Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Calendar Update

A couple updates for your off-season calendar:

The Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough is coming up on January 15, 16 & 17. My guiding partner Jim Norton is on the program in the "Destination Theater" talking about Fly Fishing in NH. If you go to his pitch, be sure to introduce yourself and tell him you saw it here.
Jim is also presenting at the Nashua Public Library fishing seminars January 7 about fishing the Rangeley Maine area. He is also conducting a free Fly Tying class at the Nashua library on January 23. See the November 4 blog post below for more details.
Also, I'll be presenting at the Salem, NH public library on April 15 about Fly Fishing NH.
And Jim and I will do a show about Fly Fishing the large rivers of NH at the Pemigewasset TU chapter meeting on April 23.

If you have a friend or spouse that would like to learn how to fly fish, the first 2010 session of the Northeast Fly Fishing School will be held April 24 and 25 at Evening Sun Fly Shop in Pepperell. That class is about half full, so don't wait if you have somebody who wants to attend. (The class is also useful for intermediate fly fishers who want some hatch-matching and casting/presentation pointers.)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2010!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hatchery Pipe Tour

No I didn't decide to hit the Swift for one last time this year. I took a break from tying flies (more on that later) and strung together some video shots of the hatchery pipe area on the Swift. Those that are regulars there will probably not be too impressed, but you other folks who haven't made the pilgrimage yet might find it a little interesting. <YouTube Video>
Oh yeah, fly tying. I have been alternating between three themes: Major hatches for next spring (Alder fly and Hendrickson patterns, mostly); Florida; and Labrador streamers - yes a trip to Three Rivers Lodge is in the planning stages, so Clouser black ghosts and Mickey Finns have started to accumulate. In between I confess to tying some softhackles to use as droppers and also for an April foray to the Swift upon return from Florida. As soon as I finish the Florida flies, I hope to dig into my tackle bag and clean out the ratty looking flies from my fly boxes and started to get organized for next season. I have been mulling over some new ways to organize my fly boxes. Anybody have any special thoughts on that?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Frosting on the cake

Ok, this is REALLY it! Yesterday Stan and I made a final-final 2009 trip to the Swift River. And what a trip it was! One other car was at the gauge station parking area and there was plenty of room to fish. When we first stepped into the water it only took a couple drifts to hook-up with the first fish of the day. Once again, soft hackles were the hot flies - white, red, olive were top producers. Also got a couple on black BH zebra midge and an egg fly. A few days ago I noticed that after catching a couple fish, the fish started to shy away from the lane the indicator was drifting over. Once I saw that I switched indicators. Using a white indicator was the best, since it blended with the ubiquitous white foam. As the sun got high on the water, the fish headed to the shadows, even if it meant less than foot-deep water. It also got real crowded as the day went on. At noon we left to eat a sandwich and explore the area upstream of route 9. When we crossed the bridge we saw over a dozen cars in the parking areas and promptly made a U-turn and headed back to the relative solitude of the hatchery pipe run. After sharing some of our lunch with an enormous pit bull I dubbed Spike, we went down to the pipe run and caught a few more fish. You can see from this video of Stan landing a fish that we had plenty of company. (YouTube Video) The nice thing about the folks that fish this area is their general good manners and generosity. George and his grandson shared the area with us in the morning and we enjoyed the comradeship and general information (with a little gossip!) that was passed among the anglers. In the afternoon I found myself fishing next to Al, an extremely experienced and adept angler, with whom I shared the dam pool on the Newfound River numerous times this summer. Al has a place on Rattlesnake Island on Winnipesaukee and is a wealth of information about many rivers in the northeast.
Well, that's it for 2009. Be sure to tune in now and then for announcement of upcoming events in the New England area. Also, I'll be reporting on my winter fishing adventures in Florida starting in January. In the mean time I'll be filling my saltwater box with Clousers, Deceivers, shrimp and crab flies.
Tight Lines!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another great day on the Swift River

My buddy Dick and I hit the Swift River today. We found only one other angler fishing from the USGS gauge all the way down to Cady Lane. We took up position below the hatchery pipe in the 26F air. The water temp today was about 50F which had the fish feeding actively. Once again the best flies were small soft hackles in red or olive. We lost track of how many fish we fooled in the morning. After lunch we fished above route 9 in the FFO area. I fooled a few more in the riffle/pool just above where the bubbler arm hits the Y-pool.
I'm not going to call this bonus day my "last good day" of the year, but I suspect it is. (Although Friday weather is looking good. H-m-m-m, maybe I need to tie up some more softhackles, just in case!)
I also took some video that I posted on YouTube.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Last "Bonus Day?"

Sorry for the delay in posting. I had a few obligations to attend to including new grandson Patrick, born November 11. I did make a couple uneventful trips: to the Pemigewasset River (38F water b-r-r-r-r)the Farmington River in CT (no fish landed, a couple strikes on small dries) and a few hours on the Squannacook River in W. Groton (I can still smell the skunk from that trip.) And then today Dick and I went to the Swift River and we loaded up on fly fishing junk food. I don't know how many fish we fooled (I am not a fish-counter) but it was a lot. Most were caught on Shadan soft-hackles, red, size 16 and 18. (Go to the Evening Sun Fly Shop in Pepperell and ask for some tied by Charlie. I think the special dubbing wax he uses has some secret ingredient.) Dick got a hook straightened by one fish and we both had quite a few break off the 6x and 7x tippet. The water temp was a warm and toasty 51F and the fish were real active. A lot of the fish were very dark, had no hook marks and were extremely energetic when hooked. I asked one of the regulars if they were recently stocked and he told me they were "Bondsville fish" that had migrated from a few miles downriver when it started to get cold. They moved upriver until finding the perfect spot to hang out - at the mouth of the hatchery pipe.
Every time I have gone out this fall I say it will probably be the last good day of the year - until the next last good day! I think this was my last bonus day of fishing. The next fishing report I file will probably be from Florida. Can it really be just a month until I point the car south on I-95? Well, who knows, maybe just one more bonus day may be left in the 2009 calendar, we'll see.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another bonus day!

Today was another one of those bonus days - unexpectedly warm, river flows at a good level and a few bugs buzzing around. The real bonus was the two rainbows I caught this afternoon on dry flies. Stan and I arrived in Henniker around 12:30PM to fish one of our favorite rivers, the Contoocook. We saw one other fly angler sitting on a log across the river from us studying the water (and probably hoping to see some rises!) Stan and I rigged up and moved down the river to a couple spots that Stan wanted to show me. For years he and I have explored this river and developed our own favorite spots. Out of habit and necessity, I usually hit my old favorite spots. It was a treat to have Stan show me a couple new spots, along with a description of which are the best hatches and where in the pools the fish usually hang out. To that knowledge I added some of my own, such as where in the pools rainbows feed on dries on November 9! Both fish were real dark and their fins were long and flawless - no nubbins rubbed by concrete raceways. One took a size 16 BWO parachute and the other a size 16 Royal Wulff. We saw a few mayflies (probably BWO), a couple caddis and a few yellow stoneflies the size of hummingbirds. Overall, a tremendous couple hours on the water. Better than anything I could hope for until next May. A well-appreciated bonus day!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mark your calendar

The Nashua Library will once again be running their Thursday night fishing seminars in January. Always a good take. Here is the announcement information:

Fishing Lectures at Nashua Public Library

Fish 2010, the Nashua Public Library's annual series of fishing lectures, begins on January 7. The Thursday-night lectures are preceded by fishing videos and fly-tying demos by members of local fishing organizations at 6 pm. Each night you attend you'll receive a free raffle ticket for prizes that will be drawn at the last lecture on January 28.

