Tuesday, December 27, 2011

To-do list for 2012

It isn't too early to plan for the 2012 season - plenty of stuff to get in order.  Although Christmas is just passed, it also isn't too early to draw up a list for your "Gift-askers." If you are like me, you are always getting the request of "What do you want for (fill in the blanks: anniversary, birthday, Father's Day, etc.)?"  Here is a list you can copy, edit to fit your personal needs and leave where the "Gift-askers" can find it:

2012 Fishing License:
New Hampshire

(In the spirit of full-disclosure, following are a few services I provide ;-)
Intermediate fly fishing class: tune up your cast and learn a few new techniques.
Fishing trip in northern NH:  Alder flies in June, foliage and hungry fish in September
Plan a fishing trip: Lots of ideas for all seasons

Here are some ideas to fight the shack-nasties: Winter cabin fever fighters (mostly FREE): Attend a free fly tying class or watch a fly fishing presentation this winter

I'll be heading south to Fort Myers in a couple days, so stay tuned for some inshore saltwater adventures.
Happy 2012!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Whatta November!

Since I got back from the New York trip, I have been out fishing almost every day.  This amazing weather has extended the local fishing season beyond belief.  Most days I go to the Nissitissit River in Pepperell, which is only about four miles from my house.  Today I only got one fish, a surprising 13" brown without a mark on him.  It was surprising, because browns have not been stocked there since early June. This one took a bite of my rootbeer BH woolly bugger.  I lost about 8 or 10 flies, because the water level is now fairly low and there are lots of limbs and branches in the water from the storms of a couple months ago. The last few times I fished there I got at least 5 or 6 fish - all rainbows, mostly on some variety of egg pattern or a small softhackle.
Yesterday Jim and Dick and I fished the Sugar River in Newport, NH for a couple hours.  Nothing.  The water is still pretty high there - probably from snow-melt.  There is still 8 or 10 inches of snow on the ground there.  They were in the heavy snow belt from the storm last week and the warmer weather is melting the snow.  The water temp on the Nissitissit River was about 44 today and 40 to 42 most of the last couple weeks.  Pretty cold, but trout will still feed if you bounce something right on their nose. 
Another presentation is coming up Thursday evening at the United Fly Tyers meeting in Woburn, MA.  The topic this time is Fly Fishing NH.  Say hi if you make it to the meeting.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Small water - BIG fish

For three days this week my buddy/guide partner Jim and I fish some small Lake Ontario tribs near Rochester, NY. We have fished the Salmon River before and heard there were other tribs with big fish that are not as crowded. We confirmed that fact!
We did the 6.5 hour driver from So. NH arriving around noon. After checking into the motel, we met up with friend/client/FFNE-blog-follower Matt (hi Matt!) and fished a local spring creek for wild browns. Somewhat similar to the Swift River in MASS, I coaxed a half-dozen beautiful wild fish to net using small soft-hackles and BWO emergers. The next day we met our guide Jason Franz on the river and proceeded to learn a lot about the fishery and about catching these large lake-run browns and rainbows. There were even a few lingering Chinooks around, as well as a few Atlantic salmon. Jason has access to some private water, so we enjoyed targeting some really big fish at fairly close range. The spot we fished was not far from the lake estuary, so the fish had not run the gauntlet prior to hitting this section of riffles and pools. The large male browns (some over 10 pounds!) were fighting for position around the females and putting on quite an aggressive show. Unlike my experience with LL salmon, they weren't territorial in the sense that they would attack a well-placed streamer fly. If they were defending territory they were not interested in eating. But once females started dropping eggs there were plenty of male and female browns and a few rainbows there to gobble them up. I had a couple takes but no good hookups on bunny streamers, and all the hookups and landings were on eggs.

These are a couple of the larger fish we caught with Jason.  We each had larger fish on, but they came unbuttoned before we were able to land them.  We also fished a few spots on public access water in order to learn more about the river and discover some places we could fish on our own.  Jason is an excellent guide and we learned quite a bit about the fishery and the river.  He has an uncanny knack for spotting fish and selecting the correct approach to fish to them.  It was great for a change to have someone else rigging gear, pointing out holding lies, and untangling snarls, landing fish, etc.  
On Thursday morning we fished on our own at a couple spots Jason showed us and also did some exploring based on advice from locals we met on the river.  In about 15 minutes I netted three almost identical female browns (two on consecutive casts!) from a very productive pool. Jim is pictured holding one of them.  I also had three other larger fish on for a few minutes, including one giant fish that we believe to be a very large female brown.  It wasn't dark and scarred like the Chinooks we saw. Wasn't dark and colored-up like the large male browns. And didn't run and/or leap like a steelhead.  By process of elimination, probably  a large female brown. Who knows?  I only know that it was hooked in the mouth; we both saw it close-up and it was much larger than the male browns pictured above. (BTW we both accidentally foul-hooked Chinooks and broke them off, so we know it wasn't one of them.)  If you want to sample some great big-fish fly fishing and don't want to put up with the hassle of the Salmon River, contact Jason at Troutnabout Charters   - In the summer months he also operates a charter boat on Lake Ontario.  Right now through December is a great time to fish for the big browns and steelhead, and again in April and early May before the water warms and they head out to the lake.

