Fat Trout, Canoes, and a Snake at the Millers River

I fished a half-day. The Millers was up to 72 °F. The water was low, which portended the possibility of spooky trout and the need to nymph from afar.
I found trout in the riffles or in very deep runs. Landed nine, including some good-sized brown trout with perfect fins and the fighting attitude of wild fish. Saw a water snake up close (photo below).

A friendly kayaker came down river and politely steered away from me. Then, two canoes were heading towards me. I assumed they too would veer, and so, I just kept casting. 

Instead, a canoe with two older men drifted right by me, right on top of the glide where I was casting. They didn’t apologize, and when I called them out on it, one of them said this: “We don’t have brakes, you know.”

“Well, you could go to the other side like the other guy,” I said.

“You were fishing that other side earlier,” he said, which struck me as a pretty lame non sequitur.

Their wives in a different canoe arrived 10 seconds later and politely detoured five yards to drift behind me, and I thanked them.

A few minutes later, they were around the bend and I wondered if they knew what they were doing, as they were going to hit some white water downriver

Eventually, I drove to a new spot. As I approached the river, I could see the same canoes a few hundred yards away. But, they were stationary. Oh geez, I thought.

The men and their canoe were in a quiet eddy waiting and doing nothing. That seemed weird. Then, I looked up river. Their wives’ canoe was stuck on a boulder amidst white water. This will be interesting, I thought

It took about 10 minutes to walk up to them. I expected the guys to get out and help their wives. They didn’t. They just sat there.

Eventually I came up to the men. They looked shocked to see me again.

“Aren’t you going to help the women?” I asked.

They mumbled something and broke eye contact.

At that moment, there was a scream. One lady was standing in the canoe. Her hat and paddle fell into the river. She teetered and thankfully didn’t plunge overboard. Instead, she fell back onto the canoe, but smack onto her back and bum. I quickly went into the water and helped out.

The ladies were very grateful, and I made a snarky remark about where in the hell were their gentlemanly husbands. The women laughed.

It’s canoe season, folks. Time to share the rivers, and when required, show chivalry

On a lighter note, here are some photos from the day. Have a great Memorial Day weekend


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6 thoughts on “Fat Trout, Canoes, and a Snake at the Millers River

  1. Hi Adam! This is my first time commenting on a blog, so I am not sure if doing things right. I am going to stay in the Amherst/Northampton area for two months in August and September. Being an avid fly fisher for rainbow and brown trout on small creeks back home, I am now looking for resources on fly fishing in New England. Of course, the closer to Amherst/Northampton the better, as I will mainly find time on weekends and maybe in the evenings. Can you point me to any interesting waters, homepages/forums, shops or other relevant resources? All the best, Michael

  2. Hi Michael, I know Adam will have a ton of great ideas, but my advice is: fish the Westfield River, buy Tom Fuller's book on S. New England trout waters, find a local fly shop and get their advice. And, honestly, there's a ton of good info on this blog and the archives are categorized by the rivers' names, though we do tilt towards trout, which is a bias we hope to correct if more non-trout anglers will do guest posts. Enjoy your stay!

    1. In fact, I do have the book already – however, I don't know how up-to-date the information is. And since I am not even from the United States and will have only limited time, I thought I'd try to get some first-hand advice. 🙂

    2. Hi Michael, I don't think things have changed much since the book was published. As you'll be in the Amherst area, you'll be so close to some great water, such as the Millers, Westfield, and Swift rivers. You'll also be close to the Farmington in Connecticut.

      I do have some advice about August and September, when you'll be in the U.S.

      Water flows and high temperatures on freestones can be tricky in August, which is why going to the Swift and Farmington can pay off. Those are tailwaters, with bottom-released dam flows, which make for cooler water.

      September also can be tough. Not too many bug hatches, the fish are experienced, etc. But, things dramatically pick up in Oct. as the brookies spawn and the waters cool. Some waters also receive new trout in the fall. So, if you can extend your stay a bit, the fishing in autumn is simply incredible.

      Good luck and tight lines!

  3. Great fish dude, there certainly looks to be some nice browns in that river. I'm gonna have to get a hold of you for some advice or maybe I can tag along with you at some point!

    1. Thanks!

      Unfortunately, I fish alone. Fly fishing is a bit of a meditation for me. Sorry to be so selfish!

      In general, there are no secret spots at the Millers. The access points are all well known (some suggested ones are noted here). For me, it has been about tightline (or Euro-style) nymphing to sense very quick and soft takes. It's really tough to beat, which is why competitive anglers nearly universally employ that technique.

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