Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fish still to be had

November has seen a real mixed bag of fishing. The Squannacook and Nissitissit were real low when the late September stocking was done and stayed that way most of October. The rivers settled down pretty quickly from Sandy, and I think the fishing actually improved a bit with more water.   I caught a few fish off and on, but my buddy Dick has done pretty well, with at least two or three fish on each outing the last week or so.  He and I had "sparse pickins" at the Cocheco and Lamprey last week.  The water was really cold and the fish had spread out from the stocking - at least that is the story I'll go with for now!
I have made three trips to the Swift River in central MASS the last couple weeks and each one has been terrific.  My orange size 20 soft hackle has been the real producer, but I tied up some other patterns that have turned out just as good:  size 22 gold-wire brassie tied with orange thread: size 24 black thread body and single turn of peacock herl collar; chartreuse soft hackle;  olive soft hackle. I use 7x tippet and a tiny pinch of tungsten putty about 7 or 8 inches above the fly.  If you use an indicator, use a white one.  If you watch the fish closely, they tend to move out of their feeding lane when they see any other color than white coming downstream.
Happy Thanksgiving!    

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Woolly Daddy

This September I had a occasion to stop into the LL Cote mega-mall-of-the-north in Errol, NH.  I was cruising the fly shop to pick up some tippet and see what bargains and/or novelties they had.  The guy behind the counter (Jason?) asked how the fishing was and when I said it was good, he asked me what they were biting on.  When I named the different successful patterns, he asked me what they looked like, because they didn't have any of them in stock.  Some of the successful flies were the woolly-daddy, rootbeer woolly bugger, red soft hackle, and the bruiser-bugger (black and blue woolly bugger.)  Until then, I had not given it much thought, but a lot of my go-to flies are not commercially available to my knowledge.
As I look over my fly box, I see a lot of hybrid, mutant patterns.  A lot of times I take elements from two or three successful patterns and combine them into a new pattern.  One of my earliest and still successful examples is my Black Ghost hair wing Clouser that has been a successful landlock salmon and brook trout flies for over 15 years. My Bruiser bugger has a blue glass bead for a head and black chenille with blue flecks, a fly that is especially effective catching rainbow trout. (I read somewhere that rainbows like the color blue and now I am a firm believer.) The Wood Specials in my fly box include the classic tie, but also some wing variations: Arctic fox fur,  white maribou and white bucktail.

One of my most successful flies went through a gradual transition.  I started with the plain old brown woolly bugger.  When I tied it with orange/black variegated chenille it became the now-famous Rootbeer Bugger.  That fly gets modified with different color bead heads: brass, tungsten, coneheads, yellow or orange glass and clouser dumbell in yellow or red.  Then I started adding rubber legs and some red squirrel tail and voila! The Woolly Daddy crawfish fly.  When I mentioned this fly last week on one of my favorite blogs Millers River Fly Fishing Forum, blogger Ken Elmer asked if I would share the pattern. Here goes. I put together a little slide show on YouTube with list of material and step by step instructions.
Let me know what you think and also share any hybrid/mutant patterns that you successfully use.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October Salmon Bonanza

If you saw my YouTube Channel you saw a couple videos of fishing for broodstock Atlantic salmon in the Pemigewasset River.  These fish are excess to the breeding program to restore Atlantic salmon to the Merrimack River watershed and get stocked in April and October.  They are not terribly difficult to catch if you know how and where to target them and have the right flies. (I guess that can be said of just about all fly fishing!) The trick is to cover enough a water with enough flies to determine where they are and what they want to eat on any given day. Some days they seem to want orange, others white, yellow, green or something else. You can't have weight incorporated into the fly or added to the leader, so plenty of mending is the order of the day, with a sink-tip line an added benefit.  I'll be headed back up in a few days to find out what color fly they want and the whereabouts of their current location. Stay tuned.

