Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Monday, August 31, 2015

Thin Blue Lines

We have a lot of "things to do" earlier in the trout season. One of those is to inspect those small streams that may have a name (or not). This is something that gets put on the back burner when the "bigger" streams come into form. Best intentions get put aside for another season and we just forget about them. Sometimes this process gets turned around.

Two weeks ago I was driving along some back roads around where I live. I always slow down by any bridge crossing to glimpse the water and to see if anything is flowing especially during this drought. The breaks went on when I saw REAL water flowing. There was no rain event for a few days so this was something special. The next day trip to the Swift got postponed. I had to try it.

It was lightly raining at 6 am which made it more inviting. A five minute walk from the car(the bridge spot appeared to be posted) brought me to a cool, damp trout stream with a good flow around mossy rocks and some old dead falls. Let's do dries via Small Stream Reflections and see what happens.

I took brookies between 4 and 7 inches long as the rain went from light to slightly heavy to downpour in two hours. I'm soaked but happy.

Many decades ago I caught my first native trout on a rainy summer morning such as this. Mom appeared to be pissed that I was drenched but I think she knew it was a lost cause. I was meant to do this!!!!

One photo is of a brookie that you can see if you enlarge it. I'm not telling about this place for a while (maybe never) or maybe I'll give some cryptic messages about where it is. But then again you may live closer to a place like this than you think.

On another note: the Swift is up again!


Friday, August 28, 2015

An EB Morning

Yes, this guide gets to fish from time to time (actually a lot) and today was one of those times. My friend Brad an I found ourselves on the Eb and after a long walk past the gate we found ourselves a Les's Pool by 7:15 am. Then upstream to the 2 mile run, then to Slant Rock and finally by noon we were at the Bliss Pool. Conditions - the flow was perfect and at 10:30 the water temperature was 62 degrees. Another Perfect. We landed and lost fish at all spots except Slant Rock which didn't produce. I fished dries exclusively and Brad worked soft hackles through every section. Highlights were a 16 inch dark brown and a 13 inch brookie taken at the end of the trip. CAN'T BELIEVE IT, THE BROOKIES HAVE MADE IT THROUGH AUGUST. I caught them in July and others caught them in August which I didn't think would be possible.

Two posts ago I said wait until after Labor Day because of the swimmers. They were not there today and there were no fly fishers there either. So fish the EB when you can. It's loaded with trout but they are trout that have been in the river since mid May and not since July 1st. They have also been spread around due to some high flows which is a good thing. You have to work for these guys but there is reward in catching a difficult trout. I will hit this place in the evening this next week which will be the best time.

Fish the EB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Monday, August 24, 2015

Autumn Is Around The Corner - Schedule A Trip! (And The Cream Cahill)

As I write this the sunrise is another 20 minutes away at 6:06 am. Two months ago the sun was up an hour earlier. You may not know it by the noontime temperatures but the seasons are changing. In a month the Swift brookies will be wearing their spawning colors and looking for spawning areas. And the bows will be right below them looking to snatch up stray eggs.

In two weeks Labor Day will be behind us and the swarms of bathers/waders who have taken over the EB will be gone until next Memorial Day. Our season really kicks into gear then. Autumn is when this river shines!!

The Millers - Still an evening fishery but that will change quickly. If this river behaves and stays manageable we will have a good Autumn here too.

The last week has shown a substantial increase in Autumn booking. I still have plenty of spots available from September through November but they are always "first come, first served". Remember, just showing interest in a particular date does not mean it's yours. You have to confirm it.

The Cream Cahill - This is the last of the larger, light colored Summer mayflies that we will see on the Swift this year. It is always confused with sulfurs (as usual) even though the Cream is larger and of a different Family and a different Genus. It also behaves TOTALLY different than the sulfur group. Heptageniidae are clinging nymphs that shed their exoskeletons on the bottom and then rise as an adult fly to the surface. Quill Gordons (always mistaken for Hendriksons) and many other species do the same. That is why small soft hackles swinging through the water column really mimic this fly.

What size? Duns are 14 to 16 on the Swift. Same for the soft hackles. When can I find them? May through September but not in large numbers on the Swift. Use any pattern that you feel comfortable with.



Friday, August 21, 2015

Eb Update

The coffee was perking at 4:45 and the patter of rain was hitting the skylights when I started this day. First, the rain and the morning forecast was a bit north of damp and that was a good thing. Too many of these 90+ degree days. This morning would be cool and damp for two missions: one was to explore a "thin blue line" that had been in my brain for a week. More on that in a later post. The second was to hit the EB. Because of the rain this spot may not be overrun by bathers who seemed to have taken the place over. Earlier this week I saw the fabled Bliss Pool taken over by waders (sans fly rods) as late as 7pm. I guess I can't blame them given this drought and heat wave but it doesn't compute with what we do. I let them have it. With the 65 degree air temperature in the Gorge and with the rain I know they wouldn't be there this morning!

