Beautiful fall weekend for fishing

The weather was great this weekend and, given the cooler temperatures the last couple weeks together with the recent trout stocking, the fishing was excellent as well. I thought about checking out a whole number of different rivers but settled on the Quabog near Palmer. I figured with the nice weather that the more popular rivers would be a bit crowded for my tastes. I was working over by the Miller’s late last week and even on a weekday most of the pull-outs and bridge crossings had anglers parked at them. I wanted to avoid that. The Quabog is a nice little, out-of-the-way river. I’ve fished it before in the summer and it’s really not a trout fishery other than spring and fall. I’m sure that there are spots where the trout can hold out and survive during the summer but it’s likely not a legitimate destination for summer trout fishing. When the water is cool it’s a different story.

I knew the river had been stocked just the other day so no question about what I was after – I was looking for easy fun on some big aggressive rainbows. I ended up catching and releasing nearly 30 fish over the course of a couple hours. There’s no trick to catching these fish they’re just a lot of fun. I know some people look down their noses at stocked trout but I am definitely not one of them. They’re fun to catch and, in all honesty, without stocking in a lot of places here in the state there would be no trout (or very, very few) to catch. Other than a few exceptions we just don’t have the widespread habitat, water temperatures, etc. to support the type of trout fishing we’ve come to expect from our fisheries. This is doubly true for those who like to fish lakes and ponds.

Back to the actual fishing… I switched up flies only a couple times during the few hours I was there. I wanted to be able to see the takes and see my fly so I used some large sparkly/flashy nymphs and soft-hackles. My strategy was equally simple. I was fishing to cruising pods of trout in a large slow-moving pool partially created by a new-ish beaver dam (it looked to still be in the process of being constructed and certainly was not there when I visited the river in August). Cast in front of a group of cruisers, let the fly sink a bit, twitch a couple times, and bam fish on! Simple as that almost every cast. The fish were impressive – big, good fight, beautiful coloration. A few of the nicer ones I landed yesterday are below.

I almost never keep fish. I haven’t kept any since my trip to Alaska 3 years ago. However, I ran into my landlady Mrs. Lee Saturday morning as I was leaving and she said, unequivocally, that if I caught any fish she wanted me to bring her some back to eat. Well, as you can see I caught some fish so I kept my three fish limit and made my landlady happy.

I know as fly anglers especially it’s been ingrained that catch-and-release is more or less mandatory. If you keep a trout you are in real danger of being ostracized, or at least looked down upon by your fellow fly anglers. In almost all cases I certainly abide by that notion. However, with these stocked fish, in particular those stocked into streams, rivers, and ponds with little ability to hold over coldwater fishes, there’s absolutely no harm in harvesting your limit. The majority of the fish are not going to make it through the winter (or through the summer if it’s a spring stocking) so why not take home some cheap, healthy, tasty protein to eat or to give to friends. Just make sure you follow the laws of the water body and don’t overdo it.

Has anyone else been getting out and enjoying the beautiful weather and the fall bounty?

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29 thoughts on “Beautiful fall weekend for fishing

  1. Beautiful pictures, Adam! Fishing only gets better, IMO, when the brookies start to spawn. That usually is end of October, but you have a Ph.D. in Fisheries, and so, will know more than me!

    1. Thanks Jo! I agree with you that fishing continues to get better as the fall progresses…both browns and brookies will be getting extra fiesty with the spawning season fast approaching. If you ever want to get out together hit me up.

    2. Hey, Adam! I'm still fishing solo these days and am targeting mostly the Millers and Farmington. Have continued to fish rarely the Swift. I miss seeing the usual crew out there, but the crowds and trash are a bit much. Plus, it's a river I know pretty well now, and I'm looking for a new challenge.

      Let me know what kind of fishing you're doing these days and I'll tie up some flies and mail them to you. Email me your address?

      Love your posts. You're a great angler and the pictures are always so tremendous.

    1. I am a horrible cook so that's usually one of the reasons I have for not keeping more fish! I haven't done much winter trout fishing over the last several years – mainly because of the part of the country I lived in didn't support much opportunity for winter fly fishing. I'm definitely thinking about trying to do more of it this year.

    2. Last winter was a fluke being it was so mild. Time spent was indeed tailwater, Swift River. Make no mistake though, that water was mighty cold. I did have a venture on the Quaboag up along Route 67 around Christmas, and had a pretty interesting afternoon with a rainbow, silvery brown, and much to my surprise a native brookie.

  2. Going out on the lake tomorrow and hope to put a few on ice for the smoker! I usually keep a few when lake fishing, but unless one is bleeding, I leave the stream trout for someone else to catch again.
    Of course, using "proper" C&R techniques is important, but even then I bet no one bats 1000!

    1. Yes Troy, those fish were very nice size. I think this batch of fall fish averaged something like 14-15" with a number of them being longer. The most impressive thing I think was the girth of of some of these fish. There were some serious shoulders on some of these dudes.

