The Deerfield River, located in Northwestern Massachusetts, is an outstanding trout fishery consisting of large stockings of Rainbows as well as Browns and Brook trout from state run hatcheries. Flowing out of the Haramon Reservoir located in Vermont, this unique river makes a its journey into Massachusetts before emptying into the Connecticut River, flowing behind The Deerfield Academy Grounds, located in Old Deerfield Massachusetts. The Deerfield is regulated by a series of five dams in Massachusetts. Starting at Fife Brook, you will find waters and fishing conditions to your liking and with plenty of trout throughout.
Depending upon water flows and temperatures, April is generally the start of trout fishing and good fly fishing can be had right into early December. In all sections of the river you can find many nice holdovers and an occasional wild browns and brookie. Rainbows seem to average twelve to sixteen inches with the occasional seventeen to twenty inch fish bending your rod. Trophy Brown trout are definitely there along with many two to three pound class trout.
In the early season you will see many fishermen using spinning gear. As the days grow longer and warmer the fly fishers are spotted in most areas. During the early season, the trout are a little less selective in their feeding habits, but as the season moves on you must use your fishing skills and your fly selection will become more critical.
There are two catch and release areas on the Deerfield and fly fishing in these areas can be outstanding and rewarding. Check all the Fishing Regulations before going out and remember as the season grows longer the fish become much wiser. These trout have seen just about every fly and every possible way to present it, so matching the hatch is important and don't be afraid to try that ugly thing on your hat! These areas can also be very crowded so be prepared to some walking.
The Deerfield is made up mostly of deep runs, riffles, and large still water pools. The riverbed is mostly rock and boulders so cleated waders are recommended to keep your footing. Water conditions on this river can change rapidly (within minutes) with the water releases used for generating power. If you're not familiar with the water, be smart, pay attention, watch and listen for changing conditions. When the dams hold back, the river is fished and waded much easier.
Below Bardwells' Ferry and above Old Deerfield, deep and large mud bottom pools can be found, with Stillwater being a popular one. Stillwater pool is found just above the Rte 91 bridges which cross over the Deerfield.
Below Fife Brook, with a dam just above it, the river flows through pools such as Diamond Pool, Long Pool, Carbis Bend, and Shady Pool. The lower Catch & Release area starts at the railroad underpass, just above where Pelham Brook runs into the Deerfield, and runs for about two miles before it ends at the Mohawk Campgrounds. Access to the river is generally easy. There are numerous designated access points as well as other areas to pull over and fish. Route 2 (Mohawk Trail) as well as Zoar and River Road, which borders the Deerfield all the way to Fife Brook, provide parking and pathways to the river.
Fish an area and move if you're not successful. Massachusetts keeps this river well stocked so finding fish usually isn't a problem. Like all fishing, it may be waiting for the water temperatures to warm enough for them to take and flows to allow for safe fishing. Either way be patient with the fishery. The opportunity is there to hook or catch a good number trout and an occasional trophy.
Drawn from approximately 70' below the surface of the Quabbin Reservoir, the Swift River discharges through the base of Windsor Dam and boils up to what is know to locals as the "Bubbler." From this point downstream to Rte 9, the Swift is an outstanding Catch and Release - fly fishing only, tail water fishery. Cold water from the Quabbin, with seasonal temperatures ranging from 37 to 61 degrees, allow this river to be an excellent year-round trout fishery.
It is well stocked with rainbows with some nice brook and brown trout in the mix. You might also find a few landlocked salmon in the Swift, which may have been washed over the spillway. Trout in the 16-18 inch category are not uncommon. By mid summer all trout are very well educated and become more difficult to catch. The immediate area at the "Y" Pool, is one of a few spots where dry fly fishing can be had year 'round. You will find many fly fishers here, willing to share what fly, size and techniques they are using if you are having difficulties.
This area and beyond the Rte. 9 Bridge, gin-clear water is the norm with shallow flat pools, joined by riffles, and runs that lead into a few deeper pools. The first large pool below the dam is led by a shallow gravely riffle flowing into it. This pool is known to locals as the "Y" pool, as you can see by its shape. Along with many fly fishers, some accompanied by local guides, you can find many large fish cruising the pool and the bouldery and backwaters of the spillway section. Fishing here can surprisingly produce a picture perfect trout, found feeding on the edges of the far banks.
Downstream from the pool's end, the Swift continues and wanders through the cover of the forest with the bottom turning siltier. With limited gravely runs to be seen, trout are found here in abundance throughout the year and are very noticeable in the heat of the summer. If you walk up from the Rte 9 Bridge during this time, it is a great way to get out of the heat and to enjoy the solitude of the area. This tranquil setting is usually broken up by the slurping sounds of trout devouring caddis, deer crossing your path, or fly fishers enjoying making their "perfect" cast. During the heat of the summer, you can get away with a short sleeved shirt during the day, but make sure you pack a sweat shirt for the evenings when the sun sets over the horizon, it can get pretty cool here.
