Unconventional conditions on the Swift River

Text by Tristan Houtz and Ryan Coughlin. Photography by Blake Williams

We left the city early and arrived just before 7...

We hadn't slept much, but the urge to catch gigantic trout was too strong to ignore. Thankfully The Swift River is easily accesible and an easy two hour drive from Boston. This is traditionally a nymphing stream and after we got our gear prepared, we started walking the banks up river.

What is this place man?

The first thing you will notice while walking the path along the river is how incredibly clear the water is. The river is supplied by the Quabbin Reservoir, the largest body of water in Massachusetts.

The weather was definitely strange, from rain to snow to winds to sun. This was the weekend before Christmas and yet it was a warm day. The river can fill up with other anglers but we managed to pick out a few key spots and make them ours. The fish are picky but if you stick with it in a particular area, you can have great success.

I know... didn't have our polarizing filter on today. Imagine how clear it is!
I f---ing hate nymphing

Smelt chasing Rainbows

Drift after drift, the fish wouldn't budge for a nymph. This Rainbow chased this smelt several times before connecting. Thought it wouldn't bother by the second time.

...she slipped the net and avoid the close up shot. Sorry.


The unexpected catch

Heavy rainfall had swollen the Swift and increased it's flow significantly. These two factors contributed to some creative approaches to "nymphing". After having nymphed for quite some time, we decided to try streamers and load up the line with that split shot.

There was one large salmon that Miles spotted, and knew he had to catch it. Cast after cast yielded nothing but frustration. Fortunately, good ole Bobby showed up and was able to give Miles some high bank visual intel. This time, each cast yielded them closer and closer to the tandem catch. The fish seemed interested and with Bobby's perfectly timed instruction, Miles presented the fly to the leviathan and BAM. Fish on. The rest is history.

Lessons Learned

  • When you think you're deep, you're not.
  • When you constantly watch fish reject all variations of nypmhs, swing a streamer.
  • High water can work in your favor
  • Bow and arrow casts with 2 people can give you some wild distance in tricky situations
  • Gotta use that split shot

Cold hands, tired feet and two big fish. Called it a day.

Like all fishing trips. You never have the conditions you want.