Fishing the Rangeley Region

Come hear about the waters, the flies, and the fish that make the western mountains of Maine a throwback to fishing times of old, where lakes, rivers, and ponds still hold large brook trout as well as salmon. Presented by New Hampshire guide Jim Norton.
Thursday, January 7, at 7 pm

Fishing the Merrimack River and Inshore Waters

Angling for striped bass and bluefish in the Merrimack River estuaries? Get expert advice from Captain Charlie Crue on fly and light spinning tackle as well as the best techniques, flies, and lures.
Thursday, January 14, at 7 pm

Reel People: Fishermen of Plum Island
Filmmaker James Waldron screens and discusses his one-hour documentary exploring the culture of fishing on this barrier island just off the coast of Newburyport, Mass. Meet bait throwers and fly casters, men and women, kids and octogenarians who find their excitement at the end of a piece of string.
Thursday, January 21, at 7 pm

Let’s Go Fishing: Introduction to Fly-Tying

In this workshop you’ll be introduced to the tools, materials, threads, and hooks required for fly-tying. Then, in a hands-on session, you’ll learn to tie nymph, wet, streamer, and dry flies. Tools and materials will be provided, but participants may bring their own if they have them. For adults, and children over twelve if accompanied by an adult. Enrollment is limited. To register, go to after December 1.
Saturday, January 23, from 10 am to 4 pm

Fly Fishing for Bass and Salmon

Tips for fly fishing nearby and in Maine for salmon and bass—yes, bass—courtesy of the Nashua Fly Casters. Plus, learn a bit about the history and activities of this organization for local anglers.
Thursday, January 28, at 7 pm

The library is located at 2 Court Street, Nashua, NH. For more information visit or call Carol at (603) 589-4610.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Swift redux

As planned, Stan and I hit the Swift River again from the hatchery pipe to the area below Cady Lane. Short report: crowded; fooled a few; had fun.
The real story is that unlike Monday (see Oct 27 report) all the "good spots" were taken. This proved to be a blessing in disguise. The hatchery pipe is like fly fishing junk food. Fish stack up there and if you are even a marginally competent "bobber" angler, you can clean up with fish after fish falling for your egg pattern or tiny nymph. The further you move from this epicenter of trout gluttony, the tougher the fishing is. Just 30 or 40 feet downstream, the successful anglers usually need to bring their "A-Game" matching the hatch, perfect presentation, etc. When I saw the big crowd huddled around the pipe run, I had to readjust my expectations. On Monday, after being satiated with junk food, I had moved upstream to fish the run from the roll dam to the gauge pool with some success. This time I chose to follow Stan downstream on shanks mare and find some solitude and tough fish - mission accomplished. The trout downstream were highly visible, since the water is clear as air and slick as didymo on a door-knob. Like all trout, when the water temperature is right and food is available, they are compelled to feed, so there was no shortage of opportunities. Conditions like this can either intimidate or inspire the fly angler. Since it was the only game in town, I had no choice but to become inspired. I would like to say that I conquered every fish I targeted, but as often as not, the most I got was a perfunctory glance before being summarily dismissed. But, often enough to keep me interested, I was able to elicit a quick strike, about half of which resulted in a break-off. I always figure that fooling the fish into a strike is 90% of the fun of fly fishing, so I wasn't too disturbed, other than with the loss of a successful fly on a number of occasions. Oddly enough, some of the successful patterns were not hatch-matchers, but the fly fishing equivalents of "Hail Mary" efforts. Who knows why these pea-brained trout Einsteins chose a skated Henryville Special after ignoring a dozen different tiny BWO patterns, but some did. In any case, fish were seen, fish were fooled and fish were caught-and a few were self-released wearing a bushy mustache, a day early for Halloween. None were caught with the benefit of an egg pattern, floated under a bobber. (Not that there is anything wrong with that! See Ken's commentary <Why I hate indicators>)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Great weather and decent flows equals great fishing and mediocre catching

Today I fished the Isinglas and Cocheco Rivers with my buddy Dick. Last week these rivers were stocked and Dick had fished there a couple days later. Some guys had caught over 100 fish in a few days. Dick had caught a lot. We figured we would catch a lot of fish, but today we only got a few. Even the regulars we talked to wondered where all the fish had gone. I usually get over there at least once in the fall. Great Bay TU used to pay for the stocking, but now it is handled by Three Rivers Stocking Association, a private group that raises funds and stocks the fish. The Isinglas River borders land owned by Waste Management Inc (WMI)and they stock about 500 fish in that river. Too bad Fish and Game doesn't do a better job with fall stocking. Southern NH has a lot of rivers that are open year round, or have an extended season, and they could provide great fall fishing.
Often freshly stocked fish will strike at anything that remotely resembles food. If the "food" turns out to be an erratically stripped woolly-bugger, they soon get conditioned not to strike anything that moves. Today most of the fish were caught either dead-drift or a very slow swing/retrieve. I guess their little pea-brains got programmed to tune out streamers.
Tomorrow, Stan and I are going to hit the Swift River again. I have been tying up some fresh egg patterns, soft hackles and a few Hotspots. We'll see if these fickle critters are on to something different this time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Postscript to yesterday's post

One of the hot flies on the Swift River was the Hotspot, a nymph I learned about from Ken Elmer's Miller River Fly Fishing Forum. I don't know if it is taken for a pellet, an egg, a pellet/egg sandwich, or whatever. I just know it works. Thanks, Ken!
Also, I frequently get some off-line email commenting or asking questions. That is fine, but feel free to hit the "Comment" button. This blog is for my fishing reports, but also for sharing information (thanks Eric and Bob) that advances our community of FFers. So get out of lurk mode every now and then and let's hear from you!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fast action, then skunk-city

How can one river make you feel like king of the river and then a hopeless fishing chump, all in the same day? The Swift River does it again! Stan and I arrived around 9AM and had the entire hatchery pipe run to ourselves for over an hour. Fish were piled up all over, just waiting in line to get caught. They were all hatchery rainbows, a strain which the biologists have tricked into spawning in the fall, so they can stock them sooner. They were all full of fishy-testosterone and ready for action. Those that weren't trying to spawn were in the chow line behind the unlucky lovers waiting for a free meal. I suspect the hatchery pipe was also delivering a steady dribble of eggs from hatchery hens. Being a long-time proponent of matching the hatch, I matched the eggs. Every time I changed size or color I got a fish or two. Pink, orange, yellow all worked their magic. I also got some on white sparkle softhackles and white midge pupa. After I ran out of tiny single egg colors, I was staring at one of my fly boxes trying to select the next fly and my eyes kept coming back to a sparkle egg-cluster that I had used on the salmon river in NY to fool the steelhead. It looked so big and clunky compared to the little eggs I had used so far. "What the heck, they ate eggs and they ate white sparkle flies, why not a big clump of white sparkle eggs?" Well, three fish on three consecutive drifts had me snipping off the fly and retiring from my perch at the pipe. BTW all the fish were real chunkers - smallest over 12 inches and biggest almost 18 inches and FAT!
Well, I followed Stan downstream, who had tired of catching chunky rainbows at the pipe run. He was agonizing over the brainier cousin rainbows who were turning their nose up at smaller-than-size-20 flies in the gin-clear water downstream towards Cady Lane. I told Stan I would be fishing upstream from the gauge when he tired of bashing his head against the intellect of the pea-brained denizens of the Swift. I didn't see anything at the run/pool at the USGS gage, but landed a very brightly colored rainbow at the roll-dam pool. I also lost another after a brief tussel and fooled another that tried to eat my lime-green strike indicator. It refused to eat anything I tossed at it that had a hook in its tail. After a bite of late-lunch Stan and I retired to the Cady Lane area for another frustrating session trying to fool the trout that were rising to nearly-invisible specks just beneath the surface. Stan got one and I was pleased to miss a strike on another, but surely these must be some super-trout that have escaped from a secret government program, unlike the dunces at the hatchery pipe.
When the flow levels recede, I'll be hitting one of the local rivers later this week - hopefully the Pemi or Contoocook.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What a way to warm-up for the game!

