Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The End Of March - Just Like The Old Days And Some Practical Advice

Took a walk down to the PIPE today and saw one flyfisher who said that he had a zero and didn't see a trout. Two others before him had the same tale. I've seen this guy at the EB and he can catch trout so if he can't bring something to the net.....

This season is reminding me of the days when Massachusetts had an opening day of the third Saturday in April. You couldn't fish and the conditions in late March just seemed to be full of snow, ice and cold weather. Things would break and break hard by mid April and it was a given that the Saturday BEFORE opening day would be in the 70's and Quill Gordons would fill the air. One week later it would be wet, cold and the streams would be in flood condition. I remember fishing one small stream that I would never mention on opening day while standing in knee deep snow.

Maybe we've been in a warm spell of a decade or so. Five years ago I was taking trout on dries on the Millers on the last weekend of March. Actually this season may reset things, even for the Swift.

Lee Wulff, one of the original great thinkers concerning trout and salmon fishing, had this to say about reels and rods. He once mentioned that the greatest advancement in fly reel design was NOT the disc drag but the EXPOSED RIM! The exposed rim gave you instant, adjustable drag control by just applying pressure with your FINGER. You could let go and free spool or break off 1X quickly by finger pressure. He was sooo right and you didn't have the additional weight of disc components added to your reel. He was writing about trout fishing and not blue water stuff of course but wait a minute. He landed a sailfish on a single action S/A reel so all bets are off!!!!

Lee on Rods - Wulff said that the second most important "drag" component that a fly fisher has is the FLY ROD. A rod creates drag by resisting a fish's run by BENDING (it's a lever) and then releasing the bend when the fish slowed down. The line going through the guides is also creating addition drag and that will tire the trout. Allowing the rod to work as a drag and backing this up with a good click and pawl reel all that you need on a trout stream. No real reason to worry about busting tippets if you know what you're doing and click and pawl reels sound sooo great when a trout does rip line!!! Skeptical?? Then how does Tenkara work without a reel? It's a long limber rod that absorbs the runs and dashes of a trout!!!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The "Evening Rise" - Plan Your Day Around It And a River Update

Ok, I want to talk about late Spring and Summer which seems soooo far away on this late March day where we are getting giddy because the temperature got above 40 degrees. I want to talk about the "Evening Rise", that magical time of late day when the sun begins to cast long shadows over the pools and runs of our favorite streams. The birds begin to swoop and drive for the spinner stage of insects that may have hatched just a day or so before. As the gloom of twilight and then darkness settles in the stream is alive with rising trout and the patient fly rodder will be rewarded. It's been that way on New England freestone rivers forever. It was that way on the Squannacook River back in the 70's and the Millers from the 80's onward. Count the EB in this group too. The evening is the witching hour!!


One wonders how much real aquatic knowledge is being dispensed here. The term Evening Rise is over a hundred years old and is of the Catskill tradition. Those knowledgeable old timers knew that it was a fools game to be out at noon, in July, when the temperature was 85 degrees. They waited till the evening when insects, trout and people feel the most comfortable. What do I mean by that? Doug Swisher and Carl Richards, the authors of the great book SELECTIVE TROUT, said just that. In the Spring and Fall the best time of day for humans is mid day. That happens to be when most insects are hatching during those seasons. The temperatures are right for us. The trout like it because that's when the food (insects) are most active. In mid Summer the mid day sun can be too uncomfortable for humans. It's also a time when you don't see much aquatic insect activity. The trout aren't doing much either except going after a beetle or two. But the game changes as the light levels diminish and the air begins to cool. That's when you see aquatic insects and feeding trout.

Why the confusion when the answer has been in the fly fishing literature for many decades? I think the answer is that some are confusing one type of river with another. Go to a bottom release tailwater and you can catch trout all day regardless of the air temperatures. Go to Montana and fish on a hot July day and you may still be fishing snow melt. It's not the Northeast where the rules are different.

This season when someone "in the know" says that you should wait until the Fall stocking to fish a certain river just smile and get out to that favorite pool or run at 7:30 and wait for the action. The guy "in the know" will not be there. Neither will many others. You'll have the shadows, the insects and the trout to yourself. I've been doing this for decades.


P.S. Try 4:00 am in early July on the Millers. More rising trout than I could count and it was all over by 5:30 when the sun was bright in the morning sky!

P.P.S. I forgot, the update. Talk to you in April!!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Not So Famous Streams

I took a chance to drive to where last weeks 50 degree day had little or no effect. It's still February where I went. This stream has a name but I'm not going to divulge it. You will hear enough about the BIG THREE as the season goes on but this place can't take an onslaught. There are places on the EB and Millers where NOBODY fishes and we will get into those places soon enough.

This place - Native brookies and some native browns make up the mix with a small stocking from the DFW. It's stocked??? Heaven help us but in the last five years that I've fished this stream I have seen NOBODY!!!!! It is truly under fished and in a beautiful spot that will let you dream about meandering streams somewhere in the foothills. Note: you are in the foothills!!

Small stream tactics mean a lot here. Dump the idea of 40 foot casts and selective trout sipping insects that one may think don't exist. You can work this water quartering downstream with nymph/soft hackle but the most fun is to work upstream with a dry fly, blanket casting every likely holding spot.

I said that a few Spring days hadn't broken Winter's grip here and it hasn't. Snow is still over a foot deep a few yards from the stream edge and cakes of ice over two feet thick dot the shore line. Some spots looked inviting but even though I had waders, boots,rods reels and flies I decided to give those survivors a break. It's been a hard Winter for everything.

