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.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Two Rare Openings And Where To Go This Weekend



First, I have two FRIDAYS open that I'd like to fill. The dates are August 7 and 14. Take your pick of half day or full day trips. First come, first served. Email only. If you are already on the calendar you CANNOT reschedule to the above dates. NOTE: 8/14 has been booked.

Second, Read one of my readers comments about fishing the EB in the very early morning. Read my comments about doing the Swift during the day and then swinging by the EB or the Millers to catch the evening rise. Read my comments about exploring the Swift instead of doing the same old same old. Why not?

Going to Boston tonight to catch Steely Dan and Elvis Costello, hang around beantown tomorrow and then hit the streams Sunday.

Go Fish!

Ken

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

River Update And A Word On Leaders







It seemed that I spent most of May and a good portion of June plying the Millers and the EB, especially the Millers. But the fishing on the Swift has been sooo good of late that I have neglected the Millers and to some extent the EB. My loss!!! The Millers is in prime flow and evenings should be good in August. We've lost about 45 minutes of sunlight since June 21 and the shadows will appear sooner. Same for the EB. If you believe the conventional wisdom about the EB in Summer just read these posts over the last 7 or so years. If the flows are good the trout will be there. I will be there!

The Swift - I've fished everywhere from the Bubbler Arm to the Jungle and the BIG bows are there and so are the brookies. A few days ago I spent a few hours away from the crowds taking in brookies on ants and beetles. It was a blast! Then I went upstream and had a hundred yards to myself and took big rainbows. Now, I've been saying to the Y Pool crowd for years that they should break the mold and start exploring. Now I say STAY THERE!!!

Leaders - back in early 2012 I gave my method of handling the high, murky flows of early Spring. I short, I said ditch the tapered leader when tossing #8 cone head root beer buggers and go with 3 ft of 3x tied to 2 ft of 4x. Tapered leaders are meant to deliver flies softly and the long lengths don't give us the advantage. My short leaders do. Now I've gone further. When flows are high and dirty and I know that high sticking with a short leader is the best chance of getting deep I now use 5 ft of 3x and that's it. Fly delivery is not a problem with this rig.

A month ago I gave solid reasons for NOT fishing very light tippets with large flies. Water clarity has nothing to do with tippet size and all agreed, many siting their personal experience. Now for another trick.

When I guide a new client one of the first things that I ask is what shape their leader is in. Many times it was a 5x cut back to 3x with a 5x tippet tied on. I change it and show them a trick that will make their leader last all season or longer.

Tie on a 9 ft 5x leader and then cut off about 12 inches (the tippet section of a leader is about 24 inches). Form a SMALL loop at the end of the leader and then take about 18 inches of 5x or 6x and put a loop in that. Then loop the pieces together. Now you have a main leader length that will never get shorter when you have to add tippet after changing/losing flies. All you are changing is the tippet. Lefty Kreh made this popular a few years ago and now he's a big fan of doing the same thing with leader rings which makes much sense to me. BTW, casting is not effected by this innovation. I've done the loops for a number of years and will give the rings a test soon.

The last full month of Summer is almost here. Do as much fishing as you can.

Ken



Friday, July 24, 2015

Mid Summer And The Swift Is It


It's the middle of Summer and we know that the freestone rivers are an early, late situation. Not the Swift. Today I took a first timer to the Swift and we worked some sections that are seldom fished. We caught fish and lost many others. The fish are there but you have to hunt for them and we were successful.

All of this was BELOW Rt 9.

Above rt 9 it's finding the trout. We found the trout, dozens of them, in a spot that was totally under fished.

There are trout EVERYWHERE on this river. You have to find them.

Ken

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Swift - Away From The Crowds And a Tenkara Evening.


All of the parking lots were full on late Monday afternoon so we went to the jungle where the mosquitoes actually wear Skin So Soft and think that those wimpy citronella repellents actually taste good. It is a full blown DEET spray down that will allow you to survive. The Result: Native brookies to the net on dry flies and we had the place to ourselves.

Tonight it was a Tenkara lesson. We stayed away from the usual traffic areas and fished alone. Big bows and some brookies where in the mix and most of our flies were size 18 and 20 on 5X!!!!! Trout are now everywhere on the lower Swift and they are not pushovers.

Resist the urge to fish the Y Pool and the Tree Pool and move around. There are fish everywhere!!

