Go Crazy or Go Home at the Swift River

The winter blues are starting to set in for me. The cold snap last week shut down fishing on my local freestones, and they are mostly frozen over now. I find that fishing these conditions is neither productive nor safe, so I opted for greener pastures at the Swift.

I was ecstatic when good friend Geoff Klane expressed interest in fishing with me. He is something of a wizard above Route 9 and routinely has good days. I’ve always struggled up there, so I was eager to learn something from him.

The action started right away, as both of us hooked (and lost) fish within our first five casts. Over the next few hours, we found steady action with bows and brookies. We caught fish on soft hackles, eggs, midges, and worms. There were a few rises around mid-day, but nymphs continued to produce, so we didn’t feel the need to switch to dries.

No particular fly really stood out. It seemed that a good presentation was the name of the game.

However, the action slowed greatly around mid-afternoon, and the fish were back to their snooty selves.

I rotated flies and got some looks and follows, but no takes. It was frustrating to say the least, but I think that fish see the same flies over and over, so they tend to get pretty jaded during normal banking hours.

Eventually, I decided to throw “crazy” patterns instead of the usual small fare to trigger some aggressive takes. I’ve found that fish in the Swift sometimes respond to unusual patterns such as Y2Ks, mops, and egg-sucking leeches when they are particularly fussy.

It took a while, but on my way out I hit a spot and went 1-for-3 using a chartreuse mop. The moral of the story: go crazy or go home.


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10 thoughts on “Go Crazy or Go Home at the Swift River

  1. Thanks for this info Ashu, I’ve been making MYSELF crazy at the Swift recently. I’ve been three times since Thanksgiving and I only fooled one small brookie in total. Got him in between the under rt9 section (after the little waterfall) but before the pipe, looking for secluded water on a crowded day.

    But above rt 9, through the bubbler arm, down by the hatchery pipe, I’ve just found NO willing fish at the Swift this month and its been bugging the hell out of me. Looking forward to going back to the freestones once it warms up.

    I’ll try to bring some ESL next time and make my flies crazy, instead of myself.

    Thanks again,

    1. Thank you Andy! I’ve found that Swift fish bug the hell out of me too. Fishing for them above route 9 isn’t as intuitive as it is on other rivers. While they gorge themselves on midges, they see so many midge patterns that they don’t respond very well especially on busy days. But that is what keeps me coming back. I think fishing becomes much tougher after Thanksgiving, once the brookies thin out. A lot of the stretches that have fish are now devoid of them and most of the ones that remain will pod up at the y pool or the pipe, where they see a lot of pressure. I too can’t wait for freestones to open up. While I enjoy the challenge of the swift from time to time, I like fishing when it’s more intuitive

  2. Nice job connecting above Route 9, Ashu. Winter has set in for keeps it appears and the tail water Swift is the only option, that and the Farmington. I fished my favorite Bondsville zone for a couple hours the day before Thanksgiving and connected with a few, but action was overall slow. That was the last time I have been able to fish.

    One of the fish caught was interesting, a most silvery brown with not many spots on it. I wonder if it was a wild stream born brown or a LL salmon that got washed downstream last winter. I have caught a few of those silver ones this year.

    1. Hi Sam, I’m glad to hear from you! That sounds like a good day and very interesting catch. It very well could be a little landlocked salmon. My buddy Geoff caught one last weekend while fishing with me telling me that there was some success with the drop down salmon reproducing.

      1. Ashu, Bondsville is an under appreciated stretch of water. It really should be catch and release part of the year same as the stretch below route 9. It gets hit hard by those who take the fish home. I have seen and heard of trout taken out of there that should still be swimming. Best Regards and Happy Holidays to you,

    1. There aren’t usually salmon in the Swift. Last year was an exception because of the high flows dropping them out of the Quabbin. There may still be some in the various branches of the swift that flow into the Quabbin.

  3. Love to see this. I’m convinced that some of the best days I have on the swift, are when the guy next to me is cautiously drifting a #28 midge on 12X (exaggerating :)) and I’m tossing an articulated streamer or a 2″ long dry fly or something. Admittedly, on average, “the normal” flies that work there are best… but the days that really stand out for me, were when I bailed and started to fish off the wall by traditional wisdom of the swift flies. Worst case, it’s fun!

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