches below a micro shot (take no chances during flood conditions) and took 3 'bows and missed another in an hour and a half of fishing.

The tiny flies never got wet but they will as things get back to normal. As I write the rain is coming down hard which means the BIG river will come up and the LITTLE river will go down, hopefully. Hopefully the drift boys will stay on the Deerfield and not force us to reel in as they go by on the intimate Swift.

BTW, Have you noticed the DCR intrusion on the Swift gauge site. Two very uninspired photos of the Swift and a BOATING SAFETY/REGULATION poster!! One would think that they should of got their camera crew downstream at the PUBLIC BOAT LAUNCH instead of implying that the C&R/Special Regulation section is a boating destination. It's a WADING FLY FISHING DESTINATION and not the place for pleasure seeking flotsam!! I think that they have no problems in turning the best small stream, year round fly fishing river in Massachusetts into a theme park.

I may be wrong but.....

Ken

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Late Summer - An Evening On The Swift


It's late August, that time of year again. Small dries that were tied on after 8:30pm in June, under full evening sun (sorry Charlie), are now a bit of a chore as dusk approaches long before 8. The weather and the temperatures will be sublime for the next two months BUT the light, which makes evening fishing possible, is on the wane. The season is changing but the fishing continues.

The EB has maintained its flow and the trout are still there but only in certain spots that provide cool sanctuary. The heat of Summer is over and those browns (and some bows) will begin to fill in the spots. I've done well there this Summer. No double digit evenings. That happens in late May and into June but enough dry fly action to keep bringing me back.

Went to the Swift after a 2+ week hiatus this evening. I was the only one there at the PIPE section for the 2.5 hours that I fished. Trout were rising at the tree pool and I had a devil of a time trying to figure it out. It wasn't that "dorsal/tail" rise that means something is emmerging but a full, gentle rise to a surface insect. I couldn't find that insect but a black bodied CDC dry, size 24, brought 5 up with 4 to the net. An ant??? I didn't see any. In fact, the bows would push my fly out of the way to get what they wanted. Frustrating but a lot of fun.

The seasons are changing. We will still have some hot days but they are on the way out. Autumn is approaching with it's early sunsets and darker mornings. Just two months ago I fished the Y Pool at 5:30am under full sunlight. Those days are gone until next year.

Last November I fished in mid day on the Swift in 60 degree weather. We still have a few months left to do what we do under good conditions before the neoprene comes out!

Ken

Friday, August 9, 2013

For This Weekend - The EB, The Millers And The Swift


Everything was perfect until last night. Good flows, maybe a little low for the EB but good for the Millers. Then the rains came. The Millers went from 150cfs to 680 cfs today. The EB started at 100 and then went to 970cfs as I write. The Millers is not TOO unfishable and if you like slinging something other than size 16 dries you may have fun. This river may stay UP for 4 or 5 days. The EB rises like a rocket but then drops like a stone quickly, holding at a very fishable level afterwards. If you want to fish for trout I would work these rivers this weekend into next week. The long range forecast has no rain through NEXT WEEKEND!!!!!

Then there's the Swift. I've had very nice evenings on this river around and below the gauge working emergers and dries. A steady 50 cfs of cold water will do that.

The photo above is from a very recently caught brown on the EB. It took a size 16 olive comparadun. I missed two other occasional risers on that short evening. I think that the browns are taking over this river which is a good thing. I heard word that the DFW has stocked more of them. Four years ago they were a rarity. Now they provide Summer angling!!

Went to the Millers on Saturday August 3. I had very little time to fish on that late day afternoon/evening trip and had to bail out too early. The water through Wendell was UP at that time and had been up and down because of releases from the dam in Orange throughout the day. It's been like that for days before and since then. These releases have always put the fishing off by my experience and the fishing was off that evening. These yo-yo releases may be illegal. The local TU Chapter should be on this quickly. It used to be that way years ago. Check their website because I'm sure, as the self proclaimed stewards of the Millers, they are on top of this.

