Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

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.


Friday, October 23, 2015

The EB - Too Many To Count!!

Yes, an epic day and although I'm not a fish counter for the most part my two guys caught so many that keeping count was a wasted game. First, there were many trout landed and we did this with beadhead nymphs, marabou streamers, some "reduced" WB's and on dries BECAUSE we had a good number of rising trout.

There were some recent stockers but many were dark bows in the 16 to 18 inch range. My guys had never fished this river. They liked the trout but took pictures of the beautiful landscape that the trout were in. That did it for me. They liked the place where we were fishing and the trout just added to the day!!! Two EB converts!!! a trip in November. The trout will still be there. Today we saw three other flyfishers. Enough said.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

River Update and Pride In Your Flies

First off, the Swift has gone UP as this drought continues. I can't remember the Swift rising at this time of year unless there was an overflow event. It's still very fishable so get out there. I've been asked about the pod of trout that nobody is fishing for. I'm not telling anyone of its location but you may see me there in the next few days.

The EB and the Millers are fishing very well especially the lower Millers. As long as the flows stay low things will be good. Once they start draining Tully Reservoir things will go downhill. The EB needs a shot of rain to move the trout around. They're still podded up making them easy pickings for fly fishers and otters. On Columbus Day weekend I saw this guy from New Jersey fish this small run and take about a dozen trout in a half hour. I had lunch with him back at the vehicles and I mentioned his success. "Just a pod of stockers" was his reply. Certainly not a "Phase 1" fly fisher!! (See my October 14 post on that subject).

I'm getting feedback on the Squannacook which has plenty of trout but needs some rain. I plan to fish this river and explore some of my old haunts in November. In the meantime I'm looking for any reports on any of our other rivers in Massachusetts or in the rest of New England.

I enjoy tying flies as much as I enjoy fly fishing. The great Boston tier Jack Gartside said that if he could no longer fish he would still tie flies. There is supposed to be a sense of artistry in our hobby with different "schools" of thought when it comes to proportion, size and profile of the flies we tie. This country has a legacy of over a hundred years of fly design starting with the early Catskill fly makers who guarded their methods like they were state secrets. Take some time to read up on our legacy and you may end up like my friend Brad who refuses to tie WB's. He buys them!!


Monday, October 19, 2015

A Good Swift Weekend, Bad Fish Handling And The Squannacook

Take away the Pine needles and the leaves and this weekend could of been epic but it was pretty good none the less. On Saturday Phil and I "found" a legendary school of trout that only a few regulars know about. Bruisers that rip 30 feet of line off your reel before popping the 6x kind of bruisers! Don't think I'm telling you the location. The Swift is small enough so you can find it yourself. No hints either.

Alex and his dad Tom had a good morning as Alex caught his first trout on a fly. In fact he caught his first 6 trout on a fly which may have made him the top gun on the Swift yesterday. It was a good time.

Later on during the afternoon while guiding I witnesses the worst fish handling scene in recent memory. This guy lands a large rainbow, drops it out of his net onto the rocks and begins to take pictures at different angles, then picks the fish up in a head lock for the traditional "head shot" (I think there was a selfie included). I'm about to leave my clients and walk up to this guy when he puts the fish back in the water and tries to revive it. I can see his attempt at resuscitation is going badly because the fish is going belly up. Finally he stops working the fish and I assume that it survived because it didn't float downstream although it may have died later. All told this trout was out of the water for 5 minutes easily. A word to those who should know better. 1. Land the trout in the net. 2. Unhook the trout while it's in the net. If you have to grab the trout do so while it's in the net with the net between you and the fish. 3. Take one good photo while the fish is in the net and release the fish. One minute tops!

I was talking to Charlie of The Evening Sun Fly Shop recently about the Squannacook River. The water is low but the fishing is good and if we get rain it will be better was his summary. This river is of special interest to me BECAUSE it's the place that I learned to fly fish decades ago. I caught my first trout on a dry here. I caught my first trout on a dry that I tied here. I learned the classic upstream approach for dries and wets here. I learned to " high stick" and "Czech nymph" here before the techniques were named. But most of all I learned that trout season does not end on the 4th of July but lasts all Summer if you know when and where to go.