My buddies at Evening Sun FS have been raving about the hatches/rising fish on the Squannacook and Nissitissit Rivers. I was going to go this afternoon during the second half after the Pats kick the crap out of the Bucs. Just in case there is a Wembley SNAFU, I decided to go this morning. I started out in W. Groton at the lower end of the Bertozzi WMA area (my favorite spot on the river.) I thought for sure I would be able to "pound-up" a rainbow at the cable pool, but no dice. I switched over to a BH caddis pupa with a white-sparkle softhackle dropper, still in the cable pool, but to no avail. I moved up to the run above and got a brown and a rainbow on the SH. (Thanks for the idea Bob W.) Then I moved a little further up and got another brown on a golden stonefly nymph. Then moved below the cable pool and got my last rainbow on the SH. Time to bail for the Pats game. All-in-all it exceeded my expectations. The fish were beautiful - very dark, indicating they have been there quite a while. The water was at a great flow level - about 70CFS after the recent rain. I bet the risers will be active when the water warms a bit in the afternoon and the insects start moving around. I got mine this morning and will leave the afternoon hatch to the rest of you. Tomorrow my buddy Stan and I plan to hit the Swift River. Report to follow.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Where's the action?

After my day off fishing the Farmington River with Stan, I got back to work on Friday and Saturday. These are the last two trips I have booked. Both groups wanted to fish for the broodstock Atlantic salmon in the Pemigewasset River. If you have been following these reports, you know that salmon have been hard to get this fall. In fact, the few people I have run into on the river all ask me where the salmon are and say that nobody has been catching them. Well, they are scarce and tough to hook-up even if you do find some, but it is not impossible. I had a couple young men contact me from Virginia wanting some fly fishing instruction and a chance to catch a salmon. Casting in the wind is difficult even for experienced fly fishers, much less beginners. They were motivated and worked hard and we did find some salmon. Then on Saturday I took a couple experienced anglers who had never fished for salmon. Last year I took Ish out to the Contoocook River for a lesson and we fished the Hendrickson hatch and got some nice trout on dries. He has been reading these fishing reports and wanted to take his friend Rob for some salmon as a birthday gift. They had originally booked the trip for Sunday (today), but when I saw the weather forecast, I suggested that we go on Saturday, which turned out to be a great day (which today obviously is not!) In addition to fishing, the other objective was to learn the river for future fishing on their own. We hit all the usual places and a few unusual ones throughout the day. Rob got the first fish in the big pool on Coolidge Woods road in Bristol. Then after eating lunch, we moved down-river a ways and Ish kicked it up a notch with a nice brown trout and some very feisty salmon. We had the entire river to ourselves. We saw one other angler getting into his truck and that was it. Nobody but us on miles of river in Bristol, although there were quite a few fishing below Franklin Falls dam when we stopped by there to finish the day. Here is a link to Ish and Rob's pictures: <salmon pictures> Be sure to check out the video at the bottom of the page to see a serious bend in Ish's 6wt rod.
Don't forget that the Contoocook and Sugar Rivers are now open until November 30. There have been quite a few caddis and tiny BWO hatching on the Contoocook in the afternoon and plenty of browns rising to them. Also the NH seacoast rivers will soon be stocked and should fish well after next weekend. In Massachusetts, many of the rivers were stocked a couple weeks ago and are fishing well, including the Squannacook and Nissitissit Rivers. The weather should warm up in a few days, so take an afternoon off from work and hunt some fish before the fall rains come.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

End of the season Rush

What a rush - big browns on dry flies! Stan and I hit the Farmington River yesterday in the upper TMA. We hit the usual spots: Hitchcock Chair, Whittemore, Church (just to look and have lunch in the sun), central riffle and Ovation. Stan got a couple nice browns in the run into Whittemore on softhackles, while I had to work hard for a couple salmon parr (big ones about 9-10 inches.) As we moved down river things picked up even more - I think the warming sun had something to do with it, as we saw more insects as the day wore on. There were BWO, a couple different caddis and a few of what looked like Isonychias, although I couldn't catch one to verify. We finished up at my favorite pool and found some large, hungry browns. Some were more interested in spawning than food, but quite a few were willing to take a well-presented dry. I caught most on a gray parachute Adams, about a size 12. Pretty exciting to see a 16+ inch brown slowly suck-in your dry fly and then go berserk when it realizes it is hooked. Probably not too many days like that left in the calendar.
Last weekend and early this week I had clients out wading on some ponds (a few rising brookies); the Newfound River (nice rainbow on a heron fly); the Contocook River (afternoon hatch of black caddis, tan caddis and BWO brought some nice browns to hand.) The biggest disappointment continues to be the broodstock salmon - small, scarce and heavily pounded by anglers.
Get out there and enjoy the end of the season fishing. The water is cool, still some hatches and the foliage is spectacular.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Catching up

Last Wednesday I got back from our week in Errol on the Androscoggin River and didn't get to catch my breath before guiding on Friday, Saturday and Monday on the Contocook and Pemigewasset Rivers. I just now finished downloading some of the pictures and forwarding them to clients. If you want to see some beautiful foliage and beautiful fish, check out the flash files. Every day we were there, the fishing got better and better. On the last day there were fish rising to gray mayflies (Isonychia?) black caddis, pumpkin caddis and who-knows-what-else. The water was cooling down from the low 60s to the mid-50s and the fish loved it. We saw a lot more leaf-peepers than we did fishermen. Only on Saturday September 26 did we see many other anglers. One thing that surprised me was that we didn't see any moose - weird, since we saw at least 2 or 3 every day in June. We saw eagles, fox and grouse, but no moose. Did I mention that the brook trout were resplendent in their spawning colors and that the foliage was spectacular?
I took a father and son fishing for the broodstock salmon on Monday. Fantastic foliage on the Pemigewasset River in Bristol, but the salmon were a disappointment. We caught a 14" rainbow that was as big as the salmon we caught. Also caught a few small browns in Franklin, which was an added bonus. Hopefully my trips on this weekend will produce bigger fish.
Anybody been fishing the Squannacook or Nissitissit Rivers? They have been recently stocked and should be fishing well.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Androscoggin River Trip teed up next

Got home from Moosehead on Friday; taught 9 new fly fishers the way of the long rod on Saturday and Sunday at the Northeast Fly Fishing School; and now I am packed to head north for a week guiding the Androscoggin River in Errol. My partner Jim and I run our "Virtual fishing lodge" in Errol the last two weeks of June and the last week of September, the best fishing weeks of the season on the Andro. The forecast is super, the flows are great for both wading and the drift boat. H-m-m-m-m what can go wrong now? Let's hope the fish are cooperative. I am hoping for some caddis and isonychia mayflies, but there is always the woolly bugger when all else fails. We still have Saturday and Sunday openings if anybody can get away. No reports until next week.

