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 28, 2015

Why I Fly Fish


"I think I fish, in part, because it's an antisocial, bohemian business that, when done properly, puts you forever outside the mainstream culture without actually landing you in an institution." John Gierach


What comes around goes around. For every action there's an equal and opposite reaction. If you're the only one on a section of the Swift one day you will be crowded off the river the next. At least I will be crowded off as I go to spots less traveled. The Sunday before Christmas it was like fishing my private river for the first two hours and hardly anyone after that. This past Saturday was a mob scene with Sunday very busy too. Everyone was at the PIPE and nobody was in my riffle section. Two bows came to the net and I lost another. Then I took a walk down to above Cady Lane where I made some long gentle casts to some skinny water rainbows. Two more came to the net. One has to LOOK for these fish. They are solitary like the fly fisher who was after them.

Fly fishing has never been a social event for me. Sure, I meet old and new friends on every trip, usually in the parking lot or on the path to somewhere and I value that. But I fish alone and that's 99% of the time. In the past five years I've GONE FLY FISHING with only three people, Brad, Bill and Christophe. They are solitary too. We fish, separated by some distance, with few words exchanged until the end of the day. We have a good time.

I'm beginning to think that fly fishing is becoming something like golf to many - totally social and driven by score cards. Fly Fishing competitions and fly fishing teams have metastasized on the landscape which is odd and strange because this is supposed to be the endeavor that we use to ESCAPE the workplace games that we play. I guess it's how we define ourselves - are we creations of our careers or is there something else inside?

There is hope!! A large and growing number of people that I guide do not want to fish crowded areas. "Show me the spots on the Swift that are not crowded" and we do that and we catch trout. Finding good spots is not a hard thing to do. It's a very easy task on the Millers and the EB.


Above is the new toy - A Swift River Company Sierra bamboo at 7.5 feet for a 4wt line. Paired to a 3wt DT and it's a charm. Check the website for Rick Taupier's company if you are in the market.

3 to 5 inches of snow tomorrow. Good time to fish the Swift!!

Ken

Thursday, December 24, 2015

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Fly-fishing is solitary, contemplative, misanthropic, scientific in some hands, poetic in others, and laced with conflicting aesthetic considerations. It is not even clear if catching fish is actually the point. JOHN GIERACH - Dances With Trout(1994)


Hope all of you have a safe and happy Holiday Season!!!!!

Ken

Monday, December 21, 2015

Almost Winter, Bamboo And Soft Hackle Flies

Perhaps fishing is, for me, only an excuse to be near rivers. If so, I'm glad I thought of it Roderick Haig-Brown A River Never Sleeps (1946)


Saturday was the first cold day of a balmy December and I believe that it may have caught the legends of Swift regulars off guard. I heard that Friday (a warm day) was packed and so was Saturday but when I drove past the Y Pool lot at 7am there was one car and nobody at the PIPE lot. I guess that after Saturdays tough conditions the idea of an early Sunday start wasn't too appealing. As it turned out I was the ONLY one fishing from the PIPE to the Tree Pool and back for the first two hours!!

Sunday was a bit of a mission. First it was to test out my 7 1/2 ft 4wt bamboo rod from the cane craftsman Rick Taupier of the Swift River Rod Company. I paired it with a 3wt DT to explore the range of this rod. It can throw the "undersized" line well over 30 feet which is the limit for this section of river. That's what bamboo does!! The second was to test out some new(er) flies after I threw on a size 16 partidge & orange to put some "bends" in this rod. Trout love that fly!! They also loved, but not as much, a mylar midge larva and a hot red sparkle midge that took trout but to a lesser degree. The real surprise was when I tied on a "veiled" soft hackle (midge flash tied in on top of the thorax and before the hackle) because the trout began to ignore that pellet hatch and keyed on that fly.

The fishing was good because I had a popular spot to myself and the rainbows were eager. I went into the double digits in the first hour and and took somewhere around two dozen when I left just short of four hours. Our friends the brookies are now pretty much done with this two month party that they have had. I caught none, just 'bows.

BTW, conditions were not that bad. The wind is the key. A windy 40 degree day is worse than a calm 30 degree day. Sunday morning wasn't anywhere near Saturday's conditions.

Ken

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Simple Dark Flies And A Word On Tying Thread

I fish because I love to; because I love the environs where trout are found, which are invariably beautiful... Robert Traver Anatomy of a Fisherman(1964)


A few posts ago contributor Joe C sent me a photo of a handsome Swift rainbow and told me to pay special attention to the fly that was hanging from it's jaw. "looks like a dark fly with black hackle" was my response and Joe said that that's exactly what it was: black dubbing and black hackle. And it didn't appear to be that small either. It got me thinking and then tying. It also brought me back to one of my favorite books: What Trout Want, The Educated Trout and Other Myths by Bob Wyatt. Wyatt wrote about the Black & Peacock which is exactly what it is: peacock and black hackle from sizes 10-20. Wyatt ties his with stiff hackle. Mine uses dark starling which is almost black but has that "glow" to it. It represents nothing and everything. A size 16 nailed bows and brookies on a recent trip to the swift. Wyatt called it the "little Black Dress" of trout flies. Maybe that makes it an attractor.

