Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Back To The EB - Finally!!

"Fly Fishing is a collection of instants: moments when it either comes together with amazing perfection or goes horribly wrong" - John Gierach
It's been S-L-O-W-,Long time since I've guided and fished this river. The third week of June was the last time due to this worst drought in 60 years. I was told by the Ma DFW in mid October that the EB wasn't on the Fall stocking list but that may change. It changed this week when it got stocked with a lot of small browns which are very good for the soul. It's not how many fish that you catch or how big they are but how you catch them and in what surroundings you catch them in.

I really missed the Eb not because of 60 fish days but because of the environs that those days exist in. It is the most breath taking scenery to be found on a river in Massachusetts so on days that I catch nothing I'm happy because I'm in a good place. That really happens!

Today I guided Gary who had not fished the "EB" below the Gorge. We worked the Swimming Hole, the Bliss Pool and we caught into the double digits with most coming from the Bliss. Water temperatures were in the low 40's but we had a steady parade of BWO with the occasional rising fish. Remember, as long as the air temperatures get at or above 50 you will have BWO and an assortment of midges.

 We were the only ones there for three hours.

Fish the EB!!! It's a great river that had a hard season but the scenery which says "New England in October" will make it all worth while. With temperatures getting into the low 60's early in the week it's a good time to play some hooky before we set the clocks back and hunker down for Winter.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Above Route 9, The EB And The Brookies

'The real truth is, convincing a fish to strike is like playing string with a cat: The exact size and color of the string is probably less important than how you wiggle it... And little cats are easier to fool than big ones" - John Gierach



It was late Tuesday afternoon and the first thing that I noticed as I walked upstream of Route 9 was that the water had dropped. A quick look at the neat phone app that I have confirmed it. This was a concern that I had for this Fall: the high (120 cfs) flow would disrupt the brookie spawning. A flow in the low 40's, like the last few years, would be great and those were great spawning years.

A few notes -

This was the first time since April that I gone above Route 9 on the Swift since the fishing experience BELOW Route 9 was so off-the-charts great!!!

The brookie run is late this year and that may be because of the higher flow or the warmer water temperatures. There are certainly fewer fish on the redds this year (it pays to have a nine year old blog as a data base) at this time. I'm sure that this will improve since November is the best month on the Swift for spawning brookies. BTW, I've seen more spawning brook trout below Rt 9 so far.

It's been a month since we've seen rainbows going through their spawning ritual on the Swift. This is a fruitless exercise because they've been doing it for years and we never catch 3 inch bows like we do with the brook trout. The 5 inch bows we caught last Summer were escapees.

As I was walking up to the Y Pool I saw an angler wading right down through prime spawning gravel. Luckily the trout were far and few between but we will see this scene unfold as soon as the trout REALLY begin to dig their redds. Stay away from the gravel and stop scrambling eggs!!! Walk on weeds and bottom debris which spawning trout avoid. In fact, try to avoid fishing anywhere between the deflector wings. This is a great spot for taking some great pictures of dozens of trout.

I fished the bubbler arm for 45 minutes and took 4 bows and 2 brookies on a size 18 egg pattern in a howling gale. It was sight fishing with no nest building action going on. I was actually able to stand on the bank, hide behind a tree and roll cast out there. It's times like this when a double taper comes in handy.

The EB got stocked in Chesterfield on Tuesday and that will mean the Gorge section. They reported that the fish were browns which is ok with me. Here's what to expect: it will be either feast or famine as the fish will be holding in the stocking points until we get a higher flow. Let's hope for a higher flow!!!


Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Millers Update And THAT Fly

"There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting beat in the process" - Paul O'Neil

10/24 Update - The EB has risen into the 70 cfs range. Check the DFW site this week to see if this river gets stocked. - Ken

10/25 Update - The Swift flow dropped Tuesday to 43CFS and the EB got stocked with browns! More info on that and brookies in the next post - Ken

Another great week on the Millers River with one important change. Before you think that the lower results of Saturday were because the trout suddenly became selective (they didn't) you should look at the fact that the river went UP from 93 CFS on Friday to 160 on Saturday. That will scatter the trout which have been holding close to where they have been stocked. The same thing happened last October on the EB where trout were stocked in a low flow, hung around in schools where they got clobbered and then scattered like the wind right after a 2 inch rainfall. Charlie Shaden actually said that one customer of his who was late to the EB party actually wondered if the river had been stocked and if the catch reports were true. That's after scoring a ZERO after the rains.

