Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wet Wadin'

-- Millers River upstream of Athol --
The summer solstice has passed and the local rivers are getting warm. A couple of days before the solstice, we traveled about an hour to the Millers River in central MA and shed the waders. The plan was to go in the afternoon and stay for the evening hatch. Our local Millers River expert, Ken Elmer, has told us that this is one of he best dry fly sections on the river but you need to hit it in the early morning and late evening. 

We arrived around 3 PM and started hiking upstream looking for some spots to wet the lines.  The boys hiked down to some still water to try their luck with dries and I started with a beadhead pheasant tail to explore the riffles and pocket water. 

-- Mountain Laurels in full bloom --
This section of the Millers is below the Bears Den and we fished the Bears Den a couple of times last year with mixed results.

-- The boys were getting bored not catching anything --
The boys hooked a couple of small bait fish on their dries and I was getting nada.  We continued to hike upstream and I continued to try nymphs and streamers.

The sage advice of Mr. Elmer was playing out "early morning and late evening". We were there from 3 to 6 with nothing to net. That's probably why we were the only guys fishing this stretch at this time.

We hiked back to the car, and went for some pizza in downtown Athol. Every small town in Massachusetts has a "Small Town Name" House of Pizza and its been my experience when looking for fine local dining that you can't go wrong at the local House of Pizza brand.

After dinner, instead of going back to the prime evening hatch water where we just were, we decided to go downstream about 7 miles to an area on the Millers that we have fished several times and know a bit better. 

The Wendall Depot parking area had four other cars in the lot when we arrived at 7 PM. The simplicity of not dealing with waders and boots makes moving from one place to the next much easier.

We first went across the railroad bridge and started to work water downstream.  We ran into three other anglers fishing a decent section of the river in the C&R area.  I switched to dries and put on an X-Caddis.  With one of my first casts, a fish ripped the fly off the leader. It looked like I tied a bad knot, but I try to be very careful about these details and was pleasantly surprised to have found some fish. 

-- First trout of 2011 - an 8" rainbow --
The boys got into some small fallfish and I landed a tiny smallmouth on an olive Klinkhammer. We decided to move upstream before we lost too much light.  The boys bushwacked up to a big pool while I decided to work the riffles at the tail. I lobbed the Klinkhammer in to some fast water and after 169 days netted the first trout in 2011.

-- Decent smallie on Klinkhammer --
I moved upstream slowly to some rising fish just above the riffles and got into a decent smallmouth. One of the better fish that's been on my line in awhile. 

I continued to work upstream to find the boys who had got into some fish but could not land them. There was some good sized fish rising in the big pool and we were all working it hard.

-- Smallie with a bit of fight --
Just as the light was failing and the fish where getting really active on the surface, a beaver decided to let us know that this was his fishing turf and started to slap and submarine the pool spooking anything within a 400 ft radius.

We packed it in and started to head home just after 9 PM.  There was very little light left, but you gotta love long summer days with great fishing into the early evening.