This Tuesday 11/22 at 7:00PM I will be presenting my Labrador Trip at the Squann-a-tissit TU chapter meeting in Pepperell, MA.  Free admission - come check it out. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Presentation next week

Next Tuesday at the Merrimack River Valley TU meeting in Manchester,NH I'll present my trip to Labrador this summer. Dealing with the power outage and snow has been a challenge to get the presentation together. Of course, like all things I waited too long to get started on it.If you want to attend, admission is free and it will be at 7pm at the Sweeney American Legion Post 251 Maple St Manchester, NH.
Locally, I went out to the Nissitissit River yesterday with my buddies Jim and Dick. Got a few rainbows to the net on nymphs. The water was a little high but very fishable. Afterwards we stopped into Evening Sun flyshop to stock up on some tying supplies. Charlie got in some new materials that look pretty interesting.
Hope to see a couple of you Tuesday.
Ps still no cable or internet so I am composing this on the Droid tablet I got for my wife. Truly painfull on the tiny screen and touchscreen keyboard.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What happened to fall?

It seems like we went directly from summer to the edge of winter. The local rivers are still fishing really well.  I was on the Nissitissit River quite a few times over the last few weeks and the month of October was a lot of fun.  The late foliage and late leaf-fall means that the fishing has been good and the catching has also been good.  Find the pocket water and you will find the fish.  The Isinglass fished well, too, but not so much the Lamprey, which is usually one of the best for late-season fishing.  The Wiswall dam area is closed off, due to work on the dam and abutters posting their land.  This meant that area could not be stocked.
Tuesday I stopped in Riverton, CT to check out the Farmington River.  Water temp was 60F, but it was windy and the water was loaded with leaves.  I only fished about a half hour in a couple different places and caught mostly leaves.  It was supposed to rain yesterday, so Stan and I cancelled our plans to fish there, but once again the weather man screwed-up.  The weather next week looks pretty reasonable, so maybe the Swift River will be worth the drive.   Lots of choices, so let's hope winter holds off a little longer.
BTW, thanks to the Boston TU chapter for hosting our presentation Monday night.  We had a great turn-out, lots of questions and lots of interest from the members.  Thanks!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Salmon and Rainbow on the Pemi

Today I took some time away from guiding and treated myself to a couple hours fishing. Saturday I had guided on the Squannacook and Nissitissit Rivers and found a few fish in the slightly high water. Then Monday and Tuesday it was off to the Isinglass and Cocheco Rivers for some SE NH rainbows (and a brook trout!)  My client is from Australia, near Perth, and attended a conference in Ottawa.  He loved the foliage, the river and the fish. The trip for today was rescheduled for a couple weeks to let the water settle down and because it was forecasted to be mostly rainy.  Well, the water was at a wadable level and 54F (perfect!)  I only fished one spot in Bristol and found a salmon and a surprisingly large rainbow trout.  The salmon took the Black Ghost streamer and the rainbow fell for the Mickey Finn. Take a look at the rainbow.

Tomorrow we pick up a couple grand-kids (and a grand-dog) in CT, while my oldest daughter and her husband visit Colorado for a week. I hope to be able to sneak away next week for a day of fishing on the Farmington River - stay tuned.
Also, my guiding partner Jim and I will be the featured presenters at the Boston TU meeting next Monday evening at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, MA. Info and directions at:Greater Boston TU We will be doing our Fly Fishing in NH presentation that covers just about the entire state of NH. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Autumn splendor

