Monday, July 24, 2017

Live Free and Dry

I went back to the same freestone from last weekend on Saturday. I decided to explore a different section I scouted on Google Maps. My plan was to park roadside and work up to a deep pool. I started the day fishing about a couple hundred yards downstream of where I parked. The stream in this section had ample pocket water with large boulders and trees providing good cover. I tied on a stimulator and went to work.
The fishing was very good. I caught around 30 trout; a mix of brookies, bows, and browns. The brookies and bows were a mix of stocked and wild fish while the browns were all stocked. Even the stockies in this stream had perfect fins and great colors for the most part, although one bow I caught was noticeably stunted.
I worked my way through stretches of pocket water and riffles. The only places I was finding fish were in shaded spots or deeper runs with fast water. I stuck with dries the entire trip although nymphs would have been probably worked better due to the difficult currents. The key was to keep as little fly line off the water as possible and fish almost tenkara style. When I finally got to the pool, I was disappointed to see that there was little current. Although it was at least 10 ft deep, I could see down to the bottom and didn't spot any fish. Contrary to how I stated it, I didn't just walk up to the pool, I took the necessary steps to methodically work my way upstream but still didn't get any hits. After catching a few more fish upstream, I walked back down to my car and went to lunch.

I stopped my the Swift River along the Kancamangus on my way back. As usual, the vacation crowd was out so I stopped at a couple empty pull offs. I only caught one stocked brookie on a dry and that was it for action. The section I caught the brookie was a nice gorge with deep pools. The second section I fished was shallow and unshaded, making it a very unideal section. In the future, I think I'll fish it early in the morning or closer to feeders or further upstream.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Small Stream Trifecta and Big Scare

I went out Saturday morning. My stream of choice was a tributary of the Androscoggin with a decent population of stocked and wild fish. The day started off really slow, as fish weren't really coming up for dries. I only got one bow on accident while my stimulator was skittering in the pocket below. The water temps had apparently fallen by about 3 ˚F due to the recent rains so that may have factored into the slow start. I switched over to nymphs and immediately caught fish in seemingly fish less pockets. Bows and browns were the norm early on but I got into a few native brookies upstream. Some of the bows and both browns were recently stocked fish. A good number of the bows were wild fish. They seemed to have much lighter coloration than their hatchery raised counterparts. Once the clouds cleared and the sun came out, I tied an EHC stimulator back on and caught a mix of brookies and bows before heading out.

The big scare of the day was when I knocked my phone into the river. It took me 2 hours to find it since it fell into some rapidly churning water. Ultimately, it ended up a couple feet downstream of where I dropped it and I avoided a huge scare. It cut my day short and limited the number of photos I could take but it could have been much worse.

On my way home, I stopped at the Ellis for a few minutes. I caught a decent number of brookies and missed some more. For the most part, they were on the smaller size but the river was smaller in this stretch. All on the EHC stimulator.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fourth of July Weekend

      I got some free time yesterday after a busy weekend so I decided to try some new water. My stream of choice was the East Branch of the Saco. As usual, I stopped at North Country Angler for advice and flies and I was on my way. I worked my way up to the headwaters to search for some of the stream's many native brookies. The spot where I pulled over and fished looked perfect, with a series of cascading plunge pools. Unfortunately, the fishing started off really slow as several decent spots failed to produce. I attributed it to high water from the recent rain and sunlight but didn't see any fish spook at the same time. My luck began to change as I hooked and lost a decent fish behind a large rock in a swirling pocket.

      Eventually, as I worked my way up, I saw a decent fish jump in an undercut. A couple of careful casts later, I coaxed a stocked brookie into taking a pheasant tail nymph. Landing it was another matter as it fought as if it knew every snag and boulder. I even had to chase it downstream to bring it to hand!