Now, we caught fish!!! Top locations were the Bridge Street Pool in Farley and the Erving Center stretch and we used a number of flies and methods to get it done. This reminds me of a trend I've seen in the last few years. Try not to be too orthodox in your fly fishing. I'm seeing more and more fly fishers stuck on one method while attempting to use that method under a number of very different conditions. When I'm on a stream like the Millers or the EB there will be a mix of three or four different presentations to get the results that I want. Also, I see a lot of fly casters repeating the same cast over the same place over and over again. It's a habit that people get into. Cover all of the water.

Ok, it's the Mop Fly and here's my story; I first saw this thing online this past summer and thought that someone should rename it the P.O.S. I hated it because it didn't have the qualities of a well crafted fly (size, proportion, life-like materials and the look of something alive). It looked stupid and the result of a low skilled tier. But then I found a short 3 minute video, by someone named Zimmerman I believe, and that guy changed everything. After tying his mop fly with lots of marabou for the collar,he left the camera range and then returned with a totally sodden fly. That's It, He did it. He changed this POS into a living, breathing creature that looks alive in the water. The trout clobbered it. It looks like a big hellgrammite so why would they not?

Your Bill of Materials:

Go to Walmart or Auto Zone and buy one of those car washing mitts with the "fingers" on it. You'll have material for hundreds of flies for $6.00. I bought grey and run a brown sharoie down the back for that 2-tone look. Don't buy these things in a small pack for fly tying. It's a waste of $$$$.

Get some size 8 or 10 scud hooks and some brown marabou. Get some beads. You know the rest.

This fly works best when bounced deep up and across from you and not swung in the current below you. If the fly is below you and rising up you will get some short strikes and loose some tails in the process.

I've always wanted a good hellgrammite. Now I have one. It works on the Swift too!!!!


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Seldom Fished Places On The Millers And the "Meatball" Proves It's Worth

"The best time to go fishing is when you can get away" - Robert Traver

10/20 update - the annual lake Tully drawdown has started and is adding another 20 cfs to the flow of the lower Millers. Coupled with more flows coming out of Winchendon we can expect decent flow conditions on the Millers this weekend.

When I take clients to any river, especially the Millers, I make a point to show them many stretches that are not frequented by the hordes but are out of the way where one can fish alone or with a friend without feeling "a little crowded out" which seems to be a condition that my clients want to avoid. Some anglers like the crowd atmosphere where the talk is non-stop while others want to avoid it. One VERY GOOD fly fisher and fly tier said he avoids crowded areas because people can't SHUT UP!!

There is one spot on the Millers that my clients will recognize. At 250 cfs, when the rest of the Millers is peaceful and easily waded, this place is a raging torrent that cannot be fished without a wading staff. At below 200 cfs it comes into it's own as a sunken or dry fly stretch and both methods work very well. Late Tuesday afternoon I knew the flow would be PERFECT and it was time to work out a fly I wanted to introduce to the Millers - The Meatball!

My post on July 11, 2016 spoke of this fly and how it just seemed to take brookies and browns on the Swift down around Cady Lane. At the time I said that I wanted to get this fly on the Millers as soon as this river had water. It took three months but better late than never.

The Meatball is a fluffy, full fly when dry but slim when wet. Its marabou pulsates in the current as does the veil of partridge over the thorax. Very fishy!!!

The results - the test lasted 1.5 hours and 10 big bows took this fly fished DEEP with a micro shot placed 20 inches above the fly. I also lost a few but the trout liked it. What does it imitate? A big stonefly nymph, a damselfly nymph, maybe a leech (don't forget about leeches). Maybe it just looks good to eat!!

The air temperature was 76 at the start and the water temperature was 60. It is October.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Polly's Fuzzy Nymphs

Successful trout fishing isn't a matter of brute force or even persistence, but something more like infiltration"  - John Gierach

Polly Rosborough was a great inventive fly tier from over 60 years ago.  He basically invented the "fuzzy nymph", that concoction that seemed loosely tied but gave the impression of "life" due to the natural flowing materials used in it's construction.  Tightly wrapped bodies on his nymphs were not to be found. Light reflecting natural fibers applied with dubbing loops were.  They worked.  In the last years of his life he tied mostly for collectors and his flies were always in demand.