I love this river and have been away too long. This river needs some good will. Years ago a sports writer from the Fitchburg Sentinel would write about this river weekly. Now nobody does. Starting (hopefully) next month and picking it up next Spring I'll be working this river and comparing places and events to what it was like years ago. It will be fun.

P.S. People say that the Bertozzi area on the Squanni is crowded. It was crowded 40 years ago too!!!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Three Phases Of Fly Fishing And Another Peeve

One of the most brilliant minds to grace the literature and science of fly fishing was one Edward Ringwood Hewitt. Born in the 1860's in southern New York, of good, solid, OLD money, he devoted his life to one of invention, first in the fledgling auto industry and then into the world of aquaculture. He became world renowned for his theories on raising trout and salmon in his Neversink "laboratory", fished all over North America and lived into his 90's. He also invented the felt soled boot. He was a busy man.

What I admire him for the most is his "Three Phases Of Fly Fishing."

Phases 1 is the quest to catch as many trout as possible. It's purely a numbers game at this level. You will find a spot and if you catch one then you try to fish the spot empty. If you don't hook up quickly then there is the rapid fly change(s) and then a quick retreat to a new spot. This phase has infected many over the years from the old photos of bursting stringers to the need to photograph every fish that you catch before it's release. Newbies get a thrill here as they should but we should move on.

Phase 2, according to Hewitt, is the need to catch the biggest fish that are in the river. This is admirable if we are working an old, giant brown next to a log in tight quarters BUT it's pointless when the biggest fish in the river are fresh stockers. They usually hit everything and are not worth the brag.

Phase 3 is the end of the journey and it is the most rewarding because it is here that catching the most difficult to catch trout is the goal. We have seen this trout, next to the bank, at the head of some riffles that have that overhanging branch in the way, under a log that creates it's own nasty drag. We know this trout and how it reacts to our mistakes - our chance is gone until the next trip. It may be a large fish or it may be of average size but has found a well fortified domain for protection. Our job is to breach that "wall" and capture the prize.

Now, phase 1 anglers will tell the world how they caught a zillion trout or how they caught five 3lb bows at the PIPE but Phase 3 anglers will NEVER mention this fish until after we catch it. The last thing we want to do is give out its location. We will not even mention that we have found this trout. Even after it's capture we will be vague as to the location of the dual.

My friend Al sent me a video of a 24 inch brown finning near some obstructions. No river or location included and the video cannot be downloaded either. I like Al!!

Don't think that your equipment will save you at Phase 3. It takes skill and patience to win and that's the fun of it.

You don't meet Phase 3 trout on every trip or even every year. Sometimes years will go by on that same stream before another reveals itself. At that point you can be assured that you "know" the stream and it's trout and THAT trout is worth more than anything you catch in phases 1 and 2.

Proceed to Phase 3!!!!

Now why is it, over the last two years or so, that so many people are taking pictures of trout heads?? You've seen them: one hand firmly grasps the trout around the shoulders while the other hand takes a facial mug shot of the trout, usually a profile shot. One guy wanted to show me a photo of a bow that he caught a few weeks ago but he couldn't find it in his camera because all of the trout looked the same. Come on, trout are beautiful from head to tail and you should be taking pics of the whole body while its in the net that's still in contact with the water. They will be more valuable to you when you download them and will look much better when you show them to others. Isn't that a lovely brown on this post. You get to see the W H O L E thing.


Monday, October 12, 2015

Three Days On The EB And A Trend

It was good to be on the EB!!! First, the scenery is spectacular, there are fish to be found and on this long weekend we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Not that there were no other fly fishers but with MILES of water they just begin to disappear. More on that later.

The trout - 10 to 12 inch bows were stocked recently and finding them is the challenge. Don't expect them to be found next to the road either. They're scattered but in groups. For instance, The middle of the Bliss Pool held fish Friday but the head of the pool didn't. Saturday the whole pool was a desert but Sunday they were jammed into the head of the pool leaving the middle vacant. Go figure!! Hunting for fish was the name of the game and it was fun.

