Fishing Reports

April Update

We have had a great start to the season with fish to the boat every day out! With early season streamer fishing any time you land a fish is a good day and we have the code cracked with when where and how to get it done. The past two weeks provided good bite windows and every HCG guide who hit the water landed some impressive fish.

While we had a good pre-snowmelt bite we are currently in a window of high water, with rain today coupled with snowmelt flows are up and water temps are down fish metabolisms will bottom out today into tomorrow. The silver lining is that when flows drop fish will need to feed in order to make up for lost time. It looks like we could see a window on thursday and or Friday before the next rain on satruday.

All of this water is a good thing for our lake run fisheries. Higher tributary flows and warm air will allow ice do diminish on area lakes. This will then allow waters to warm and activate salmon and rainbow trout. We plan to get out on this water later this week to see where thigs are at, chances are good that the bite will turn on within the next few days.

If you are looking for some early season fishing we have dates available for wade and float fishing from late April through May. While conditions are variable we know when it’s worth getting out and we’ll make sure that if and when we hit the water we have chances at fish. This is truly the best time of the year to target large trout and we look forward to showing you waht we mean.


Tight lines,


Nate

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Bite Windows

Last Sunday morning my wife, and I were taking turns between watching the baby and cleaning the house. After a few hours of this chaos Alicia let out a sigh as she flung a used paper towl into the trash. “So what do you want to do today?” It was a warm-ish late winter day, the temperature barely above freezing but with a bright enough sun to thaw the puddles in our driveway. As I thought about the weather I was reminded of a similar day the April proir.

“Why don’t we take a walk down by the river?”

“Are you sure the snow isn’t too deep?”

“We’ll just stay on well worn paths…we’ll take it easy.” I pleaded.

“Okay, well can you bring your truck so Bosley can keep walking if the baby gets too cranky and we need to turn around?”

“Sure, do you mind if I throw my rod in the truck?”

“Yeah that’s fine.”

As I suited up in my fishing gear another couple walked up the path towards their car. The man took one look at me and chuckled.

“Fishing!? You just couldn’t wait any longer huh?”

“Yeah, it’s been a long winter.” I shrugged.

I’m sure he thought I was just out for some casting practice, but as I strung up my rod I looked hopefully at the river.




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One of the benefits of being a full time fishing guide is that time on the water teaches you when and why fish will eat. What any good guide will tell you is that fish don’t eat all the time. Sure, on some days they certainly seem to, but by and large you need to be in the right place at the right time. For casual anglers these bite windows can seem like fleeting moments of glory. Every fisherman I meet tells me the story of this one time when “ I just couldn’t keep the fish off my line.”

I now hear many of these stories told by my own clients of trips past. They pull them out during a period of slow fishing. Turning to me as their rod sulks in impatince, “Remember last year when we caught those big fish on dry flies? My response is almost always the same. “Yes, keep fishing.”

If the fish aren’t biting a change in barametric pressure, water temperature, cloud cover, wind direction, or time of day can make them. Sometimes the bite can last for hours, other times mere minutes. I’ll give you some examples.

Last June, during the peak of the Alder fly hatch I guided my good friend Charlie on the Androscoggin. The bugs were all over the Alders but no fish rose all morning, so we fished nymphs, to no avail. After lunch we stuck with the nymph rig. As the sun bairly broke behind the trees the bite window began. Charlie landed over thirty trout, 13 of which were over 15” with two right around 20”. We did finally see some bugs bouncing on the surface, but all fish were caught on nymphs. Fly fishermen get caught up with paying attention to bugs when they are around. Even during a hatch a bite window can be triggered by something invisible.

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A couple of years ago I was guiding my client Monti in early July. The day began with a warm sun breaking over the trees. Small black caddis danced about the misty surface. We managed a couple of fish on dry flies and a few on nymphs. Then the weather began to change and we stopped catching fish. low clouds rolled in, a strong west wind kicked up and the temperature dropped. I asked if Monti wanted to try a streamer. He was hesitant, trusting the nymph rig that he was comfortable with. But When his flies snagged and he pulled back and forth, the white indicator danced on the surface like a wounded baitfish, fooling a rainbow trout into attacking. We laughted as the fish thrashed then Monti freed the snag and I handed him the streamer rod. He took one cast and was tight to an 18” wild rainbow. Sometimes when you think the bite window is off the fish have just switched from appetizers to the main course, and major bite window is on.

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A few years ago in late MayI was guiding my client Garry. Garry was interested in chasing large brown trout on streamers. The timing was right between streamer season and the first mayfly hatches of the year. We started with streamers and although Garry had some hits we hadn’t landed a trout by lunch time.