Last week we had our Autumn all-inclusive Sporting Lodge trip  to  the Androscoggin River in and around Errol, NH.  Nine days in a row with maximum capacity every day have Jim and I ready to take a break.  Jim and Duchess (his English setter) are waiting out the rain to go bird hunting.  I am busy booking trips for tomorrow, Friday, Sunday and next week!  The Androscoggin was running high and warm - 2,710CFS, versus a normal 1,500CFS and 64F to 68F versus 55F to 60F normally.  Either because of the real hot summer, or the high water from Irene and other unnamed storms, the fish were spread out.  Also due to high water, I couldn't get to all my good wading spots.  That being said, we still had a great time and some pretty good fishing. Everybody got some fish and a few (that means you Kevin and George) got a lot of fish and some real nice ones, too! Here is Susan from Pepperell with the largest trout she has caught on a fly, a beautiful 14-inch rainbow caught on a soft-hackle as a dropper behind a Stimulator.  She landed a 12-inch rainbow about 10-minutes later - nice job Susan!  Earlier in the trip, Kevin and Mike got into some nice fish, including this nice brookie that Mike is holding in the photo above. As usual, we had quite a few beginners and novices
with us and it was gratifying to see the progression in their skill.  There were quite a few "first fish on a fly; first on a dry fly; first brookie" so the excitement level was always high.  Fun for the clients and fun for Jim and I. We had a few clients that are experienced and have fished out west and around the world.  They enjoyed the beautiful river, foliage and NH fish.  Here is Shawn having a great time with a NH brook trout.
We caught a lot of fish using soft-hackle droppers off the bend of dries or streamers.  Others took the dry or streamer.  On the boat, Jim also had quite a few on nymph rigs with indicators. I took dozens of pictures that I will send to the clients, but these should give the flavor of the river, the fish and the foliage.
The MA rivers are receiving their fall stocking this week and the SE NH rivers will get their fall load of trout on Oct 15 and 16.  They should also be putting in the broodstock Atlantic salmon soon.  NH Fish and Game biologist Matt Carpenter said that since returns of sea-run fish was so good this year, there would probably be extra fish stocked.  I can't wait to get one of them on and hear the drag singing!  Tight lines!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Now appearing . . .

Just a quick heads-up - my guiding partner Jim and I will be presenting our "New England Fly Box" presentation at the Central Mass TU meeting tomorrow night in Worcester.  Click the blog title to access their website with directions.  Hope to see you there!

Also, we had the September session of our Northeast Fly Fishing School this past weekend.  On Sunday we did the on-stream instruction portion of the school on the Squannacook River.  Guess what?  Yes! Some of our students actually caught trout!  The river had been as low as about 25CFS this summer and then we had a tropical storm and still there were trout willing to eat a fly.  A brookie and rainbow were landed by students and last night I stopped by for an hour and got a nice brown on a dry fly (Royal bomber.)  In a couple weeks the fall stocking will top-off the tank with a fresh crop of trout, boding well for fall fishing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Opportunity Knocks

Guys, some may be aware that our all-inclusive trip (lodging, meals, gear and guided fishing) to the Androscoggin River in the Great North Woods of NH has been sold out for over a month.  Today we had a cancellation, so we now have an opening for three people to arrive September 27 in the afternoon and fish with us all day September 28.  This is the only day we have an opening for the last week of September and beginning of October.  You can find the details here. The water has cooled and the fish are still there, since the Androscoggin didn't experience the high water from Irene and also fared better over the summer than did a lot of rivers in the hot/dry summer.  This is prime time in the north country on one of the premiere rivers of the northeast.  Some of the regulars on this blog have fish the Andro with us and none came away disappointed! Here are a couple pictures from last September. NOTE: ALL SPOTS ARE NOW FILLED ! Thanks!

Right before Irene came rolling through I fished the Sugar and the Pemigewasset Rivers and found fish in each.  I also found a couple fish in the mainstem Pemi AFTER Irene, but unfortunately, I think most south/central rivers will need a visit from the stocking truck before we see fishing return to optimum conditions.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The proverbial calm after the storm

Irene came and went. Luckily for NH she stayed to the west over VT.  Even so, there was unbelievable flooding of the Pemigewasset, Ellis and Saco Rivers.  You can check out some of these YouTube videos to see what happened:

Yesterday I made the rounds of some spots on the Pemigewasset River in Franklin, Bristol and North Woodstock.  It is still real high, but the further upriver you go, the better current conditions.  I am certain the Pemi in North Woodstock is fishable today (don't expect to find a lot of fish though!)  I imagine I'll have to learn the new contours of the riverbed, too.  At least the ponds were not affected.  There were fish rising on Sky Pond, Profile and Echo lakes.
As the nights get short and cooler, the fishing in some of the rivers should pick up. In particular the upper and lower Androscoggin, CT river from Pittsburg down through North Stratford and the Contoocook and Sugar Rivers.  Hopefull NH Fish and Game still has a few fish they can put out to sweeten the fall fishing.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Reality sets in

Since returning from Labrador I have taken out four different beginner clients.  One to the Swift River and three to the Saco and Ellis Rivers.  Now I know what sports commentators mean when they say, "[insert name of all-time great star]____________ plays a different game than the rest of us."  Well, Labrador is different brook trout fishing than anything I have previously experienced.  Am I "ruined" for local fishing?  I don't think so.  It is still fun and rewarding, but definitely different.  There are contrasts in the size of fish, the remoteness and "pristineness" of the rivers, but after you get past the scale of things, it is still fly fishing. Still fun. Still connects you to the environment and still done in beautiful places.  Also, the folks that learned how to fly fish and caught their first trout on a fly were just as excited (maybe more so!) than I was catching 5+ pound brook trout in Labrador.
And just like I was out of my familiar locale in Labrador, these folks were far from their homes in Frankfurt, Germany, Brooklyn, NY and Cleveland, OH.  To them, our New England trout streams are  exotic, pristine and beautiful, and their enthusiasm and wonder are contagious.  Not a bad version of reality, huh?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Guide Posts

