Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Drought, Mystery Wing Material, A Slow Swift And The Millers Stocking

"$800 is a lot of money for a good graphite fly rod. Double that for a good bamboo fly rod and you have a bargain. Buy two"- Me

I will officially declare a drought condition for central New England. The map above may be familiar to some of you and it can be found by clicking on the flow link to any river on my website. When the page comes up just go to the upper right corner to "location" and choose "Massachusetts". The map will come up with color coding for the flow rates. For a week we are seeing a lot of RED which means a low flow historically. Massachusetts is becoming a red state (couldn't resist) but the cool weather has at least kept the water temperatures down and that is a good thing. We need rain! As I've always said the best trout summer is a damp,cloudy summer. Bad for the beach and tomato gardens but good for trout. Hopefully this will all end shortly. We don't need another 2010!!! BTW, the DFW will continue to stock through this dry spell which will create a temporary condition where most of the trout will be found in certain stocking areas. This ends as soon as we get rain. Any notion that this condition exists as a season long rule is nonsense.

So, I'm rummaging through the local department store (aka Walmart) when something catches my eye. Could this be the long lost wing material that was rumored to exist, the great Ivory Billed Woodpecker of fly tying material?? For $1.75 a spool I couldn't resist. It works!! The material is some kind of veiling that is veined and has some sparkle. The beauty here is that it is a very loose weave that will not create wind resistance which creates spinning which created twisted leaders. I will post a photo of the product within 24 hours so you know what to look for. One $1.75 spool = 1000 sets of wings or something like that.

The Swift - We pretty much had the rt 9 to Cady Lane stretch to ourselves last Friday. I counted three other fly fishers and one lure guy. We caught fish but the "swimming between my boots" density was not there. Late Tuesday was a first - no cars at the Y Pool lot and NOBODY down below!! Actually it was kind of nice! I'm sure the State will stock by early May and life as we know it will return. In the meantime fish the Millers because it is HOT!!!!!

I need to get to the EB!!

NEWS RELEASE!!! The Millers will get their brown trout stocking on Friday May 6 for both the Upper and lower CR sections. 8:30am at Holtshire/Orcutt and 1:30 pm at Pete & Henry's in South Royalston. This IMPORTANT stocking has been going on since the Spring of 2003 and it is important. They need some volunteers. I did it for years and it is fun. If TU is conducting the stocking and if it is a float stocking PLEASE make sure that the trout are evenly distributed throughout the river and not in favorite pools as in the past which has been admitted to me.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Swift And The Millers

"Compulsive scorekeepers should be avoided: people who refuse to have a good day unless they've hit some preconceived mark, like "25 fish landed" or "at least one 20 incher" - John Gierach on people to avoid on fishing trips.

Last things first - we had a very good Friday and Saturday on the above mentioned rivers. Now, where was everyone?? The lower CR on the Swift was deserted on Friday. We saw no fly fishers from the Gauge to the tree pool.
What we did see were a good number of rainbows in the tree pool hanging around a million suckers. Just like in the Fall with the brookies the bows are trying to steal eggs. (Hint) Sucker eggs are small and beige in color.

We hooked and caught fish in the Gauge Run and then took a walk downstream to play with the brookies who were working the surface. Then the bows got into the act. It didn't take long to see what was interesting them: winter caddis and millions of them. I'd love to say we clobbered them on the surface but it wasn't the case. A few to the fly and that was it. It was fun!!

Saturday on the Millers - The river dropped below 500 cfs and that made it tolerable. The place is loaded with fish and not loaded with fishermen. We saw one fly fisher at the Bridge Street Pool and one at Orcutt. Fish heavy stuff at Bridge St. on a short line and you will get it done. At Orcutt we worked the mouth of the brook with Hornbergs and split shot and then just unweighted. The trout were very willing to mix it up. That place is LOADED with trout and Orcutt fishes well in higher water anyway.

The weather is fine and there are trout everywhere. You have no excuses!!!!!


