Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

The forecast today was for rain, but with mild temperatures - A perfect combination for both feeding fish and solitude.

I drove to a few of my favorite streams near the Wachusett reservoir in search of wild brook and brown trout.

The first stream I fished contains only brook trout. It's too small for a decent cast for most of its length, save for one large pool below a small dam. I cast a beadhead hare's ear nymph into the steady current, swollen by recent rains. My indicator drifted past an overhanging bush, then shot under the surface. Soon after my first fish of the day was at hand - a nicely colored wild brookie.

First trout of December

A few casts later my indicator dove again, and I found another wild brookie at the end of my line.

A view of this stream's one fishable pool

At this point I decided I had likely caught both actively feeding residents of the pool, so I moved to a different stream in search of some wild browns. There's brookies here too, but I tend to catch more browns, especially when it's cold. 

Browns are meat eaters, and sometimes it takes something big to make them move in the winter. I watched intently as my olive wooly bugger drifted downstream. Just as it passed a boulder in the stream I saw a flash, followed by a tug, and soon a wild brown was in the net.

Wild Brown #1

I had its in the next three pools, landing one more brown before the rain switched from a light drizzle to a true downpour. I packed up and headed home, satisfied with my most successful day of winter* fishing ever.

Wild Brown #2
*I'm not sure if a day with air and water temperatures in the mid-40s truly counts as winter!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Black Friday on the Swift

Route 202 - Possibly my favorite drive in MA
Like many others, I was up before dawn on Black Friday. Though it was sure to be crowded, my destination wasn't a mall. I was headed for the Swift.

The early morning sun on the clear waters of the Swift
The Swift River, as the only true tailwater in Massachusetts (I say this because the Deerfield, though fed by bottom release dams, lacks the stable flows for which tailwater fisheries are known),  is always crowded, but it's by far the most reliable winter fishery in the state.

The Swift wasn't my first choice for fishing on Black Friday this year. While it is full of large stocked rainbows and small to medium wild brookies, the fish are frustrating and the crowds take away from the natural beauty of the area. I was hoping I could head out for one last trip to some freestone streams in Western MA, but the foot of snow that fell 2 days before threw a wrench in those plans.

The USGS gauge on the Stillwater River, which I use to estimate freestone stream temps, showed a chilly 36 degrees F, a temperature at which trout are unlikely to feed unless hit on the nose with a nymph. The Swift, on the other hand, was still at 48 degrees! I decided I'd rather be frustrated by trout that might actually take a fly than trudge through the snow and hope for the best on a small mountain stream.

Dressed for Success
So, at 8 AM on Black Friday my friend Aaron and I were the first, but certainly not the last, anglers walking the banks of the Swift. We worked our way upstream towards the pipe, spooking one nice-sized brook trout, but otherwise seeing any fish. Most of the water from Cady Lane to the Pipe is flat, shallow, and featureless-It could benefit from some chop and drop habitat improvement.

We got to the Pipe and were pleasantly surprised to see rising fish and not another angler in sight! We couldn't see what they were rising to, so I tied on the smallest dry I had. I'm not sure what it is (I found it in a tree), but it's a small tannish-white mayfly.

After a few rejections a nice rainbow rose to my fly and I set the hook...only to have my line fly back at me, the 6X tippet snapped. Most of my dry fly fishing is for small brookies, so I forget that I need to set the hook lightly. After that the fish stopped rising, so I switched to a size 20 black tungsten-head zebra midge. I had heard tiny midges are effective on the Swift, but I was having a hard time believing the fish could even them it until my indicator shot under. I was rewarded with this small, but beautiful wild brookie.

A few casts later, my indicator dipped again, only this time there was significantly more weight on the other end. After a 2 minute fight (long for me) this slab of a rainbow was in the net. As I lifted him from the net he snapped my tippet and flopped back into the water, taking my zebra midge with him.

I rushed Aaron to take the picture...I may have been a bit overexcited
I didn't catch anymore fish that day, but Aaron caught this nice rainbow on a dry in the fading light. Having both caught fish, we decided to head back to the car and begin the long drive home along snow-covered Routes 202 and 2.

Given our combined 1 fish in our previous 3 trips to the Swift, this trip was a resounding success!

Thursday, October 23, 2014


It's been three weeks since the end of Trout Season. In that time I've caught 2 tiny bluegill. It's better than nothing, but I'm starting to feel the itch big time, so the only thing to do is plan future trips!

