Monday, February 27, 2017

First fly fish of 17, public land challenges...

I really wanted to get in some water this weekend with the 60 degree temps Saturday... There is a nice walking trail near a small stream I like to fish - about 40' from home.  So... My wife and kids walked the trail - dodging ice on the way - and I fished, meeting them with about a quarter of their hike left so we could slip slide our way to the car.

The stream had a few new blow downs, but overall, was in good shape.  I was worried about it after last summer's drought, but, I'm routinely reminded how resilient these wild brook trout are!

Fun to see how green the ferns still seemed to look... and really neet to see how little ice (none) was on the stream.  I only fished a short section, but, man, it was nice.

Under that small branch going cross the stream I got my first trout of the year, and of the day...

This nice looking "peach" brookie came up and missed my mini bead head bugger (becoming a fav small stream fly for me) while the fly was on the dangle... must have been a hungry fish though, after watching the miss, I let the fly settle into the same spot and what I assume was the same fish smashed the fly.  Nice to manage getting the fish to hand for a quick pic and release.  It strongly swum into the cold waters!

I went on to have 3 more good takes, resulting in fish touching my hand moments before flipping into the water.  Brookies win 3 to 1 due to my rusty landing skills :).  Fun FUN FUN outing, and great to catch a few feisty fish despite the snow melt filling the stream with very cool water and solid flows.

I'm risking a spot burn with this sign.  The Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation, a couple years ago, decided to crack down on what they call illegal trail use by, in particular, mountain bikers.

Now, I've ridden my mountain bike in these woods since high school.  I'm almost 43.  So, since I was about 15, about 28 years, I've ridden here.  Well, 26 if you take the last two years out.  The DCR has come in and destroyed trails by having a group of college students come in and cut down full size trees to block trails over their first 100yds or so, and then try to destroy other areas of the trails.

Now, if they just wanted to crack down on "new" and unauthorized trails I would be sad of the situation but understand.  However, seeing them claim trails that have been mountain biked, alot, for 30+ years are causing problems... When the DCR's own public use documentation from other properties in MA actually lays out that the impact of mountain biking by the public has similar impact to that of hiking... It really feels there is an agenda here which is anti public use.

Dont think this sort of thing affects other users of areas?

Well, imagine you wanted to fish a stream which had a trail for access.  That trail may be destroyed now - and rendered hugely frustrating to navigate.  Likewise, imagine you wanted to walk a trail for peace and relaxation and it's no longer there - after 20-30 years.  

How about knowing you are being watched by surveillance cameras to catch mountain bikers using non authorized trails.

Unreal, and hugely frustrating.  If one wants to improve their ability to protect land - let people responsibly use it!  When land users have a legit stake in the land, they are far more likely to work to protect it and help keep it healthy and well.

I think of other state forests in MA - ironically operated under the DCR umbrella - which have worked with the New England Mountain Bike Association to build new and extensive trail systems which are fantastic, and loved by a variety of users from walkers to bird watchers to hunters and certainly, mountain bikers and even trail runners.  many of those trails include bridge segments to navigate swampy lands or streams which flow into local reservoirs and which house coldwater fisheries, thus are really excellent water quality.  If those forests can operate with healthy trail system development and use - why is this crackdown occurring on largely existing trails?  Frustrating.  Very frustrating.

If you love to be outside, and public land plays a role in that... Be aware.  Access may not be permanent...  Frustrating.

Keep well


  1. Hi, Will. Beautiful little stream and colorful Brookie for this early in the season.... I sure hear your message here on the trails and land access and land grabs for sure. Woe is us!

    1. Agreed Mel. Something about this stream, the brookies I catch here seem to have that sort of peach hue through much of the year. It's a funky thing how fish in one stream may be almost black, but a watershed over and you get a fish that's peach... Nature is amazing! Woe is us on the land issue for sure!

  2. Will well done..combining family and fishing that's so great.
    That brookie looks so healthy, a tribute to the habitat in which it lives.
    To simplify..."Respect"

    1. Thanks Alan - I'm looking forward to the kids being interested in trying to swing some flies themselves :) Agreed on the trout - I was very happy to see how they held up! It's amazing how resilient they are!