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Fly Fishing Trip Leads To Catch Of A Lifetime

Accomplished angler shares with him a secret fishing spot on the Deerfield River.

On June 4, 1997, 14 years ago today, I took a trip to the Deerfield River in remote Western Mass. for a solo fly fishing excursion.

I can remember arriving at my destination and seeing the bright blue early morning sky and hearing the cold water rush over the large boulders. I was in trout paradise and looking forward to spending the next four days alone in the wilderness.

I was in a secluded place in the Berkshires with no signs of human beings for miles. I was alone at last in my secret spot, or so I thought, until I heard the sound of a motorcycle.

I stopped casting and watched the top of the hill as a large man negotiated his way down the steep embankment. He had his chest waders on, but was wearing a black leather jacket and in his right hand, he carried a fly rod.

I guess I wasn’t going to be alone after all.

He found his way down to the river, and I eventually made my way over to the pool he was fishing in. He mentioned that he had been fishing the Deerfield for the past three days in another “secret spot” way out of the way and he was catching rainbow trout that were two feet long. 

My warning signs immediately went off.  Only in Alaska or Montana could a fly fisherman catch rainbows that big, not in Massachusetts. But I was intrigued by this guy nonetheless, so we continued to talk and fish the river.

His casting was efficient and practical, his knowledge of insects was impressive, and the more time we spent talking the more I wanted to know about his other secret Eden in the Berkshires.

I asked again to try and estimate where it might be, but he offered no specifics.

There was only one way I was going to get there. Over the rush of the river, I said, “I’ll go there with you if you want.” After a few long seconds he reeled in his line and said, “Let’s go!”  I followed him on his motorcycle and he led me to the most beautiful fly fishing spot I had ever seen.

We made our way over to a sunken tree near the embankment. He handed me one of his hand tied flies off his jacket and said, “Put this on, it’s my favorite fly." He then showed me where to cast, and within minutes I was connected to a fish of a lifetime.

During the fight, he laughed and shouted directions as I landed the two-foot-long hooked jaw rainbow trout.

It was big and beautiful, with gorgeous black and green spots and it had a wonderful maroon stripe painted across the body.

We shook hands as the colorful fish lay in his green net, and I told him that I will never forget this moment and he just laughed and said, “Let’s keep this spot our little secret.”

For the next three days, we fished miles of the river together. Since that summer of ‘97, we have fished side by side in many other scenic rivers in New England. I have learned from others in the fly fishing world that Larry is one of the most accomplished anglers in the Northeast and is also one of the most kind hearted souls you could ever meet anywhere on earth.

I made friends with a great human being that weekend on the beautiful Deerfield River. And because he was kind enough to share a special secret with me, he gave me a chance to prove my loyalty and at the same time, catch a fish of a lifetime.

Todd Arnold June 06, 2011 at 11:57 AM
Fly fishing is a great sport and we all have our stories. As a youngster growing up on lake Massapoag, I can remember watching a gentleman fly fishing. My grandfather, who taught me how to fish, wasn't really into it so I was basically a spinning fisherman. I watch this gentleman cast, and cast and cast saying to myself, gee, that's a lot of work. Suddenly he hooked into a nice Trout. The rod bent in half, the fish jumped a good two feet into the air and kept peeling line off the reel. Well, after a few min. he landed the fish, stared at it and let it go. I watched him do that several times and said to myself, that's what I wanted to do. My grand father had and old fly rod and reel lyin' around and the next day I was out there practicing on the lake. Had no clue as to what I was doing as fly fishing is a totally different animal. Well the next week, as I was on the lake attempting to fly fish, the same gentleman showed up. After about an hour or so of watching me try to master this sport, he calmly walked over to me and proceeded to give me a fly fishing lesson. Told me about the different lines, leaders, casting techniques, "matching the hatch" for fly to use.... etc. (cont.)
Todd Arnold June 06, 2011 at 11:58 AM
Took me about a year or so, but I finally hooked into my first Massapoag trout fly fishing and a thrill it was to say the least. That was some 39 years ago and I can’t thank Cliff Towner enough, not only for teaching me the art of fly fishing, but also coaching me on how to play the game of baseball so many years ago. Thanx Cliff!
Joshua Lipinski March 26, 2012 at 03:00 PM
This is great. A month ago I moved to Stoughton, along the Sharon line, from Berkshire County. The Deerfield River is one of my favorite & most sacred spots. It's such a clean, healthy river. There's a few rivers I won't eat fish from, but I always consider the Deerfield safe to cook up a fish from. I've fished, swam, tubed, ran on nearby trails, hiked, mountain biked, run road races, got eaten alive by mosquitoes, lost countless lures, and just driven alongside that river for miles, up to the source in Somerset Reservoir, Vermont, down to the Hoosac Tunnel's eastern entrance in Florida, MA, over to it's confluence with the South River in Conway, then where it empties out into the Connecticut in Greenfield. I've caught browns, rainbows, salmon (the occasional stocked salmon), smallmouth bass, carp (yes! in Conway), walleye (yes! also in Conway), and made friends w/a lot of beavers, who just go about their work stockpiling lumber while I'm fishing. It's an awesome river - lush, powerful, and rich with life. Now that I'm in this area, I'm looking for a few places of my own to do some river fishing, for trout. I'm a big fan of throwing on a Rapala and running it through the slow spots of a fast-moving river, but I highly doubt I'll be able to find anything like the Deerfield over here.

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