Friday, December 24, 2010

To-do list for 2011

I have been wrapping up stuff I have been putting off since the "busy-season" ended in October.  I cleaned out a lot of ratty-looking flies from my fly boxes.  Then I took inventory of what was left and began tying to fill in the blanks.  I tied a lot of girdle-bugs, which worked real well for me on the Androscoggin in September.  My buddies Jim and Dick spent a couple weeks in Montana in July and swore by the pattern, so I tied up a few and they worked like a charm where ever there are large stone fly nymphs.  Then I tied up a bunch of caddis dries (Alder fly pattern) and even a few hex in my favorite parachute pattern with the antron trailing shuck. Then I added a few various colored wooly buggers - a lot of rootbeer, a few olive, a few chartreuse for the early season stockers, and then a couple yellow/olive.  Right in the middle of taking inventory and tying, my guiding partner Jim and I began working on our new fly fishing presentation.  We usually do presentations about specific rivers and/or areas, such as Large rivers of NH, the Moosehead Lake area, or Rangeley Lakes, Androscoggin, SW Montana, etc. We decided to take a different approach.  We looked at a typical season in New England and picked out our "go-to"  flies - ones that we seemed to always be successful with.  Then we looked at where and when we used them and put together a presentation we call "The New England Fly Box - Fly Patterns and the Hatches they Match." We just finished it yesterday and will probably tweak a bit here and there. This brings up another point about the "To-do list" title of this post. Time to update the calendar for 2011.  Jim is going to be giving our new presentation at a few shows/events starting in a couple weeks, including the mega-fly-fishing-show in Marlboro. MA the weekend of January 14-16. Here is a link to our current schedule.  (If you have a club looking for speakers let me know.)
While you have your calendar out, take a look at your fishing plans for the year.  We are well on our way to booking our Androscoggin River All-inclusive Special Package for the last two weeks of June. If that is something you have been thinking about, better check the open dates. Also, if you start getting a bad case of the shack-nasties this winter, you can go to that page to look at some pictures and videos of previous trips with Alder fly swarms, big brook trout, etc.
Next on the "To-do list" is pack for Florida.
Flats booties - check
8-wt rod - check
saltwater reel - check
saltwater fly box - check
sun block - check
30-pound fluoro leader material - check

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy 2011!

Monday, December 13, 2010

One LAST time

Well, Dick and I squeezed another day out of the fishing year. The weather was too nice to pass up.  We spent most of the morning below route 9 in the area from the USGS gage down past the hatchery pipe.  Seemed like fewer fish - George thinks they have gone up the pipe and every now and then come back down to frolic and feed and get caught.  They better enjoy their time while they can, because come 1/1/11 they will be fair game to move into the category of food.   Speaking of food, after a quick sandwich we fished above route 9 (permanent catch and release area.)  Dick has not had much success in the past in that area, but today he landed the nice rainbow pictured here.  Congrats Dick!  I hit a couple of my usual spots with only a few small brookies to show for it.  Then I worked my way downstream a couple hundred yards and picked up a few nice rainbows.  One in particular is notable, in that I was fishing a shallow run where I could see some feeding fish. My usual rig of a small BHPT with a softhackle dropper was too heavy.  So I took off the nymph and tied on a size 20 parachute BWO as an indicator fly for the size 24 softhackle dropper.  After making about 20 drifts over a nice rainbow, he suddenly sipped the dry and the fight was on.  A nice way to cap a great season.  Stay tuned for news from Florida!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fly fishing crack

The Swift River should be a controlled substance.  Couldn't resist going again yesterday and might go tomorrow. Air was almost 40F and water was 46F.   Didn't see more than a couple tiny insects and very few rises (stray pellets?) but a size 20 BHPT with a size 20 and smaller softhackle dropper did the trick.  When they got tired of the red SH I took a couple on the olive and one on a small pink egg. This is one of my small soft hackles.  It is nothing more than appropriately colored (red, black, olive, yellow, etc.) thread, thin gold wire and two wraps or less of partridge hackle. The hackle is a little longer than ideal, but on a 20 or smaller fly, it is a challenge to find and wrap a proportionate soft hackle.  The fish don't seem to mind.
For a Serendipty, I substitute elk hair tips. For a midge pupa I don't use hackle, just a couple wraps of peacock herl or ostrich herl.  A quick tie and effective.  I tie the soft hackles in slightly larger sizes (16 and 18) to use as droppers throughout the season.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lake Ontario tribs - a fishing gold mine!

Most of us have read about and many New Englanders have made the drive west on I-90 to partake of the fishing in the Lake Ontario tributaries, the Salmon River around Pulaski, NY being one of the the most famous. FFNE regular Matt lives in the Rochester, NY area and sent me an email with commentary and pictures about fishing some of the smaller tribs. Here is an extract of his report. (The name of this tributary is not mentioned to avoid "spot-burning" but there are probably 20 or more rivers that fit this description.

"In years like this one, where there is enough water, the fish disburse throughout the system and will stay in the creek all winter. We will catch them again in the Spring when they drop back to the Lake. It is mostly big brown trout and fall run rainbows, which in the spring will be augmented with steelhead coming in to spawn. The season begins in late October when the Chinook run and spawn, creating an orgy of salmon eggs. The browns and rainbows come in following the salmon eating the eggs. We catch fish on small egg patterns (10-14s) usually under a strike indicator with a little weight added. It is mostly sight fishing to specific fish or pods of fish. The male browns show up first and we see them fighting for territory on gravel. The fishing is best when the females come in to spawn. Spawning is unsuccessful for the salmon and the browns, but the rainbows and steelhead that get up to the cooler headwaters do successfully reproduce. The Atlantics are quite new—seeing more of them each year for the past 4 years. The theory is that they are from Ontario, which is now stocking solely Atlantic salmon on their side of the Lake. The charter captains will never let NY stock only atlantics because their business is dependent upon trolling for big pacific salmon in the Lake in the summer—but we do stock some Atlantics as well.

