Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Other EB And The MB - Reporting And Guiding

"Living only a few miles from the East Branch, Elmer is one of the most diligent and passionate fly fishermen you'll encounter on this river. You will find him there not only in May and June, considered by most the height of the season, but also on late summer evenings, waiting by himself until the sun hides behind the western ridge to catch one more brown on a Blue-
winged Olive, and at freezing late fall dawns, netting a few more rainbows on soft hackles and Wooly Buggers before ice and snow cover the pools. I knew that, by following Elmer, I would gain extremely valuable information on the East Branch'
Christophe Perez, Eastern Fly Fishing Magazine September/October 2014

Ok, time to report on exploring one of my favorite rivers. As you are aware the C&R section of the EB is a popular place with lots of water but there are other places "above the Gorge" that are great fly fishing stretches that NOBODY fishes or guides on. I spent time exploring this upper river last season and I'll be reporting and GUIDING on it this year. We are talking MILES of water in an eastern Berkshire setting. Beautiful!!

The Middle Branch of the Westfield is a hidden gem. Tucked into the foothills it's got trout and lonely country scenery that is postcard perfect. It's a small intimate stream just right for that 2 wt or a tenkara set up. It flows into Littleville Reservoir which is the home of smelt and BIG trout which will find their way into this river. I've caught them! Wanna try for them?? Keep reading this blog this season and you'll get more than a primer or book a trip with me starting in late April.

That's not all!! I'll be posting on other "new" Massachusetts destinations this week. Instead of just writing about 3 rivers I'll be personally reporting and guiding on 6 and will have reports from the Evening Sun Fly Shop on eastern streams. All your information for a successful season will be here!!!

P.S. Watch for the Ware River!!!!!!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Swift Update And A Thank You

"Nobody goes there anymore because it's too crowded" Yogi Berra

We both agreed that it would be cold and windy. Bob left the Y Pool parking lot 10 minutes before me and he and the other owners of the 5 vehicles stopped before the Y Pool. My dream was that the windy forecast would be false and I would have some surface action at the Pool. I've had many good late winter days in this spot so that's were I went. I was the only one there at 9:30 am again.

Short Story - The wind was outrageous bringing the wind chill south of 20 degrees. Casting was a chore but I was able to get to the north side of the pool, getting out of the wind and having the late February sun in my face. Not too bad.

The second cast bent the bamboo and the bow came to the net via a plastic head scud. Another hit and was landed and two threw the hook.There are trout there. With all of that wind and cold I still saw a winter caddis dancing along the surface. I saw two rises. Hmm...

Went up the bubbler arm because fish hawk Lenny nailed some bows and brookies during the downpour on Wednesday. I so no brookies but got some bows. That was ok.

Swift regular BILL was arriving as I was leaving. He said that he almost didn't go out because of the wind and cold. He also showed me is hellgrammite pattern that has worked this winter on the upper Swift. So much for midges.

Saturday will be cool like today but the wind will be less. We may kiss 50 degrees on Sunday.

ALSO, Thank you for reading this blog. Viewers are up about 40% over last year. They have been up every year for years but the last 12 months have been outstanding. Thank YOU!!!!!

Spring is on the way!!! Go Fish!!


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bondsville Revisited

It seemed like just yesterday that this section of the Swift was on my regular fish list. I got familiar with the place in 2008, worked around the high water of 2009 (check out my blog post on the high water in July 2009) and spent the Summer of 2010 catching brookies, rainbows and browns mostly on dry flies. Then 2011 was a bummer, a view backed up by some of my readers. There was no explanation for it but the fishing was poor. It slowly fell of the fish list. I haven't been there in over two years!

I know that many don't have a clue where I'm writing about and even fewer have fished it. It is the section before the Ware River and that's all I'll say. It has some charm (real charm) in the fact that it doesn't LOOK like the Swift River that we know. It is a classic pool, riffle, run, repeat structure that looks natural because it is. It is UNNATURAL because the cool water of the upper Swift finds it's way down here. I've taken temperature readings in mid afternoon on hot Summer days and found 65 degree water. The DFW studied this stretch in 2004 and found that water temperatures never were higher than 68 degrees. All of this is well within a trout's comfort zone. Add the fact that much of this water is under a Summer canopy of shade and you will have a "trout zone"!