From the Rte. 9 Bridge to Cady Lane, the catch and release fly fishing only regulations change from July 1 to December 31. Catch and release, artificial flies and lures only, open the Swift up to conventional tackle during this time. The characteristics of the river remain much the same as the areas above the bridge, with the inclusion of deeper and slower pools which will eventually turn into "jungle style" fishing. Few fly fishers can be found in this area because of the lack of casting room. This area is popular for the spin fisher and with the available boat launch, you will see canoes and small rowboats well below the Rte 9 Bridge. Holdover, a few wild, and annually-stocked trout abound in this area as well as regularly stocked fish from the state hatchery that is located downstream.
For the most part, the Swift River is lined with trees that provide shade. The section below the bridge is accessible from Route 9 and the roads bordering the river. To enter the area know as the "Bubbler", you can walk up from Rte 9, with a shorter way through the Quabbin Reservoir main gate. This will take you by the visitor's center, where many of your questions can be answered. As you cross the dam and take an immediate right, you will end at a parking lot and picnic area. Once there, you can see the small power plant with the "Bubbler" just below it.
This is a great area to cure cabin fever during the winter months, practice new techniques and maybe even meet some nice people who are doing the same. If you decide to spend a day or two on the Swift River, there is beautiful site seeing in the watershed and picnicking areas for the family. Just 10 minutes west from the main gate on Rte 9 is the Town of Belchertown. Here you can find snacks, sandwiches, and fast foods as well as tackle shops to answer any questions you may have.
The East Branch of the Westfield River (one of three), better know as The Westfield, is to Western Massachusetts as the West Branch of the Ausable is to Upstate New York. With its headwaters beginning high in the Berkshires, it is by far the longest of all three. Majestic state forests can be seen with the river cutting its way through the ledges and gorges surround these headwaters, in Savoy and Windsor, until it’s slowed by the Knightville and Littleville Dams.
Driving along Rte. 9 through Cummington, you will view some of the wider stretches of the East Branch branch with plenty of access for the fishermen to park along the way. In early spring, fishing is very good through this area in the rapids and cuts and as the water recedes, pools and pocket water are the best choices for the fly fishers.
Where the flow of the Westfield meets the westerly bank of the mountain, it is joined with a stream called the Swift (not to be confused with the Swift River in Belchertown) and flows in a southerly direction towards Rte. 143 and into the fabled Chesterfield Gorge. You can have plenty of good fishing in between Rte. 9 and Rte. 143, but you must be willing to make a full day trip to allow for site seeing, exploring the water and of course fishing. Don’t be surprised by the swimmers you may encounter deep into this section too, but once past this area good pocket water fishing continues on to Rte.143.
Beginning here, some of the better flyfishing is found in Western Massachusetts, where the longest single uninterrupted stretch (7 miles) is designated for Catch and Release only (artificials only), which starts about a mile downstream from the 143 bridge. With this river being a mostly freestone bed, be prepared for some of the slipperiest and uneven wading you may have ever encountered, but offering such rewards as fantastic rainbow, brookie and brown trout fishing with beautiful mountain scenery. This area is unique, as it’s owned by the state, the town maintains the road, but the Army Corp. of Engineers maintains the entire reservation watershed.
What makes this area so appealing is that the very rough logging road is minimally maintained, so it is accessed best by 4wd’s, and is gated off to all vehicles after about the first ¾ of a mile or so. That means you hike in to the remaining 6 plus miles of catch and release. In the summer water levels can become dangerously low for the fish causing them to seek the deeper pools, cuts and banks for safe harbor. Summer thunder storms will cause this river to swell beyond safe wading conditions, which I have personally witnessed this river do in a matter of less than two hours. Once the water becomes a fishable high and is on it’s way down, outstanding flyfishing is usually the result. This section is best fished with a local guide so not to waste valuable fishing time looking for productive water, even though it all looks great and for the most part is!
The Chesterfield Gorge may be the most fabled part of the Westfield, but there is equal fishing on the other branches. With well-shaded runs and pools, operating and broken down dams and falls, trophy fish can be found almost anywhere in this three river basin.
Along with the west branch, which is definitely worth exploring because of its foliage cover and cooler waters in the summer, is another favorite called the main stem. This sections runs through the town of Westfield along Rte. 20, which has outstanding trophy flyfishing mostly all season and allows easy access with many pull offs along the way.