I explained that we had perfect conditions for brown trout fishing and that it simply wasn’t an easy game. After lunch Garry missed a few more fish on streamers before a light hatch of gray drakes came off. We found a pod of brook trout rising in an eddy and Garry stuck a couple. The skunk was off but small stocked brook trout were not our focus. Garry was eager to move down the river but I noticed the sun comming through the clouds. There was good brown trout water to come but I also knew they wouldn’t rise for dry flies in the bright sunlight. Luckly there was a large patch of clouds drifting in from the west. So we sat and waited. When the clouds shrouded the sun we pushed on. On the far side of the next pool we saw a small dimple, repeating sporadically.

“Looks like another brook trout.” Garry sighed.

“I’m not so sure, take a cast.

Garry’s cast landed perfectly, three feet above the fish. The fish ate before Garry expected it and took ten feet of fly line straight to the bottom before he could even set the hook. As we took pictures and released the fish (an 18” brown trout”) Garry noticed another fish rising downstream. As I dried the fly and prepared to move down the sun burst through the clouds. We waited for the fish to show herself but the clouds were gone, the bite window had closed.

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Those are just a couple examples I’ve seen bite windows appear and disappear in interesting ways. In reality I have seen hundreds of examples. I use these experiences to inform where and when I fish, because these day s I don’t have as much time to fish for myself. Which brings me back to the other day…

Alicia had the baby and I had the dog so naturally I moved faster. When we were about half way to our destination Alicia stopped.

“Vivian isn’t going to last much longer and I want her to see you take some casts, can you rig up here?

There wouldn’t be any fish to catch in this water but the two finest catches of my life wanted to watch me fish…So I fished to no fish for all the right reasons. Eventually Alicia called me to shore.

“Can you take the dog a little longer and we’ll meet you back home?”

“Sure thing.”

Now I did move fast, speedwalking in waders through thigh deep snow until I got to the right spot. I slid down the icy bank landing in the spring soft sand with a thud. I eased into the warming, but still icy waters as I tore line off the reel. Tossing my fly into the flow I began working casts across the river. Every cast I would step down a few feet, covering the river with efficiency. I was just getting into the rhythm of things when I felt it, the line suddently going oddly slack before tightening into a deep pull. It was a heavy weight with the throbs going down into the cork of my reel seet. I stumbled backwards as I stripped in line, and Bosley bounced in the snow behind me.

Once the fish was in the net I slid out my camera, took a quick fish selfie and release video. Then I sat, because this was enough, and the sun was setting anyways. I reeled up my line and walked back to the truck.

The fish

The fish

People often say, the best time to go fishing is when you have time. It helps if you can fit that sliver of time into a bite window. I hope I can share a bite window…or two with you this season.







Tight lines,

Nate
















Foliage and Fish an October Report

We are at about peak foliage in the North Country and just getting there in the Mount Washington Valley. We’ve had a good number of floats this fall on the Andro and we’ve had good success on most days with the best bites being between 11:30 am and 3:30 pm. With a quick transition from summer time warmth to cool fall days, fish metabolisms slowed down fast and are just now starting to stabilize. With warm temps over the next week or so we should have some of our best fall fishing of the season.

As for what is working…We’ve done well on cloudy days throwing streamers like white and grey clouser minnows and zonker style flies, early before bug activity ramps up. Once the sun warms the water we’ve been doing better fishing nymphs such as Jiggy PT’s in size 8-12, mopflies, prince nymphs, worms and eggs. If you aren’t catching fish nymphing try swinging them at the end of the drift, this will give you the heads up that fish are taking emergers. A dry dropper set-up is cluch in this situation.

Fishing on the Saco and Ellis was slow as of this writing but with warmer temps over the next few days the streamer bite on the Saco could heat up. Our mountain streams fished well last week but I think we are post spawn now and that probably means that the brookies have taken off for the season. Meanwhile our southern wild brookie streams should be fishing well into next weekend when the season closes on October 15th. Here colorful streamers like baby brook trout, mickey Finn’s and Wood’s specials are often the ticket to tight lines.

If you are looking to book a last minute trip for this fall we do have some dates available. Nate has Columbus day (Monday October 8th) open as well as October 10th and 11th which just opened up due to a cancellation. If you want other dates we have guides available most days so please let us know if you want to hit the rivers during prime time foliage!

Sorry no time to post pics this time…but you can check out our latest catches on instagram @natefish83.

Tight lines,

Nate

Early Autumn Report

While the calendar still says it is summer, kids are back in school and Autumn is in the air. We've been seeing some obvious signs of fall, the leaves are already brightening, nights are getting cooler, and the fall hatches have already begun. 

