Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Cold Millers Morning, Working The Swift, The Last Word on Mops And Felt Soles Are Back

'My fishing is at once an endless source of delight and an act of small rebellion because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed or impressed by power" - Robert Traver

I love Black Friday because I suspect, along with Thanksgiving merriment,that it does keep the number of anglers down somewhat. A morning with an air temperature of 35 degrees and a water temperature of 38 will do the same thing and that was Friday morning on the Millers. The flow was an inviting 190 cfs which is perfect for fishing Erving Center and I still had Mop Flies on the brain so off I went.

I've done a complete 180 on this fly. From a POS to Perfect Imitation is my opinion. It is the perfect hellgrammite and leech imitation and will be a standard with me on the Millers (a big hellgrammite river) going forward. I tie it in somber, natural colors (gray body, dark brown back and head). None of that day glow nonsense for me. I'll throw that neon stuff into the SWJ, squirmy wormy junk draw!! Which begs the question: Why do the detractors of the Mop still fish that other stuff that doesn't represent ANYTHING on this planet let alone a trout stream???

Get a gray car wash mop at Walmart ($6.00), a size 8 scud hook (use scud hooks for this fly. They give the fly more action instead of the less lively longer shank hooks), some brown or black marabou for the thorax and a brown or black sharpie and you are in business.

How did I do? I took 3 good bows in an hour and a half. One was over 20 inches and when he hit I actually thought I was snagged. I was about to throw a rollcast to dislodge the fly when the "snag" began to swim off! I don't like throwing weight with bamboo so my old TFO 4wt got called into action. At one point I didn't think the rod could stand the strain of that fish in mid current but after a few minutes he was in the net!

The Brookies are still at it on the Swift but I think the "run" may have peaked. It will NOT be over in a week as some say but will continue into mid December just like last the last few years. The rainbows will be going nowhere. Squeeze the last few hours out of your 2016 license and get out there!

Good news on the equipment front. Vermont has lifted it's ban on felt soled boots and for good reason. The ban was enacted to stop the spread of Didymo, the noxious diatom that was supposed to befoul our rivers. Well, it appears that didymo has been everywhere FOREVER (it's native) and has gone into the occasional bloom stage due to climate change and not to felt soles. (10 years ago an aquatic biologist told me the same thing. He was certainly a minority opinion back then!)

I like felt but changed over to studs which I don't think live up to expectations. Let's hope that the other states lift the felt ban.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

2016 - Rating The Rivers And Happy Thanksgiving!

"Bass fishermen watch Monday night football, drink beer, drive pickup trucks and prefer noisy women with big breasts. Trout fishermen watch MacNeil-Lehrer, drink white wine, drive foreign cars with passenger-side air bags and hardly think about women at all. This last characteristic may have something to do with the fact that trout fishermen spend most of their time immersed up to their thighs in ice cold water." - Author Unknown

It's time to rate the rivers for 2016. Some may say that all of the freestones should get a pass because of the drought but there were still two good months of fishing before the tap was turned off. We will include a fourth river in the mix this year and that is the Ware. With all things considered here we go:

4th Place - The EB of the Westfield. From first in 2015 to worst in 2016. Now, May and early June wasn't a bust but it was not up to what this river produced over the years. Things just seemed "off". Even the insects seemed in short supply. One could say that the EB was like a 300 hitter who then has a a 270 season. An ok season but not up to standard.

Things will change and most likely for the better in 2017.

3rd Place - The Ware River. Another drought victim but what a ride while it lasted!!! I had some good oldfashioned henderickson flyfishing in May and some good times swinging soft hackles in large runs all over the river. In fact, when I guide on the Ware we stop at various spots along the river and I can say that we were never skunked at any spot. Another plus is that I saw very few anglers on this river. I can hardly wait for 2017 especially the Summer on this river. Let's hope the river stays up.

2nd Place - The Millers River. This river may of had the best May and June that I've ever seen on this river and that includes over 30 years of fly fishing on it's waters. The drought killed it but the flow rebounded in October and the fishing has been GREAT! If we had a normal summer the Millers would of made a real run for 1st place. Maybe next year.

1st Place - The Swift River. "Not fair" some may say but in 2015 this river came in third due to the horrible high water that lasted into May. It's not always in first place but this year it was. Even if we only counted May and June to level the playing field this river made the grade. It is now recognized that this river fishes the best in the Fall for those wonderful brook trout. We are lucky to have a tailwater in our backyard!!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!!


