Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Monday, February 27, 2017

Spring Was Here And Then......Spawning Bows

"If I fished only to capture fish, my fishing trips would have ended long ago" Zane Grey

On Saturday morning the temperature crossed 60 degrees for the third day in a row which isn't bad for late February. In fact, it was above 50 degrees since early in the week which brought the hordes out to the Swift throughout the week. " I couldn't find a place to park" was the lament from Bill about conditions at the Pipe on Tuesday and Thursday. That was not the case on
Saturday morning as Bill and Joe were the ONLY ones working that section!!!

Word has it that the hot fly for the week was the Henderickson nymph, a bit early but it worked!!

One thing of interest on that Saturday morning was the spawning behavior of rainbows above and below the Pipe. Nest digging was observed just above the pump house and down below the Pipe. (the accompanying photo is of a 16 inch bow caught in the act).

This is the time of year for wild bows to spawn and that urge is still in play for the hatchery fish but it is a useless exercise because THESE rainbows are (they say) sterile. "Triploid" bows are sterile bows that can be stocked over native bows providing increased numbers WITHOUT deluding the native gene pool. Sounds like a good idea except why is this done on the Swift where there are no stream born rainbows? One would think that it would be great to have reproducing bows to join with the brook trout and browns. Just thinking out loud..

I've made an effort to devote more energy to caddis imitations this year and have become intrigued with using plastic beads (No. 11 seed beads to be exact) to represent the larva stage of this insect. The olive color should work and if need be I'll switch to a bright green color.

It's 24 degrees at 5:00am as I write this. Winter is back!!!


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Quinapoxet River News, R.I.P. Swift River Plan And Fish This Weekend

"Rivers and the inhabitants of the watery elements are made for wise men to contemplate and for fools to pass by without consideration" Isaac Walton

First, there's no NEW news here but just an attempt to get some up-to-date info on the progress or lack of progress with the Quinapoxet dam removal project. This puddle of molasses has been creeping along with its occasional press coverage for over 10 years. A lot of the coverage that surfaces seems to be a re-fried version of the last news release with a new photo or graph thrown in for good measure. I was told by a reliable source three or so years ago that the project was "funded" and had only to tie up some loose ends. That was then and I've yet to hear even a rumor. If you know something let me know.

This month marks the one year anniversary of the "Let's-Stop-Stocking-Rainbows-Over-The-Poor-Brookies" on the Swift River. The Conventional Wisdom that drove this movement was simple: if you didn't have rainbows crowding out and eating the brookies then you would have a great brookie fishery. But the truth is we ALREADY have a GREAT brookie fishery that seems to be improving EVERY year in spite of the rainbows that are stocked.  Last year saw a great number of brook trout plus many well over a foot long with a few hitting the 20" mark.  Where else can you find that in Central New England?? The predation of brookies by rainbows  may actually be a good thing because it can act as a check on the numbers of brook trout in the Swift. In fact, there appears to be an increase in the LARGE brown trout population down in the Cady Lane section!!! I wonder why!!

Anyone with over 20 years experience on this river knows that the brook trout fishing on this river is MUCH better now than 20 years ago. The brookie population expanded even with the stocking of rainbows. It appears that the few supporters that marched along with this bad idea had very few years on this river and never saw the BIG PICTURE. Thankfully this movement sank without a trace!!

We are going to get a taste of Spring from today (Thursday) through the weekend. Get out there and fish!!! Check out the Swift, the Quinnie and any "thin blue lines" that you've been thinking about. Check out the website "Small Stream Reflections" to see what small streams can produce at this time of year.

Best of Luck!


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Time Of The Season

"No man ever steps in the same river twice for it's not the same river and he's not the same man" Heraclitus

The first thing that you notice is the increased birdsong in the early morning. And the walk to the Bubbler Arm at 9:00 am was a slog through crusty snow but the walk back was easy through snowball snow. One can actually feel the sun on your face. That's February! We are now two months past the shortest day of the year and although we could get hammered with snowstorms again the worst is OVER.