One of the cool things about fishing out of Three Rivers Lodge was the "Newfie" guides.  They ranged from mid-20s to early 50s in age.  Some had guided there 7 or 8 years, a couple only 3 or 4 weeks.  All were good natured and real outdoorsmen.  They had different personalities, but all enjoyed good conversation (mostly about hunting and fishing) and a good quip or joke.  All came from Newfoundland and all were professional guides - although most spent more time over the years guiding bear and moose hunts than ferrying brook trout sports.  Byron is a guide with minimal experience guiding for large brook trout, but is accomplished in the way of the woods and water.  He was pretty quiet until we got him talking about his family, especially his son who is taking up fly fishing.  One of my buddies Jerry was guided by Byron and he quipped that he had read that the guides in camp were accomplished outdoorsmen and were capable of carrying out a client on their back if necessary. He asked Byron if he thought he could carry him out.  Byron thought for a minute and slowly replied, "I believe I could, but I would have to quarter you first!"  A comedian is born.
These are the two fish I caught on consecutive casts at 2nd Rapids about an hour before I got "The Big One."

 I spend nearly a hundred days a year on the water and I had a hard time keeping up with our guides.   On our last day of fishing at the Fifth Rapids fly-out camp Jerry and Harry were guided by Quinton and Randy and I had Byron.  Quinton is a big strapping guy in his 20s - probably 6' 2" and over 200 pounds and he can wade those rivers like a walk on the beach.  He thought nothing of quickly wading across the river to help Byron net one of our fish and after weighing, measuring and tagging it, hustle back across to help Jerry or Harry land a fish. Here is Jerry with a nice fish at Fifth Rapids being helped by Quinton.
In addition to being all around great guys, some of the guides had other talents. One of the guides we enjoyed most was young Jordan Locke. He was probably the most accomplished fly fishing guide, hardest working (although all of them worked hard) and best singer. Best singer?!? After dinner on our last night we gathered in the lodge great room for some entertainment.
I guess I'll have to take guitar lessons to keep my clients entertained!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Camp life

I know, I know - all you want is a little fish porn, but a lot more goes on between actually catching something. Here is a little scene as everybody gets their gear together, loads the boats and heads out for a day of fishing. Note the head-nets.  These became our best friend.  Don't even think of going to Labrador without one.  I wore my total coverage bug shirt, but the $1.97 head net we bought at WalMart was just as effective and easier to see through.
I thought you might also be interested to see something of the cabins, lodge and camp life.  Everybody, clients, guides, and staff, ate together in the lodge dining room.  In the morning coffee (and the generator) was on at 6AM, breakfast at 7 and planes and boats leave the dock at 8.  Return to the lodge around 5 to 6PM, dinner at 7.  Sunset (and generator off) was around 10PM and it stayed light until around 11PM- in fact it never got totally pitch dark. We could have fished after dinner, but after a long day on the water, I don't think anybody did. The most impressive thing about the lodge (other than the 8 and 9 lb brook trout adorning the walls) was the fact that everything had to be brought in by plane or snowmobile.  The cooks were sisters and one of them matter-of-factly mentioned coming into the camp in winter on a three or four day snowmobile trip of 150 miles from Labrador City.  Hardier than most of the gals I hang with!

Well, if you have hung in there through the camp BS, here is a little fish porn.  In addition to the giant brook trout, there were white fish (sort of like a fallfish, but with a smaller mouth), lake trout, and northern pike.  We caught pike as by-catch a couple times while fishing for brook trout, but there were pike all over the lakes and we targeted them a couple times. 
 One afternoon Randy and I told our guide Byron that we would knock off the trout fishing a little early and get some pike on the way back to camp.  We tied on wire tippet and some big saltwater streamers and fished for pike for an hour or so.  We had fast action and caught about a dozen, some to almost 4 feet long.  Here is Byron with an average size pike.  The pike cull the brook trout and assure that they are not over run with small fish.  Many of even the larger trout had evidence of run-ins with predators, most likely pike. I didn't take any pictures of the white fish, but I caught 4 or 5 of them over the course of the week, and a couple weighed in at around 3 pounds. They take the same flies as the brook trout, and give you that same rush when they strike, but not too many folks would make the trek to Labrador for the promise of a strong bite from white fish. H-m-m-m, on second thought I can think of a couple people that would be happy to catch a nice white fish or two as a change from their normal catch of chubs!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

