The Aquarium, the Y-Pool, the Bubbler, the Pipe. These names, among others, conjure images of one river and one river alone in the mind of a Massachusetts (and, moreover, New England) angler: the Swift.
Considered by many to offer some of the best trout fishing one can find in Massachusetts, it also represents some of the most challenging fishing the state has to offer. The constantly cold and crystal-clear tail-water provides, at the very least, the unique opportunity to observe beautiful fish simply by walking the trails above the Route 9 bridge.
But, we will not discuss these areas of this, presumably, familiar section of the river today. I am sure readers will be aware of, or will have visited, other sections of the Swift exterior to Massachusetts, but I want to talk about some of the water that can be found below the Route 9 bridge.
This particular story began a couple of weeks ago when my friend, Eric, generously offered to take me out for a float on some…unfamiliar (at least to me) sections of the Swift to chase some wild brookies, with some bows and browns, in all probability. I couldn’t say no.
I had been up late the night before with my “real job,” in addition to tying flies for clients before retiring, so we met at 0830h, did the float-boat shuffle between cars, and commenced our excursion down-river.
This trip came at just the right time. Cooler temps and almost no humidity made being outdoors on this particular morning an even greater joy than it would have been otherwise. This being the first float-trip I had taken, I was excited and happy to have this opportunity to fish with Eric, who is a skilled angler and fontinalis aficionado.
While this particular float began with utilizing my 7.5’ Cabelas TQR #3 rigged with a small foam-ant secured to a size 28 nymph dropper, I forget what the pattern was. Eric tied it, I have no patience for flies that small, but it worked well and got us each some fish fairly immediately.
Before too long, we were away from the boat-ramp and the more educated fish so that we could do what I like to do best, swing some streamers! The brookies, browns, and bows all came out to play for a small white Golden Retriever variant, a few liked my Brackish Shiner, and the winner of the day (a 15.5” Brookie, pic below) took a small Belly-Scratcher variant. As great as the fishing was, it was really where we fished that I want to be sure to take a moment to discuss here.
For years I fished the Swift exclusively above the Route 9 bridge. I saw people fishing there with fly rods so that is where I went, too. I didn’t know better than to avoid the sometimes over-crowded sections.
After this trip, I can say that the river has taken on a whole new light in my mind. I previously only saw combat-and-overcrowded fishing, guys crowding holes, and groups of anglers taking turns casting at a singular fish, and even then, that fish would only budge for the smallest and most flawlessly tied selection that you might pull from your nymph box. Doesn’t sound like fun to me either.
Floating so smoothly and quietly through the heavily wooded sections of this beautiful river, birds singing, fish everywhere, classic rock playing quietly in the background over Eric’s Bluetooth speaker, what’s not to like?
Having now been spoiled rotten by my experience, I don’t think I’ll be able to look at the Swift the same way again. I cannot recommend highly enough that everyone find their own Eric (a friend with a boat of some form), bring ’em some flies and beer, and take a new and different look at a river you might think you know.
Take care, be well, and tight lines.
P.S.: It is a genuine pleasure to get to write for this incredible blog. I have been a lurker, reading and absorbing information for a couple years now, and it’s an honor to finally get to contribute and give back to this wonderful community that continues to give me so much. Thank my lucky stars that I found fly-fishing, it truly changed my life for the better, and I know many of you feel the same way.
Here’s hoping you enjoyed this little fish story, and if you’re curious about me, my adventures, want to chat, need some flies or a new rod, or want to suggest a subject for a future blog post, check out @brackishflies on Instagram/Facebook, and it will be my privilege to work with you.