Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

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!!



Mike from Andover said...

Hi Ken,

Love the fly, will have to tie some up.

I will beat the drum (as you often do on your blog) for the Swift. Floated it from Cady Lane yesterday and for those who have not done so, I recommend that you hire a guide, or take your kayak or float tube (but remember the water is COLD!) down there - it is a revelation! Fish were everywhere - there were schools of brookies (hundreds) so thick you could not see the bottom of the river in spots. Of course you had to figure out what they were eating (#20 dark PT or olive SH did some damage). Lots of quality fish in the mix - the only frustration would be to sight cast to a 12-14" brookie or brown only to have the fly grabbed by a "dink" - by the end of the day we were jokingly calling anything less than 8" a "dink" - fish that would be considered large on a White Mountain stream.

Easily 100+ fish between me an my buddy - floating maybe 1.5 miles of river and if you do the math you realize that is probably something like 4000-5000 fish per mile (we caught only a small fraction of the fish we saw). Several 'bows, a couple dozen quality brook trout in the 10-14" class (my buddy lost one that was at least 16" and 2 1/2 lb.) and a dozen nice browns in the mix. There are few places in New England, or the entire USA, that can match that for quality trout habitat.

An interesting debate would be what sort of regulations could be put into place to make the fishing better (if that is even possible!). Maybe keep the 3 bow limited season, allow up to 6 brookies to be taken (if anything, thinning them out a little wouldn't hurt) maybe with a slot limit (C&R between 10-14"), and for browns make it a one fish >18" limit? Maybe do nothing - the river seems to be doing fine just the way it is. We did see "Walter", a brown probably pushing 30", swimming in one run, where I also lost a more modest 20" brown ...

The Swift - it is a true gem and us Massachusetts fishermen maybe don't realize how good we have it to have this river right in our back yard.

Mike C said...

I am sending this question out to you and all your other readers. Tomorrow I should be able to find a few hours to hit the Qunnipoxet. I have been out several times this year but still haven't had an opportunity to find some good surface action. I was thinking my best bet would be to fish early morning. Or is there still a chance to find a noon time hatch?


Millers River Flyfisher said...

Mike C,

Early morning!

Mike from Andover,

I wouldn't change a thing. It got great without any help from us. I wouldn't have an increased brookie limit because some will keep a 100 fish. Throw some browns down there to thin the ranks.


Bob O said...

I suspect there are already a number of rank-thinning Walters on duty and getting fatter. It's great to learn of the resurgence of the brookie population. I wonder how they will fare into the fall and winter. I look forward to floating there soon. Thanks Mike, for your report.

Bill/Tully said...

Yow, the flow on the Millers is so low in places, you don't even need boots. Better look for some deep areas until it rains.

Falsecast said...

Mike from Andover brought the emotion, I like it! I've got to question "Walter", however. 30, really? :) I was actually down there today and easily caught over 40 Brookies all on one, 18 CDC Sulphur emerger, including one Brown that was about 9/10 inches, but looked in very good condition, maybe wild??

I have to agree with Mike also on how great it is to see that wild fish density. At times I just watched them and you realize they are everywhere. I think this river is changing right in front of our eyes. There hasn't been this many Brookies in the 25 yrs I've fished it.

Personally, I'd like to see them drop the size of the Bows/Browns to a put-grow-take so the only ones that achieve good size will be tougher, and let the Brookies infest the rest. :)

Millers River Flyfisher said...


I brought up the topic of the brookie population in the Swift to a DFW biologist and he said that there has been a boost in the population over the last 5 or so years (since Hurricane Irene??).

I'd love to know what the age/size class of these trout. Remember, in three months everyone of them over 5 inches will start moving upstream to spawn!!!!


Alex Brea said...

I would like to ask if it is more beneficial to have a night fishing? What are the chances to catch much fish at this time? Thanks in advance for who will answer my question.

Anonymous said...

A possible reason for the brookie population increase: I think the river flow has been consistently lower (below 100 cfs) over the past 4-5 years than years passed (especially since they closed the power station). This has also lead to an increase weed growth which provides more cover and also makes a better bug habitat. I also think that poachers are not going to target the smaller brookies versus the larger rainbows and browns.

I've never floated down through that stretch of water that's beyond the cottages below Cady Lane, but it's always made sense to me that there would be a very good fish population in there. I think the big increase in the guided floats through it over the past 3-4 years is proof enough. It will be interesting to see if this increasing traffic doesn't eventually lead to some conflicts.


Millers River Flyfisher said...


The power station never changed the flow which was a "river run" regime. I can remember the same 50 cfs flow as being normal 15 years ago. I think the main reason is the amount of woody debris that's been in the river since 2011 when hurricane Irene and the Hallowen snowstrom dumped all of those trees into the river in 2011. Most of that debris is still there and the Cady Lane weed growth has always been there. The DFW knows that something has changed over the last 5 years. We have two theories!!!


Bob O said...