Ken

Ken

Monday, August 5, 2013

August On The EB


The EB has survived the July heat waves and I mean really survived. The browns and 'bows are still there and are being taken in the evening and the early morning hours on the surface and below it. This week daytime temperatures will stay in the 70's with nighttime temps in the low fifties. This river will cool off and stay cool.

Fish the EB. It's worth it!!

Ken

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The EB - A Second Chance


I was tired of the crowds. After a few weekends with the alarm sounding at 4:00am and making it down to the Swift at 5:00am only to be the third angler at the Y Pool and then sharing the joint with six others by 9:00am and God knows how many others by 10:00am I was due for a break. And the Pipe wasn't going to do it after being third on the water at 5:30 am last weekend. I like some solitude and I had to find it.

The EB had treated me will through May into late June but then the storms hit and the flows rose way beyond comfortable fishing as they did on the Millers. Then came the heat wave. That's why I was on the Swift for so long. But the flows came down and it was time to try the EB and to see if the trout had survived the crushing heat wave of the last three weeks.

I gave the East Branch a shot last Thursday evening with a friend of mine. The easy dry fly fishing of late June was replaced with a river with low flows and no surface action. Just before my friend broke his fly rod I saw a good healthy rise. I worked that stretch but to no avail. My friend was through for the night so we headed to the Brewmasters Tavern in Williamsburg. The special was prime rib for $14.95 all you can eat.

The next two days had me thinking of that one rising trout. This river has a reputation of being dead in mid Summer with the exception of 2009. Was this going to be another average Summer? I had to find out.

Sunday morning,(7am)under overcast skies,(perfect) had me on Slate Rock Pool, a very reliable spot. I rose nothing which was scary because this run always produces. But at the head of the run I saw a trout rise. I made the casts but came up empty but at least I knew that one trout was there.

Then there was the Bliss Pool. A half a dozen casts with a #14 hairwing Adams landed a very healthy 14 inch brown. Two more browns came to the net. All were healthy, fighting trout that quickly swam away when released. One brown was a bit over 16 inches. I nicked a rainbow that decided to get into the game and made a zillion casts over another rainbow that did a yo-yo act whenever he saw my fly. Very frustrating!!

At 10 am the sun began to strip the fog away and the trout began it hide. I felt that if I wanted to fish subsurface I would have continued to fish and be successful but I'm a dry fly guy if I can get away with it. Anyway, I got what I wanted: rising browns and fishing solitude.

I'll be back at the EB!!!

Ken

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer - The Half Way Point


It's been a horrible July! From July 1st until the 27th we have been blasted by high heat and humidity. The heavy rains of June (appox. 10 inches over average for Massachusetts) kept the rivers from getting too low BUT the temperature kept the trout from wanting to feed except during the dark hours. Even visiting my favorite summer haunts like the Millers and the EB during the evening seemed too much like a chore with temperatures still in the 80's. That's why I spent so much time on the Swift from 5:30am on some days and until dark on others. The water temperature ranged from 54 to 62 degrees each day during the hot spell, very easy conditions for those trout.

Now things have changed. As I write this on Wednesday evening the temperature is 73 degrees and will drop to the mid 50's by morning. Tomorrow the temperature may hit 80 and that's it. We've lost close to 35 minutes of sunshine since the first day of summer (June 21) and the loss will average close to two minutes a day going forward. Although we will still have a heat wave or two historically the hottest time of the year left us last week.

What does this mean? First, the rivers have a good flow of water going forward into August. The hottest days are behind us AND the days are shorter which means that the evening rise will be sooner. I've had wonderful evenings on the Millers in August with the sun setting sooner and the evenings being cooler.

We have months of comfortable fishing weather ahead of us here in central Massachusetts. Make the best of it.

Ken

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tiny Flies On The Brain!


That's right. It's been a recent passion to fish tiny flies to sipping trout. Where does one go to do that here in central Massachusetts? It's the Swift of course. Now, I should be working the Millers or the EB BUT these are not tiny fly rivers. The Swift is! That's where I've been.

