(Note, there are four pictures above. Hover over the image and click the right arrow.)
Today was hard work.
With another rainstorm approaching, I decided to try to beat the rain and fish the Westfield’s East Branch. Water on the USGS gauges appeared high, but all this rain has made that river quite swollen on the days when I can do the long drives and fish it.
So, this seemed like a decent window. I went for it.
Plus, I don’t have a lot of experience with high water, and I thought this would be a good time to learn. I think perfect conditions for this river are quite rare, and my philosophy now is to fish when I am able, even during low-percentage situations.
Just after dawn, I drove down the Chesterfield Gorge’s dirt road, past the open barricade and parked quite south. I saw some of my favorite spots and saw that each was not that fish-able.
But, what a view. It is such a gorgeous river. And, I didn’t see any other cars.
I tried various anchor flies. After a lot of casting and wading, I finally had a take, but that fish popped off quickly. I fished down-river of some of my favorite runs, hoping the fish would be in the softer water.
So, I started to hunt for quiet seams along the banks. There was no bug activity, and so, I was fishing without a reference point.
Finally, I had a take and landed a 15″ rainbow that jumped a few times and made a lot of commotion. It took me down river, and I gingerly followed, trying all the while not to slip on the famously-slippery Westfield boulders.
When fishing high flows, it is pretty challenging to land a fish that jumps into the current and goes downstream. For me, side pressure, rather than holding the fly rod up, is the key. It worked again, but this fish fought very hard. Thankfully, all the knots held fast.
With the skunk off, I hit some more spots. I made a lot of casts, and takes were very few. I swung mini-Woolly Buggers, tightlined, and changed various anchor flies and droppers. I “even” fished the Mop. The water was a good 50 °F, and so, I was surprised that there was not more activity.
But, that’s the Westfield in my experience. It is a bit temperamental. But, she’s a beautiful gal, and it was nice to see her again. Bonus: I saw only one other angler all day.
I learned a lot today about where trout might be in high water. So, data for the future. And, I had decided to buy the Thomas and Thomas Contact nymphing rod, and it was a joy to fish it.