Fishing the Fens

For the Boston bound angler, Fenway’s Muddy River offers technical fishing for large and wary carp on the fly. Whether driving, walking, biking, or hopping aboard the T, Boston’s carp waters are easy to access, plentiful, and a whole lot of fun. 


Where to Go:

The Muddy River: The Muddy River consists of a series of interconnected brooks and ponds running from Jamaica Pond all the way down to the Boston Fens and Charles River. Much of the system runs through a series of parks, collectively known as the Emerald Necklace. 


The Green and Orange lines provide access to the best sections of the river. The Green line D train stops of Longwood and Fenway are both excellent starting points. Longwood has meter parking across the street from the station for those who choose to drive. Walk up river from Fenway and down from Longwood, and keep your eyes peeled. 


Although some sections are choked by bank-side brush, there are also plenty of breaks and open banks with enough room for a back cast, albeit into a narrow window. Just be sure to look behind you before casting . . . the bike and pedestrian paths stay close to the river and you don’t want to hook a jogger, biker, or out-of-town Red Sox fan. 


What to use:



5wt or 6wt



Floating line with 4X or 3X tippet usually does the trick. Generally speaking, there is no need to go down to 5X. If you are worried about breaking off a big one, using 10lb test can provide extra assurance. As its name suggests, the river is . . . well . . . muddy, so no need to fret over fish spotting your tippet.



Your best bet is to identify feeding fish and make a delicate presentation. You will find fish out in the middle of wider sections of the river, but for the most part, they stay close to the banks, rooting around for grub and waiting for falling berries, more on that later. These carp are choosy and spooky at times, so make you cast count. Prospecting could work if water is high, trash-filled, and has extremely low visibility. Try drifting nymphs with a strike indicator in the narrower sections of the river in these cases.




Wooly Bugger:

Black is always a great color, though don’t be afraid to experiment if your offering is not peaking a fish’s interest. Keep it relatively small by wooly bugger standards and be sure to lead your fish. I have found that slow, long strips work best. Make your cast and slowly strip that wooly bugger into your target’s path. Don’t be afraid to pause the fly for a second before giving it a quick twitch if a fish is hovering but not committing.


An important note: ALWAYS STAY CONNECTED!! The takes can be pretty subtle, so make sure you stay tight to your fly.


Hairs Ear Nymph / Scud:

Nymphs can be tricky because it is hard to detect a take and using a strike indicator can make a stealthy cast tough. That being said, there is insect life in the river and nymphs can work. There are some narrow, slow-moving sections of the river where casting upstream and drifting a nymph to a holding carp is your best bet.



It’s a carp fishing classic. Huckleberries line the bank of the muddy river and carp will wait for berries knocked loose by birds, wind. I’ve also seen carp nosing low-lying branches along banks. Dark colored egg patterns will work, but the key here, again, is to experiment. I know we just said to make sure your presentations are delicate, but, in this case, a delicate presentation could mean plopping that fly on the water like it fell from a tree. Huckleberries fall where they will, so if you land one right on a fish’s nose, it won’t look too unnatural. Additionally, you could cast ahead of a fish rooting along a bank, let your fly sink and hope it the fly. I usually only do this if fish have been extra spooky and any cast within a few feet sends them down.


This may sound obvious, but it must be said, only use this technique if you are fishing banks overhung with huckleberries . . . . 


There are plenty of other flies that I am sure will work, these are just some that I have found successful. Get out there, experiment, and hit the comments with any tips you might have!