2002 ORVIS Freshwater Guide of the Year

Peter Basta Guide Service and Outfitter

Guided Fly Fishing
On Stream Instruction
Special Travel Fishing Trips
Orvis Endosed Fly-fishing Guide

Fishing the Mettowee Guide Peter Basta with Black River Steelhead Big River, Labrador
Vermont & New York Muskegon River, MI Labrador

June 15th, 2015
Small water in the rain.

I just  got all my gear in near the heater in my office to dry out. A nice steady rain and water conditions on small water were excellent !

This is a big change  from the last 2 reports where there was virtually no rain in all of April and May. It was at the end of May that we got our first significant rain, raising water levels on all area streams. Other rain events on the 10th and 14th. of June have brought levels up into the normal range for mid-June.  Also the rains have been steady and not gully washers.  Water temps. remain in the upper 50's and low 60's. This is what we have been waiting for!!!

Fshing has improved as well due to better conditions and in the case of our stocked fisheries most fish are in their streams and ponds.   Small water is getting going but I have noticed that a lot of the fish we are catching are 1 and some 2 year olds, very few fish above 8 " in length.  The Walloomsac in Bennington just got stocked with yearling fish and the "Trophy Stretch" has received its second stocking.  There has definately been more people on the  "Special" stretch.  Somedays its hard to find a spot if down in the Henry's Bridge to River Rd. area!!!  With the better water conditions I have been doing well on the NY side of the Batten Kill  and now the Mettawee ( NY.)

With respect to hatches, I feel that with a few exceptions, hatches have been very sporadic overall where I have been fishing. One exception was on the 31st. of May when on a small water target we had a small flush hatch of Light Cahills, lots of bugs and fish feeding on top. Unfortunately I don't have a handle on spinner-falls because I have not been out yet toward night fall.

Thats about all I have at this time and hope to see you on the streams this season,

Tight Lines,

Peter Basta

May 20th, 2015
Scallop Drive, Dorset, VT

Today is a break day to do yard work and regear for the next number of guides going forward toward the Memorial Day weekend. What a strange spring weather wise. Since back in April we have had "Blue Bird" weather. Clear cloudless days, warmer than normal temperatures, and no rain at all since early April!!!!  In looking at the flow levels for my area streams you can see there was no rain because flows have been steadily getting lower through this period.  Using the Walloomsac as an example, in late April the flows were near 1000 CFS as snow melt was proceeding (late for this year by 3 weeks) and then you can see the slow steady drop to current levels of under 100 CFS.  This low flow is similiar to what we have in mid-summer!!!  All other area streams show the same conditions. In all the years of my guiding I have never seen such low waters at this time of year.  Where is the rain???

Anyways, I have been able to fish the bigger sections of our largest watershed the Batten Kill in NY and the same for the Walloomsac in NY. Most times at this time of year the waters are too high, but not this year. The Hendrickson hatch has been fair to good but with the bright, warm weather and low water fish are very selective due to these conditions.  I have been also targeting the Black River and the Walloomsac in the "Trophy Trout" sections and doing fairly well since both watersheds have received their initial stocking of 2 year olds. With these bigger stocked fish (15"-18") Copper Johns, egg patterns and stripping Buggars have all been effective.  The crowds have been a little bigger than usual, this I'm sure due to the beautiful weather.  Small water targets, which I focus on starting around now  (later May) have all been to low to effectively fished. In scouting I am getting very little action due to these conditions.  Lastly, NY is starting its stocking on the Kill, Mettawee, and the Walloomsac.  That should improve the fishing for sections which are stocked.

Thats all I have to report at this time, do hope we get some significant rain events to change from these low water conditions of present.

