Brian Gilbert

Years Fishing?

35, I can remember being 3, maybe 4 years old and fishing the Upper Deerfield with my Grandfather who lived in the center of Charlemont. I also remember thinking he could walk on water. It was fun being a kid.

Years Guiding?

2 years… A few years back I was simply taking family and friends out, introducing them to what I had fallen very passionate to and helping others tune their skills. With there encouragement and my dream to spend more time on the water and less time pounding nails, I put the pieces in place during the 2016 season and started Hilltown Anglers.

Who introduced you to fly fishing?

My lifelong friend Brian Lynch of Pheasant Tail Tours introduced me to fly fishing as a teenager, but at that point in life, my attention was drawn elsewhere HaHa… Many years later I was re-introduced when I spent a day on the water early one February with a couple of old classmates, Tom and Dan Harrison of Harrison Anglers… I haven't missed many days on the water since…

Can you tell us a little about your home waters and the fish you pursue there?

We are located in the heart of the hill towns of Western Massachusetts… With the Upper Deerfield in our backyard and her tributaries at our doorstep, we are home to some of the greatest fly fishing in Western Massachusetts. The Upper Deerfield is a tailwater fishery that’s also fed by many freestone small streams. You can expect to catch Brown, Rainbow, and Brook Trout… These waters are hatchery stocked, but also hold a good number of holdover and wild fish…

What's the height of the season for you? What time of year is your personal favorite?

Though I fish all 12 months of the year, my guiding season typically starts mid-late April and runs well into November… We are in New England, so Mother Nature and the weather will have a lot of say as far as when the busy season starts and stops. The long days of summer tend to slow things down a bit, but that’s just a good reason to go mousing and fish through the night.

I’d have to say my favorite time of year is October - November. The changing of the leaves and the cool crisp air is really regenerating for me. I think it’s safe to say, I live for Fall!!! Not only does it present a good opportunity to get on some bigger fish that have been held up and in hiding through the warmer months, but the whitetail around here start acting up around Halloween and therefore I do to...

What are your favorite travel destinations? What's on the bucket list?

I’d have to say my favorite travel destination is the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks. I spent many of my younger years living up there and that’s where I learned a real love for the outdoors and everything it has to offer, I can and still to this day thank my father for that. I now make an annual fathers day trip with my family camping in Wilmington, and also an annual bachelor weekend with my oldest son Jacob ( he’s 12 :-) ) in the fall. We spend a lot of time fishing the West Branch of the AuSable, hiking, sightseeing, and of course hanging out at The Hungry Trout Fly Shop. In 2018 Jacob and I will be starting to pick off the 46 High Peaks, he’s just old enough and I need to get a move on it before I get any older. What’s on the bucket list? That’s a good question really!!! I don’t have any real specific destination, but mousing in Alaska has drawn my attention more than once, I’d really like to experience that… I’m a bit of an introvert, so any place secluded with plentiful trout fishing off the grid sounds like a grand time to me.

What you like most about Thomas and Thomas rods? Which rods do you fish?

I think that question should be what’s not to like about T&T Rods??? I could shorten my response tremendously. Without a doubt, they are the worlds finest fly rods and each and every one of them is handcrafted in the USA. Not only are they American made, they're made 20 minutes from my residence and I can’t spend my money any more local than that. Thomas & Thomas as a company is very passionate about the industry and what they have to offer. There rods new and old are manufactured with the finest craftsmanship and they stand behind every one of them. The personality of each and every one of there staff members is truly inviting and genuine. If you were to stop in to visit the factory, you’d feel like you were hanging with your buddies down at your local fly shop. Honestly, I can’t say enough about the Thomas & Thomas Team and their Rods. What I can add is, you”ll never see me fishing another brand.

I’ve got a bit of a variety to offer my clients, 7’6” 4# ESP / 9’ 6# NS2 / 11’3” 3# Contact /9’ 5# Avantt / 8’8” Exocett SS 250 / 9’ 8# Exocett / 9’ 10# Exocett. I have a lot of fun fishing my Contact Rod, but the Avantt is an absolute rocket ship if you ask me… I feel like it’s the Corvette of fly rods. Not only does it handle and feel good during soft presentations, but the harder you push it the better it feels and performs. It never fails to put a smile on my face.

What's your current go-to fly?

I guess being that it's the early stages of Spring as I’m writing this, my current go-to fly is Joe’s Mini Cray Fish. I enjoy provoking the hefty holdovers and larger browns with my 11’3” 3# Contact rod. As for most of the season, I’ve got a half-dozen or so flies that I have great confidence in. Though it’s always fun toying with new flies or tying up something totally corky and seeking results.

Other than fly tackle, what piece of gear do you find indispensable?

I’d have to say my Fishpond Nomad Mid-Length Net… It’s the perfect length for wade fishing. I can stick it in my wading belt, stuff it in between my waist pack, or hang it on a gear retractable on my backpack. The basket can handle some pretty stout fish as well.

What's your ideal lunch when on the water? What do you actually pack?

When I have clients I pick up lunch the morning of at our local cafe. They make a pretty hardy sandwich, pack in chips, a pickle, and either a big cookie or brownie. Most clients cant finish everything. I always carry plenty of water as well. When I’m on the water for the day by myself, with family, or friends I usually bring my small propane grill and pack some venison. It’s pretty hard to beat venison for a streamside lunch. I typically keep my MSR burner in my backpack to heat water for coffee as well, especially during the colder months. Every once in a while you might find an IPA or two kicking around in my cooler.

What fly fishing blogs/magazines do you read regularly?

The Drake is the only magazine I subscribe to, but I read many different blogs. Between social media and email, I can't really keep up with all of them. I typically sift through them and read the ones that catch my interest or that cover a topic I’ve been wanting to touch upon. I wish I were more of a skilled writer, maybe someday…

When I'm not fishing you'll find me:

Likely wondering the forest in search of whitetail shed antlers or scouting a new piece of terrain and simply absorbing the outdoors, that’s something I can never get enough of. If you find me inside, there’s probably something wrong… Last but surely not least, I truly and thoroughly enjoy spending time with my lovely wife and beautiful children. In the Winter months, we all have a good time exploring the woods out back on our snowshoes and cooking venison over an open campfire.