      Soon after, I broke off my rig so I switched over to dries. Soon after, I brought some more stocked fish to hand. While it was rewarding to see them come up slowly and sip a properly presented dry, I was bummed to see the dearth of natives in this stretch. I picked up some more stocked fish before I finally got into natives. It was interesting to see the progression from stockies to natives. Fish were caught on both dries and nymphs. I fished nymphs in the faster, broken water and dries in the calmer stretches. Whenever one technique did not produce, another did. At one point, I even sight nymphed a fish that came up to look at my dry only to refuse it. I saw the fish wasn't spooked since it was actively nymphing in its feeding lie even after multiple subsequent drifts. As soon as I switched up to a nymph rig, I saw it shift, take, and it was on!
I landed both natives and stockies in this pool

    All said and done, I managed to catch a dozen trout: 5 stockies and 7 natives. It wasn't a numbers day by any means but it was fun to beat the tough conditions and catch some memorable fish. I feel that this river has great potential if they didn't stock over the natives but this horn has been tooted more than once without any real action taken. At least the drive through the Kancamangus highway was something else and my chicken salad didn't taste half bad either.

Somewhere in that valley, the Hancock branch of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River trickles to life en route to Lincoln

1,000 Pageviews

      Yes, you read right, I finally reached 1,000 page views and I couldn't have done it without your help. I would like to express my gratitude to all my readers, you've all made this journey enjoyable. As a token of my appreciation, I'd like to send one of you guys a box of my favorite hand tied flies. If you're interested, send me an email by the 12th and I'll draw a name at random. As for the recent lack of posts, I've had a really busy week at work so I haven't been able to post as much but it doesn't mean that I haven't been fishing. On Thursday, I snuck off to the Souhegan for half an hour and yesterday, I went up north for some natives (I'll talk about that in another post). Here is a brown trout I caught Thursday:
      If you guys like the content on this page, tell your friends and family if fly fishing interests them. Without any advertisements or endorsements, the only way I can keep this page going is through word of mouth. Thanks again guys, from the bottom of my heart. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Panning for Gold

      Yesterday morning, I fished the Wild Ammonoosuc River with Colby and Justin. This tributary of the much larger Ammonoosuc River has historically been panned for gold for many generations and still is to this day. For that reason, it is overlooked by most anglers for other local streams such as the Pemi. and Mad rivers although it supposedly has a decent population of brook trout of its own. Of course, we decided to prospect and see what we else could turn up other than gold from this overlooked gem.
      Justin and Colby got there Saturday afternoon and camped for the night but I couldn't join them until early Sunday morning since I was working. To my surprise, they were still fast asleep when I got there at 7 which was odd since I knew them as early risers. While they were getting ready, I went downstream a ways and worked up. I started off nymphing but the fishing was really slow in the morning. I worked all likely looking areas and bounced bottom but didn't turn anything, even in a couple really good looking pools. I didn't even see any fleeing shadows, which is usually a dead giveaway of fish in these gin clear waters. I had a couple of bumps that felt suspiciously like fish but that was it for action. By the time I made it back to camp, the sun was higher up and Colby and Justin were preparing breakfast. I told them about my lack of success and Colby steered me to an unnamed feeder creek near by where they had luck the previous night.
      At first, the creek did not look like much but I found a nice, gin clear slow moving hole nearby that was chock full of brookies so on went a dry fly. Unfortunately, the sun was beating down on this pool making it so that if I got too close, my shadow would spook anything in sight. I stood back far enough and went to work. My fly wasn't getting any attention until I started twitching it, then just like that, these seemingly uninterested brookies became complete savages, fiercely striking my fly, sometimes more than once! I caught a half dozen before they started realizing something wasn't quite right. After that, I switched over to sight nymphing a soft hackle pheasant tail and got a half dozen more including the largest fish in the pool! I went back to camp excited but found that Colby and Justin were gone so I went upstream, assuming I would catch up with them.

      I switched back to nymphing and started to work my way upstream. I fished up over 100 yards of river without a single strike! I didn't even see any fleeing shadows and I deliberately walked through some decent holes after fishing them so see if I could spook anything but nothing doing. I fished up to a fork in the river but before I decided to turn around, I spooked a couple fish in the slower arm. Ok, at least there were fish in this river so I decided to continue for a little longer which turned out to be a great decision. I found a nice pool with a log jam in the tailout (possibly created by a beaver), creating a sort of back water. Here, I caught at least a half dozen fish on dries and missed many more strikes. It didn't matter what I did, I got them dead drifting and skittering my offering and even landed a few that were sitting near logs in the backwater.

