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.

Friday, August 18, 2017

High & Dry With The Millers Bivisible, Your Comments And This Weekend

"Then I wrote it off as one of those days when I went fishing just to go fishing, not caring whether I caught anything or not - until I was on the water" - John Gierach

Note: a pair of Ovis sunglasses were lost by a reader down by Cady Lane. If you find them let me know!

Years ago I highlighted this fly on my blog as a sure fire way to bring trout UP during the Summer months. It got a very good response as fly fishers told the tales of good catches throughout New England while casting into the riffles and even pools with this creation. It still works as I took trout tonight on the Millers. It has the reputation as a riffle/pocket fly BUT it does well in calm sections of the river that you will fish. It will imitate caddis/stoneflies and land based insects that tumble into the water but it seems to work best in heavier currents because of its construction.

Hook - size 12 to 16 standard dry fly hook
Body - Gray works good and bright yellow seems to work better
Hackle - Any darker hackle from the rear to lighter hackle up front
Wing - Very fine deer hair tied straight up

The Bivisible name comes from two different colored hackles palmered in with the lighter up front. I've used darker up front and a lighter color throughout the mid and rear of the fly with good results. I've even taken a sharpie to color sections of the hackles and that worked too. Sometimes I've use the same color hackle for the whole fly. Color aside, it's a high floater with good visibility that looks like a living insect, stream born or terrestrial.

Note - don't crowd the hackles as you wind them in. Keep them sparse. It will float better. Use the dry "shake" powder and not the liquids or gels and stay away from the powder that comes with a brush. I'll explain that later.

My last 10 posts generated 129 comment and 70% were from YOU READERS!!!!! My platform, and all others, will not differentiation between your comments and mine and they get lumped together in the same total but I keep my words at a minimum (will answer questions directed to me) which means the comment section is YOUR section to respond, agree or disagree with what I say and you do this in great numbers! In short, this comment section is a blog within a blog with lots of information and insight. There's information in this blog's comment section that is invaluable and it is being read!!! There's no other regional source of fly fishing information that can claim this. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

This weekend - Fish the Swift whenever you can but fish the others at dusk.  That's when the action starts!!!!


Monday, August 14, 2017

Learning To Cast And The Lower Millers.

"The trouble is, trout don't always play by the rules, so for every anatomically correct fly pattern that works, there's a corresponding Christmas tree ornament that works too" - John Gierach

One thing I've noticed over the last twenty years is that many fly anglers have been introduced to this pastime through the back door of nymphing. Nothing wrong with that because you will catch some fish. But what happens when you're not nymphing but actually have to CAST a fly or more correctly have to cast a fly line.? Let's face it, nymphing is not fly casting but more like fly lobbing or "chuck'n & duck'n". (And don't get me going about casting weighted flies on 30 foot leaders! The next step would be to buy a noodle rod, right??) More often than not the average nymph fisher is not a good caster and cannot deliver a dry fly or a sunken fly with any distance or accuracy. It's not his fault because that's the way he was taught. He can cast (lob) a weighted nymph rig but he's baffled by casting a fly line. (A sure sign of this is the fellow that needs a dozen false casts to launch a fly). The mechanics of casting a fly line are totally different.

What's the next step?  Instead of shelling out big bucks for a "dry fly rod", which will not improve your casting, you should take a casting lesson with a casting instructor. Notice that I said casting instructor and not a fly fishing lesson. One on One time to review your technique and to "retool" you will serve you very well in the future and keep you from being a "one trick pony" on a trout stream.  One instructor that will put you on the road to salvation is George Roberts of eastern Massachusetts.   Check him out!!!

Monday night had some surprises in store on the lower Millers. The Erving Center section, a real bear to wade at 250 cfs and almost impossible to wade at 350 is now a comfortable 150. This allows you to cast into areas that were beyond reach just a month or so ago. We spent 1.5 hours on that section and I landed 4 smallmouth, 3 bluegills AND 2 BROWN TROUT on dries. The browns were rising fish of about 12 to 14 inches and a careful wade into mid current put me into position for a 30 foot drag free presentation. The flies? One was a chewed up hopper and the other was a hornberg. I'll be back to this place soon. BTW, the lower Catch & Release section of the Millers ENDS at the bridge spanning the Millers on Arch Street and NOT were the local TU Chapter map says it does behind the paper mill. Just check out the C&R section of the DFW site to prove this.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Off The Beaten Track, This Weekend And Lenny The Machine

