Hope and 2024

I went to the Swift yesterday. It is a New Year’s Eve tradition for me on most years. I go below Route 9 on the last day of the catch-and-release regulations.

It was easy to get a prime spot, thankfully, and I spent a few hours throwing size 30 dries to non-rising fish. Some rainbows were huddled and displaying their spawning behavior, chasing each other, and occasionally fluttering to prep a bed. It’s too bad that they come sterile from the hatchery. It’s too bad that the catch-and-keep crowd arrives at midnight to clean out the pools and runs, and I hope that the rumors of poachers and their gill nets are not true.

After a few hours of no takes, I switched to nymphing and was grateful to land a ‘bow. The highlight though was catching a few wild brookies.

I haven’t fished for a while due to having two jobs, and it was nice to be outside. As I’ve written before here and here, fly fishing is good for the brain and one’s happiness. For me, it was refreshing to be in the crisp air, wade in the freezing river, and see some fish. It took a few months to get my Sage #000 repaired after breaking its tip a while back, and it was great to feel it back in the hand.

It’s a good time to conjure more hope, and fishing gives that to me. No matter the conditions, you go to the river with the hope that you’ll land a fish or two. Every fish beyond that I think is upside.

I have many students with family or cultural ties to Israel or the Middle East in general. When they suffer, I suffer. And we are in a time of more suffering in that region. I’ve started to read less news because it has been so horrific and sad.

School is on winter break for a month, but I head back to campus tomorrow to start to prepare for the new semester. A week is plenty of time off for me, and I want to get a jump on things.

Here’s to more hope in 2024. No matter the ups and downs in the news, I’m grateful that I have fly fishing and my fishing friends. It always lightens my mood to hang with the crew or to hit the river.

May this year give us all peace and resilience….


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15 thoughts on “Hope and 2024

  1. Happy New Year, Jo. I fished the Pipe section on Saturday and did quite well with Scuds in #20 & 22. All December I fished down there to have my enjoyment before the bait folks slaughter the river. Several years ago I fished the Pipe Pool on Jan. 1 and had all the bait guys yelling and swearing at me to get out of their way, and others asked me to give them the trout I was releasing. I had to tell one guy who left with 3 trout in his bucket but who came back 10 minutes later with the bucket empty that he caught his limit for the day and he couldn’t according to state law, keep any more trout; he told me F-off; I took my phone out and told him to tell that to the game warden that I was calling; he left. I spoke with one nicely mannered bait guy and he told me he and his 2 buddies had been fishing there on Jan. 1 for the past 12 years; I asked if he fished on Jan. 5 or Jan. 10 and he replied, Naw, there weren’t any fish in the river then. I said, That’s my point about releasing fish. So the following year, Itried to get a crew of our TU guys in the river on Jan. 1 to take up most of the river space. 5 promised to be there at sunup. Unfortunately, no one but me showed up and I had to handle the wrath of all those spin fishers by myself, again!

  2. Non licet illegitimate carburandum Gary. Thank you for the work you do on behalf of TU and the Swift River.
    Best wishes, best fishes.

    1. The Pioneer Valley Chapter of TU has brought this idea up to MA F&W many times over the past 25 years, all to no avail. We will bring up this topic again with them.

      1. Other than licensing revenue from the bait crew, are there any other reasons not to extend catch-and-release further south?

        1. The historical reason that MA F&W exists as a gov. agency is to grow trout to stock rivers that were depleted of trout for catch & keep recreation. But there are a few folks there beginning to think differently. Perhaps after F&W concludes their Brook Trout Study of the Swift (their preliminary observation is that the Swift is the best brook trout river south of Maine–based on # of brookies and size of brooks), they make make Fly Fishing Only recommendation, or be open to that suggestion, if enough of us tell them F-F Only to Cady Lane and C&R year round.
          There are only 3 miles of FF-Only, C&R rivers in MA= Nissatisset in Pepperell (2 mi.) and the Swift (<1 mi.).
          There is hope.

          1. As far as the size of brookies, I can’t dispute that…the swift has more big brookies, more consistently, than I’ve seen anywhere else in New England. However, I’d be willing to bet there are a few more densely populated streams in the white mountains. My brother and I have stumbled upon areas that have unnamed streams, half a rod length across, absolutely TEEMING with native brook trout. We found one last year that was almost comical…it was barely bigger than your average road run-off but sure enough, every hole that was deep enough, there was at least one little brookie sitting there.

  3. Hi all, I am looking for information, specifically stream flow and water temperature
    For the East Branch of the Westfield River .
    Particularly interested in the Chesterfield Gorge and the three miles below the Gorge.
    Also on a more general geographic, the flow is often easy to find out for the Western Mass rivers but water temp is much harder to find on the internet.
    I don’t want to commit to drive multiple hours and end up in a frozen wasteland

    1. Hi, unfortunately, USGS doesn’t have a gauge at that branch. There is a Facebook group dedicated to the Westfield, and I think that may be your best bet to get intel.

        1. Check the American Whitewater Association website for gauge levels; the section known as “The Pork Barrel” is immediately upstream of Chesterfield Gorge.

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