Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Lower Bears Den Of The Millers Revisited

"Predatory stoneflies are territorial and therefor migratory, distributing their populations well throughout the stream. Creepers are most active in the Spring, just prior to hatching, and again in the Fall but because there is always a maturing brood, the nymph patterns are effective all year long." - Thomas Ames, Jr. Hatch Guide for New England Streams

The old black and white photos had that "look" to them. Men with fedoras and flannel shirts, each holding a bamboo rod in one hand and a stringer of Millers River browns in the other. The photos were taken during the 1940's and early 50's before the Millers became too polluted to fish. The late Bob Roleau, who owned the photos, explained one thing to me: the photos were all taken on ONE STRETCH of the Millers. "The best stretch", as Bob explained. Say hello to the UTD Dam and the lower (end) of the Bears Den.

This is the lower end of the Bears Den catch & release section. The C&R officially ends at the UTD dam (UTD stands for Union Twist Drill, a once large employer in Athol that gave up in 1984)which can be seen from downtown Athol. The pond behind the dam is of little fly fishing value except to provide wintering quarters to some of the trout. What is of REAL VALUE is the stretch above the pond. It is 200 yards of the best dry fly water on the Millers - period!!! This stretch, with it's even, bank-to-bank flow and moderate depth, is fed by miles of riffles and a few springs along the way. The stretch is loaded with insects with two being very important. The first is the large Golden Stonefly. I've been on this stretch on early June mornings and have seen the tall grass at bank side loaded with hundreds of the adults of this species. The second is the hellgrammite. There are tales of well lit windows of bank side dwellings being covered with these critters on summer nights.

I have had unbelievable evenings on this stretch of the Millers and I have NEVER seen another fly fisher. The place could easily accommodate more anglers, there's plenty of water here!! The place could also accommodate a few more browns if the local TU Chapter can get them in there. Hint: Ask permission to open the access gate to the dam area and just throw the browns in.

To get there just google up Chestnut Hill Avenue in Athol. Take the first right off the lower end of this road and park by the side of the yellow gate. For more information on the Millers just order "The Guide" from this blog.

The photo on the left shows some of the miles of riffles that feed the stretch. The photo on the right shows the upper part of the ponded area and "the stretch" as it disappears upstream on the left of the photo.

Just a few more months to go.....!



Hibernation said...

Thanks for the reminder Ken! I dont remember the last time I fished that section... It's easy to drive past and sort of "forget"...

If you can access the area right below the Starrett's dam, man, I've caught a few really big bass there (for the millers, like 3-4#)... But, that was back when I was in high school or maybe my first year or two of college, so, (ooph) about 20-25 years ago...


No Meio Do Atlântico said...

hi Ken, I wonder if you ever tried some chironomids on an indicator on that pond looking pool?
Rui Machado

Millers River Flyfisher said...


It is difficult fishing that pool in the photo and the water at the head of the pool and above just grabs all of my attention. It's worth a try.


Anonymous said...


You are correct on the stone fly population on that stretch. Golden Stones I believe.