The place is loaded with brookies, not to the extent of Cady Lane but a good population. I've caught more browns down here per hour fished than anyplace upstream. The bows are here too. This was before 2011!

The downside - Having an industrial park almost on the banks of the river is not a selling point. It may be hard to see but you can hear it. The place also seems to be a party spot with it's share of litter. And it's catch and keep down here.

But it does have it's charm. 90% of the time I fished it alone with only the occasional kid with a spinning rod within view. I've met only one other fly fisher down there. That's always a drawing point for me.

I'm going to work this section again this season. It just can't be like 2011 again. It's on the stocking list every week in April and May and I know it's not being fished out. I will let you know!


Monday, February 22, 2016

Yesterday At Charlies And A Classic Wet Fly

"Angling is extremely time consuming. That's sort of the whole point"Thomas McGuane

First, we had a great time at Charlies Evening Sun Fly Shop yesterday! The place was packed!!I spent the first 90 minutes working up some Swift River flies, answering lots of questions, taking some tying requests,answering more questions and then finishing with the Millers River presentation and a short slide show of flies.

One fly that caught some attention was the Millers River Sedge. This is a classic wet fly style that I worked up 10 or so years ago BECAUSE I love old, classic flies and this beauty works on those late Spring and Summer evenings when the caddis are popping up. It has a wide wet fly profile that grabs their attention as you swing this fly through your favorite set of riffles.

Hook - wet or dry size 12 or 14

Tail - brown hackle fibers

body - yellow, orange or olive dubbing of rabbit

Wing - brown turkey quill

Hackle - brown partridge or hen hackle one size longer than usual

When I first started fly fishing the tackle catalogs were loaded with classic wet flies. Now they're pretty much gone. Some were junk (like some of today's flies) but many always caught trout and still do. So be brave, tie some up and hit the freestones this Spring. I think you'll do well.

To the gentleman you wanted to know about my "taped caddis" I posted the tying instructions back earlier this month. Just back cast a few posts and you'll find it!

Daylight Savings is only 3 weeks away!!!


Friday, February 19, 2016

Scud Season

To the fisherman born there is nothing so provoking of curiosity as a fly rod in a case Roland Pertwee "The River God (1928)

9:30 am and I am the first at the Y Pool parking lot today. Lucky or will I be fishing a desert? It's been close to two months since I've gone above RT 9 because of my affair with the lower CR especially Cady Lane. But I will spend a few hours working this water and trying out some variations of some standard winter flies.

The joint filled up quickly and I left after 2 hours with three rainbows coming to the net. I saw one other trout taken during that time. The simple scud did the trick. No weight, no indicator, just drifting the fly with the idea of keeping it deep. The end of the fly line would stop, the rod was raised, the bamboo bent and the 'bow was then netted.

This was a variation of my usual scud tie. I'm staying away from using metal beads as much as I can. I want something that adds some mass to the fly but also looks like it's supposed to be there. So I went to a local craft store and bought a tube of olive colored plastic beads. They are pretty much weightless, cost nothing, but have no buoyancy and they look like the head of an aquatic insect (I'll be working up some stonefly nymphs with them later today).

The Y Pool has fish but they seem sluggish. One 16 inch fish just seemed to roll over and come to the net. The water was COLD and I kept thinking what a few days of 50 degrees would do to this place.


Hook - scud 14 to 16

Head - olive colored plastic bead

Body - olive Australian possum or rabbit, beaver, muskrat, dog or cat

shell - thin clear plastic cut from a cheap lunch bag (this always beats the "shell strips" that are out there).

Rib - ultra fine copper wire

Take a dubbing brush and work out the dubbing once the shell is tied down but before the ribbing is tied in. Don't overdo it!