More Lab stuff

Our drive from southern NH to Labrador City took over 20 hours.  The first half was pretty uneventful.  Then when we headed north from Baie Comeau on the St, Lawrence River things got interesting.  We pretty much left civilization behind, other than a blighted landscape of high tension power lines, huge dams destroying entire watersheds and huge mines scraping off mountains and filling lakes with rust-red effluent.  All necessary(?), but unfortunate by-products of modern life. Anybody following events in NH has heard of the Northern Pass project that would run high tension towers/cables across northern NH to bring "green" power to the northeast urban corridor.  At least 40 additional miles of towers would be built around Pittsburg, NH and additional high towers would be built on existing right-of-ways.  This video is a sample of the swath of destruction that would be cut across northern NH. From our float plane you can also see some of the huge mines that have leveled mountains and filled lakes in northern Quebec and southwestern Labrador.

Enough depressing stuff - on to the the fun stuff:  In Labrador City we stayed in a nice motel and made our last visit to a WalMart where we wisely bought bug nets - the best $1.97 I ever spent! The 150-mile float plane trip to the lodge showed us that where we were going to fish was unlike any other place I have ever fished.  The landscape made Minnesota's Land-of-Lakes look like a desert! Water everywhere and probably fish everywhere, too. In addition to water, we saw patches of snow both on the July 8th flight in and the flight out on the 15th.
The trees were quite a bit smaller, due to lack of nutrients and shorter growing season.  And the ground cover was white lichens, or caribou moss.  It was soft and fluffy and blanketed the ground, covering boulders. In past years the caribou would migrate through here and we hiked along their trails to reach some of the areas we fished.
Each evening after dinner Kevin, camp manager and head guide, would discuss plans for the following day.  We were assigned an area to fish and our guide for the day.  Each area was like having your own private river.  Some days we would get in a boat with our guide and motor across to an inlet or outlet of the lake.  The inlets were rivers and we would fish a few hundred yards or a mile or more of river. Some areas required a hike around lower rapids and then another boat ride and another hike. 
  My best day of fishing with a lot of fish caught was one of those ride, hike, ride, hike trips.  That is where I caught the lake trout pictured in the previous blog and this 5+ pound brook trout. It is also where I stood on a flat boulder and caught 8 brooktrout - smallest 2 pounds and largest a little over 3 pounds.  What a rock! These fish were caught on woolybuggers and woodduck orange streamers, but the water was so clear and the pool so deep that I saw the take on almost every fish.  In addition to landing 8, a couple others got off the hook. That day I was fishing with Dave from another group of anglers from Maine and guide Anthony.  Here is a video of Dave with our guide Anthony landing a fish in the middle of the rapids on the next boulder down from "my rock."
Unlike the rivers in NH and ME and other northeast states, these rivers were not dammed or channelized for log-drive purposes or to harness the water power for industry.  It really gave a flavor of what the rivers, lakes and fishing would have been like in New England before our European ancestors "tamed" it.  That's it for now.  Stay tuned for the next installment of "The BSC goes to Labrador."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Labrador Rocks!

Just got back Saturday night from a week at Three Rivers Lodge in the wilds of Labrador.  Five of us caravaned almost 1,000 miles north, then took a float plane another 150 miles to the lodge on the Wood River system.  Short synopsis: wild country, many black flies and mosquitoes and many LARGE brook trout.
Here is a video of my fishing buddy Randy landing a "small one" of about 2 pounds.
A 2-pounder was what we called a "tagger" as a couple of the guides would weigh, measure and tag any untagged fish over about a pound-and-a-half.  Most fish over 3 pounds had already been tagged and they would record the tag number in their log.  We caught some fish that had been tagged three years ago (this was the third year of a three year tagging effort.)  We didn't catch many fish that were too small to tag.  Most were probably about three pounds.  My biggest brook trout was 25.5 inches long and about eight pounds, caught on a size 12 Royal Wulff.
Quite a few were in the 5 to 6 pound class.  About an hour before I landed the one pictured, I caught a five pounder and on the next cast got a six pounder.  That was pretty unusual, but very memorable.  My biggest fish was a 12-pound lake trout caught on a Woodduck Orange streamer.

I probably caught the most fish on large black woolly-buggers, but also quite a few on Royal Wulff, Royal Bomber, Prince nymph, red brassie, Alder Fly dry, and Woodduck Orange streamer.  I hooked and lost what was probably my biggest brook trout on a Wood Special streamer.  I had been trying to catch that fish all afternoon and when I finally hooked him he swam to the surface, turned and slowly swam away and when I put pressure on him he came unbuttoned. Drat!!  My last fish of the trip was caught on my Black Ghost Clouser fly, that is also deadly on LLS in ME and NH.  I'll be adding a few pictures and videos over the next few days.  Wow, what a trip!