In addition to the broodstock Atlantics, I was pleased to make the acquaintance of some beautiful Maine landlocked salmon and brook trout earlier this week. (See video.) We stayed at Maynard's in Rockwood.  My fishing buddies (the BSC) have stayed here a number of times and this time we caught more larger fish than any previous trip.  (At least some of us did :-)  My buddy Jim brought his drift boat and one day we drift-fished the East Outlet and the next day we drifted the Kennebce River from The Evergreens Campground in Solon to North Anson. The Evergreens has campsites, cabins, a restaurant and offers a boat launch and shuttle service, which we took advantage of. On the East Outlet most fish were caught on streamers (Wood duck orange and Woods Special were most productive for us.)  While on the Kennebec drift, I caught most fish skating a caddis dry.  Since it was so late in the season, we didn't have to contend with a lot of other anglers, in fact, we were the only boat drifting the Kennebec in Solon. I had not fished this section of river before, and I was really impressed.  In fact, in both sections of river the fish were very healthy looking.  We didn't catch any small salmon, most were 16 to 18 inches and looked to weigh two pounds or more - a lot of fun on a 5 or 6 weight rod. In between all these salmon trips, I had a few beginner-lesson trips to the Squannacook, Nissitissit and Swift Rivers.  All have received a fall stocking, so a lot of people caught their first trout on a fly this month.
This Tuesday night we will be speaking at the Squan-a-tissit TU chapter meeting in Pepperell, MA.  The topic is "The New England Fly Box - Fly patterns and the hatches they match." No admission charge, all are welcome. Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Androscoggin Produces

I just got back from two weeks in Errol, NH guiding and fishing the Androscoggin River.  The dog days of summer are definitely behind us and the Andro has rebounded nicely.  Water temps started in the mid-60s and steadily dropped to the mid-50s - perfect!  It seems that every day the water temp dropped the foliage color increased, until both were at peak condition. This boded well for the fishing, which was much better than last September, in the aftermath of Irene. Early on there were some large orange caddis (about a 12), small black caddis (size 16) and a few Isonychia mayflies.  Later in the trip I saw some small tan/gray caddis. We caught a lot of fish on dries that imitate those insects.  The other big producers for me were woolly buggers (my woolly-crayfish and bruiser-woolly.) Some also were caught on soft-hackle droppers of the streamers and dries.  A couple days we had some free time, which I spent exploring/scouting/fishing. One day my partner Jim, his wife Barb and I spent a few hours drift fishing, which is shown in the video.  It was probably the best day of the trip.  We caught a lot of fish and had a great few hours on the water together.  Most of our time together is spent entertaining clients in the lodge or doing behind-the-scenes work, so this was a welcome diversion.  We also spent a couple hours fooling wild brook trout on a FFO pond.  I hope to get some time to put together some pictures/videos from that trip, as well as a few more foliage and client/fish pictures. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

TU Exit 31 Restoration Project a Winner

Last Saturday I pulled a double shift - beginner client half-day in the morning and experienced client full-day noon-to-dark.  Both were visiting NH on vacation - from Long Island NY and Arizona, respectively.  Luckily it was a pleasant day with temps in the 70s and a few clouds.  Also, there were enough fish involved to keep it interesting.  The beginner wanted a half-day lesson, so as not to be away from family all day.  We worked on casting and techniques for a while and then put the fly over a few fish.  Skating a small Stimulator drew three or four strikes without a hookup and then it all came together with a beautiful rainbow.
For the afternoon, I was going to take him to Jackson to fish the Ellis River, if the morning session turned out to be a dud.  Since we found some willing fish, no use burning daylight with a round trip over the Kanacamagus.  Since the water temp was pretty good (64F) I decided to fish the "Exit 31 Project" area.  This is one of the real NH TU success stories. Follow the link to learn more about it. (Also, has anybody fished that section lately?  Curious as to your results.)
 In any case, we fished that half-mile stretch of river in the afternoon.  Being an experienced angler, the strike-to-hookup ratio was better than the morning session.  After a late lunch we finished the day fishing a pool further upstream in Woodstock. All told, there were only three or four misses with about a dozen or more hook-ups.  From morning to night, every fish was caught on a dry - Stimulator, Elk hair caddis, or parachute ant. (Except for one on a brown softhackle dropper.) In the morning, as part of the learning process, we fished streamers and nymphs under an indicator without a strike.
Videos of both trips are found on my YouTube Channel.
PS. I am not into "spot-burning."  This report includes a lot more information than my usual reports.  I did this mainly because the Pemi below the convergence of the main stem and East Branch is a pretty large river with lots of places for the fish to hide.  Hopefully after seeing what can be done, it also might inspire others to get involved with their TU chapter and roll up their sleeves.
PPS. FYI, Still a couple spots open on the Androscoggin Special Package Trip beginning the end of this week.