      Suddenly, my luck seemed to change on a dime. I continued to get fish on dries as I worked my way upstream, suddenly in more typical areas I would expect to get fish (pockets, runs, and undercuts). I felt no need to go back to nymphs for the rest of the day so I kept the dry on. For the most part, many of the fish I was getting were near wood cover of some sort. Eventually, I reached a nice gorge area where I took 3 more fish before turning back. I got some more fish working my way back downstream to the beaver pool. I only managed one more in the "fish less" stretch from earlier in a shallow run that I skipped over. By the time I was getting ready to head out, I caught well over a dozen fish.

      I got back to camp to find it abandoned so I figured that Colby and Justin had gone downstream instead. When I got back to my car, I got a note telling me to meet them at Beaver pond up the road in Kinsman notch. Overall, I had mixed feelings about the Wild Ammo. The fish averaged 4-6 in., with many closer to 6 in., so they were on the larger size for mountain streams but there weren't very many of them. Many stretches of pocket water (B water) seemed to be devoid of fish despite the decent looking holding water. The areas that I seemed to find fish were larger and deeper pools and runs (A water). This was a stark contrast from the Ellis but it may have been due to the fact that the Ammo was smaller in size. Whatever it was, I was glad to have persisted and found some good fishing further up.
      I eventually found Colby and Justin at Beaver Pond. They reported far less success downstream but said that the seemingly fish less stretch produced some fish yesterday (weird, right?). Justin ruled the roost over at the pond, catching around a dozen brookies and Colby caught around six all on dries. I caught a whopping zero, losing 2 fish. It was a short trip ruled by wind knots and frustrating line twist. Oh well, you win some and you lose some. I'll spend more time fishing ponds in the future. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

First Trip of the Summer and Rising Fish

      Last evening, I fished the Lamprey River at Wiswall Dam in Durham to try to get on an evening hatch. I briefly went there last week and saw a nice fish rise but didn't stick around long enough or take any casts since it was dark by the time I got there. The flows were great but the water temps felt to be in the mid 60's, which is in the upper ideal range of tolerance for trout species. I would have to time this right and I did. 
      When I got to my spot, I was greeted by an overflowing parking area. For one second, the thought occurred that they stocked recently but looking ahead at the bridge, it soon became clear that summer had began and the cars belonged to recreation bathers and teenagers. Just to be certain, I decided to cross the bridge and glance downstream for evidence of other fishermen before making any decisions to fish. As I was driving across the bridge, some teenagers were standing in the middle of the road absolutely oblivious to the moving car heading towards them. One even stared me down with the most insolent stare I've ever seen when I drove towards him almost to say that was his road and I had no right (with my car) to be there! Call me old but I think that the high schoolers of today (just a few years younger than me) are sniveling, little entitled brats who lack the brain capacity of a weaning infant. But, I digress.... After that setback, I found some parking and took a walk down to the river. I immediately started nymphing at the powerline pool and got a fallfish and a decent brookie right off the bat. 

      I continued towards the deepest hole in the pool and immediately had a nice fish hit my indicator. Not wanting to go through that whole routine, I decided to switch to a streamer with a soft hackle dropper. After a few casts, I caught bottom so I decided to switch up to swinging a BH soft hackle. After a number of casts, I got hit as I was stripping the fly back at the end of the swing but it didn't stick. The very next cast, I got hit again, this time on the swing and it stuck. A nice brown gave me the fight of my life, jumping a grand total of 5 times before ultimately popping off. It was at that moment I felt a mix of anguish and joy. Anguish that this would be just another fishing story but joy that I got to experience the take and the thrill of a nice fish that gave me all it had and more. 
      After that, I could not repeat my success for quite some time as I continued working downstream for a good ways with no more takes on the soft hackle. Once I returned to nymphing, I got a fallfish at a pool further downstream but no trout, though I did see one rise once on the opposite shoreline. I decided not to trek out for that fish since it didn't come up again and since I didn't see any bugs really coming off the water so I worked my way back upstream instead. I decided to start Czech nymphing in the fast water at the head of the powerline pool where I lost the brown in the hopes that more fish were buried deep in the current but all I got was a pumpkinseed to show for my efforts. Luckily, I did spot two fish rising at the tail out, one of which was splashy and aggressive so on went the soft hackle again. 
      Before taking any casts at either fish, I made sure to get into a good casting position from which I would be able to present the fly without spooking them. Several casts later, I felt the familiar tug but I lost it on the hook set. I threw a few more casts from that original position without any further attention so I decided to shift a few feet and work the seam where I saw the other fish rise and within a few casts, I felt another tug and this one stuck! I soon pulled in a gorgeous brookie. 

