Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Thursday, November 8, 2018

A Sad Sight And "Natural" Flies

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

In the Fall of 2017 I was primed to fish this one section of the Swift and that second were the large gravel flats found below the Duck Pond. For the past few years this section had been the the TOP brookie spawning area on the river, period. Hundreds of brook trout built redds and many,many rainbows and browns patrolled the area for the stray eggs.

In late September of 2017 scouted the place out and was dismayed/shocked at the weed growth that had taken over the flats. Needless to say, brookie spawning in that spot was abysmal! I was hoping that 2017 was a freak year. It was not!

The above photo was taken on Wednesday. All of the prime gravel beds are under a sea of green and instead of hundreds of BT I saw 3!
There were a few "open" areas but the increased flow probably makes them unsuitable. Two years ago you saw very little weed growth.

The weeds seem to start at the Duck Pond and head downstream. Above the pond there is very little growth.

Natural Flies

I wish that I had coined the label "Junk Flies". You know, the garish, glitzy, bead headed monstrosities or those squirmy wormy creatures in day glow radioactive colors. When I fish I want the trout think that my fly is the real think and not something to strike out of fear. I get more satisfaction out of catching a trout on a nymph like the one in the photo then catching six on a san juan whatever.

The Weekend

The Millers - 3010 cfs

The EB - 1150 cfs

The Swift - 144 cfs but still very fishable. It is really the only game in town so to speak. If the expected rain on Friday is lighter than the forecast the EB may be fishable by early next week which is not too late for this river. I've had good late November days on the EB. The Millers?? See you next May!!!



Anonymous said...


I saw you two or three years ago fishing that stretch. You are right that it has changed and it's not for the better.


Jim W said...

The other day in a comment on weeds someone mentioned septic systems. Add to that fertilizer as some of those houses have pretty big green lawns. JW

Hunter Bulak said...

I would have to say that I am both dismayed about the weed growth, but also at the same time I would have to disagree with people who don't see its potential benefits... I spend all my time fishing from cady lane and down, as I do not like crowds, and prefer fishing the areas nobody else does. Yes the weed growth has exploded exponentially, but it simply comes down the changing technique. I have managed to find the brookies spawning still, but the gravel flats have disappeared, and the weed growth has messed with the water clarity. But the weed growth offers a lot of benefits that are often overlooked. In general plants improve water quality by absorbing nutrients and filtering pollutants, this may not be the particular case with these weeds, but one thing the weeds do offer is shelter. I think the explosion of larger fish can be attributed to this shelter source, as I personally have never seen or caught so many big fish in this stretch of the river as I have this year. Explore more, you'll be surprised what you find.


Millers River Flyfisher said...


I should remember you because very few ever fished it. It's a shame what has happened.


Millers River Flyfisher said...

Jim W.,

That too but it may be even further upstream.


I agree with your statement that " but the gravel flats have disappeared " as you said. We need the gravel flats to continue good spawning activity but these sections are fewer this year and last year. Fewer prime sections mean less yearling brook trout next year and after. The weeds have always provided shelter to young BT BUT spawning habitat means more.
Just my opinion which I can back up!


Parachute Adams said...

No fishing for me lately, Ken, which makes me enjoy each of your new posts all the more as I check them out wherever I might happen to be. The dark season and work travels are not my friends this time of year.

Love that nymph pattern. What is that thorax section made of? I would like to tie up a few of those. Do you ever build weight into your nymphs?

Best, Sam

Millers River Flyfisher said...


The nymph has a thorax of rabbit but any natural fur would do. I will build weight into the nymphs and take them along with me in case I run into higher water LIKE RIGHT NOW!!!!!

Just 5 months until April!!!!


Kozman said...

Its been a bunch of years since I last fished the Swift with any form of regularity. However, if the photo is representative of the weed bed this year down in that section, I do remember a few different years in the distant past that it got that heavy. There could be a weather-driven cyclical thing happening as well...not the cause, but could be a contributing factor. Understanding how streams ebb and flow can be a fascinating topic to ponder sometimes. Hope your dark months go by fast.

Millers River Flyfisher said...


Good to hear from you! Hope Montana is treating you well.

I first fished that spot about 8 years ago and it was basically free of weeds. Your observations indicate a cyclical thing going on. What seems odd is that above the old rock structure there is very little weed growth. Below the structure and all the way down to the gauge run it's loaded with weeds. Could there be a nutrient load seeping into the river or a nonpoint source of pollution?

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


Unknown said...

Hi Ken. While the weather is cooling and the water is a little higher, I believe the fishing is better. I’ve fished the Swift twice a week (as I do most Falls). The fish seem to be moving more with the water up. Some of the big browns made their way out of their holes. I caught one yesterday above route 9 at the pool at the base of the stairs and just over the bridge. Late in the day after many had fished over them. 20”+, maybe five pounds. Quickly released. Less fish above the Y Pool in the light water. Few Brooke’s above Route 9. But still, the Swift is such a beautiful setting to spend the day. Thanks for this wonderful post. Wishing you well.

Paul said...

I wonder how much this apparent nutrient load that is feeding weed growth could be influenced by some livestock which were being raised on the ridge parallel to river road. At the top of Sherman Hill road there is a small piece of land right where Coffey Hill road starts. There were 8-12 cattle being raised in a crowded, small fenced in pen during this past year. From what I could tell, these animals spent late spring, summer and early fall on this small plot - they were there every time I drove by. These cattle were sold off or moved off this plot of land in September - I happened to be driving by as the cattle were being prepared to be loaded onto a trailer.

There is a small brook about 80-100 feet and down hill from the pen. As of this week, the brook was flowing. So, when you take into consideration that your average head of cattle can produce 50+pounds of manure/day add in a little nitrogen from urine, multiple by 10 and that is a lot of runoff material potentially be washed into the brook whenever it rains. While I haven't specifically walked that brook, it flows right down hill into the Swift. By eyeballing the path of the brook, I think it is the one that flows in either just below the little waterfall or further down in the location above the duck pond where I think there is a white cross posted streamside.

I don't remember whether cattle were being raised in 2017 on that plot, but it might be worth watching in the future. I have no idea what agency would be in charge of checking into this issue.


Millers River Flyfisher said...

Paul, I really don't know. I say I really don't know!!! Is this a result of nutrient loading that can be be be result of nutrient run-off? I don't know! The DWF should tell us if that's the case but a big brook trout spawning area is devoid of spawning brook trout which was the norm two years ago. The DFW should give us a clue about the state of the brookie population going forward on the Swift. We are all in the fog about this.


YellowstoneBound said...

Ken - separate question — assuming no more rain this week (yeah, right), do you think they will start dropping the flow into the swift? Feeling the need for a day of fishing on Wednesday before family descends from all corners...