Thursday, July 2, 2009

Fly Fishing Massachusetts' Swift River

Jackie and I headed up to New England this past weekend. A friend from NYU was getting married in south-central Massachusetts, so I took the opportunity to fish the Swift River. The Swift is a cold tailwater stream that receives the cool discharge from the Quabbin Reservoir. Surrounding the flat, clear river are towering pine trees, grassy fields, wild turkey, and pretty wildflowers. If any of the fly fishermen who read this blog are Bostonians, chances are they've fished the Swift.

To be truthful, I have a love/hate relationship with tailwater streams. On one hand, I can't stand them; indeed, I dislike their freezing cold waters, their unnatural environments, their often non-fertile insect activity, their flatness, and their large size. I prefer my rivers to be undammed and naturally-reproductive; small and fertile; temperate and cascading. The tailwater streams I know are none of the above. On the other hand, though, I recognize that tailwaters provide fly fishing where it would not normally exist (the Swift would be a smallmouth river if not for the Quabbin). They also offer unique challenges, while their (mostly) consistent temperatures render them fishable year round.

My first day at the Swift followed a lengthy car ride from central Jersey. A cold tailwater seemed like a welcome change after hours of traffic and no air conditioning. As soon as we got there, however, the skies opened up. I toughed it out, not knowing if I would be able to return. I was surprised to see trout rise in the pouring rain and I quickly tied on a size 20 cream midge to match the microscopic hatch. Sure enough, a trout went for my fly. It missed. As it turned downstream and chased after my imitation, I caught a fleeting glimpse of its rainbow body. It, however, missed again. Defeated, I left the Swift soaked and shivering.

Lucky for me, I got to return on Sunday. With the wedding a rousing success (congratulations again to Katie and Marc!), another try at one of Massachusetts' most well-known trout streams seemed appropriate. This time, Jackie and I parked next to the reservoir and walked downstream. We thus followed one of two discharges and found ourselves at the river's famous Y Pool. Lurking in this deep, clear, and cold pool were a number of large trout. I landed six, all on an inch worm pattern. Four of the six were 15 inches or longer. In addition, I lost at least a 20 inch brook trout (7x tippet for the clear water ended any chance of catching that behemoth). Three were rainbows, two were browns, and one was a brook. I assume all were stocked. It was a beautiful day, but we needed to get back to Jersey. So after catching my sixth trout, Jackie and I walked back to the car, drove back over the George Washington Bridge, and collapsed after a long weekend.

Image #1 - Mist rising off the Swift
Image #2 - Beautiful rainbow trout
Image #3 - Catching a fish in the Y Pool
Image #4 - Pulling in a nice brown trout
(All photos taken by Jackie)

Overall Total: 93

River Breakdown:

Teetertown Brook - 18 (18 Wild Brook)
Raritan River, South Branch - 12 (8 Stocked Rainbow, 3 Stocked Brown, 1 Wild Brown)
Marshalls Creek - 8 (8 Wild Brook)
Swift River - 6 (3 Stocked Rainbow, 2 Stocked Brown, 1 Stocked Brook)
Elk Creek - 5 (5 Wild Brown)
Elk River - 5 (3 Stocked Rainbow, 1 Stocked Brook, 1 Wild Brown)
Penns Creek - 5 (5 Wild Brown)
Spring Creek - 5 (4 Wild Rainbow, 1 Wild Brown)
Stony Brook - 4 (4 Stocked Rainbow)
Paulinskill River - 4 (2 Stocked Brook, 2 Stocked Rainbow)
Bushkill Creek - 3 (2 Stocked Rainbow, 1 Stocked Brown)
Fishing Creek - 3 (3 Wild Brown)
Lost Cove Creek - 3 (2 Wild Rainbow, 1 Wild Brook)
Brodhead Creek - 2 (1 Stocked Brown, 1 Wild Brown)
Roaring Run - 2 (2 Wild Brook)
Hickory Run - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
Little Glade Creek - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
Mill Creek - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
Mud Run - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
Poplar Run - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
Rockaway Creek - (1 Wild Brown)
Trout Brook - 1 (1 Wild Brook)
White Deer Creek - 1 (1 Stocked Brook)

Species Breakdown:

