Overview: The Swift River Hatchery Pipe Area

TL;DR: Great for new anglers, and you don’t need a guide. For flies, read below and click here, here, and here. For the Swift around Rt.9, including the Y-Pool, click here. The area below Bondsville is productive and faces much less pressure. Legendary angler Gary Metras has a special presentation on winter fly fishing at the Swift, complete with detailed fly recommendations.

Overall, this stretch offers easy access and simple wading. And, you can see the fish, and so, it’s obvious where they are. An ideal DIY spot.

This area can be productive. The extra nutrients from the hatchery nearby means more bugs. Some hatchery staff members call this stretch “The Toilet Bowl.” All the organic material that flows from the hatchery outflow pipe means that Simulium, or black flies, are particularly common. Conditions at times make for easy fishing, which is why some call it “The Kiddie Pool.”

However, the elbow-to-elbow dynamic isn’t for me, and I have to be in the right mood to go.

Note that the fish see the same store-bought flies over and over and are conditioned. So, fly selection is key:

  • Those from Dan Trela work extremely well, and he also is a friendly source for techniques and strategies. For those who are open to it, his pellet flies do well. Dan also ties a number of flies that look unusual and are effective. I’ve seen other anglers throw these variants and experience quite a day.
  • For those who nymph, I’d go with very small larvae and pupae. Examples here, here, and here. Very thin. Nymphs in sizes 20 to 28 have worked well for me in a variety of colors, some subtle and some not-so subtle. You just have to rotate through until you find something they like or have not seen before. Takes will be extremely quick. Use the smallest surface indicator you can or throw a dry-dropper. Just note that there will be many takes and your indicator will not move or pause. So, set the hook if you see any fish flash or move sideways, or you just feel like it.
  • Scuds also can work well, and some anglers do well with a “big” size 14 when they’re targeting the faster water.
  • On the occasion I do fish there, I’m usually throwing small CDC emergers. I use 6x tippet. I like to play fish quickly.

Note that autumn is a killer time. Just avoid the redds. New fish are usually stocked by Columbus Day (schedule updates here), and, when the brookies spawn sometime in November, the rainbows feast on the eggs. Even some of the Y-Pool regulars hit this area in the autumn.

December can also be great with many grey scuds in the water, but, things will take a turn on January 1 when catch-and-keep returns. I personally avoid the pipe area starting then, as it is a bummer to hear a big ‘bow flopping around in a bucket and slowly suffocating.

With that, here are some other observations for the Swift River pipe:

  • WHERE TO GO: As you head south on River Road below Rt. 9, look for the third dirt road on the right. Proceed about 150 yards and you will see a parking area (rough map coordinates here), a USGS gauge shed on the right, and, ahead of you, a yellow metal gate. Walk south, following the well-worn dirt trail.
  • AREA A–AT THE PIPE: Then, you’ll see a pipe from which water drains into the river. This is stuff coming from the nearby hatchery, carrying with it “organic matter” and remnants of pellets that get washed over. All that junk makes bugs happy. As the water is moving quickly, the trout have to react very quickly; so, IMO, this is the most forgiving water at the entire Swift.
  • AREA B–THE IN-BETWEEN SECTION: As you walk south, the water will start to decelerate. If the flows are low, you can start to fish dries here. If not, continue to nymph. It’s in this area that I landed a 15″ brown trout shown below. The biggest fish in that vicinity, it traveled a long way to gulp a small Stan’s Blue Midge (more on the at-times efficacy of blue here).



  • AREA C–THE “TREE POOL”: Continue south and you will see a fallen tree. The water slows down. This is a great area for dry fly fishing. You usually see some actively-feeding trout in this area, holding just in front of the fallen tree. They’ll have plenty of time to warily eye your fly, however.
  • AREA D–THE “OTHER TREE POOL”: Keep going south, and there’s a tree branch that hangs over the river. Quite a few trout usually hold there and just below it. Here, the Swift bends slightly to the left. Many trout hold on the far bank as food floats down and gets washed over to them. Again, great for dries. You’ll see some faint bubble lines. Cast your dry fly to those feeding lanes. Note that you’ll be casting downstream, and so, adjust your hook sets accordingly.
  • AREA E–THE “END POOL”: Here the water begins to accelerate again as the river narrows and becomes more shallow. Many trout hold at the end of the pool, hugging the bottom. Food is being constricted into a very narrow funnel, and some big trout hug the bottom, where the water is slow, and cherry-pick the food flow. A great spot for nymphing, but the flies must be along the bottom and cast so that the nymphs literally head for the trout’s nose. Hooking a fish will be tricky, as you’ll be fishing downstream and might pull the fly out of the fish’s mouth.
  • N.B.–THE “PELLET HATCH”: This happens at around 11 am or 1 pm during the week; on the weekends, anywhere from 10 am to 1 pm is what I’ve heard. That’s when pellets from the hatchery flow over to the Swift River, and you’ll see trout frenziedly feeding, rising, porpoising, and going ape in general. Whether the hatchery is feeding the trout or cleaning the grates at that time, I don’t know. But, I’ve seen big trout cruise up from below the “end pool” and head towards the pipe to position themselves for the 11 am event. They know the food will be there.

Have fun! It’s a productive spot for beginners and veterans alike. Just get there early or fish very late. It often is a zoo.

And, if that’s the case, you always can walk south towards a big bend which starts to go towards the Cady Lane area. Some very nice brookies there.

Last point, if you’re having a good day at the pipe area, consider yielding to someone. Everyone wants a shot at fish, and some anglers come a long way to drive to the Swift River. Just my two cents.


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12 thoughts on “Overview: The Swift River Hatchery Pipe Area

    1. I have. There's a good-sized pod of 'bows there, along the grassy bottom and near the tree. Water is shallow and I found them extremely wary and couldn't get strikes.

      I think one key to the Swift is to target actively-feeding fish. IMO, it's really tough to get sedate trout to strike. When I started fishing the Swift, I'd quickly see some trout and just pound them with flies. No longer. I try to look for fish that are suspending and actively feeding. I try to be faster about moving on from trout that are resting.

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