The morning started out slowly – only an occasional fish showing at the Deerfield River Upper Catch and Release Area but the conditions were perfect – after a cool night the water temps were down, the sky was overcast and, for the time being, there was very little wind. All signs (or lack thereof) pointed to Nymphing, but the most reliable patterns did not produce anything more than a couple half-hearted takes.
Nonetheless, Justin, who is just learning fundamentals of fly fishing, was taking in a lot of instruction all at once ranging from roll casting to reach mending, drag free drifts to hand retrieve, perceiving the take to ticking rocks. Justin is an attentive listener, fast learner and great company on the river. You can check out his website here. My experience tells me the fish were full and not taking, or they were eating something not at all similar to what we were offering nor how deep we were offering it. We did get to see a female American Redstart on our walk back to parking. We moved downstream to Carbis Bend where we were visited by a mallard which flew in 15 feet from us to skim the scum in the eddy for spinners (probably the same individual that wolfed down Hendrickson Spinners there a few weeks ago). Fish activity was more evident here but still only one missed take (no pun intended). The river came up as we observed some Light Cahills coming off. We moved down to downtown Charlemont and had immediate success nymphing with and without indicators and finally swinging wet flies. Several fish were hooked and landed and that included two small rainbow trout parr. I would love to take credit for the crescendo of trout at the end of four hours of enlightening instruction, but I am certain it had much more to do with the vagaries of trout feeding rhythms, the choice of fly (Light Cahill Wet Fly dropped above GD’s Pink Panther) and the fact that the preferred mode of presentation happened to be the wet fly swing – almost an afterthought to the morning of sub-surface instruction.
Justin was very happy with the morning and I was off to Boston to provide transportation to Northampton for a couple virtuosic guitar players who are teaching and performing at Django in June. For a different kind of swing attend the DIJ concerts at the Academy of Music this Friday and Saturday.
Mike Didonna and I tied flies and Mike gave some casting tips this past Sunday (June 12) at the Kringle Candle Cars and Coffee event. The Cars and Coffee event is a monthly classic car meet on the campus of Kringle Candle in Bernardston. See Kringle’s website or FaceBook page for more information on Cars and Coffee. It was a great turnout and a great opportunity to promote fly fishing and the Deerfield Fly Shop. We gave away a clear top fly box with 18 essential flies for spring and early summer on the Deerfield. The lucky winner of the free drawing was Robert from Cummington, MA. I thought visitors to my site might be interested in the flies we offered in the box so here’s a pic:
The flies from top to bottom left to right are:
Elk Hair Caddis, March Brown Parachute, Light Cahill Parachute, BWO Parachute, Parachute Adams, Sexy Walt’s Worm tied by Mike Didonna; Row 2 – Hare’s Ear, Frenchie, Pink Panther variation, Bead-head Prince Nymph, GD Czech Cat Nymph, Sexy Walt’s Worm tied by Eric Halloran; Row 3 – DW Catchall Caddis, March Brown Wet, Light Cahill Wet, Hendrickson Wet, Black Gnat Wet, Wooly Bugger.
