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.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Browns, Brookies, The Drought And Ready, Set Go!!!!

Sorry I can't work today, my arm is in a cast.-Unknown


The cast was made into skinny water up tight against the bank. The size 18CDC Soft Hackle gently touched the surface and had floated about three feet when the brown began to chase it DOWNSTREAM. The take was strong and the fight lasted longer than I thought it would even for a 16+ inch brown. The fish was netted, smiled for the camera and then swam away.

That should of been the highlight of the evening except it had competition from "THE brown". An estimated 4 to 5 lbs, it moved into a favorite holding spot (I've seen it before) but then swam upstream before we got a cast onto him. The rest of the evening was spent working dries to the brook trout that were all in the 6 to 10 inch range. They looked like jewelry in the net and we were deep into the double digits for that species when we called it a day. Another Cady Lane experience! Contact me for a trip if you want to get to know the place.

The Drought - Tuesday nights rain barely made a click on the the flow gauges for central/western Massachusetts. It seemed that the flows averaged an increase of 3 cfs for the region but a further examination was in order. A quick look at the USGA Vermont map revealed that the State got hammered by storms and that some of the rivers increased their flow over five fold. The storms crossed over into western New Hampshire and had the same effect until petering out in central New Hampshire. Why am I concerned about what's happening in northern New England? Simple, the rivers that peaked out after the storms are tributaries of the Connecticut River and that increased flow has to go downstream. Large rain events up north have risen the CT. River flow in the past enough to turn down the spigot at Quabbin and lower the Swift River flow. We could be bone dry here but as far as the Connecticut River is concerned the drought is over. Let's keep an eye on it.

Tomorrow, July 1st, marks the seasonal regulations change in the Swift. It's C&R from RT 9 through Cady Lane and it is a traditional stocking time. A trusted source has told me that he saw the 7/1/16 date published! Whether it's 7/1 or sometime early next week is anyone's guess. Many anticipate this date with the same fervor as some anticipate NFL Draft choices! In any event the place will have trout (hopefully) and the fly fishers will return to the same popular spots.

I'll be in the OTHER spots!

Ken


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Low Water Conditions And The Swift

"The best fishermen I know try not to make the same mistakes over and over again; instead they strive to make new and interesting mistakes and to remember what they learned from them" - John Gierach



Ok, we are in the jaws of a drought and one just has to look at the USGA map of Massachusetts to understand why. Virtually all of the river gauges are marked in red which signifies a low water condition. Now, does that mean that freestone fishing is over? No is the answer. Over the decades I've had great summer fishing on the Millers and the EB when flows were low but fishable. Early morning and dusk are the best times for this kind of trout hunting. Remember, fly fishing for trout is a self regulating activity. Trout feed the most heavily when the water temperatures are between 55 and 65 degrees. Above 65 they begin to slow down with less need for food. Also remember that browns seem to tolerate warmer water better than their cousins.

One thing you should avoid is fishing around tributaries!!! When main stems get really boney trout will seek out the tribs and stack themselves up below them. They are sitting ducks for blue herons (seen it), otters (that too), snaggers (ditto) and harassment from fly fishers. During real bad conditions, such as now, these may be the last resort for survival in some streams. That's why Connecticut and Massachusetts BAN all fishing within 100 or so feet of certain tributaries on the Housatonic from mid June to September, a very good idea that should be enforced on all our major trout rivers.


The Swift has been great!!!! Now, I haven't been north of Rt 9 since March and have no intention of doing so in the near future. The lower river has kept me occupied. There are some trout at the Pipe, good fishing at Cady Lane and Bondsville is wonderful. Fishing pressure has been very light but that may change on Friday, 7/1, when the regulations change from Rt 9 through Cady Lane. That is a traditional stocking date. We will see.

There's a chance of thunderstorms from Tuesday through Thursday which is usually a hit or miss situation. We need a REAL storm with 2 inches of rain to recharge things.

Ken


Thursday, June 23, 2016

River Update And What This Blog Does


Fisherman love rivers for their own sake, but we always look at them with the knowledge that it can take years to begin to see what's actually there. That's why we can't take our eyes off them. I've been in cars that almost crashed because the driver and all the passengers were looking at a river instead of the road" - John Gierach



The drought continues. The freestones are down and the Swift is up. In fact, the Swift did it's impersonation of the Deerfield on Tuesday by dropping about 80 cfs and then gaining them back. It didn't stop the brook trout from rising for the struggling sulphurs that managed to hatch. The reports of good dry fly fishing are real with the Parachute Adams getting the bulk of the work (see comments by Lenny and Sam, aka "Parachute Adams", in the last post). Brookies were bending the bamboo for me on Tuesday evening!!