Tight Lines,

Peter Basta

April 28th., 2015
Former Dufrense Pond

East Branch Batten Kill

Just finished my first group of trips for the 2015 season. Its a warm spring day, temps. in 70's and a blue bird sky. While our season in Vt opens the second Saturday in April, I usually don't begin to guide till on or about now. Our fly-fishing can be iffy in April unless its an unusually warm and early spring.  NOT SO THIS YEAR.  Since my opening comments at the end of March, spring was very slow to come, not getting warm enough to start snow-melt till around the 12th.of April. Thats 3-4 weeks later than normal.  Looking at area stream levels for the month of April, you could clearly see the days where snow-melt occured. April 4th, saw the first period of snow -melt, then cold weather below freezing until the  April 12th.,25th.  where most of the high water occured. Using the Batten Kill as an example flows were 5-600 CFS pre-snow melt, then woould quickly bump to 2500 to 3000 on the warm melt days. The last of the snow melt occurred on or about the 25th.  All during the month, we had vitually no rain at all!!  Very unusual.

Now as we are at the end of the month all the area River systems are at low  levels due to the lack of rain. Water temps are still in mid-40's in the morning and beginning to approach 50' F during the heat of  day.  Today on the Walloomsac I just started seeing the first Hendricksons and Blue Quills. Mostly Duns and no spinners yet.  Water levels today were just over 200 CFS and very clear.

Due to the cold late seasson to date, needless to say the fishing has been quite slow.  I have had limited success on small water where Brook Trout are present and only in the afternoon.  The kill has been fishing poorly and I have only found a few holdover fish on the Walloomsac from last years Trophy Stocking stretch on the lower River.  The weathr over the next week or two will be warmer and dry, that should get the bugs going and the fish as well.

Most of the stocking in VT has been on the ponds and Lake systems. Very little stream stocking has been done to date. The first week of May will see the start of the stocking for the 3 Trophy Trout sections of our area streams.  Otter Creek, the Black, and the Walloomsac should get their first fish of the season. Will keep you updated as we get into May.

Thats about all I have at this time.  You should by now have all your gear ready and early season patterns in your fly boxes ready to go.  Our fishing season is finally here.

Tight Lines,

Peter Basta
March 30th, 2015

Pre-season report and news.
Dorset, VT

I can remember how cold winter was last year, (2013-2014) and this year was even colder!!!  That combined with more snow and what a winter.  As I write this, it is still going on and the spring thaw has had just fits and attempted starts.  Enough is enough !! I'm so sick of stoking the wood stove, stacking wood or chopping kindling. The late March sun is getting strong, so when its out it has had a positive effect.

This spring I feel will be  a late one with the cold slowing down the timing of our early season hatches, namely Hendricksons and Blue Quills. Water temps. need to consistently rise to the mid- upper forties before hatches begin.  That is still a ways off.  We haven't even started the big snow pack melt and the ground is still quite frozen.  Consider the last week in April till first week of May for things to get going fishing wise.

Usually at this time I am in Michigan just starting my season in pursuit of Steelhead. Due to a decrease in work with the Outfitter I work for and my own clients not wanting to go, I made a decision ot take a pass this year. I will stay at my winter jobs till mid- April when  the ski areas close.  I will be actively taking trips from the last week in April which is earier than years past. I look forward to fishing those early hatches. I usually miss them because their timing has coincided with my Steelhead part of my business.

Thats all I have at this time. Will keep you posted as the spring thaw progresses. Start working on your gear and get set for the upcoming year.

Tight Lines,

Peter Basta

June 18th, 2014
Lilly Hill Rd, Flower Brook

 I had a last minute cancellation so I was able to take today and do some scouting and fishing myself.  As an  overview since the last week of May when I filed my last report, the conditions (water levels and temps.) have continued to improve resulting in good to excellent fishing. Rain events every 5-7 days, cool to normal air temps, and water temperatures that are still in the upper 50's. Hatches continue to be a little late in their timing but are appearing in the normal order of things. Stocked fisheries continue to fish very well and my small water targets, which were slow earlier, are now fishing excellent!

In more detail in looking at my notes and flow data from USGS, the water levels this year to date have been great. Overall flows are slightly above normal but not too high to have to cancel trips on a particular day. Rain events on or about the 5th,14th, and today  for example all are keeping many of my options open as to where to go.  Also our water temps. are excellent for this time of year and does bode well as we go into July. 

