All posts by Eric Halloran

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Yankee Fisherman Airs Segment on Phase 2 of DRWTU Spawning Survey

Advance video to 4:50 to begin our segment.

Watch: Yankee Fisherman: Thursday, April 5

Breaking News: Brookfield Power’s FERC Final License Application

Brookfield Power has filed a final license application for the Bear Swamp Pump Storage and Fife Brook Dam facilities. This application details what the history, status of the FERC relicensing process, what Brookfield has done, and what it is proposing to do with this new license. This process will continue for another couple of years. Our Chapter continues to be engaged in this process. We will continue to fight for more ideal operations to not only protect but enhance the Deerfield River wild trout population including spawning efforts. Much more to come.

Link to Final License Application. BSPC will also be adding the FLA to the Bear Swamp Project’s public relicensing website ( in the coming days.

Spawning Survey Phase 2

March 17, 2018: TU Volunteers sample eggs from the redds identified in the Fall of 2017.
Adam Kautza from MA Fish and Wildlife joined us for the final day of the survey on March 19, 2018.

Volunteers wanting to help with phase 2 of the spawning study will meet Mike Cole Saturday morning, at 8:45 on March 17 at the Zoar picnic grounds.  We can use all the help we can get.  Wear waders and warm clothing.  Bring water and something to eat.  Air temps expected in the 20’s.

Spawning Survey Donation

Mike Didonna of the Deerfield Fly Shop hands a check for $750 to Rob Creamer, DRWTU Treasurer.

At the Chapter meeting on 3/15, Mike Didonna of the Deerfield Fly Shop donated $750 to DRWTU for the spawning study.  The money was raised through a raffle during the third anniversary celebration of the fly shop in South Deerfield.

Annual Meeting

Mike Vito (left) receives the Bob Anderson Conservation award from DRWTU Chapter President, Kevin Parsons.

The DRWTU Annual Meeting and dinner was held at the Warfield House February 24. Keynote speaker, Keith Fritschie, gave a fascinating talk about wild brook trout spawning in New Hampshire.

Breaking News(Updated 3/7/18):

MassLive is covering this story here

In response to the Interim Report on the DRWTU sponsored Spawning Surveys conducted by Mike Cole, the MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife submitted comments with a New Study Request to FERC.  The US Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service, citing the MA Div of Fisheries and Wildlife comments, formally requested that FERC order a comprehensive study of the biological impact of hydropeaking on fish in the Deerfield.  They specified that the study be conducted across the full range of daily flows and at times when spawning of trout is likely to occur.  On March 5, Brookfield Power Company sent a letter to FERC to respond to complaints raised by DRWTU about high water encountered by the TU volunteer survey team during the spawning study.  Brookfield’s letter appears below.  A letter from DRWTU president Kevin Parsons is included with links to all the above-mentioned correspondence here:

Brookfield’s  Letter to FERC
MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Letter to FERC
Appendix  A:  MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Request for Study
US Fisheries and Wildlife Letter to FERC
DRWTU President Kevin Parson’s Letter to FERC

Based upon preliminary results published in the Spawning Survey Interim Report, DRWTU is requesting that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) conduct an expanded trout spawning survey before relicensing the operation of Fife Brook Dam. Click below to view the Letter and Interim Report.

Letter to FERC
Spawning Survey Interim Report

Flies, Pies, and Lies

Click here to see information about this upcoming fly tying event.

Spawning Survey Update

First Ever Brown Trout Spawning Survey on the Deerfield River

The survey is being lead by Cole Ecological, Inc and conducted by volunteers from the chapter. See details here or follow developments on our Facebook page here.  Donate to this very important effort using a credit card or paypal account by clicking the donate button below.

DRWTU launches survey to assess economic impact of fly fishing.

Please take our survey! You’re input is valuable!

Take Survey     Read Story

Thanks to the Yankee Fisherman for publicizing our survey – check out his March 9 show here; he refers to the importance of fly fishing on regional economies about 20 minutes in.

Our Mission & Our Board of Directors

Our Mission:

To advocate for the long term health of the Deerfield River as a cold water fishery. The Deerfield Watershed consists of the Deerfield River and all of the feeder brooks, streams, and rivers that flow into it from Southern Vermont to the Connecticut River termination.


  • President:
    Kevin Parsons
  • Vice President:
    Mike Vito
  • Secretary:
    Eric Halloran
  • Treasurer:
    Rob Creamer


  • Chris Jackson
  • Bill Obear
  • Horace Taft-Ferguson
  • Sean Bresnahan
  • Randy Prostak
  • Sheila Kelliher


What follows are President Kevin Parsons’s comments about the award:

That is right. Our Chapter has been selected by TU National to receive the 2018 Golden Trout award. This prestigious award is awarded annually to the Chapter which has “taken innovative and thoughtful approaches to build and expand community and advance TU’s conservation mission”. Of the 420 Chapters, DRWTU is being recognized by TU as its top Chapter for 2018.

It was only 8 years ago when we started our Chapter. Jeremy McGeorge called me and said we needed to get the Deerfield Chapter up and going as it had been defunct for a number of years. I agreed. We started the process of forming our Chapter in October, 2008. The rest is history.