"The best fisherman 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

Sometimes it's good to drive past those local hot spots and get reacquainted with those seldom fished places. Many times they are "seldom fished" because they are on the short end of stocking run or maybe they're just a little to far away and the GOOD spots are right around the corner. Bondsville is one of them. That rainbow above was taken on a possum nymph by a client this week. It was a beautiful fish and probably hadn't seen an artificial fly in months. The same for the monster brown that we tempted but couldn't budge in low, dim light. I'll be back for him AND the brookies that seemed to have taken the night off. We saw no other anglers even though the Swift was jammed in the usual places.

If you're getting tired of the same old places take a few hours and check out Bondsville. The Y Pool and the Pipe will still be there. Bring a wading staff!!!

A possum nymph is as simple as you can get. Loose dubbing with some light copper wire to keep it all together and to add a bit of flash. I hit the back of this nymph with a brown sharpie for contrast. No beads but weight added to the hook shank is a good idea. Spawning brookies and redd robbing bows loved this fly last Fall which, by the way, is right around the corner.

The rivers are low but not that low. The Swift is holding steady but expect a flow increase if we don't get rain soon. The Millers and the EB are holding their own with very early morning and dusk being the rule. In fact, I heard of a banner EB evening on Wednesday with about a half dozen rainbows caught and almost as many lost and they were all caught on dry flies!!!!! Remember, we've lost a lot of daylight since we are almost 50 days past the longest day of the year. That means that the evening action starts earlier and you will not have to be out past 9 pm (unless you want to).

My friend Lenny is a fish catching machine!!!! Here he is on the Swift releasing one rainbow after another. That's the problem with the Swift - the bows are all identical!!

Catch some trout!!


Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Lonesome Swift And Fall Trips

"I used to like fishing because I thought that it had some larger significance. Now I like fishing because it's the one thing I can think of that probably doesn't" - John Gierach

Who would of thought that one of the most fly fished sections of a Massachusetts tailwater would be EMPTY on a Friday morning in mid-summer. Actually, it was empty last Sunday morning also and the time before that it was a ghost town. People have given up on the Pipe and the Tree Pool because they are not tripping over the trout as in years past. Guess what? The trout are there.

Commentor Bob O was right. The high flow from Quabbin earlier in the week moved the trout around and suddenly we had more bows to play with and the size of the brookies increased. Then the flow went down and we had perfect dry fly conditions! And those conditions included a tiny mayfly of an unknown species (unknown to me) around a size 20. I didn't have the brown body but I did have some snowshoe emergers of the right size. (note: color is the least important element in imitating an insect.)

The one other fly fisher there left shortly after I arrived. I began to work the Pipe Run with that tiny fly and instantly began to hook up with brookies and bows. That action continued right down to the Tree where I turned around and went back to the Pipe where I conducted a test run of some beetle concoctions that worked fine (more on those in the next post).

I will add that the Y Pool parking area and the overflow spot across from River Rd were filling up at 7 am and PACKED at 11 when I left. There may have been someone down by the Pipe at 11 but I can't recall. The morning ended with a short trip to Cady Lane and then taking a rainbow at the Gauge Run on a beetle.
All told I rose about 20 fish and landed a dozen, most of the emerger. I usually don't fish the Pipe section because of the crowds but if you find an empty parking area then this that spot!!

BTW, I'm starting to book up this Fall already as folks are starting to take advantage of my new "expanded hours". Contact me to secure a day!!


Friday, August 4, 2017

The Storms, The Swift And A Weekend Preview

Below Cairn's is the favorite pool of Sparse Grey Hackle, one in fact that he named the Wagon Tracks. At it's head is the ford where Chester Cairns used to cross the river to his cornfield. It was in the Wagon Tracks that Sparse developed his keen appreciation for night fishing. From Catskill Rivers by Austin M. Francis