This is a rural Massachusetts spot never found by sightseers or maybe even fly fishers. It's a gem. I will not advertise this spot BUT I will bring someone here if they what a secret spot.


P.S. The photos were taken today, March 20 which happens to be the first (partial) day of Spring. That was this morning and now at 2:20 pm it's snowing!! What a Winter!!!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Just a few photos from yesterday.

The top of the EB road. Five feet of snow plowed up at the beginning and a road covered with 2+ feet of snow beyond. It will be a while!!

A secret eastern Berkshire stream still covered with snow and ice. Thje few open areas were not there a week ago. Things are getting better.

Some small stonefly nymphs tied on scud hooks. The rubber legs that I had were too large for this pattern so I substituted some black floss with a tiny bit of super glue on the ends so the don't unravel. Some were tied without the glue to see if they worked when they unravel.

Always experiment!!!

Almost forgot - here's my small stream experiment. A 6ft, two tip bamboo that blasts out a 4wt like a rocket. Maybe too much like a rocket. Maybe a triangle 3wt would be a better fit.



Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Season Delayed - Time To Explore

Brad said it was a slow slog up to the Y Pool on Wednesday when the temperature kissed 50 degrees. "Knee deep and thigh deep along the path" and when he got there the fishing was poor. It's a strange season. Usually this upper section of the Swift offers trout throughout the Winter and then jump starts the Spring with very good March activity especially on a balmy day. Not this year! I'm afraid we'll have to wait a few more weeks until this snow and ice retreats for the season.

This gives me the time (and the excuse) to do some exploring. This State has many miles of streams which are seldom fished and many of these places do not require a hatchery truck to make things work. Stream born brookies and browns are all over the place, tucked into secret tree lined streams and mossy spring fed brooks which go unnoticed as we head for the larger rivers. As I stated before, I name the larger rivers but not these gems. It would be like naming the spot where you just panned up some gold nuggets!! I'll revisit some of these secret places and then go chasing the rumor or the spot on a map that looks just right. I'll have a few weeks before my wading boots touch dirt on the trail anyway.

I've reposted some photos of the Upper Swift during March 2010 - a kinder, gentler Winter.


Friday, March 6, 2015

This End Of Winter And What To Expect

First off, the 200cfs flow on the Swift is real or very close to real. That's high water on this river and it's not coming from the spillway because I drove up to the spillway and nothing is happening there. It's from the bubbler and that is it. Are they drawing down Quabbin before a Spring melt? Maybe. Anyway, I have found 200 cfs to be the top end of interesting and challenging angling on this river at any season. I like LOW flows. At 200 cfs the Swift becomes more of a freestone river and I have my choice of those except during the heat of Summer when 200 cfs of cool flow is welcome. How long will this last?? I don't know.

What does this multi foot snow and ice pack mean to us? First it will probably mean a later start. A "later start" applies to the freestones like the EB and Millers but not the Swift (hopefully). The Swift will not be at flood stage and cloudy (hopefully) but the others will.

What to do? Fish the smaller streams and tributaries of larger rivers because they will recede sooner and be fishable AND it's about time fly fishers experience this resource. Over the years we have seemed to ignore these waters because they are supposed to be too easy to fish (not true) or the fish don't care much about hatch matching, fine tippets, our 40 ft casts, or our state of the art equipment. (mostly nottrue). Sure some are stocked, like larger rivers, but there are many streams and brooks that hold ONLY native trout. You have to sneak up on these water angels (Chinese term for native mountain trout) to catch them and the thrill is equal to that size 18 BWO disappearing in that late Autumn swirl.

Years ago I used to see fly fishers on these waters. Sadly that's no longer true. We want "storied" waters, big fish from big waters. We are missing the soul of this sport in our effort to cover as much water as possible "whacking and stacking" (not my term, their term) as we go along. I haven't abandoned these secret waters and still ply them and feel very good about it.

The brookie above comes from an unstocked tributary of the Millers where I have been playing with those guys for over 30 years.

Think about it!!


Sunday, March 1, 2015

New Fly Shop And Another Swift Outing

His name is Mike Didonna and he is the proprietor of the DEERFIELD FLY SHOP, a brand new "essential" location for those you ply the long rod in Central and Western Massachusetts. Ok, we all like to talk about shopping local but we end up going on line to get stuff or traveling many miles to get what we need and some advice as to what the local rivers are doing lately. That now has changed. The Deefield Fly Shop is well stocked and is no more than a double haul from the Swift, the Deerfield and Westfield River systems. What we need is in this well stocked shop and the advice is first hand and only hours old. Everything is here and more is coming including, from what I here, Tenkara rods and equipment. Western/Central Massachusetts has been in a vacuum as far a having a retail location, a "hub", for fly fishers. Now we have one and we should support it.

As some may be aware, I don't give recommendations often and don't festoon my blog with manufacturers hit buttons. I want to know the guy like Charlie at Evening Sun or Gerry in N.H. Add Mike to the list.

The GRAND OPENING is Saturday, March 7th and there will be tiers and talkers and bug experts all day. Check out his site at: The store address is 8A Elm Street, South Deerfield, MA 01373 and the phone is 413-397-3665.

The Swift - Friend Brad and I worked our way through the snow today to the Pipe. Almost two hours and almost froze our toes. Caught nothing and saw nothing but had fun anyway working my fiberglass rhythm while Brad christened a new Tenkara rod. I needed a break from the vise anyway.