Special note: The Pemigewasset TU chapter is sponsoring a Film Festival September 14-15.  Go to their website for full details.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hardy natives

This afternoon I took a drive to the local farm stand for some corn and tomatoes.  As luck would have it, my trip took me past one of the two streams in town that are designated by NH Fish and Game as wild trout streams. Since the season on my little gem of a stream closes after this weekend, I thought I would see how the wild ones fared this summer, considering the heat and lack of rain.  We have had no appreciable rain in weeks, so the  flow is incredibly low, and there is almost no current. The water is crystal clear and if I had the patience, I could have counted the dozens of brook trout holding in the pool.  I had a small Alder fly dry on my 6'6" 2 wt rod, since I had one of my grand-kids using it yesterday fishing for sunfish. I tossed the fly into the center of the pool, gave it a couple twitches, waited a couple seconds and WHAM! Little wild brook trout came to hand.  Although there were plenty of fish and I had seen a couple of them take insects off the surface (ants?) I was concerned that I would be stressing the fish.  I stuck my stream thermometer into the inlet of the pool and it showed 58F.  No wonder this stream qualifies as a designated wild trout stream.  I caught a couple more, just to see these little gems up close and then cut off the fly and went home. I'll be swinging by there every now and then to make sure nobody is poaching them, and let them spawn in peace and quiet this fall. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Like an oasis

If you took a map of New England and circled all the places with good river fishing this summer, you would see quite a few little circles separated by a lot of space. I spent most of the last 2 months trekking between the White Mountains and the Swift River, with a few side trips to the Connecticut River.  Even reports from the usually-dependable Farmington River don't hold a lot of positive news.  Same story everywhere - low flows and warm water.  It looks like the string of 90F days has been broken.  Can the rains of September be far behind?  (I guess I should be careful about what I wish for - remember Irene from last August:(
Ellis River brook trout NHLast weekend I spent a few days in the Mount Washington Valley teaching fly fishing on the Ellis River and exploring a few cold water tribs on my own.  Here is a picture of a father/son team that learned the way of the skinny-stick, caught their first NH brook trout on a fly and had a great time together. Here is a link to a video of their trip. This was the third father/son(s) trip I had last week,  What a pleasure to share my passion/obsession/addiction with some folks that will have a lifetime of fun together in the outdoors.
Here is a picture of another fly fishing team that came to NH from Florida to hike the Whites and learn to fly fish. Quite a change in altitude, topology and just about any other thing you would like to compare between Florida and NH.  It is funny to think that our hottest summer here would be a cool one in Florida.
One observation I have is that even though there a limited choices for summer river fishing, there is still plenty of room to fish in solitude, if that is what you are after. There were times when I was almost ready to skip fishing a few of "my spots" because there were cars at the parking areas, but often they were not anglers, but dog walkers, hikers, picnickers or general sight-seers.  For the most part, we had the rivers to ourselves. even on weekends.
Gerry with typical "pipe rainbow"
This held true yesterday when my friend Dick and I headed down to the Swift River for a try at some nice Massachusetts stockers.  We went directly to the hatchery pipe area and one guy was leaving as we got there.  A couple times in the course of the afternoon another person stopped by for a while, but we had the whole area to ourselves most of the time.  (As we left to head north, there were over 15 cars spread along the route 9 parking spots, so the Y-pool probably did not offer much in the way of solitude!) The hatchery pipe run trout were very cooperative, too.  Quite a few nice rainbows fell victim to an assortment of soft-hackles, scuds, etc. I also got a brown and a couple brook trout to round out the variety of species.
The "Maven of the Millers" Ken Elmer, famous for his Millers River Fly Fishing Forum stopped by to share some ideas about fishing the Swift.  What a pleasure to meet in person an angler whose exploits I have followed on the Internet for a number of years.  He is as nice a guy in person as he comes across on his blog, and just as knowledgeable, too.
Well, this weekend will bring another trip north to indoctrinate another beginner in the way of the willowy wand.  Let's hope the White Mountain oasis continues to deliver its trouty bounty.
PS We still have a few openings in our Northeast Fly Fishing School class of September 8 and 9 in Henniker, NH. This is suitable not only for beginners, but self-taught anglers of a year or two who need help with casting, presentation, knots and entomology.
PPS Our Special all-inclusive package trip to the Androscoggin River the last two weeks of September still has a few prime dates open. Check the webpage for details and calendar of open dates.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Still in the rut