  3. Maybe you guys can advocate removing catch and release from the swift and Farmington. Some great protein there. Of course the fishing will eventually suck but what a great bounty.

    1. Anonymous: Read the regs and you will see that portions of each rivers C&R reverts to the meat packers for part of the year!

    2. Think you are missing my point – I am strictly C&R as I can buy fish from a store. The Quaboag is my home river and those fish could provide interesting fishing all winter. It only takes a relatively small number of anglers taking a limit to decimate the fishing. When you "hit spot A on the local freestone" you are very secretive of locations, presumably to protect the quality of the fishing you have found. Yet here is a blog post advocating catch and keep and also spot burning because you don't normally fish this river.

    3. I've never fished the Quaboag.

      I've mentioned plenty of rivers, like the Swift, Farmington, Nissitissit, Squannatissit, Millers, etc. Those waters and the Quaboag seem sizeable. And they're stocked by the state.

      I stand by my decision not to reveal the local freestone I fish occasionally. It is a small piece of water and is not stocked by the state.

  4. Waters stocked by the state are no secret. Now they even give us the date and slot in ton river they're stocked. Quit whinning about the Quobog – can go to the website, go there, and keep a limit. This post isn't gonna ruin the river.

    Scott

  5. Catch and Release fishing is NOT just restricted to catch and release fishing areas. C&R is a belief, a lifestyle, that is not restricted to certain sections of rivers. We would love to have trout fishing that lasts all year long and it does to very knowledgeable anglers on certain freestone rivers. We are moving in that direction! Fish porn consisting of gutted trout may work where THAT writer comes from but it's not the norm here.

    Go Home!

  6. The article writer stated these were the first trout he kept in 3 years of fishing, and I bet he has released a ton in those three years. Seems he does have a reasoned approach to C&R! And that's what we need a reasoned approach. Not hooray for me and F the other guy exemplified by both 60+trout in the freezer and blinding adherence to C&R!

  7. I did not disparage the freezer angler- he did that legally and was within his rights as a license holder to do that. I advocated balance as does Adam in his post. The problem is publicizing and advocating taking fish at one spot while others stay secret. And absolutely, spot A should stay secret, but ask yourself why. Read the older blog post I linked to. The main author of this blog has the same philosophy as I do but has the ability to fish enough to find those special spot A's, which many of us don't. I did not see any comments accusing whining or saying 'Go home!' or accusing the author of 'hooray for me'. Given that post, this particular post seems out of context with the blog. If you want to catch and keep go for it. I respect your right to do it and am not superior for being a c&r angler. It's just that the fishing would be much better for us all if we had some balance, such as permanent c&r sections in more places.

    1. After re-reading all of the comments on this incredible thread, I want to thank you for being clear but professional. As you know, we permit anonymity for blog comments. We always reserve the right to remove that if people do not engage in a constructive way.

      I hear your frustration about your home river. Hat tip to you for sharing your point of view and keeping your cool at the same time.

  8. Wow, didn't realize I was going to open up such a discussion with this post! Like I said before, I almost never keep fish. I kept my limit on this particular occasion because my elderly landlady asked me specifically if I would bring her some fish. Wanting to be nice I did just that. I'm pretty sure I didn't give away any secrets by naming the river and town where I caught the fish. I've done that for most of my other posts. I practice catch-and-release nearly exclusively. It's debatable whether my taking three fish from one river over the course of an entire season will impact the fishery. It's also debatable whether or not my blog post here will send catch-and-keep anglers rushing to the Quabog to clean it out. It's true that I did advocate for harvest in my post, and that may rub some the wrong way, but if you look carefully I've made a point to not "overdo"it with harvest and to focus on some of the waters which may not be very successful holdover fisheries. The lower Quabog is essentially a warmwater fishery that holds trout for a time after the spring and fall stockings. To be fair, these fish may move to find appropriate conditions for continued survival but the reach I was fishing would not be confused with the Deerfield in it's ability to support coldwater fishes. With that being said I would not advocate for keeping trout on a river similar to the Deerfield (which has suitable year-round water temperature over a greater length of river) or in streams that harbor naturally reproducing trout. One last point I'd like to make and hopefully it doesn't get me in trouble with the readership…trout are stocked for everyone who buys a MA fishing license to enjoy. Some enjoy catching the fish and releasing them, some enjoy catching a fish and eating it. Just because we as fly anglers (for the most part) practice catch-and-release doesn't mean that catch-and-keep anglers are wrong or terrible sportsmen – the resource is for everyone to use in a manner they see fit but also within the law and hopefully with a sense of long-term conservation and an understanding of how to share. We should understand that. I'm glad that things were kept relatively civil amongst the commenters and I suppose I'll be more careful with these things in the future!

    Thanks

  9. Adam, thanks for such a reasoned reply. This blog is a great resource for all anglers so I hope you continue to do it.
    Reasonable people can disagree, but I don't think we do.
    C&R

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