Last Sunday (7/7) found me at the Y pool at 6:30 am. I caught fish BUT I was the fifth one there. Today I got there at 5:30 am and I was only the third flyfisher. A week before I landed 10 and lost many on size 24-26 black bodied or olive cdc dries. The same flies brought many break offs and 4 to the net this time around.

The Upper Swift is loaded with trout. Maybe too many trout. Is there ample food for these fish? I don't know. All that I know is that others, not fishing dries, caught trout on everything from woolly buggers to grasshopper patterns to something that resembled a dark nymph with rubber legs. The difficult trout rose to small flies!!

This tiny fly obsession may be on the wane. Even after getting home at 1ish and after tying a dozen tiny flies and listening to the Sox I began to think about the other rivers. The rivers that are home to 14-16 size dries and 5x tippet. Maybe this week during the evening I'll visit these rivers or maybe I'm not cured yet!!!!!!!!

There are many fish below RT 9 especially in the Pipe section of the Swift.

Ken

Saturday, July 6, 2013

It's Hot!!!!! A Three River Update



Well, first we go from a flood condition to a heat wave all within one week. If there is anything good about all of this for the central New England fly fisher it is that the rivers are still fairly high and the watersheds are saturated. The trout(browns) will find the cool spots and survive this heat. They did in 2010, the worst summer ever.

There's a new feature on some of the flow sites and that is a temperature gauge. The Swift site has one and so has the site for South Royalston (bears den). Don't freak out when you check the bears den site. That's what the temperature has ALWAYS been on this river during the height of summer. As I said, the trout survive.

The Swift got stocked at the PIPE section last Wednesday. Actually, it got stocked just above the "intake" house (see photo) and a hundred or so trout are still sitting there smacking wb's, leeches and other things that in a week they will have nothing to do with. They did hit my sulphur dry before I left.

I would like to see the hatchery folks drive up to the gauge and stock there but they never seem to even when requested. It will take some time but those new fish will begin to move around and provide some real sport.

The EB is down to 230 cfs as I write but I'll leave it to the swimmers this weekend and hit it next week during the evening. The Millers is heading downward! It's at 670 cfs as I write and should hit 500 (where it hasn't been in a month)by Monday. It's fishable now but your best best is very early morning and at dusk.

Ken

Friday, June 28, 2013

Mid Week Evening On The EB And A Word On The Millers



This past Wednesday evening was prime for the EB. The flow was perfect, it was cloudy (perfect)but not raining, I was the only one there and the trout were hitting my surface offerings. Now, there wasn't a full blown hatch going on just the usual scattering of seasonal mayflies mixed with some large stoneflies. There were few trout that were rising but enough to keep it interesting.

The best places were at the head of pools where I caught most of the 11 that took the fly. No violent strikes just a sip off of the surface. And it didn't matter what fly I used. A size 10 stimulator worked early followed by a size 12 hair (deer hair) wing Adams and then at the end a size 14 oliive comparadun. And I guess that I hit the cycle because I took browns, 'bows and two brookies all on dries. It was a great evening.

What about now? Last nights storms blew the EB out, period. It also backed up the Millers for who knows how long. It's been three weeks since the Millers was at 500 cfs so plan on another week for this river. The EB will drop quickly and then level off.

While I'm on the topic of the Millers: Don't listen to the sources that say that this river will offer trout fishing only until late June or early July. I've had great trout fishing (brown trout) throughout the Summer for 30 years. As I said in my Millers Guide, if you fish the Millers, or most freestone streams, at mid day during the heat of Summer you will not be successful. Fish the Millers in the very early morning (4am) or in the evening during the Summer. That's when you will see actively feeding browns. The term "evening rise" has been with us for almost a hundred years. One online source seems to be unaware of freestone Summer conditions. Fish the evenings on the Millers. It's always been great!!!

It's Summer and I look forward to it. Shirtsleeves and balmy evenings and rising trout!!!!

The Swift - Low and COLD. Need I say more.

