Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Saturday, March 12, 2016

"Marginal" Rivers, A Word On The Swift, And Some Advice

"All of the romance of trout fishing exists in the mind of the angler and is in no way shared by the fish" Harold Blaisdell, The Philosophical Fisherman

Backcast to when I was a starving college student four decades ago. I'm being dropped off at Phillips Brook, a small stream that runs from Ashburnham to Fitchburg on a very early Saturday morning. It has some natives and gets stocked in the spring but this is the 3rd week of June. "It's too low and warm and it's been fished out" said the local expert but I went anyway with my stout fiberglass rod,box of standard wets and no waders (starving college student,remember). I spent about 7 hours fishing that diminutive stream and took over two dozen trout, mostly bows but also some of those natives. I pulled that trick again for the next few years until moving out of the area and that trick was fishing a stream AFTER it's supposed to be fished out and doing well.

Now, back to the present. There is a stream that flows behind our house that has some native fish but mostly stocked trout. Fuller's book "Trout Streams of Southern New England" has this to say about the Mill River:"It's waters in Williamsburg flit nicely in an array of pools, riffles and easy rapids, but the stream does suffer from high summer temperatures". That statement is usually the kiss of death for a trout stream but it isn't so. I've caught trout there in the summer and know of others who have done the same. The DFW surveyed the river two Septembers ago and found trout and other cold water critters. The waters are not "warm" but actually surprisingly cool in the summer. One local college stated that the "cool" water during the summer extended much further downstream than thought (there goes conventional wisdom for you). In other words, this marginal river is not marginal at all.

These kind of streams are all over the State and you know where they are. They get hammered in the spring for the easy fish and then by Memorial Day they are vacant. Go early in the morning or at dusk to catch the trout that are there. Cool zones exist everywhere in a trout stream. Go find them!!
The Swift has fish. Not a lot but enough to make it interesting. The news of a 27 trout day by a local fish hawk didn't bring out the crowds which left the Gauge to Cady Lane with few fishermen yesterday. My guy did well and was the "top rod" for the 3 hours we were there.It was his first trip to the Swift too!! Scuds and a Swift Serendipity did the trick.

Advice- Please do not ask me if a certain stream has been stocked. I don't chase stocking trucks and you shouldn't either. Every stream will get its fish in the next two months so chill out and fish anyway and everywhere.

Advice - Take pride in your fly tying. This is the art form of our sport and should be treated as such. A well crafted fly is a pleasure to create and to look at and it will also catch trout. Resist the temptation to "dumb it down" by creating concoctions that can't represent anything found in the natural world. You can do better!



Ryan Crow said...

Caught a couple browns, plenty of bows and one small brookie yesterday. The river is definitely coming alive between the warmer temps and fresh stocking. Also unfortunately saw many people already looking for keepers, one guy with his kid had 4 bait poles in the water in the deep area behind the shell station in bondsville. Who wants to eat fish that were stocked a couple days ago? Gross.

Anonymous said...

I live on Phillips brook in Westminster and your story still holds true. The state stocks my yard 2x a year. And it is a zoo for about 5 weeks. No more rainbows, one net of brookies and one of Browns most years. There are a lot of natives in the stream now. The fishing for them is good all season, there is a couple miles of "secret" water that is loaded with the little jewels. I wouldn't suggest ever sending anyone there as it is a sensitive Eco system that could get fished out if the wrong person finds is and keeps 7 a day.

I fish it sparingly out of respect for the wild, but just knowing it is still a wild place in my backyard is all I need some days.


Millers River Flyfisher said...


Good to see that the natives are doing well even with the stockers. It is more of a native brookie environment.


Chris of Warwick said...

Love Philips Brook. Also fish a few other gems up in the northern climes of Mass. Never see anybody as I go during the week.

I don't mention names as like what Eric said, sensitive ECO systems.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

I know of many unstocked streams that have natives. I never publish their name or location. If it is stocked then it's fair game.