Hatches, which seem to be a little late  due to timing are still showing numbers of bugs overall to be down. This pattern does seem to be the norm ever since Hurricane Irene in the fall of 2011. I am seeing the last of the bigger Light Cahills (Ephemerella rotunda),
Sulfurs (Ephemerella dorothea) and March Browns (Stenonema fuscum). This year I am seeing a lot more Yellow Sallies stonflies (family Chloroperlidae),an  excellent pattern for my small water targets. Tan and brown Caddis are more plentiful than the Mayflies, which is normal for us.  Still most of our hatches are sporadic and intermittent. I have done little guiding for the evening/dusk periods so I don't have a handle on spinner falls at dark.

The stocked fisheries I am focusing on are all fishing well given our conditions. The Batten Kill and Mettawee in NY are good and even the Black continues to fish excellent even this late in June!  The Walloomsac has a new "Special Fishing Reg." section with the stocking of large 2 year old fish. As I thought would happen because of the social history of Bennington, my observation is that it was a "blood bath" for the period right after they stocked on June 4th. I observed alot of anglers taking more than their 2 fish limit, very poor handling of fish to be released and poor stream ettiquette as to giving my guests space to fish. What suprised me most was there was NO Game Wardens patroling that section right after they stocked. I haven't seen a warden on the Walloomsac all season!  Too bad cause they could of written  many tickets.

Thats all I have at this time. As I started out at the beginning of this report, I got to fish today myself on Flower Brook and had excellent dry fly fishing using a Yellow Sally or tan Caddis. Rainbows and some Brook Trout are what I caught. Beautiful wild "Gems" of fish, 3 year classes and in excellent shape. As I sit here stream side in the evening I am seeing the air above the stream filled with Yellow Sallies (females) getting ready to drop and lay eggs on the riffles near me, what a great sight to a great day.

Tight Lines,

Peter Basta

May 23rd., Walloomsac River,NY
Just finished up a three day guide with 2 guys who have become good friends over the many years we have fished together. We had a great three days and some good fishing!  This report will cover the end of my Steelhead guiding on the Muskegon and how I have found the start of my guiding in Vermont and  NY.

Since my last Steelhead report the fishing continued to remain excellent till I left for Vermont on May 9th.  Water levels were in the 4500-4000 CFS range and water temps. slowly rose through the upper 40's. These conditions combined with the river still having a stain  (visability under 4 ft.), made for excellent conditions for Steelhead on gravel.  We couldn't see the fish and they could not see us. The fish were not spooky and were quite aggressive to take the fly. If you knew where to set up on the gravel you found fish. 4-7 hook-ups per fisherman per day were the norm and some days better!

It was a great way to end the season given the bad start with the flood on April 13th and the conditions that followed. I finished my trips on the 7th of May and packed up and headed home on the 9th. That was a drive I was looking forward to!

Vermont Early Season

When I arrived in Vermont and started scouting for my trips that were starting  about mid-month, everthing seemed a little behind.  Clearly the spring was late. Water levels, river temp., and hatches seemed behind  by a couple of weeks. Now as we get to the later part of the month things are beginning to catch up.  The warmer day time temperatures have been a major factor in getting the things going.

Water levels earlier in the month were good in most watersheds I target. However we got a significant rain event on the 17th which had most streams blown out on the 18th of May. The Walloomsac and the Mettawee dropped quickly but the Batten Kill stayed high and was un-fishable for quite a few days. Rain events on the 24th and 28th made for high water conditions on the Black, Mettawee and the Kill, but the Walloomsac remained fishable through that perid. Our water temps which were in the high 40's and low 50's  in mid month are finally approaching the low 60's now. The warmer temps. are getting the hatches going.

As for hatches, they too have been behind by a week or so.  They also seem sporadic, the exception seems t be just recently where I am seeing good numbers of Caddis hatching in late afternoon on the Walloomsac and Mettawee rivers in NY.  I just saw my first March Brown today so things are getting better in the hatch department.  I have spent so little time on the Kill (due to water conditions) I don't have a sense of fishing and bugs. Will get a better handle on that in the next week when I will be fishing there more.