The Millers and the Ware have been excellent this year but I think I want to give them a rest until we get some rain. There is a practice on the Millers to fish the mouth of Whetstone Brook at the Kempfield stretch during low water because the trout are stacked up there. Try not to do it. The trout have to dodge blue herons and otters at that spot and they don't need to dodge us. I saw an otter with a trout in it's jaws last August swimming away from Whetstone.

Throw the EB into the same freestone mix. The flow there is way south of 100 cfs. Fish the deepest holes/pools and do this VERY early or well into dusk and do it with dry flies.



This blog - I am a numbers driven person and I've had a good handle on this site as to it's popularity and range. Thanks to you this is, by any measure, an extremely popular regional blog with a good and growing readership. Here are some stats:

Past 40,000 page views per month a while ago and still growing. This is far more than 99% of the regional sites with the exception of Small Stream Reflections, a great site.

A very healthy COMMENT SECTION!! I just don't count comments because blog hosting sites can't distinguish between a READER'S comment and the blog Owners comment. Most comment totals on most sites are a 50-50 split between readers and blog owners. I know one site where author comments actually outnumber reader comments!! I don't comment on reader comments for the most part because I believe that the comment section belongs to the readers. I will occasionally answer questions but will answer multiple questions in a SINGLE comment so it doesn't skew my comment numbers. Every two weeks I check the trends on this blog. Here are some numbers:

A rolling 10 post average of between 12 and 14 comment per post.

73% of the comments are from readers with only 27% coming from me. That means that the last 10 posts produced 130 comments of which 95 were reader comments. NOBODY DOES THAT!!!! As I said a few months ago, the comments section of this blog is a gold mine of knowledge and not just pom-pom wavers. They know their stuff and are not afraid to share it.

In almost 9 years I have never "mailed in" the effort by posting someone elses video on the front page. Everything is original and will continue to be.

I don't endorse fly fishing products. I have no brand loyalty and get no discounts/products from any of them. There's a lot of snake oil out there and I keep clear of it but if the makers of Flex Seal want to give me a free can I'd take it!!

There are millions of websites in this country. This one is ranked in the top 600,000. Not too bad!!

One would be hard pressed to find a site with a better/larger comments section. You are the drivers behind this effort!!  Ken






River Update And What This Blog Does


Fisherman love rivers for their own sake, but we always look at them with the knowledge that it can take years to begin to see what's actually there. That's why we can't take our eyes off them. I've been in cars that almost crashed because the driver and all the passengers were looking at a river instead of the road" - John Gierach



The drought continues. The freestones are down and the Swift is up. In fact, the Swift did it's impersonation of the Deerfield on Tuesday by dropping about 80 cfs and then gaining them back. It didn't stop the brook trout from rising for the struggling sulphurs that managed to hatch. The reports of good dry fly fishing are real with the Parachute Adams getting the bulk of the work (see comments by Lenny and Sam, aka "Parachute Adams", in the last post). Brookies were bending the bamboo for me on Tuesday evening!!

The Millers and the Ware have been excellent this year but I think I want to give them a rest until we get some rain. There is a practice on the Millers to fish the mouth of Whetstone Brook at the Kempfield stretch during low water because the trout are stacked up there. Try not to do it. The trout have to dodge blue herons and otters at that spot and they don't need to dodge us. I saw an otter with a trout in it's jaws last August swimming away from Whetstone.

Throw the EB into the same freestone mix. The flow there is way south of 100 cfs. Fish the deepest holes/pools and do this VERY early or well into dusk and do it with dry flies.



This blog - I am a numbers driven person and I've had a good handle on this site as to it's popularity and range. Thanks to you this is, by any measure, an extremely popular regional blog with a good and growing readership. Here are some stats:

Past 40,000 page views a while ago and still growing. This is far more than 99% of the regional sites with the exception of Small Stream Reflections, a great site.

A very healthy COMMENT SECTION!! I just don't count comments because blog hosting sites can't distinguish between a READER'S comment and the blog Owners comment. Most comment totals on most sites are a 50-50 split between readers and blog owners. I know one site where author comments actually outnumber reader comments!! I don't comment on reader comments for the most part because I believe that the comment section belongs to the readers. I will occasionally answer questions but will answer multiple questions in a SINGLE comment so it doesn't skew my comment numbers. Every two weeks I check the trends on this blog. Here are some numbers:

A rolling 10 post average of between 12 and 14 comment per post.