There have been a few isolated T-storms, but no real relief from the drought yet.  Last week I spent a day on the Ellis River and another on the Swift (MA) River.  The day in Jackson was with a hiker up from NYC who wanted to do some fly fishing before hitting the trail to an AMC hut.  As we all know, the Ellis, just like all the other rivers was running low, but had a water temp of 62F.  I showed my client the stonefly husks on the boulders and explained that we were going to skate Stimulators to see if any of the resident trout were looking up.  They were. We soon landed a couple nice rainbows and brookies. He had fly fished a couple times before, but had never skated a dry.  I taught him how to work the pocket water skating a Stimulator through all the likely looking spots.  I think he'll be trying that technique the next time he fishes the Catskills.
The other group was a father and two sons who wanted to learn the way of the skinny stick.  Since the only other cool water was 3+ hours away, I took them to the Swift River.  After going over the basics of the gear, dry land casting, knots, etc we stepped into the river for some practice with "live ammo."  I always like to start beginners in an area where they can make a backcast, safely wade and be away from the crowds.  That usually means a spot down river from route 9.  There were a few sulphurs coming off and some fish feeding on them.  We were able to capture a few flies to examine and learn how to identify it as a may fly and come up with a fly pattern to match the natural. A couple fish took a whack at their flies with no hookups.  After practicing in private all morning, we moved above route 9.  Surprisingly, we found plenty of places to fish over pods of rainbows. After a few fly changes, they each landed some nice fish on size 20 soft hackles and size 22 brassies.  We are lucky to have these cold water resources available to fish through a hot, dry summer.  Tonight I tied up some more soft hackles (even some purple ones) for my next trip to the Swift River. Still in the rut.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hot fishing in the summer heat

Yesterday I had a trip with a father and sons who I had taught to fly fish a couple summers ago.  The last time we went it was in August during a drought/heat wave, same as yesterday.  H-m-m-m, I see a pattern developing here.  Friday I spent most of the day scouting for cool water and fish.  Luckily, I found some, so yesterday turned out to be a good day.  They were staying in Whitefield, in order to be near some cool water in the White Mountain area.  The streams I checked out were running at 70F, so the Connecticut River tailwater became the destination of choice.  We caught fish in North Stratford and hit the jackpot in Columbia.  When we got there, there were locals with lawn chairs and spinning rods lined up on the gravel bar.  It was a Saturday, so a crowd was no surprise.  I told the guys we would fish for a while and if it was too crowded, we would move along to another spot.  We waded to the center of the river out of the range of the bank-sitters, who must have gotten word of a visit by the hatchery truck. My guys proceeded to sting or hook-up with many, many rainbows.  The water temp started at 63F and was at 69F when we reeled up and headed south.  Here are some pictures of the trip.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

When all else fails . . .

there's always the Swift River.  Last week I took a couple new-fly-fisher-Brits to the Swift River.  It was the only river with enough water moving to fish various techniques and also offer the possibility to catch some trout.  Mission accomplished.  Last week the flow was 48CFS.  Yesterday my buddy Stan and I figured we needed to a fish-fix and not wanting to drive 4 hours to the upper CT river, we took the 1.75 hour drive to the Swift River in Belchertown/Ware, MA.  The flow was about 125CFS and their were a lot fewer fish, but we had a great time stalking and fooling some rainbows, browns and brookies.  We started in one of our favorite runs above the route 9 bridge.  It is a fast run just below the cable pool.  I hooked three fish and only brought one to hand.  Then I moved down below a couple fallen trees and saw some nice rainbows actively feeding behind a log.  I was just thinking to myself. "I think I can get a decent drift, but how an I going to land it if I hook-up?  HOOKUP!"  Well, it only took the trout about 5 seconds to race around the log branches a couple time and break me off.  No matter - it is all about fooling the fish and I don't think a size 20 soft hackle stuck in his lip will cause any problems.
We then moved up to the "bubbler arm" and proceeded to fool a mixed bag of trout.  Once again my soft-hackles worked, and other people seemed to be getting them on hoppers and beetles.  After working that area pretty thoroughly, we briskly walked past the densely angler-populated Y-pool looking for less crowded water.  We found a few fish below the route 9 bridge, but were only able to get them mildly interested in our flies.  Then we moved down to the hatchery pipe run.  Last week I found no trout there.  Yesterday we found a few.  Landed a couple (wild?) brookies and turned over a couple rainbows.  One was down near the fallen tree and I changed flies about 6 times until I finally got a take on a parachute black ant.  Gotta love those terrestrials!  I believe the brookies probably moved in from downstream looking for cooler water and the rainbows moved downstream to get away from being harassed up above.  The way the weather forecasts look, it looks like the Swift will be the only game in town, other than a trip to the CT River tailwater. (Gotta client trip there Saturday.) If you go to the Swift, bring small soft hackles (red, orange, chartreuse, black) hoppers and and tiny BHPT nymphs. Anybody have any luck out there lately?  Also, how about the Deerfield?  Any luck there?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Early Everything