I enjoyed participating in the Deerfield River Watershed Trout Unlimited Single Fly Tournament this past weekend with my friend, Eddie Esposito. Eddie taught me how to fish with nymphs many years ago. He taught me a lot more about other aspects of fly fishing. He is one of only a few people I know who would put in 27+ concentrated hours of fly fishing over a weekend for an event such as this one. In this tournament the angler and his/her partner strive to catch and release trout and tally their length. Each individual must select one pattern of fly for the entire two-day event. Three identical flies can be used over the course of the weekend. I enjoy the challenge of selecting a single pattern and then fishing it for two straight days. I think it teaches you a lot about fly fishing. Selection of the pattern is important for success, but once the choice is made, presentation becomes the critical factor. This weekend (particularly Saturday) the fishing was challenging because the water temperature was very warm – near 70º. Still, I managed to catch fish using several approaches. I dead-drifted my nymph both using tight-line methods and using an indicator. I hooked the majority of fish during the drift, but I also caught fish as the nymph swung toward the surface at the end of the drift. I caught a few fish on the dangle – after the nymph had swung up toward the surface and was just being suspended there in the current for a few seconds. I had a very dramatic strike on my weighted bead-head nymph as I swung it through the head of a pool like a wet fly – across and down. I had a few very subtle takes on the nymph during the retrieve – using both an intentional figure-eight hand retrieve and (without intent) just shortening the line for another cast. I tried successfully for fish at the head of the pool, at the tail of the pool and in between, in slow water as well as fast water, fishing deep and shallow. The point that I am trying to get across is that covering lots of water with varying presentations is as important if not more important than selection of the fly, even though we spend plenty of time and money on our selection of flies. An event like the Single Fly sheds a different sort of light on the search for the perfect pattern. When asked the question, “What is the best camera?”, I have heard more than one top photographer say, “The one that you have with you at the time.” So go ahead and ask me what’s my favorite fly?
Two nights ago I was fishing a section of the river near my house and caught a rainbow on a wet fly. The fish was on the top dropper and in the course of escaping the net managed to throw the fly, and break off the anchor fly which dropped straight down into the pool where I was standing all in a matter of seconds – video to come. One night later (last night) I was in the same location for just a short while. The fish would not respond to the traditional down and across presentation that had been so successful the night before, but when I switched to dead drifting with a heavier anchor fly, I connected on the first drift: Same Hendrickson wet fly as the night before but a different presentation! I brought in an absolutely stunning mature natural reproduction rainbow. I took one photo of the fish in the net but as son as I unhooked him he bolted before I could take another shot. I am happy to have ‘released’ such a magnificent rainbow with minimal handling, but I wish I could have done better job capturing his dramatic coloration with the camera.
A fly fisher’s variation on the lyric in the Beatles’ For the Benefit of Mr. Kite. The Hendricksons – Ephemerella subvaria – have arrived throughout the lower Deerfield. Look for birds feasting on the prolific hatches above the river. The trout will take them as nymphs, emerger, duns and spinners. The action on top of the water is very exciting – it is the first substantial feeding frenzy on local waters. I like to fish a wet fly imitation that passes as an emerger, crippled dun, and submerged spinner. This is one of the hatches that challenges the angler to successfully compete with the enormous amount of naturals in and on the water. Last night I fished for a short time with my friend, Jeff J, during the hatch on a part of the Deerfield not far from town. I often have success dead-drifting the wet fly along with a more heavily weighted nymph as an anchor, but this was not the case last night. When I shifted to a traditional down and across wet fly presentation I had immediate success. Come on out and experience the thrill of the hatch!
I am very excited about launching this website to offer guiding and instruction for fly fishing the Deerfield River. I have found peace and joy through fishing my entire life. I am eager to share this experience with others. There are so many dimensions to fly fishing that one can easily become lost or intimidated. Through my instruction and guide services I endeavor to ease the novice into the art without overwhelming him or her. I hope I can help new fishers to find excitement in exploring the many facets: from understanding habitat to matching the hatch, from casting to catch and release, from tying the fly to playing the fish…
The Deerfield River in Western Massachusetts is one of the top cold water fisheries in the Northeast. Eric Halloran of Fish Tale Fabricators is dedicated to helping new and experienced anglers explore and value this extensive resource. Through beginning and intermediate instruction on the water, new and novice anglers can experience joy and develop confidence in tackle and technique. Through guided half-day and full-day trips, anglers at any level can fish for three species of trout in the considerable variety of pools, riffles and runs that the Deerfield and her tributaries have to offer. Bring your own gear or let us supply everything you need: Through our close association with The Deerfield Fly Shop we can outfit anyone via rentals or purchases of quality gear.