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

News On The Millers, A Weekend Preview, a Crazy Product Review And Reader Comments

"If fly fishing was only about indicator nymphing, I'd take up bowling" Tom Chandler of the late and lamented Trout Underground

In 2003 we brought back the brown trout stocking to the Millers River after a two year hiatus. They (DFW) said to me, " the browns are going to be stocked ONLY in the CR sections, period!" Now that has been the case since then up to last year. But a strange thing is being reported. There are reports of browns stocked ABOVE the Bears Den CR all the way into Winchendon and below the lower CR down into Erving. If this is a fact then the very restrictive policy of browns only in the two CR sections has been thrown to the wayside and that's a great thing. The Millers is a BROWN TROUT RIVER. There has been some natural drift of stocked fish (and some wild fish) above and below the CR's but not enough. If this is a change in policy and not a typo then it's browns everywhere and summer long trout fishing everywhere. It's what we always wanted anyway.

New England rivers are trending to the low side right now but not the Millers which is still riding high but dropping. We had a drop last week but that's only because the dam controllers held back the flow and then let it go. Up went the flow and it's still coming down. It should be fine (sub 500 cfs) by Saturday.

Explore the Ware! Go above the Church Street bridge into Gilbertville and check out some of this rough and tumble pocket water.

The EB and the MB are flowing nicely now. I haven't been to the EB yet (early May starts it) but the flows are good and fish will be there. I'll be there next week.

You know about the Swift. More on that next week.

Also as I stated in an earlier post my readers have stepped up with some great river reports covering the State. YOU CAN"T FIND THAT ANYWHERE ELSE!!!!

Now for my first product endorsement. Don't worry, I'm not going to bore you with the latest rod, reel, line,tackle bag and fly fishing technique that you can't be successful without.

First, I buy waders from the company that has a lifetime guarantee but I have waders from other companies hanging in the cellar that I retired because of nagging little leaks that could not be fixed. Patches, glues, UV repair, I tried them all. Sometimes they would work if I found the leak (no small feat) but usually there wasn't enough of the stuff to really make a difference. I kept the waders hoping I'd find the difference. I DID!

There is a commercial on TV showing this guy with a rowboat that has a screen door for a bottom. He sprays the screen with this stuff and then launches the boat with him in it. Ok, I'll take the bait.

The stuff is called FLEX SEAL and you can buy it over the counter at CVS of all places. I bought it, sprayed the neoprene bootie of one pair of waders and THE LEAK DISAPPEARED!!! Then came the leaky stocking foot and seam of a favorite pair of wading pants. PROBLEM SOLVED!! Another pair of waders got the treatment. PERFECT!!

Second, I have witnessed no problems with this product eating away the wader material. The stuff dries hard but flexible. I put two coats of the stuff on but probably could of got along with one coat.

I now have three perfectly serviceable waders more than I had. It's a win! Note: I had to pay list price for the stuff and am not awaiting shipment of a pallet of Flex Seal at no charge.

Keep the river reports coming!!!


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Welcome To The Ware! More New Water

"It's not now many you catch. It's how you catch them!" Anonymous

Ok, I had two hours to fish today at mid day before other things had to be done so that time was going to be spent on the Ware River. First off, I took a wrong turn that wasted 15 minutes but recouped in time for the best surface action of this young season. Imagine beautiful, choppy, runs flowing over a bed of cobblestones with a flow that was between knee and thigh deep and at a rate of around 150 cfs. Imagine caddis flies EVERYWHERE and the start of a Quill Gordon hatch which had browns and bows making those splashy "get-it-before-it-flies-away" rises. This river had everything working today including a row of rising trout along the far bank. This was not going to be a high stick'n Bulgarian Commando nymph dredging party! It was going to be the real thing - work that soft hackle in the first few inches below the surface to mimic THE REAL THING, the emerging insect which is what the trout wanted.

I had only 90 minutes today (I have to schedule things better) but I took 4 browns and 2 bows all just at the surface. I stayed away from the full fledged dry because there were no mayflies on the surface (Quill Gordons don't ride the surface) and the SH did just fine. I really had to rip myself off this river today.

Before I forget - I saw no other fly fishers on this section of the Ware. Just one guy with a spinning rod and a lure who said I should of been there yesterday!!!!! Today was fine!

You should take a break from the Swift and the Farmie and work this river over the next few months. Monster insect hatches, long, beautiful drifts and willing trout!