Mission number one was accomplished and off to the EB without getting out of my waders. I was the only one there - no bathers and no flyfishers. I've felt bad about not being here for a while and certainly not like last year where I seemed to live here.

First, the flow seemed just fine. Second, the trout are there too. It was only an hour and a half of fishing on the Bliss Pool ( If you're the only one there then fish the Bliss) but I took 1 bow, 1 brown, lost another of uncertain pedigree and tried like hell to tempt the only free riser that I saw. The first three came up for a size 12 bi-visible. The free riser (rising about every three minutes) had nothing to do with the big fly and since it's rise forms said "nymphing" I switched to a size 16 tan parachute. That usually works but today was no dice.

I left at noon knowing that our boys will make it through August and will still provide sport. As I left the sun began to break through and the first "beach party" appeared.

Word to the wise - Wait until AFTER Labor Day. The swimmers will be gone, the waters will cool, a hint of color will hit the "early" trees" and our season will start again!!


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ant Swarms - Get Ready!

Back cast to the mid 1990's. I somehow find myself at a late August weekend craft fair with my wife. The only thing that I remember is that all of the outdoor booths were covered with WINGED ANTS. A call the next day from a fly fisher spoke of trout committing suicide for all of those morsels.

Roll cast a few years forward when I was on the phone to a New Hampshire friend who said that his yard and the air above it was full of ants. My central Mass. location had the same thing happening.

Roll cast again to the Farmington River in 2004. A blizzard of ants started that Friday afternoon and lasted until I left on Sunday. Every trout was on them!!!

Roll cast forward to 2009 on the EB when I thought that I saw the wings of HUNDREDS of BWO's but when I got into the water I found a half dozen winged ants on my shirt. No BWO's, just WINGED ANTS!!

This is the time of year for the ANT SWARMS. We're not talking about the lone individual that finds itself in the water BUT the winged ant that is on a mission. The Mission is that the colony has gotten too big and has to split up. Tens of Thousands will sprout wings and take off. This ALWAYS happens in late August for one species that is small (size 18-20) and is a light reddish brown in color. For some reason they are drawn (by mistake) to water. Big swarms will blanket the surface of lucky
streams for lucky trout. Forget what is hatching. If ants land they will have the trout's undivided attention.

What to use? Forget the big goofy foam creatures that we use to imitate individual stragglers. Size and Profile now mean a lot.

Here are my patterns - this is very simple. For years I used a reddish brown dubbing making a ball of dubbing at the rear of a size 18 or 20 hook. Then I tied in two thin blue dun hackle points at the mid point and had them extend just behind the bend of the hook. Then I make a ball of dubbing up front. That's it! Over the past few years I've replace the hackle points with grey CDC and it's fine.

The BIG patterns just don't cut it when these little guys hit the water. Sizes 18 through 20 are what you need. The dubbed body doesn't need hackle either. Just have plenty of magic powder with you to keep things high and dry. And don't worry too much about tippet size (duh) and even sloppy casters will score when this "Fall" is on.

Four years ago I was fishing the Swift at the second turnoff on River Rd in the late afternoon. I lost a dry fly and was slowly going through my fly box when a saw an ant drift by. I looked up and saw a hundred on the water with trout coming up after them. Five minutes before there wasn't a hint of them.

Simple to tie. Keep them with you!


Monday, August 17, 2015

The August Heat, Lost Nets, Deerfield Fly Shop, Ants And Rising Trout

First it's our lost and found department. Bill said that my friends' net was found and was now in the safe hands of Wooley Bugger George. The rest was easy since I see George all of the time. I ran into him while guiding on Friday and made plans to take the short drive to his home in the far ends of Belchertown to retrieve it. Two days later my friend has his net and managed to put a 3lb rainbow in it. Now that's 2 for 2 for lost stuff. If you have lost something put a comment up on this blog or email me.

It has been a superb week of surface angling on the lower Swift and I mean from the Duck Pond down into the Jungle. Ants have been ruling the day and why not - it's August!! Keep an eye out for the flying ant swarms that hit Southern and Central New England like clockwork during the last two weeks of this month.

The Sulfurs are still with us but are far and few between but there must be enough of them because the trout are still hitting the emerger. Fished in the film it is especially effective when fishing the shallow flats at the end of the Gauge Run. Shallow flats present a problem and that problem is DRAG. Dale Darling, in his neat book MIDGES, has an easy solution - LENGTHEN YOUR LEADER. He likes to use up to SIX FEET of tippet. I've worked with half that and it's an improvement.

I was supposed to hit the EB Saturday but my friend had to bail out which gave me a chance to see Mike at the DEERFIELD FLY SHOP. I brought a shopping list which included a Hungarian partridge skin. Mike had everything!!! The rest of Saturday was mowing the lawn and working up soft hackles for this Fall.