His BEAVER NYMPH and his CASUAL DRESS applied beaver in it's construction but any buggy (I like Australian Possum) fur will do. I apply very thin copper wire although Polly didn't.  It never meant that I was creating a "variant" of his fly but just putting my personal preference to it.  It's still Polly's fly!

One material that is in these two flies is a thorax of ostrich herl.  This is now becoming a forgotten material but it REALLY works on the two flies mentioned here.

The Casual Dress

Size 12 nymph hook

Use wire weight if you want but Polly never used weight. It works well with a micro shot

Australian Possum on a dubbing loop or just loosely dubbed on the hook

The finest copper wire available if you want it.  Use a dubbing brush to work out the fibers after you wrap the wire on.

Use a long strand of ostrich herl to wrap over the thorax area and you are done.

No need to coat this fly in plastic. You will absolutely kill it as you will with all dubbed bodies.  Let those fibers breathe and you will do well!!!!!  I used them late Sunday afternoon on the Millers and I did well!


Friday, October 14, 2016

Bows, Browns And Bamboo - A Millers Morning

"If people don't occasionally walk away from you shaking their heads, you're doing something wrong" - John Gierach Again

It was 6:50 am when I entered the 53 degree water of the Millers at the Orcutt Section. I decided to rest the great Swift River Sierra 7.5 ft bamboo which I've used on the Swift and went with the longer Phillipston Pacemaker 8 foot bamboo matched with a 4 wt.line because I felt that I would need the added distance and line control. A good choice. The flies - I worked a number of them starting with my two-tone weighted nymph (olive Australian possum with some weight in the body and a brush of brown sharpie over the back) and then soft hackles and one of Polly Rosborough nymphs named the Casual dress. They all worked fine as long as you PRESENT them correctly.

I did the obligatory high stick/straight line for a bit and caught some but realized that SWINGING these nymphs/wet flies releases the magic and that really worked. I fished 4 or so different flies and they all worked which spells PRESENTATION!! The strikes were hard, the little Battenkill did that classic scream, the bamboo was bent and fish came to the net. It was a perfect October morning on my favorite trout river!!

I left Orcutt at 10:15 when I saw the first fly fisher. I was told that three cars pulled up after that. That's when I left after catching about 40 fish and then went down to Wendell Depot where I met Ken Simonds from the DFW as they stocked just below route 2. They were stocking the entire river again.  The majority of the rainbows that were stocked over the last week came out of the hatchery a very dark color which seems to be the case with Fall stocked bows over the past few years.  The bows in Ken Simonds stocking net were dark.

FISH THE MILLERS!!!!! We have another month and a half, maybe longer, to fish this river. Will it be too cold? The average high temperature in April for central Massachusetts is around 55 degrees. In November its around 49 degrees. It will not be too cold. You will have the place to yourself!! For those new to the river and have heard of the Kempfield, Bridge Street, the Upper Trestle Pool and Orcutt but don't know where they are or haven't done well there just contact me. I'll guide you there!!


Monday, October 10, 2016

The Millers Is Alive So Brady Can Wait And Open Dates

Remember, fairness is a human idea largely unknown in nature" - John Gierach

Note: The WARE River got stocked Tuesday 10/11

I waited way too long for this weekend. Because of this drought I hadn't wet a line or guided anyone on the Millers since mid June and I really missed the place. But then the water began to cool down and the flow actually went up most likely due to some lake draw down in Winchendon. It got up to the 90 to 100 cfs range last week and stayed there. I wrote about how the Millers has enough water for a stocking and the DFW came through on Friday.

The Fishing - Saturday was good down at the Bridge Street Pool but dead as a door nail at Orcutt. Ditto for the Kempfield section.

Sunday was totally different. Bridge Street was loaded with willing trout but Orcutt was as good as it's ever been. The empty spots on Saturday were full of trout on Sunday. I've seen this happen with Fall stocked fish before especially on the EB. They will stay together as a school but that school will move around. Find the school and all hell breaks loose. Don't find the school and you may be blanked. Get a good rain and the school breaks up.

All told my client Scott landed about two dozen dark chunky bows and missed as many. The same thing for former clients Alex and Mikaela. I will not tell you what we used except it was a variety of flies some working better than others but all were presented on the swing after a nice, long cast. No broomstick presentations thank you!!