I'll be back again!


Saturday, April 16, 2016

The MB, The EB, The Millers And Your Comments!

"The crack high-country trout fisher is a good hiker, a fair-to-middling caster, a poor aquatic entomologist and a hands down master of the educated guess and the long, quiet bank sit. He also needs a working sense of humor even if at times he aims his jokes with the coldheartedness of a sniper" John Gierach

The Middle Branch of the Westfield - You should fish this river. I spent five hours there yesterday, caught trout and never saw another angler. I was in one of the most beautiful small watersheds in this State and I had it to myself on that wonderful Spring day. The funny thing is that the small country road that runs along this river has less traffic than the dirt road along the EB!!!

The River - At 11am the air temperature was about 57 degrees but the water temperature was only 44 degrees. This is a COLD stream and it stays cold even after Memorial Day because of the shading, leafy canopy. This is a classic riffles/pockets/pools setup and is excellent dry fly water.

The insects - Say hello to caddis flies!!! The place is crazy with them. I would expect the mayflies to make an appearance once the water temperatures get into the 50's.

The Trout - All rainbows on this trip and that seems to be the story with this river. I've yet to catch a brookie here. What I want to try next Fall is the area above Littleville Reservoir which is the home of a smelt population which feeds browns in the reservoir which may, just may run up the MB to spawn in November. We will see!!

Where is the place - Google maps will show you but as a reference it is about 16 miles from the EB parking area if you take the "northern approach" instead of the "southern approach". You'll figure it out. BTW, I guide there!!

The EB - Don't freak out when you look at the flow rate today. IT'S NOT THAT HIGH!!! That is the flow below the dam in Knightville released for the canoe races today. The CR has a nice flow right now and probably has enough rainbows coming from upstream to make it interesting.

The Millers - Today's flow is being held back at Birch Hill (just check the flow chart) which has dropped the river to fishable levels but WATCH OUT. They could suddenly release water which has occurred in the past. Keep an eye on it.

Your Comments - As all of you know I like to give up to date reports on various rivers in this State and have been doing it for years. My reports have not caused any mob scenes on the rivers that I report on and have actually moved some anglers to try new places especially on the Millers and the Lower Swift. AND NOW MY READERS ARE GETTING INTO THE ACT!! Please read the "comments" for each blog post. There's info on different NAMED rivers and fishing techniques are shared. I've always felt that it is a pointless exercise to brag about how many fish you caught and then refuse to even name the river you were fishing. Could anyone be so insecure? The answer is YES and I've known a number of them over the years. They would never reveal a river but the read this blog to find out what's happening.

Keep it coming guys!!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Hornberg - A Classic Fly

"Furiously changing flies is a sign of panic and trout fishermen in a state of hysteria seldom catch trout" John Gierach

It seems that the Spring is a good time to pull out the "Classic" flies and give them a try. The Hornberg is one of them.
The story goes that back in the 1920's one Frank Hornberg of Wisconsin developed the all purpose fly - a dry fly/streamer hybrid that he named the Hornberg Special. It could be fished dry, it's prime purpose, and then fished wet like a streamer. It was murder on the water and it's fame quickly spread. As time went on it became more of a sunken fly (sort of) which is how it's presented today.

Half dry fly, half wet fly presents problems because it will never float like a true dry fly OR sink like it should when fished wet. So I tie a wet version and a dry version.

Wet Version

Hook - size 8 to 10 nymph hook
body - mylar
underwing - yellow marabou (the original had yellow hackle tips but marabou absorbs water and sinks the fly)
wing - Mallard breast feathers
Cheek - jungle cock
hackle - soft webby grizzly hackle

Dry Version (the dry in the photo is a bit "busy" for me. Guess I was having a bad fly day!

Use a dry fly hook, back to yellow hackle tips for the underwing and still grizzly for the hackle

TIP - many get frustrated when tying in the mallard wing because the fibers will split and splay out. A tier of Atlantic Salmon flies gave me this trick: apply very light pressure on the first few wraps and then tight pressure on the rest. The feathers will behave themselves.

I've decided to tie up a dozen in both styles and give them a workout this Spring and Summer. I'm thinking of the EB in the evening around mid June.......