Once the spawn is over-usually about Thanksgiving—we catch these fish with big streamers either dead drifted or on the swing (much more fun). No subtle takes but a lot more prospecting in deeper pools."
Matt, thanks for the reports and pictures.  You might see me out there next November!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A rut? Or tenacity?

Well, you must be as tired of reading as I am about writing about ventures to the Swift River. Sorry, but I did it again. Tuesday, once again was another of those late fall days that made for an irresistible urge to feel the tug, so off to the Swift again. This time was different in a number of ways. Although I have known him for a number of years and he is a good friend and we have a lot of common interests, I had never fished with Charlie Shadan, owner of the Evening Sun Fly Shop in Pepperell. We decided to fish above route 9 until lunch and then below route 9 in the afternoon. There was only one car at the route 9 bridge when we arrived a little after 9AM. That was quickly remedied, as a number of people showed up as we got rigged up and started the short trek up to the Y-pool and bubbler. We noted a few fish at all the likely spots on our walk upstream. The thought was to start at the top and work down. Since I rigged up a little quicker, I had first choice, so I stepped into the bubbler arm. I stood studying the water for a few minutes, picking out a likely subject for my attention. Then one cast, one fish - must have been beginners luck. I caught 5 more fish out of that spot, before moving downstream a couple hundred yards and picking off a few more nice rainbows. Charlie had quite a few hookups too. After lunch we moved down to the hatchery pipe area and picked up a few more fish, before calling it a day. Last time it was the hatchery pipe that paid off, and this time it was the upper river. Go figure. Once again, it was the red softhackle, size 20 and smaller that was the heavy favorite. Also a few on the size 20 BHPT and olive softhackle. None on eggs this time. I need to sit down at the tying bench and whip out some more softhackles in case I get the urge for another tug before heading south to Florida after Christmas. Overall, it was a great day on the water and I really enjoyed fishing with Charlie. We swapped some fish tales and agreed to do it again ASAP. Drop by Evening Sun and get the straight scoop from Charlie.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The real "last best" day?

Since the last report I made a couple more trips to the Swift River; each time, figuring it was going to be the last trip of the year before winter conditions set in.  The first trip was divided fairly evenly between the below route 9/hatchery pipe run and the above route 9 catch and release area.  Plenty of fish were available in both locations, so the fishing was good everywhere, but the catching was better below route 9.  The water is a good bit faster there, so the fish have less time to study potential food from all angles and need to make the "food or not-food" decision more quickly.  The second (last?) trip was a couple days ago when the temperature peaked over 60F. That day was spent in the hatchery pipe run area.  Dick and I got there around 8AM and there were a couple guys in the "prime real estate" location, so Dick and I settled in above the fallen tree.  Dick and I both had rigged our rods the night before in the prime visibility environs of our respective man-caves.  My green copper john (18) with a red softhackle (24) dropper quickly fooled a nice rainbow, who stayed buttoned to the end of my tippet for all of 5 seconds before coming unbuttoned.  Then  it was something of a dry spell until some midges started to hatch around 9:30.  I switched to a dry set-up and after a few hundred casts, I started to have fish actual come up to inspect my  size 22 BWO dry before settling back to take the size 38 naturals.  I finally got one on a size 24 olive softhackle that I repeatedly brushed with Frog's Fanny desiccant.  After taking a walk upstream and having a bite of lunch, I was able to share the pipe run with George and Don.  My supply of sub-20 sized red softhackles began to take their toll on the heavily fished rainbows.  I got one fish on the size 20 BHPT I was using to sink the softhackle dropper, but all the rest were on the red softhackle.  Every now and then I switched to a black or olive softhackle, but tying on a red one was money in the bank.  Other flies that took a fish or two included the white diamond braid egg cluster and a pink egg.  Dick caught a few fish from the area below the crib dam down to just above the hatchery intake.  Overall, a day that will hold me until I break out the 7-wt down in Florida about a month from now.
One final comment about the fishing at the Swift.  I think I have mentioned before about how fish will quickly associate a strike indicator as something to be avoided. They will swim out of their feeding lane to avoid the pink, orange or yellow indicator after a couple of their buddies have been hooked.  Dick loaned me his tiny white Thingamabobber and not once did I see a fish swim away from it.  I need to stop by Evening Sun and pick up a couple little white indicators for next April when the Swift is the only river at a fishable level during the run-off.
Tight Lines and Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Yesterday I took George for a tour/fishing trip to the Swift River.  We got to the gage station parking lot by 8:00AM and there was only one person at the hatchery pipe run.  We had a brief chat. He had caught a few fish already and moved down toward the fallen tree pool.  We lost count of how many fish George fooled.  After losing a few fish on the small flies he was using, George got the hang of setting the hook and then letting the fish run a bit before bringing them in for the release. One of our objectives was to show George the various fishing areas/access points, so after an hour or so we took a walk down to Cady Lane, spotting fish and pointing out some pools and runs to fish on subsequent trips on his own.  Then after a streamside lunch at the goose-pen pool we parked near the route 9 bridge and fished the upper river in the afternoon.  There were lots of fishermen in the Y-pool, so we fished a couple spots in the bubbler run.  George fooled a couple fish and landed this nice rainbow. There were lots of big fish in the run, but with the low water, they were real difficult to approach with any kind of presentation.
The Y-pool continued to be crowded, so we hit a couple other spots on the way downstream back to route 9.  George got a nice male brooktrout at the hemlocks and then fooled a few rainbows at Stan's favorite nymphing spot.   Overall, the best flies were the soft hackles (red, black, olive.) Other successful flies were the green copper John, and pheasant tail nymph - size 20.
The water was about 53F and the air was over 60F - a really great day. Can't be too many days like this left in 2010!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veteran's Day Trout on the Squannacook River

Yesterday I paid a visit to the Squannacook River in West Groton.  I ran into some good friends there and took this video of their fishing exploits. I am sure many of you will recognize their handsome faces.  Enjoy!