Friday, November 18, 2016

5:20 am 11/18 - The Last Good Weekend???? Six Hours Later

"Fishing is not an escape from life but often a deeper immersion into it" - Harry Middleton

It's November 18th and after a beautiful springlike Thursday (mid 50's) we are going to be blessed with a Friday and a Saturday with temperatures in the mid 60's!!! GO FISHING because days like these will be a memory very soon.

If you fish the Swift you will find fish everywhere especially in the riffles where the bows and browns are behind the brookies I know of two 20 inch brook trout taken this week!! The fly pattern may almost be unimportant with soft hackles, eggs and meatballs all catching fish.

The Millers - It's not over yet. This warm weather will drag the water temperatures out of the low 40's which will turn these fish on. Last weekend it was cold and the trout were sluggish. The best fishing should be from mid morning to 4pm. No need for an early start. Where to go?? Fish Erving Center downstream from the bridge and the Kempfield Section especially around the bend. The flows have been behaving and it will be fun!!

I'll be fishing in an hour and you should too!! Tell me how you do!


Noon - Started at 7:am, took 4 big bows , 2 big browns and dozens of brook trout up to 12 inches and didn't see another fly fisher until 10:30 and that was one solitary angler. You just have to find these spots and I don't think that if I gave GPS locations it would make a damn bit of difference because the usual parking areas would still be jammed.  Old habits die hard.  If you are the adventurous type just check out the photos.  You may recognize the areas but a bit of leg work will get you there. Remember, just because an area is designated "fly fishing only, catch and release 24/7/365" DOESN'T mean it's the best place on the river.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mops To The Rescue, Indian Summer On The Swift And The Swift Flow

" More than half of the intense enjoyment of fly fishing is derived from the beautiful surroundings, the satisfaction felt from being in the open air, the new lease on life secured thereby, and the many, many pleasant recollections of all one has seen, heard and done". Anonymous but it sounds like Maclean

It was a cold windy day last Friday on the Millers. The air temperature never kissed 50 degrees, the water temperature never got above 44 degrees, the wind would send your 4wt back into your face (that actually happened) but my client Mike and I soldiered on. It was a story of light hits, three at the Bridge Pool and the same at Orcutt but no trout. The river was jumping and lowering 50cfs all day (not the 200 cfs of last week) which added to the confusion.

We went down to Erving Center (those who read this blog or have my Millers Guide know where that is, others who read other publications DON"T) and I decided to strap on a Mop Fly. Within 20 minutes we hooked two bows and landed one and I began to think that maybe that fly should of gotten more playing time even when I knew that Mike and I like the classic swing and drift. You fish this fly up close and deep. It doesn't seem to work on the swing. What is weird is that some don't like this fly but will fish squirmy wormies without a second thought. The Mop, in natural colors, looks like a big aquatic insect and behaves like one too. Enough said!!

Now for a lecture! Indian Summer is not described correctly by the weather bunnies and their male counterparts on the news. THEY say that it's in October when the leaves are in full color and the temperatures are warm. WRONG! Indian Summer is an OLD New England term used to described the warm weather that occurs AFTER the leaves are down. I'm an old New Englander so believe me! We had those conditions yesterday (Sunday) and today and the fishing on the Swift was sublime. I worked a quite spot on the lower Swift and had a great morning swinging #16 and #18 partridge and Oranges and then experimenting on the smallest fly that I could cast and land a bragging size trout on. Good fish came to the net down to size 22 but size 24 only brought the junior varsity to the net. It was a mix of bows and brookies with a few of the brookies in the 12 inch range - a great fish for this river

I noticed today that the Swift flow shot up like a rocket at mid day to the 115cfs range. Is that really necessary? The Swift has had a low flow in the Fall for the last 5 years and we have seen hundreds of brookies on their skinny water redds. What will happen when we have a 300% increase in the flow over a few hours? We know that sharp increases in flow do no good to aquatic environments especially a small stream like the Swift. Were redds and eggs washed away? Did anyone take that possibility into consideration? Does the Connecticut River really NEED that flow increase at the expense of the Swift fishery? All good questions.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

The New Orange, The Millers Flow, The Swift And Heavier Tippet

"People who claim to own fishing dogs are all blinded by love. There's no such thing as a good fishing dog. Most are retrievers who think they can do to a trout what they've been trained to do to ducks. It may sound cute, but it's not. Stay away from people who take dogs fishing." - John Gierach

The Partridge and Orange is a Fall staple especially on the Swift. I will tie hundreds of these for my clients, myself and for a customer or three. Imagine my surprise when I realized that the two inches of thread (kevlar0 left on the spool was all that I had, the spare spool was a figment of my imagination! Now, I had some hot orange but it created a day glow creature that was light years away from this great English pattern. (I do have standards!!)