We should be taking advantage of the great selection of very thin and very strong threads out there. I use 12/0 thread for all flies from size 14 through 20 and then drop down to 17/0 for the rest of the sizes. The reason is simple. The less bulk the better.
Veevus makes an array of colors down to 16/0 which isn't necessary. Uni-Thread goes to 17/0 but comes in only white but the white is changed to any color with a chisel point sharpie. I use black and brown exclusively and color the white thread by unwinding a foot of it on top of a paper towel and then running the sharpie over it. Works like a charm.

It has just occurred to me that this may be the first product endorsement in the history of this blog. That gets me thinking of doing some reviews of products that I consider worthless, of bad design or a waste of money. Maybe in 2016......

Ken

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ways Not To Play And Land A Trout

A trout's brain is very small. It is sometimes said that dry-fly fishermen "pit their brains against those of the trout". No-one has ever leveled a bigger insult at us. Dermot Wilson - Fishing The Dry Fly



This past season I guided two anglers who took too long to land a trout. Both hooked a trout and then began to lower their rod off to the side, one side and then the other. The trout swam around at will and after what seems FOREVER the fish came to the net. A third angler did the same but lost the trout and fly and tippet to a sunken Millers dead fall. That's what happens when you play with your fish instead of PLAYING your fish!!

I haven't a clue how this weird technique metastasized but it is totally unnecessary. Your goal it to bring the trout to the net as quickly as you can without breaking the tippet if you really believe in proper catch and release.

Let's say you hook a trout. It's first action will be to move AWAY from the PULL that you induce and to go deep. FORCE THE TROUT TO THE SURFACE where it doesn't want to be. It will begin thrashing about and EXPEND far more energy than letting it swim around at will. USE YOUR ROD to make this happen. Don't bend your rod into a candy cane shape but raise your rod arm enough to make the rod bend from the tip into the mid section of the butt. Your rod, acting like a fulcrum, will flex to every surge the trout attempts and it will be like a weight being pulled. Maybe your reel and it's drag system might even get into play. Get that fish thrashing up on the surface, in that half water, half air zone and it will tire quickly. You will net it, take a quick photo WITHOUT YOUR MITTS ON THE FISH, and then release it.

I saw a video of this weird and unnecessary technique. It showed someone hooking and landing a trout while going side to side in a low sweeping matter. It was easy to TIME the video from hook set to landing and that took 2 minutes and 12 seconds ( a long playing) BUT buried in the video were THREE video breaks of undetermined length. Why do we have video breaks? Usually because the scene is taking too long. Three, four, five minutes or longer?? Conclusion: the trout was played out toooo long. Lesson: use the appropriate sized tippet (not too light), elevate the rod, and Play the fish and not PLAY with the fish. It's best for the trout!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Almost Winter And Some Winter Flies

"Fishermen are born honest, but they get over it" Ed Vern TO HELL WITH FISHING (1945)


Yes, The thermometer will hit 60 this weekend and next week will feel like the first week of April but we are just lucky. Winter will arrive soon enough and we will spend more time at the vise than we did all Summer.

I'm working up flies that seem to fish better from December through March for fishing the Swift. My Swift River Scud, a more trim and less bushy version of the standard tie, tops my list.


Another fly that works well in the cold is the Swift Serindipity. This version skips the deer hair wing and goes with white turkey flats instead. The body is kevlar in your choice of color. Red work best.


Hot Spots have been with me for close to 10 years. When I first developed this fly I searched the internet to see if the style existed or if the name was already used. No on both counts. Now there are a zillion hot spot variations. The contrasting color really works and you heard it here first!!

San Juan Worms can be a game changer in the Winter and don't forget any and all larvae patterns especially for the Pipe. Winter caddis skitter across the Y Pool on any winter day when the Temperature hits 40+.

Start tying.



Monday, December 7, 2015

A Chilly Start To A Good Sunday And more Conventional Wisdom Debunked

There doesn't have to be a thousand fish in a river. let me locate a good one and I'll get a thousand dreams out of him before I catch him and if I catch him I'll turn him loose. Jim Deren, Proprietor of the legendary Angler's Roost.


