Acting Director, Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration
Spring fever is mounting. You can tell because I just procured a new, but clearly vintage, 6’6” bamboo fly rod from eBay in anticipation of fishing more small streams in Massachusetts this year. I’m not going to bore you with details of my fly fishing gear or what fly patterns are deadly for such-and-such month (I wish I always knew!) but I will let you in on two streams that I’m excited to fish because they have been recently restored and hold renewed promise as great trout streams.
The first is Red Brook on the Wareham and Plymouth line. Fishing Red Brook is like skiing a trail at Mad River Glen. It’s narrow, full of trees and technically challenging. A host of partners including Trout Unlimited and the state have been working to restore this spring-fed stream. Since 2006 four dams have been removed, tons of wetland fill excavated and dozens of large trees have been placed in the stream to create habitat and jump start natural stream processes (i.e. scouring, pool development, etc.), making this stream a black diamond.
It’s a catch and release fishery, and if you are fortunate to catch – you will likely bring in a salter brook trout. (Picture) Red Brook is one of the few streams remaining in the state that supports a sea run brook trout population. If you go, practice your roll casts as the stream has a healthy canopy of riparian vegetation. Almost all of the Red Brook is permanently protected; the best access point is via the Trustees of Reservation’s Lyman Reservation.
The second is Yokum Brook in Becket. Becket is beautiful and getting there is worth the trip as it requires driving along the nationally designated Wild and Scenic Westfield River. Two large dams were removed along Yokum Brook in partnership with our program most recently the Ballou Dam. Yokum Brook now flows unimpeded for four miles from Buckley Dunton Lake to the confluence of the West Branch of the Westfield River. Fishing the brook is easy as there is ample access along Main Street in North Becket Village.
While the Swift, Deerfield, Millers and Hoosic Rivers are more famous fly fishing venues, I much prefer fishing the small streams and when I know that a stream has been restored there is a certain satisfaction in catching a fish that may not have been there without a careful intervention or two.