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!