Weather Underground said that the temperature would hit 60 on Sunday which meant that there would be a jump of 38 degrees from 7:30 to mid day. "Good Luck" I thought to myself as I rubbed the seasons first ice from the guides. The lower Swift River (below RT 9) is a shaded river, a joy to fish during the heat of Summer, unlike the beach conditions found above RT 9, but a chilly place during the dark months. The reverse is true during the Winter where a 35 degree day is pleasant as you cast for trout chasing winter caddis at the Y Pool.

The short trip today was to work out a 6 foot bamboo rod with a 2 wt line and catch some trout in the 1.5 hours that I had. I did both as the little rod laid out short casts, long casts and everything in between. Again it was the #16 partridge and orange that did the trick and those rainbows could not subdue that cane rod. Will I start using this rod more than I have? Yes, but it's short length will make it a Swift River rod and only when the river is flowing low. It will not see the Millers or the EB but it will see the Middle Branch next Spring.

Now for the myth killing segment of this blog. Conventional Wisdom, almost always wrong, states that you fly fishers better get to the PIPE before New Years Day (the regulation change) because the bait boys will clean the place out in no time. This nugget has survived from year to year despite little or no evidence. If you would like EVIDENCE that this is garbage then take a stroll through the past years that have been carefully recorded on this blog. You will see that fish were caught throughout the Winter in this section. Here's what happens below RT 9 in the Winter:

1.The bait guys clobber the trout in the SPRING and not in January. The Spring trout are freshly stocked and DUMB. The January trout have been in the river since they were stocked either in October or July. They have wised up as witness to the equation that 10% of the fly fishermen catch 90% of the trout right up to New Years Eve. And now we are expected to believe that worms and powerbait suddenly become more successful? Hardly! It's true that bait fishermen who stand by the PIPE will catch fish just like fly fishermen do because that's the EASIEST spot on the whole river. Not a lot of skill required.

2. I've gone down to that section in early January and have seen NOBODY fishing and only a few tracks along the shore but I could see trout! I've never seen the "blood stained snow" that is always mentioned.

3. Last year was the first year that I remember the parking area being plowed. I will not tempt fate by trying to go in there if the snow is deep. I'll drive around to the other side and walk across the field if the flow allows me to cross over. That said it's easy to park in the Y Pool lot and go upstream.

4. 250 CFS is very fishable above RT 9 but a torrent down by the Gauge and the Pipe. We have had a few winter torrents in the past 10 years. Best to go upstream.

Last winter sucked above and below RT 9. Maybe the same thing will happen this year or maybe the lower section will be good as in some seasons past. One thing is for sure: the same old story will be circulated again next year.

Ken


Friday, December 4, 2015

Falsecast Started It - The Alchemy of Bamboo And A Good Swift Morning

The skill of the early artisans who made split bamboo rods was amazing. They contrived tools to make sections of bamboo so perfectly uniform that at the tip of the rod the cross section might be as small as a sixteenth on an inch, yet each of the six bamboo sections was identical Lee Wulff, The Atlantic Salmon


I blame frequent commentator "Falsecast" for starting this whole thing. My November 20 post led with a discussion about graphite and fiberglass. He chimed in with a question on whether bamboo may be overrated as a rod building material. I gave my pros and cons but spoke of the beauty of bamboo. That started the ball rolling or better said, that started the double haul to my present state. I've spent the past week taking out my two bamboo rods that haven't seen the light of day in months. Put them together, flex them around my fish room, take them apart, clean the ferrules and then do it all over again. I had to fish them and fish them soon..Today was the day.

Which one - the 7ft 3 inch rod made from an Orvis blank or the Paul Young "reconstructed" rod standing at 6 feet? The longer rod won so we started working the Swift together this morning.

The rod matched perfectly to my 3wt double taper and with the #16 partridge and orange selection. A long story short - we broke into the double digits within two hours with bows taking that swinging fly 2 to 1 over the brookies. At the end the soft hackle came off for a #20 micro egg which produced a 50-50 split between the above mentioned species. But the real pleasure was feeling the gentle flex of that cane and seeing the rod respond with the classic bend of a fighting fish.

Why did I forget these rods? They always worked well in the past. Maybe because I may leave a graphite rod or four in my vehicle but would NEVER leave a bamboo rod in the car to be stolen. So into the house they go to be forgotten as was the case. No longer will that happen. Fish them, protect them and then fish them again. Maybe a New Years Resolution is in the making - fish cane in 2016.

I have my eye on a third rod to join the team. Thanks Falsecast for igniting the fuse. I mean THANK YOU!

The thermometer may kiss 60 degrees Sunday. You have no excuse unless you fished today or on Saturday!!