Whether you call it climate change, global warming, a natural cycle, a hot spell, a heat wave, or whatever, it is clear that the weather for almost a year has been turned on its head. The warm, dry winter continued the cycle into spring.  Our trip to the Androscoggin River the last two weeks of June had it all.  When we got there on  June 15 the Alder Fly hatch was in full bloom.  Water levels were good for both drifting and wading and the fish were on to the flies.  Not as good as last year, but still very good.  (A bad day of fishing during the Alder Fly hatch is better than a good day of fishing just about any time or place the rest of the year.) This trip we had clients from Quebec, Minnesota, NY State, along with the some regulars and new clients from New England. It was fun teaching clients to fly fish, how to skate a caddis and then how to fight and land a fish.
It was great having my friend Mike, who lives near Minneapolis, and his son Paul come fish with us for three days.  Here is a video of some of the highlights of their trip.
Then the heat-wave hit - upper 80s for a couple days and the river and the local ponds were cooked.  I made the mistake of doing a little rain-dance to cool things down and the rains came, the river level went up beyond safe wading, and we were scrambling to get our clients into fish.  We spent a few days fishing the Connecticut River, both the area from Colebrook to Columbia and the area in Pittsburg.  I ran into some guys from the Evening Sun Fly Shop in Pepperell - Hi Dean, Chris and David! We also spent a couple days fishing some of the headwater wild brook trout streams.
Matt and Andy, friends, regular clients and followers of this blog hit the tail-end of the Alder flies and the beginning of the heat wave. Here is a video of their trip.
The last week of the trip the conditions gradually improved, the water level and the temperature in the Androscoggin dropped and the Alder flies were still out.  More dry fly action with skating caddis and Stimulators right up to the end of the trip.   Here is a video of Greg landing a nice rainbow on a caddis larva.
Since getting back from Errol, I've been to the Sugar River in Newport.  Water is low and starting to warm up.  Still some fish on dries.  Then I took a couple of beginner Brits to the Swift River in central MASS.  We caught fish on sulphurs in mid-morning and on a variety of small nymphs in the afternoon. I'll probably make a couple more trips there in the next couple weeks.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

June - Life on a river

We had it all in June - heat and rain; high water, low water, hot water.  Any given day was a challenge, but on average: perfection!
The rains of May carried into June and the ensuing high water had us scrambling.  Our early June Northeast Fly Fishing School class in Henniker was great, but the Contoocook River was too high to fish, so we moved the on-stream session to the South Branch Piscataquog River in New Boston, NH.  There were still plenty of fish in the river and the students caught a few.  Here is a link to the class video. It was good to have some youngsters and women in the class.  They did quite well and added a lot to the personality of the class. If you haven't fished the Piscataquog River, you should give it a try. I fished it alone and with clients a few times in May and June.  I also spent 7 days in April and May on the tributaries doing volunteer culvert assessment data collection with our local TU chapter.  This river is a real gem, and I hope our project pays off in the future by improving the habitat to the point where the wild brookies in the headwaters are able to populate the main stem of the river and return to the refuge of the tribs as needed.
I just got back from two weeks guiding in Errol at our "virtual fishing  lodge."  More about that in the next post.
Did any of you folks have some fish tales to relate about your June fishing?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Time flies when you're having fun (on the water!)