Brook Trout - 39
Wild - 34
Stocked - 5

Brown Trout - 27
Wild - 19
Stocked - 8

Rainbow Trout - 27
Stocked - 21
Wild - 6

Wild Trout - 59
Stocked Trout - 34

Trout 15+ Inches: 8

Fly Breakdown:
Olive Wooly Bugger, size 14 - 20 (20 Wild Brook)
Bead-head Pheasant Tail Nymph, size 14 - 10 (8 Stocked Rainbow, 2 Stocked Brown)
Green Weenie, size 12 - 6 (3 Stocked Rainbow, 2 Stocked Brown, 1 Stocked Brook)
Tan Caddis, size 14 - 5 (5 Wild Brown)
Sulphur dun, size 16 - 4 (2 Wild Rainbow, 1 Wild Brook, 1 Stocked Rainbow)
Bead-head Copper John Nymph, size 16 - 3 (3 Wild Brook)
Black Caddis, size 14 - 3 (2 Wild Brown, 1 Stocked Brown)
Gummy Stonefly, size 14 - 3 (2 Wild Brown, 1 Stocked Rainbow)
Bead-head Black Stonefly Nymph, size 10 - 2 (1 Stocked Brown, 1 Stocked Rainbow)
Brown Stonefly nymph, size 10 - 2 (1 Stocked Brook, 1 Stocked Rainbow)
Green Weenie, size 14 - 2 (2 Wild Rainbow)
Bead-head Green Weenie, size 14 - 1 (1 Stocked Brook)
Bead-head Hare's Ear Nymph, size 14 - 1 (1 Stocked Rainbow)
Blue Quill, size 16 - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
Blue Winged Olive, size 18 - 1 (1 Wild Rainbow)
Golden Stonefly, size 8 - 1 (1 Wild Brown)
Scud, size 16 - 1 (1 Wild Rainbow)
Sulphur dun, size 14 - 1 (1 Wild Brown)

Angling Breakdown:

Fly Fishing Rod - 67 (24 Wild Brook, 16 Stocked Rainbow, 12 Wild Brown, 6 Wild Rainbow, 6 Stocked Brown, 3 Stocked Brook)
Spinning Rod - 26 (10 Wild Brook, 7 Wild Brown, 5 Stocked Rainbow, 2 Stocked Brook, 2 Stocked Brown)

State Breakdown:
New Jersey - 41
Pennsylvania - 35
North Carolina - 9
Massachusetts - 6
Virginia - 2


Anthony Naples said...

Man - you really get around. I can't cast a fly nearly as much as I'd like, so I have to live vicariously and read your blog.

Matthew Bruen said...

Thanks for reading, Anthony. Your blog is excellent; I really need to step up my fly tying endeavors. I'm lucky that my job allows me to basically choose my own hours.

Fish On!! said...

Hi Matt.Im new to your blog and really get a kick out of your adventures.Do you plan on doing any freshwater lake fishing this summer?That would be an interesting read if you do.Awesome post back in january on ice fishing.Your old man looks like he took you to school!Keep up the good work.

Matthew Bruen said...

Thanks for the kind words. Once it gets too warm for trout, I hope to do some lake fishing. A few weeks ago my family messed around at a lake, and my fiancee caught a huge crappie on a fly. It was her third fish ever or something - just an enormous fish. In any case, keep checking the blog out, as I have a few write-ups I'm getting ready to post.

Warriors Mark Jim said...

Matt- Visiting friends in Mass. for a wedding and had a chance to fish the Swift River yesterday. Caught 6 fish (3 bows and 3 browns) 3 over 15 inches. Lost several nice fish to 7X tippet. Enjoyed your blog and will follow your writings. I live in Central PA and fish Spruce, Litte "J" and Spring Creek. How about you?

Matthew Bruen said...

Hey Mark,

Your day at the Swift sounds almost identical to mine. I too lost a few to 7X tippet, including a beautiful 20 inch brook trout. Glad to hear you had luck. I'm currently living in NJ, but like to get out to central PA whenever possible. I have never actually fished the Little J. I hope to get there someday soon. Spring Creek, though, is one of my favorite rivers. My fiancee and I were there yesterday. Check back soon for my writeup; I've got some nice pictures to put up.

Warriors Mark Jim said...

Matt- I'm back! The wedding was Saturday and I got to go back to the Swift on Monday. Very slow day with all the locals coming off the stream with stories of one or no fish. Fished dries a few hundred yards upstream of Rt 9 with nothing. Went to the "Y" pool and arrived to hear a siren. Bill (a local) next to me said, "They're releasing water. Get out your nymphs and get on the bottom." Less than a minute later we both had 15" rainbows on. There were 3 of us fishing and for the next 2 hours it was unusual that at least one of us didn't have a fish on. And they were huge. I had 3-4 that were over 18 inches and 3 pounds. The best day I ever had on the Swift. Jim

vesna said...

Take a look and see what category it fits in!
best places to go fishing...

Dustin's Fly Box said...

ton of great information here! Awesome blog! You got a new follower

Raymond Culver said...

ive always wanted to do some fly fishing i usaully go with Captain Ray Culver and we go out fishing on the flats you should try and do that