Friday, April 5, 2013

Breaking the ice on the new season

Last Wednesday I got back from Florida to a chilly homecoming.  The first five days back I don't think the thermometer got to 40F.  Finally the forecast got friendly and I needed to get my trout fishing itch scratched.  I checked all the stocking schedules, FF forums and fishing reports, as well as tapping into the informal network of fishing buddies. Cold water, no stocking, not a fish to be found.  Then I saw the MASS Wildlife stocking report and noted that the trucks had rolled to Ware and Palmer. I tied a couple flies; packed up the gear and headed to the Swift River.  After parking at the route 9 bridge area I hiked up to the Y-pool, noting any sign of trout on the way.  I counted only 6 fish - not good.  There were a few trout lethargically cruising the Y-pool, but none in the bubbler arm.  I worked my way back to the car, hooking one fish in the cable pool area.  Not a total skunking, but not what I had envisioned. But hey, it was a beautiful day, there WERE some fish to been worked, and it was just great getting onto a river again.
After checking the run from the bridge down to the duck pen, I found a couple guys working a pod of recent stockers without much success,  The fish were kind of milling around, chasing their buddys' tails and doing what recently stocked trout do.  Not much fun to be had there.  Then it was off to the always-reliable hatchery pipe - hopefully the meat hunters hadn't cleaned it out before I got there.
There were a few cars in the parking lot, but considering the usual pressure it gets, it wasn't too crowded.  Three guys congregated below the pipe and two more fishing across from each other in the run-in to the fallen tree pool.  One of them was the ubiquitous George. I was able to prevail upon the kind generosity of Dick L. to join him at close quarters in the tree pool.  George soon reel-up, but soon returned with Bob O who set up across from Dick and I.  We had a great time educating a large quantity of trout and enjoying the day and enjoying the shared experience.  After an hour or so, Dick observed that fly fishermen were really nice folks. That has been my experience, too, but when you think about it, how you you be cranky or rude in such a beautiful environment?
Dick left first, then Bob O and finally, after my feet went from cold, to numb, to painful, I took the hint and started to leave.  Well, maybe a couple drifts up by the hatchery pipe, since the folks there had left shortly before.  I got into position and where I could usually see a half-dozen or more fish, I could only spot one trout.  After about 5 drifts through the run, the chunky rainbow took the orange size 20 soft hackle.  As soon as the fish felt the hook it took off down-river on a short run. I hadn't taken any pictures until then. Although it wasn't the first trout of the year, or the largest trout, it was probably the most energetic.

 With the weather improving daily, it looks like more rivers will get a fresh supply of salmonids, so next week we should all be able to fish close to home with some expectation of success.  Have a great season, and leave a comment telling us about your local FFing experiences.
Also, our Androscoggin River package is almost booked out, but we have a couple openings if you want a shot at the Alder fly hatch, the most prolific hatch in the northeast. And if you know someone who wants some formal fly fishing instruction we still have a few openings in our Beginner and Intermediate fly fishing classes.