Today I took George (of broodstock salmon fame - see the earlier report) to the Swift River. He had a fantastic day there.  Report and pictures in process.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Next stop: Farmington River

Today Stan and I made the run down to Riverton/New Hartford, CT to fish the Farmington, one of my (many) favorite rivers in New England.  After a few days of rainy, blustery weather, the skies began to clear and it was great to be out on the water.  As the day began to warm a bit (air temp 59F and water 50F) we saw a few BWO hatching and one solitary tan caddis in mid-afternoon.  Very few rises, and so sporadic that we couldn't target any particular fish. We made the rounds of many of our usual haunts: Beaver pool, Whittemore, Church Pool, Greenwoods, Central Riffle, Boneyard and Ovation.  After all that we each had a couple strikes with missed hook-ups and we each landed a fish.  Stan got a nice rainbow pictured below and I got about a 15 inch brown.  Stan got his on a white sparkle softhackle and I got mine on a white diamond-braid egg cluster.
George called me to have me take him and a friend fishing this Friday. We haven't totally dialed it in yet, but we'll probably do a tour/lesson/fishing of the Swift River.  Tomorrow, I'll be somewhere, but haven't decided where yet.  Any suggestions or requests?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NH seacoast bonanza

Yesterday Stan and I paid a visit to the "Three Rivers" of the NH seacoast area - the Lamprey, Cocheco, and Isinglas.  The Three Rivers Stocking Association raises money to buy fish from a private hatchery and stocks the Lamprey and Cocheco rivers in October.  Waste Management Inc has large facilities that abut the Isinglas River and they stocked it last week. You won't find a lot (or any!) dry fly action, but a well-drifted nymph or egg pattern, or a skillfully stripped woolly-buggerish pattern can be deadly.  We caught fish on each river, with the Lamprey tops in both quantity and quality of fish. Of course, the next time it could be the Cocheco or Isinglas that comes out on top.  I think one key is to find a seam, slot, or depression that has not been pounded by anybody else for a few hours or a day or so.  At this time of year that often means being first into a pool or run.  In summer, it is good to get out early to take advantage of cooler water temps, but at this time of year, cool water (or air) temperature isn't an issue, but fishing pressure is. 

Another key tactic is to show them something they haven't seen before.  For the first few days after stocking, trout are "testing for food" - meaning that they will bite almost anything to see if it is good to eat.  After getting caught by olive woolly-buggers and prince nymphs, they pretty soon take those off their preferred menu.  Sometimes something as simple as going smaller or bigger, or using a weird color is enough to arouse curiosity.  Trigger colors like red or chartreuse often will bring a strike, when brown and gray flies are ignored.  Yesterday I had success with red serendipities and white diamond braid egg clusters, but tomorrow those could be forsaken in favor of yellow softhackles or chartreuse/black woolly buggers.  Get creative at the tying bench and you might get lucky on the river.

Monday, November 1, 2010

More salmon - Pictures!

By popular demand, I have added this post with pictures of the salmon featured in the previous post.  George sent me the pictures taken with his camera, which do more justice to the fine salmon he caught than my poorly executed video.  I guess after we landed the fish it was easier to focus our attention on taking good pictures, rather than being concerned about losing the big salmon.
Thanks for your patience, I hope you agree it was worth the wait.

George, thanks for sending the pictures and allowing me to post them on the blog!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

More salmon!

My last post said I was going with Stan to fish the Swift River - wrong!  Thursday night a new client called about going salmon fishing.  George is an experience salt water angler, and does some freshwater fly fishing, but very little in New England.  He saw my broodstock Atlantic salmon video on my guiding website and thought that it would be fun. I recommended against it, since the water was a little high from the rain we had last Tuesday/Wednesday.  But George really wanted to try it, so I agreed to take him to the Pemi, and depending on the water level, possibly go to the Lamprey or Cocheco Rivers in the afternoon.  We started out below the Ayers Island dam in Bristol.  It was a little high (about 2300CFS, while I prefer 2,000 or less.)  We got one salmon there on a hair-wing Black Ghost streamer.  It was his first salmon, and we were both glad not to be skunked.  After a little while we moved down river to the Coolidge Woods Road section.  The wading was a bit tough and we weren't able to get to some of my favorite spots, but after many casts and many fly changes, we saw a small salmon jump.  George cast his fly in that direction and almost immediately he hooked a good fish.

It turned out to be the biggest salmon I have seen in at least 3 years.  I estimate 25+ inches and 6 pounds or so. Welcome to fly fishing in NH!  (Just don't expect this result every time!) We fished a little longer and then at lunch we discussed options.  Since the water was too high to enable us to fish some of my best spots and it was totally unfishable in Franklin (they were releasing about 5,500CFS) we decided to hit one of the rivers in SE NH that have been stocked since the first of October.  We only had time to fish one river, so we went to the Lamprey River.  We proceeded to hook into about a dozen trout on a variety of nymph patterns - caddis larva, small Zug bugs, copper john, soft hackles, etc.  It turned out to be a great day with both quantity and quality of fish exceeding expectations. A day to remember when the snow is flying and our thoughts turn to the fly tying table and fishing next season.
This week I might try the Swift, the SE NH rivers or maybe somewhere else. Stay tuned !