I believe the Swift's flow changes are related and regulated according to low Ct River flows to bring the Swift's cfs into compliance with the agreement made with Ct when the Quabbin was formed. Or when the Q is full and flowing over the spillway. Increased woody debris seems a reasonable reason for the increased brookie population.

In the past I have seen guides put in at the Rt 9 bridge and float right through the Hatchery Hole on their way to the water below Cady Lane. Seeing a pontoon rig go by the Pipe seems a bit over the top. Especially at 50 cfs. A Cady Lane put in makes more sense.

Anonymous said...

Alex the swift at night you will be rewarded

Paul fay

Bill/Tully said...

Alex Brea fish the Millers River at dusk to night. Ken says during the summer, you will be happy in the evening.

Brendan Mackinson said...

With the drought conditions and no significant rain in the forecast, I am expecting the Swift flow to increase. The Connecticut River flow in Montague City is below 3000 cfs. There are plenty of trout (with more browns than there have been in several years) scattered from the Y pool all the way down to the Route 9 bridge, but they have already begun to show extreme selectivity to the sulfurs that are hatching in the afternoon (I assume invarias) and evening (I assume dorotheas). They were much easier two weeks ago than they were this week (Friday night) when the fish would frequently rise and inspect a natural, only to refuse it. A floating nymph was my top fly, as a couple different styles of winged emergers drew refusals from rising fish. I love the Swift for this type of fishing, where the behavior of the trout can be so easily observed during a hatch.

Millers River Flyfisher said...


Any regular reader of this blog and/or regular on the Swift is expecting an increase in the flow if the drought continues.

"They were much easier two weeks ago than they were this week (Friday Night) when the fish would frequently rise and inspect a natural, only to refuse it". Hmm...refusing the natural insect. This may not be selectivity (trout don't "select" what they want to eat") but probably the result of being whipped to death by fly lines and leaders all day long. They are leery!

Yes, we are in a drought but the flow on the Swift has been constant since last winter. The Swift trout don't know that there is a drought.


Anonymous said...

"..the same 50 cfs flow as being normal 15 years ago.."

Even though I have no where near the amount of time spent on the Swift as you, I respectfully have to disagree with you Ken. I fished the Swift above Rt 9 in the late 80s to 91 or 92 and there always seemed to be a change in flow when they were making power. Also, using the Swift River's USGS Surface-Water Annual Statistics shows the average flow as:
2007 166.3
2008 130.1
2009 246.7
2010 147.0
2011 172.8
2012 122.7
2013 54.6
2014 67.9

I could not get data from prior to 2007 or for 2015, but we have all observed that Swift is averaging 50 cfs the past few years.


Brendan Mackinson said...

Call it whatever you want, the fish have gotten tougher to catch. Swisher & Richards (and numerous others) called them "Selective Trout," so I use the term. Ken, you are right on about the fishing pressure being a key component to creating selective or leery trout. Other key factors include a steady supply of a particular type of food (sulfurs in this case) and relatively smooth/slow water conditions (abundant on the Swift) that allow the trout a chance to carefully examine whatever is floating overhead. These are the challenging conditions that continue to drive innovation in fly design and presentation techniques; it's the cutting edge of our sport.

David Burke said...

Its not always about the Swift......

I fished the Kempfield - Proper section of the Millers late yesterday. For me....I enjoy a larger river....Stoneflies were everywhere. The trout were very close to the rocks and the embankment.

Not one fly fisher was there.

It was not too low nor was it too hot.


tincup said...

thinking of hitting the swift I checked flows and looks like the release has started will this have the fish move upstream like a increase flow from fall rains or will this hamper fishing in any way.

Millers River Flyfisher said...


I responded with a private email earlier but to reiterate: the Windsor power station had a fire, according to the MWRB, that the shut down the power station in 1991. That was reported in 2013 and no power releases have been done since then. High flows were the result of high water events. Check posts from July 2009, Fall and winter of 2011-2012 and so on. It's all here on this blog!


I counter Swisher and Richards with Bob Wyatt who exposed the "selectivity myth".
Believe me, you can't have that much fishing pressure without fish feeling pressured! Mind you, 30 years ago people were talking about the very hard to catch trout above Rt 9 just as today. Why do you think trout below Rt 9 are more susceptible to a fly. Same trout from the same hatchery! It's because they're not being whipped by fly lines. I like fishing above Rt9 in the winter. Few people and the trout are not that scared.


Glad that you did well. I was there Friday and we caught trout. We need rain!!


Glad that you were the first to notice the release that we all knew was coming. I don't think the trout will move because of it.


BobT said...

Back in the 80's when I fished the Swift hundreds of times, I found the preferred flow for fishing to be about 125 CFS. That's a personal thing but I found the fish could spread out and get to more cover especially above rte 9. I liked especially when the water was on the rise....beatles and ants...crack to these fish.

Brendan Mackinson said...

Ken, I think we agree except on the vocabulary. The fishing pressure and the fact the fish have been caught many times is certainly why the fish are hard to catch. Some call such fish "selective" whiles others prefer "pressured" or just plain "difficult."