Ken

Monday, June 24, 2013

Thunder And Lighting On The Swift


At noon it was close to 90 degrees and by 5:00 pm the temperature stayed steady with a spike in humidity. I wanted to fish but where to go. The forecast spelled t'storms which would cut out the longest drive to the Millers. I had a score to settle with those rising 'bows on the Swift and I figured that the hot weather would keep the swimming crowd on the EB longer than usual. The Swift was the choice. (55 degree water on THIS day had an influence on the decision).

What was the score that had to be settled? I was skunked on Saturday by trout that seemed to be cruising around picking sulphur emergers when they felt like it. I dreamed of seeing a steady rise. I got THAT and some scary weather.

5:45 found me below RT 9 ready to work some riffles as the skies began to darken to the west. The riffles showed some active surface working trout. The appropriate low lying dry was tied on and I was quickly on to a good fish. It got darker accompanied by the tell-tale booms of thunder but more 'bows were landed.

Don't believe the old saying that trout will stop rising when lightning is in the immediate area. I rose my last fish when the sky exploded above me with a bolt of lightning and that crackling sound that says "get out of here". I did. The skies opened up by 6:45 with buckets of rain with more lightning. I was on the way home.

I took eight rising bows in that short time. All casts were in the 15 to 20 foot range with a sulphur emerger fished on the surface. The score was settled.

This river is full of fish and when I say "this river" I mean below RT 9. It amazes me that so many people still fish only above RT 9 when downstream is so much more interesting. The bait boys have become a fading memory and in a week it will be catch & release. Besides, the hardware guys fish in only one place: the tree pool. The rest is ours!!!

Time to go check out the Millers. That will happen very soon!!

Ken

Monday, June 17, 2013

After The Flood - It's the Swift (Of Course)


A fellow named Brad sent me a photo of the Millers looking downstream at the Kempfield section while the flow was at 3700cfs!!!!!!! That was on June 13 and it's now down below 2000cfs which is in the right direction but still too high to do anything but kayaking. Let's give this river a dry week and then see what happens.

The Swift - It has been sublime even with it being the only major river that has been fishable over the weekend. The flow was in the 55cfs range which REALLY brought out the crowd at the Y Pool. I found an isolated spot or two and had wonderful fishing over a steady sulphur hatch. There are a few species that we now label as sulphurs. Basically any mayfly that's yellow or cream. Ephemerella Invaria and Ephemerella Dorothea are the species that we generally call "sulphurs" but now the cream cahill, a steady summer hatch on the Swift, is lumped into the sulphur group. I usually don't care too much because my flies are generic enough to represent a number of insects. What I care about is whether the trout like them and they do.

The EB - Checking the online gauge is misleading for this river. When we get pounded with rain the dam will hold back water and then release it when the downstream flood threat ends. The flow gauge is situated just downstream from the dam. The flow will look outrageous at that spot but the flow miles upstream in the Gorge may be hundreds of cfs lower. That was the case this afternoon when I drove to the Gorge to check it out. I would say the flow was somewhere around 800. Of course when I was there the skies opened up with a heavy downpour and we are supposed to have more storms tonight. I'll keep an eye on this river but my guess is that we will have good flows by Thursday.

I was reading a few posts of mine from June and July of 2009 just to recount the flooding of that year. The Swift ran over 500 cfs in July after running in the 50-60cfs range in June. Will 2013 be a repeat of 2009?? Hope not!!

Ken

Friday, June 7, 2013

The EB - Before The Rain




Two things had to be done this past Wednesday night: hit the EB before the monsoon blows the river out and watch the Bruins!!

We did both.

The upper sections had more than the usual number of anglers as it appeared that they wanted to take advantage of the flows. We went downstream a bit and had the place to ourselves.

The short hour and a half trip produced a half dozen browns and 'bows all taken on the surface. Water levels were great, caddis filled the air and the section that my friend and I fished had what appeared to be a steady grey fox spinner fall. I used stoneflies, caddis and a big, scary hair wing Adams. They all took trout with that aggressive, splashy rise of trout chasing caddis. Then it was time for the Bruins.