"It is a gorgeous gambling game in which one stakes the certainty of long hours of faceless fumbling, nerve-racking starts, frights, falls, and fishless hours against the off-chance of hooking into - not landing necessarily or even probably, but hooking into - a fish as long and heavy as a railroad tie and as unmanageable as a runaway submarine" - A few words on night fishing, Catskill Rivers  by Austin M. Francis
A funny thing happened to the Swift this week. It went from its placid 46 cfs flow to about 110 cfs. That means that the flow in the Connecticut River has gotten low enough so water must be released from Quabbin to supplement the flow of the big river. This condition will last until we get some needed rain. That almost occurred last night as the EB watershed got hammered with the flow going from the 40's to over 200 within hours. That will bode well for the weekend for that river.
Note: 5:30 A. M. 8/4 - The Swift dropped overnight down to 48 cfs!  We may get into a Yo-Yo pattern which has happened in the past. Ken

The other rivers? Not a drop even though Wednesday night had wide spread flood warnings. The same was true for Vermont and New Hampshire which means that the big river will stay low while the Swift will be high.

The Swift is certainly fishable and I know many who prefer 110 cfs instead of something in the sub 50 range. I like the change of pace and the fact that it will move some fish around. Besides, it's a temporary thing anyway!

The Millers - the big storm of last night that went north of Erving must have dumped rain somewhere because the Millers went up about 40 cfs overnight. We played with some bows/browns down on the Kempfield section but fishing was slow. One good storm will fix that!

Fish the freestones in the evenings, fish the Swift anytime!


Monday, July 31, 2017

An Announcement And A Sunday Morning below the Pipe

"Work: a dangerous disorder affecting high public functionaries who want to go fishing" Ambrose Bierce

First off - as some or many of you know I've been guiding fly fishers for about ten years through central and western Massachusetts. Some of you also know that my guiding has been a part-time endeavor, sandwiched between a day job that I like, and my guiding which I love.

That all ends September 1, when I officially RETIRE from my position of Director of Business Development  and become a FULL TIME GUIDE!!! Now, instead of limiting trips to Friday through Sunday and evenings I can and WILL guide every day of the week. And this is just in time for the Fall season where, over the years, I had to turn away business because I didn't have the time.  Now I do and if you want a 3 or 6 hour trip just contact me.  Book now for September, October and November because they always book quickly.

I think it's going to be a great Autumn on our rivers!!

Sunday morning broke clear and almost chilly (56 degrees) as I pulled into the Pipe Lot to meet my friend Gary, the Admiral of the Westfield, for an introduction to the Swift. First off, he hits three bows with his beetle imitation. I switch to a size 18 snowshoe hare emerger (such a good fly here) and take a 16 inch bow that plucked it off the surface and then two brookies. Gary is amazed at the amount of trout here. I said you should of been here last year or the year before that but then he would of seen many more anglers. There is nobody fishing there but the fish are there.

Snowshoe hare easy to work with if you know which end of the foot to use.  Prime fir is between the toes and on what I call the "heel" of the foot.  This stuff doesn't sink. The smooth fir on the top of the foot can't make that claim.

In two months the brookies will begin their march up through the Swift River and the bows and browns will be close behind. We still have two months of Summer fishing but.........


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

EB Browns And Dry Fly Strategies


George LaBranche cast his first dry fly a short distance from this porch.  Home of the Pink Lady cocktail and the Pink Lady Fly, the DeBruce club was a favorite of the Anglers Club for its outings throughout the 1930's and the 1940's. For Gene Connett, it was a place "where the angler is accorded the patient consideration of meals at almost any hour, served by hosts who can actually smile" - The dry fly culture and the country hotels of yesteryear that catered to that culture from Catskill Rivers by Austin Francis.

Lower Bliss Pool

I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by decent trout streams and the EB is certainly one of them. I am exactly 15 minutes, give or take a nanosecond or two, from making an evening of it basically anytime that I want. Last night was one of those times.

In 2009 I fished this river from Memorial Day through Columbus Day with dry flies only and caught lots of fish. This year the high Spring flow and then a mini drought shelved a repeat of that idea but the rain of two days ago brought the flow up nicely. Take advantage of it!!

I started off at Slant Rock Pool (just past the old quarry) and this wonderful spot failed me again. Once the pride of the river this place is certainly off this year having only produced two trout for me. I didn't even see the rising fish which this place is famous for. I will not give up on the place because it is such a beautiful run and such a pleasure to fish.