73% of the comments are from readers with only 27% coming from me. That means that the last 10 posts produced 130 comments of which 95 were reader comments. NOBODY DOES THAT!!!! As I said a few months ago, the comments section of this blog is a gold mine of knowledge and not just pom-pom wavers. They know their stuff and are not afraid to share it.

In almost 9 years I have never "mailed in" the effort by posting someone elses video on the front page. Everything is original and will continue to be.

I don't endorse fly fishing products. I have no brand loyalty and get no discounts/products from any of them. There's a lot of snake oil out there and I keep clear of it but if the makers of Flex Seal want to give me a free can I'd take it!!

There are millions of websites in this country. This one is ranked in the top 600,000. Not too bad!!

One would be hard pressed to find a site with a better/larger comments section. You are the drivers behind this effort!!  Ken






Monday, June 20, 2016

The Swift Is Up, Naturally And Swift River Browns

There's also a single drawback to being a fly tier, which is that you like to tie flies and can find it hard to stop-John Gierach


Long time commenter "Tincup" let me know first - The swift is UP as we all knew it would during this drought. The concern is that it's up earlier than the past two years. As I write it's leveled off at 128 cfs which will make many happy who don't enjoy the 50 cfs flow. It's very fishable BUT I enjoy the skinny water and the spooky fish! Now there's a forecast of thunderstorms rolling through western and central Massachusetts very late tonight. It won't be enough to turn the spigot off at Quabbin but it may give relief to our other rivers. The spigot will turn off if we get a good regional downpour that rises the Connecticut River above drought stage. Even heavy rain far upstream in Vermont/New Hampshire will do the trick. Hope it rains!!

The Swift has been a haven for browns this early summer especially in its lower sections. Browns in the 18+ range have been spied and caught. The massive brookie population seems to be feeding these brutes and a small (#10 or #12) streamer worked quickly seems to get their attention. Just like the bows that try to smack the 3 inch brookie that takes your fly, the quick, darting action triggers that chase response. The higher flows will not hinder this action a bit.

So, the EB was stocked on Wednesday, June 15 which is the latest stocking of this river in memory. It seemed to have enough trout but just needed more water. Did the Swift get any?? No! A "few" below route 9 would be welcome and they can toss the rest above route 9 to keep those regulars happy.

Going to the Swift tomorrow afternoon to dance with brookies and browns and a trip to the EB on Thursday.

Pray for rain! Pray HARD!!!!

Ken

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The All Purpose Dry And This Weekend

"I understand that to fit the profile of the modern fly fisherman I should be less the long-suffering sportsman-philosopher and more the conspicuous fanatic carpet bombing the river with the latest fly patterns, tackle and techniques: fishing from the same impulse that makes professional baseball players take steroids" John Gierach



It seems that I'm always trying to simplify things, constantly peeling back the onion to some sort of minimalist structure that will work. A beadhead with no body?? Why not. Same with a SH?? Yup!

But what about a dry fly. The standard dries are beautiful creations that are designed to float by the use of stiff hackles. Comparaduns float mostly because of the deer hair or CDC feathers used. Both of the above work BUT it's the shape that bothers me. They, with the upright wing, don't look like a manyfly or a caddis. The CDC Dun does!

hook - 14 through 18

body - your choice of body material. Keep it slim

Wing - Take a CDC feather and strip off the fibers on one side. Trim the butt ends and then tie the bundle on top of the hook so that the end of the fibers extend just beyond the hook curve. Tie in another bunch if you want a fuller wing but not too much. Make look like the photo.

Head - just a bit of dubbing to hid the wraps.

This fly has the aquatic insect profile with the wing tilting backwards and from 20 feet away it looks like a freshly hatched dun. It works as an emerger due to the body being down on the water and not elevated by hackle. It floats like a cork!!!

This weekend should be a copy of last weekend but just a bit warmer. The Millers has been great and one overlooked spot is the stretch ABOVE the UTD dam in Athol. It may have the longest stretch of quality dry fly water on the entire river. Easy wading and easy casting too. It's the riffles above the pond that you want to fish.

To get there google "chestnut hill ave extension" and drive to the yellow gate at the end of the road. Walk down the hill and head upstream.

Good fishing!!