Monday, September 21, 2009

20th Anniversary trip to Moosehead Lake

One Big Trip down and one to go. The trip to the Moosehead Lake region was fantastic. I have been there numerous times, but never get tired of it. So much good water: Moose River, East Outlet and Roach River, not counting the huge lake and numerous brooktrout ponds. As always, we stayed at Maynard's of Maine sporting camps on the Moose River near the inlet to Moosehead Lake. What do you usually spend for a night in an average roadside motel? 60, 70, 80 or more bucks a night? We paid $65/night for a comfortable room and three amazing meals a day. The prime rib was almost 2-inches thick and done perfectly. But I digress. . . The fishing was almost as good as the accommodations. We arrived Tuesday around noon and after checking our buddies who were fishing the East Outlet, we checked in and drove about a half mile from Maynards to some good pools on the Moose River. Caught a small salmon and a really nice 17+ inch salmon.
The next day Dick and I fished with Bob Dionne, owner of Aardvark Outfitters. What a nice guy and a really good guide. I have been guided in Maine, the Adirondacks, Catskills, Lee's Ferry Arizona, Florida and a couple trips to Montana. Bob is as good as any guide I have taken. I am not a "fish counter" so I don't know exactly how many salmon and brooktrout I caught, but let's say that there were not many lulls in the action. At one spot we stopped to fish from shore and I got two salmon and a brooktrout in four casts with a Henryville Special dry caddis pattern. Here is a picture of Dick with one of the nice salmon he caught.
On Thursday we took a drive around the lake to Kokadjo and the Roach River. Bob had fished the Roach the day before and told us that they were not releasing water yet from First Roach Pond, but any day now they would start drawing down the pond and the salmon would start their spawning run. When we got there I immediately could see that the gate was open and water was roaring down the river and that the salmon and trout were in the river. We started at the dam pool and I got a beautiful 15+ inch brookie. Dick got a small salmon and then we walked down the trail to the Dump Pool. Our friends Dick (the other Dick) and Mack had fished there while we were on the drift trip and Mack had hooked a VERY large salmon that broke him off and proceeded to make a couple more jumps with Mack's nymph rig still in his mouth. A couple anglers were just leaving as we arrived. We both started tossing nymphs and didn't see a fish. Then we moved along to the Warden's Pool. The lone angler was just getting ready to leave as we arrived. He said he had caught two salmon and two trout on nymphs. I tossed my nymph rig into the current and immediately got a jarring strike and I proceeded to break the fish off with my King Kong hook set. Soon I had two other good strikes, but didn't hook-up. Dick didn't have much luck either, so we headed back to the East Outlet (Kennebec River as it emerges from Moosehead Lake and flows to Indian Pond.) We did pretty well there and Dick caught a lot of fish in the last hour and a half before we had to eat the nightly feast at Maynard's and listen to Dick D's twentieth anniversary telling of "the greatest sea story ever told."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Building up to the big trip(s)

Last Thursday and Friday I had some beginners wanting to catch the fly fishing bug. Both days we hit the Ellis and Saco. Both rivers have been pounded pretty good lately, so it has been harder and harder to come up with some fish. It took some pocket water for one group and a big pool for the others to score some brook trout. Each got their fish on dries after missing a few hits.
That is something hard to teach - how hard/fast to set the hook on a strike. Some people come by it naturally and others really have to work at it.
On Sunday Jim, Barb, Dick and I checked out the Sugar River. We have been fishing up north a lot and wanted to see how the Sugar had fared over the summer. There are still some nice fish there. The water is just starting to cool to a good level - about 63F mid-morning. The flow is perfect and should get even better over the next couple weeks as the water cools to the 55F range.
The second half of September I have two major trips. Tomorrow I point the car north towards Moosehead Lake, Rockwood, Maine. The 20th anniversary trip of the Bull Salmon Club will be held at Maynard's of Maine (Ain't nuthin' changed 'cept the linens in 90 years!)
Then next week my partner Jim and I host clients at our "virtual fishing lodge" on the banks of the Androscoggin River. This is my second most-favorite time of the year to fish - foliage is fantastic, fish are hungry and the rivers are less crowded. We have relaxed the double occupancy/multiple day requirement, so it is even a better deal than usual. There are even some prime weekend days still available. See details.
My next report won't be until after I get back from Maine. CYA then.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Workin' on Labor Day

Tough job, but somebody has to do it. Today it was a guy from Philly attending a wedding at the MT Washington Hotel who needed to cure his hangover with a half-day of flinging a fly. I met him in Glen and we fished the Ellis for a couple hours, then moved down to the Saco River. Tally for the morning was three12" brooktrout landed, and an equal number of missed strikes. One on a SSH (Shadan Soft Hackle) and the rest on dries (small para-Adams, elkhair caddis.) We found a pool on the Saco River with a few nice trout swimming around. Very sporadic rises and he was only able to garner a couple strikes with no hook-up, but the sun was high and the fish spooky, so it was still a fun trip. After sending him on his way, I took out my Sage LL 7'11" 4-wt, tied on a beetle pattern and went down and caught one of those finicky trout - a 14" inch brown! Also gave my new Olympus underwater digital a workout.
Here is an underwater video.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Cooling rivers offer angling opportunites

Yesterday (Saturday) morning I taught a couple more beginners the way of the long rod. We worked on casting technique for a few minutes, then tied on some flies and went at it on the Contoocook River in West Henniker. Water temp is just starting to cool a bit - 64F in the morning and 66F by noon. A few more cool nights and temperate days and the ideal temps in the mid-to-high 50sF will prevail. There will be a few magic weeks of early fall fishing before the leaf-and-needle hatch occurs that makes fly fishing almost impossible for a couple weeks in October.
FYI, We have opened our end-of-September Androscoggin River Special package to single anglers and single days. This would also make a nice getaway for a fly fisher and non-angling partner - foliage and moose-viewing opportunities are both amazing.
Oh yeah, Contoocook River fallfish and brooktrout survived the heat wave and are ready to eat a well-placed fly.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Scouting trip pays off

This week I went on a "scouting trip" (this is what I tell my wife I am doing when I go fishing) with my buddy Dick and guiding partner Jim. We each had trips scheduled for Friday, so we checked out a few spots on Thursday. We found the flow levels and water temps to be ideal (mid-50F) on the Pemigewasset, Saco and Ellis Rivers. We found the most fish in the Saco and Ellis, but we really didn't spend any time fishing the Pemigewasset. On Friday I started the day on the Pemigewasset in North Woodstock and after an hour of flogging the water in my best spot with no fish seen, I made a quick decision to head across the Kanc and hit the Ellis, which turned out to be a good move. We found plenty of brook trout willing to hit a fly, but they were too quick for my client. Hopefully this rain we are having in the south will not be too heavy up north. A little rain up there is good, but 3 or 4 inches will spoil the fishing for a couple weeks or more. What I am really looking forward to is a real good nor'easter around September 10. I have a trip to Maine planned for the following week and a good soaking rain will get the salmon moving from the lakes up into the rivers in anticipation of their spawning run. There is nothing like hooking into a two or three pound land lock on my 4-wt rod on a fast flowing river like the East Outlet, Moose or Magalloway Rivers. That reminds me, I need to sit down and tie some streamers and blue-wing olives for the late-season fishing in Maine and in Errol on the Androscoggin River. We have our "virtual fishing lodge" going again the last week in September and still have some good slots open, in case anybody wants to sample some great early Fall fishing in the Great North Woods of NH.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Guys night (day) out

I've been (as a guide) a birthday, Father's Day, Christmas, Valentine, and anniversary gift, and this weekend it was a bachelor party. No, there weren't any strippers or bunnies jumping out of a cake, just a couple geezers teaching a bunch of young guys how to fly fish. The wedding is planned for October and I think the groom is changing the honey-moon venue to a place with rising trout. We took them to the Contoocook River, since the night before a gully-washer raised the Pemigewasset River's water level to over 3,000cfs. After going over equipment basics and a casting lesson, we hit the water. The recent heat wave had warmed up the water in excess of 70F, so we thought it would mainly be smallmouth bass and fallfish that were hungry. This was mostly true, but we found a couple trout that were willing to bite, along with their warmwater brethern. There are some spring holes and everybody who has fished the Contooocook River in West Henniker knows that the water gets hyper-aerated from all the rapids and pocket-water. The guys had fun, learned a new skill and enjoyed a common experience. Now that the heat wave has broken, let's hope the earlier high water gave the trout a few refuges to ride out the heat.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cool mountain waters

I took four trips to the north country in the past week. One trip included my four and six-year-old grandkids, who enjoyed their trip to Santa's Village and Storyland in the scorching heat. The others were with clients. Finding cool water and trout was a tough order to fill, but the Ellis River and Pemigewasset River came through once again. Trout were seen, fooled and landed in both rivers. Water temps are climbing towards 70F. The Ellis was 63F and the Pemi in No. Woodstock was 69F. Hopefuly this hot weather will break and we get a little cooling rain before the weekend. I stopped by the Newfound River on the way back from the Pemi and took the water temp at 81F at 4:30PM on August 18. I doubt if there will be anything left in there but SMB after this heat wave. At least the White Mountains tribs run cool enough to holdover fish until the water cools in late August and September. Hopefully the rain we had in July and early August was enough to provide some refuge in the southern tier of rivers. We got the regs changed to keep the Sugar and Contoocook Rivers open until November 30. Maybe there will even be some fish left in them.
We saw some brooktrout in the brook at Sata's Village. Should have smuggled in my 6-ft 2-wt rod. It was nice and shady and would have been a good diversion from the rides and shows. Maybe next time.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The rains left and the fish remain

