Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB
Fly Fishing The Millers - With over 30 years of fly fishing this river I will claim more knowledge and fish caught than anyone. There are over 40 miles of river and I will take you to the best sections and if you want to sections that never see another angler. Don't be fooled by those who say the Millers is a Spring and Fall river. I'll show you how to have great Summer action. The "EB of the Westfield" - Wild and beautiful is the only way to describe this river. There's a lot of water here but I know where to go to catch trout. After a trip you will too!! Solitude and trout IS the EB. The Swift - 20 trout days are not uncommon on this river if you know what to do and use. I'll show the way and you catch the trout. RATES - Full Day (6 hours) = $150.00 for one, $225 for two (lunch included). Half Day (three hours) $90.00 for one, $155.00 for two. Beginners Class - 3 hours ffor $90.00, all use of rods lines, reels included.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The MB And The EB This Weekend

"Take care of the fish and the fishing will take care of itself." Art Neumann



I met Lenny at the EB around 7:30 Saturday morning to take the drive over to the Middle Branch of the Westfield River. I really wanted to work this river hard and started down by the mouth of the river by Littleville Lake. Lenny saw one rising bow and that was it. We met a local fly fisher who believed that the DFW never stocked the place!!

Now it was time to go trout hunting. We began to work upstream for a few miles and then hit pay dirt. We found lots of trout but catching them proved to be another story. They were holding in some very skinny water and were easily "lined".

Finally a piece of the puzzle was solved with a #18 black weighted nymph. The 16 inch bow took off ripping line from the reel and putting a healthy bend in the remade 6 foot 4 weight Paul Young bamboo rod. Two more got hooked but slipped away. We left around noon and my plans were to get back early the next day.

The MB is a gem and seems more remote than it's bigger brother the EB. This may be because the River Road along the EB may get more vehicular and foot traffic than River Road along the MB. You fish ALONE, period!! It is a gorgeous New England trout stream with the right mix of deep woods and pastoral settings that just makes you feel that you are in the right place. The river has the size of many places on the Swift without the crowds and on that 90 degree Saturday the water temperature barely made 57 degrees. Will that stand up to high Summer? My friend Christophe took a 17 inch bow there in late June two years ago in very skinny water. It we get enough rain who knows what can happen.

I made it back at 6:15 the next morning for an hour of fishing. Tough fishing but this time three came to the net and I was the only one there.

Bridges are a good spot to try out although today's rain got the MB pumped and jacked which will scatter the trout which is a very good thing. Fish this place!!

The EB was a mob scene Saturday with swimmers in the Bliss Pool and the complaints about low water. I do avoid the EB on holiday weekends for the obvious reasons.

Today I took my two clients out on the EB at 7:45am in a downpour that lasted for about an hour and a half. My guess was that the flow was around 200 cfs (remember, the gauge is broken) when we started and still clear. That changed between 10:45 and 11:15 when a monster flow hit us and raised the water level by over 1.5 feet and turned the water coffee colored. My guess was that the flow was about 800 and climbing. We still hooked up with trout by fishing the banks where many trout go to avoid the strong current. As usual this high flow will be gone in 48 hours and things will be back to normal.

I hope that they fix the gauge soon!!!!

Ken



Saturday, May 28, 2016

BONDSVILLE and the Ware

"Be patient and calm - for no one can catch fish in anger" - Herbert Hoover



No one was at the Pipe Parking lot at 7am and on one was there when we got back at 2:30. The Y Pool lot seemed strangely un populated early and late in the day. No matter, me and my client were going elsewhere and elsewhere was the Ware River. We did well during that morning trip (Friday) catching and losing some on SH drifts but did better working dries upstream. Bows and Browns were the order. Then we went to Bondsville! (the Lower Swift if you don't know)


I was there on Wednesday during a video shoot and we passed the double digit mark within a half an hour. Brookies, browns and bows all fell to (guess what) an olive and partridge. One thing of notice: almost all of the trout were stuffed to the gills with a size 16 nymph that appeared to be a sulphur or a Pale Evening Dun (also considered a sulphur in some circles). We were ther at mid day. God only knows, or a lucky flyfisher, what ended up hatching during the evening.



Fish below the last dam or go down to the industrial park cul de sac and fish from there. It is TOTALLY different from above RT 9 which may offend folks that like that park-like atmosphere but the water is still COOL and there are trout. It LOOKS like a trout stream and it will be good for you and your soul!

The Millers is doing well. I was there during the past week and I did well. All places mentioned in my Millers Guide are prime right now especially in the early morning and in the evening. Order my Millers Guide so you will know where to go instead of reading self serving reports that will NEVER tell you where they were fishing.