Ken

Sunday, July 19, 2015

What Is A Soft Hackle Fly


I tied up a zillion of them through the Winter and fished, lost and destroyed many over the last four months.
From size 8, which just seem to work well on the EB, down to size 18 or so on the Swift. I'm tying more now for the Fall (I hate to say that) season only two months away. I don't mind because of all the sunken fly patterns that I tie this is the one that makes me feel good when I take it from the vise. It's a beautiful trout fly.

First things first - the soft hackle fly is a STYLE of tying that goes back over 400 years to the British Isles. It was saved from oblivion by Sylvester Nemes and his great book "The Soft Hackle Fly". It is the style of tying that counts. Just because you tie in grouse, partridge, hen, starling, whatever into a fly doesn't make it a SOFT HACKLE FLY. It's a fly with soft hackles which doesn't do what the original patterns were meant to do: imitate an emerging nymph on it's way to emergence. I guess that you could tie a wooley bugger with grouse hackles but it's still a wooley bugger and not a soft hackle fly.

This is a slim fly just as many emerging nymphs are slim. Originally tied with silk for the SLIM body you can now get away with floss or nylon or 70 denier tying thread. A simple, sparse thorax and then two turns of hackle of your choice does it. DON'T OVER BUILD THIS FLY!! Fat, bushy soft hackles don't really work on trout that have been in the stream for awhile.

The Partridge and Orange that's pictured has produced more Fall/Winter trout than any other pattern for me. Replace the orange with olive thread and you will do well through the Spring and Summer.

Get a copy of Nemes's book. Look at the fly photos and start dreaming!!

P.S. Forget Striper fishing until next year.

Best,

Ken

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dry Fly Magic!


This is the style of fly fishing that is set apart from all the other methods. It is the style that has captivated a breed of fly fishers for well over a hundred years. It is the true test, the hold grail and your one way ticket to angling heaven when all goes right. Halford, from England, developed it, Theodore Gordon brought it to this country and developed the flies for our streams, George LaBranche expanded it's usage to include Atlantic Salmon and then a host of others, Cross, Dette, Darbee, Jenkins, Flick, Fox , Marinaro to name a few, expanded the legacy. It is top shelf fly fishing. If many of the above names are unfamiliar to you then start reading. You'll be better at this endeavor. If you think that it isn't necessary, that high sticking your way through life just seems fine, then take up golf. But then you'll have to know who Bobby Jones was!!

Some readily admit that they don't GET this method. They are not successful. My advice is to start reading and bury yourself in Utube videos. Get an idea of what the trout are feeding on. (cahills and sulphurs are on our streams now. If you don't see any on the water fish them anyway). Learn the upstream approach to a rising trout. Learn that drag occurs BEFORE your FLY begins to drag. Your floating leader will drag first and that is true for nylon AND fluoro. Learn that your cast will spook more trout than your fly or equipment.

Dry Flies - I don't believe in strict "matching the hatch" but take a more impressionistic view of fly patterns in the 12 to 20 size range. My experience says that comparaduns in the right size and shade will cover 90% of the situations that we meet. Faulty presentation will result in failure. The Comparadun does a great job of imitating the adult mayfly and the pre adult trying to break through the surface.

Many years ago I used to spend the summers fishing the Squannacook with only dries, taking a half mile of river in the evening and fishing upstream for rising trout and casting to places that should hold trout. That strategy was carried to the Millers and then to the EB. This strategy has worked and still does. Finding a trout that has taken up position and is rising in a regular pattern and then making the perfect cast and then seeing that fly disappear in the "ring of the rise" is almost beyond words. You have to do it.

Go do it!!!

Ken

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Swift Reliables



Two flies that you should not be without when you fiswh the Swift (or any tailwater) are scud patterns and the Hot Spot.

Scuds come in all shapes and sizes. Mine are not as bushy as the traditional tie but are slimmed down and may actually pass off as a generic nymph at times. My bodies are olive Australian possum and the shell is nothing more than thin clear plastic. The wire is 32 gauge and the size range runs from 14 through 18. Pick out the fuzzy hairs by the thorax and you're done.

The Hot Spot goes back about 10 years in an attempt to imitate the mess of tiny dark subsurface insects that this river has WITH ONE IMPORTANT FEATURE. A contrasting band of light material sandwiched between dark bands. The reason? Trout seem to key in on that contrast amidst all the other bugs floating by. It's caught untold numbers in the bubbler arm and around the pipe.

I like olive/brown dubbing (natural or not) for the fore and aft sections and white or yellow for the band. Sizes 18 through 24 work very well. KEEP THE BODY SLIM.

