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Fly Fishing The Westfield River
April 11, 2003 # 14
by Walt Geryk

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 itís 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. Donít 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 itís 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 4wdís, and is gated off to all vehicles after about the first ĺ 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 itís 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 definately 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.

This year with the major snow pack, the season will most likely start to pick up by the third week of May. Watch my reports page for any changes.

I'll be guiding for spring steelhead in Upstate New York from 4-23 to 5-22 with the 5-19 & 5-20 available for booking. For information and booking reservations for both Mass and New York contact me at 413-575-5421 between 7-9 pm or leave a message with Tony at Tony's Salmon Country 315-298-4104. After May 22 you may then contact via email or my regular number in Mass 413-247-5579.

Planning a trip of a lifetime, then give me a call at to reserve your dates early, as the 2003 season is just around the corner when rooms and guided dates fill fast. It's best to reserve your time with me first, then I'll assist you in lodging reservations.

Preserve Your Trophy

Carry a camera and a cloth measuring tape then use the formula, which is fairly accurate, if you'd like to have the weight, (length X girth X girth / 800 = lb.) and this should give all the info needed for bragging rights without over stressing the fish. Once you land that trophy fish of a lifetime, it's your choice to kill and have mounted and no one should condemn you for your decision to do so. You can also send a good photo and measurements to a professional taxidermist where they can make a reproduction of the fish that you released.

Planning on releasing a fish, then handle it as little as possible and return into the water ASAP! When releasing the fish be sure to be facing it upstream in slower moving water, this may require some moving of the fish slowly forwards and back to help the flow of water through its gills, take your time for proper revival, which can take up to 8-10 minutes. You'll know when the fish is ready as it will have good balance and will start on it's own to pull away from your hands.

For more information on this fishery, give me a call and I'll be more than happy to answer all your questions.
Good luck and have fun.

Point & click on "Calendar Page, for the Four Seasons of Fishing" for both New York and Mass., then check out my complete website!

Northeast Flyfishing Guide Service
38 Elm Street
Hatfield, MA 01038
Walt Geryk
New York Licensed
Guide # 955
Ph: (413) 247-5579
Cell: (413) 575-5421
© Copywrite 2003