The EB - Well, what can I say! I've done well and so have my reporters.

Happy Memorial Day.

Ken


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Big Fish Eating Little Fish And A Weekend Preview

" A trout is a moment of beauty known only to those who seek it" - Arnold Gingrich


I got an email this week that asked the question how big does a trout have to be to start eating other fish? I thought it was a trick question so I gave a trick answer: Any size! A 2 inch trout will gulp down a 1/4 inch fry of any species if it can catch and so will a 1 inch trout.

What I really think the writer meant to ask is when do trout begin to capture most of their calories by eating other fish? Now we have a good question. We will exclude lakes (a totally different environment) and focus on rivers. For the VAST majority of river environments and for the vast majority of trout that live in them the answer is NEVER. It is safe to say that roughly 80% of a trout's diet, regardless of it's size, is made up of insects!!


.The Millers is an insect factory and is also a bait fish factory. Simply put, there's a lot of food in that river. The largest trout that I have caught over the years there have been brown trout in the 20-21 inch range. At around 3 lbs they would represent the top 1% of the trout in size for that river. All of these trout were caught on SURFACE FLIES IN THE SIZE 16 TO 20 RANGE. In most cases I spied these fish feeding and took my damn time getting to them. One of them rose continually for an hour before I caught him. Did I think of throwing streamers at them? No! They were content to feed on aquatic insects. Trout will go after the most plentiful and easiest prey and that will be aquatic insects and terrestrial insects that fall into the water. A 6lb brown may gulp down a shiner but will never pass up a stonefly or a hellgrammite.


When should one fish streamers? The answer is anytime you want but statistically your best chance of success will be with insect imitations. And don't buy into that nonsense that the Fall is the time for streamers because trout are "putting on the feed bag" to prep for Winter. According to Tom Rosenbauer trout consume the most calories in the Spring than in the Fall. (see my post on this from 11/15/15)

THIS WEEKEND - This is the time when we begin to transition into the Summer mode. It's also the time when we usually have the time to hit the rivers.

The Millers has been HOT and evenings will be prime. Ask me for my MILLERS GUIDE if you want to know more about this river. Don't forget the Bridge Street Pool!!

The EB turned into a dry fly paradise Sunday afternoon after we played with picky fish for most of the day. The water temperature hasn't hit 60 yet and the flow is perfect.

The Ware is loaded with trout. The worst time to fish it will be at mid day under bright sun. Fish it in the mornings and in the evenings going forward.

Lenny and I will be working the MB this weekend. More on that later.

The Swift - Still fishing the ghost town known as the Pipe and still catching trout!!!

Have a Safe Holiday Weekend!

Ken





Sunday, May 22, 2016

An EB Early Start And Surprises On The Swift

This is the 1950's when kids are still allowed to run wild as long as they're home by dark. It's also a time of low grade delinquency - like trespassing, truancy or the odd fistfight - comes under the heading of "boys will be boys." You may get scolded or spanked but you won't have to undergo counseling" John Gierach -All Fishermen Are Liars


Well, my client cancelled Friday when he found out that TU would be invading The EB for the weekend. "I don't like crowds" was his reasoning. I don't either and I told him that they won't be showing up until our trip is almost over. That didn't change his mind. I suggested an earlier start. It was no to that too. So, I got to the EB at 7am and had the place to myself for three hours. I saw only one other flyfisher and I was fishing the Bliss Pool which is popular. I saw one other vehicle during that time and it didn't stay long.


The fishing was very good. There didn't appear to be a massive stocking as in years past when you could see schools of dumb trout milling around waiting to be caught. I did very well with a (guess what) partridge and olive SH. The rainbows were all BIG fish.

Now for the Swift - I guided from the Gauge Run down into Cady Lane yesterday and had to keep telling my two clients that the lack of a crowd down here was an abnormality. It's usually PACKED and we know why it isn't. It's the slim pickings down there compared to the month of May of past decades. But, do you know something? I LIKE IT BETTER!!!! It's not overpopulated with fly fishermen or with trash spewing bait fishermen. The place is actually cleaner this year!! Yesterday we saw only 4 other fly fishers in 6 hours. One of my guys had never fished with a fly before and his first fish was a 14 bow by the Gauge, then a bunch of native brookies by the Pipe and then a 16 inch brown taken on a size 20 thread emerger down by the lower Tree Pool. He's now a fly fisher!!!!!