As for my stocked fisheries.  When I got over to Black on the 22nd., I found the fishing excellent and the crowds not too bad. They stocked the new Trophy section  of the Walloomsac on May 1st with 500 2 year olds. I have found some of them but there definately is increased angler pressure especially around the Henry Bridge area. The Kill in NY has been stocked, so to has the Mettawee in the Granville area.

Thats all I have to cover at this time. Will report back the first week in  June with how things are looking.

Tight Lines,

Peter Basta
May 1st, Muskegon River, MI
Alot has happened since the last report. The flood  started  to subside and river went below flood stage on Tuesday April 22nd. when the river was reopened for boat traffic. Flows then were in the 7,000 CFS range and slowly dropping to where they are now in the 4,500-4,100 CFS range. Water was muddy for close to a week, and even now there is a stain with only 4 ft. visability. Water temps are now holding steady in upper 40's.

So how is the fishing?  To put it simply, GREAT! The high dirty water brought the fish in and mixed with those already here over the winter. These conditions are excellent for the Muskegon.    Started guiding on April 25th and busy till my last trip on the 6th. Fish are taking the usual spring patterns. Nuc- and otter eggs. Black Stones, Copper Buggers, paar and smolt patterns, and egg sucking leaches. Dirty water means stout leaders to 1x. Less break offs and quicker play on the fish to revive properly.

This is a strong end to a season that once again included a flood and loss of business, this is the third year w'eve been flooded out Steelhead season. What are the odds??? I will be packing up and leaving for Vermont on May 9th and starting my season to guide May 11th.  I can't wait to get home, I do so miss my family.

As for the Vermont season, in watching weather, river flows, and talking with anglers, it appears Vermont flyfishing is off to a late start. This should be peak Hendrickson time but with the cold temps. and higher than normal flows it is just getting started. The Batten Kill is over 1,100 CFS so only the upper part is at a fishable height. The Walloomsac has been betwee 800-250 CFS, the lower value is a fishable height. This upcoming week, it will be getting warmer and I suspect the hatches should really begin. I will be getting home when things will be starting to get good, good timing with Michigan and my Steelhead season.

Thats all I have to report at this time. I have Monday off and will  fish myself for a few hours. I will let you know how I do!

Tight Lines,

April 17, 2014
Muskegon River, Michigan

Well this is not a fishing report I really want to post. We are in a catastrophic flooding situation when thunderstorms and rain dumped 3-5 inches of precipitaion over a 24-36 hour period.The river went from 5800 CFS and at the height of flood went to over 15,000 + CFS!!!! The river rose over 6 ft. Needless to say there is no guiding, the river is closed till around the 22nd-23rd of April. I keep my boat docked on the river but got it out as waters were rising. Unfortunately the Outfitter I work with lost his boat to the flood when it let go from his dock or was hit by a floating tree. As of today the river is no where at a level where we could launch and look for it. Luckily no one was hurt. Unfortunately 250+ homes in the basin were flooded and a few destroyed. Interestingly enough the fishing was starting to get good, when I did my last trip on Sunday April 13th.

Not much else to report at this time, just sitting, tying flies, and counting the days when I can get home to my family.

As for back in Vermont, the spring is slow in coming and though the season opened Saturday, the 12th of April there  is little or no opportunities for fly hatches till things get a little warmer. No river stocking at this time, only several ponds close to Bennington (Lake Paran, Prentis pond).
River levels have been going up and down dependent on snow melt and some rain events. I will keep you posted as things change both here and in Vermont.