Slant Rock Pool

On the other hand the Bliss Pool never lets me down when pursuing trout with the dry. You just have to wait it out. Even on a cloudy day this place doesn't come alive until at least 7pm and fishes well past dark.

My strategy for the Bliss Pool is the same for any spot in the evening. Get there in the late afternoon and work the riffles and the heads of pools with something big and bushy. Patterns don't matter too much, just get something that could mimic a land insect and something that will be easy to cast. I've moved to using more bivisible patterns because they can be tied large but seem to be less wind resistant resulting in less leader twist.   Big wings cause problems!  My hybrid bivisible took the first brown which was the biggest at around 16 inches.  But then I saw the first "dorsal and tail rise" which signaled the switch to a size 14 comparadun. The Comparadun, half adult, half emerger. It was tied with a pale creamy body just like the real ones that began to escape the water. Three more browns came to the net!!                                                          

As dusk began to descend I went ashore, found a rock to sit on and then began to take in the beautiful surroundings. People have said that I take more photos of the "surroundings" than the fish. There's a good reason for that. It's the rivers that I love otherwise I would be fishing ponds! If I publish nothing but the photos of the fish that I take then each post would be about the fish that "I" take and nothing would be about the beautiful rivers that I (we) fish. It's all about the rivers.

Another brown sipped another emerging mayfly. Next time!!


Monday, July 24, 2017

Overlooked Waters And An Emerger

"Some day some one will learn how to reduce gold to flow like ink, and dipping his pen in this glowing liquid he will exhaust the English language in an effort to justly describe the beauty of the glorious upper Deleware, for of a truth to do it justice would bankrupt our mother language" - Kit Clarke about the Deleware River

When I introduce new anglers to the Swift I usually meet them in the PIPE parking lot and then tell them that 95 out 100 anglers beat a path to the Pipe and the Tree Pool and leave the rest of the river alone. We will not do that but will fish upstream and down at areas seldom fished and we catch fish.

But Sunday was different because at our 8am start time there was only ONE other car in the lot. So I told my two clients we were going to the famous place first and then fish the "other" sections last.

When we entered the water there was only one other angler and he was at the top of the Tree Pool but didn't seem to be doing much. We fished above him just below the Pipe and took fish and then went below him. After a while he left and we took fish in that spot and lost a real rod bending bow. We left that section, surrendering it to another lone angler.

Why are there fewer fly fishers? The reason is simple: there are fewer fish, nothing like the "tripping over trout" conditions of the last few years. If they're not swimming between your boots many will just go somewhere else like the Y Pool. Maybe they should try some other places like we did!

We went down to Cady Lane where one client repeated what another client said the week before: "I would of walked right past this place"! They ended up sight fishing for brookies, bows and browns and had the place to themselves. Then we moved up to the top of the Gauge Run where I planted one client in a set of riffles that were not more than 3 inches deep. He had that "are you kidding me" look until a good size brown grabbed his partridge and orange and then threw the hook.

Our BEST fishing that morning was on the "stream less traveled". Try it!!!!!

The above fly is taking things over on the Swift for me. Olive or brown thread for the body, CDC cut to an immature wing shape and, most importantly, a very buggy (possum or rabbit) dark fur for the thorax which is the key to floating this thing as much as the CDC is. I tie this in sizes 18 down to 24 on emerger hooks.

It rained today (Monday 7/24) and we needed it. Also the 60 degree temps were perfect for pulling the heat out of our rivers.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

An EB Evening, A Swift Evening And A Millers Evening

Notice: lost rod tip.  See info in comments section.

Who said that we are in the Summer doldrums???
I've had the opportunity this season to introduce some anglers to the art of dry fly fishing and to witness their first trout using this method. It's especially fun when the trout is HUGE! That happened this week on the EB where a +16 inch, thick shouldered rainbow came to the net after inhaling a deer hair caddis. This fish still had plenty of fight left in him when we released it.

The dry fly activity carried over to the Swift on Wednesday evening where I had Cady Lane to myself. The usual brookies were around and playing on the surface but my attention was drawn to a large brown and two good bows. The bows were sipping something tiny off the surface and I thought a size 20 winged ant might do it. The bows ignored it but the brown rose up and grabbed it. This fish was about 18 inches and tried in vain to bury it's head in the mats of weed that this place is famous for. He was released with a lot of fight still in him. The bows had left the scene during the battle but were back sipping away in about 20 minutes. I had one come up for the ant but he backed away.

