Three years ago, when I moved to the Boston area from Colorado, I had a pretty negative outlook on trout fishing in the area. I had just spent two years getting spoiled on wild fish out west, and I was sure that nothing on the east coast could measure up. The striped bass, I told myself, would be the only saving grace. I could not have been more mistaken. I was quickly introduced to Eric Gass of GS Outfitting, and Dan Harrison of Harrison Anglers by some buddies in the know. These operations are the “OGs” of guided float trips in the Berkshires, and these guys are dialed. They’ve got the fishery down to a science, and by floating larger tough-to-access water they provide an opportunity for anglers from the Boston and New York metro areas to tangle with some downright badass wild salmo-trutta. Along with the storied wild browns, the Berkshires also provide access to beautiful native brook trout and wild rainbows. My girlfriend Liz and I recently spent a day on the ****** River with Eric, landing a bunch of quality fish and shooting the breeze. Read on for a few choice photos and an interview with the man himself. To keep up with Gass’s life on the river, be sure to follow him on Instagram.
JH: Where are you from?
EG: I’m from South Deerfield, a small town in Western Massachusetts.
JH: When did you start fly fishing?
EG: I started Fly Fishing at age 6, catching bluegills at my family’s lakehouse.
JH: What other sports have played a big role in your life? How do they compare to fly fishing?
EG: Hockey. I’ve played since I was young, and played through college. Comparing hockey to fly fishing: the biggest similarity for success in both is persistence. Just keep grinding and improving and good things will happen in both.
JH: How long have you been guiding for? How did you get into it?
EG: I’ve been guiding full time for 7 years, and 4 years before that part time. Passion for the sport, the fish, the places and people got me into guiding. I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing before (accounting), so I followed my passion and love for fly fishing and hunting into a guiding business.
JH: What makes the Berkshires/Western MA fishery so special?
EG: In two words: versatility and proximity. The options are endless and we’re so close to two major metropolitan areas being Boston and New York city. The versatility of the western Mass fishery is incredible, we could go catch 24″ wild brown trout in the morning, pike at mid-day and back to native brook trout rising in the evening, we have so many great experiences at our fingertips and it’s all accessible by a short drive.
JH: Favorite beverage after a long day of wheeling fish?
EG: The Hurricane. Guide creation: Gatorade, Red Bull, Grey Goose.
There you have it. If you’re looking to chase big wild trout within an easy drive from NYC or Boston, Eric Gass at GS Outfitting is your man. See below for a few more shots from the day.