For the last few days, I’ve been visiting family in Massachusetts after a long time quarantining. On Saturday our plans were open, so I paid a visit to a stream where I’ve spent a lot of time fishing, the Swift River in Belchertown, Massachusetts. It’s hard to believe, but it’s been at least a year (maybe two?) since I’ve fished there.
It’s interesting to see how the river has changed. Trees have fallen, creating new habitat and flows. The riverbed has built up silt in different areas, causing deep troughs and new holes for the fish to hide in. I almost took a swim a couple times, when my memory of the stream bed betrayed me.
I still enjoy fishing this stream and the unexpectedness of what you’ll catch. Nowadays, I find myself disappointed in hooking the big stocked rainbows so common in the Swift. I’ve spent the past few years primarily fishing for wild trout, and the rainbows at the Swift now feel like reeling in logs to me. It’s almost as if they know the deal, and lumber in to your net to be released.
Those of you who read the blog probably anticipate what brought me to the Swift river on a fall day. And yes, it was the partly the low flows across the region, but it was also the brook trout.
I’m happy to say, I wasn’t disappointed. The brook trout are still thriving in the cool waters of the Swift. While I hooked only a few young brook trout, I was pleased to catch several large fish. A fellow angler downstream of me caught what looked to be a 15″ brook trout. I shouted down to him to see if it was a brown, and he happily shouted back that it was a brook trout. I myself caught a few in the 12-13″ range, so I know they’re there.
One thing that hasn’t changed about this river is the need to fish small flies. I didn’t keep count of fish I caught, but it was more than ten, and all but one took a size 20 or smaller fly. I fished a two fly nymph rig most of the day, swung wet flies for a bit, and even threw a chunky streamer. All productive tactics when considering the place, time, and fish behavior.
The catch of the day was a brown trout. I waded out to a spot where I had spied a big fish actively moving around in the middle of the water column. I had hopes it was a very large brook trout. The fish was casting shadows on the stream bed as it chased potential food options. I cast my two nymph rig and on the first drift, had a fish on. I had hopes that it was the aforementioned fish, but it turned out to be a small rainbow that was digging down into the weeds. Even more interesting than this rainbow was that the big fish that chased it up to the surface as I reeled it in.
I managed a few more fish from this spot, and noticed the larger fish again chasing my catch. By this time, the sun was falling in the sky. When I’m readying myself to leave a river after a good day, I often do what sports teams do when they’re too far ahead in the game to lose. I call in a bench warmer, and see what the underdog can do. Today’s bench warmer was a heavy streamer, to draw out the eager trout that had been chasing everything I caught.
I cast out, stripping across the aquatic plants, and letting it pause and dead drift over a particularly fishy looking portion of the stream bed. In that slight pause and drift, I felt a pull, and there was a fish on. It fought well, but came to the net surprisingly quickly. It was a very large brown, and definitely the nicest fish of the day. It was quick and healthy on release, and swam back into the depths. Hard to tell with this net picture, but the brown below was bigger than the above rainbow I had released earlier in the day.
I have to say, it was nice to be on the Swift. Each trout that I caught were high quality specimens of each species. Each fish was on the larger side of what I’d usually catch here 7-8 years ago. I could have had a lucky day, but to me it seems this stream is still thriving and possibly improving with time. I sure hope that’s the case.