Then I found a forgotten spool of 3/0 monocord that had a odd shade of orange. It was on the "light" side of orange and still produced that waxy finish that I like for SH bodies. So I tied up a dozen and every trout in the river wanted them!!! Normally I don't put a lot of emphasis on shades of color but this was different. Maybe they hadn't seen it before and didn't associated it with being caught. No, they were not curious as someone on the web tried to claim. Trout are not curious!!!

BTW, I received nothing from Danville for this product plug!!

The Millers - Last week I wrote that the flows on the Millers were going crazy with 200 cfs changes twice a day. As soon as I published the blog post THE FLOWS SETTLED DOWN!!! It's basically stayed within the 200-300 range with just little "bumps" during the day. Coincidence?? Maybe or maybe not. In any event I would fish this river while the flows are good. Very early morning starts are not necessary. Prime time will be after 10 am till sundown which should be the warmest times of the day for the air and the water.

The Swift - It's amazing to look at 40 to 60 brook trout working the spawning beds and then trying to entice the bows into striking. It's amazing to see people walk through spawning gravel too. Stay in the weeds guys.

As far as the Swift goes look for ANY set of riffles and you will find trout, period. Now's a good time to do some exploring instead of hitting the same old spots.

15 months ago I wrote about the value of 5X on the Swift river and how it allowed for a shorter battle with fewer exhausted trout and no evidence of leader spooked fish on sunken flies. Readers talked about 5X used with size 28-30 flies and having good catches.

A few of us have pushed the envelope a bit and have gone down to 4x. I've used this size with flies down to size 18 and have caught many fish. You should try it!!


Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Millers Fly Fishers Guide, Screwy Millers Flows, And A Fishing Report

In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a flyfisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ's disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favoite, was a dry-fly fisherman."-Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It.

It still amazes me how popular this book is after all these years. The first was sent out back in the Spring of 2008 and I've hit "send" a few thousand times since then. It's gone to most of the "trout" states in this country and as far away as Denmark and Australia. Frankly, it's introduced more people to trout fishing on the Millers than any other document or publication out there. My only regret, besides the few copycat documents out there, is the fact that I've sent this ebook to people who would NEVER tell anyone where they catch fish on this river. They benefit from the knowledge but would never share it!!!

So, thanks to my 40,000+ monthly readers and I will continue sending the Millers Guide to whomever wants it!

The Millers Flow - Well, it's happening again. Someone, most likely the operators of the dam in Orange, have sent the flows into a yo-yo pattern over the past week. Here is the flow pattern for Friday, November 4: 300cfs, 190cfs, 380cfs, 150cfs, 350cfs and all of this in a 24 hour period. The Bridge St. Pool was almost unfishable at 8:30 am yesterday but then dropped like a rock only to rise like a rocket a few hours later. None of this is good for the fish, period. We know that the Orange dam is ground zero for this mess because the flows up in the Bears Den, below Birch Hill, have been uneventful.

Now, electrical power has been generated by the facilities at the dam for years but they have always been a "run of the river" generation, no impounding of the flow to be released later. Maybe there's some temporary work being done at the dam and this will be over very soon. If anyone has any information on what's going on please email me.

How's The Fishing - Catch the Millers at a reasonable flow and it can be great. We caught fish even in the high flows but it can be a chore. Orcutt and the Kempfield Section had hits and fish. The water temperature hit 50 yesterday and if the sun hadn't been so bright we would of seen some BWO's for sure. We did see the occasional rising fish.

The Swift - I've been catching brook trout in the 12 inch range and not by fishing over visible fish on their redds but by fishing the deep holes and runs that are adjacent to the spawning areas. The redds are populated by 6 to 10 inch crowd but the big boys are holding back and are taking tiny nymphs (#18 pheasant tail, #18 bwo soft hackle, #16-18 half & halfs, ect) in the drift.

The rainbows are staging up in the riffles below spawning beds and some of these fish are HUGE! Where are they? THEY ARE EVERYWHERE that you find shallow water and clean gravel. Just make sure that you don't walk on the gravel!!!!