The rivers are in great shape! They have settled down to near-normal flows and haven't warmed up yet. Although we are getting a spell of hot weather, hopefully the cool nights will help keep the water at a good temperature. Last Thursday the Sugar River was running about 500CFS, which was a little high, but very wadable. The water temp was 68F and my clients picked up a couple fish - a brown and a rainbow - on a half-day trip. They went back to California with a very good impression of NH fly fishing opportunities. Often we take for granted the resources available to us. It is good to get a reality check now and then to help us remember how lucky we are.
Friday was the day to work on a TU project. I donned swiming mask to place some temperature data loggers in the Piscataquog River in New Boston, NH. Just about every place a device we saw some trout. That was really surprising and encouraging, since that river really warms up most years. Well, we will see exactly how warm and cold it gets, so we can ploan some restoration projects to improve the trout habitat. It's great to have streams nearby, like the Piscataquog and Souhegan, where we'll be placing some temperature data loggers next week.
On Saturday my partner Jim and I took a pair of father-sons from Peru to learn how to fly fish in the Pemigewasset River near Lincoln. One young man caught a rainbow trout on his first cast ever. Nothing short of amazing. He caught another one a little while later, and then a couple more after lunch. Same flies, same river, but the others couldn't seem to fool any fish. I don't think there are any trout in Peru, but if there are, these guys are ready for action. Yesterday it was a father, son and daughter who wanted to learn how to fly fish. The Contoocook River in Henniker has been at near-flood levels for over a month, and is just now getting to a fishable level - 550CFS on Sunday. Since these rivers haven't been fishable, it is like having private water to fish. Well, the Professor's pool had rising fish and we fooled some of them. A few were non-trout natives (fallfish) but there were 4 or 5 rainbows and a smallmouth bass willing to take a Stimulator, hornberg or elk hair caddis. With a little bit of luck, the Contoocook and Sugar Rivers will hold fish well into the extended season. Oh yeah, in case you didn't know, these rivers now stay open until November 30, rather than closing October 15, as in the past. I wonder if there are still fish holding in the Newfound River? The surface of the lake must be warming, so that could be the end of good fishing there for the year. Thursday and Monday I have some more beginners in the que ready to learn the magic of the slender wand. Might take a ride to see how the Ellis and Saco are fishing. Got to be ready with some fresh water and fresh fish for the new fly fishers.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Head south for the fish

OK already, no more "Bring on the rain." This run of rain every couple days has really messed up my schedule. Two trips were rescheduled last week and hopefully they will be completed this week. Luckily, I had a trip booked for the Farmington River on Friday. That is a dam-controlled tailwater fishery that was not impacted by the rainfall. We dodged a few rain showers, but were able to find rising fish in a few different locations. My clients were from Westchester County, NY and I had guided one of them on two previous occasions. The mission on this trip was to teach his friend to fly fish, which I did. We found some blue wing olives in the afternoon and towards evening a few sulphers and a couple little yellow sally stone flies. We saw quite a few cedar waxwings picking off insects, which was cool to see. Almost all our fishing was done from Riverton up toward the dam. The water temp was about 63F which would be pretty good for local waters, but usually at this time of year the water temp on the Farmington is in the upper 50s. All this rain has caused them to release more water than usual from the reservoir, which is depleting the real cold water. Even though the water is warming, it is still an ideal temperature for trout. If this rain continues, I'll have to keep setting my sights on the Farmington as the only game in (or out of) town.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Keep the rain coming!

All the rain we have had may be messing up the beach vacations, but it sure is helping the fish. I was guiding the Saco, Ellis, Pemigewasset and Androscoggin Rivers this week and we had late-spring conditions, instead of mid-summer doldrums. The rivers in the White Mountains are running at wadable levels with water temps under 60F. Perfect! There were enough BWO, little yellow sallies and sulphers to keep the trout interested, as well as some caddis. I had both very experienced anglers, as well as beginners and all got some nice fish - almost all on dry flies. I hope the warmer weather in the forecast doesn't spoil the fishing.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ellis and Saco River Bonanza

Yesterday I guided a very experienced salt water fly fisher for a little NH trout fishing. He was staying in SW Maine, so we agreed to meet near North Conway, where the water has been dropping after all the rain we had in June and early July. The water on the Ellis was 59F - perfect! We had a mid-day start with a plan to fish until dark. A couple of places I scouted in the morning before we met had rising fish, so I knew it would be a pretty good day. Well, that is an understatement. Apparently they have been emptying the hatcheries and the Ellis and Saco are now home to a good part of the excess trout. There was already a good supply of holdover and previously stocked fish that would rise to a well-fished fly, so when we tired of hauling in the recent stockers, we found some finicky browns, a 14+ inch rainbow and a number of 12+ inch brook trout to test mettle. Here is a really nice brook trout that took a beadhead caddis pupa.
There were not a lot of insects on the water until early evening. There were a few Little Yellow Sallies, a couple BWO spinners and later on, some sulphers. At any given time, we were likely to see a rise or two, but nothing really consistent. We fooled fish on a wide variety of flies, including my favorite chartreuse Usual, some sulpher emergers, soft hackles and comparaduns. We are now reaping the benefits of earlier rainfall, with ideal temperatures and water flows. Get out there while you can before the hot weather takes a toll on the fish.

New Fly Fishers

Last weekend we had another session of the Northeast Fly Fishing School at Evening Sun Fly Shop in Pepperell, MA. We had 8 students for the classroom portion of the school and added a ninth for the on-the-stream fishing lesson. It was very encouraging to see so many enthusiastic and interested people wanting to get into our sport. My partner Jim and I partnered with Charlie at Evening Sun Fly Shop to offer what we believe to be the most professional and best value fly fishing school in New England. The water level on the Squannacook and Nissitissit Rivers was ideal and a number of fish were fooled and even a few were landed. Here is a look at some of the pictures from the class. <Pictures>

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Androscoggin River Alder-mania

The trip up north to the Androscoggin River in Errol, NH and the 13-Mile Woods wilderness area was fantastic. Our Androscoggin Special Package was booked full for 14 days straight. We had 17 beginners out of 27 anglers and all of them caught fish. One got a fish on his second cast with a fly and another took all of two days, but finally landed a (measured) 18-inch landlocked salmon. (See the picture)
We were really lucky dodging rain and high water. The first week we were there the river flow was low and we only had some occasional drizzle. All of our clients were relieved to find that the heaviest rain fell south of the White Mountains. During the second week we got a little more rain and they released more water from the dam, but we were still able to find quite a few fish. Jim drifted the CT River one day and had his best day this year with client Jerry D. who hooked into a lot of fish there and when I took him to a couple hot spots on the Androscoggin. We had a lot of father-son and husband-wife teams on the trip, which was a lot of fun for us and for them. Obviously, fly fishing is a life-long sport and it is satisfying to know that many of the people we taught on this trip will be fly fishing long after Jim and I are no longer around.
We target this trip for the Alder Fly hatch and this year we hit it good. I was able to get clients into fish on zebra caddis patterns starting around June 22 and continuing through July 3 when we left. Although there were huge swarms of Alder flies, the fish were not really turned on to them. Rarely did we see a fish rise to a natural, although we caught loads of fish on caddis dries. For those that haven't experienced the hatch, here is a video that will give you an idea of what it is all about.