      I took a few more casts and caught a couple pumpkinseeds and a largemouth bass before calling it a day. All in all, I had a great time on the water although no hatch really materialized but it felt awesome to be catching trout this late into the season after the dismal drought of 2016. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Some Local Exploring and a Humbling Experience

      After receiving a hot tip from one of my friends, I decided to try a local back country creek near Durham for native brookies. According to this friend, a recent electroshock survey revealed that this stream was loaded to the brim with fish (more so than some productive White Mountains streams) so I really had to give it a go. When I got there, I wasn't shocked to see that it was a little back country stream. I had always passed this way to hit larger streams and ponds without paying it any mind. The thing that really shocked me was how cold the water was and how deep and dark the pools were. I immediately found a nice pool with a nice log at the head so my game plan was to prospect upstream with a #16 EHC stimulator until I got to the head (where I thought the fish would be). Oddly enough, none of my casts were met with any interest what so ever. It was very unusual considering that wild brookies are very prospective and opportunistic. Either the fish were super spooky, super finicky, or just not interested in dries. Nevertheless, I decided the water looked too good to not have any fish so I continued downstream to find better holding areas.
      Eventually, I stumbled upon a nice log where a "deep" riffle ran through and it looked just too good to pass up. I immediately shot a bow and arrow cast and let the fly skitter down. On my second or third drift, I felt weight. Thinking I was snagged, I pulled upstream but felt it fighting back! Soon, I pulled to hand a nice 5 in. native that promptly popped off before I got its photo. Oh well, in went the second cast. This time, I did get snagged and in the process of wading in and freeing it up, I spooked several decent fish. Not ideal but at least I knew that my catch wasn't an anomaly.
      I continued downstream and found a nice, long slow run. This water looked insanely good but again, nothing. I did see a couple fish rising but as I tried to set up in a good position, I lost my footing on the mud bank and splashed. I looked and felt like an idiot and I lost my chance. Defeated, I walked upstream and continued prospecting with an #14 wulff (had to change something) but nothing changed. By this point, I really felt disheartened. Either I was doing something really wrong or this fish really wanted nothing to do with a dry. Eventually, I made it back to the log and pulled out another fish, this time on a simple downstream dead drift so I figured it wasn't really all me (or was it?).
      Eventually, I was able to fool a fish in the slower water. I saw it actively rising and I quietly snuck upstream and dead drifted my offering downstream to its lie. I had it on for a few seconds but it got off since I built up too much slack in the presentation. Still, it helped my case to have snuck up on a fish and fooled it on a day I felt that I may have been off. I got a nice one on a swung wooly bugger to end before a surprise storm chased me out.

      All in all, it was a very odd day. First off, I found it odd that brookies weren't more aggressive. I've fished streams of this size and had them try to sink a dry as soon as it lands but today they couldn't be fooled unless they were rising or were under a log (weird?). Second, all my fish were caught on downstream presentations. Usually a mix of both produce fish but yesterday, I had to choice but to present downstream in some cases. Then again it could have been my super long leader not turning the flies but it was an enigma of a day none the less. Still, it was not too bad putting in work for a few fish directly after a banner day.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Giant Boulders and Natives Galore

      Yesterday, I made the drive up to the North country to get my wild trout fix. My river of choice was the Ellis river, a tributary of the legendary Saco in North Conway. This river, while small in size, is one of the hardest hit streams due to its proximity to Story Land and other popular points as well as its lengthy fly fishing only area stocked annually with large rainbow and brook trout. While most people pine for that area to catch larger fish and more of a variety (rainbow, brook, and the occasional stray brown from the Saco), I decided to make my way to more secluded, unpressured spots (which there are) to catch the small but energetic native gems.
      When I got to the river, the flows were ideal and the water was cold (possibly in the low to mid 50's) so I was glad I packed my waders. The day started off very slowly as the first few holes I fished produced nothing and the next couple produced only 2 brookies and a few very subtle missed takes.