At first we had no idea what we were doing. Most of us never were part of a TU Chapter. Some like me joined TU for this purpose. Then in a few months we were dealing with Hurricane Irene devestation to our watershed. We started with a small group of volunteers doing river cleanup on the North, restoration projects on the Chickley and South, and otherwise found our way figuring out what a TU Chapter was about. A couple years later we began dealing with a FERC relicensing process with no experience or knowledge of what this meant. From the start we recognized the importance of having relationships with other similarly minded conservation organizations, other Chapters, TU MA/RI Council, and State and Federal Agencies, and legislators. We knew early on with limited resources and small membership that to be effective we had to foster working relationships and partnerships with others who shared in our mission to make our watershed better.

Undoubtedly our spawning study has made a dramatic difference. This project was typical of who we are. We knew we had to prove spawning in the main stem. Despite beliefs to the contrary, and FERC repeated denials of MF&W and our requests for spawning studies, we decided we would just do it. And we had no idea how to do it or pay for it! In a couple months we figured it out, got out on the water….and then…wow. Now things are happening.

Our watershed is better as a result of all this rewarding hard work. To now be recognized by TU National is humbling and exciting at the same time. From a bunch of folks who got together just 8 years ago with hardly any idea of what it meant to be a TU Chapter, we have done well. And it is our members that have made the difference. We roll up our sleeves, figure it out, ask for help from others, and we just get it done. Yankee ingenuity and work ethic perhaps.

VP Mike Vito and I will be going to the TU Annual meeting in Redding, California on September 21 to receive this award. We are very excited to be appearing on behalf of our little Chapter that is making a huge difference.

The Deerfield River Watershed Chapter of Trout Unlimited was honored with the Golden Trout Award at the 2018 National Trout Unlimited Meeting.

Jim Gariepy Memorial Fly Fishing Tournament Results

The Jim Gariepy Memorial Fly Fishing Tournament was a big success.  Held over the weekend of June 2 & 3, 2018, we had 23 participants.  The weather was beautiful – almost to good for the fishing.  Everyone had a great time with great food and pleasant company.

The first place overall champ was young Jacob Gilbert, who also took first in the Junior Single Fly category.  In the Competitive Angling event, Eddie Esposito took the honors with Nikos Marmaras in second place.  The Senior Single Fly medal was awarded to Richard Quinn, who accomplished this feat at the ripe age of 79.

An honorable mention medal awarded to second place winners in all categories.
Jacob Gilbert Junior and Overall Single Fly Champ.
Young Jacob Gilbert took first place in the Junior Single Fly and had the greatest combined length of trout to win the overall Single Fly Competition.
Eddie Esposito at Pelham Brook.
Eddie Esposito, who took first place in the Competitive Angling event, fishes the beat at the Pelham Brook Confluence.
Nikos Marmaras chases a big rainbow downstream in the Pelham Brook Confluence beat. Nikos placed second in the competition event.
Nikos Marmaras, second place finisher in the Competitive Angling Event, holds the top raffle prize, an Orvis Encounter rod, reel, and flyline donated by Overwatch Outpost.
Randy Prostak and Bill Obear pause for a photo while marking one of the beats: Pepe’s Backyard, which turned out to be pivotal in determining the winner of the competition.

Co-Coordinator Horace Taft Ferguson cooked breakfast on the opening day of the tournament, and that was a big hit.

Volunteers who generously devoted many hours to the event included:

  • Randy Prostak
  • William Obear
  • Tomas Black
  • Sheila Kelliher
  • Dan Sachs
  • Jason Hooper
  • Kevin Kaminski
  • Sean Bresnihan

Thanks to sponsors who donated prizes for the raffle:

  • OverWatch Outpost
  • Swift River Fly Fishing (Rick Tofier)
  • The Deerfield Fly Shop
  • Berkshire Brewing Company (Sheila Kelliher)
  • Pheasant Tail Tours (Brian Lynch)
  • Walt Geryk, The Spey Doctor
  • Fish Tale Fabricators (Eric Halloran)
  • Patagonia
  • Costa Sunglasses

Thanks to Margie Carlson and the other members of Pepe’s family for being there and special thanks to Margie for for helping with the raffle.

And, of course, thanks to Jim ‘Pepe’ Gariepy for leading our chapter, organizing this event in the past, and inspiring many of us to live life passionately and fully.

Jim Gariepy Memorial Fly Fishing Tournament

Former DRWTU President, Jim Gariepy fishing in Charlemont, June 2017. (Photo Credit:

This year, the TU Chapter voted to change the name of the Single Fly event to honor former president Jim ‘Pepe’ Gariepy who passed away in December.  Jim was a powerful force in our chapter and he took responsibility to organize the Single Fly event over the past four years. Last year he was part of the winning team.