There are fish there!! I've never seen the Pipe Run so loaded with brookies this early in the season. I spoke to Dr. Ken Simmonds of the Ma. DFW and he said that the DFW knows about this growing population. He said that the population has really taken off over the last 5 years and I agree. I hope it keeps growing.

We ended our guiding down at Cady Lane where we ran into a 300 lb + black bear which was perfect. All three of us were too dumbstruck to take a photo of course!!

Go Fish!!

Ken

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

This Years Favorite Fly (So Far), Your Comments And A River Update

"There's always a hot new fly. Precious few of these patterns are genuine breakthroughs destined to last for a hundred years, but more often they're idle comments on existing traditions, explorations of half-baked theories, attempts to use new and interesting materials to impress other tiers or excuses to rename old patterns. The results are often pointless fads like the craze in some pretentious restaurants of plopping fried quail eggs on everything and calling sandwiches panninis." -John Gierach



As many of you know I have been hooked on soft hackle flies for a longggg time. Next to the dry fly it is my favorite fly style and favorite method of fishing. Nothing says fly fishing for trout more than the cast,swing and mend of this style. Next to the dry fly it is the best representation of the insect form, rising and drifting to the surface to be taken by a trout. Dredging the bottom with some shiny, nondescript, graceless excuse for a fly suspended beneath a miniature lobster buoy sends me in the other direction!

It's the Partridge and Olive that seems to be getting it done this Spring and it's been getting it done on trout streams for 400 years! A good mayfly imitation? Yes. How about caddis? Excellent choice. Is it better than the Partridge and Orange of last year? Well, so far it is although I think that the Orange works better in the Fall.

They are also fun to tie and fun to fish. Maybe that will be my subsurface fly for the rest of the year and why not? Fun to tie, fun to fish and trout like them.

Your Comments - I took a look at the comments section of this blog for the last two or so weeks and found over two dozen individual reports on local streams and rivers from you guys. THANK YOU!!! Along with my reports on rivers I think we can justly say that this blog is the top choice for fly fishing news in central New England!!! Keep it coming!!


The Rivers - Two weeks ago we had cold, damp weather for a week but no downpours. This week it's cold mornings that may touch 60 degrees by mid afternoon. The result - cooler than normal flows that are in PERFECT shape everywhere. No late May heat waves in sight so get out there.

The Ware has been hot and my previous post will give you some launch points.

The EB is perfect right now but will get crowded by Friday thanks to TU. It may get stocked today for that event.

The Swift is a mystery at least around the Pipe area. I haven't seen more than two fly fishers there at one time this season. The bait boys have vanished too. It's the same story as last year BUT last year the snow melt made the Swift the only fishable place around and it had no fish. This year I can say that I haven't missed it that much since every other place is fishing well. I've caught fish there but it's not easy. Cady Lane has been a blast. Hint: try Bondsville.

The Millers is loaded with trout and the flow has been fishable over the past few weeks. Hint: try showing up around 3pm and fishing to after 8pm in late May. You want dry fly action, right??

Tie some soft hackles!!!!

Ken

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Weirdness On The Ware And Brookies On The EB

"I fish better with a lit cigar; some fish better with talent" - Nick Lyons, -Bright Rivers,-1977


I like guiding Brad because he is a good fly fisher and his personality makes for good company. Today seemed early on that we may have chosen a day that would be a bit substandard as far as conditions go. The high 70 degree day of Saturday would be replaced with a high of 55 degrees with a bitter northwest wind howling all day along the Ware River Valley. It was a struggle to keep my hat on!!

Some observations:

First, We saw NO OTHER FLYFISHERS over the three locations that we fished, Church Street, River Run Road and behind the big abandoned mill in Gillbertsvile. I saw some at Church Street Saturday on a drive bye but nothing today.

Second, we caught trout at each location with soft hackles and then with weighted stuff and then soft hackles again. We missed a bunch!!!!!!! Most were caught on the classic drift and swing which will always give your heart a bounce at that "take". We even took a good size smallie (12 inch range) who didn't want to be caught!!


Then the WEIRDNESS

We were about a 100 yards down from the Church Street Bridge where it becomes shallow for a short span. We saw the SHOULDERS of a large fish that began to leave a WAKE as it moved through this shallow area. It disappeared but then reappeared against the right hand bank. What was it? A monster brown? (hmm... can't be), a large bass (too large for this river?), a large carp coming upstream from the Park area? Who knows but a few minutes later Brad hooked a 5 inch fall fish( first on the Ware this season). When the fall fish got to about 10 feet from us something BIG grabbed it. The instinctive hook set pulled the little guy from the jaws of this mystery fish only to have the mystery attack again!! We saw a 10 second battle before the monster finally let go. What did I see? I saw a fish that was easily a fist size wide across the shoulders. If it was a bass it was 4 to 5 pounds. If it wasn't a bass then God knows what.

