River Report 10/27/2022

It’s been a solid fall so far out here in western Mass. Many area rivers and ponds received their fall stocking of trout, and this, coupled with the cooler temperatures and finally some decent rain, has made for good fishing across the board.

The Deerfield has been fishing quite well. Water temps earlier this week were hovering in the mid 50s. Hatches are comprised mostly of caddis in 14 to 16 and BWOs in 18 to 22. The BWO hatches can be quite prolific, especially on cooler, cloudier days. You may still come across some scattered hatches of our fall Cahills as well. The dry fly fishing can be terrific this time of year. For the BWOs I like Olive Sparkle Duns in 20 and 22 and RS2s in 20 to 24.

Nymphing is productive throughout the day. I like to start with something larger like a Pats Rubber Leg and drop a size 12 or 14 Hare’s Ear or Pheasant Tail off of that. If the water is low or those flies are not getting any love, I switch to caddis larvae or pupae trailed with a smaller size 20 pheasant tail or even an RS2 to mimic the BWO nymphs.

Fall is also great for streamer fishing. If I am willing to commit to it and only target the top end brown trout, I will fish articulated flies in the four to six inch range with a six weight rod with an aggressive sink tip. I like Rich Strolis’ Headbanger and Masked Avenger patterns as well as mini D and Ds. Bank Robbers and Heisenbergs also work for me. I like to switch up colors and actions until I find what they seem to be more aggressive toward. I start with olive and then try brown, tan, yellow, white, black–whatever colors I have in the box. I may start with flies that are neutrally buoyant and swim relatively smoothly in the water and then switch to flies like Headbangers that have a lot of weight at the front and swim with a jigging motion and then try the Mini D and Ds that will fish with sort of a reverse jigging motion when paired with a sink tip. Eventually the fish will tell you what they want!

There is a lot of trial and error with this way of fishing and there are definitely days where it can be a grind, but the potential reward of a solid wild brown is always there. If you want to up your catch rate, I would downsize the flies to the one to three inch range. Hard to go wrong with Woolly Buggers, Bunny Sculpins, Sculpzillas, Zonkers and the like. I would cycle through colors, actions and retrieves with these flies too. Five weights should be adequate.

Bass fishing has definitely entered into cold weather mode. Deep and slow are generally going to be most productive with crawfish patterns and weighted baitfish. Though it can be tough, there are good bass still to be had for the next few weeks.

Pike fishing can be great this time of year and right up until waters ice over. These are cold water fish that do not mind at all the lower water temperatures. I generally fish larger streamers in the 9 to 12 inch range on a fast sinking line. While generally not a numbers game around here, watching a fish in excess of three feet seem to materialize out of nowhere behind your fly is one of the more exciting things you can do with a fly rod in your hand.

The fishing on the Swift River remains good. Please be aware that the brook trout are spawning right now. These are wild, not stocked, fish. Avoid their redds when wading through the Swift and please leave them alone when they are on their beds. But go nuts on the big rainbows and browns lurking downstream of those redds picking off eggs knocked out of the beds!

The brown trout spawn has not really started on the Deerfield right now but should within the next few weeks. All the fish do not spawn at the same time so you can still fish for non-spawning browns in the coming weeks. Please do avoid fishing to browns on the redds, which are typically found in the tailouts of pools and runs in relatively shallow water. The Deerfield River Watershed Trout Unlimited did amazing work in proving that there are viable populations of wild browns in the Deerfield and getting the Fife Brook dam operator to increase minimum flows in  November to keep those redds under water. Let’s do our part to insure that the next generations of wild brown trout are given a chance to start with as little interference from us as possible.

While there still is plenty of good fishing to be had in the coming weeks and months, here at the shop we are also hitting the vise with a little more gusto. Bugs and Beers resumes Thursday, Nov. 3, and continues the first Thursday of every month through April, at Progression Brewing Company; a new season-long Beginner/Intermediate Class starts Wednesday, N0v. 16, and continues every third Wednesday of the month through April, at Hitchcock Brewing Company; and Drop-in Tying here at the shop is back on every Saturday morning starting at 10:30. Stay tuned for more tying classes and events to be announced over the next few weeks for tyers of all experience levels.

Below is information about upcoming meetings for the Pioneer Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Their meetings are now held at Abandoned Building Brewery in Easthampton so swing by if you can!

On November 9th PVTU is excited to host Dr. Rebecca Quinones of MassWildlife as our featured speaker.  Dr. Quinones will be presenting the results of her research on The Impacts of Climate Change to brook trout populations.  Dr. Quinones has made a previous presentation to the MA Council on this subject  and the results/implications of her research are eye opening and jaw dropping.  You’ll not want to miss the update.  Her research is intimately tied to TU’s mission.

On December 14th, we are truly blessed to have MassWildlife Commissioner Ron Amidon as our speaker.  Ron has broken the mold as Commissioner over the past four years.  He’s an ardent supporter, and member, of TU and has helped to advance our collaboration with MassWildlife to new levels.  The Commissioner will be discussing the agency’s accomplishments of the past 4 years and where he sees MassWildlife heading next.

Our meetings start at 7:00 (but a lot of us show up early to chat and have a fine brew beforehand) and are held at the Abandoned Building Brewery in Easthampton, Mass.  If you like finely crafted cold beer and want to learn more about what’s happening with our cold-water fisheries, you’ll want to attend these two meetings.  Information about the brewery can be found in the attached link.

As further enticement, we’ll be raffling off a 10-foot 5-weight Beulah switch rod and TFO reel at our November meeting and an Orvis flyrod and reel at or December meeting.

Again,  all TU members across MA are invited to attend.  Spread the word!

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