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fishy October

Since my last update, I have hit the water in quite a few places and have a couple more trips planned.  Fished the Pemi a couple times - once with a few salmon to show for it, and once with a couple salmon hooked and one nice rainbow landed - at Bristol and Franklin.  Also fished the Lamprey and Cocheco again, with a few average rainbows and browns and one really fat 17+ inch rainbow.  Also fished the Swift below the route 9 bridge and at the hatchery pipe.
Got a nice rainbow on a size 20 parachute Adams in the pool below the route 9 bridge and a whole bunch of rainbows and one brown at the pipe - mostly on Shadan softhackles, but also on white sparkle egg clusters, caddis larva and one hit-and-quick-release on the parachute Adams.
I plan to hit the local rivers (Squannacook and Nissitissit) this afternoon and the Swift tomorrow with Stan.
Also, here is a video I recently put up on Youtube from an early October trip on the Androscoggin River and CT rivers. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

SE NH trout

Today Dick and I fished the Lamprey and Cocheco Rivers.  They were stocked with small rainbows and browns a couple weeks ago by the NH Fish and Game dept and yesterday by a private stocking group - Three Rivers Stocking Association.  We had the Lamprey at Packer Falls to ourselves and some 14-16-inch rainbows and a couple smaller 'bows and browns were given a little exercise.  We then went to Wiswall Dam on the Lamprey River and each got a couple smaller rainbows.  Hundreds of really big rainbows were recently stocked, but they must still be digesting hatchery pellets, since we only got smaller fish there.  We then went to the Cocheco River at Watson Dam and got a couple more feisty rainbows.  Great day to be out. Next weekend the Isinglass River is scheduled to be stocked, making this once again one of the few places for late-season fishing in southern NH and handy to the greater Boston fly anglers. If you fish there, be sure to send a check or online donation to Three Rivers, so they can continue their stocking activities.
Also, I saw a strange bird at the Cocheco River. I swear it was a snowy egret! Take a look and tell me what you think!  It looked like it was shivering and it was definitely not an albino heron. I think it was a Florida bird that had a hankerin' for trout!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Many choices (In MASS)

Since the last report I've fished the Pemigewasset in Woodstock. Swift River in a couple different spots, Squannacook, Nissitissit and Millers Rivers.  All rivers in MASS have a lot of fish.  NH doesn't seem to get with the program.  Water temps are perfect, flows are decent and people are anxious to get out and enjoy the nice fall weather.  I heard there are some fish in the Lamprey now, but it would be nice if the Piscataquog, Souhegan, Contoocook, Sugar and Pemigewasset Rivers were topped off with a few fish.  It seems that the hatchery trucks rolled up to Errol and Pittsburg every week all summer with nothing left for the rest of NH when the waters cooled.  Enough whining - get your MASS license and enjoy the good fishing there.  I highly recommend the book that MASS TU published that gives info about virtually every trout pond, stream and river in the state.  Stop in at Evening Sun fly shop in Pepperell to pick up your copy.  Since MASS has no closed season, it is useful for finding where to fish in the early spring, fall, mid-summer and even mid-winter.  (Hint: the Swift River fits all those categories, but so do a number of others.) I plan to hit the Pemi tomorrow to sample the broodstock salmon fishing. 
Oh yeah, last night at the TU meeting in Manchester there was a real good presentation about renting an RV and fishing/touring around Alaska on your own.  Lots of info about costs, locations, fishing, and planning the logistics. In November we will have a similar topic about Wyoming.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Better late than . . .

Thanks for your concern (a couple of you called and emailed to make sure I could still fog a mirror!) But no worries, I was either too busy or too lazy (go with the latter.)  Summer got to be pretty boring.  I had a lot of beginners out (that part was exciting) but the only place that had enough water flowing to float a strike-indicator was the Pemi around Woodstock/Lincoln.  Every time we fished it, fewer fish wanted to play the game, so it became pretty much an exercise in casting, mending, etc. without a lot of fish-landing practice.  Then we opened the house in Errol for our fall trip and all hell broke loose.  Fish everywhere!  Not copious quantities, but enough to keep things interesting, and some fish with some real girth!  That river is so fertile that you can't pick up a rock in the FF-only section without having caddis larva and stoneflies crawling over your hands. That is why the fish are so fat, and it also bodes well for the Alder fly hatch next June!  There was not a lot of dry fly action, although we did see a couple October caddis and quite a few Isonychias and we did get a few on Stimulators and Adams dries. When I get around to it, I'll be putting up a webpage with picutres, but these will have to do for now.


Oh, BTW, Mass Wildlife stocked last week, and you can't throw a rock into the Swift, Squannacook or Nissitissit Rivers without hitting a 12+ inch rainbow.  Other rivers are also stocked, but these are the ones I can personally attest to.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Too busy fishing to post?

Sorry, but too much time on the water to post - Well, that's my story and I'm stickin' too it! Here is an update for the last couple weeks:  Fished the Swift River three times with diminishing returns.  Caught fish each time, but had to work a lot harder for them each time. On two trips I explored the Bondsville section as recommended by Millerbrown on his blog.  See link on the side of this page.  On one trip I ran into Al, a regular on this blog (hi Al!)  He was also checking out the Bondsville section.  For Swift River regulars, that area is quite a revelation.  (Although the lack of crowds normally seen at the Y-pool, will be a thing of the past if all you guys head out there!)  If somebody blindfolded you and took you there without telling you it was the Swift River, you would never guess that is where you are.  Mixed pools, pocket-water, fast runs, deep slow pools, etc.  Caught some rainbows on dries and also a nice wild brooktrout.  Fishing at the usual Swift River haunts was spotty.  The hatchery pipe area was like a ghost-town!  The only fish in the entire area were tucked in behind the fallen tree about 50 yards below the pipe.  A few fish were spread out a couple hundred yards downstream near Cady Lane. Most fish are found from the route 9 bridge and upstream, and so are most of the fly fishers. With this heatwave and drought it is one of the few places to find fish.
I must confess that I have been finding some fish in the Pemigewasset River.  Had a few guided trips up there this week and last for beginners and/or out of towners.  Here is a video of a family from New Orleans, none of whom had ever fly fished, having a great time learning on the Pemi. And here are some pix/video of a trip I did today, teaching a NHer to fly fish on the Pemi.  Practicing indicator nymphing turned up some nice rainbows.  The fish were dark, perfect fins and no hook marks. Water temp was 64F in the morning and 66F in late afternoon.  Glad some freestone rivers are holding up well.
My partner Jim and friends Dick and Jerry just got back from 12 + days in Montana.  They had a great trip and I hope I can report when they will be doing a presentation about the trip at our TU chapter meeting. Jim is up north guiding on the CT and Androscoggin and Saco/Ellis rivers.  He reports that water temps are good and plenty of fish have made it through the hot, dry summer (at least so far!)
This bodes well for September and October fishing.  Stay tuned for information our September All-inclusive package trip to Errol, fishing the Androscoggin River.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pemigewasset River mid-Summer adventure