We made it to the tavern in Willimsburg to catch the end of the first period. This place has a Wednesday special of a glass of craft beer and a burger with fries for $5.00!!! We caught fish and our team won! A perfect night.


Anyway, the EB and the Millers will rise again starting today if this forecast is true BUT the EB will begin dropping by Sunday and be fishable by early Tuesday. I'll be there!!

Ken

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Swift Saves The Weekend




Which weekend is he talking about, Memorial Day Weekend or this one coming up? Actually you can take your pick. The Millers was blown out on the long weekend and will will be the same this Saturday/Sunday. Expect it to be UP well into next week rain or no rain.

The EB got tame by Memorial Day but now is running very high due to last nights (Wednesday) rain. If the rains hold off that water will drop like a rock. It should be fishable (500-700 cfs range) by later Saturday (if the rains hold off).

We fished the Swift last Saturday in the driving rain and under Memorial Days bluebird skies and we had fun landing and losing trout. The usual places had the usual number of anglers on both days. It alsp appears that the trout have found their way back to the "Bubbler Arm", a place that they seem to have avoided over the last few months!

Hot Spots were the fly of choice on this river.

For those of you who are dying to hit the Millers (me included) but will stay away because of the flow I have included two Bears Den section photos of clients taken two weeks ago when the flow was perfect and the browns were willing.


Go Fishing!!

Ken

Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day Outlook - Millers, EB And The Swift




As I write this (Friday, May 24 at 6:30 pm) the Millers is racing along at 1560 cfs. The EB is RUNNING at 1270 cfs and the Swift is where it's been for months - the low 50 cfs range. Guess where most of the action will be!

The above comment is conventional wisdom. Freestones bear the brunt of heavy rains, tailwaters much less so. But one will have to keep an eye on the EB. This river rises like a rocket and drops like a rock as the rains stop. It peaked around midnight nudging 2000 cfs and then dropped 700 to where it is now. It will continue to drop if the rains hold off. Don't rule out 500 cfs by Sunday. 500 is very fishable on that river.

The Millers is in for a high water long haul. It will take the better part of a week to get this river down to the 500 range that I like to start at. If the rains continue it will stay high. In 2009 it hit 1500 around June 6 and didn't sink below 1000 for more than a month.

The Swift, in many minds, will be the only game in town but that's selling your chances of fly fishing this weekend short. If you don't want the crowds then hit the lower Swift in Bondsville. It's usually empty and is a different river than the Rt 9 area. Also, here's a chance to fish those smaller streams that you've always said you would fish. They will be the first to recede and you will be away from the crowd.


I'll be keeping an eye on the EB!!

Ken

Thursday, May 16, 2013

An Update - The Swift And The EB



The rain came down hard Wednesday afternoon and I began to think that flotilla of Hendricksons would be hammered into submission by that downpour. Not a chance!! The section below the pipe was full of them and the trout were after them. I had to fish a suitable nymph (all of the appropriate flies were back in the car) and lost 3 before one came to the net. Then I lost that fly. My time to fish had also run out but I knew that if I had come prepared it would have been unforgettable. Those days will come again.

The EB - I hadn't been back to this old friend since late summer. I knew that this section would get its Trout Unlimited Fest stocking but I didn't know exactly when. A few casts into the Bliss Pool resulted in a bow. That's when I saw the rise. Not a feeding rise but a "gulping" rise, a sure sign of a recently stocked fish. I caught 3 more when I saw the stocking truck heading back up the road.

The thrill was gone. I discovered a pod of trout and took another 7 while testing new fly creations. Everything worked!! The usual large bows were there plus many large (12 - 14 inch) brookies. Looking down into the net one would feel like they were in Labrador but this is Massachusetts and we don't have brookies like that. Those fish will be gone by July.

I fished for an hour and a half before I began to get sloppy like one does when one gets bored. I began to think of two weeks from now when the bows will take a clue from the browns and wise up. I was also thinking of the Swift and its hendricksons!

The EB is full of fish. There you go!