Monday, February 15, 2016


" The angler forgets most of the fish he catches, but he does not forget the streams and lakes in which they were caught" Charles Fox

This was not a fishing trip but a get away trip from the weather that I knew was coming. The last three mornings I woke to temperatures that were over 70 degrees warmer than good old Massachusetts. That was great! In short, the days were in the 70's most of the time and shorts and tees were the uniform for the stay. The location was Sebastian right on the Indian River and I had time to spend with my wife and scout the joint out. Lots of promising inshore fishing and that got us to reserve the month of March 2017 to really fish this place. Plenty of Indian River Lagoon spots and ocean front for the taking. Had a good question and answer session with a local guide who will be employed next year. This is the way I like to do things, scout the area instead of using valuable time trying to find a place. I'll be back!

This leaves the question - why do we spend the winters in the frozen north? I never thought of myself as a snowbird but....

See you at Charlies on the 21st!!

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Steady Stonefly And A Bad Idea For The Swift.

There will be days when the fishing is better than one's most optimistic forecast and others when it is far worse. Either is a gain over just staying home. - Roderick Haig-Brown

Nothing gets my juices flowing like the thought of big stonefly nymphs becoming active in late May on the Millers and the EB. Both rivers are First Class 'stone rivers with their miles riffles and pocket water. Riffles and pockets, with their high oxygen levels, are the home of the stones. One thing for certain - if you have stoneflies you have a healthy river.

My nymphs are in the 8 to 12 size range with either olive/brown or yellow/brown making up the body color. The tails are made from two wisps of ostrich herl and the same material is wrapped around (palmered) the body to represent gills which all of the stoneflies that are important to us have. The hackle is cheap Indian cape hackle usually in brown with a wing case of black duck quill. It may be wise to lay a strip of super glue on the back of the body before you wind that fragile herl.

Stones hatch like the previously mentioned damsel flies. They crawl out of the water onto a rock or such, split their nymph case open and then fly away. Unlike the damsels, this hatch can last for weeks and unlike the damsels (again) the winged adult is of real importance!!!!! Stimulators come into play especially in the late afternoon and evening. You will not see concentrations of these flies but you will see the occasional "helicoptor" fly bye. Drop the fly at the tail of a riffle and hold on. Even after the hatch is history the trout still rise to the stimulator. This may be because they think its a hopper (or maybe not).

The Swift - another non-scientific solution has been launched to "improve" the fishery on the Swift and that is to eliminate the stocking of rainbows in this river. The same idea sprang up last year and it quickly sank without a trace (thank God)! The weak rational is that if you stopped stocking rainbows the brookies would return to the river in droves, multiply like crazy, leaving us with a first class brook trout fishery. Now they have a petition.

First - the author(s) of this idea has about 3 years experience on this river,if that, and not the 20, 30, 40, and 50 plus years of the fly fishers who disagree with him.

Second - if the author(s) had more experience they would know that the Swift has had a native brook trout fishery for at least 30 years. That's when I took a trout hatchery manager from Pennsylvania to fish it. He was amazed at the brook trout population covering many age classes.

Third (Most important) - the brook trout population has continued to grow year after year after year IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT WE ARE STILL STOCKING RAINBOWS!!!!!!! This fact disarms their weak argument that the rainbows are hindering the brookies. The Swift HAS BECOME A FIRST CLASS BROOK TROUT FISHERY without changes to our stocking policy.

Fourth - This is Conventional Wisdom without a shred of scientific data. How much available brookie spawning habitat is there on the Swift? What is the survival rate of each year class? What is the REAL impact of rainbow predation on Swift brookies, if any? Come to the table with some data, not your common sense opinion.

Do you want to end rainbow stocking? If you do then get set for another Spring of 2015 when the fishing was HORRIBLE (no rainbows). Except the condition will last through the Summer until the brookies group up again in the Fall.

One more thing - The Swift is not a natural trout stream. IT'S A TAILWATER. Before Quabbin the stream had brookies but nothing like today. Today it's a stable, cool environment. 80 years ago the little brook trout of this river had to deal with floods, droughts and warm summer flows AND HATCHERY TROUT. If you want undisturbed native brookies go above Quabbin on the West Branch. If you want quality fishing year round in a man made environment then fish the Swift below Quabbin.

It's 70 degrees outside. I'm in Florida. Time to hit that beach side bar.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Damselflies And Their Imitations

"Many go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish that they are after" Henry David Thoreau

Photo by Thomas Ames, Jr.