Monday, July 4, 2011


Our trip up north wouldn't be complete without sampling the hex hatch on a wild trout pond.  This year we not only had a wild time with the Alder Flies, but the hex were popping like popcorn.  Nothing like gliding along a beautiful north country pond with the warblers warbling and the plaintive call of the white throated sparrow echoing through the pines interrupted only by the explosive rises of wild brook trout. 

If you haven't fished the hexagenia hatch, you are missing a real treat.  Tie up some size 8 Stimulators with yellow body and white wing and white hackle. Then head to Echo Lake or Profile Lake in Franconia Notch.  Both are easily waded and have real good hatches of these big juicy may flies.  Just toss out your fly and give it the occasional twitch and hold on!  Better be quick though, since the trout want to get their high-value calories and head back down to cooler water real fast.  This time of year, the flies emerge just as the evening starts to cool - about a half hour before dark, so the action can be intense but short-lived.  What a way to relax and end the day.

Well. I am off for Labrador for a week.  Stay tuned for some (hopefully) giant brook trout.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Alder Fly Bonanza

Our 14-day Androscoggin Adventure is complete and fishing AND catching was great.  We had some epic days at the beginning of the hatch from June 19 through 23 and very good fishing through the end of the trip.  In fact, the biggest fish of the trip were caught the last day, July 1.  The fish were leaping out of the water at the beginning of the hatch, but were getting a lot more selective as the hatch progressed, so we had to work for them.  The hatch came out down-river below Pontook dam on June 18 and got to our HQ on the FFO area in Errol on June 22.  Before the hatch got going the fishing was excellent, and at the beginning of the hatch ranged from phenomenal to unbelievable. I don't like hype and maybe some of the folks who were there can back me up on this.   FFNE fans, brothers Alan and David had an epic couple days at the beginning of the hatch.  Matt and his gang from upstate NY had a great time until some rain put a damper on things.  Overall, rain was not a factor, other than keeping the flies in the Alders until the sun peeked through.  As always, the big golden stone flies were out along with the caddis and many fish succumbed to the charms of a size 8 Stimulator.  We are already booking our September trip when the foliage is bright, the water is cold and the fish are hungry.  Next up a report on the hex hatch on the ponds.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Get ready to rumble

We have had it all this spring - rain, heat, back to cool weather and now almost normal, whatever that is.  The rivers have really settled down, so let's hope the stifling heat stays away for a while.  The Souhegan River has been fishing really well, which is somewhat a pleasant surprise.  It was well-stocked in the DHZ in Greenville and a few days later we got the heat wave.  The fish seem to have abandoned the DHZ and settled in some of the deeper pools, such as those downstream of Blood Brook.  I have had a few guide trips to the Souhegan in the last 10 days and got plenty on various caddis patterns and small stimulators.  It also continues to fish pretty good below the dams in downtown Milford.  I wish the same could be said for the Newfound River.  I found a few fish there, but not in the quantities or quality that I have seen in past years.  Many of our rivers really warm up in summer and it is sad to see stocking delayed so long that the peak conditions of the season are gone before many fish get a chance to play with us fly anglers. At long last I am getting good reports from the Sugar River, while the Contoocook seems to be past prime and will be a late evening destination until it gets too warm for trout fishing.
I have been watching the weather, river flows and stocking reports for the Androscoggin River and it looks like everything is in maximum alignment for an epic trip starting tomorrow.  This is our third year running our "virtual fishing lodge" in Errol and we have totally sold-out with a waiting list.  We also have a good jump on bookings for September on the Andro. We have a nice mix of beginners and experienced anglers, which keeps things interesting.  My good friend Dick was kind enough to tie a bunch of flies for me while I was goofing off in Florida. I can hardly wait to spring those tasty Alder Fly and Woodduck Orange on the big brookies and acrobatic landlocks of the upper Andro.  I have all the memory cleared from my Flip video and Olympus Stylus Tough digital camera and will be sure to share some with you guys.  Although the zebra caddis is the prime attraction, I expect that plenty of hexagenia mayflies and golden stoneflies will also tempting the trout of the Great Northwoods of NH.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The most glorious month of the year

