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.