It was a good few hours working the above mentioned spot. My top fly was a size 18 WD40 with the bottom being either a size 24 or 26 midge larvae. I fished this run s-l-o-w-l-y, blind casting and then casting to visible fish. My 3 rainbows were all over 16 inches and 2 of the 3 took the WD40 while the last bow and the brookies took the tiny midge. BTW, the water temperature was 36 degrees which is about as cold as it gets on this run.

I can also say that I had the place to myself which has been the case for the last two months. The crowd still stops at the Y Pool!!!

Frequent commentator Will (AKA Hibernation), in response to my post on bead chain flies, sent in this photo of a great looking large trout/smallmouth fly called the Ugly Damsel". Backcast to the comments section of the prior post for info on this fly.

We turn the clocks ahead in three weeks!!!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sinking Lines, Secret Weapons And Book A Trip

"There's no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm" -Patrick F. McManus

Back in the day, back in BG (before graphite) it seemed that nobody with any sense would fish one of our larger rivers during the Spring high water without a sinking line. And I mean a SINKING LINE as in a Cortland Wet Cell 2 as opposed to a sinking tip line by any maker.

Sinking lines get you DOWN so you can short line, tight line and high stick your brains out but still make traditional casts to swing streamers and soft hackles and such. And don't believe the conventional wisdom that these are a bear to cast because they are not. Picking 50 ft of line out of the water may be a task but who does that anyway. Most of our fishing is withing 25 feet.

The key is the length of your leader material (notice that I said "leader material" and not leader) which should be about a 5 foot section of 3x for those high water, heavy fly conditions.

These lines are cheap and you should have one loaded onto a spare reel "just in case". It has saved the day for me on the Squannacook to the EB and especially the Millers over the years.

I love bead chain eyes BECAUSE they actually look like the eyes of a large insect or crayfish plus they add just the right amount of weight to beat heavy flows. I tie them on small buggers meant to imitate dragon fly and damsel fly nymphs and they work. In fact, many years ago when I worked the shores of Wachusett Reservoir for smallmouth it may have been my top fly.

Go to a local hardware store for the beadchain.

Folks, I'm booking up this Spring for the Millers, EB, MB, Ware and the Swift. Just email me and the date is yours without requiring a deposit!!!


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Remembering Special Trout

"Many go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after" Henry David Thoreau

Frequent commentator Sam (aka Parachute Adams) asked if I could brighten up this dreary winter with any remembrance of a special trout that I had crossed paths with over the years. There are a few. The brown that took up home right NEXT to the top rock at the Millers upper Trestle Pool. That trout took me four months to catch and I got it on my 40th birthday. Not big but very difficult.

But the one that has the deepest memories goes back over 40 years ago to the Squannacook River. I first encountered that brown in early June when a well placed Blue Quill Dry landed a few feet up from an old log that partially spanned half of this modest river. I saw all two feet of him come up, follow the fly for about a foot until drag set in and then disappear back under the log. I was shaken to say the least because I didn't think that river could hold a trout of that size!!

I carefully fished for that brown over the next two months but didn't see it again until late Summer when it rose again to THE VERY SAME FLY. This time I could feel the point of the hook scrape the mouth of this huge brown but that's as close as I got. I never saw the brown again.

I've caught trout close to the same size but there is something special about the ones that get away. Sometimes I think that if I had landed it it would of lost some of its status.
                                                                            Tied by Elsie Darbee

It's been a snowy week with more on the way BUT it's almost 2 months since the shortest day of the year. Spring is not far away.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Hot Fly, A Revelation And Thinking About The Ware

"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

Try this fly!!!

Hook - size 20 to 24 Saber scud hook or smaller midge hook
body - Dark Olive 140 denier thread
Rib - ultra thin copper wire
Wing Buds - Crystal flash
Head - black thread

You can tie dozens of these in no time at all due to it's very simple construction and it works because it is so generic. It represents all of those little guys we find in the Swift and can be fished solo or behind something like a WD40. It has worked on the Swift this past month.