Wow, May has been like a blur.  Ideal weather and water conditions gave way to rain and high flows and then back to ideal. Between the Northeast Fly Fishing School, guided trips, "scouting" trips and volunteer days, I have been on the water 18 days during the last three weeks.
Early in May we had a Beginner and Intermediate class.  We held the on-stream nymph/streamer/dry lesson on the Squannacook, Nissitissit and Souhegan Rivers.  All the rivers fished pretty good with many students fooling one or more trout.

Then in mid-May I had a father and two grown sons travel from PA to fish with me.  Of course this was in the middle of the rainy/high water spell.  In previous years the Hendrickson hatch was in full glory on the Contoocook River, so I had them stay in Henniker.  THIS year the river was too high to fish the entire four days they were here.  The first afternoon we fished the Squannacook River in the Bertozzi WMA. They landed some trout and had a good start to the trip.

Then we fished the Sugar River FFO area on a drizzly Tuesday.  They each caught fish in tough conditions.
The Sugar fishes pretty good at 800CFS and below.  I checked my RIVERFLOWS app on the Android when I picked them up at the Henniker House where they were staying.  The river seemed higher than that, but who am I to argue with the USGS gages.  On the ride home I checked the graphs again - 930CFS!  They must have started releasing water from Lake Sunapee as we traveled to the river.  Bummer!  At least they were able to catch a few fish and see a beautiful (high) river.  Then Wednesday we headed to the DHZ on the Piscataquog River.  Bingo! The river was full of fish.  They landed many fish, mostly on woolly-buggers, but some on soft-hackle droppers off the bend of the streamers.   They had so much fun, they opted to return on Thursday morning before they drove back to PA.
The next day I took my friend/client George to the Sugar River.  The level had dropped, but was still a little high.  George had three or four nice fish on, but we couldn't get them to the net.  Then later in the afternoon we found a pod of browns that were willing to whack a dry fly. I must have netted 8 or 10 before we reeled-up and headed down the trail to the car.
Then this past weekend we held another Beginner Class.  This was our first class that we had the classroom portion at Morse Sporting Goods and the on-stream portion on the Contoocook River.  Fortunately, the river flow was right, the weather was excellent and the class learned a lot, had fun, and caught a few fish. I think the high water moved the fish around a lot, which should bode well for helping to hold them over and stay away from the hook-n-cook crowd. If we get a little rain every few days, we should enjoy good conditions right into July.
Too optimistic?
I hope not!
See you on the water.
PS Still a couple openings in our June 9-10 class in Henniker and on the Andro trip.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rain at last! The trout are "breathing easy" for a while

The welcome rain of yesterday and today takes a bit of the pressure off our trouty friends.  This weekend we had the April session of the Northeast Fly Fishing School and the on-the-river fishing lesson portion of the school got a little damp yesterday afternoon - but it didn't dampen the spirits of our students. Here is a link to the class pictures.
(FYI we still have a few spots open in the May 5-6 class in Hollis with on-stream instruction on the Squannacook River and the Intermediate Class on the Contoocook River.)

Also on Friday I took out a couple who recently retired and plan to travel and fly fish along the way.  They are related to a close friend of my son David.  They had a great time and Sue even caught a brown trout on a dry fly - the first fish she ever caught! Here is a video of the remarkable event.

 Earlier in the week I took my friend and client George to fish the Pemigewasset in Bristol and Franklin.  The week before we had fished the Farmington River over the VERY early Hendrickson hatch and caught some real slabs of rainbows and browns on dry flies.  This time he caught two of the most beautiful rainbow trout I have seen in New Hampshire and a couple broodstock salmon.  The rainbows were measured at 17 and 18 inches respectively. Here is George releasing one of the rainbows.

These rainbows were thick bodied with beautiful spotted fins and fought like salmon.  I am certain the mild winter was a major factor in their condition.
     In between those two trips, I took a couple airline pilots laying over in Manchester for a day of fly fishing.  One was a beginner and had never caught a fish on a fly. We took care of that!  We spent the day on the Contoocook River and the first half of the day was spent working on casting technique, looking at bugs, etc,  After lunch we saw some rising fish and both caught NH brooktrout on dry flies and soft hackles. Here is Mike with his first trout on a fly.