That's the small one!!!

Thursday evening saw us on the famous Kempfield section of the Millers. Like clockwork the trout began to rise around 7:30 but strangely they were all bows, at least the ones we caught. We rose 7 to the deer hair caddis and landed two. I noticed that my client was using a low side to side hook set which may work when you're slumming in Nymphville but it's not the way to win with a dry fly. "Raise the rod UP to 11 o'clock" while pulling slack in with your non casting hand. That immediately resulted in the biggest bow of the evening that was well in excess of 16 inches.  All of the fish were aggressively feeding and shot away at release.

The key to this post is the word EVENING!!!!! Hit the river at 7pm and the trout will be rising by 8pm and even sooner on an overcast day. By this time next month we will lose more hours of daylight which means the fun starts sooner!!!


P.S. I thought I would never say it but I think we could use some rain!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

What Is A Catskill Dry ?

"I wish you could see them! I never saw so many rotten flies in my life. I was literally astounded. You know the stuff - Mills'Best and a bunch of English flies. Of all the miserable soft hackle, lathered on in bunches! It is no wonder that he became such a magnificent caster. If he hadn't learned to put those flies down so carefully they would not have floated". A fellow angler critiquing the dry fly selection of the GREAT dry fly fisherman George LaBranche from Catskill Rivers by Austin M. Francis

It seems that I've been seeing,in print,and hearing the proclamation that a dry fly that has hackles wound around the front of the hook shank is a CATSKILL style dry fly. The great Catskill tiers, Gordon, Christian, Steenrod, Cross, Jennings, the Darbees' and the Dettes would have all objected to such a simple minded statement. They developed and refined the Catskill style but were not the first to tie a dry fly that way. Here's the story:

Theodore Gordon communicated via letter to the great English fly tiers of the day, Fredric Halford in particular, (early 20th century) and was able to secure instructions AND materials to tie English dry flies. Their dries, created decades before American dries, had hackles would around very close to the eye of the hook and Gordon copied that but objected to the poor quality English hackles and the fact that these flies copied English insects. The other great tiers mentioned above changed everything. First, they insisted on the stiffest hackles. Second, they moved everything BACK from the eye of the hook and Third, they tied a slim, sparse dry fly much different from the English style. That is the Catskill style as seen in the photo above of a  Light Cahill which, as the story goes, was first tied by Dan Cahill, a brakeman with the Erie Railroad. Cahill has another claim and that is that he was the brakeman on a train that had a load of rainbow trout from California. The train broke down and he convinced the crew to save the trout by dumping them into Callicoon Creek, a Catskill stream, where they established themselves. The rest is history.

God only knows how many trout have been taken with this style. We do know one thing and that is that this imitation of an adult mayfly is not as popular as it was decades ago. That's probably because we know now that the rises that we see are rises for the emerging insect and not the adult. Also, this fly will get beat up after a fish or two. I switched over to the comparadun over 30 years ago because it represents the adult and, with it's body stuck in the surface film, the emerging insect too. It will float forever! It also survives riffles and fast water very nicely, a fact that is still not accepted in dry fly circles.

I fish comparaduns but love the look of a traditional Catskill Dry!!!


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Stripers, A 6wt, A Grandson Gets Into The Salt And A Freshwater Forecast!

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

I've always felt that kids should be introduced to fishing and not fly fishing. And by "kids" I mean that single digit age group that is fascinated with the mystery of bait and how far they can sling a lure. If they get hooked on the basics it's just a slippery slope to the Nirvana of fly fishing. Besides, kids like to catch fish, lots of fish, just like newbie trout chasing fly tossers and bait gets it done!

Now, some may say "what about the hooking mortality of bait fishing?". Good point but it's easily solved. If you use a traditional J hook you will kill some fish but grandson Ralle learned that if you use a circle hook the problem goes away. We caught a number of schoolies (and flounder) and ALL were hooked in the MOUTH and not in the gut or the gills. The hook was easily removed and the fish released. The bait was clams which this 6 year old found fascinating (boys love guts!!!!).

All said, it was a good day at the beach!!!

