Written by: Geoffrey Klane
[Editor’s Note: Geoffrey Klane submitted a bunch of photos for last month’s “20 September Days” Contest, but his looked much different from the rest, as they were shot in the heart of Lowell, Massachusetts. I asked Geoffrey to write something up that would capture the flavor of this fishery, which he seems to have all to himself.]
I first picked up a fly rod in the early spring of 2015. I had fished on and off for years, and something about fly fishing intrigued me. The sport placed particular emphasis on strategizing and developing a skill set, all while enjoying and learning to respect the exquisite beauty in the nature around us.
For most, nature is not immediately around us. We travel anywhere from twenty minutes to twenty hours to get to where the fish are. But this is not always necessary. In particular, I am lucky to be in Lowell, Massachusetts. Looking at the city from one of the highway exits, one would certainly not see a vibrant urban fishery, more a thriving metropolis. Like other Massachusetts cities that feature well known waters–Worcester with Lake Quinsigamond, Northhampton with the Connecticut River, and Boston with the Charles and Mystic Rivers–Lowell has a great many fishing opportunities: the Concord and Merrimack Rivers and, most important of all, the city’s canals.
The Lowell canal system is not only a viable fishery, but it’s a part of history, as well. Going back to the mid-nineteenth century, Pawtucket Falls on the Merrimack River provided an excellent power source for the textile factories that were springing up left and right. With the advent of these new factories came the desire for more factories and workers to fill them. To provide power and transportation of goods, a canal system was dug.
In my brief time fishing in Lowell, I have found the canals to be a rich fishery teeming with life. With a variety of locations on different parts of the canals, I get out every day to one area or another before or after work and hook into fish for hours at a time. As for species, I have seen in the water, there are all sizes of: smallmouth and largemouth bass, perch, panfish (sunfish and bluegills), and carp. All these fish are catchable from assorted points around the city; it’s just a matter of how much walking you feel like doing.
For gear, I most often use my 4-weight with a floating line and a 7- to 4X leader of between 6.5 and 9 feet. This setup has proved perfect for everything from the small fry to the more sizable largemouth.
Upon selecting a spot, I am approached with an interesting challenge: people. When you’re up on a mountain stream or down on the shore, the aim is often to have a riffle, run, or pool to yourself, enjoying the peace and quiet. Lowell being the city that it is, I am often approached by people who walk by and notice my strange behavior. They always ask what it is that I am doing, and I get the pleasure of talking to someone new about the joys of fly-fishing. Most have either never heard of fly-fishing, or at the very least, have never seen a fly fisher in Lowell. They ask what I catch, if anything, and generally, all are surprised when I list off the variety of fish I catch–even more surprised if I manage to pull something up while they are standing there.
There is something truly special about the fishing experience that I get from being in Lowell, and I only look forward to exploring it further. Don’t worry: I’ll report back as I discover more!
Geoffrey Klane lives, works, and fishes in Lowell, Massachusetts. When he’s not plying the city’s canals, he works as a producer/assistant director/aerial videographer at Lowell telecommunications Corp.