This year the event will be held on June 2 and 3 to coincide with free fishing weekend (no license required) in Massachusetts.  Even if you do not consider yourself a ‘competitive’ fly fisher, you should consider entering the event for several reasons:

  • The single fly aspect of the event removes the ever present impulse to change flies.  The impulse can be channeled into trying new ways to present your fly and exploring new locations on the Deerfield.  Your fly fishing skills will be challenged to improve if you actively participate in this event.
  • Guaranteed low flows on the Deerfield (weather permitting).
  • Comraderie:  There will be an opening breakfast Saturday and a closing cookout Sunday where you can share your love of fly fishing with like-minded individuals from all over.
  • Raffle Prizes:  we have already received pledges of rods, reels and other equipment and services from the Swift River Fly Fishing, Deerfield Fly Shop, Overwatch Outpost, Fish Tale Fabricators and more to come.  Everyone who enters the tournament gets one raffle ticket as part of their entry fee.

If you do consider yourself a ‘competitive’ fly fisher, the chapter is putting together a parallel competition on Sunday.  As part of the effort to honor Jim Gariepy, the chapter is integrating a new format for a more formal ‘tournament’ for the four top contenders in Saturday’s portion of the Single Fly.  These four will compete in two sessions on ‘beats’ on Sunday, while all other participants continue with the Single Fly.  Watch this space for more information about this exciting development.

Single Fly rules (for all participants Saturday and most participants Sunday)

  • Catch and release with barbless hooks and safe handling practices for caught fish.
  • Participants are limited to three exact copies of one fly for Saturday and three exact copies of one different fly for Sunday.
  • Participants follow the honor system for scoring fish – tape measures will be supplied.  Your team mate will be asked to confirm your tally.
  • Tournament hours to be announced.
  • Single barbless hook, no chemical scents.
  • Follow all MA fishing regulations.
  • Fishing from watercraft prohibited.

This is a fun event and many other fisher folk will be out for the weekend.  Please be respectful of others by maintaining reasonable space (30-50 feet) between anglers and practicing proper etiquette on the river.

Saturday Schedule:
7:00 AM Set-up; Pre-Registered Participants may obtain tournament materials
8:00 AM Single Fly Saturday Officially begins
8:00 – 9:00 AM Breakfast
8:00 – 11:00 AM Registration open
9:00 AM Spey Day (Also at the Zoar Picnic Grounds) begins
9:00 PM Single Fly Saturday Officially Ends
9:00 – 10:00 PM Submit tallies for the day to enter Competitive Event

Sunday Schedule:
5:00 AM Single Fly Sunday begins
8:00 AM Four Anglers meet at Shunpike to prepare for Competitive Event
8:30 – 11:30 AM Competitive Anglers’ Session 1 at four beats
11:30 – 1:00 PM Competitive Anglers break for lunch
1:00 – 4:00 PM Competitive Anglers’s Session 2 at four beats
4:30 PM Single Fly Sunday Officially ends
5:00 Closing Cookout at Zoar Picnic Grounds
5:15 PM Deadline for submission of Single Fly Tally Sheets (at Zoar Picnic Grounds)
5:45 PM Awards and Honorable Mentions; Raffle
6:00 PM Closing and clean-up

Entry Fees:
TU Members: $25.00
Non-Members: $35.00
Special for Non-Members One Year TU Membership: $17.50 (Entry & Membership $42.50)

Click Here to sign-up for the Tournament.
Click Here for the brochure.

Deerfield River Spawning Study

The DRWTU is in the process of conducting a scientific study to document the spawning activity of trout on the Deerfield River.  This is the first spawning study on the mainstem of the Deerfield.  DRWTU engaged Dr. Michael Cole of Cole Ecological, Inc to coordinate the study. Volunteers from among the members of the DRWTU chapter have been trained to take part in the study and thus far have collected the data on fall spawning activity in the Deerfield. Preliminary results confirm that brown trout and rainbow trout are actively spawning on the mainstem of the Deerfield.  Observations indicate that survival of eggs in the redds (spawning beds) is negatively impacted by the hydropeaking activities practiced by the power company controlling the dam at Fife Brook.  DRWTU has requested that the Federal Energy Resource Commission (FERC) require a comprehensive study of the ecological impact of hydropeaking before renewing the license for operation of the dam to the power company.  The DRWTU has received donations from Thomas and Thomas, the Deerfield Fly Shop, Swift River Fly Fishing, and individual chapter members in the amount of $7,854 towards the study.  As a result of this funding combined with substantial hours of volunteer time on the river, DRWTU is drawing national attention to the Deerfield and the natural reproduction of her trout population.  Anyone who would like to donate can do so through the link on our web page.  Anyone who would like to participate can attend DRWTU chapter meetings on the third Thursday of the month or contact DRWTU though the contact link on our website.

DRWTU members conduct spawning survey on the Deerfield River.

February Fly of the Month: North Country Spider

Thanks to John Shaner for graciously providing an instructional article for tying and fishing North Country Spider flies.  These wingless wet flies are relatively easy to tie and are almost guaranteed to provide exciting times on the river.  There is nothing like the adrenalin rush of a hard take on a wet fly very often accompanied by a simultaneous explosion at the surface.

Click below to access John Shaner’s comprehensive guide.

Spider Fly Resources 2017 Updated-PK2