In addition to Alder flies, there were plenty of golden stone flies, and Little yellow Sallies around also. In the evening we fished the hex hatch and our clients caught some beautiful brook trout This one was landed by good friend and client Dick Peterson. Here is a link to more pictures and videos of the trip. That is it for the June 2009 Andro-Adventure, and we are already planning the September trip. We will be offering the same Special Package the last week of September. Last year the September trip was spectacular, with crisp weather, peak foliage and lots of willing fish. Let me know if you want more info.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Monday and Tuesday I guided a couple clients in the White Mountains. The Ellis River fished pretty good, but the Pemi in North Woodstock/Lincoln continues to be a bust for me so far this season. Thank goodness for the Newfound River, even if they have been releasing high volumes of water from the lake. I stayed at the AMC Highland Center in Crawford Notch Monday night. What a deal! For $40 I got a comfortable bunk and a terrific breakfast with a fantastic view of the mist rising on the mountains. One of my clients stayed at the MT. Washington hotel, and I doubt if he slept any better or had a better view than I did. Tomorrow I throw the canoe on the truck and head north for a couple weeks guiding the Androscoggin River in the Thirteen Miles Woods section. Hopefully the river will remain at a fishable level, unlike last year when it was running at near flood levels from mid-June to late July. I have a whole box of Alder Fly patterns and another of hex. The hatches are sure to emerge and I'll be ready when it does. Stay tuned for the report when I get back on the 4th of July.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mainely Salmon

Early this week the BSC (Bull Salmon Club - a bunch of guys who have been fishing together for 20 years or more) spent a few days fishing the West Branch of the Penobscot River near Ripogenous Gorge. We actually stayed at Nesourdnehunk Camps on the lake of the same name, alledged to be the home of wild brook trout of prodigous proportions. Well, if you consider eight inches to be prodigous, you would be happy. We weren't, so we took the 18 mile drive to the West Branch every day. In short, the fishing was fantastic. Caddis were everywhere and the fish were feeding on top from morning 'til night. The largest I caught was about 18 inches, but the average was almost 15 inches, and they fought like hell in that fast current. A few Little Yellow Sallies were around and my single most effective fly was a chartreuse Usual, although I caught fish on almost every caddis pattern I threw at them, as well as a couple mayfly patterns. This is a picture of Dick and Randy fishing one of our favorite spots.
After I got back I innoculated a couple beginner clients with the fly fishing bug and they caught a couple brown trout on the Contoocook River (the Usual strikes again!) This continuing cool weather pattern is great for the fish. I hope it holds up, since I'll be guiding in the White Mountains a couple days this week. Then on Friday I'll be heading north with my partner Jim for two weeks guiding on the Androscoggin River in the Thirteen Mile Woods section. We have one spot open for a single angler. If you are interested, here is the link for more info .

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Grin and bear it

Funny how sometimes things just fall into place. Yesterday the young lady shown below with her first trout had asked me if I ever saw wildlife in my travels, specifically bears. I said, yes a couple times, but usually it is just a brief glance as they go diving into the bushes to get away from you. Well, after today I have a different answer. Yes, I have seen a bear up close and personal! I was with a couple clients today fishing the area around Lincoln, NH. We were going to have lunch near Canon Mt. and then head down to fish the Newfound River after not finding any fish on the Pemigewasset River. As we drove through the parking lot of the Canon Mt. tramway station, I was looking up at the ski slopes to see if there were any bears grazing. In the morning and evening you can usually see them grazing the sweet new grass high above you. I didn't see any bears on the slopes, but as we approached the lunch spot I had selected I saw a bear grazing on grass and flowers. This was a full-grown bear probably 3+ feet at the shoulder. We looked at it from about 30 or 40 feet away and it just kept munching on the grass, totally ignoring us. We drove up the road a few hundred feet near the Echo Lake boat launch area, parked and ate lunch. As we were eating, one of the guys exclaimed, holy cow, look at that! The bear must have smelled our lunch and was heading towards us, but suddenly it stopped, having recognized the sight, sound or smell of humans and took off into the woods. Luckily there were no cubs in sight - just a curious hungry bruin.
We finished our lunch and proceeded to the Newfound River where we found plenty of willing fish. . . but no bears!

First steps

Every year I guide a lot of beginners - usually a couple family members, husband-wife, father-son, etc. Sometimes 15 or 20, in addition to those that attend my Learn-to-fly-fish classes. Every trip is different, but every trip has the same excitement and anticipation of many "Firsts." First successful cast; first fish on a fly; first fish on a dry fly, etc. This is all new to my students and they are naturally pretty excited by all these Firsts. But sharing all those Firsts keeps me energized, as well. Every time my students score a First, I get to share it, and it becomes my First, too. This week I had a lot of Firsts. For one, it is the first time I was a 25th anniversary gift. Yes, I took a husband-wife team out to learn how to fly fish for their anniversary. If that doesn't beat a honeymoon suite in the Poconos, I don't know what does! We fished the Contoocook River in Henniker, and although the hatches have slowed a bit, there were still a few fish looking for food and we fed them. First fish on a fly, First brook trout and first brown trout - sweet!
Then on Friday I took a father-daughter to the Farmington River in CT. Last year the father had spent a couple days in September with us on the Androscoggin River in the 13-mile Woods section near Errol, NH. He caught a lot of fish, improved his casting skills and had a great time. He convinced his daughter, a BC college student, to give it a try and they both had a great time. We chose the Farmington, since they live near "The City" and it is a river they can fish from home. After a few casting and mending lessons, we caught some of those highly-educated browns that the Farmington River is known for. Can you remember the excitement of your first fish on a fly? How about your son/daughter's first fish? How about their first fish on a dry fly? I do!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

So many fish, so little time . . .

Sorry for the gap in updating the blog, but you can guess where I have been. Right! Many days on the water assisting clients get into the sport of fly fishing and/or helping experienced folks find some fish to target. Mission accomplished. A good bit of time was spent with some FFNE blog regulars.Here is Matt with his second-largest rainbow of the day. He and friend Patrick caught MANY nice rainbows on dries (everything from elkhair caddis, spentwing caddis, and various spinners, to Alder Fly patterns) and some brook trout, too.

Jeff and Mike also caught a lot of fish, mostly on dries, too. Here is a nice rainbow that Mike fooled. Although we spent a lot of time fishing the tremendous caddis hatch on the Newfound River, I also hit the Pemigewasset, Smith and Contoocook Rivers last week. The Contoocook has been something of a disappointment this year. The Hendrickson hatch was weak compared to past years. The fish are still there, but spread out and require a bit of leg work to find. Fortunately, the Newfound River has fish and hatches for now, and the Smith gave up some brook trout at Profile Falls if you can find the right fly and presentation. Beginner Josh and his dad came back for another on-the-stream lesson and both caught some nice fish. Here is Josh' first brook trout on a fly (Alder fly dry.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Prime time on local waters

The high water is rapidly receding and the hatches are starting to pop and the stocking trucks have made their appointed rounds. What are you waiting for?!?! The Squannacook River got a good load of fish last week and the Nissitissit should get theirs this week. Water levels are great on both rivers. Monday I made my rounds scouting water for upcoming guide trips and caught quite a few in the Souhegan River in Wilton and Greenville. Woolly-buggers with a soft hackle dropper did the trick - about 50/50 on each fly. Fished right where the fast water dropped into the pools. Need some weight to get the flies down to the fish in fast water. Contoocook and Pemigewasset Rivers are still a bit high for safe wading. Smith River has been producing along route 104. Probably the best bet is still the ponds. Jim and Dick reported fast action on Willard and Stonehouse Ponds. Ron's ant pattern has also been scoring some good fish on the ponds. Still no word from anybody getting any broodstock salmon. Looks like another dud spring season on the Pemi. Word is that they dumped them in at Sewalls Falls again, rather than Bristol, where the best fishing spots are. Get out and enjoy the season and let me/us know how you are doing!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