These flies are easy to tie and really produce on this river. Try them out!!

Ken

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Welcome To The Jungle - Below The Pipe


This past week I introduced a guy to the Gauge and the Pipe sections of the Swift. He had been fishing the Swift for a few years but ONLY in the CR section above Route 9. He was amazed that the place existed and that the water was so inviting. The next day he went right back and caught a monster bow. Today he brings his son back.

He was the second Y Pool refugee in two weeks who got to expand his knowledge about this great tailwater. If you find that you spend most or ALL of your time above route 9 then FORCE yourself downstream. The Swift is a more fertile stream down by the gauge, a natural occurrence the further downstream that you go and even MORE fertile below the pipe, an unnatural occurrence. That nutrient load is what gives the Tree Pool it's midge heaven reputation.

Now, what about the fly fishers who found the Pipe and never left? The answer = Visit "The Jungle" (aka Cady Lane) First, you will not have trout running between your boots as you do far upstream. Instead you will have classic upstream spring creek fishing. The place just looks fishy and has plenty of brookies and browns to keep you happy. Lots of overhanging trees insure plenty of ants, beetles, jassids and whatever landing on the water all day. And the Water - It's still cold!!

Now, have I messed up anyone's life by talking about this spot? No, because I've talked about this place before and NOTHING CHANGED!
Maybe someone will get adventurous and break their habit.

The EB came down as expected. Very early morning and the evening is the time to go.

Ken


Friday, July 10, 2015

This Weekend


Thursday nights rains pelted Western Massachusetts and much of central Massachusetts too. The Millers is at 1000cfs and the EB is at 1080. The latter will drop quickly and should be in good form this Sunday. The Millers?????? I say two weeks of reasonable dry weather will get this flow down to enjoyable fly fishing levels. Some may suggest that these high flows can be fished but there is enough online evidence about how this river is a bear to wade even when it seems tame. In 2009 someone fell in and drowned in similar flows. I don't guide in water like this. We can wait or maybe it's time to check out the smaller flows that you always wanted to hit. Go do it!

Good comments and emails on the "Conventional Wisdom" post. We will keep this going along with the usual river reports.

Away to Plum Island for a week starting tomorrow to play with stipers and blues. By Wednesday I'll be thinking about trout and writing about them too.

Lobsters and Beer!!!

Ken

P.S. Lenny smokes another Swift bow in the photo above

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Debunking Conventional Wisdom - The Leader Myth And Leader Shy Trout



Let's look back to this past May. I saw this guy net a brown as I got there and asked what he was using. "a size 14 caddis emerger". Good enough. Then he goes about a half hour without a fish and then asks me if I have any 7x TIPPET. I asked "what for?" He said that he believed that the trout had become "leader shy". I said that I didn't have any 7x (we were on the Millers for Christ sake) and we DON"T need that). We continued to catch trout on 5X! He caught none.

Back cast 5 years ago when I met this young guy on the EB. He said that he was using a size 12 stimulator on 7X!! Why? "Because the water is so clear". The time frame between these events is full of the same excuse.

Lefty Kreh is credited with the statement:"there is more bullshit in fly fishing than in a Texas cattle yard". This is an example of it!!

Point 1 - leaders are matched to the size of the fly that you are using, not the clarity or depth of the water that you are fishing!

Point 2- If leaders are fished behind a SUNKEN FLY then the leader visibility is a moot point. Modern leaders, if they are below the surface, are practically invisible especially the fluoro variety. Mono has made great strides to reduce light refraction over the past decade to where it's almost a "no decision" between mono and fluoro. (Note: my sources are not retail outlets which have another agenda)

Point 3 - Our "leader spooked trout" are not the the cause of "heavy" leaders but THE CAUSE OF BAD PRESENTATION. "Lining" trout (dumping your fly line on top of the fish) or slapping your fly down on the water are some of the causes. You see this when fishing dry flies for rising trout.

"Conventional Wisdom" and it's goofy step brother "Common Sense" say that the clearer the water and the spookier the trout equals tiny tippets. Tying larger flies to tiny tippetts mean more lost flies and longer battles to bring a trout to the net. That last statement is especially true if you are not into harming trout. Find a "fly to tippet chart" and stay with it.