His buddy TJ also got a couple nice NH brookies on a fly.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Drought update

Wow, we are now getting payback for the warm dry winter.  Rivers are incredibly low.  Fish have been stocked just about everywhere, but because of limited holding water, they have been decimated.  In the last week I have extensively scouted the Farmington, Squannacook, Nissitissit, Souhegan, Sugar, and Contoocook Rivers.  I have been in contact with my network for the Millers, Pemigewasset, Saco and Winnipesaukee Rivers.  The best fishing has been on the Farmington - no surprise there.  It is a tailwater and even though running low, it is large enough for fish to have some refuge.  Also, the Hendrickson hatch is about a month early and if you can fish it on a calm, sunny afternoon, you will be rewarded with some good dry fly action, as occurred this past Tuesday.  On Wednesday, it was cloudier and breezy, so the hatch was a lot weaker and fewer fish were actively feeding.
We have all heard it before - its all about habitat.  When we don't have runoff from snowpack and spring rains, the suitable habitat shrinks, the fish are more vulnerable to predators (including us!) and fishing experience diminishes.  The bright side is that historically, things average out.  Dry summer, wet winter - dry spring, wet summer, etc.  Let's hope that when the pendulum swings the other way, it isn't too severe.  I remember 2009 summer when we had a dry spring and floods from mid-May until mid-July.  Luckily, I spent a lot of that time on the upper Androscoggin which was not affected as much as the southern tier of New England rivers. Also, did a lot of trout pond fishing, which isn't affected nearly as much as the rivers.
Let me know how you have found things on your local rivers and streams.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Secret spots revealed

My partner Jim and I have spent years pouring over topo maps and Delorme Gazeteers; following unmarked logging roads; hiking into remote brooks and streams; and privately enjoying the benefits of our hard work.  We have found some great spots to fish.  Places where fish rarely, if ever, see a fly, lure or worm. Many of these places are not far from popular access points, but have been overlooked by the casual angler.  Other spots are far from the crowds and would never be found, unless you studied the maps, followed lots of dead-end trails and got lucky.
We have not previously shared these spots with friends, clients or close family members.  Prior to now, we have agreed to not even talk about these spots in our presentations or classes.  Never before have these locations been seen in print.  Most have never even been hinted at in private conversations.  But we believe the time is now for all to be revealed.

We had considered shopping these contents to publishers and magazine editors to see what kind of offers we can receive. We have even been in discussions about hosting a reality TV show, where we would visit a new secret spot in each episode, bringing along some lucky angler, who would experience the  most fantastic fishing of their life.  All of that sounded good, but rather than go through all of that; becoming famous and having to put up with autographs, paparazzi, fly fishing groupies, etc, we decided to cut to the chase and put it all out here for your information.
We have included maps; photos, directions and descriptions of the fishing to be found in each spot.  We hope that each time we go to one of our favorite spots, we will find a few of you there enjoying the great fishing.  Feel free to tell your friends, spread the word at your local fly shop and post a few of the better spots on your favorite spot-burning online forum.
Tight lines, and I hope to see you on the water soon!

Click here for all the juicy details!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Time to get to work!

My winter vacation in Florida is over. We point the Prius north at o'dark:30 tomorrow AM. Played a lot of tennis and a little golf and just a smidgen of fishing.  Tuesday Stan and I visited my old buddy Dick in Punta Gorda.  Dick and I used to work together and are both alums of the BSC (Bull Salmon Club - google it for more details.)  Dick organized the first conference of the BSC in September 1989 at Maynard's of Maine. But I digress . . .
We met Dick at his place and launched his flats boat on Charlotte Harbor.  We stopped at a few spots - caught a lot of Ladyfish and a few trout.  We tossed flies for a while, but when the wind picked up we wimped-out and chucked a few spoons.  The water depth ranges from about a foot to about eight feet.  Most of the places we fished, we could see the fish chasing our flies. (Or NOT chasing our flies! :-(   We were hoping for some redfish, but none showed their spots.
Stay tuned for reports from MA and NH (and maybe NY and CT!) 
We still have a few openings in the Northeast Fly Fishing School classes -  Beginner Class and Intermediate Class
Our Androscoggin Special Package trip is almost sold out for June, with only a few spots open, and we are starting to book September trips.