      I continued working upstream, picking apart the next few holes methodically with little to no success. Just as soon as I thought that I was in for a tough day, I hooked up twice in a row! At that point, my tiny pheasant tail dropper was beat up despite its limited action so off that came and on went a larger, heavier PT dropper. This made all the difference in the world since it sank at a much faster rate and allowed me to fish Czech still with a completely tight line. After that, the action picked up and was very methodical. While the action had started off slow early on, it had now picked up to the point that I could decide where the fish were and count on them being there. Every hole, pocket, or deep riffle I fished had one or two (sometimes more) fish in it.

      At one point, I fished a tricky undercut with an fallen branch where I saw a brookie chase my offering downstream. When I pulled back for a back cast, the fish wasn't even spooked, it just turned and slid back into its feeding lie. I cast back into its hiding spot and I felt a take but set into the branch. As I was getting ready to free it, I felt something struggling at the end of the line! Lo and behold, the fish I was after had taken the dropper but I had pulled my line right back into the branch.

      As I continued further upstream, the action improved. I kept catching more little natives and found a spot where I even sight nymphed to a few!

      Eventually, I had to skip a lot of productive water in the interest of trying some new holes further upstream so I put on a dry and decided to skip around and see if I couple rise some fish from some of the deeper pockets. The biggest challenge was presenting the fly since there were so many cross currents but I decided on a tenkara style presentation where I used the reach of my rod to get the fly where I wanted it. I missed many strikes (mostly from YOY fish) but did manage to get a few nice fish to take.

      I went back to nymphing as I approached some deeper water and picked up a some more nice brookies. I ventured into a nice section full of plunge pools but only managed a few due to the cross currents, which challenged me to make a nice drift, but I did get into a few nicer ones (6 in. +) before calling it a day. All in all, it was a fantastic first trip of the year to the White Mountains (with 30+ fish caught) and I had fun despite not catching any monsters (10-12 in. in these streams). On the way home, I stopped at North Country Angler in North Conway to pick up some tying materials. For those who haven't been there, it is a nice little hole in the wall fly shop stocked to the brim with nice flies (such as the soft hackled nymphs I rave about) as well as tippet material, fly tying essentials, you name it. The staff is also very friendly and very knowledgeable about the local streams and rivers in that area. If you are interested in fishing the Saco or Androscoggin rivers, be sure to give Steve a shout, he knows his stuff! 

Update: I plan on updating this post or creating a new post in a week since I recorded some underwater release shots but forgot the SD adapter at home. Be on the lookout! 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Last Couple Days

      Hey guys, I've been home for the past week since I forgot to bring some things to my apartment (OK....pile it on) so I decided to get a little fishing done before heading back. This is somewhat of a large report since I wanted to get a good amount of fishing done before my work begins in earnest starting tomorrow. This doesn't mean that I'll stop fishing for the rest of the summer, it just means that there will be less reports in the foreseeable future. Thank you to all my blog readers for making this journey easy, I have been keeping tabs of all the page views and comments and I've also personally received very kind words. I hope you guys enjoy this report and I'll try to keep you updated once a week or so going forward.

Day 1:
      I made it over to my favorite local native stream in northern Mass. I decided that a smaller mountain stream such as this would fish better on such a warm day and I was somewhat correct. The water was lower than it had been the last couple of times I fished it and was starting to get warm (did not have a thermometer). I started off fishing a small stretch of pocket water without any hits. I moved up to a small pool where I managed a nice native.

      I took a quick photo and let it go. The rest of the day was much the same: find the pools, find the fish. While the fish were scattered throughout the riffles and pocket water last time out, this time they congregated in pools. Due to the warmer temperatures, I decided not to take too many photos as to not stress out the fish. I even managed a nice photo worthy native brookie (10-12 in.) but didn't take one since neither the fish nor my phone were cooperating and I didn't want to stress it much further. The final count for the day was 5 of 7 brookies, 12 or so fallfish, and 1 pumpkinseed sunfish. All fish were caught on either soft hackle hare's ear or pheasant tail nymphs.
      Wanting to catch a couple fish on dries, I went to a local designated wild trout stream near my house. These bodies of water are identified by New Hampshire Fish and Game as having strong native brook trout populations and are protected by a shortened season (Jan. 1st to Labor Day) and limited to artificial lures or flies. Since I didn't have too much time, I decided to fish a large pool under a bridge. Unfortunately, I only hooked into one fish and didn't get anything else. I was feeling a little discouraged since brookies are often very aggressive but chalked their finicky nature to their accessibility to most anglers (hello? main road). In fact, I fished this stream during my first year fly fishing and for the longest time, I actually thought that brookies were the hardest trout to catch (funny how time can change things).