Someone said that there are no brookies on the EB this year. It's way premature for that statement!! The DFW will stock this river THIS WEEK before the big TU party this weekend as they do every year. If this year is like last year they will stock many brookies in this river. Hopefully it won't be like last year when too many brookies (my opinion) went in.

So there you go. Three locations reported on the Ware. The Swift is slow as everyone knows except for our native brookies and more reports coming through on this blog. Kind of better than reporting on good days on rivers that remain nameless. Am I right or am I right????

More to Come!

Ken

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Wonderful Ware River Evening And Playing With Brookies

"Hell, give me Greenwell's Glory and Campbell's Fancy, all wet and about size 12 and May on the Big River, and anyone else can have whatever else he wants. I won't need it" Sparse Grey Hackle on the Beaverkill River circa 1930



There are evenings on a trout river that you know you will remember for a longggg time. I just added two to the memory bank this week.

It finally came to my attention that I hadn't had a fly rod in my hand for a week. Well, my fly rod anyway. The guiding schedule has been packed and I had overlooked my favorite client - ME. So off to the Ware River on Monday evening where I was greeted to a decent flow, a steady caddis hatch and lots of small but eager browns. An olive soft hackle did the trick as did it's CDC hybrid. Maybe it's because it was Monday evening but nobody was there as I worked a half mile of river and caught a lot of browns. Once the word gets out that the trout are on the smallish size the meat hunters will lose interest. I won't!!! The sun was getting low, birds were swooping down over the river picking of caddis flies, browns were working the surface and I was putting a bend in my bamboo rod many times over!!


Tuesday evening was spent with Brad as we plied the Swift in search of it's native brookies. It's funny but we couldn't buy a fish up by the horse farm as the brookies refused everything but 100 yards downstream we cleaned house. I went into the double digits working size 22 and 24 thread flies on the surface while Brad did the same with soft hackles. Again, we had the place to ourselves. The brook trout were small with the largest being about 8 inches BUT they are the REAL THING and we were fishing for them.

A perfect evening on a trout stream!!!!!

THIS DATE HAS BEEN TAKEN!!

Now, I have an OPENING for this SATURDAY May 14 for either a full or half day trip for one or two people. Pick your river! Here is how you get it: be the first to respond by EMAIL and it's yours. Phone calls or texts do not count. Using this date to reschedule a future trip is not allowed. On your mark, get set, GO!!

Ken



Sunday, May 8, 2016

The CDC Soft Hackle And A Word On Freestones

"Oh yes, I remember that trout. It was my first on a fly, and it was a brown" -E. Donnell Thomas Jr. in Whitefish Can't Jump


I take no credit for inventing this fly which can be found scattered around the internet. It is a really good idea which turns a killer fly, a soft hackle, into a dry fly. It's the CDC that does that. Just tie some in after the thorax and before the partridge, grouse, hen, starling or whatever you use. This fly will set low in the water and will act as an emerging insect. The CDC floats it and the webby hackle will move in the current giving it the essence of life. Fish this to rising trout.


I love freestones, those rivers that start in a swamp or a bog or somewhere in a steep valley and then begin to gain strength and flow as they roll to their rendezvous with a larger river. Each has it's own personality and like the people who fish them will have good days and bad days.

I love the seasonality of freestones. High, cold and seemingly lifeless in the winter, The great flows of April, May and most of June when fishing during banking hours is productive and the late evenings of Summer when we enter the realm of whip-poor-wills, mayflies and rising browns. Those Summer evenings are my favorite time and are the essence of fly fishing.

Tailwaters save the day during the winter months and for those that can't, or won't fish a freestone as the sun goes down. The drawback is that they will be CROWDED. When I fish the Swift or the Farmington I always go to the "out of the way" spots because I don't like crowds. I seldom if ever have that problem on a freestone in Massachusetts.

The Millers, the EB, the MB, the Ware, the Squannacook and the Quinapoxet are your home rivers. You possibly live just a short drive from one of them. All are fishing really well as of late.

Don't miss out!!

Ken

Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Better Bugger, Charlies Millers Map,A Stream Update And The Farmington

"Fly fishers find it next to impossible to be at the water with a fly rod without taking just a few casts to see what happens"Jon Margolis and Jeff MacNelly


My friend Joe took one look and said "your woolly buggers look like insects". This may have been the best compliment I have received for a fly that I don't like to tie. My friend and fish hawk Brad says that he buys his buggers because he's sick of tying them. Love them or hate them buggers catch fish but I've found a style that seems to work better than that bulky, overdressed thing that has taken over the scene and it gives you a feeling of imitating a natural.

