Uptonís Hidden Treasure
by Craig Weinfuss

Oh That Hazeltine - Upton's Colorful Resident

    "You know, I've fished the Swift, Fife Brook, the Westfield and the Farmington - all the major trout streams in Western Mass, but I really wish there was a stream to fish in my local area," I said to Jim Bender, the owner of The Lower Forty fly shop in Worcester.
"Where abouts is home?" Jim asked.
"Upton, Mass. - a small town most people haven't heard of." 
"Have you tried the West?"
"The West - is that by me?"
"The West? It's in Upton."

    The West River humbly meanders through some of Upton's last surviving woodlands. It can be accessed from West River Street and the bridge on Pleasant Street near Nipmuc High School. It is stocked by the Massachusetts Wildlife and Fisheries Department with approximately 400 trout at 9 different locations along the river including the Pleasant St., West Hill River Dam, Glenn Ave and Warren Brook bridges. Jeff LeClaire, owner of Fin and Feather Sports in Upton center, also stocks 10 tagged rainbow trout in conjunction with MassWildlife's Tag's N Trout program. If you catch one of these special trout, LeClaire offers a range of fishing related prizes. Although the West isn't stocked as much as other renowned Mass rivers such as the Swift, trout certainly are caught with patience and persistence. I've met many fishermen who journey all the way from Worcester just to fish these secluded waters. 

    Johnny Martin, an Uptonite since 1941, reminisces back to the days when he caught upwards of 10 trout in a single outing on the West; yet, in those days, he was also hunting bobcat in his back yard and proudly showed me the pictures to prove it. "Times have changed," says Johnny, "The increase of housing developments puts a heavy strain on the river. Upton used to be one of the best game towns before entering the Boston area - not so any more."

Although times have changed, an outing to the West is a great way to unwind after a busy day. It brings you back to the pastoral Upton with woods surrounding you on all sides and waterfalls trickling through old stone wall ruins.

    This setting, free from the all-too-common eye sores of encroaching housing developments, provides an opportunity to enjoy a tranquil environment while also keeping an eye out for rises. So if solitude is what you're after the West will not disappoint you because it's highly unlikely a fellow fisherman will be crowding your hole. 
    The West offers all the major hatches of a New England trout stream and if you are a daring soul, there is a magnificent night hatch of hellgrammite that the trout go mad over. During the day, woolly buggers work well by imitating the abundant Cray fish seen darting from rock to rock with a careful eye. As far as dry flies, the white may fly pattern is a favorite during this time of year. 
    Whether you are interested in fishing it day or night - now is the time! Towards the middle of summer, the fishing slows up because of rising water temperature. Lake Wildwood's top-flowing dam warms the water quickly in the summer months which makes trout survival difficult. You may, however, find good summer fishing in deeper holes with cooler water.
Another section of the West worth trying is the West Hill Dam area. Don Arthur has caught some lovely brookies at the base of the dam on Humpys, a pattern found at Fin and Feather sports. According to Mr. Arthur, trout can be caught below the dam because this is a prime spot for both food and increased oxygen levels. But if you do fish the dam be careful because there is a steep incline and the embankment may be slippery.
    If the West doesn't suit your needs and you're up for a bit of a drive, the Quinnapoxet (the Quinnie) flowing from the bottom-fed dam of the Wachusett Reservoir is a secluded river that offers excellent trout fishing throughout the entire season. The Quinnie has all three major trout - brown, brook and rainbow - and is well stocked. If you go, drive three miles up River Road in Boylston -Oakham and park next to the Quinnapoxet Falls Farm Stables. After walking over a bridge along the foot path keep your eyes peeled for an inconspicuous trail on your left. There you'll find a secret rainbow pool known only to my fishing partner, Mr. Jeff Wolf-Jeworski, and myself.

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