Now for the big boys! I got to spend 6 hours patrolling the Merrimack River with long time reader and commenter Bob, AKA Tincup, on Wednesday morning. The last few years this river and the entire stretch from Plum Island to Rockport has been the home of a zillion stripers with most of them being on the small size and by that I mean 16 to 22 inches with some larger and some smaller. My standard gear has always been my trusty 8wt but this year I reduced the rod to a 6wt. which is like leaving the 16 gauge at home and taking the 20 gauge. Still plenty of knock down power for an 18 inch fish. And instead of tossing big, heavy flies I tied up some deceiver types on size 4 3XL FRESHWATER streamer hooks. I started this last March while in Florida and never bothered to rinse the flies off and the nickel plating held up (mostly) and no hooks failed. Dozens of stripers loved them and they put a good bend into that 6wt. I honestly feel that I could of tamed the 32 incher that Bob landed at 5:30 that morning.

That 32 inch Striper - There can be two endings to that tale.

Ending #1 - the fish is boated, a quick photo taken and then it is quickly released to hopefully out swim the seals to double in size!

Ending #2 - the deft hand runs the blade of the filleting knife to create two large, thick, boneless fillets that end up highly seasoned and placed on a hot grill and served with a chilled Chardonnay.

Pick your ending!

The Millers - We have had 6 straight days where the cfs has been between 200 and 300 which is, IMNSHO, perfect!!!!!Places like Orcutt, the Kempfield, Bridge Street and even Erving Center and the Upper Trestle have rounded into shape.  In my 30+ years on this river I can say that these are the conditions that you want.

The EB - Fish this river in the evening or very early in the morning.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Ants - Don't Leave Home Without Them!

" Fish sense, applied in the field, is what the old Zen masters would call enlightenment: simply the ability to see what's right there in front of you without having to sift though a lot of thoughts and theories and, yes, expensive fishing tackle" - John Gierach

It was an early September afternoon that found me on the EB and confronted by a Bliss Pool that was loaded with rising fish. The "Hatch" was still going on when I entered the water and saw that the surface was covered with tiny slate gray sets of wings. "Olives??" was the first thought but when I noticed the culprit on my shirtsleeve I knew the answer: Ants, size 18-20, black, winged with that smokey grayish hue. I always have them, at least a few, and I cleaned up that late summer afternoon.

Now, during summer days the occasional ant will fall onto the water and get eaten by a trout.  Those are not the ants that we are talking about. The ANT that REALLY grabs the attention of trout and it truly a game changer is the Swarming Winged Stage of this critter!! When they land on the water nothing else matters!!!

Ok, when does that happen?  It happens when ant and termite colonies get too big and need to split up.  Many will sprout wings and follow the queen to new places. This can happen in the spring (seems like it's always after a rain) or during the summer BUT the prime time for this activity here in New England is during the last two weeks of August and the First week of September. This is when I always see this activity whether it's on the EB, the Farmington, the Swift and so on.  About 15 years ago I was on the phone talking to a guy in New Hampshire who was about 60 miles from me.  He said the water was covered with ants.  So was my river!!!

What to use??  Up until 10 years ago my ant patterns were dirt simple. Natural dubbing of the appropriate color in an hour glass shape and two BLUE DUN hackle point tips as the wings slanting backwards. It worked perfect if you had plenty of floatant.  The main reason that this pattern is on the bench is because the hackle tips that I like or in short supply. They came from old Indian and Chinese necks that made perfect hackle point wings back when tiers actually did that.

Here's my 21st Century version:

Hour Glass body (try to keep it slim with the rear section slightly larger) of natural dubbing of the appropriate color.

Hackle - On black patterns I use a grizzly hackle that I dyed GRAY that is tied in at the "waist".  On brown or red patterns I use a grizzly hackle that I dyed BROWN. That mottled hackle, either brown or gray just looks perfect.

Now, I will tie in a bit of gray CDC for the wing on my black patterns which will add to it's floating qualities and aid in visibility. For some quirky reason I don't add many wings to my brown versions, just the hackle.

NOTE: DON"T OVER HACKLE THESE FLIES!!!  Ants lay flush to the surface and to achieve this and to help the float I use a size 20 hackle on a size 18 ant and a 22 on a 20.

Now for the question - Why are winged ants attracted to water?  There can be thousands awash in a river during a swarm!!!