First, buggers are getting too large. Try cutting them down. Instead of size 6 or 8 try a size 10 or 12 on a nymph hook.

Second, eliminate the chenille body and go with a dubbed body or a peacock herl body. Keeping it slim is the key. Use thin wire ribbing when using peacock.

Put a bit of flash in the tail.

This fly works well with some weight or without weight in low water conditions (yes, the photos have beadheads: do what you have to do). I think that the large bulky buggers are more or a bait fish imitation. My small buggers cover the ground for large nymphs, hellgrammites, stoneflies and maybe baitfish.

They catch trout, period!

Charlie at the Evening Sun Fly Shop has come up with a good map of the Millers River. I worked with him for a year on this and it will work for you. It dove tailes well with my Millers Guide. Get it at Charlies. It's worth it!!!

The EB has been doing well, the Millers has been very good, the Ware has been getting it done in good form and the Swift depends who you've been taking to. Bad news changes into good news right after a stocking (duh). We know one thing: the Swift will be fishing better in May and even better in June and GREAT from July onward. Right now it's fun down on Cady Lane chasing brookies and the bows that are down there.

A Statistic On The Farmington - I've always said that the Farmington is the best fly fishing river in New England. Being a BIG tailwater certainly helps but this statistic warrants consideration. From the Guide to fishing the Farmington Riverin the 2008 edition it says the "Department of Environmental Protection stocks approximately 46,000 trout into 28 miles of river annually." WOW, that's a lot of trout!! Massachusetts stocks approximately 10,000 trout into the Millers which is close to the length of the Farmie. Ok, the Millers isn't a tailwater BUT you have to admit that the Farmington is loaded with fish. I have good catches when I'm there and I hear of very good days. Maybe (maybe,maybe ,maybe) there are toooooo many fish there.

Food for thought.

Ken

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The EB is BACKKKKKK And A Word On Rods

"Rivers and the inhabitants of the watery elements are made for wise men to contemplate and for fools to pass by without consideration" - Isaac Walton


Who would of thought - the EB has never really been a destination until the 3rd week of May when it gets it's TU weekend stocking. Not this year!! This guy I guided just HAD to spend three hours on this river this morning. The result - there are trout all over the place, big slab chunk bows that like to go airborne. Where - as I said, "all over the place". From Chronicle Corner (note: the executive producer of Chronicle Magazine, the TV show that has featured this river a number of times, named this spot just below the Bliss Pool. I'll use the name) downstream through Slant Rock (first turnoff after the quarry) and down to the bend before the gate all produced fish. For some reason the Bliss Pool didn't work. How many? - double digits in three hours with most trout in the 14 to 18 inch range. What did we use? - that's enough information! Just fish this place!!!

RODS - It's the year 2040 and we are at the Y Pool. The angler is deftly casting his 15 foot 1/2oz nymphing rod (it's 2040, ok) and he then sees a trout break the surface 35 or so feet away. "How far" he asks? That's when his rod caddy pulls out the range finder and states "37.5 feet". The angler then says "8 foot 3 weight Sage?". The caddy says " with the 5 mph wind lets do the Orvis 9 ft 4 weight". They use the Orvis and he immediately lines the fish.

Guys - We are going crazy with rod purchases and rod selection!! My friend Joe actually saw a guy on the Swift with a rod in his hand and ANOTHER tucked into his wading belt. A dry fly rod in case of surface action??? Probably. We are drinking the rod manufactures Kool-aide which is not just having a good ALL PURPOSE rod but having a rod for all occasions. That means that they sell more rods which you don't need. What the hell is a nymphing rod anyway? You don't do a lot of casting with it just a lot of "flip, mend, flip again". It's the fly fishing answer to ice jigging for perch and I can do that successfully with a 7 1/2 foot bamboo rod. Two years ago I received a genuine "nymphing rod" as a gift, all 10 ft, 4 weight of it. It worked well but no different than my 9 foot rod or my 8 foot rod. I did use it to catch some rising trout on the EB but was told later by an "expert" that "it's not a dry fly rod". Well, it was that day!!

In short, this is fly fishing and not golf. One good, all purpose rod of medium action between 8 and 9 feet in a 4 weight is all you need for trout fishing be it size 8 conehead buggers or size 32 film fishing. You don't need a set of clubs, I mean a set of rods!

One good rod is all you need.

Ken