Sunday, April 10, 2016

River Update And What's Up With The Millers?

"The solution to any problem - work, love, money, whatever - is to go fishing, and the worse the problem, the longer the trip should be" John Gierach

OK, by now most every river,stream and brook that is on the stocking list has gotten stocked and most will get a second or third helping by Memorial Day. Now we just have to get the rivers to behave. Newcomers to the area may look at the flows for the Millers and say "What the F???? I know we've had rain but 1700 cfs?" Veterans of the Millers will say "High spike in the flow in early April - must be RIVER RAT WEEKEND. And that's what it is. Flows are held back at Birch Hill and released at once early on the designated Saturday morning. The flow supports the mad dash canoe event that supports the carnival/party atmosphere in Athol and Orange. Without additional rain the river will begin to drop in a few days and be normal in a week or so. What's "normal"??? I like 500 cfs and below. At 500 cfs it is a high sticking ballgame where a long rod, a short leader and a heavy nymph will improve your chances. Just have the leader beyond the rod tip, flip upstream, drift, repeat. It's as boring as watching grass grow but you'll catch something. But what if you want to cast further? Well you can BUT a heavy flow will drag on your floating line and keep your weighted offering too high in the current regardless of how much mending you do. Back in the day (1970's) we used to fish full sinking lines like a Cortland Wet Cell 2 in a 5 or 6wt, a short leader and a weighted fly. You could do the in close high stick thing and then cast out 20 ft and cut through the current to get into the zone. Those lines saved the day on many occasions even though you have to "adjust" (read:hard to cast) your casting rhythm. Some trout guys thumb their noses at these lines but then use them while chasing stripers. I still carry one with me just in case...

The EB - I believe there is a canoe race coming up on this river next weekend but the flows will only be effected BELOW the Knightville dam. Things were high above the Gorge on Friday but will settle down without additional rain. Is it fishable? Probably. I'll be there this week to find out.

The Swift - Well, I was going to go to the Bubbler or the Pipe and chose the Pipe. Next to nobody there and no fly caught fish were seen. My friend Lenny hit the Bubbler and killed them (figuratively speaking). Such is life.

P.S. Yeah HIBERNATION - The top photo may be the run on the lower Millers that you commented about recently.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

My BWO And This Season So Far

As with a faint star in the night's sky, one can better understand fishings' allure by looking around it, off to the side, not right at it - Holly Morris

Thank God for this insect. It's here from the Spring through the late Fall, comes in numerous sizes, seems to be all over the country and loves those damp, cool cloudy days that other mayflies seem to avoid. The Blue Wing Olive is a staple. One of my best dry fly days was early October on the EB when the air was full of them and the trout couldn't get enough of them.

My favorite ways to fish the BWO is ON or IN the surface with an emerger or a full dun pattern. A.K. Best, the well known tier and author, says that this fly really isn't OLIVE but more of an olive brown color. Many imitations our there are too olive and if you can capture one of these guys you will see that. Anyway, I here is the emerger I like to use:

hook - size 18 scud hook

body - olive brown synthetic dubbing

thorax - brown rabbit

Wing stub - CDC Puffs

The Adult:

Hook - size 18

Tail - dun colored hackle fibers

Body - brownish olive synthetic dubbing

Wing - grey CDC

You can tie these up quickly because they are soooo simple. Hint - the emerger is the better fly!

By now EVERYWHERE has been stocked at least once so you have no excuses for not going out. Try to stay clear of bridges because these are prime stocking spots and the truck chasers will hone in on them like cruise missiles. It appears that the DFW has now made it easier for truck chasers to get to places quicker with some nifty software. Why not put effort into developing a strain of survivor trout instead!!


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

My Third Favorite Pool On The Millers - Bridge Street And Beyond

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

I had to laugh a month or so ago new someone wrote a primer on this river without knowing anything about this river short of the Millers River Guide that I sent him. Even then the info was sparse, next to nothing. If he fished it it was a brief scanning of the river and any intelligence wasn't gained from the "Guide". If he actually fished the Millers he would of mentioned the great Pool and Runs that are making this river worthwhile. Bridge Street is one of them.