Yes, May is the best.  Winter is certainly gone and spring is firmly established - at least it is south of the notches.  Up around Errol it is still tinged with winter.  What to do when you want a little jump-start to the season - head south! No, not Florida - Connecticut!  The Farmington River to be precise.  Even down there the season is lagging a bit - the Hendricksons usually start to emerge down there by the third week of April.  I had a client trip scheduled for Tuesday, so Stan and I did an advance trip on Monday. Not a lot happening in the morning, but by mid-afternoon a few mayflies started popping up.  Stan got his nice brown on a Hendrickson nymph just as the hatch started.  I succeeded in fooling a fish into striking my dry Hendrickson and then breaking it off on the hookset. Cest la vie! Better to have fooled him and lost, rather than not to have fooled him at all!  Tuesday turned out to be an even better day than Monday.  Many more fish rising and eating the emerging mayflies.  The river is loaded with big browns and feisty 'bows.  The hatch should last another week to ten days, so tie up some pink size 12 mayflies and head down to New Hartford!
In addition to some scouting expeditions to the Souhegan, Piscataquog, Nissitissit and Squannacook Rivers, we have run a couple sessions of our Northeast Fly Fishing School.  We had our first ever Intermediate/Advanced class last weekend and we had a beginner class earlier in April and have three more beginner classes scheduled from this weekend through early June.  All the classes are full except a few open spots in the June 4 & 5 class.  We haven't scheduled another Intermediate class yet. but if you are interested, let me know.
Tomorrow I am off to the Contocook River to check things out for a couple trips next week.  Tight lines!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Anticipation is high and optimism reigns supreme

This is the time of year that often is most frustrating - the weather is great; stream levels are great; your gear is in order; and where are the fish?  The fun now is in looking for them.  Check the old standbys. Check the spots you were meaning to check, but haven't a chance to explore before. Look for some new spots.  Chat up the anglers you run into and see what you can learn.  But, get out there and enjoy the season!
Last week Dick and I hit the Swift River and found nothing below route 9 and very few above the route 9 bridge. It was great to be out and I hear through the grapevine that it has been stocked. Monday Jim and I hit some spots around Laconia and Alton, NH killing time before the NH Guides Association meeting. We saw a few swirls and talked to some friends fishing there who said one salmon had been hooked there earlier in the day and another landed off the docks behind the Opechee Trading Post in Laconia. We fished a little while on the Merrymeeting River without seeing evidence of any fish. The fish should be up in the river now and the ice is just about ready to go out on the big lake. Things should be popping off the docks and up the Merrymeeting River for a few more days.
Yesterday I made the rounds of a few local spots. Got my first wild brooktrout of the year at my local Wild Trout Stream. The yellow perch should be into the brook any day now, but so far just a few wild brookies. I didn't see many fish or talk to any anglers who had caught any fish in the local rivers.  There were still just suckers at the Prescott Street bridge in Pepperell and no trout evident at the usual stocking points at the bridges in Townsend.  On the Nissitissit River in Brookline I saw a couple trout near the covered walking bridge near the lake, and another at the bridge at the state line on West Hollis Rd/Brookline St. Not enough to entice me to break out the gear.  We have a Northeast Fly Fishing School class this weekend, so I hope we can find some holdovers to keep the students interested, as they develop their fly fishing skills. BTW, we have added an Intermediate class, in case anybody wants to sharpen some skills.

Friday, April 1, 2011

In the news

As I watched the news from yesterday and predictions for today, I see that I am in the middle of it. Yesterday morning I was driving towards Tampa and Joanne said that the sky seems a lot darker than when we left. This was 5AM when it was pitch dark already. Then the S#*% hit the fan and we were in the middle of rain wind and hail for the next couple hours. Then we got a call from my daughter telling us that we were coming back to the same weather we left in late December - a big snowy nor'easter. All I can say is, it can only help the trout, so I'm good with it. I see that MA has started spring trout stocking and the local streams should be stocked this week or next, depending on water levels. Also, there is new information about the fight against "rock snot" the invasive alga that now threatens the Farmington River, in addition to the current infestations in the CT, White and Mohawk Rivers of VT and NH.
I need to keep telling myself, "Spring is here. Snow is a temporary annoyance. The fish will be biting soon." I guess that is the same thing I tell myself every spring. You would think I would have convinced my self by now. Tight lines and see you on the water.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


The weather down here in SW Florida has been fantastic for about a month - over 80F every day. Since they were having Shrimp Festival on Fort Myers Beach today, we decided to go to Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs. (No, this isn't really a beach report, but a fishing report, so "bare" with me.) Coincidentally, I caught a snook last week at the end of the beach, but that was not part of the decision process - that's my story and I'm stickin' to it! Here is a little video of the action.

Hope you enjoy it. I'll be fishing a couple more times before heading north the end of the month.