If you think that I'm working on impractical theory then absorb this fact: I do a good amount of Tenkara fishing on the Swift and instruct even more clients on this technique. We ALL hook into MANY trout while using the occasional size 14 but mostly size 16 through 20 AND they are ALL HOOKED ON 5X!!!!! The funny thing is that we are fishing next to people who are fishing for the same trout but would NEVER fish a size 18 on a 5X. Go figure!!!

Lefty Kreh, George Harvey and Charlie Brooks, among others, questioned this "conventional wisdom" and found that it came up lacking. Don't blame the equipment. Maybe blame yourself.

Note: The Swift Trout are wising up.

Ken

Sunday, July 5, 2015

An EB Summer Evening


Short Story - Dorrie and I were going to hike the lower section of the Wapack Trail today but an early morning workout ankle injury to her killed those plans. Nothing really serious but doing that trail was out of the question. We had a long drive on RT 112 into Vermont to checkout the North River (nice stream), went back to Northampton to put things on the grill, build a nice salad and read the Times. In a few hours she said "maybe you should go fly fishing". Maybe it was the far away look that I had in my eyes that made her say that but I was ready like a Navy Seal!

I was a bit tired of the Swift and all the stories about how to catch freshly stocked trout. Let's face it. Anything dumb works except my guys caught trout on flies that they will take 2 months from now. We caught lots of trout. Now it was time for the EB!

In short, I fished from 5:30 to 8:30 pm and took 8 on DRY FLIES missing two others. The bows were the size of the bows dumped into the Swift last week BUT these guys had been in the river for two months. They were conditioned to this river! So were the Brookies!! All fought hard and ran away when released. Another EB regular had a great day starting at 3pm and continued after I left. I saw him fight and lose a bow that exited the water like an explosion. I was 200 yards away when I saw that!

Fish this river and the Millers in the evening until mid September for best results. "But I have only one day to fish and I can't wait till 5pm to start". Understood - Try this. Get up early in the morning and fish the Swift. Have a good day and then at 4pm drive up RT202 to Wendell Depot and do the Millers or head out on RT 9 and do the EB. Switch the 2 wt for a 4 or 5 wt and do the evening rise. You will have a full day at prime time for these locations. The EB has a special attraction: The Williamsburg Tavern. On Wednesday you get a cheeseburger, fries and one of their CRAFT beers for $5.00. Nice bar and inexpensive prices.

Ken


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Fish The Swift And Watch For Poachers And The Millers/EB



This river has been stocked from the Y Pool down through the Pipe. There are plenty of fish and they are LARGE fish as well they should be considering that the Swift is our premier trout fishery. We had to wait long but it was worth it.

The 7/1 stocking has brought the fish baggers back. While guiding yesterday I saw a father with two sons coming down the path with a trout on a stringer. I read them the riot act and they took off. There will be plenty of people playing dumb about this over the next few weeks. Call the DFW law enforcement as I did.

The Millers is blown out. The EB at 302 is perfect. Remember, best results here are going to be in the evening going through into September. If the Millers comes down it will be the same story there also.


Ken

Friday, July 3, 2015

Make Reservations For The Swift



As predicted the DFW came through and stocked the Swift on July 1. I saw a couple of double digit days yesterday but we must remember that these are freshly minted fish and are dumb as stumps. In two weeks they'll wise up and will be sipping 28's and not playing with WB's and streamers like now. Also, they seem to be podded up. Maybe we'll get a spike in the flow or maybe someone will wade through the school and scatter them.

If the crowds are too much then go exploring. I have a spot I like to call the Spring Creek because it looks like one. Wide, slow and shallow it is the home of brookies,browns and bows and not in the concentrations found in the usual places. It is dry fly land where ants and beetles rule. At least yesterday morning it did.

Happy 4th!!

Ken


So,

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Swift Second Season And Dave D. - Rod & Flies Found!!


First off - Dave - your rod, case and flies have been found. Mike at Deerfield Fly Shop has the info. Check my link to him on this site or look at the comments for my June 28, 2015 post for contact info.

Second, the bait boys are GONE from below RT 9 on the Swift. We have been having good results to some sulphur hatches and if we get the expected early July stocking we will have fishing till Christmas! Lenny, my Swift River spy (when I'm not there), has been fooling them on size 16 pheasant tails. It's the perfect generic nymph and works well in any size. I worked PT's last week from size 14 through 20. Scored on all sizes!!

Get out and fish this river during the heat of summer. It's cool, refreshing and the fishing is good. Book a trip, day long or evening and have a ball!!!

Happy July 4th to you!!

Ken