Ken




Monday, June 13, 2016

In The Land Of Brook Trout And A Word On The Millers.

"Maybe your stature as a fly fisherman isn't determined by how big a trout you can catch, but by how small a trout you can catch without being disappointed" - John Gierach
                                   


I just can't stop beating the drum for the great brook trout fishery that we have on the Swift River. Where else in Massachusetts can you fish moving water and take a NATIVE brook trout 10 inches or better ON EVERY TRIP? Where else in New England for that matter!!! One thing is that after many words on this blog about this fishery I see very few people expressly targeting brook trout and that's probably because they're so small. That's ok with me!!

The poor photo to the right shows a small school of brookies below the Pipe. I've never seen that many of them in that area in the Spring before. (click the photo for a better view)


The Millers - This may be one of the best years that I've seen on this river in over 30 years of fly fishing it. One of the reasons besides the cool Spring is that we have had STABLE FLOWS with the readings staying south of 500 cfs for most of the past month. The flow has been on a slow, steady decline for a week now, contrary to an erroneous report found elsewhere. This is also a time to take advantage of the multiple fly hatches that are occurring by ditching the weighted fly and fish soft hackles, flymphs and traditional wets that imitate the hatching insect. Partridge and Olive, Grouse and Flash, and March Browns are all working and the hits are almost all violent as the trout whacks that fly in the water column.

We are now getting into the Summer mode which means early morning/early evening fishing BUT don't let a cloudy, cool day go by, especially this month.

The Bridge St. Pool, Orcutt, The Kempfield (the run above the main pool) are all producing. Order my Fly Fishers Guide To The Millers River if you want a total top to bottom guide written by a fly fisher!





Friday, June 10, 2016

FISH THIS WEEKEND!!!!!

Listen to the sound of the river and you will get a trout" - Irish proverb
                                                                                                                                                                             


Believe it or not this mid June weekend may be the BEST weekend of the year to hit the rivers. First, air temperatures out here in trout land will barely hit the mid 70's with lows at night in the 40's. That will keep the rivers cool which is what we want. Second, the rain earlier in the week brought everything back up to a good level. Even the Millers has behaved by staying within it's banks. It appears that the dam owners in Orange are playing with the flow so keep an I on it. The Millers fished great on Wednesday at Orcutt and the Bridge Street Pool.

The EB gauge is still down but don't worry about the conditions. They are perfect!!!! This cool weather may keep the sun worshipers down to a minimum and out of the Bliss Pool. Hit the EB after 4pm to avoid all of that.


The Swift - plenty of trout at the Y Pool and slim pickings for rainbows below rt 9. That's ok because I've been dancing with brook trout and the big browns that keep trying to cut in further down stream. Remember, it's not the size of the trout that counts. It's how and where you caught it that matters. The brookies of Cady Lane are the crown jewel of the Swift. Frankly, I haven't missed the big dump of rainbows and the circus that it creates this year. I don't care if they don't throw anymore bows into the Pipe area this year and not because the bows will hurt the brookies population which certainly hasn't happened. I just like the new found elbow room and still being able to catch trout. I would do anything to get that brown back that I lost Tuesday evening!!!

The Ware is fine!! Find the Church Street bridge in Ware about a 1/4 mile south of RT 32 as a starting point. Fish upstream or downstream and against the banks!!! Evenings will be good.

An added bonus - this cool weather is supposed to last right through to the end of NEXT WEEK. Play hooky next week!!

Ken



Sunday, June 5, 2016

Bead Heads Unmasked And Big Fish Eat Little Fish On The Swift Part 2


I'll never be as efficient or as stylish a caster as I'd like to be. I was fishing with a friend once and we got to talking about casting during a break. I said I always wanted to be a pretty caster (maybe trolling for a little compliment) He said "well, you're not, but you get the fly where you want it to go and that's what counts."John Gierach

In a blog post a few months ago I came out and said that I felt that bead heads flies were attractor flies, one step up from lures.

The logic behind the statement was that when a hendrickson or sulphur nymph comes drifting by a trout knows what it is by being very familiar with the insect. When a hendrickson beadhead or a sulphur beadhead comes plodding by the trout has NEVER seen anything like it in the natural world because of the shiny orb growing out of the insect's head. He will attack it and try to eat it but for other reasons why it will attack and eat a natural nymph or an unadorned pheasant tail. (that's why I like soft hackles - they are so natural.) My thesis is that trout go after the shiny orb instead of the body of the nymph. Could I prove it.?