If you've fished the EB or the Millers or any freestone river in late May to early June and have not seen this insect hatching at your feet then you're paying attention. Look for a warm sunny morning in early June and you will see THOUSANDS of these critters climbing onto rocks or the shore to hatch.

The insect that I'm talking about is a large, light green damselfly and this adult form is of no interest to the trout. It's the nymph that gets the attention!

I have seen and caught trout on the EB and the Millers that were chasing these fast swimming nymphs in water only 3 inches deep. I've seen one Millers brown actually beach itself trying to grab a nymph that had just made it to shore.

You may witness the greatest concentration of trout in certain areas for the whole season.

Where and When to fish - You NEED a BRIGHT sunny morning in late May or early June. Damsels like to hatch in the sun. Cast close to shore and use a snappy, short retrieve.

Where to fish - Freestones with sunny exposed areas are the best.

What to Use - Polly Roseborough's Casual Dress nymph is perfect in size, color and profile. So are some of Jack Gartside's creations. Size 8 and 10 with a little weight will do the trick. No beads please!

This June I'll get some photos of this insect busting out of it's nymph skin. A two inch insect emerging from a one inch casing. Amazing!!!


Sunday, February 7, 2016

It's Finally Winter On The Swift And A Charlies Reminder

Fly tackle has improved considerably since 1676 when Charles Cotton advised anglers to "fish fine and far off" but no one has ever improved on that statement. John Gierach

We got away with one this past week with only 3 inches of snow at my home in Northampton but 20 miles to the east in Belchertown it was more along the lines of 8 to 10 inches. That left the PIPE lot EMPTY on Saturday morning (16 degrees helped too) with only two sets of tracks left in the snow from the day before. From 8:30 to noon I saw ONE other fly fisher from the gauge down to Cady Lane. Mine were the first tracks in the snow.

The fishing was slow as one would expect with water temperatures down to 38 degrees but a Pellet Hatch erupted which brought at least a dozen trout to the surface at the Tree Pool BUT not at the PIPE where you always see trout chasing "pellets". There are no trout there because they're all now in deeper water.

We've been lucky this year compared to last year. We are past the half way point in this winter. The sun sets after 5:00 pm. Just one more month to go!

Don't forget to be at Charlie Shaden's Evening Sun Fly Shop on Sunday February 21 from 10:00 till 2:00 pm to tie and talk flies and to view my presentation on the Millers. It's always a good time.

Just a thought - It seems that I'm seeing fewer and fewer people fishing with strike indicators. I've been beating the drum for years against those things and now it seems to be paying off. There's a time and a place for bobbers but not all of the time and not in every place.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Booking Trips for 2016, New Rivers to Fish and Those Caddis Flies

"I fell in love with a fly fisherman....I can't believe my competition is a fish and not another woman"Allison Moir

First - I'm booking up quickly for this 2016 season on my three rivers - The Millers, the EB and The Swift. Also I'm working on developing some trips out in western Massachusetts on the Middle Branch of the Westfield and the Hoosic System. The Middle Branch (MB) may be the most beautiful, remote mid size stream in this State. You've probably never fished it but it's gorgeous and worth your while. There are fish there. The Hoosic and it's branches are a regional secret and fish well for oversized browns. Now, most of my clients come from eastern Massachusetts and this is a haul for you. Most likely an overnight stay to get on the water early for best success. Contact me and we will work it out.

I am getting BIG interest on the Millers this winter. Let's fish it. 90% of the flyfishing is done on 5% of the water. Do what my clients do - explore the river and become familiar with this river.

Also - I've kept my prices at the same rate for the past three years.

Also - I must be doing something right because some regional guide actually lifted a paragraph from my blog on Beginner Lessons. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery they say!!!!

Caddis - If you fish freestones in Massachusetts you can't avoid them. I could do three posts and hardly scratch the surface. In general most of the successful presentations are done subsurface and the photo of those wet flies are PERFECT. My friend Ric introduced me to this pattern 20 years ago. A dry pattern is also shown and this works too although it takes a bit more skill to tie. The wet pattern is made of gray or tan dubbing with some partridge fibers on the top and brown or black ostrch herl behind the head. The dry is turkey quill (glued or taped) over a dull body and a head of black dubbing. They work!!