Day 2:
      Feeling restless from the previous evening, I decided to try the wild trout stream again. I reasoned that this time, I would have better luck fishing more out of the way spots. My first spot was a nice meadow stretch characterized by small oxbows and deep holes. I made my first cast upstream and immediately got into a nice native! I fished for a few more minutes, working my way upstream until I got to a nice bend. Due to the tall reeds on the shoreline, I wasn't able to work all of it casting from downstream so I snuck upstream and dead drifted my offering downstream when another one nailed it!

      Sorry about the reed on its face, I decided to take the photo as is and get the fish back into the water as quickly as I could. I fished upstream to another nice pool but this is where things got a little frustrating. Every single cast, I kept getting hit (even had two jump out of the water at the same time) but they kept missing the hook. On the umpteenth cast, I hooked one but it got off soon after. This was apparently enough to spook the entire pool so I moved downstream working areas as I went. Unfortunately, this place was thick with mosquitoes so I didn't stop or fish a lot of great looking water as well as I would have liked to. This nice bend pool produced a decent brookie skittering a dry back. The beauty of these backcountry streams is that they have so much overhanging cover and obstruction that it makes presenting a fly difficult. This makes catching fish all the more satisfying.

      I continued to fish downstream and managed to get one more fish, lose a couple more, and miss a number of strikes including one really nice one. I didn't hang out nearly as long and wasn't as meticulous with my presentations as I'd hoped since I was driven half insane by the amount of mosquitoes that had shadowed me all day. By the time I got home, my forearms were bumpy and red but that is all in the fun (although it would be more fun without those damn things).

Day 3:
      I decided to head to the warm water pond across the street from my house for a quick evening trip since I didn't want to get ravaged by mosquitoes again. I caught at least a couple dozen bluegills and one bass all on dries. I found a good number on nests but only caught and released a couple since they hit on every cast. By the end of the day, my fly was destroyed but it was a fun evening.

This photo isn't great because of the glare but you can make out the nests easily.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Moved In!

      I decided to take a trip down to a local freestone near UNH since I had a couple hours to myself after moving into my apartment. The stream was still flowing high from last week's rain but it was much more fishable so I decided to give it a go. Unfortunately, the fishing started off really slow with one missed trout and a couple of fallfish on nymphs. I spend the first part of the day experimenting with a new setup where I included some sighter material onto my leader so I could go back and forth between indicator and tightline nymphing. However, the sighter sank at a slower rate than the butt section above, creating a very unnatural drift. What was worse is that I wasted even more time switching back to my traditional set up (if it ain't broke....).
      Frustrates with having wasted so much time, I ended up moving upstream where I caught a couple brookies chucking streamers, which immediately improved my mood. While I was happy to get onto some fish, I was determined to get some on nymphs to field test the new leader.

      As I continued upstream, I got into some more fallfish nymphing some pocket water. While they weren't what I was looking, they did help me fine tune my approach with a new leader (where to put my indicator, how long the tippet should be, etc.). Eventually, I reached a nice run where I nymphed up two more trout including a decent rainbow, a brookie, and a few fallfish. The fallfish and brookie hit the nymph as I lifted up to cast, which goes to show, the drift isn't over till it's over. The brookie was actually a fairly interesting catch since it was smaller than the previous 2 brookies, fairly dark in color, and contained some blue ringed halos that the first two fish lacked. At first, I thought it was a native but I was disappointed to see that it had slightly beat up fins (no pics unfortunately). I've heard that this freestone does contain natives in upstream sections so it gives me a little hope but the fact that I haven't caught any 2 in. brookies in this particular section pretty much dashed my hope.

      After walking downstream towards my starting point, I saw some risers (some of which jumped clear out of water!) so I decided to take a few casts. On my first cast, I caught a decent brookie that sipped down a mosquito pattern but ended up putting down the risers due to the commotion. I walked further downstream where I caught a fallfish and put down another fish before deciding to call it quits since I had other commitments. All in all, it was a great end to a slow day and it felt awesome to get some dry fly action.