The EB flow has been good over the past week with some well placed storms. Unless there's thunder in the air I'll be out again this evening.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Thanks For The Rain!! An Update

The flash flood warnings never happened, at least not in trout land. The EB and the Millers, especially the Millers got a good shot in the arm with water levels up BUT not too far up. The Millers, as I write this, peaked in the 300's and is now heading down. All of this is good for this weekend. Remember, the sun sets around 7:45 pm now. The long wait for the witching hour is over. Take advantage of it.

The 120 flow on the Swift has changed the game below RT 9. The higher flow has moved the trout around and the insect hatches seem less concentrated. This flow condition may actually end this week if/when the Connecticut River flow goes up.

Quick Tip - A week ago I had the pleasure of guiding two NH guides, Jim Norton and Dick Peterson. Dry flies became the order of the evening and I noticed that before Jim powdered his dry fly he squeezed it into some sheet of absorbent material. A new hi tech chamois material? An all natural recycled fungus from Siberia? Nope. It was a folded paper towel. Probably BOUNTY brand. How come I didn't think of that?


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Updates And Why The PIPE Is So Good

Well, we knew it was going to happen. One look at the lengthening sandbars on the Connecticut River and we knew that the Swift's flow would increase and it did yesterday. From a skinny water challenge (47 cfs) to a popular 119 cfs. Sandbars?? What's up with that. If you don't know than here's the tale again: when the CT River gets too low water has to be released from the Quabbin to supplement the big river. This conditions occurs at sometime during most summers and will last until we get a good rain event to recharge the CT. River. Keep in mind that the rain event doesn't have to be felt locally. Northern New England can get blasted by storms while we are bone dry and the big river will be full.

This month on the EB will be a lot like last year - Excellent!!! (Backcast on this blog to August 2014 for details) It's still an early morning/evening river until later this month. I've done well and I've had good reports come in. I LOVE casting dries on this river in July and August, especially hoppers!

Now, why is the Pipe so good? First, to kill confusion I'll call the PIPE the section from the hatchery outflow to the end of the long pool. The pool is also known as the Tree Pool and the Hatchery Pool.

There are more rising trout in the section than anywhere else in the river. It is rising trout ALL DAY. Why is that?

First, the water coming out of Quabbin is fairly sterile but begins to pick up nutrients as it heads south. When the hatchery outflow joins the river it supercharges the river with nutrients. The nutrients are the result of the decaying waste that is produced in the facility. More nutrients mean more insects and in this case it means more MIDGES. They love that environment and it is reasonable to believe that many of the midges below the pipe originated in the hatchery. In any event it is a season long event and we are happy for it!

Be aware that this discharge is monitored and is not classed as a pollution event (except for that one Saturday last Spring).

Last evening we chased the tail end of the sulfurs through the "flood" and did fine.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Millers Update

"NhFlyfisher" left a comment yesterday asking if the Millers, at 100 cfs, was too low to fish. The answer is yes and no.

I took a ride to inspect this old haunt for the first time in almost a month. A month ago we had very high water but this drought has a grip on this watershed. The first stop was the Upper Trestle Pool. Over the years this spot always had at least one rising fish but not this evening. This pool usually fishes well during low flows. Not tonight.

So, down to the Kempfield where things got strange. While standing at mid pool I saw a line of bubbles working it's way across the pool towards the shore. "Beaver" I thought but I was wrong. It was an otter with a 15 inch rainbow in it's jaws. The otter crawled up on shore dragging his dinner and disappeared into the bushes. The last of the Millers rainbows? Hardly. I took two and a brown in the next hour and a half and all on dries and all on totally different patterns.

Was the fishing good? Not really and that was because of the low flow. Some favorite runs were almost unfishable. We need rain and this river needs to spike to 200 cfs for a good fishing experience. BTW, all fish fought hard and quickly swam away at release.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sliding Towards Late Summer

August is a transitional month. We've lost about an hour of daylight since the solstice and the early morning lawns have a light cover of dew that was not there in early July. The rivers are at their summer low points with the exception of the Swift which keeps chugging along at 47 cfs but don't be surprised if we see a spike in the flow of the Swift if this dry spell continues. (Swift veterans and readers of this blog know what I'm talking about).

Ants and beetles fished on the surface have done well on the Swift during the past few weeks. Fish them with the classic upstream approach and don't worry about making the presentation a total dead drift. Land insects move around when they hit the water and trout know that!!! Also look for a sunny and WINDY day. Breezes move leaves and insects get tossed into the drink.

The sulphurs have finally left the stage on the lower Swift and have been replaced (somewhat) by the cream cahill. This 14 to 16 size fly is a tan color and first makes its appearance in June and lasts through the end of September. It's the last of the larger Spring/Summer mayflies on this river. Enjoy it.

Off to the Millers or the EB today. I feel like fishing something big like a size 16!!!!


P.S. I've mentioned the comments section of this blog in the past. There is a wealth of information posted there by readers. Take some time to go through a dozen posts and pick up some pointers. KE