We had a steady, hard drizzle for the entire trip with temperatures dropping into the low 50's by mid afternoon.BTW,the water temperature stayed within the 56 to 58 degree range on both days making it equal to the Farmington River this weekend if Upcountry's site is correct and the Millers had a better flow too! Blue Wing Olives were popping up throughout the day with some scattered rises here and there. The sugar maples along the river were in full color. On the way home I remembered that the Patriots were playing the lowly browns and turned the radio on at the half. Brady had a good start to the game but I'd rather spend the day bending fly rods!!!


P.S. Because of cancellations I have 2 open dates on Saturday 10/15 and Friday 10/21. First come, first served. Full or half day. They will book quickly. Just email me and it's yours. Ken 10/12 - 10/15 is booked

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Weekend Update

"Fly fishing is solitary, contemplative, misanthropic, scientific in some hands, poetic in others and laced with conflicting aesthetic considerations. It'd not even clear if catching fish is actually the point" John Gierach
                                                                                NOTE: The Millers is being stocked today 10/7!!  Thank you Bill B.

It appears that contributor "Tincup" was right when he said that the Swift and the Deerfield would be the only rivers in this State which will received trout this Fall(so far). In fact, my friend Brad was at the Swift when they dumped them in at the Gauge Run yesterday. The water temperature is dropping and was 63 degrees yesterday which is a good thing. Now, if the flow would only go down to put the brookies on the beds. We need rain for that to happen and it's not going to happen this weekend. The Connecticut River will be down and the Swift will be up. Thank you Hurricane Matthew!

The Millers is one of the few rivers that is flowing half way decently. It would be nice to get a stocking BUT trout (browns) are being caught which means they made it through the Summer. We will be there this weekend.

If ponds are your thing then check out the Fall stocking list and then get a kayak, canoe or just waders and head out over the next two months. I remember hitting the ponds years ago on warm Fall days when it seemed that every trout was on the surface. It was fun and it was very uncrowded. Maybe I'll do that!!!

One of my best dry fly days occurred around Columbus Day in 2009 on the EB. The air was full of Blue Wing Olives and the 'bows couldn't get enough of them. Sadly it will not happen this year.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Predicting The Millers, The Swift Temperature And A Good Winter Fly


Fishing experts, in my experience, fall into two camps. The first are those who explain what works and fails in great detail - but only afterwards. The second are masters of the selective prediction, able to describe in excruciating detail why a fish will be at a certain place and what fly and technique will take fish, predictions that are spot-on about one time out of 10, at which point they'll say "See, I told you so!" Both techniques are used by stockbrokers, sports bettors, weather forecasters, medical practitioners, tabloid psychics and others. We experts are a large and proud lot; we're just not trustworthy.- Tim May

As I write this the Millers is flowing at 112 cfs in Erving and about 70 cfs in the Bears Den (South Royalston). It appears that the Millers watershed got some much needed relief from this drizzly weekend which MAY be enough for a stocking this week (or maybe not). We have a stretch of dry weather coming up until this next weekend where we are expecting 3/4 of an inch. Hopefully that will put us over the top in time for the Columbus Day end-of-the-Fall-stocking.

There has been talk of the higher than normal water temperatures on the Swift. All Summer long the Swift ran between 55 and 60 degrees. Then on 9/24 it spiked to 69 degrees. This was most likely due to the start of the seasonal "turnover" in Quabbin where warm surface water begins to mix with cool water from below. Add in a VERY windy 9/24, 9/25 and the mix was in!! Things are beginning to adjust as the temp yesterday was 66 degrees. It should keep coming down. It hasn't stopped the trout from providing sport or the BWO from hatching in mass!!

BTW, I looked over my blog entries from last October and noticed that the brookie spawning run was already underway. We are definitely behind last year at this time. Maybe it's the water temperature or maybe it's the higher flows. I'm concerned about the flows because the massive spawning activity we've seen in the last five years has been in approximately 50 cfs flows and not 120 cfs that we have now. Time will tell

The Swift Serendipity was cobbled together about 10 years ago when I took a well known fly and ditched the deer hair wing and replaced it with turkey flats to get it to sink quicker. I changed the body to a material that I use on my Partridge and Orange soft hackles to give it that waxy appearance when wet. It makes all the difference! It's also a fly that really shines in the Fall and Winter but seems to be just so-so during the Spring and Summer. Sizes 18 through 22 do the trick. I've just tied a dozen which should hold us for a while.