Out on the Yak

      Colby and I hit a warmwater pond near his house to target some spawning bass a couple days ago. I hadn't fished for bass as much as I'd hoped this year so I decided it was a better time than any with all the rivers in flood stage. From what I had heard, action has been slow all season due to the weather. On warmer days, the bass have been on the spawning beds but on cooler days, they've disappeared for deeper water. Since the weather had been warm for a stretch of days, I expected to see fish on their beds.
      Overall, the fishing was very good. I caught a nice mixed bag of species: 3 bass, 2 pickerel, 3-5 perch, 2 sunfish (pumpkinseed and bluegill). Colby, by far won the numbers game by catching over a dozen sunfish, 2-3 bass, several perch, and one pickerel. He was using a combination of dries and small leech patterns while I threw a large wooly bugger hoping to piss of a big fish enough to strike.

      By far there seemed to be many more sunfish nests than bass nests. According to Colby, most of the bass had apparently already spawned before I got there so we were fishing for the last few stragglers. This initially came as a surprise since I had heard the spawn was actually delayed due to the cold weather. I guess the vast expanse of shallow, sun soaked flats must have had something to do with it...

      All in all, the action wasn't quite as hot as I originally expected it to be but I wasn't all that upset considering.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Some Warmwater Action and Rivers Update

      I stopped by at one of my neighborhood ponds for a couple mins a two evenings ago to check on the action. Caught a bunch of bluegills on dry flies and managed one largemouth bass sight casting to a nest using a streamer. It's nice to see that the bass are up on the nests finally. I haven't done as much bass fishing as I would have hoped but from what I've heard, its been spotty due to the sudden changes in weather.
Update: I went out to a freestone stream near Durham since I had to run an errand at UNH today. Water is ripping, more so than in the spring! I stuck to chucking streamers on a floating line and was fortunate enough to get one brookie (no pics). I lost a nice one a few seconds after hooking it and missed a couple more strikes. It was tough out there and some areas were downright dangerous to wade but there are still fish to be had. I saw some risers in calm water but didn't figure out what they were rising to since I decided to cover water with streamers. Both rainbows and brookies were jumping clear out of water! I feel I would have been better off with sink-tip or sinking line....

Monday, June 5, 2017

First Pittsburg Trip

      I was fortunate enough to get up to Pittsburg for a couple days with Colby and his buddy Justin. We stayed up at Justin's cabin and got a lot of fishing done so this post will be very picture heavy. Before I go on with the report, I would like to thank Justin for inviting me up to his camp and showing me all his secret spots (don't worry, the secret's safe with me ;) ) and my parents for letting me go.
Day 1:
      This is a fairly small report since we arrived at camp around 8 p.m. There is a small, stocked brook flowing through the backyard that also has a fairly substantial population of natives so we took a short walk downstream and went to work! At first glance, the pool wasn't much to look at. Many of the pools were shallow, clear, and sandy and looked generally devoid of fish. I started to prospect further downstream and found some slightly faster water. Although this water wasn't much deeper, it was loaded with fish! I stuck with a tight line technique and landed 4 fish and lost almost twice as many in just 1 hour! The bites were super subtle and I missed many fish since I didn't set the hook as hard, thinking I was hung up on the bottom instead of on fish. It was amazing to see how well camouflaged these fish were since a flash would seem to appear out of nowhere. Once it started to get dark, I made my way back.

Turns out we weren't alone! There were moose tracks and deer tracks everywhere along the riverbank.
Day 2:
      This report will be substantially longer considering we fished all day! Our first stop was a remote pond way up in the hills. To get there on time, we had to wake up at 4 a.m., drive through 5 miles of logging roads, and hike up 1.4 miles. Our total travel time was over an hour due to the poor road conditions. On the way up to the pond, we found this:
      This was certainly a grim sight. From the way the bones were sprawled, it seemed like it got attacked by coyotes and put up quite a struggle. Plus, there was so much moose fur on the ground, I grabbed a couple bunches for the tying kit :). Once we got there, the fishing made the tough travel completely worth it. At first, the day started off a little slow. Colby lost one his very first cast and Justin and I missed a few strikes. Afterwards, Justin hooked up and I hooked up. There was no rhyme and reason to the bite early on, the fish were hungry and attacking anything that looked alive. Colby fished a mix of dries and streamers and I stuck to chucking small streamers and wooly buggers all day. We lost count of the number of fish we caught but in total it was over 30! Many fell within the 6-12 in. range and we even caught a number of freshly stocked fingerlings, however, a few larger fish (like my 16 in. fish and a couple of 14 in. fish were also caught). Justin also missed one that had to be over 20 in.!