Summer evenings have been fishing well!!! Contact me for a session!!


Friday, July 7, 2017

Weekend Update, A Bad Day And A Lost Rod Found

"Lawyers are like nuclear weapons. By all rights they shouldn't exist, but if some people have them, then you'd better have one too, just in case" - John Gierach

First, a lost rod that was posted on this blog was REUNITED with it's owner within 24 hours.

Now, this was a complete rod owned by someone who fell in, I guess. What happens more often is the person who loses a rod segment and this is avoided by doing the following: Don't break your rod down at the stream and then walk back to your vehicle. That's how sections are lost!!! Keep your rod together and stringed up until your back to the vehicle. YOU WILL NOT LOOSE ANYTHING!!! Also, string your rod up at the car before you walk. I knew of one guy who couldn't wait to claim his spot at the Pipe and carried all four sections down the path and then lost a lot of time looking for a lost section!! Also, when you are back at the vehicle the first thing you do is breakdown your rod and put it away. Don't put it on the roof to do later because you will forget and it will end up getting run over!! It happened to me years ago and it happens to anglers every year!

The above photo is of a bad day gone really bad. Someone down at the Pipe got tangled up in a tree and had to CUT his fly line to get out of there. I hope that doesn't happen again due to the price of fly lines!!!

This weekend - Even though they seem to be playing with the flow the Millers will do well in the VERY early morning and in the evening especially if it's cloudy. The EB and the WB will be the same as well as the Ware. We could actually use a little rain (can't believe I said that) that is wide spread instead of a deluge here and no rain there.

As for me - I'll be at Plum Island in Newburyport for a week chasing stripers and blues and whatever but keeping an eye on our rivers and accepting reports from you readers.

Remember, summer evenings are great on the Millers and the EB of the Westfield. In three hours I can show you a lot of water and get into some rising fish. Ditto for the Swift! After July 15 I have some slots ready to claim right through August.

See you soon!


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A Summer Morning, A Happy Fourth And A Lost Rod

Flyfishing does have its social aspects - on some of our crowded trout streams it can get too social -
but essentially it's a solitary, contemplative sport. People are left alone with themselves in beautiful surroundings to try to accomplish something that seems to have genuine value
John Gierach

When I passed the Y Pool parking lot at 6:10 am there were a dozen vehicles there already. Tee times start early at the Y!! And from what I've heard there are a lot of fish above Route 9 and NOT a lot below Route 9. The ONE car there at 6:15 is testimony to that. The big, fat stocking on July 1 that we saw last year and the year before that and the year before that is not the case this year. It is slim pickings and a lot of empty water. For me it's PERFECT!!!!!!!!! (I'll tell you of a place where the rainbows are. Just stay calm)

I skipped the usually places and headed down to Cady Lane. I love this spot! Brookies, browns and bows are in the offering but it's the brookies that drive me there. The brookies are BIGGER this year. This morning I got deep into the double digits with a number of 8 to 10 inch fish and a beauty that hit the foot long mark. The 3 inch freshmen stayed off the hook although I could see them on the edges of the weeds. Where else in southern New England could you have this crazy treasure?

The brown came out of nowhere and grabbed the size 18 soft hackle, placed its 14 inch body against the current and then shook the hook. Fair enough because I saw him rise up from the bottom and felt the resistance for an instant. A lost fish but a good experience!!

I was down at Cady for three hours on a Summer holiday and NEVER saw or heard another angler. The only sounds were the riffles from upstream, summer morning birdsong (much subdued from spring) and some cattle mooing in the distance. Cady is a good place to reset the clock. I've been running full bore over the last three months with guiding and the "day job" and I needed CALM. I got it. (BTW, I'll have an word on that day job in a week or so)

Now, where are the freshly stocked trout below Route 9????? Local fish hawk Jim found them and he found them to the tune of 6 bows and 2 brookies (all good fish) on dries in a 2 hour span. If I found them I'd tell you where but he told me so I will not. I visited the place at the end of the morning, caught one bow and saw others. Hint: Explore!!!!!

Steak and ribs rubbed in pepper and salt going on the coals in an hour. Have a Happy July 4th!!!


P.S. A reader found a rod IN the Millers (???) If it's your rod then just go to the comments and look for Anonymous and his email address.