So, I tied up, or rather glued up up some bead head nymphs sans bodies. Just a bead on the appropriate sized hook with epoxy to secure and hit the Swift. The short story was that I took 1 brown, 2 brookies and had some misses in about 15 minutes of fishing. I used a fly with no body beside the hook shank and caught fish BECAUSE of the shiny, unnatural orb, period.

This makes me question the gazillion bead head patterns with god knows how many different body material combinations that are out there. Does the body make any difference?? Maybe not. Maybe the bead head aficionados may want to give up beads for a month and see what the catch rate is. Depth can be achieved with a little micro shot too. In short, it may be the bead that catches the fish and not the "fly".


The Swift has been SLOW but it is a relief to fish without the hordes above or below RT 9. Two days in a row (Saturday and Sunday) me and my clients were the only ones at the PIPE. We caught bows and browns in addition to the brookies but not of any number or size. The very cool event was today when my client and I saw a 16 to 18 inch brown grab a 6 inch brookie at mid section down at Cady Lane and then take about 5 minutes to swallow it head first. After lunch we came back with marabou streamers which the brookies LOVED but the browns and the bows past up. I will have them ready next time.

It's raining hard at I write this (6:30 pm). We need the rain but watch the flows especially on the Millers and the EB (check the EB flow formula on my previous post in case the gauge is still down.

Ken

Friday, June 3, 2016

Conventional Wisdom And A Weekend Preview

"Many of the standard flies on the river came from his vise (including some rustled patterns that now bear other peoples names). His flies were always admirably spare and simple, but now his patterns have become totally minimalist. The last batch he showed me consisted of nearly naked hooks with a little thread and a wisp of wing or a half turn of hackle: just the barest suggestion of an insect." John Gierach

One of the books that has reshaped my thinking on fly fishing and our attempts to imitate insect life is the great What Trout Want: the educated trout and other myths by Bob Wyatt. He lays to rest the notion of the SELECTIVE trout, instead throws the blame for fly refusals on poor presentation and/or the habit of trout to key in on the dominant species as the ONLY food source at the moment.

But there is a startling revelation that is in this book that seems to be purposely overlooked and that is the sacred Sparkle Pupa Theory by the late Gary LaFountaine. His theory was that prior to emergence the pharate adult stage of the caddisfly expands it's outer cuticle with gas to help it in it's ascent to the surface and in the splitting of the cuticle. LaFountain believed that the gas would reflect sunlight and give a glowing or sparkling quality to this stage of the insect. That spawned his Sparkle Caddis Pupa flies which are VERY successful in catching fish.

Ok, it catches trout so whats the problem? The problem is that there is not a caddis fly in the world that emits a gas under it's shell to rise to the surface and that is a fact according to Wyatt. So what does this mean? It means that this great attempt to "match the hatch" didn't match anything but created another effective ATTRACTOR Fly.

There are a lot of attractor flies out there which includes ALL beadheads and we will be doing and reporting on an experiment within a week on this.

This weekend should be the prime time for the emergence of the of the damselfly. I've included two photos: one of the nymph snd one of the beautiful adult fly. It's the nymph which is of interest to us because it emerges onto the shore or protruding rocks to hatch. It's a fairly swift swimmer and a small, lightly dress WB in brown will do the trick. I once saw a brown beach itself chasing these nymphs.

The Millers is still fishing well and trout are still being caught. Early morning and evenings are best with the Bridge Street Pool producing well. Also producing is the big pool at the end of the road beyond Pete & Henry's in South Royalston.

The EB is prime right now but people have been asking me about the flow since the gauge went down. I have a formula to predict what the flow is up by the gorge when the gauge reading is not to be believed because of impoundment releases.

1. Go to the EB gauge site and in the upper right hand corner click "United States".
2. Choose Massachusetts from the list of states
3. Go to the map of Massachusetts and click the WB and record the flow rate
4. Go to the MB (right next to the WB) and record that flow rate
5. add the two together and you will have a very good picture of the flow upstream on the EB plus/minus 10%

NOW,WHAT OTHER FLY FISHING SITE WILL GIVE YOU THAT KIND OF INFO = NONE!!!

Charlie Shadan reports that the Squannacook and the Nissitissit rivers are low but very fishable in the early a.m. and in the evenings. (the same as it was 40 years ago!!) Some rain will fix things nicely.

I'll be on the Swift this weekend. I would guess that some trout were thrown in and now the PIPE section will be crowded again. I will miss the solitude!!

Ken