The browns are getting into the act. I lost a good one below the gauge last week and fish hawk Lenny landed a 20 incher (photo included)

The EB - Fished it in the late afternoon this past week and took 5 small browns which was fun and certainly worth the 15 minute drive from my house but it may be a stretch to travel longer for what's available. I have to say that I truly missed the place this year and the October fishing was a blessing. Hopefully next year we will get rain!

I still have some Guide openings available for November. Contact me if you are interested.

Tonight we start the "Dark Season" with the turning back of the clocks. I hate it because it kills evening fishing which won't return until March!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Making The Most Of Two Hours - Autumn Dusk On The Swift

The modern depictions of fly fishing in print and video are accurate as far as they go, but they usually run heavy on gratuitous fish catching and light on the long silences that characterize the sport" - John Gierach

The Y Pool lot was packed at 4pm as usual but I had another destination in mind. I fished this spot a few times during the Summer and introduced my friend Brad to the stretch but drew zeros each time. "Summer" doesn't work here. This is where the brook trout and bows come to play in October and I would be the only one there! Well, almost.

Lenny knows how to fish and that was on display yesterday as he took at least 8 HUGE bows from ultra skinny water plus broke off a monster brookie that snapped his 4x tippet. (that's right, no puny leaders here). He certainly outgunned me which is fine except that he was using a caddis emerger that he found on MY BLOG. I, of course, didn't have any on me (Note to self: tie some caddis). I did well using my half & half with 6 beautiful brook trout and one big chunk bow.

It was great to spend the last two hours of daylight doing what I love to do but bittersweet in knowing that it will be "dark" this time next week and "evening " fishing comes to an end. The main thing is to get out there and enjoy these Autumn days.  I've always felt that the brilliant foliage of October is for the leaf peeping tourist. Autumn comes into it's own in New England when the color fades and we get, as one old timer told me, the "deer woods" with their subtle shades of grays and browns.  Couple that with a day in the 50's with willing trout and you are in heaven!!

Here are the "missing caddis"

Hook - dry/wet or scud size 14 or 16
body - grey dubbing, natural or synthetic
hackle - a few barbs of partridge
collar - brown ostrich

Some of you may have noticed the yo-yo levels on the Millers. This is really normal for this river in the Fall.  As long as the flows are below 500 cfs we will be ok.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Swift Brookies And The Half & Half Fly

"Accurately recalling an entire day of fishing is like trying to push smoke back down a chimney, so you settle on these specific moments" - John Gierach

So, they are finally here! The Brookies are back and they REALLY started their run when the river flow dropped as I predicted. Suddenly the 6 inch fish have been replaced with 10 to 12 inch that are eager to hit a fly. The traditional redd areas are not full to capacity as these fish seem to still getting used to their new colors. The rainbows know that the brookies are there and are starting to hang out below them and are also trying to get into the spawning act themselves.

Last Friday I worked the area from the Gauge down to the Pump House ignoring the weedy sections and working the gravel stretches, the "skinny water" with a micro egg on the bottom and a Half & Half 18 inches above with a micro shot in between. I took 8 brookies between 8 and 12 inches and 5 robust bows in the two hours that I was there. The rainbows grabbed the egg and the brook trout wanted that nymph.

"That Nymph" is the Half & Half which isn't a new fly but a new style that can be incorporated into many dubbed bodied nymphs.
As you all know all aquatic creatures are two toned: dark on the top and lighter on the bottom. Over the last 100 years there has been some attempts to mimic that coloration but it has never really caught on which seems strange since many of us love to argue the merits of different shades of colors. So, about a month ago I began to tie up some generic, light bodied nymphs and did some cosmetic work by running a brown sharpie down the top of the fly from head to tail. They looked REAL and life like. To make them more life like I went retro" with them by ditching the bead and going with a non toxic wire wrapped on the hook shank. The result was a fly that had a more even, slower descent instead of that nose drive that you see with beadheads. (Guess I solved that thing called "vertical drag". That was easy!!)

The results were great. Swift brookies and EB browns couldn't get enough of the fly in either weighted or unweighted versions. I used natural body material in natural colors and none of that glitzy neon stuff that turns a fly into an attractor pattern.

Hook size 12 through 16 wet or dry fly style

Body - Good old Australian Possum dyed light olive

Rib - ultra fine copper wire

Weight - non toxic wire.

Coloration - a brown or black sharpie run along the back of the fly

It's the last week of day light savings. Go FISH