The Ware River

By February I'm usually lost in a day dreaming swoon as the urge to fish my freestones in the Spring just takes over. This year I'm dreaming of the Ware River and reliving some of the awesome Spring days of last year. I fished some of the best dry fly water in central Massachusetts on that river. I would work a soft hackle just below the surface on a classic swing and then end up casting upstream with a floating offering as the RISE took over. I caught trout at every location on this river AND I usually had the place to myself. If fly fishing is a social experience for you then you may not feel comfortable on the Ware. That's what the Farmie and the Swift are for!!!

A Revelation -

Sometimes things all come together and seem to make sense at the strangest moments. I've always wondered why "nymphing" has captured the minds of so many fly fishermen while, at least for me, it seemed somewhat familiar and in a way old fashioned.

Then I did a Swift/Millers presentation to a TU group in Poughkeepsie NY last month and it finally came to me and almost derailed my presentation. I kept talking about our rivers but the thought was in my head for the rest of the show AND the ride home. The thought was that I've been "nymphing" since I was 9 years old and I did it with worms as any self respecting 9 year old SHOULD do. I learned the high stick, tight line methods of fishing a worm from pre internet magazines and from watching others who were catching fish. Toss the spinning line (same as a 20 ft leader) out there into the riffles at the head of a pool, keep slack to a minimum and watch for the hesitation in the drift.

I'm beginning to think that there are a lot of river fly fishers who have very few hours (maybe minutes) on a river WITHOUT a fly rod in their hands and that's a shame. It seems that today's revolutionary techniques are really old school techniques that now have a new label.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

The Swift - Lots of snow this weekend but the fish are still there. Go get them!!


Friday, February 3, 2017

Early Stones, Quill Bodies And The "Other" Swift

"Calling Fly Fishing a hobby is like calling Brain Surgery a job." - Paul Schullery

Photo by Thomas Ames Jr.

If there is a harbinger of Spring that will catch the eye of the winter worn fly fisher it is the little Taeniopterygidae Stonefly, known as the Early Dark Stonefly and/or Winter Stonefly. Get a day where the temperature hits the mid 40's and the sun is shining and they will seem to be everywhere. I live on the banks of a decent trout stream and on those mild days my porch, deck and fence posts will be covered with them as they seem to be content to just soak up the rays.

They are a major hatch as far as numbers go but a minor hatch as far as surface activity is concerned. First, they crawl out of the water to hatch in sometimes inhospitable conditions such as high, flooded rivers. Second, most freestones in our area will be pretty empty of trout until the stocking trucks arrive. Third, in the words of Thomas Ames, Jr. "Fish are more likely to rise to early stoneflies when adult females are ovipositing and when there are other insects, like midges or early mayflies, to draw them to the surface."

I'll always have some imitations with me especially on March days at the Y Pool and those imitations will represent this insect's life stages with the egg laying stage being the most important IMNSHO. This also gives me a chance to play with quill bodies which is a fly tying skill that is being lost to the flow of time.

The egg laying stage -

Size 20 dry fly hook

sparse blue dun hackle fibers

body - dark grey stripped quill (Sharpies work well on getting the right shade of color

Hackle - Grey or black

This high floater can be skidded across the surface to imitate egg laying stones and does a good job at imitating the Winter Caddis too!

Now, to imitate the insect as it is hatching you need pattern like the one developed by the great Art Flick. Just take the pattern above,ditch the stiff hackles for small, webby brownish hen hackles and use a browning quill for the body. This fly will be fished around the rocky edges of the shore (Y Pool) just beneath the surface. It can also be used to fish over the spent stoneflies.

This fly is more important for getting your spirits up than for bringing trout up. That's why I'm mentioning it!!

The "Other" Swift River

Massachusetts has two Swift Rivers with the western river being a free flowing jewel. It's also a major tributary of the EB, dumping in to that river in the town of Cummington. It is a cool, mossy and shaded place that is one of those thin, blue lines that we all want to fish but.....

It's not hard to find and you should give it a try.

The Ground Hog is wrong!!!!!