Tight Lines,

Peter Basta

Pre-Season Report April 7th,2014 

 Muskegon River, MI

Greetings from Michigan ! Arrived here yestrday for the start of 2014 guiding season.  In most years I am already guiding by the last week of March but this is not like past years. An abnormaly cold and snowy winter for the mid-west and east has resulted in a late spring. My first trip for the season is tomorrow, April 9th. Snow melt is still occuring and water levels are high, 6000 CFS and river temps are 35-36'F. Thats cold for the first week of April! I have been told that there are fish in the river and are holding in the traditional winter lies. Big deep slow moving pools are the best bet. There has been  only a fair amount of pressure on the river as of this time, very little winter fishing due to the extreme cold. Alot of spin and fly anglers have focused on egg patterns for offerings, but i am hearing better patterns are more toward the naturals rather than eggs. Best fishing times have been in the early afternoons. We will give you a better report once I have been on the river a few days. 
As for what to expect for our season in Vermont, again the hard winter gave us a lot of snow and very cold temperatures. Our snow melt is occuring now and luckily its going slow with temps. in the 50's during day and just dipping below freezing at night. So far its going slowly and thats good. I will be arriving from MI to start guiding on the 10th of May, later than normal but keeping with the start of this later season. I do think it should be a good with the snow melt and plenty of water to carry us into June. I think we will find the traditional Hendricksons to be later this year and the hatch might occur during high water which will limit angler chances. Its too early to tell at this point.
From the Vermont Fish & Wildlfe Dept, new this year is the expansion of the Trophy Trout program to include the Walloomsac River in Bennington,VT. It, like the Black River in Cavendish and other streams will be stocked with larger 2 year old fish, have a 2 fish limit and will have the regulation  in  affect for the regular Trout Season.  I have mixed feelings about it. On the positive side it offers more opportunity to catch larger stocked fish.  On the negative side I feel the increased angling pressure, and the fact that many anglers who historically fish here have a big "Harvest mentality" and limited stocking points and some areas with limited access can spell some real angler conflicts upcoming. Don't know if this is going to happen, it will be a "wait and see what happens" kind of answer.In addition this section does have large wild trout as well and I feel they will be impacted more now than in the past, again wait and see....
Thats all I have at this time . Will update this report in a few days when I have been on the River for a while.

Tight Lines,

Peter Basta

August 24th, 2013
Since my last report in early July the weather has changed from the record precipitation of June to hot and dry as we got into the remander  of July and August. We saw a heat spell from the 6th of July till around the 15th, daily temps. were in the 90's and it only cooled  to high 60's at night. This could have been disasterous for our wild trout fisheries except we had high cool flows on alot of our watersheds during that time. Even in the height of the heat, I was getting water temps in upper fifties and low 60's. Fished stayed spread out in both small water streams and on our bigger flowages. Where it seemed we were getting rain every day in June, rain events were spread out in 2-3 week intervals for July and August. This resulted in waters getting lower and lower till we are at very low levels as I write this.

In July our bug hatches were in that mid-summer transition from evenings to mornings. While I mentioned in other reports, I thought the hatches in June and early July were down, I still feel that way but it is based on my own observations. Please remember as a guide, I don't often guide till near dark due to logistics and consideration of my guests time constraints. I'm sure I missed some great evening hatches and spinner falls, but it is hard to guide for such a small window of good fishing time. Bugs I have been seeing include several species of Caddis in 14-16 range, a few of the larger BWO's (size 16) and some smaller Sulfurs (size 18-20). As we got to the end of July I was anxious when and how strong the Trico hatch would be this year. Last year I thought it was very weak on the Kill and fair to good on the Mettawee drainage. I saw the first spinners  on the Walloomsac on the 31st of July and finally good numbers as we got to mid-August for the Batten Kill and the Mettawee. The Trico's are almost non-existant on the Walloomsac again this year. While there are a few places were there are some, the changed habitat post-Irene has negatively impacted this hatch on this watershed. This year I thought the spinner #s were very good on the Mettawee and still not what it should be on the Batten Kill. I feel after fishing this river for many years the Trico hatch on the Kill is getting smaller and steadily moving upriver. 15-20 years ago we had great spinner falls in the trophy stretch in NY and all up along rte 313 upstream through Arlington to Manchester. Now you have to go upriver of Arlington to find significant #'s. Again, time will tell how this plays out.

That about it for this time.  Look forward to seeing you a-stream and till the next report,

Tight Lines,

Peter Basta

Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Guide Service Established 1986
Orvis Endorsed Guide
Licensed in NY and MI
All Equipment Provided
Gray Drake Lodge and Fishing Outfitter Hyde Drift Boats


Box 540  ·  Dorset, Vermont 05251
8 0 2 - 8 6 7 - 4 1 0 3

Rainbow Trout

Web Design by KatSandogz
Hosting by VTweb.com