Saturday, October 31, 2009

Swift redux

As planned, Stan and I hit the Swift River again from the hatchery pipe to the area below Cady Lane. Short report: crowded; fooled a few; had fun.
The real story is that unlike Monday (see Oct 27 report) all the "good spots" were taken. This proved to be a blessing in disguise. The hatchery pipe is like fly fishing junk food. Fish stack up there and if you are even a marginally competent "bobber" angler, you can clean up with fish after fish falling for your egg pattern or tiny nymph. The further you move from this epicenter of trout gluttony, the tougher the fishing is. Just 30 or 40 feet downstream, the successful anglers usually need to bring their "A-Game" matching the hatch, perfect presentation, etc. When I saw the big crowd huddled around the pipe run, I had to readjust my expectations. On Monday, after being satiated with junk food, I had moved upstream to fish the run from the roll dam to the gauge pool with some success. This time I chose to follow Stan downstream on shanks mare and find some solitude and tough fish - mission accomplished. The trout downstream were highly visible, since the water is clear as air and slick as didymo on a door-knob. Like all trout, when the water temperature is right and food is available, they are compelled to feed, so there was no shortage of opportunities. Conditions like this can either intimidate or inspire the fly angler. Since it was the only game in town, I had no choice but to become inspired. I would like to say that I conquered every fish I targeted, but as often as not, the most I got was a perfunctory glance before being summarily dismissed. But, often enough to keep me interested, I was able to elicit a quick strike, about half of which resulted in a break-off. I always figure that fooling the fish into a strike is 90% of the fun of fly fishing, so I wasn't too disturbed, other than with the loss of a successful fly on a number of occasions. Oddly enough, some of the successful patterns were not hatch-matchers, but the fly fishing equivalents of "Hail Mary" efforts. Who knows why these pea-brained trout Einsteins chose a skated Henryville Special after ignoring a dozen different tiny BWO patterns, but some did. In any case, fish were seen, fish were fooled and fish were caught-and a few were self-released wearing a bushy mustache, a day early for Halloween. None were caught with the benefit of an egg pattern, floated under a bobber. (Not that there is anything wrong with that! See Ken's commentary <Why I hate indicators>)


  1. Gerry - I fished just around the bend from the pipe this morning. After fooling one with a micro egg a midge hatch started coming off, maybe 10 am. The fish were rising like crazy to them, I tried every adult midge pattern in my box. I missed a few strikes with a griffiths gnat. Then I switched to an emerger and fooled a nice fat bow, well worth the trouble. I'm not sure if it was a fluke because none of the other trout seemed interested in the one he took...frustrating, but a good time.
    Do you know of a good resource for midge hatches, especially on tailwaters like the swift? Is there a schedule for these hatches? I'm hoping to become better educated before my next trip out.



  2. I am not aware of the cycle for midges. I suspect it is based on water temp and sun on the water. BWO seem to hatch on overcast days and midges on sunny days - just my observation, not based on any written source. I always just try to have a variety of midge patterns in different colors and sizes. It always seems I never have one small enough to match the midges on the Swift.
    Was there a big crowd there today?
    - Gerry

  3. Gerry,
    I have to agree with you guys. I have never had any luck using a thingamabobber... The only strike indicator I use is the elk hair caddis in front of my hare's ear or pheasant tail dropper. That works great usually. But I agree- anyone can fish with a bobber to show you when you have a hit. Fishing by feel with a lighter weight rod makes you so much better...

    I didn't get out this weekend. I popped a rib last weekend and I am still sore. I may head out next weekend. Any luck on the Pemi or did you not get a chance to hit it?


  4. Eric,

    You nailed it with the elk hair caddis. Use an indicator as long as it has a hook in it!!

  5. Ken,
    Exactly... Let the indicator serve a purpose :)

    I bagged a 4lb smallmouth on the Newfound River on the elk hair back in August. Man was I mad when I saw it jump, I thought I had a monster rainbow or a salmon that fell over the wall. But I did pick up 2 nice rainbows on the dropper that night - even with the water temps in the river almost 70. Of course I am still laughing at my buddy who picked up a catfish in the wave train just below the dam. Last place I thought I would see one of those.

    The dual rig setups work great. Either with a surface fly with a dropper or a BH woolly with a floating fly behind it. Dropping the woolly in the current with a little extra weight so it hits the bottom under the current then let the floating fly rise up and dance in the bottom of the white water... But again- you need a light weight fly rod to feel the difference between the strikes and bumping off the bottom.

    BTW- great articles on your forum Ken. I read them religiously... Almost tempts me to get my Massachusetts fishing license.