A trend - Over the last few years I am guiding more and more people who are really looking for one thing: Solitude! They want to catch trout in a place that isn't a watery version of Times Square. Some are Swift regulars who realize that they've been going to the same stretch of river for months because they're afraid they will miss something. I show them what they're really missing which are sections that are seldom or NEVER fished. I have guided people to the Swift who have avoided it because of the crowd issue, walked right by a dozen anglers, and fished for hours without sharing a run.

Yesterday I met a gentleman from New Jersey who was on his second day on the EB. We swapped stories during lunch and he talked about how he loves this river. He mentioned liking the Deerfield and I then asked him if he fished the Swift. "Once, too crowded" was the reply.

I'm not bashing the Swift or it's regulars of which I am one. I'm just stating that there is a growing number of fly fishers who do not want to be part of the crowd. It's easy to fall into a safe routine. Make an effort to do something different!!

The Millers has been hot. Enough said!


Friday, October 9, 2015

The Long Weekend, November Fishing and Chronicle Magazine

Ok, no excuses!! This is the weekend that many have been waiting for. The heat of Labor Day is long gone. Temperatures in the 60's will rule the day. Water Temperatures will be in the 50's at least that's where they were on the EB late Wednesday afternoon. Our select freestones have been stocked by now. Time to fish.

The Millers is reporting good catches on the lower CR and the water levels are fine. If the levels can stay below 400 cfs we will have a great Autumn on this river. The EB will get a bump in flow due to rain today but that shouldn't harm things at all. The fish are there. The Swift is the same old Swift - reliable but crowded. Remember, you can get away from the crowds on this river. That decision is yours. I have a suggestion for the Swift addicts - Fish the Millers or the EB or go to the Ma. DFW home page and go to trout stocking. Look for the UNDERLINED rivers and streams. They get stocked in the Fall and are stocked by now. Find one and fly fish it!!

November was a great month to fly fish last year. The cold/snow of last Winter didn't hit until January and we had many days in the 50's which seemed like early May. I have plenty of November openings BUT the will book quickly. October is full!

The Chronicle Magazine show of two years ago that had me on the EB will be re-aired this Monday. It's called the "Hidden Hills" and it gives you an idea about where I live. It's a beautiful place! Can't see the show? Check the link on this website.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Good Bows, Brookies On The Move and Some Open Dates

As stated the Swift got some trout late last week and we did well with them. The thing noticed was that the Jungle was emptied out of catchable trout. Only the little 2 inch guys were around. It was easy, just two weeks ago, to work a dry through the weed beds and land enough 10 to 12 in guys in an hour. Sunday they were gone EXCEPT when we went upstream and found pebble bottomed river. Then they began to appear and in one spot we saw about 30 in the 8 to 14 inch range. They are staging upriver for the spawning run and seem to have left the lower jungle area. They look great in the net, fully dressed for the Autumn party.

Ok, I booked some open dates and rescheduled some open dates and I have a personal date that is now open. The dates in October are:

Friday 10/9
Friday 10/16
Sunday 10/25

Pick one and if you're first it's yours.

Or book in November - A great month to hit the rivers BEFORE dreaded Winter.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

October - A Short Update And Two Open Dates For October

First, the Swift got stocked but not with a lot of trout but enough to keep you occupied. A Swift River veteran who witnessed the above RT 9 stocking said about 50 fish were thrown in. The Pipe section got some with no apparent effort to spread them out. No reason to wave the bom-boms for this effort. The brookie spawning hasn't really started above RT 9 yet but the Jungle is still swamped with them. Lots of BWO yesterday.

The Millers exploded on Thursday and is still in the 1000 cfs range. Stocking is today or was yesterday. Wait till the river comes down.

The EB hit 2200 cfs on Thursday and is now below 300 in 48 hours time. I'll be there today. Any new fish will be moved around by the flow.

Three weeks ago October was open and now it's booked EXCEPT for Friday 10/9 and Friday 10/30. Either one can be full or half day trips. First come first served.

Now November is booking up.