April showers - in May

The trout ponds of NH are one of the only spots to be assured of a chance at some trout (especially on dries) based on water level of the rivers and streams. Just as we were starting to get down to a fishable level from the rain of last Tueswday/Wednesday, we got another shot of rain through central NH last night. The Sugar River had just come down to a good level and then it got blown out again last night. The Contoocook was still at a high level and last night's rain delayed the fishing there for the better part of the coming week. They put the broodstock salmon into the Pemi over a week ago and the the fish have probably been washed down through the canals of Lowell, ever the Essex dam and down to Joppa Flats just in time for the stripers to greet them. That leaves the trout ponds, which for now are our best bets. Willard Pond in the Antrim/Hancock, NH area has been fishing good. Anybody been to Sky or Stonehouse Pond yet? We should start seeing some mayfly hatches there in the late morning and afternoon, which usually assures some good topwater action. In MASS the Millers River was at a good level until Tuesday, when the flow volume increased from 300CFS to 1500+CFS. The Squannacook and Nissitissit are at a pretty good level, but need another visit by the stocking truck to make fishing worthwhile. A couple days ago I checked the Prescott St bridge and there were still a few trout holding in the pool, so that might be worth a try for now. You can access the USGS river gages from my Resources page by clicking on the title of this blog entry. (I check it every morning and evening to tell me where the flows will be good to fish.)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Contoocook Hordes and Farmington Hatches

The Farmington River in the upper TMA didn't offer a lot of solitude. The Hendrickson hatch is now out all the way up to Riverton and I think all the people laid off from the insurance companies in Hartford and the Wall Street financial guys were all there. In another week the hatch should be almost up to the dam. At least that will add some additional water for everybody to spread out a bit. Stan, Ron and I made the pilgrimage yesterday. We started below the TMA and caught a few fish on softhackle droppers, as well as on my favorite rootbeer woolly-bugger. Then we moved around the TMA looking for fish in relative solitude. We found both. I won't name the pools, but we caught fish on soft hackles and dries from about 11:00AM until about 6:00PM. There were plenty of small caddis, BWO and Hendricksons. We caught not only a lot of fish, but "quality" fish to about 20". Almost every fish was specifically targeted and was visible on the take. It was the best day of fishing I can remember. Here is a picture of Ron with one of the many fish he landed. Even though it got pretty windy as the day went on, we still caught loads of fish on top. We finished up using spinner patterns, although the wind was probably blowing all the spinners over to the Housatonic.
My buddy Jim reports that the flows and water temps on the Contoocook are real good, but the crowds are incredible there, too. Mid-week he said every pull-off access point had at least a couple cars and some pools had 6 or 8 people in them. He also reports not seeing anybody catch a fish. This level of pressure can't be good for the fish. Those that haven't been hooked and cooked are probably shell-shocked from everybody flogging the water every day of the week. The water levels are going down on the Smith, Bakers, Bearcamp, Saco and Ellis, among others, so hopefully the crowds will spread out and give the fish a break. Ponds are also a good bet right now.
Footnote: It has been brought to my attention that the hordes that descended on the Contoocook River were probably brought about by everybody seeing the video of Richard catching a fish there. H-mm-m-m-m, an interesting hypothesis!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Highs and lows of flows

Lately we have had more high than low flows. Last weekend the flows were pretty good. I did some scouting trips to the Sugar and Contoocook Rivers and caught some fish. Last Monday I took my friend Richard on a trip to the Contoocook River to give him a few tips and here is the little video I put together of Richard with one of the fish he hooked.

The next day it rained and the river was blown out with near-flood-level flows until this weekend. I was pretty busy anyway. On Wednesday I testified at a public hearing about the potential consolidation of a number of NH state departments, including Fish and Game, Agriculture and Parks and Recreation. I guess the Concord Monitor liked one of the sound bites I generated.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Squannacook Prime conditions

I did a little scouting on the Squannacook in W. Groton and found it to be ideal. Flow level was about 150CFS and temp was 50F - both just about perfect. Loads of insects - stone flies, midges, caddis and what looked like a couple big March brown spinners. Only fooled one rainbow, though. And a few of the places that showed fish last week were empty. I suppose the hook-and-cook crowd has found success there. Well, the stocking trucks should be rolling again soon. (A sad but true commentary on our southern New England fishery.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fishing Jackpot in NH

Stan and I went on a scouting expedition to see how the Sugar and Contoocook Rivers were fishing. The low rainfall so far this spring has the rivers at great fishable levels. We found more stoneflies buzzing around than we could believe. The Contoocook had so many stone flies that it looked almost like a major caddis hatch. On the Sugar R. w e caught brookies and browns in a deep, clear pool that you can see here. When I get another free minute, I'll give you the "story behind the story."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The surest sign of spring

Some would say it is the robin. Others declare it upon the last dirty snowdrift disappearing. Opening day of baseball season is the surest sign of spring for the Red Sox faithful. For others, it is still the dead of winter until the stocking trucks roll. Notwithstanding the few dirty snowdrifts, I declare spring to be officially here. I took my granddog for a ride this afternoon to search for signs of spring and found it in Townsend on the Squannacook River. The Nissitissit River in Pepperell showed nothing but suckers at the Prescott Street bridge, but spring was in full bloom near the Dunkin' Donuts on route 13. Having slung a variety of woolly buggers at them, they voted the tungsten beadhead rootbeer color as their favorite. The chartreuse variety fooled a couple, but the rootbeer was the clear winner. Must have looked like a giant hatchery pellet.
The Squannacook was 46F and running about 250CFS, just a tad high for comfortable wading. The Nissitissit was 47F and running about 225CFS, a little high, also. Both should be in good shape for fishing this weekend.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Rivers look ready to fish

I just got back from taking a ride around the local rivers. The Squannacook near the Dunkin' Donuts on route 13 in Townsend was 46F and looked clear and fishable, but hasn't been stocked yet. The Nissitissit at the Prescott Street bridge was the same. USGS gauge says Squannacook is running at 304 CFS and Nissi at244 CFS. My local wild brook trout stream was 50F. Couldn't see any fish there either.
Also, the Pepperell FD was running some kind of water rescue drill with a number of cars, FD trucks and a couple red FD trailers full of gear. They must have been pretty cold, because they consumed some large Dunkin' Donuts coffees and left the cups laying around at the parking spot. I picked them up, but if you know any Pepperell firemen, you can let them know that among their ranks there are at least a couple idiot pigs.
Some of the local rivers should be stocked this week if we don't get flooded from the rain that is coming in the next few days. Be sure to bring a trash bag with you to pick up after the idiots out there who don't pick up after themselves.
Remember, we all live downstream.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Progress made in fight against Rock Snot!

Good news! Apparently, researchers have made progress against rock snot. <Article>
Anybody check out that picture? Nasty-lookin' stuff!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Farmington River Trip

Wednesday Stan, Ron, Richard and I made a pilgrimage to the Farmington River in the upper TMA. It was pretty brisk with a stiff breeze blowing off and on all day long. We found a few fish rising to Winter/Summer caddis, about size 20. They seemed to be rising just out of reach, since we seemed to always be casting into the wind. Nobody got any fish, but it was a fun day. I was able to collect some small caddis and stoneflies for my class this week, so it was at least somewhat productive.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Golden Oldie St Paddy's Fish Story (Click here)

This is a fishing report of sorts from St Paddy's Day 1995. Leave a comment if you have ever had an on-stream experience like this.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Learn to Fly Fish Class - Still openings - Pelham, NH

If anybody is interested, or has a friend/spouse that would like to attend a FREE Learn to Fly Fish Class, we have a few seats open at our full-day class in Pelham, NH on April 4. The Nashua class is full. I will stack this class up against any commercial class costing $300-400. This class is not only for beginners, but Intermediates who have had no formal instruction and want more knowledge about fly fishing. There are eight hours of class room instruction and a two hour casting lesson on April 25. Send me an email if you want more info or want to register.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Terrific Presentation Tuesday March 10 - Noted author/photographer Thomas Ames, Jr.