I ALWAYS take new comers to the Bridge Street Pool. It's below the C&R sections which will turn many off but for no reason. This Pool has it all. My second largest brown (browns are not stocked here) was caught here. It is the BEST place on this river to really learn to fly fish. Imagine a large pool with big riffles at the head, slowing down to some depth and the a large deep pool at the end. It is perfect for textbook fly instruction.! This Pool has equaled any of the upstream C&R sections when it comes to the trout to the net.

And then there is the river below. We have 5 miles of NOBODY fishing but there are fish there. Contact me if you want to go exploring. There are trout there and smallies that will top two pounds easily. Let me know if you want to find them.

Now a word From Charlie Shaden From The Evening Sun Fly Shop:

We are still a few weeks away from our onset of the Hendrickson hatch on the Squannaccook. When it does happen it can be a very rewarding time to be on the river.In the afternoon around 12:30 - 1:30pm is when the first appearance takes place and in the evening their emergence is usually around 1hr. before dark.The Quill Gordan will be the first mayfly to show itself within the next 2 weeks. We need several warm days to begin the parade of mayflies.
Charlie Shadan
Charlie is right on with this. I can remember an early afternoon just above the Arch Bridge in West Townsend (when it had water before the dam broke in the mid 70's) when the river exploded with hendricksons and the dry fly fishing was something that left a young flyfisher dreaming of hendricksons. Still dreaming about them!!! Hint - work Townsend Harbor in the afternoon/evening in May!!

Ok, 6 inches of snow AND 30 degrees for a high. After 70 degrees on 4/1 it is a bummer. Don't worry. Things will get better quickly. I remember a TU camping weekend at the EB of the Westfield on the 3rd weekend of May, 2002. A beautiful Friday night to be awoken by 3 inches of wet snow. It got better. Our streams have fish, insects will be hatching and we will MISS that gigantic trout that will fill our dreams through the next winter!


Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Farmington Friday And A Word About Jig Hooks

"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

I couldn't wait to get there. The temperature was already above 60 at 7:00 am and I began to day dream about hendricksons on the ride down. This would not be a day of dredging the bottom over and over but the chance to fish the hatching insect. If the rain holds off it could be a banner day on the Farmington.

Now the first thing that I noticed was that the Church Pool had only ONE angler at 7:30. This would be my last stop later in the day. I was heading to the Spare Tire Pool to get back at those two browns that made me look silly last November. When I got there I had the place to myself and a look upstream showed ONE angler at Greenwoods!! The best trout river in New England and it's empty on a beautiful Spring day.

I fished a hendrickson nymph with a size 20 Pheasant tail as the dropper. I took browns on both flies and had a ball. The only drawback was the lack of rising fish and not a hendrickson to be seen.

I worked that pool from top to bottom and then took a walk down to Central Riffle. The shoreline was packed with caddis flies so off goes the PT and on goes a grey bodied soft hackle which gets slammed by a good rainbow in short order.

After 5 hours it was time for a lunch break and then pay a visit to the Church Pool. Now there were 5 people fishing and for the 2 hours I was there I saw only one trout taken. Winter caddis were everywhere and I had tied some up for the occasion. A strong wind picked up which made casting and seeing a size 22 a real chore. Here is where the trout got back at me. I had 3 rises and missed them all.

Get to know this river! Stop in at Up Country Fly Shop and buy the "Guide to Fishing the Farmington River". It's a good inventment.

Jig Hooks are becoming all the rage lately. One of the "benefits" of this hook style is that the hook rides up and hooking will almost always be in the roof of the mouth. But according to the late Robert Behnke, once considered to be the worlds foremost expert on trout and salmon, the greatest cause of hooking mortality in trout are 1. ruptured gills and 2. HOOKING IN THE ROOF OF THE MOUTH. This is where the carotid artery is. Nick this vessel and you will have a dead trout. It may look good upon release but it's going to die.

I experimented with jig hooks back in the late 1990's for dredging the Millers in high water conditions. I didn't really like that style as it seemed to be a form of fly fishing hardware. My trout were hooked in the roof of the mouth. Then I read Behnke and gave up that nonsense. In fact, I can't recall the last time a hooked a trout in the roof of its' mouth with a standard hook.