Deerfield Holdovers

Drive five hours for four hours of fishing and scouting? Out at 4:30 am and back home at 1:30 pm?

Seemed like a good trade to me.

With temps warming and flows at 130 cfs at the Deerfield a few weekends ago, I decided to go for it. I’m new to the river and really want to learn it. I’ve never seen the river at such low flows. Also, the Deerfield had not been stocked, and I wanted to see where the wild fish and holdovers might be.

Time to drive.

Once there, I hit some old spots and found some new ones. The Deerfield looked entirely different from my prior outings, when it was running at 1,200 cfs and above. It seemed like a completely different river.

I tried all sorts of flies and tactics, hoping to ping a big brown. The water was about 38 °F, and the fish were in no mood to chase.

I walked a fair amount, as I continued to pay my Deerfield dues. The river is just massive. I found some fishy stretches. There were many slippery boulders, too.

Altogether, I went two-for-three, with the larger one taping at 16″ and fighting well. Takes were very subtle. All three fish took light nymphs at bubbly or slightly-broken water.

Here are some new pals. One might be a wild fish. Alas, no browns yet.

Happy, I reeled up and went back to the car.

I called ahead to the Cold River Café to pick up a sandwich to-go and listened to podcasts that made the drive home go by quickly. The outing was definitely worth it. I really enjoy learning a new river.

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5 thoughts on “Deerfield Holdovers

  1. That sounds very similar to my December outing. The water was around 38-39, and I hooked all my fish (1 for 3) in “slower” pockets. I’ve only fished it during low flows (125-300 cfs). Honestly, I like it better at low flows since it allows you to wade easily.

  2. Been enjoying your trip reports from the Deerfield. Made my first trip out there yesterday. Beautiful day but fishing was really slow. Water was running about 1200 CFS. Covered quite a bit of ground from Fife dam down to about kings rapid. Had to hug the bank though because the water was moving pretty good. Did a mix of stripping streamers and tight line nymphing were I could. Is this flow typical this time of year? I was using a 12′ sink tip on my floating line, but suspect that I was still not getting down deep enough. Do you think with this type of flow here a full sinking line makes more sense? Can’t wait to get back here, absolutely beautiful stretch of river.

    1. Hi James, thanks for the note! This is my first year fishing the DF, and so, I hope some experts chime in. My thoughts:

      • Water has been running at that level nearly all the times that I’ve visited, unfortunately
      • Water is still cold. Flows from the dam are chilly, but with the sun creeping higher and with periodic lower flows, it should warm up. For reference, I track the water temps. at the Cold and Green USGS river gauges. They’re freestones, and not analogous, but give me a rough view of what’s going on
      • The Deerfield watershed temps are running colder than what I’ve found at other waters, including another tailwater, the Farmington. I think those DF dams are pretty frickin’ big and deep
      • All of my Deerfield fish this late winter and early spring have been via nymphing: tightlining deep at around 10′ to 15′ or indicator-nymphing at tail outs where fish are staged at slow water below runs at about 3′ to 6′. I’ve thrown streamers, but to no use. Water temp has been about 40 °F or less when I’ve been there, and I doubt fish will chase streamers when it’s that cold. They don’t have the ability to move quickly and accurately when it’s cold
      1. Really appreciate the insight! I didn’t do much indicator fishing while there and probably should have focused more time at the tail outs instead of swinging streamers. I can say for sure that my tighliining def was max about 6′ deep below my sighter. So probably still wasn’t getting deep enough in most spots. Anyways, still dreaming about the possibilities that live in this watershed and pumped to get back with some better insight and warmer water.

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