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Trying to get it all in: the Elizabeth Islands, The Stillwater and the Westfield ....

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Just finished a stretch of fishing 7 days in a row - can't remember the last time I pulled that off!


First stop was my annual long weekend on the Elizabeth Islands, where I accompany a group that spends most of their time duck hunting. I don't hunt, so I just fish hard.


Went out Thursday morning in the middle of a Nor'easter. Wind was honking! My friend and I took his boat out and went to the South Shore of the EI's - wind out of the north meant we had to basically nose up to shore and then cast as fast as we could before we got pushed out of range. Managed one micro school, and then the Albies popped up.


I love when the Albies pop up. I also hate it, because I get so focused on them and nothing else even seems interesting. Long story short, we stalked them for 2+ hours. Up and down the same shoreline. No run and gun, we'd just go above them and drift down with the engine off. We even took to starting farther away from the breaking fish, cutting the engine and rowing closer and then drifting! Got one legitimate shot where I know my fly was in them, but no love.


We got back to the dock, and I dragged a fly under the dock and hooked another micro. ;)


That afternoon the rest of the group started showing up, so the hunters went hunting and I went off on foot. I actually love fishing these waters on foot - I've done it for about 10 years now, so I know the water and tides pretty well, and walking means you have to focus hard on where you are fishing, because walking 1/2 hour to another spot is highly unproductive!


I went out and found a decent bunch of schoolies, landing around 10, nothing much over 20".




Friday it was still blowing, with intermittent rains. Caught 4 schoolies in 10+ hours of fishing. I was getting beat up! I did see a few bigger fish though, and had 2 30"+ fish show up 30 feet from me on a weed line and take swipes at my fly on three successive casts, but I never hooked up. Then the 40" striper popped up 10 feet to my left and bolted when I turned my head and saw it. Aaarrrggghhh ......


Saturday morning was of course gorgeous.




And the water here is beautiful.




And while Saturday would have been the best day to fish, at least wind wise, I had to drive up to Milton to watch my boys play in their football playoffs, so I had to get off island by 9am - the sacrifices we fisherman make! All in, one more micro on Saturday morning.


Saturday night was game dinner night, so I was back on island for that. I had no stripers to contribute - thankfully the boys had done their job on the dukcs!




Sunday morning the wind was howling, again. I found a spot I could at least cast and fished for 3 hours - nada.


So in the end, my EI trip was tough on the fishing side, but glorious on the camaraderie side, with three nights of great friends, great food, guitars and libations.


On Monday, back at home I decided to run out to the Stillwater, on the theory that last week's rain might have brought the LL's in. Not sure if it did or not, although the river was crowded, and everyone seemed to know "someone" who had hooked up in the prior few days. I fished the pools hard and walked the river up from the mouth all the way to I-195, and then back down. I saw exactly ZERO evidence of fish. And every pool was getting pounded by 3 or 4 guys with spinning gear. No offense meant to the spinning guys, it just means that the possible holding water for LL's on this river is so small (at least in terms of pools) that they get pounded (if they are really there). I will confess that I've tried this run off and on for years and have had no success - I just have not figured this fishery out yet.


On Tuesday I fished a new river to me based on recommendation from a friend - the East Branch of the Westfield River in Western Massachusetts. 7 miles of catch & release water, longest stretch in the state as far as I know. My friend told me about it in the summer, and I've had it on my mind waiting for real streamer stripping weather!


It's a beautiful river ....






It's a bit of a haul from Boston, and all in I traveled a total of 4.5 hours to fish for four hours. Not quite a great trade usually, but today definitely worth it! Found 1 Brown in some pocket water, stripping a weighted olive bugger. Not huge, but I was psyched - first Brownie in a long time!




Then I walked down to the pool I'd been told about - it was huge, maybe 100 yards long and probably 7 - 10 feet deep at its deepest. When I first got to the pool I fished it all the way through with my floating line and got no love. Switched to another reel loaded with sinking line and immediately hooked up, putting a bend in the 8'5" 5/6 Steffen glass rod I built last year.






This fish was bigger, and much more vibrantly colored.





I then proceeded to get a quick pull and then nothing. Then it happened again. And a third time. Looked at my fly and it was all wrapped around itself and the tippet, causing the missed hook ups - very frustrating, and definitely user error! I know to check my fly whenever I miss a fish, but I just did not do it!


With a re-set fly I immediately hooked up again. Now I was feeling good ....


As I got to the bottom of the run I hooked up again, and this time I knew I had a bigger fish. It turned out to be the biggest Brown I've ever landed - I was so pumped! Quick water shot and away he goes!




The perfect end to a 7 day stretch of tough fishing!!!!!

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