One of Colby's many brookies!

One of my brookies makes an appearance for the camera!

For whatever reason, the video did not upload properly so here is the link:

      After a few hours of fishing, we decided to head back to the camp for lunch. After Justin dozed off for a quick power nap, Colby and I headed to the trophy section of the Connecticut to try and get some larger trout. Unfortunately, my maiden voyage to this section resulted in one large goose egg. The only people I saw hooking any fish were next to the bridge on Carr Road. I heard they stocked that section pretty well so it made sense but the fishing was difficult from what I saw or heard. One angler reported spending a few hours to catch one brookie (albeit a 4+ lb breeder!). A couple of local anglers I talked to said that the section had been hit hard all day which may explain why the fish were so tightlipped, likely having been caught earlier that day. From what I'd heard of lights out action and large fish, needless to say I was very disappointed/ dejected but decided that I would come back at some point and spend hours learning that river since ultimately, time on the river translates to improved success. We wrapped up in around 2 hours to hightail it back to camp and hit the brook. We fished an upstream section and despite the deeper water and pocket water nature of the river, I didn't have too much luck. I picked up a surprise salmon but that was it for action. Some might say it was completely worth it since the fish would have had to migrate miles upstream from the trophy section to even get there! Colby ruled the day with 8-9 brookies of good size skittering dries (dead drifting nymphs did not work great). Wanting to end the day on a good note, I went back to the backyard and caught 2 brookies and lost a few more on nymphs. Colby caught some more skittering dries (a technique that would come in handy the next day!).
Day 3:
       I anticipated packing up, leaving early in the afternoon, and hitting a white mountains stream on the way back but a quick walk outside changed my mind. The rain and cold of the previous day had disappeared, giving way to warmer, more pleasant weather. Plus, the river appeared to be alive today with mayflies and caddis popping off, sometimes sporadically, other times in clouds. The fish were also active as a brief trip to the backyard yielded a few takes and a couple landed! 

      Colby called me in after about 15 mins., telling me that Justin was taking us to a spot downstream. After slight consideration, I followed along. On the way, we found a small feeder trib. under a culvert that immediately produced brookies for Colby and Justin. As Justin exclaimed, these fish were "about as native as they get." Without squinting hard enough, you would not notice this stream even if you drove by it a hundred times. That is the epitome of the north country, blue lines teeming with little native gems. We continued on further to our planned spot but I was somewhat disappointed with what I saw. The water was flat but deep with overhanging branches, not at all conducive to nymphing. It basically looked like the Squannacook and Nissitissit rivers, deep holding pools punctuated by short stretches of riffles. I switched over to an elk hair caddis but didn't see any fish rising early on so I switched to a wet fly. Within minutes of switching, I spotted a first rise! I casted slightly upstream of that fish, let the fly swing, and within seconds, I felt a tug and pulled out a nice little native!
      That was more like it! After a couple of short strikes and a few refusals, I switched up to a full fledged dry (EHC) and action once again resumed. I caught and lost a couple of fish immediately and even broke off a nice one (frayed tippet)! It almost did not matter what I did, dead drifting and skittering worked equally well. When one technique wasn't working, the other produced. 
Just as the fishing was getting good, we were on our way out so I decided to snap a couple of photos:

This is truly God's country and I am blessed with the opportunity to visit this land and share in its bounty.
      I stopped by the culvert for a few more minutes and landed a couple more brookies. They are small but man are they beautiful! Back at camp, I took a few more casts in the backyard after I finished packing and picked up 3 more brookies. One on a big bushy dry (sorry, not much of a dry fly fisher so don't know the name of it) and a couple more on pheasant tail nymphs. All in all, it was a great vacation and a great experience spending a couple days in the north country. Not often that I get to experience trout fishing this good living in the southern part of the state.
Colby and Justin, if you have any more photos, feel free to add another post!