Ken

Friday, May 10, 2013

Millers Update



The Millers is ready to fish. Water levels are great, the days have been perfect and the browns were scheduled to hit the Bears Den this week with the lower C&R getting its share next week. As you know by now I'm no fan of rainbows in the Millers and although I support the brown stocking I would rather like the browns to be stocked along with the bows throughout the stocking season instead of the "all at once" scenario.

Better then that, I'd like to see browns stocked ALL OVER THE RIVER, like other rivers, instead of just in the C&R sections. We know the old story about how browns, because they survive so well in the Millers, will accumulate toxins. Therefore they must be stocked in the C&R sections. WHY NOT MAKE BROWNS A CATCH AND RELEASE SPECIES and stock them everywhere on the Millers? One excuse I heard against this is that people will not know the difference between a brown and a bow (yes, I've heard that).

The Millers is a brown trout river, period! The VAST majority of it's anglers are flyfishers, period! Our anglers survey two seasons ago proved that. The browns draw the flyfishers, period, but miles of river have very few browns. The DFW should stock what we want, period!!!!

Have fun this week!

Ken

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Millers - Finally!!!!



It was fun to finally throw something much larger than something in the size 20 range. The Swift served me well over the winter BUT it was time to cast something "normal" like a 5wt and a fly with some heft to it. The Millers has been dropping and on Sunday morning made it's way into the 500 cfs range. Good enough!!

This trip was more of a scouting expedition. I hit four sections on the lower river and managed four of the 'bows that the DFW gives us. The fishing pressure was light with Wendell Depot having about four other anglers. The trout that I caught seemed to be holed up in certain areas. You would fish a section hard and get nothing, move 15 feet and then start getting hits. that's early season fishing on this river!!

Tomorrow is May 1st. By mid May the browns will go in and the real fishing will start. The 'bows will keep you happy until then.

Ken

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tiny Dry Flies For The Swift




A week ago I fished the overflow arm of Y Pool on the Swift. This "dead" water was full of very spooky rainbows that were rising to something small. Most likely chironomidae or something like that. I tied on a fly for the occasion. Sorry for the less than good photo (I'm not a photographer) but this is what landed three bows and lost two others in that hour that I was there (it was late. If I was there earlier I would have risen more trout) This works in the overflow arm and the Y Pool proper and in the tree pool downstream when I need a tiny fly.

Hook - size 26 (I could use a smaller hook BUT I can ADJUST things without going smaller

Body - ultra fine synthetic dubbing in BLACK

Wing - grey cdc

Tie on the wing first, clip the butt ends and dub on a slim black body. Put a turn of dubbing in front of the cdc to make it stand up. That's it!

This fly works well all season when we fish to trout that are rising to something that we can't see on this river. Now, we can make this a size 28 fly by NOT dubbing the back end of the hook. The body is smaller and the trout are not bothered by this. Try using just black thread for the body. It also works. Leave a tiny strand of black thread hanging off the bend of the hook. That works too. Just use a black body and grey cdc (not too much) and you will have a great time fooling trout on this river. 7x tippet also does the trick.

As I write the Millers is dropping below 1000cfs. It will not be long before one can fish this river safely!

Ken

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Good Guiding Day On The Swift



It was a good day today! We hit the PIPE section at 8am and were the only ones there mainly because the fishing on the Swift has been a bit "off" from it's recent past. But the trout are there and one has to really fish for them. We hooked 7 fish which included a monster sucker which made short order of our 6x but 4 good size bows were brought to the net. Fly fishers began to show up and I saw them hook land three during that time. We fished and scouted around, took a lunch break and headed for the Y POOL. Again, every few anglers. We worked the bubbler run but didn't even see a fish. The wind began to pick up as we hit the fabled Y Pool just as the last solo angler left. Now, things get interesting. There are no rising trout EXCEPT one. The bows had no interest in investigating the choppy surface except one fish which "looked" like a brookie from our vantage point. He just kept cruising the pool sipping the surface. My "client" wanted to throw a dry at him. I thought differently but tied on a size 26 black emmerger under a cdc post. Here's what happened: the trout came up, gave a look and then went down. But he followed the fly again and repeated the same act as before. Now, with only three feet of drift left the fish came back up, followed the fly for a foot and then gave us the TAKE. It was a brown of about 12 inches. Not a monster BUT a difficult fish caught under difficult conditions.

