The Swift, which many may consider the east branch, is dawn from approximately 70' below the surface of the Quabbin Reservoir and discharges near the base of Windsor Dam and boils up to what is know to locals as the "Bubbler." From this point downstream to Rte 9, the Swift is an outstanding Catch and Release - fly fishing only, tail water fishery. Cold water from the Quabbin, with seasonal temperatures ranging from 37 to 61 degrees, allow this river to be an excellent year-round trout fishery.
It is well stocked with rainbows with some nice brook and brown trout in the mix. You might also find a few landlocked salmon in the Swift, which may have been washed over the spillway. Trout in the 16-18 inch category are not uncommon. By mid summer all trout are very well educated and become more difficult to catch. The immediate area at the "Y" Pool, is one of a few spots where dry fly fishing can be had year 'round. You will find many fly fishers here, willing to share what fly, size and techniques they are using if you are having difficulties.
This area and beyond the Rte. 9 Bridge, gin-clear water is the norm with shallow flat pools, joined by riffles, and runs that lead into a few deeper pools. The first large pool below the dam is led by a shallow gravely riffle flowing into it. This pool is known to locals as the "Y" pool, as you can see by its shape. Along with many fly fishers, some accompanied by local guides, you can find many large fish cruising the pool and the bouldery and backwaters of the spillway section. Fishing here can surprisingly produce a picture perfect trout, found feeding on the edges of the far banks.
Downstream from the pool's end, the Swift continues and wanders through the cover of the forest with the bottom turning siltier. With limited gravely runs to be seen, trout are found here in abundance throughout the year and are very noticeable in the heat of the summer. If you walk up from the Rte 9 Bridge during this time, it is a great way to get out of the heat and to enjoy the solitude of the area. This tranquil setting is usually broken up by the slurping sounds of trout devouring caddis, deer crossing your path, or fly fishers enjoying making their "perfect" cast. During the heat of the summer, you can get away with a short sleeved shirt during the day, but make sure you pack a sweat shirt for the evenings when the sun sets over the horizon, it can get pretty cool here.
From the Rte. 9 Bridge to Cady Lane, the catch and release fly fishing only regulations change from July 1 to December 31. Catch and release, artificial flies and lures only, open the Swift up to conventional tackle during this time. The characteristics of the river remain much the same as the areas above the bridge, with the inclusion of deeper and slower pools which will eventually turn into "jungle style" fishing. Few fly fishers can be found in this area because of the lack of casting room. This area is popular for the spin fisher and with the available boat launch, you will see canoes and small rowboats well below the Rte 9 Bridge. Holdover, a few wild, and annually-stocked trout abound in this area as well as regularly stocked fish from the state hatchery that is located downstream.
For the most part, the Swift River is lined with trees that provide shade. The section below the bridge is accessible from Route 9 and the roads bordering the river. To enter the area know as the "Bubbler", you can walk up from Rte 9, with a shorter way through the Quabbin Reservoir main gate. This will take you by the visitor's center, where many of your questions can be answered. As you cross the dam and take an immediate right, you will end at a parking lot and picnic area. Once there, you can see the small power plant with the "Bubbler" just below it.
This is a great area to cure cabin fever during the winter months, practice new techniques and maybe even meet some nice people who are doing the same. If you decide to spend a day or two on the Swift River, there is beautiful site seeing in the watershed and picnicking areas for the family. Just 10 minutes west from the main gate on Rte 9 is the Town of Belchertown. Here you can find snacks, sandwiches, and fast foods as well as tackle shops to answer any questions you may have.