Ken

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

What Is An Attractor Fly And December Fishing

"Trout are quite unaware of their exalted status" Harold Blaisdell, The Philosophical Fisherman (1969)


The "Attractor Fly" has been with us for decades and is not the invention of the early 1980's as I once saw proclaimed online. The Mickey Finn, shown above, was created by John Alden Knight in the 1930's and Mary Orvis Marbury invented the Royal Coachman in the late 1800's. Both flies are called attractors because they stand out in the water due to their color combinations. All aquatic life forms exhibit some form of camouflage to survive but not these critters. They are not meant to represent any life form because no life form could survive being eaten by being dressed out in gaudy colors!

Why do trout attack attractors? Aggression and the chance to eat something may be the simple answer. Lets say that Mr. Rainbow is holding next to a rock. Henderickson nymphs are becoming active on the bottom with emergence a day or so away and Mr. Rainbow picks them off as they move by. He's quite familiar with these nymphs and all others in this stream so when a size 12 Royal Coachman wet fly (any gaudy fly will do) with it's snow white wings and orange barred tail comes drifting by he sees it. He's probably never seen anything like this before. What will he do? First off, he's not threatened by the size of the fly. Second, it's now in "his" space so he will attack this strange thing and swallow it if he can. He responds to this fly differently than he would respond to a drifting nymph.


Now comes the battle as to what flies are attractor flies and which are not. I have a simple definition: if your fly has an important element of its construction that makes it truly stand out in the aquatic world then you are fishing an attractor fly. It is a fly that doesn't represent any species because NO SPECIES could live and survive without blending in. An example of a fly that blends in would be the traditional soft hackle fly and an example of a fly that doesn't blend in would be any bead head. Yes, a bead head is an attractor by my definition. If a species of nymph lived in the Swift that had a bright,shiny, gold or silver bulb on the top of it's head it would be on the road to extinction.

What about dry flies? It's funny how many writers call the stimulator an attractor fly when it does so well in June during stonefly time and in Summer during hopper time. It's a good match for those insects.

The rest of the dry fly theory I will leave for another time.

It's time to wring out the last few hours of your 2015 fishing licence. All the rivers are flowing at a perfect level and there are fish to be caught. I still have some openings.....

Ken

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Favorite Styles Of Fly Fishing

For this form of fishing (with a sunken fly) the rod is no longer a shooting machine but a receiving post, with super-sensitive antennae, capable of registering immediately the slightest reaction of the fish to the fly - Charles Ritz, A Fly Fisher's Life


First off, I hate weight!! Be it wire or beads (really hate beads) I try my best to avoid it. Granted, there are times when it is necessary especially in the cold, deep flows of early Spring when nothing is hatching. When fishing the EB or the Millers under these conditions the weight is built into the fly. When fishing the Swift it is almost NEVER built in but attached in the form of a micro shot a foot or more above the fly. Why is that? Most of my Swift fishing is done below Rt. 9 where the river is more fertile and produces more weed beds than above Rt. 9. Weighted flies will pick up weeds. When fishing a fly and shot combo it's the micro shot that will pick up weeds as the fly rides just above the weeds which is where you want it. When fishing the Swift I'm almost always fishing some kind of emerging pattern micro shot or not. If I see surface activity starting it's easy to ditch the shot and fish the fly higher in the water than yanking off the bead head for something more sensible.

Second, I don't like bottom dredging but know that it has it's time and place. This includes high sticking and/or Czech nymphing. I find both forms to be situational: a nice run that's within 10 feet of me requires the above approach but I wouldn't apply the same technique to most situations like I've seen over the past few years. Remember, you spent big bucks for that long, lightweight casting machine and I don't believe it was meant to be used like an ice fishing jigging rod!

Third, I live for the Dry Fly! In 2009 I fished the EB from Memorial Day through Labor Day without going subsurface once and did very well and it's been pretty much the same since then. The same goes for the Millers. In fact, I enjoy dry fly fishing on the EB and the Millers (and the Squannacook) more than on the Swift. Why is that? The Swift, especially below the Pipe, has rising trout all year long and I've done well with tiny flies but I know that I'm floating over MANY rising trout on every cast. Many will refuse my dry on every cast for one reason or another but then one takes it. One gets the feeling that its more of a game of chance or whether or not you got there before anyone else did to have the best position. On freestones you are not going to have the concentrations of fish like the Swift. It's going to be YOU vs.THE TROUT and you have to not screw up the cast or drift because some dumb brookie two feet below that wise old brown isn't going to save the day for you. It's a different game and I like it! My favorite dry fly stretch on the Swift is_________. Not lots of fish but enough to keep me occupied.

Ken

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Trout That Didn't Stand A Chance And Happy Thanksgiving!

Every day I see the head of the largest trout I ever hooked, but did not land.-Theodore Gordon (1914)


Strange things happen. My client was drifting a size 20 micro egg through some skinny riffles when he hooked a train that tore off upstream and downstream. It was BIG but something was wrong. I could see from the fight and and placement of the line that the brute was foul hooked in the back but the amazing thing was that it was still on. How could a size 20 hook, embedded in the broad back of a trout, still be there.?