That's what is all about!!

Ken

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Finally, A Spring Day On The Swift



Finally, Spring came to the Swift. Last Saturday I froze from 6:30 am to 11ish. I caught some but the wind was biting and I still had ice on my guides by late morning. I fish all Winter long on this river but it's SPRING and I want to see and feel it.

Today was the day. The temperature nosed 70 degrees and when I made it to the Y Pool at 5pm the trout were still rising. I rose four, broke off two and didn't land any BUT that was ok!! It was a warm Spring day and I got to spend 90 minutes working rising trout. That's what we have waited for!!

We will have a few nippy days ahead but the best weeks and months are right around the corner!!

The Millers - wait until the end of April.

The EB - wait until early May (hopefully).

Ken

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

From SPRING to WINTER - 2 Hours On The Swift



Ok, it's 53 degrees at 3pm on Monday so I'm off to the Swift for a couple of hours. I get there at 4:30 and the car thermometer reads 45 degrees. When I leave it's 41 degrees with a full blown gale ripping across the water. My goal was to put in time at the Y Pool with the feeling that I might be able to squeeze into a spot. The last two anglers were leaving as I got there so the place was all mine.

It's been a while since I've had a forward cast fly back at me. That was courtesy of the wind that was whipping off the Quabbin. I fished for 45 minutes, caught one bow and froze to death!!! What happened to Spring??

A little Millers news - The River Rat Canoe Race, an event that floods the Millers for three days, is scheduled for Saturday, April 13th. Forget fishing that river on that weekend. Stocking usually starts after that "event". If one can't wait then test the river on Friday the 12th. That's because water is held back at Birch Hill (a bad thing!)in the days before the race with Friday flows being very low. You may have a chance at some holdovers.

Ken

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Swift Comes Alive (That Means Stocked)



As you probably know the Swift got some trout last week and as occasional contributor Kozman said you just had to find them. Yup, they were ganged up in deep runs in the Guage/Pipe section were I fished late Friday afternoon. It was funny but the Pipe run was empty of trout (at least for me) and I waited around until the lone bait guy left the tree pool. He had caught one bow in his time there. I waded in and took 8 the last hour fishing to a pod of trout in the deepest part. A size 18 hotspot 18 inches below a micro shot did the trick.

We hear about bait and lure fishermen cleaning out rivers but over the years the vast majority of trout taken in this section are taken by fly fishers. I've seen two trout taken by other methods this year and that's not because of a lack of non fly fishers. Just an observation....

What I'd like to see is a stocking practice that scatters the fish on the Swift. Some years some sections have plenty of fish, the next year they are scarce. Again, an observation.

I've got the Millers on my Brain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ken

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Some Soft Hackles To Kill The Time



What's going on? A week ago we had only remnants of snow piles to deal with. Then a new storm comes through and dumps six inches on us with a cold blast that had preserved that snow. In the meantime we tie flies and I have soft hackles on the brain. Here are a few: A brown soft hackle is what I call it and it's a good early season soft hackle especially when Hendericksons start moving around. The color of this fly is perfect for that insect.

Hook - size 12 standard wet or dry hook
Body - brown floss(hard to find)or brown ultra fine dubbing.
Rib - copper or gold wire
Hackle - natural turkey flat tips. Place a SMALL bunch on top of the hook, points extending beyond the eye about 3/4 of the hook Shank. Secure to the hook and fold and tie back towards the tail. Trim butt ends and dub in a thorax if you want.

I included a photo of a worked over turkey flat.

The next is a generic Sulphur/Cahiill/any light color soft hackle.

Hook - size 12/14 standard wet or dry hook
Body - yellow floss
Hackle - light brown hen hackle (thorax is optional.

So, that's what I've been doing this week. Word has it that the Swift was stocked last week. I'll try it late tomorrow afternoon if it's not snowing!!!!!

Ken