The Deerfield River is a well known Massachusetts trout fishery. But I have to admit that I didn’t know too much about it. Charles Ricko, owner of the Overwatch Outpost, took some time to discuss the fishing on the Deerfield. He specifically discusses the excellent summer fishing that the Deerfield is famous for.
What makes the Deerfield River an outstanding trout fishery?
I would have to say that there are multiple factors that contribute to the Deerfield being a first class trout fishery. First would be environmental. The upper Deerfield is still a bit “remote”, without the impact of urban sprawl affecting it. You can often fish all day without seeing another person.
You can also enjoy other aspects of nature here. We have Bald Eagles, Osprey, and many varieties of ducks and other fowl. Not to mention the other mammals that we see frequently, such as deer, beavers, black bears, wild turkeys, etc. It’s also an area rich with history. The Hoosac Tunnel is just one example.
A key aspect to the fishing on the Deerfield is that it’s a tail water with a bottom release dam, which helps keep the river cool. In addition, there are many human reasons that the Deerfield is such a fantastic fishery. Such as the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. They work very hard to keep the stocking program operating here. They also work to help keep the area in its pristine condition, as well as enforcing fish & game laws, especially in the catch & release areas of the river.
And finally, anglers themselves, play a big role here. By being good stewards, Anglers help to continue the tradition, and help to ensure that the next generation will treat this treasure with the same care as past generations of Anglers.
The Deerfield has a mix of stocked and wild trout in the River. What is the typical mix of wild versus stocked trout that anglers can expect to catch?
It’s difficult to say with certainty. But from our experience, I would say that there’s about 70% stocked fish versus 30% wild.
What do you consider your favorite hatch that occurs on the Deerfield?
My personal favorite is Caddis. We have several varieties on the Deerfield, which generally occur from May through September. Though, I do love the late day Blue Winged Olive hatches during the mid summer season. The fishing can be incredible!
The Deerfield is known for great dry fly fishing even throughout the summer. What should visitors to the Deerfield know before coming and doing summer fishing on the River?
Think outside the box, and don’t be afraid to mix up your fly selection. I recall a particular trip I took with our guide, Rex Channell. I landed a very large brown trout, by throwing a big PMX stimulator on a deep pool. It was about 90 degrees that day, and the sun was as bright as can be. Everyone else was fishing streamers and tiny dries. The fish just weren’t responding. By changing it up a bit, I was able to hook up with a nice big brown.
What do you consider a trophy trout on the Deerfield and how do you catch the big fish?
I would consider any fish over 20 inches to be a “trophy”. As for catching trophy fish, I would have to say, perseverance, and learning the water. Get to know the river, and you will succeed.
The Deerfield contains class 3 and class 4 rapids. These obviously pose safety issues for anglers. What do anglers need to know to be safe on the River?
Before heading out, know the release times for Fife Dam. We post the times at our shop. You can also check them online. Our web page has a live feed under fishing reports. Also, stay vigilant. Watch the water level at all times. With experience, you will notice things like, the sound of the water as it rises over the rocks. Also, use a wading staff! Though they may seem cumbersome, a staff can really make a difference.
Given the recreational paddlers that use this river, how do your guides deal with the traffic to still find fish?
Just like the fish, we too learn to deal with them. I personally find most of the paddlers to be good stewards, and not that much of a bother. The tubers are a different story. If everyone could just be more courteous and respectful, it would go a long way.
If you are coming to the Deerfield and can only bring one fly rod setup, what do you recommend as the best all around setup for fly anglers throughout the summer?
A 9 foot, 5 weight rod, with a WF floating line. We prefer Orvis WF Trout lines and Recon rods with Hydros SL III reels. It’s the best setup we’ve found. Having a sink tip line or at least a sinking leader for high water times is also a good idea. Fishing Wooly Buggers during a water release always works well.
What does Overwatch Outpost offer anglers visiting the Deerfield?
We offer a full service fly shop and guide service. We have a great selection of flies and gear that will suit all of your needs. Our guides have many years of experience on the Deerfield, and they are very good at putting clients on fish.
Thank you Charles. I can’t encourage everyone enough to stop at his shop before fishing the Deerfield. The reviews of the fly shop are great. Charles and his staff want to do everything they can to help you have a successful trip to their Deerfield River.
Make sure to visit them at Overwatch-Outpost.com.
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