Here's the answer. Someone, fishing some kind of black coneheaded strip leech pattern, hooked the trout in the back and broke him off. Our fly got snagged in the conehead portion of the fly. So, If you were fishing the Swift below the gauge and using that fly the one that got away was over 20 inches and at least three pounds!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Make it a safe one and maybe I'll see you on the EB on Friday!!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Skinny Water Setup For The Swift And Some December Dates.

"Elmer's most favored flies are uncomplicated and impressionistic: a few turns of thread or dubbing can often go a long way"
From Swift River, Ma. The Lost Valley's Tailwater by Christophe Perez in Eastern Fly Fishing Magazine, January/February 2014


I love this low flow on the Swift. It makes you hunt for the trout and stalking is the name of the game. A few posts back I mentioned how the shadow of a person walking along the bank fell on the "thin" water and sent the trout running for cover. The ripples from careless wading will do the same thing and so will your fly line hitting the water when fish are in less than five inches of water. That low water condition is all over the lower Swift (not the pipe or the tree pool of course) and I needed a system to be successful.

First, a 15ft salmon/steelhead leader tapered to 4x with an additional 5ft of 5x was looped to my 2wt Triangle Taper line. Here comes the fun part - This line was mounted to a 10ft 4 WEIGHT Grey's rod!!!!! It's the longest trout rod that I have. Would this rig work?? It worked like a dream. First, the full flex Grey cast that 20ft of leader without a problem. When I put 15 feet of fly line beyond the rod tip everything worked fine - my midge larvae pattern fell on the water like dust!!

Before you say that I'm doing a French/Spanish nymph thing notice that I'm not relying on bead heads to propel my line like they do. Any weighted fly would be dragged through the moss under these conditions. Actually I'm getting sick of bead heads and only fish them when I need to get DOWN. I like flies "in the drift"!


Brook trout were holding in water that barely covered their backs. Bows were holding below them with their backs exposed!! I didn't want to be within 25 ft of these fish and this setup made that possible. I took bows and brookies with a very simple larvae pattern: size 20 to 24 scud hook, brown thread from the bend to the thorax for the body, a few strands of midge flash for a wing stub and finishing with a black head of black thread. Wicked simple, wicked effective.

Soon I'll have some thoughts on rod and line weights. That will be fun.

November has actually been a nice month weather wise and the fishing has been good. We had some good days in December last year which ended when the Ice Age started in January. A 45 degree day in December is like a 45 degree day in April so book a date. Deposits are never required so if the weather turns bad we can cancel. As simple as that!

Ken

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fiberglass And Graphite: A Short History And A Good Morning On The Swift.

My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things-trout as well as eternal salvation-come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy. NORMAN MACLEAN -A River Runs Through It



I met a young guy on the Swift last year who said that he was interested in buying one of those NEW fiberglass rods that are being offered. I mentioned how more companies seem to be getting BACK into the fiberglass business and he seemed puzzled. That's because he wasn't even born when graphite swept fiberglass aside over 40 years ago. It was a new material to him. Here's a brief history and a personal opinion.

Bamboo ruled the fishing rod business until just after World War ll. Bamboo came in all grades and sizes. Some were junk and some were treasures but they all had a certain limitation - 8 ft was the maximum length for a easy casting trout fly rod and that rod topped out with a 6 wt.(sometimes a 5 wt) fly line. The "odd" length of 7 1/2 ft was an American invention to make the lightest long rod possible. It stopped there.

Then came fiberglass and the mass producers of bamboo rods were doomed. Fiberglass was cheap, very strong and lighter than bamboo in most cases. Now, some fiberglass rods were also junk but some companies really ran with this material and made very good rods. Fenwick was one of them. Up until the late 1960's glass rod makers used metal ferrules just like the bamboo boys. Then Fenwick invented the SLIP ON ferrule (feralite) and that was a real game changer. In my opinion it was the most significant improvement in the manufacturing of rods EVER!!! Less weight and no dead spots!! But fiberglass still had it's design limits. increased length = increased weight was the main one. The best fiberglass rods for fly fishing for trout topped out at 7 1/2 ft.

My first quality fly rod was a 7 ft Fenwick FF70 for a 5 wt line. I caught a ton of trout with it under ALL conditions and actually thought that I may never need another rod (HAHA). Then came GRAPHITE!

