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.