Had a blast yesterday on the Pemigewasset River in the Woodstock/Thornton area. Two really nice people (Hi Kirk and Zeba!) wanted to learn to fly fish in New Hampshire and the Pemi was the place.  Water temp was 68F, a little warm, but still fishable.  The rain showers a few days ago charged-up the river and I hope the cooler nights we have been having will keep the water temperatures in the 60s.  We found a few fish willing to whack a dry fly and a couple others willing to gobble a woolly-bugger.  Skating a stimulator seemed to be the flavor of the day, so we obliged.  One of the areas we fished was the "Exit 31 Project" completed last Fall by the Pemigewasset TU chapter.  This area of the river had been a long extremely shallow riffle caused by an in-stream gravel operation.  There was no holding water, pools or runs and no way for woody debris to accumulate to provide forage for aquatic insects.  TU raised grant money to fund the project that involved dredging the channel, installing some weirs to create pools and runs, and doing some plantings of willows that will help stabilize the banks and provide riparian cover.  The fish seem to like it and I think it will evolve into some great habitat.  Here is a video of the trip.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Androscoggin River Trip - end of June

Well, I finally got around to uploading, compiling, editing and publishing some of the pictures and videos of our two weeks on the Androscoggin River.  The Alder Fly hatch was almost two weeks earlier than the usual emergence, so many of our clients saw only the very end of the hatch.  The water level in the river was great and at a perfect temperature and the fish were really active.  As the trip went on the fish became more and more selective, but we were able to fool a lot of fish.  We mostly caught brook trout, but also got quite a few salmon and some rainbows, too.  Here is a video of Rob (a frequent visitor here) and his dad Joe catching some fish and having a great time.
Brothers David and Alan (frequent visitors/participants in this blog) also spent some time with us on their way to Grant's Kennebago Camps. Here is a picture of Alan with a really nice alligator-jaw landlocked salmon he caught on an Alder Fly pattern. They also had a great time fishing the hex hatch, but no pictures from that evening excursion have surfaced. 
You often hear/read about the Alder Fly hatch on the Androscoggin, and it is hard to describe what it is like, unless you are there at the beginning of the peak emergence.  Here is a video I took on the first day I guided the Androscoggin on this trip (June 18.) It shows the mats of spent caddis floating in an eddy. 
This is probably 5+ days into the hatch and the fish have gorged themselves. A couple days earlier the fish would literally be hurtling out of the water, eating zebra caddis, but now tens of thousands of flies are available for them to eat at their leisure.  Surprisingly, most of the rises on naturals and our flies was to ovipositing (egg-laying) females as they danced on the water.  No way for me to tell for sure, but my theory is that the females with eggs taste better to the fish than the spent flies that are dead on the water.  Anybody want to volunteer to eat them and let me know which taste better?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

New Fly Fishing Expose' now available

Yes, I tried to keep it under wraps, but wouldn't you know it - My guiding partner Jim Norton just published a book titled "Granite Lines." He portrays it as over 20 years of articles he has written in the Manchester Union Leader and other rags, but in reality it is over 20 years of secret fishing information about trips we have taken together (and some he took on his own). It is available in local stores like the Evening Sun Fly Shop in Pepperell, MA and on-line, as well. Complete information about the book and where to buy it is found on our website. After you read the book, see me and I will fill in all the juicy details that couldn't be put into print.
I think it is pretty good, but I might be a little biased.  Maybe some of you folks that already read it can comment?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Brookie on an Alder Fly Dry Fly

I had a couple hours off to scout some "fresh water" on Saturday morning. I shot this video of a NH brookie that succumbed to the charms of a skated Alder Fly dry in the FFO section of the Androscoggin River in Errol.  This is right across the road from our "virtual fishing lodge" where I will be for the next 10 days.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Perfect timing, for once

That's what client John A. said about his trip with us to northern NH to fish the Androscoggin River and the trout ponds.  He hit the daily double with both the hex hatch on the ponds and the Alder fly hatch on the river at their finest.  The warm dry spring weather had the river at a great wadeable level and the caddis were hatching in epic proportions.  And the hatch on the ponds was really cranking, too.  Here is a video of the second-largest wild brooktrout he caught.
(The biggest one got away as I was netting it.) Every time I net one of these beauties it makes we wonder what it will take to have wild brooktrout like these in ponds and rivers throughout New Hampshire. John also fooled a lot of brooktrout and a few salmon skating Alder fly and Stimulator patterns on the river. When we booked the trip I thought it would be a little early for the Alder flies, but John hit it dead-on.  He remarked that when he goes on a fishing trip people usually tell him, "You should have been here last week.  The fish were really biting then!"  I think the fish will be biting next week too, but it was fun helping John enjoy a special time on one of my favorite rivers.  Glad you enjoyed being with us "Last week!"
PS. we still have a few spots open for the Alder fly and hex hatch now until July 1

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Newfound Newbies

Fishing has been holding up on the Newfound River.  Lots of people and not a whole lot of fish at the usual spots near the dam, but if you are willing to expand your horizon and fish pocket water and other non-frequented locations, you will find fish.  Yesterday I took the old friends of my old friends (what a great bunch of guys!) to teach them to fly fish in anticipation of a trip north to fish the Alder Fly hatch on the Androscoggin River. Everybody caught fish (once again, many "firsts" were experienced.)  Fish caught were brookies and rainbows, mostly fooled by skittered caddis and Stimulators in the pocket water - and a few took the every-faithful woolly bugger.With the skills you learned, you guys are well-prepared for your upcoming trip.  I look forward to seeing you up there!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Androscoggin Trip Openings and many river reports

Before getting into the fishing report, I wanted to let you know that we still have some openings for our Androscoggin Special Package Trips starting next Thursday and going through July 1.  We are now accepting one-day, as well as two-day trips, and we also have some openings for singles, offering the maximum in flexibility. Details including videos and pictures of past trips are found here. River flow levels are great and the Alder Fly hatch should be epic this year!