There are certain times in ones life where one experiences something that is far greater than anything experienced before. My first cast of a graphite rod did that. It was 8 1/2 ft 5 wt that was the same weight as the above mentioned Fenwick. IT WAS SOOO LIGHT!! It loaded like a dream and shot line like a cannon. An added feature of that rod length was that now I could cast above tall bank side grass and shrubs, an act not done successfully with a shorter rod. In short order we were introduced to 9 ft and 10 ft rods and 4 wts and 3 wts. That's when things got crazy and that's for another post.

How does fiberglass stack up to graphite? It doesn't and that's my humble opinion. Fiberglass rod makers still run up against the 8 ft barrier (even with rod design improvements) but will charge you more than 10 times what I paid for that Fenwick 40 years ago and that Fenwick still casts the same as newer models. I still occasionally take out that Fenwick for a few casts on the Swift but it's retired and replaced by better things.

Ken

A very good Friday morning on the Swift getting Brooks and Bows on size 20 to 24 larvae patterns in less than 5 inches of water. I'll write about it later.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Midge Heaven And More Conventional Wisdom Exposed And Lost Glasses


The Swift has been very productive especially down below Rt 9 and right now it's a given that you will have sipping trout below the pipe on any given day. This past summer I explained that the phenomenal surface active was the result of the hatchery discharge. This nutrient laden water adds to the insect life and midge species in particular. In fact, it is also reasonable to assume that the midge population might actually come from the hatchery itself and from the settling ponds in particular.

So, what do you use? Soft hackles of course in sizes 16 and 18! No gnarly bead heads unless you want to be picking moss off your fly on every other cast. Just drift these flies two or three inches below the surface in that shallow flow for success.

We fished micro eggs (18 and 20) with success and capped off a good day with an 18 to 20 inch 2 lb plus rainbow that inhaled a size 28 midge larvae. That leads us to the question: "It's Fall. How come you're not fishing streamers?" Answer: there's a hundred trout working the surface and probably double that feeding just a few inches below. They're feeding on small insects so that's what we are using. The Conventional Wisdom says that in the Fall trout want to stock up for the long winter ahead so you begin to hear stories about "put'n on the feed bag" and monster streamers. It just isn't true according to Tom Rosenbauer in his "Secrets of Fall Trout Fishing". Rosenbauer cites that biologists have found that trout feed less in the Fall then they do in May and June. As water temperatures drop the metabolism of trout drops meaning they will require LESS food. There may be a feeding spike in September as the heat of summer begins to wane but once the water drops below 50 degrees feeding decreases.

Trout are opportunists and will generally go for the food source that is most prevalent and the easiest to catch. Small flies on the Swift were the ticket yesterday. Would a streamer have worked? Remember,'bows have been inhaling 2 to 5 inch brookies all summer long so a streamer would of worked but maybe not as well as in June.

I like small flies anyway.

Eye glasses were found by the Pipe. See comments for getting them back.

Kwn

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Comparadun - My Favorite Dry Fly Pattern And Fish This Weekend


We can thank the Fran Betters for creating the basics for this style of tying and Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi getting it out to the masses. They created the Comparadun pattern, a hackle-less dry fly in the early 1970's that sent the traditional hackled Catskill style of flies on a downward slide in popularity and basically took over my fly boxes! It is the style of dry fly that I have used to catch 90% of the rising trout that I have caught. (hoppers, beetles and a few Wulff patterns are all of the hackled flies that I use and not that often)


One can go online and easily find the pattern and materials used but the main ingredient is the wing material. The fine hair from a deer mask is the most popular. I've heard that the hair from a Florida coastal deer is great but I've never used it. Shoeshoe Hare's foot fur also works although it doesn't give us the nice sharp profile that deer hair does. (that's why I can't stand the "Usual", a truly ugly fly)
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Deer mask and snowshoe hare work great from sizes 12 through 18. CDC is a great wing material for this style in sizes 20 and under. Now, why does this pattern work? These wing materials know how to float and the allow the body of the fly (the most important part) to ride down in the surface and not be obscured by wraps of hackle. It's simplicity allows it to represent any mayfly from early season Hendricksons to late season BWO's in the dun stage.


This style works great for emerger patterns as demonstrated in Bob Wyatt's great book "What Trout Want: The Educated Trout And Other Myths".

Most of my Millers Trout over the decades that rose to one of my offerings rose to an olive comparadun in Sizes 14 through 18. Same for the EB. I tie the emerger patterns on small scud hooks without tailing material.

Note: when tying very small dry flies (28-32) keep your bodies SPARSE. Too much material means too much weight and water absorption plus too much material gives your flies that "squashed bug" look. Remember, size and profile are what counts. Thread or fine quill will do the job.

Google up "Comparadun" and view the hundreds of photos and videos. I don't post videos by others on this site. It's a boundary thing I guess but I will direct you to them.

This weekend - all systems are "GO". All the rivers are as good as they are going to get. Go for it!!!

Ken

P.S. Click the fly photos for a close up view.