Red Brook
Recently I've been binge-listening to the Orivs Fly Fishing Guide Podcast. It's free, incredibly informative, and Tom Rosenbauer's easy-going sense of humor keeps it interesting even after listening to several episodes in a row. In one episode Tom said something that stuck out to me: "For some anglers, planning the trip is the best part". While I think the actual fishing is still the best part, I have to admit I do love the planning stages.
"The Rock" 
There's something gratifying about trawling through pages and pages of Google searches and fishing forums to find that one tidbit of information that leads to a good spot. Many anglers are tight-lipped about fishing information on the internet, and I understand this sentiment (there are a few streams I will never share), but I'm glad that a few let a little bit slip. If you're in a position where you need to drive at least 30 miles to find wild trout, a picture of a big wild fish with a recognizable landmark in the background or a report from a state electroshocking survey goes a long way towards the decision of where to go.

A trail in the uplands near Red Brook
I'm currently planning a trip to fish for Salters, or Sea-run brook trout. Few people know that brook trout, like most salmonids, exhibit anadromy if they have access to the sea. Because the native range of Brook trout only reaches sea level in New England and Canada, where coastal areas are heavily populated, there are very few salter streams left. Luckily, we still have a couple in Southeastern Massachusetts, where large sand and gravel aquifers provide cold groundwater year round.
A not-so-nice picture of a nice Red Brook salter 
My favorite, and the only I've fished, is Red Brook. There's tons of information on this stream online, so I'm not worried about mentioning it by name. In addition, it's difficult to fish and C&R artificial lures only, so only the most serious wild trout anglers are likely to catch anything. This is one of those streams where a one fish day is a success. Despite its difficulty, Red Brook will always hold a special place in my heart. It's where I caught my first wild Massachusetts brook trout, as well as my largest wild brook trout. The aquatic vegetation undulates in the slow smooth currents, easily visible through the crystal clear spring water. With little drop in elevation, there are very few riffles, so stealth is of utmost importance. Combine that with numerous overhanging branches and you get a very difficult fly fishing experience. But it's all worth it when you feel a large wild brook trout on the end of the line.

Looking across the Estuary towards Buttermilk Bay

I'm hoping to get out to this stream around the holidays, when I usually visit family in the area. Based on research conducted by UMass (Link), theres a good chance that the fish will be feeding in the estuary or bay around then, which means two things: more casting room and bigger fish. Only the big fish move into salt water, and the salt marsh where the stream flows into Buttermilk Bay will be far more forgiving than the stream for casting. This trip is still a long way off, but I'll post updates when/if it happens.

There aren't many aquatic insects in Red Brook, but there are plenty of baitfish. I accidentally snagged this juvenile herring minutes before I caught the salter above. The herring were swimming downstream by the hundreds and the trout were gorging themselves.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Welcome to all who stumble upon this blog!

A few years after getting into fly fishing, I'm completely and utterly addicted. With withdrawal setting in after the end of the trout season, I've decided I need to somehow stay connected with fly fishing. So, inspired by great blogs like Small Stream Reflections and The Trout Underground, I'm setting out to make my own contribution to the online fly fishing world.

A Wisconsin Brook Trout
A little bit about me: I'm currently a college student studying Biology and Chemistry, although I'm not yet entirely sure of my plan post-graduation(I need to get on that...). One thing I am sure of is my passion for fly fishing for wild trout (although I'm perfectly happy to have any fish on my line). I split my time between St. Paul, Minnesota, where I'm attending school, and home in Northeastern Massachusetts. Here in Minnesota I focus my fishing on wild brown and brook trout in the spring creeks of Western Wisconsin's Driftless area, while at home I focus on wild brook trout and occasional browns in small streams in the hills of Central and Western MA, with occasional trips to the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the sea-run brook trout streams of Southeastern MA.

A favorite Massachusetts stream
Unfortunately for me, the trout season in Wisconsin closes September 30th, and doesn't reopen until March, so I'll be high and dry in terms of trout fishing until I head home for my Thanksgiving and winter breaks. I'm already planning a Black Friday trout fishing trip in MA, where the trout season is open year round, and the anticipation of once again hitting the water is killing me. Hopefully this blog will help pass the time!

Sunset from a meadow stream in Wisconsin

I hope this blog can be a combination of fishing reports/pictures, instructional pieces(tips and tricks, fishing techniques, fly selection, etc.), and anything else that may relate to fishing, trout, or both. I'll try to post a belated report from a few of my recent trips this weekend (not that anyone will read this post before then though...).