Monday, June 11, 2007
Rodding the Stillwater
Last Friday I managed to make my way over to the Stillwater, a small river that runs through Sterling Massachusetts.
Originally, I had intended to fish the nearby and better know Quinapoxet River that flows through Holden but decided against it after actually laying eyes on it, and witnessing it’s small size and overhanging trees and other growth.
Don’t get me wrong, the Quinapoxet looks like an amazing river, especially if you like fishing for those frisky little wild Brookies but I really didn’t feel confident that, at this point, I had the skill needed to fish it.
It seemed to me that I would likely spend the majority of my time either untangling my fly from the bush or scaring off prospective fish with my clumsy wading.
I still need a bit more practice on casting, technique and approach for the “Quinni” but someday soon Ill surely make it a destination.
The Stillwater, which is just up the road from the Quinapoxet, is quite a bit larger and has very easy access from John Dee Road in Sterling which runs parallel to it for a stretch.
It also has lots of casting room and was generally easy to wade given its depth the speed of the flow.
Another attractive aspect of the Stillwater is that, as a feeder stream of the Wachusett reservoir, it routinely serves as a destination for spawning landlocked Salmon during the Fall and apparently holds a large population of smolt Salmon that can be readily caught anytime.
After arriving at the river and seeing the easy access, I decided to simply tie on a Wooly Bugger, find some riffle and start wading upstream.
My first cast was to a small eddy near a large rock on the side of a fairly active and broken stretch of riffle.
To my surprise, it was immediately taken and I instantly had a fish on without even needing to set the hook!
After retrieving the small but vigorously fighting little bugger I was pleased to see that it was a wild Brookie roughly 5-6 inches packed with attitude.
Unfortunately, I was unable to get a snapshot as he hopped out of my hand while I was unhooking him reminding me again why I need to purchase a net.
Oh well, at least this Trout was “in hand” for a time leaving me feeling even more assured of my rusty fishing skills.
After that I worked my way about fifty yards to a slow moving pool “woolly bugging” all the way without a single hit.
At the pool though I noticed some really small rising fish and after ten or twelve really frustrating missed hits I managed to hook one.
I could feel that it was really small and I was thinking “Baby Salmon… another Brookie!”
Then I landed the little miscreant and he looked Trout-like yet no color, and a funny mouth.
Then while I was unhooking him, he started to chirp and crapped in my hand! Yuck!
Turns out he was a little Chub and that the river had loads of them.
I suppose a fish is a fish but I think the crapping part really makes the Chub a fish I would like to avoid.
Anyhow, I was able to notice their activities and steer clear of them for the rest of the visit.
Next, I decided to try my hand at actually using the Wooly Bugger with a wet fly technique as, up to this time, I had been using it like a dry fly.
I cast across a deep section at the head of the Chub pool and let it drift down with the river.
Almost immediately I felt a strong tug on the line which I promptly answered with a good tug of my own and felt a nice fighting fish on.
After a good skirmish, I had in hand a nice 10-12 inch Rainbow!
After that, I waded a bit longer, two or three more pools, got scared out of my wits by an adult Beaver swimming right next to my feet, changed between a Caddis pattern and the Bugger but saw no more activity.
I started to get a bit tired and it was getting late so I decided to pack it in and resolved to do a bit more reading on how to nymph and properly use wet flies so that I can add a little dimension to my tactics.
At the moment, I’m still a bit of a one trick pony whose experience mostly hinges on using the dry fly but now it seems obvious that if fish aren’t actively rising, you need to fish below the surface which I’m simply not skilled at.
On the way back home, I stopped at my local fly shop and picked up some nymphs and some more wet flies as well as getting some books on fly fishing and specifically on fishing nymphs.