Since my last post I have been all over the southern and central part of NH and parts of MA, as well.  They say that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action over and over and expecting different results.  Well, the Sugar River is driving me insane.  I went there again last week with the same results.  This time I only wasted an hour there before pulling out. "They MUST have stocked it by now," goes through my mind, but then I get proven wrong each time.  Well, I can report that the Mascoma River FFO section held some fish - browns, rainbows and wild brookies - all of which were caught on a Stimulator skated through all the likely looking runs, pools and pocket water. From the Mascoma, I went across route 4 and then 104 to Bristol to fish the Newfound River.  This entire trip was a "scouting expedition" to prep for a couple client trips.  The Newfound was hard fishing, but I got 3 landlocked salmon, a rainbow and a brookie in the white water run immediately below the dam.  (I don't consider this spot-burning, since I fished it hard for two hours and that is all I could dredge-up.) I got nothing in the dam pool or any other spot in the upper river on this trip.  When I took the clients out, we also got fish in the runs and pocket water down-river from the upper section.  Those fish were caught on green caddis larva under an indicator, woolly bugger, woodduck-orange, and elkhair caddis skated through the plunge-pools in the pocket water.  It was tough fishing, but the fish are there if you can get a fly in front of their nose.  We also hit the Contoocook River for a couple hours and were able to fool, but not hook a number of rising trout.  Then last night I went over the the Bertozzi WMA on the Nissitissit River and got a nice rainbow on a dry.  Also tough fishing, since when the water is low they have a lot of time to inspect your fly before biting. I'll be guiding the next couple days in the White Mountains.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

One that got away

Sunday my youngest daughter got married and it is hard to say who was happier - her or her dad.  Great reception at Atkinson CC, and then back to work on Tuesday. 
Took out another beginner, solo this time - it was a birthday gift from her sister.  She finally caught on that you don 't have to overpower the cast to get the fly out to where the fish are. After sending her on her way in between a few raindrops, I checked out the FFO section below the lake dam on the Newfound River.  Got two LL salmon, about 10 inches, a brooktrout, rainbow and a smallmouth, all on nymphs.  Plenty of caddis, but no rises.  Hopefully the rain showers will cool things off and the hatchery truck will pay a visit this week.  Water temp was 66F, and should go a little lower with cool nights and rain in the forecast, although the water level is very low.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

First among many

Many times I have remarked (both here and in the "real world") how lucky I am to share so many "firsts."  Yesterday was one among many, with each one even more special than the last. Sometimes it is a first fish, or a first trout, other times it is a first brown, etc. Yesterday it was all of those and more - the first fly fishing trip of many, many more to come between old friends.  Jeffrey, a long-time follower of this blog, wanted to spend a day on the water with me, but his real motive was to get his friend Matt hooked on fly fishing.  Mission accomplished! I won't bore you with all the details, but suffice to say Matt is a convert to the gentle art of the long rod.  Way to go, guys! 
The Hendrickson hatch is now history.  Now we have a few March browns; some BWO; plenty of brown, tan, black and green caddis; and one Eastern drake.  Most dry fly action is late afternoon, into the evening.  I hit the Farmington River in CT on Friday.  Another one where a regular client of mine wanted to indoctrinate his friend in the way of the long rod.  Mission accomplished, and after they went their way, it was time for the guide to take a few minutes to fish on his own time. 
Nice brown on a dry at dusk. Enjoy!
Now it is off to the Contoocook River with four more converts to indoctrinate! Tight Lines!
PS Here is one of the "converts to the long rod" with his first fish on a fly/first trout/first rainbow caught on a size 18 softhackle cast to a rising fish.  Way to go Tom!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Will fortune follow fame?

A couple days ago I was checking my webstats to see where people were coming from to visit my guiding website and I noticed hits coming from  I hadn't placed any ads or directory listings there and had no idea why hits should be coming from that site.  I clicked the inbound link to see where it led and low and behold, we have been "discovered" as one of the top 20 adventure trips to take this summer in New England.  Pretty cool!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sorry for the gap!

