|Details:||My friend Cynthia and I decided to play hooky on a beautiful Friday afternoon to go fly fishing at the Swift River. The Swift flows out of the Quabbin and the top section of river is a fly fishing mecca. It is a remarkable place with crystal clear water and tons of big trout just hanging out. Of course there are a lot of fly fisherman hanging out too so sometimes things get a bit crowded.
I was told that the best way to catch trout on the Swift was to use small nymphs. In fact, my friend Cynthia had purchased some nymphs that were custom tied for her by the "Dean of the Swift River" Dan Trela. So as we were gearing up we were preparing to nymph. The guy parked next to us was just coming off of the river and I noticed that he had a black streamer tied on. When I asked him about it he said he'd had zero luck with nymphs and was just trying something different. That something different netted him three fish. Mental note recorded.
Soon, Cynthia and I found ourselves trudging upstream along the path bordering the river's western shoreline. Looking down into the gin clear flow to my right I was excited to spot several very nice rainbows languidly riding the current. This was now officially beginning to get exciting. We found a break in the shoreline brush and cautiously waded into the river. The water level was fairly low and the current moderate, nothing to worry about here. Peering around it dawned on me that we were surrounded by trout, upstream, downstream, sidestream, everystream. And many of the trout were rising.
Cynthia positioned herself about 50 feet upriver from me and we both began dutifully fishing our nymphs as we'd been instructed by numerous fellows of greater fly fishing provenance than ourselves. Within minutes Cynthia was into a rainbow that put a nice bend in her rod, and then just as suddenly it was off. I worked the nymph for about 20 minutes without stirring up any trout interest. But I kept thinking about those rising trout and soon had my fly box open. I selected a big ol' brown fly with lots of hackle. I don't know the name, I only know that I tied it 40 years ago as a teenager and it had been waiting patiently all those years for this very moment.
I cast my fly upstream and let it drift down on the current. A trout swam over inquisitively and then swam away. Interesting. Cast and drift, cast and drift, cast and...BAM, FISH ON! My first Swift River trout and my first trout ever on a dry fly! But I hadn't landed it yet, first I had to wrestle it into my net knowing that only 6x tippet stood between me and disappointment. Speaking of which, where was my net? Back at the car of course. So there I stood in the river with no way to land the fish. I think he knew this because a few seconds later he spat the hook.
Nothing to do but try for another. Cast and drift, cast and drift, cast and...BAM, another fish on. This time I would be super careful and play the fish until tired (the fish, not me) before gently lifting him out of the water for his fishy photo op. And my plan went swimmingly, up until the moment that I tried to lift the trout out of the water by my 6x tippet. SNAP! Fish, and fly, gone. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
So back to the fly box I went, but I didn’t have any more of the big hairy brown flies. I had lots of little brown flies that all looked the same to me; I wondered how they would look to the trout. I tied one on and give it the old heave ‘n’ drift treatment. Again, and again, and again, and again. Nothing. So I walk upstream toward Cynthia, methodically working my little brown fly over the tops of the quite obviously disinterested trout. Cynthia too has had her travails hooking and losing a couple of fish. We commiserated.
After more hours of hopeless flailing we decided that it was time to head home. Wading downstream we encountered another angler fishing from the shore. He hadn’t had any luck but just after we passed he hooked into a trout. Even after the fish came unhooked I heard him say that he could at least leave the river happy. I could relate.
By accident (or perhaps providence) we waded past our entry point into the stream and found ourselves in a pool we hadn’t fished on the way up. We noticed some trout rising downstream, ahead of some deadfall. We looked at each other with that “oh, what the heck” shrug and began casting, Cynthia with her nymphs and I with the little brown dry fly. After about my fourth pass over the trout he rose to take it and I had my third fish of the day on. This time I had help and so I carefully manoeuvered the fish to where Cynthia could net him. Finally, I had my fishy photo op and I could at least leave the river happy.