Friday, June 30, 2017

A Freestone Update, The Swift Is Stocked And Summer Evenings

"Fly patterns are like literature: endless variations on a handful of themes.  The good ones are the ones that work, for whatever reason, and the great ones are those that survive beyond their own generation." - John Gierach

What a difference a year makes!! Last year at this time the freestone rivers that I fish (Millers, Ware and the Westfield Branches) were toast. Now they are perfect!!!! The WB did well for me last Sunday and also produced this week. The EB worked well for Gary during a "dry fly morning" as he described it. I spent the week guiding on the Millers and we caught trout every EVENING.

I put the word EVENING in caps because it is important. There are those that still consider the Millers unfishable during the summer. They are totally wrong. If you want to fish during bankers hours go to the Farmie or the Swift but if you want some REAL summer fishing hit the water by 7pm on the Millers or very early in the morning (5am) on any of above mentioned rivers.

Also, try to stay clear of the tributary mouths. I have seen trout packed in where Whetstone Brook enters the Millers with guys fishing right on top of them. Connecticut has a law against fishing near certain brooks flowing into the Housie during the summer. So should we!!!

Flies To Use - Use any fly that you want BUT I would never be on the Millers (or any other river) this time of year without tan and olive comparaduns in 14 and 16, Soft hackles (of course) in partridge and Olive or Orange and my reduced buggers.

Another bit of conventional wisdom debunked is that trout stop hitting if there is lightning in the air. We had two good evenings shortened when storms began to approach but we continued to hook up. The trout didn't care but we did, getting off the water with plenty of time to spare.

The Swift - The regulations change below RT 9 on July 1 to C&R and that river should get some fish if it hasn't already. With the freestones running full I've had little time to fish the Swift but that should change this coming week. I'll keep you posted. Note: The Swift was stocked today (Friday June 30)!

I'll be chasing stripers from 7/8 to 7/15 and then guiding in the evenings through Labor Day. Want to try a new river during the best time of year? Contact me!


Sunday, June 25, 2017

A West Branch Morning

I believe that the solution to any problem - work, love, money, whatever - is to go fishing, and the worse the problem, the longer the trip should be" - John Gierach

At 6:30 am the car thermometer read 56 degrees. Perfect! At 6:45 the West Branch of the Westfield read 58 degrees. More than perfect! I needed this small break and that small break would be on the prettiest trout stream that I've been fishing which is the West Branch of the Westfield.

This river looks like a miniature version of the Deerfield with similar topography, steep hills that seem to run right down to the river but WITHOUT the crazy flow regimes, WITHOUT the rafting, Without the tubing riff raff and without the swimmers. Nothing against swimmers but I thought that's what ponds are for!

I was intent on devoting a few hours to some runs that earlier in the year, during high water, just screamed for a dry fly. Today,at 80 CFS, the flow was perfect. It would be a dry fly morning!

My first stop was the Wright Run which local legend Gary turned me onto. The bushy Elk Hair Caddis (mine are tied with deer hair) took a bow and a brown from the riffles down through the gentle water. One trout came up to inspect the offering and then snubbed me (I take it personally) and then would not rise again. Then I went down to the Old State Bridge and had another trout perform the same act. This is a great spot but I just don't seem to do well in this section.

I met another flyfisher who was leaving who took a giant bow that he had been working over for a few weeks. "Were you nymphing" I asked? "No, got it on a streamer" he replied!! Let's hear it for the retro techniques!!!!

The last spot was the "Hole in the Woods" where I landed a good 16 inch bow and lost another trout to a bad knot! I was on the water at 7am and off by 9:15. I needed that time in a nice place without the crowds. I'm lucky to live close to good water. Actually I may have designed it that way. I couldn't think of living beyond a 40 minute drive from good trout water and I don't!!


Thursday, June 22, 2017


The Millers is HOT right now. Fish it very early in the morning (7am or earlier) or fish it after 6pm until dark especially on a cloudy day.

Work soft hackles or my reduced buggers ( search my site for the recipe. I should re-post on that) and you should do well.

Some areas like my favorite section in Erving Center are still unfishable but Bridge St., the Kempfield Section and Orcutt have been getting it done.

This weekend is shaping up to be GOOD!!! Go do it!


P.S. Don't forget the Bears Den!!!!!!!!!!!