Yesterday, Mike Didonna celebrated the second anniversary for the Deerfield Fly Shop. There was a strong turnout of enthusiastic anglers. I gave a presentation about wade fishing on the Deerfield; Walt Geryk talked about using Spey and Switch rods to fish the Deerfield for trout and shad; and Jay Aylward did a demonstration on tying articulated streamers, tying the articulated Gonga.
I promised folks who attended my talk, that I would provide a resource sheet here at my site, and so I’d like to take the opportunity to expand on a few of the resources I touched upon.
• Trout Unlimited – The Deerfield River Watershed Chapter is very active in conservation efforts. Most recently they teamed up with a couple chapters out east along with the National Trout Unlimited organization in partnership with the Franklin Land Trust to purchase property along the West Branch of the North River to preserve it. The property is called Crowningshield and is a spawning area and hot weather refuge for brown trout. They also have partnered with the Connecticut River Watershed Council to plant trees along sections of the Chickley River which had been ravaged by hurricane Irene. Currently they are running a short survey for anglers who have fished the Deerfield River. The link for the survey is featured on their website www.deerfieldtroutunlimited.com, but you can get to it directly by clicking here. The chapter holds meetings every third Thursday of the month at the Eagles on the Buckland side of Shelburne Falls. There is an hour of fly tying for beginners and experienced tiers from 5:30 until 6:30 when the meeting proper begins. The Chapter incorporates a guest lecture or activity at every meeting. Check the website for upcoming topics. The Annual Single Fly Event held during the first weekend of June (free fly fishing weekend in Massachusetts) is a lot of fun, including a picnic Sunday afternoon. A large part of the TU membership fee of $35 annually goes to support activities of the local chapter and I encourage everyone to join as a way to support river conservation.
• I count the Deerfield Fly Shop as a valuable resource for anglers in the area. Mike has a great selection of flies, rods and reels, waders, vests, and other gear. His selection of fly tying material is always expanding. Plus he’ll order stuff for you, if he doesn’t have it. He’s connected with all of the guides in the area and so is able to keep very current with river conditions and hatches. Mike frequently hosts special events with guest speakers on fly fishing and tying flies.
• Waterline aka H20line is a website and phone message center that forecasts dam releases all over the country. There are ID numbers for each site. Fife Brook Dam at the beginning of the upper Catch and Release section has ID# 255123; Shelburne Falls #4 Dam near the town line with Charlemont has ID# 255124; Shelburne Falls Dam #4 at the potholes in the center of Shelburne Falls has ID# 255125; and the Buckland #2 Dam at the top of Wilcox Hollow has ID# 255126. The pages will state the daily forecast the release of water in cubic feet per second (cfs) from the dam. In the case of the Fife Brook Dam the power company provides a link for the calendar for schedule of recreational releases. You can call 800-452-1742 and punch in the dam’s ID number to get the current forecast. Be forewarned, sometimes due to severe weather or excessive demand for power, the actual release may not be according to schedule.
• USGS Gauges Waterdata.usgs.gov is a website that reports the real time data being gathered by flow gauges on the river. You can configure the data reporting yourself, but the default settings are pretty informative, providing current flows and data history charts of flow and river height at the gauge for the previous week. The gauge at Charlemont has ID# ‘01168500’ and the data can be accessed here. The gauge in West Deerfield just downstream from the South River has ID# ‘1170000’ and can be accessed here. The gauge on the North River just below the Shattuckville Dam about a mile upstream from the confluence with the Deerfield has ID# ‘1169000’ and can be accessed here.
• Finally, for background music for your fly fishing adventures, I highly recommend Pete Huttlinger. Pete was a good friend and avid fisherman. The music from his first CD “Catch and Release” is probably familiar to some because it was the theme music for the show Fly Fish America as well as a Trout Unlimited TV program back a few years ago. Pete played guitar and mandolin for several years with John Denver and can be seen on the PBS special that airs every year for fundraising. He was National Fingerstyle Champion in 2000. Pete caught the largest trout of his life on the North River about a half mile upstream from where I live near the mouth back in the early 90’s. Pete was a source of inspiration for me to become a better fly fisher and fly tier. He inspired my daughter’s music career and was encouragement for me to learn guitar. Pete fought all his life to survive a congenital heart defect that killed a lot of kids in infancy and most of the rest before age 12. You can read his story in a book he co-wrote with his wife, Erin, called Joined at the Heart. Pete passed away after a stroke January 15, 2016. You can get his music on iTunes, Amazon, or his site www.petehuttlinger.com. You can purchase the CD, Catch and Release, at the Deerfield Fly Shop.