Gang, the good weather has turned on the early hatches and it seems like everybody has been anxious to get out on the water. Since my last posting in April I have taken more than 30 people out on the streams of northeast MA and southern NH to practice the art of the limber rod. If I count the 44 people we gave a casting lesson to on May 1 at the culmination of TU Learn to FF classes, the tally jumps to almost 80. And this week I start to get busy! So what has been happening?
The bad news first: I went to the Sugar River once on a scouting trip and once (foolishly for about an hour) with a client and did not see evidence of any fish. Beautiful water level, terrific hatch activity and not a fish to be seen. What the hell is NH Fish and Game thinking? They have a beautiful 2.5 mile FFO section in Newport and they don't stock it once as of late May?
Now you might realize why I took so many people to the Squannacook and Nissitissit Rivers in MA. There have been two stockings of really nice trout in those rivers, while the Sugar is a river waiting for occupants. There is decent insect activity and the FFO section of the Nissitissit should hold fish well into June if we get a little rain in the next week or so. There were Quill Gordons a couple weeks ago and now we have Hendricksons and caddis. Bring your rusty spinners for evening and early morning dry fly fishing. But the meat anglers are out in force, so you better hit the Squannacook while there are still some trout to be had. Over half of the people I had out were via the Northeast Fly Fishing School that we operate in Pepperell, and those anglers had a blast learning to fly fish, identifying the bugs and hooking some fish in the process. Here are links to some of their exploits for May 8-9 and May 15-16.
I have also fished/guided on the Souhegan River and the Piscataquog River in the last couple weeks. We caught fish all over both rivers, except the Delayed Harvest Zone of the Piscataquog River in New Boston.  H-m-m-m-m, is there some kind of pattern here?  You have two of the best stretches of river with special regulations in southern New Hampshire and neither the FFO section of the Sugar nor the Delayed Harvest Zone of the Piscataquog have been stocked and it is beyond the middle of May.  No floods or other lame excuses can be blamed.  If this was the first year it happened, you could call it a fluke, but this is a pattern that has repeated itself for the last few years. No, this doesn't appear to be mere incompetence, as you might suspect.  Could there be some motive behind it?  What do you think it could be?  "Stick it to the elitists?" "Save the hatchery fish for the hook-and-cook crowd?"   If any of you happen to talk to those that call the shots in NH F&G in Concord, NH, ask them what the devil is going on.   Tell them that the sound they hear is the cha-ching of people buying a fishing license in MA to be able to fish for decent fish while the water is still cool and insects are still hatching.
The rest of this week I'll be guiding on local waters and then take a quick trip to the Farmington River.  I have been itching to get down there all spring, but other priorities have prevailed until now.

Let me know how you have been doing.  Matt gave me a call from Upstate NY with tales of great fishing on the W. Br. of the Delaware, some spring creeks and the Salmon River for resident trout, as well as some spring steelhead.  Feel free to email, call, or use the Comments feature of this blog.  Tight lines!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Typical spring?

Just when you thought we were having an early spring (early ice-out on the lakes; no nor'easters, etc) it up and snows almost 2-feet in the Whites! That should help the June fishing up there, maybe delay the May hatches a little. Around here the water levels are great and the bugs are starting to show, and although water temps are still in the 40s, we should see them go into the 50s this weekend.
Last weekend we held the April session of the Northeast Fly Fishing School. On Sunday we did the on-the-water guiding session on the Squannacook and Nissitissit Rivers. Our students were able to fool a few fish - MANY "firsts" - first fish; first fish on a fly; first trout on a fly, etc. Here is a link to the pictures: Northeast FF School You notice there were four women in the class - three of them landed at least one trout. Also a couple young folks attended, all of which bodes well for the sport. We have two more classes (both full) in May. Now we are booking on-the-water private and semi-private lessons and guide trips.
Monday I took a family to the Contoocook River for lesson/fishing - water still a little high and cold. One fish caught in a couple hours of fishing. Not many insects around (the Squannacook was loaded with Quill Gordons and a few small caddis) but things should begin to pop as the water warms a bit. See you on the water!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Springtime landlocks

My buddy/guiding partner Jim and I gave a presentation at the Pemigewasset TU chapter meeting in Plymouth, NH Tuesday night and afterward drove north to fish the CT River in Pittsburg, NH. We spent a few hours each at the inlet to First CT Lake and inlet to Lake Francis. We hooked into a few fish at each place. Overall I was 1/5, 5 on and 1 landed. Jim was about the same, but his fish was a real nice (17-18 inch) fish. Here is a video.

Also, we have Jim's drift boat for sale on E-bay. in case anybody is interested. His new low-profile Hyde is a beauty, but the Tatum he has for sale is a sweet ride too, and a good price. eBay listing

Tuesday we stopped by the Contoocook in Henniker where I got a nice brown - the first on the bamboo rod Joanne got me for Christmas. Sweet!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Announcements of interest

The fly fishing entertainment opportunities continue:
Tonight (Tuesday April 13) at the Merrimack River Valley TU chapter meeting in Manchester, NH, we have Bill Thompson, proprietor of North Country Angler in North Conway and a friend of mine, who will be presenting on fishing the Saco and Ellis Rivers.

Thursday April 15 I'll be presenting Fly Fishing in New Hampshire at 7PM at the Salem NH Public Library. If you attend, please introduce yourself.

Thursday April 22nd at 7PM, in Concord, NH the NH Guides Association (of which I am a member)will be sponsoring a showing of "The Good Life" by Gray Ghost Productions. This is Gray Ghost Production's third film in as many years. Advanced tickets can be obtain from the Red River Theatre on line at or they can be purchased at the door. Admission will be $10 per person. If you want to look at the trailer you can go to and take a look. This film is about fishing on the East Coast from Labrador to the Keys. Come and take a look at some great fishing. This is to benefit the NHGA scholorship fund. Come and enjoy "The Good Life".

The rivers are getting down to a very fishable level. Jim and I scouted a spots yesterday prior to the NHGA general membership meeting. We found a few mayflies hatches and a few sporadically rising trout on the Merrymeeting River in Alton, NH. We had a couple follows, but no hookups.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Passing of a great guy

It saddens me to have to report the passing of Dan Duggan of Pepperell, MA last Saturday. Dan was a great guy, bamboo rod builder par excellence and a good friend. Dan was River Stix Custom Rods. Email me if you want to know of the viewing/funeral arrangements.

On a happier note, Dick and I made the rounds of the local brooks and rivers yesterday. All are still a little high, very clear and within a day of so of optimum levels. Water temperature was a balmy 55F, which is ideal for trout. In my local wild brook trout stream the honey-hole was full of yellow perch who have ascended from the Nashua River for their spawning run. They probably ate every young of the year brook trout in their path, but will be leaving a load of eggs and fry for the wild brookies to feast on. The Nissitissit and Squannacook Rivers should receive their first visit from the hatchery trucks this week. Stay tuned. I'll soon be out christening the River Stix bamboo rod Joanne got me for Christmas.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Rivers flow and stocking trucks roll

Well, I got back to sunny New England in time for the rites of spring - floods and stocking trucks. Just as the rivers were starting to warm up and settle down to good flow levels and receive their annual planting of rubber-rainbows the skies have opened and put things on hold for a while. While you are waiting for things to settle down, you might want to check out some of the latest technology to enhance your spring fishing. There's an app for that!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bottom of the 9th with two outs - Fish!

