The Swift River Between Bondsville and the Ware River

TL;DR: The Swift River below Bondsville. Many wild brook trout. Potential for solitude.

Below the waterfall at Bondsville and until the Ware, the Swift River is productive water. We’ve written overviews of the Swift that cover the areas around Rt. 9 and below the Hatchery Pipe. Legendary angler Gary Metras has a special presentation on winter fly fishing at the Swift, complete with detailed fly recommendations.

In this post, I’ll be covering the area at Bondsville and below.

I first read about it in Tom Fuller’s awesome book on S. New England trout waters (link here), and Troy wrote in a comment a bit ago that he has landed brookies around there. So, it has been on my to-do list.

Eager for new experiences, I decided to explore.

There are two things to note about the Swift south of Bondsville. First, the conditions are more like a freestone. Water comes out of the Quabbin and gets pooled at a succession of dams. The water warms up, and there are more nutrients. This means more bugs, both in variety and in volume.

Second, the Swift below Cady Lane is “catch and keep” 100% of the time. Bait is always permitted. So, there aren’t as many rainbows. But, there are plenty of wild brookies, which I find to be the prettiest fish of all.

Here are some areas to get you started:

Park at the dirt area west of the bridge. Cross the street and follow the well-worn dirt path down to the river.

It’s a gorgeous stretch of water and is ideal for Euro-nymphing: pockets, seams, runs and glides. It reminds of the Connecticut River’s “Trophy Stretch” in Pittsburg, NH. I saw plenty of bugs, both caddis and mayflies.

This is a stocking point for rainbows. There also are wild brookies in the quiet seams.

When I fish this kind of water, I start by going upriver and tightline nymphing. At this stretch, the best fly thus far has been Lance Egan’s Red Dart (prior post here).

I’ve noticed that brookies and rainbows (but not browns) in fast water really like a fly like the Red Dart and the Rainbow Warrior. I always have both with me.

After working an area like this thoroughly by nymphing, I then turn around and swing a heavier fly to work the tail out of a deep trench, or I work the soft seams near the bank with a light streamer. The JT Special streamer did well at this area.

This area gets pounded right after a stocking, but Fuller notes that few people fish it once the easy pickings are gone. I have been the only angler there.

For fun, I sometimes look at Google Maps to see which stretches of rivers have structure and look interesting. I then look at Maps in “terrain” and “street view” modes to see if there are any pull-out areas for parking.

On a hunch, I thought that confluence of the Swift and the Ware could have potential. Via Google Maps, I found this parking area.

Good to go.

There’s some good-looking water on the way to the confluence. I fished it, but with water low, didn’t get any takes. The intersection of the two rivers, though, was interesting.

I saw some dark figures along the sandy bottom. I tightlined some heavy anchor nymphs and got takes. This is one reason why I use an all-mono Euro-nymphing rig. You can fish very deep trenches and enjoy maximum line sensitivity. Some takes I saw, but most I felt.

The anchor had to be a something substantial, like my favorite Mop Fly or a jig-style Pat’s Legs. Unfortunately, I there went one-for-five. Tough hook set angle, really hard to set the hook well when I had a ton of line out, fish rose to the surface quickly after being hooked and created slack, blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately for me, the one fish I landed was a sucker.

As I’ve written before, those fish freak me out. I won’t touch them. Also unfortunate for me, while trying to unhook the sucker without touching it, the dropper fly hooked into my finger. Thankfully, I had my hemostats. No pain, no gain.

There is some great water between Bondsville and the Ware River. Some duds, too. But, it is worth exploring and taking a look at Google Maps yourself. It is fun to find spots!

During a recent outing at a particular stretch, fish after fish slammed the JT Special. I love that streamer because it works, and I can see fish take it. The wild brookies certainly were not shy and wanted my offering to lift up (vs. a side swing). Maybe 10 takes or so in a short amount of time, some of which were vicious.

And, not an angler in sight.

So, I hope that gets you going. It is very fun to explore on your own and find some productive stretches.

Tight lines to all!


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18 thoughts on “The Swift River Between Bondsville and the Ware River

  1. A half hour from where I live, this area gets pounded by the bucket brigade. One might get lucky once in a while, but if you do, you have earned it, believe me. They clean this place out quickly, but they never get them all.

    1. Good to know. When I’m there, I catch wild brookies, including some good-sized ones. For me, the prettiest of all fish, and so, I am happy.

  2. I live @ 10 minutes from the Bondsville section of the Swift, which is where I fly-fish most often. In my experience, it’s nowhere near as crowded as the C&R portion further north. I seldom run into another fisherman (spin or fly; although I did see one this past Sat AM), and I always catch (& release) fish there: bass, chain pickerel, rainbows, chub, but mostly brookies. (No suckers yet, though!) It’s a great section to fish, in my opinion. And if you have the time, the trail goes all the way to the confluence with the Ware. Great and diverse fishing all the way down.

    Great blog, always look forward to reading it.

  3. Nice right up Jo! I fished it once in the winter with no luck (very cold water) and I found the rocks to be weedy (much like the Andro). Was this the case when you fished?

  4. After reading this post on the lower swift I have stated to do some exploring of own around the bondsville dam. My first time out I fish downstream of the dam and did ok with a few smaller brookies all on swung streamers only got to fish about a 1/2 mile or so. Today I went to a section of the river above the bondsville dam parked at a gate off of depot street and fished upstream all the way to the next dam. I was able to land 3 nice brookies 2 of them being over 10″ and was surprised to find 2 rainbows that had nice deep color look like they have been in the river for some time. 3 fish came on nymphs rainbow warrior and prince nymph. And two came on a dry fly, Kelly galloups butch caddis. are all the brook trout in the swift wild fish? The ones I landed had amazing colors unlike the stocked ones I have caught in other rivers. And have you ever heard of any smallmouth bass in the lower swift. Thanks for all the posts great info..

    1. Andrew, that’s great! I’m pretty sure that the brookies are wild. When MassWildlife posts its stockings, I don’t recall reading that they’re putting brookies in the Swift. I have seen some extremely large bass prowling around the quieter and deeper parts of the Swift. Could not tell if they were largemouth or smallmouth, but I was stunned by how enormous they were.

    2. Thanks to your comment, I too parked at Depot St. and fished upriver, all the way to the 1st Bondsville dam. No takes at all, but some real fishy-looking water. I’ll be back one day when the flows are back up.

  5. Anyone ever fish the confluence of the Quabog and Ware near the 3 rivers neighborhood? This caught my eye on Google Earth, it’s just below the confluence of the Swift and Ware, and seems like an interesting spot. I’m from the Boston area though, so this water is all pretty foreign to me. Any advice or thoughts are much appreciated, it’d be good to have some local knowledge before heading out there on a trip.

    1. Have not, but I find such spots tend to produce if you can find the areas where the currents meet and you can wade safely to them.

  6. The pressure seems to be off of this area. I fished it tonight right below the damn down to the deep swimming hole and landed a mess of fish. Brook Trout were the majority of my catch and every one was far bigger than the pictures in this blog. Thrilled to see this section as productive as it was and not another fisherman to be seen.

    1. That’s great to hear Chris! I fished it last week and had some luck on midges at the top of the deep swimming pool, but not much. What were you getting them on? I’m headed back out there one of these next few days.

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