Hayden's first trout on the fly was a Buck wild brookie that ate an Elk Hair Caddis skaded using a Red brook Tenkara Rod. 

Hayden's first trout on the fly was a Buck wild brookie that ate an Elk Hair Caddis skaded using a Red brook Tenkara Rod. 

We've been fishing all local waters as of late and have done well everywhere. The Saco was fishing well last week with flying ant swarms on the warmer days bringing most fish to the surface. With cooler weather on it's way it looks like the midge and BWO bite will be the ticket for dry flies. With rain in the forecast this author is looking forward to getting redeption on some larger brown trout that will be getting aggressive towards streamers. 

Client Mark with a frisky brown that slow rolled his way into engulfing a size 16 cinnamon ant. 

Client Mark with a frisky brown that slow rolled his way into engulfing a size 16 cinnamon ant. 

The Andro has been fishing well, particularly on early mornings and cooler days when water temps have been lower. With a cold front rushing in tonight and cooler weather in the extended forecast look for the andro to begin fishing well during mid-morning to later afternoon hours. Water temps should get well under 70 degrees and hold there for the remainder of the season keeping fish active well into the afternoons. 

Jay Shields with a healthy wild rainbow from the Andro. Caught on a dry dropper Iso rig...ate the dropper this time. 

Jay Shields with a healthy wild rainbow from the Andro. Caught on a dry dropper Iso rig...ate the dropper this time. 

We've been seeing sporadic hatches of Isonychia on the Andro most days., As a rule of thumb if you see a large mayfly rising from the river, even just one, you should be throwing a large purple haze dry fly or a pheasant tail nymph in size 10-14.  When th Iso's aren't active we have been seeing olive caddis on most mornings. We have also taken fish on streamers like the kreelix and large buggers when no bugs are on the water. 

What's to come?

With the cooler weather in the forecast fishing should improve on the Andro over the next few days and hold steady through later October for dry fly fishing and nymphing. From there streamer fishing will be your best bet to tag a big fish. On the Saco things will transition from the terrestrials of summer to small dries and big streamers. This is some of th most technical dry fly fishing of the seaon or some of the most exciting streamer fishing...bottom line fish really small or really big! 

Our client Ethan landed this fine specimen on one of our custom HCG Isonychia dry flies. 

Our client Ethan landed this fine specimen on one of our custom HCG Isonychia dry flies. 

We look forward to seeing many of you this fall! 

Nate

 

Mid-summer Report

It has certainly been a while since we have written a report and we appologize for that. Our lack of writing is not due to a lack of fishing guiding or catching. We have had a record June and July for trips this year and the fishing has remaind productive with thunderstorms every few days keeping area rivers at healthy levels. 

Small streams:

Small streams like the Ellis have been fishing very well. Midsized attractor patterns like hippi stompers, and small hoppers have done well on top with small caddis nymphs and copper johns working well subsurface. 

Cecelia with her first trout on the fly! 

Cecelia with her first trout on the fly! 

Saco River:

With recent rains the Saco has been fishing very well for late August. Ants and hoppers are producing from early morning through about noon. Look for ant swarms to begin on warmer humid days. Browns, Brookies and Bows are all in the mix on the Saco right now. With high water possible at any moment be sure to throw streamers when waters rise. This writer lost a monster last week when the water was chocolate brown. I was sure I had snagged a log when suddlenly a violent pull snapped my 15lb tippet like a cobweb. The Saco has beasts that feed almost exculsively on other fish...including other trout.

Andro:

With the recent heat wave we have been off of the Andro over the past few days. However right before the last heat wave the big river was fishing very well for early August. We landed a few bows to 18" last week on a quick float. With cool temps over the next few nights the Andro should again fish well this weekend and hopefully for the rest of the season! Until water temps drop into the lower half of the 60's morning will be your best bet on the Andro with cloudy days resulting in more prolonged bite windows. Fishing right now on the Andro is primarily a nymphing game with prince nymphs, caddis larva, pheasant tails, and BWO nymphs like WD40's, and mighty mites, being bread and butter patterns. Now is the time to book your fall float on the Andro. Based on what we have seen from the andro so far this season we are anticipating another banner fall season!

Wild rainbow from a recent float on the Andro 

Wild rainbow from a recent float on the Andro 

What's to come:

You can expect the fishing to only get better over the next few weeks. With night time lows falling into the 50's this week fall hatches of Isonychia mayflies and October Caddis are just about to start! Time to carve out some time to hit the water! We are currently booking dates for August, September and October. Let us know when you would like to get on the water and we will make it happen. See more of our recent catches on instagram @natefish83!

Tight lines,

Nate