Stan and I made one last trip today - to the Orange River, where we rented a couple kayaks. About 6 weeks ago when we last came here we read in the paper that over 900 manatees were counted here. They like the warm water discharge from the power plant. This time there were no manatees - but we found a few fish.

In a couple days we will pack the car and head north, but today we caught some fish.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Better than TV - March 21 Presentation

This Sunday March 21 at 12PM my guiding partner Jim Norton will be giving a presentation at Evening Sun Fly Shop in Pepperell, MA. The topic is "Fly fishing the Rangeley Lakes area and Androscoggin River." Jim will be spinning yarns about our many trips to fish the salmon runs and wild brook trout on the great rivers of Rangeley: Magalloway, Cupsuptic, Kennebago, Rangeley, and maybe a few tales about the Rapid River. This entire drainage then flows out of Maine and into New Hampshire via the Androscoggin River, one of the great salmon and trout rivers of New Hampshire. Get there early to get a good seat.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

New Show in NH

Just when you thought all the Fly Fishing shows were done, another one comes along. For many years the Country Pond Fish and Game club had put on a FF show. That is until about ten years ago. Well, they are back at it and it sounds like it could be another good one, similar to the FFNH show in Pelham. Next Saturday March 20 from 9AM to 5PM they will hold the show in their Newton, NH clubhouse. The Merrimack River Valley TU chapter will be exhibiting there, as well as my partner Jim at the NH Rivers Guide Service booth. Stop in at both booths and tell them Gerry sent you. They might be willing to share some fishing secrets with you.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Merrimack River Valley TU meeting 3/10

Tuesday night March 10 the speaker at the TU meeting in Manchester, NH will be fish biologist John Magee talking about stream restoration efforts on Nash Stream and about a project starting up on the Piscataquog River in southern NH.

Also, my buddy Jim said the Fly Fish NH show had good attendance and a lot of people stopped by our booth to talk fishing. Just curious if any of you guys hit the show this weekend.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Fly Fish New Hampshire Show

It is that time again - the Fly Fish NH Show is this Saturday and Sunday at Pelham Fish and Game club. Jointly sponsored by Merrimack River Valley TU and Pelham Fish and Game, there will be guides, outfitters, fly shops and organizations exhibiting and non-stop seminars on fly fishing topics. Click on the blog title for a link to more information about the show. Be sure to stop by the NH Rivers Guide Service booth and talk to my partner Jim.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Want to go to Montana?

Next Tuesday night Feb. 9 there will be a little bit of Montana in New England. My buddy Jim is presenting "Fly Fishing Southwestern, Montana around Dillon." The venue is the Merrimack River Valley TU chapter monthly meeting in Manchester, NH at 7:00PM. The location is the Sweeney American Legion Post at 251 Maple St.
The area around Dillon has some of the best fishing in Montana - Beaverhead River, Ruby River, Bighole, numerous tributaries, trout ponds and spring creeks (Poindexter Slough is right in the town of Dillon.) Here is a link to one of our trips (link) Jim has been there a number of times and will be sharing information on where to fish, where to stay, and what to expect in the area. There is no admission charge and you can even enjoy some adult beverages during the meeting from the adjoining Legion bar. Guests are always welcome, so get out and visit Montana next Tuesday.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Free Fly Tying Class

Next Saturday there will be a free Fly Tying Class at the Manchester, NH public library. To register go to. This will be a great chance to learn how to tie your own flies.
Today Stan and I took a ride down to my favorite canals on the Tamiami Trail looking for tarpon and snook. We got some casting practice but no fish. We saw plenty of gators, but only a few jumping mullet and a couple tarpon rolling and no snook and no manatees. It was breezy and overcast and the fish seem to like flat water that is quite a bit warmer. Stay tuned, we plan to get out again in a few days.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Slow start to the New Year

I have been in Florida almost three weeks and still haven't bothered to get my SW fishing license. I won't bore you with tales of woe about how cold it has been here in SW Florida, but suffice to say there has been significant fish kills of bait fish and gamefish, such as snook. The weather has turned for the better and I hope to have something to report in a few days.
In the meantime, some of you have been attending the FF show in Marlborough and my guiding partner Jim Norton tells me some of you have attended his presentations at the show. On a comment on the previous post, Eric mentioned he enjoyed the presentation. Jim and I hope the rest of you who attended also enjoyed it. The show is wrapping up today and from what Jim, Ken and others have said, it is considerably smaller than it was a few years ago. I suppose the economy and all the new onshore and offshore rod companies have been putting pressure on the larger rod makers, which has caused them to cut costs and not attend as many shows. Sometimes you wonder if it is a self-fulfilling prophecy when companies cut deeply into their marketing budget, then complain that the public isn't supporting their efforts. Selling fly rods for $600 to over $800 that are not sufficiently different from $250-$300 rods from their competitors in this poor economy only compounds their problems. Just wait a couple years when the Chinese knock-offs will replicate the current high-end Orvis and Sage products for half the price or less. Sage and Orvis have commanded higher prices based on quality and customer service, but not showing up at shows like Marlborough and supporting their dealers doesn't seem like a formula for success. If they get out of touch with their customers, they will be forced to compete on price alone. But then, what the hell do I know? I am just a poor old fishing guide hiding out in Florida until the first hatches of the new season! I can hardly wait to try out my Christmas gift - a River Stix 4wt bamboo rod in a Paul Young Perfectionist taper. Thanks Joanne!