Gang, thanks to all of you who stopped by to chat or came to my presentation at the Fly Fish NH Show this weekend! Another event is coming up soon that you won't want to miss. The March meeting of Merrimack River Valley TU in Manchester, NH features author/photographer Thomas Ames, Jr. Mr. Ames is the author of a couple books that should be in every fly fisher's library: The Hatch Guide To New England Streams and Fishbugs a "coffee table" book full of beautiful photographs and descriptions of aquatic insects found in New England. I promise you that Mr. Ames' books will make you a better fisherman and his presentation will too. The meeting is held at the Sweeney American Legion Post at 251 Maple St., Manchester, NH. (Admission is free!)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fly Fish New Hampshire Show (click here for flyer)

Next weekend, March 7 & 8, be sure to attend Fly Fish New Hampshire, New Hampshire's only Fly Fishing show. The show once again will be held at Pelham Fish and Game Club, 300 Simpson Mill Road, Pelham, NH. My guiding partner Jim and I will give a presentation each day, as well as have a booth in the exhibit hall. There will be lots of fly shops, outfitters, lodges, etc. Get your 2009 license at the NH Fish and Game department booth, or enroll in the Saturday morning rod-building class. Plan on spending the whole day.
Stop by NH Rivers Guide booth and say hi!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tarpon on the Fly!

Stan and I made a couple "not-much-to-report" trips to the Charlotte Harbor flats with only a couple small trout to show for it. Then yesterday we took a drive down to the canals near the Tamiami Trail in the Everglades. We fished there briefly a couple weeks ago when Stan caught a Jack. This time it wasn't too windy; was a little warmer and the fish (and gators) were more active. The gators were sunning themselves in some of the good fishing spots.
I saw schools of baitfish "raining" on the water, so I knew that they were getting spooked by a predator, probably a tarpon, since we had seen some rolling on the surface. I had put on a weedless, white tarpon fly and tossed it about 20 feet in front of me into some cloudy water at the end of the canal, where the baitfish were swarming out of the water. The line came tight and I set the hook hard and the fight was on. This thing ran, jumped, jumped some more and generally went berserk! This big gator made a beeline towards the commotion and stopped about 20 feet way from us.I put a lot of pressure on the tarpon to keep it away from the gator. It was hard to land the fish, since the bank of the canal is about two feet above the water, and I was not about to get down into the canal with that hungry gator! I was using a 12-pound redfish leader, with 18-inches of 30-pound fluorocarbon as a bite-tippet to protect from abrasion from toothy critters and sharp gill covers. Here is some video Stan shot.

As I was pulling the tarpon up the bank, it lunged and broke the leader. I estimate it to be 24 to 26-inches and somewhere a little less than 10 pounds. Two-bites for a gator!
After making a few more casts, we decided to move down the canal a ways and fish another spot, where we had seen another fly fisher earlier. When we got there he was putting his gear away in the truck and I noticed it had Maine plates. As we pulled up, he turned around and I recognized Danny Legere, proprieter of the Maine Guide Fly Shop in Greenville, Maine. We chatted for a while, exchanging info on some local spots. You never know who you are going to run into on the water!
This is probably my last report, since we are leaving Saturday to head back north. Hope you enjoyed this mid-winter interlude, even though it is "off-topic" from New England Fly Fishing.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Learn to Fly Fish - FREE - Pelham, NH

We have added another class, this one an all-day (8:30AM to 4:30PM) Saturday class at Pelham Fish and Game Club in Pelham, NH on April 4. In case you couldn't work one of the other classes into your schedule, give this one a try. These classes are for beginners, but also intermediates who want to learn more. We will cover everything from equipment basics, knots, safety, ethics, coldwater conservation; trout food (not Purina trout-chow, but mayflies, caddis, stoneflies, etc.) and strategies and where to fish. There will also be a casting class on-the-water on April 25. There is no charge for the class, but you need to register by sending me an email.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Charlotte Harbor odyssey

Saturday Dick took Stan and I out on his flats boat. Sorry no pictures :(
We cast the flats along the inlet of Alligator Creek with no action. We then hit the flats north of Burnt Store marina. This is a great place for stalking redfish. We saw loads of redfish and Stan hooked into a real bruiser. He couldn't move the fish with his 9WT rod and the fish kept rubbing his mouth on the bottom to try to dislodge the fly and wore through the leader. We then cruised down to Boca Grande pass, saw a bunch of dolphins and stopped near Turtle Bay to try for some trout without any luck. A great day to be on the water. We are going to try to get out early tomorrow morning. Maybe we can entice some fish before the sun gets high in the sky.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

More Charlotte Harbor Flats Fishing

Stan and I got up at o' dark:30 and got out to the flats at sun-up before the wind started blowing. Actually, it was a very foggy morning and the fishing wasn't too bad. We each landed nice speckled seatrout.
This is the trail through the mangroves down to the flats.
It was real foggy, which was kind of cool.

Stan took this video of me landing a nice speckled seatrout.

This is what the trout looked like.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tamiami Trail - fishin' and gators

Stan and Deborah wanted to 1. see some gators (Deborah) and 2. catch some fish (Stan.) I could guarantee with a 99.9999% certainty that Debbie would see gators, but guaranteeing fish is not in my nature. Well, we saw hundreds of gators, some manatees, and some fish. Here is one that was on the end of Stan's line.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More Learn to fly Fish Classes - Amoskeag Fishways - Manchester, NH

Monday evenings beginning March 23 there will be FREE learn to fly fish classes at Amoskeag Fishways in Manchester, NH. Click the title above to access the Amoskeag Fishways website for information or call 603-626-3474 to register.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Learn to Fly Fish classes - Manchester, NH

To enroll in the classes at Manchester Public Library, click on the title to this entry and go to Events>Calendar>March and scroll to March 26. Classes begin March 26 for four consecutive Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. My buddy Stan Jodziewicz is the primary instructor for this class.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bass Pro Shop Event

Saturday and Sunday February 7 and 8, the Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World store in Foxboro will be hosting their Outfitters and Guides event. NH Rivers Guide Service will be there. My partner Jim Norton will answer your questions and give you a mini-slide-show presentation about fishing in NH. Stop by and say hi!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Learn to Fly Fish Classes - Nashua

I was happy to hear that some folks who visit this board attended the Fly Tying class last Saturday at Nashua Library. In March and April there will be a (Free) Learn to Fly Fish Class for beginners and intermediates. This is a series of five 2-hour classes. Four sessions at the library (March 16, 23, 30 and April 6) and a 2-hour casting clinic on the water April 25. Click on the title of this entry to go to the calendar page of the Nashua Library to register for the class. The class is jointly sponsored by Merrimack River Valley TU chapter and NH Fish and Game Let's Go Fishing Program. I will be the primary instructor. Space is limited, so sign up early.
BTW, if you missed the Fly Tying class in Nashua, the class will be given again this Saturday, January 31, in Manchester, NH. To register go to click on Upcoming Events.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Even here in Florida, the cold front has taken its toll on the fishing. Probably another week or so before things begin to warm up. In the mean time, here are a couple things to take a look at:
The Puffer fish caught on a shrimp fly!

And another bit of an odd-duck type of fish - the Lady fish!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Florida Flats Fishing

Went solo to the Charlotte Harbor flats. Weather perfect. ~80F and very light breeze.

Fish were a little more cooperative, too! Here is a nice trout that fell for a pink shrimp/Clouser.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Flats of Charlotte Harbor

Dick Davidson and I fished the flats of Charlotte Harbor. Very little access without a boat, but last year I found a little-used wading access point. There was a very low tide in the morning, excellent for wading, but the breeze was up and impossible to sight-fish. Nothing but sea trout and puffer fish, no redfish this trip.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

First report of 2009 - Happy New Year!

Gang, sorry to be so long between posts. I hope to be able to post something appropriate soon. In the meantime, be sure to hit the Rockingham Expo in Salem, NH this weekend. TU will have a booth and my guiding partner Jim Norton is giving a presentation about fishing the large rivers of NH. Until then, enjoy this "Fishless Fishing Report" from Florida.