Monday, November 9, 2015

2015: Rating The Three Rivers


It's time to rate the three rivers: the EB, the Millers and the Swift as we do every year. Ok, the season isn't over yet but with the clocks being turned back our time on the water has been greatly reduced. It is a time to reflect at bit. Now, this is not a popularity contest nor does it pit one river against another. The best way to describe this exercise is to compare each river to what it has been historically. Did this season measure up to or exceed the previous seasons or was it an off year. I think I have enough years on the three to have fun with this. Here it is:


Third Place is the Swift: "What, are you crazy?? It's the F'n Swift you're talking about!!!". Yes, I can hear it now from the devotees but shake off the amnesia and think back to last Winter and Spring. Winter was always a productive time on this river but not 2015. The trout were GONE, period! Nor was the Spring with a steady 220 cfs flow that made it a playground for the bait boys. Then the State appeared to forget that the river existed and stocking was delayed or all we got was a handout while places like Jamaica Pond got photo opt stockings. Finally July and it's regulation changes came around and everything was nice but not nice enough to make up for the worst seasonal start that I've ever witnessed. It could of been better.

Second Place is the Millers: A great start for this river occurred last Spring as the flows stayed manageable and the trout were willing. And then Spring rolled into Summer that the Millers was still getting it done. Evenings were great and I was hoping that we would not be hit by a Summer flood that would blow the river out for a month. Instead the watershed got slammed by a brutal drought. Yes, I still had some surface action in late July and early August but by then I decided to give the place a break. It's fishing well now as the reports coming to me indicate. Overall it was a better year then most over the last five years. It was a good year on the Millers.

FIRST PLACE IS THE EB: This place just never stopped producing this season even when you take out the Fall stockings. Last May I predicted that the overload of brook trout stocked that month would croak by mid July but that wasn't the case. They rose to the fly right through August. Bows and browns stayed for the Summer too. It was not the epic year of 2009 but it wasn't far off. It was my favorite place to be in 2015.


Friday, November 6, 2015

The Zebra Worm


On a December 10 2013 post I showed a new style of tying the time worn San Juan Worm. I got over two dozen comments about the style where instead of tying the chenille in the middle of the hook shank I tied it in at the head of the fly which avoided the ends folding over themselves which ANY worm would not do. The "worm" dangles in the current and attracts trout. It works.

Now lets look at playing with this puppy. All SJW's have one color. How about 2 or 3??

Here's the ZEBRA WORM!

Take a foot of ultra thin chenille (any color you want) and wrap it around a pencil in tight wraps.

Take a water proof SHARPIE (of contrasting color, mine is pink chenille with a brown sharpie) and mark up the chenille on opposite sides.


Pull the chenille off of the pencil and start tying!! There are too many color combinations to mention and we get to see what combinations work for our friends the trout. Tie it my way or the traditional way. I think it will work!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Charlie On The Squannie And A Weekend Update.



Here's a note from Charlie Shadan of the Evening Sun Fly Shop:

Ken,
I fished the Squann. on Tues. 11/3/15.I caught my biggest rainbow of the year 16 1/2" and 2 browns also.The weather was magical and the experience was a "memory"!!!! There are sippers all along the river and stealth is important in approaching them.One cast is all you'll get if you make a mistake say goodbye to that fish.The water temp. is in the 40's and the fish are there for the pursuing--notice I did not say for the "taking"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Call me if you need more info on my day.Thank you for all that you do for me.
Regards,
Chaz

The key words are "sippers" and "stealth". I'll be joining Charlie next week to revisit my old stomping grounds. In the meantime you should visit this river if you haven't been there in a while and if you have never been there stop in at Evening Sun and get Charlies map of the river.

We are experiencing a true "Indian Summer" with temperatures in the 60's for the next week and no rain in the forecast till next Wednesday. All rivers are perfect including the Millers with the best action being at mid day. In fact, this kind of weather will bring out the BWO's on the Millers in swarms. The same may be true for the EB. BTW, last weeks 1400 flow scattered the pods of trout and now you really have to fish for them. I did have some success with a small marabou streamer in a size 12. White marabou below the shank, green above the shank and grey on the top. It looks like those two inch long emerald sided shiners that are all over that river.

And the Swift.....Check out the brookies above Rt.9. As many as last year and they seem bigger. We've always had brook trout in that river but the last 5 years have been amazing. One thing that I've noticed is that the brookies seem to be building their redds not in the middle of the stream but along the sides leaving safe passage for anglers or for anyone who wants to witness this event.

Go Fish!