Hey, I almost forgot: my buddy Jim said some of you stopped by to say hi at the Fly Fish NH Show last weekend. Glad you could make it. What did you think of the show? Any good bargains? See any good presentations?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Winter update and spring preview

My winter vacation is two/thirds done. This February has been the best month in the years I have been coming to Florida. My wife Joanne enjoys going to the beach and I enjoy it like I enjoy a root-canal - well, maybe not that much fun. It is hard for me to sit still for more than a few minutes, so I take a long walk, sometimes with fishing rod in hand to give some purpose to my efforts. Saturday we went to Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs. It is often written up as a top-10 US beach. Well, it is now in my top-10, since I caught a nice snook there Saturday morning. When we sit on the beach together in Florida I always tell Joanne to enjoy it while she can, because when we get home it will be my "busy season" and I'll have to get back to "work." She won't see a whole lot of me until late July. I'll be heavily involved in the Northeast Fly Fishing School at Evening Sun Fly Shop on weekends in April and May. I already have some mid-week dates booked in May for the Mayfly hatches and beginning of the caddis hatches. Also, our "virtual fishing lodge" on the Androscoggin River the last two weeks of June is booking nicely.
While I am slaving away at hard labor on the beaches of SE Florida, my partner Jim has been hard at work on the fly fishing show circuit with gigs at the Marlboro Show, and many TU meetings and library seminars. He's also chairman of one the top fly fishing shows in New England and the ONLY fly fishing show in NH - The Fly Fish NH Show this weekend- March 5 and 6 - at Pelham Fish and Game Club. This show is a lot of fun, since it has many local shops and guides. There are bargains to be had, but most importantly, you can rub elbows and swap lies with fellow fly anglers in the area. Be sure to stop by the NH Rivers Guide booth and say hi to Jim. He'll have a lot of pictures of our trips and will be happy to share information about NH fly fishing opportunities.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A winter in paradise fishing expedition

Stan and I were tired of striking out in our Florida fishing, so we hired a pro to show us the ropes. On the recommendation of some our fishing neighbors we contacted Capt. Shawn.  He took us out on his 24ft center console boat.  There wasn't any sight fishing to be had, so we switched off between spinning gear to cover water and fly gear when we found a concentration of fish.  We did not catch a huge amount of fish, but plenty to keep our interest.  We also caught quite a variety - speckled sea trout, Spanish mackerel, bonnet shark, and lady fish.  Here is a video of the trip with Stan landing a bonnet shark.  In addition to the fish, we saw quite a few dolphins and cormorants that tried to steal our fish.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Cold" weather fishing

The cold weather you folks at home in New England have been having has also invaded south Florida.  Although "cold" here is a bit different than cold there.  In any case, the Gulf water temps are around 60F and the fish are sluggish.  They like 70F and above. The best places to fish are the back country shallow water around mangrove islands and water discharge areas of power plants.  On Friday Stan and I rented kayaks and fished the inside islands near the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers. This is across San Carlos Bay from Sanibel Island. It is the closest place for us to do some fishing and a place we have been wanting to try.  It was fun kayaking through narrow mangrove tunnels and looking for fish.  We had a few hits in some of the deeper channels between islands, but no hookups.  Then on the way back we were fishing the deeper boating channel and Stan had a couple redfish follow to the kayak and take a whack at his fly, but still no hookup.  I had the same thing with a good-size snook, but still no hookup. It was a fun trip and we'll be back when the water warms about 10 degrees. Next time we'll try the Orange River near the power plant discharge area.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Marlborough Show

Anybody going to the Fly Fishing show in Marlborough?  My guiding partner Jim Norton is giving our new presentation today at 1:00; Saturday at 2:00 and Sunday at 1:00 in the Destination Theater.  If you go to the presentation, be sure to introduce yourself to Jim.  (Click the blog title for the show program.)
I always enjoy going to these presentations to hear about both local and remote fly fishing locations.  I have planned a lot of trips based on information I got at these shows.  Southwest Montana, Delaware River, and Farmington river are some of the places I was inspired to travel after viewing FF show presentations.  I also like to see what other people say about places where I have fished.  Sometimes you can learn a lot from the "Grip-and-grin" fish-porn.  Let me know if you see anything interesting at the show.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Reporting from Florida

Today was the first day I was able to get out and sample the local fishing.  Stan and I departed at 6:30AM for the canals along the Tamiami Trail (US41) in the Everglades.  We hit some of our usual spots and a couple new ones.  The day started out a little brisk (53F) and warmed up to a little over 70F with a bit of a breeze.  We started in the big canal at the end of the Everglades National Park volunteers RV camping area. As we were rigging up I saw a couple snook and some bass cruising around in the shallow end of the canal.  My small crab pattern drew some immediate interest and  brought in a 12-inch bass.  Many follows and some short strikes, but no more hook-ups there.  We checked out a new spot I had spotted on the satellite view of one of the online mapping programs.  A few follows and short-strikes from bass, but no hook-ups.  We then moved down to the maze of canals behind the seagrape visitor center.  As always, lots of manatees and a few 'gators.  We thought we saw a few tarpon roll.  I caught the smallest snook I ever saw and Stan got a small, but respectable, redfish. That is the first redfish I have seen caught in these canals.  We hit a couple other places, but the wind picked up and the fish weren't cooperative, so we knocked off early.  This week I think we'll rent some kayaks and fish the Orange River. Here is a video of the seagrape canal.  Watch for a couple manatees surfacing.