Ken

Monday, November 2, 2015

Follow The Leader And A Squannacook Thank You


Two clients and I were moving in closer to casting range of a group of spawning brookies in the long flat below the gauge. Our steps were small with no ripples in the water. Just then a fly fisher came walking down the path to the Pipe. His shadow hit the water for a second and those brookies scattered. At a 46cfs flow that is all that it takes for trout to sound the alarm. These conditions have caused me to lengthen my leaders. My 9ft leaders became 12ft leaders and my 12 ft leaders have become 15ft leaders. They're still tipped with 5x for subsurface action which the trout don't seem to mind and the fly line (the real culprit when it comes to spooking trout) is far enough away to be of no concern. Now I'm working 20 ft plus leaders into the mix. Don't get brave and think that you have to build these from scratch because you don't. I bought a 9 ft 1x leader, cut off a foot of tippet to make it 8 ft. Then I attached 5ft of 3x, 4ft of 4x and then 3ft of 5x. I built in a 12 inch "sighter" of florescent yellow backing material into one of them but haven't bothered using it since they work well without them.

My next step will be to go buy some 16ft, 1x salmon leaders so I can take this game to its limit. This is a "Swift Rig" or pond rig as long as the wind isn't blowing.


The Swift has been fishing great and the Millers has just started to come down from last Wednesday's rain. The rains moved the EB trout out of their pods to the point where some very skilled fishermen got totally blanked this past weekend. Some questioned whether the river was actually stocked!! I referred them to this blog. Anyway, hit the EB this week and the Millers too because the flows will be good (sub 400 cfs on the Millers by Wednesday) and the weather great.

Charlie from Evening Sun gave me a call to tell me of the readers of this blog who have come in to tell him that the Squannie is receiving some good press instead of no press at all. He appreciates this uptick in interest. Also, I've been getting a very good amount of comments and emails about a lot of our rivers especially the Stillwater. KEEP IT COMING!!!!!!!

Charlie and I will be hitting the Squannacook or the EB this month if we can somehow find the time.

Keep fishing!!!

Ken

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Watching The Gauges And The "Dark Season"



It poured all night but I resisted the temptation to check the river gauges until the usual wake up time of 4:30. Guess what - things don't look too bad out there. My little Mill River here in Northampton is in flood stage but the EB (15 miles away as the crow flies)is in the high 800's. It may go up some more this morning but the rain has ended and that means the flow will go down. You'll be fishing the EB this weekend.

The Swift dropped BEFORE the storm and is now at my favorite flow. The Squannacook and Quinapoxet Rivers both got a shot in the arm and now have flows that are near seasonal averages for these streams. I'm hoping for a trip to the Squannie before Thanksgiving.

The Millers - still going up as of this morning so it needs watching. I don't want those two browns on Tuesday evening to be my last surface action for the season on this river. Hopefully the flow will stay south of 500 cfs.


Saturday night we do it. We turn back the clocks on another glorious Spring/Summer/early Fall season and enter the "Dark Season". The EB and the Millers will freeze over leaving only the Swift to ply our craft. And the best time of Summer, our wonderful, sublime evenings will be a memory. No more late afternoon trips to the river for the evening rise and then fishing till dark in shirt sleeves. WINTER SUCKS!!! Now maybe we will have a January thaw and we know that the sap begins to run in February. Then before you know it we turn the clocks AHEAD in March and start thinking of Hendricksons!!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Weather Reports, River Reports And Some Fly Tying Advice


First off, we are set for some major rain by mid week. By major rain I mean in the 2 to 3 inch range which is REALLY needed in places like the EB to bust up those pods of trout, to get the salmon running in places like the Stillwater and the WB of the Swift, to get some good flow in places like the Squannacook and the Quinnapoxet and to LOWER the flow in the Swift!! And we will have to keep an eye on the Millers. Fish that river in the next two days before the rain if you can.

Second, about a week or so ago I mentioned filling the vacuum and plans for reporting on the Squannacook in the future. That resulted in a rush of emails and comments about a LOT of rivers. Could it be that there are a group of die hard flyfishers who ply the freestones and don't retreat to the safety of the Swift? I've met them on the EB and the Millers but it appears that each river has it's dedicated core of fly fishers. I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!! I don't want any state secrets, no GPS landing spots, just an "after the fact" summary of your hours on that river. The readers of this blog will appreciate it.


Third, we all love thin wire for ribbing and the thinner the better. Years ago someone gave me a small transformer with it's two sizes of wire. One size, the bigger of the two, was of no use BUT the other was exactly what I needed. I don't know the gauge but it's about the thickness of 8/0 tying thread. THAT'S PERFECT. If I need a thicker piece I just fold it over and it works fine. How much wire do I have? Well, I was given that transformer in 1992! I use it all of the time and I haven't used half of it yet. Now I'm sure that you may have some toasted electronic devices hanging around. Before you send it to the recycling center you should pop the hood and recycle it yourself.

Ken