Fishing Reports

Early Spring report

Any time you are away for a month there is a long list of chores upon your return home. While I had plenty of nitty gritty things to get done, I couldn't help but feel responsible to check on our local NH rivers. So after a morning of doing laundry I grabbed the dog and headed to a local stream. 

My nymph rod was still rigged with an Arkansas midge and mega-worm so I decided to give that combo a try in NH. It wasn't long before I was hooked into a fat 16" rainbow. Shortly thereafter I missed some smaller trout before catching one that turned out to be an eight inch wild brook trout. I was happy to see a few fish biting this early in the season. With recent rains there should be plenty of trout moving from our lakes into local rivers and streams. April and early May provide a great window to fish for these larger trout in an intimate setting. We are now booking for April and May. 

 NH Spring run Rainbow trout. 

NH Spring run Rainbow trout. 

On Tuesday I decided to check on some bigger water for bigger fish. I had a hunch that the big browns would be hungry and I suspected that a warm midday sun would provide a bite window. I grabbed the dog and headed out to a slow pool where I knew large fish spent the winter months. I tied on a smaller streamer that I had designed for low water Arkansas browns and began making long casts sweeping through a depth change in the middle of the river. It might have only been my third cast when my line went tight. I stripped hard hoping it wasn't a snag, then the throbbing started and I knew...big brown. 

Fish like these require a pause in the fishing. One takes his or her time admiring the catch and releasing the fish. Then watches the water, thanking the river for showing us a glimpse of her mystery. As I watched another large brown rose to the surface, inspiring me to begin casting again. 

I never did see that second fish on the end of my line and shortly thereafter the air temperature dropped and the wind picked up. Although I kept casting I knew the brown trout were done for the day.

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Early season, or I should say "off season" fishing is often this way. With cold water temps and short periods of warm weather the "Bite" is often short lived. Still it is important to remember that the biggest fish in the river, those that need to consume the highest quantity of calories, will be the first to eat. Conversely these are also the smartest fish in the river who eat the fewer, but bigger meals. Thus early season angling takes a patient calculated approach. It often involves a constant eye on the weather, barometric pressure and wind direction, and then a deliberate conviction of when and where to fish. You must have confidence in your quest. 

This is not the time of the year to catch a lot of trout. It is the time of the year to hunt for THE ONE. I use the term hunt instead of fish, because in order to be successful you need to think about this endeavor as a hunt. If you land one it is a success, and if you don't you take what you have learned into your next hunt. We feel confident that we've learned enough to know when and where the hunt will give anglers a shot or two at success.

I've spent enough time on trophy brown trout waters to know that these fish will eat when they want to eat, not when you want them to eat. Figure out those times, and places and you will be greatly rewarded. If you would like to learn more, and join us on a brown trout hunt, we are currently booking. 

Flows and temps look to provide good bite windows through April and May this year. We look forward to hunting with you. 

Tight Lines,

Nate

Arkansas wrap up

We had a great stay in Cotter Arkansas this March. We were satisfied that all of our clients caught some amazing fish and had at least one if not two epic days on either the White or Norfork rivers. I arrived in Cotter on March 1st with my good friend Brian Boyle. We met up with my good friend Greg Inglis, (formerly of Lopstick Lodge) and began scouting the waters of the northern Ozarks. Last year, I got Brian hooked on chasing big browns with streamers on the Saco river. Brian had heard about the White River and asked if he could come along this season to help row the boat during our scouting session. 

Brian is the kind of guy you want on a scouting mission. Not afraid to get skunked or lose a big fish. He is willing to go through the arduous process of dialing in the fishing. Greg had never met Brian before, but I was confident that the two would hit it off well. It didn't take long especially after Brian showed Greg the cases of Micro brew we had picked up to fuel us through our quest for brown trout.

As is often the case the fishing was slow for us over the first few days. We were dead set on finding big fish on streamers, but the streamer bite was a bit lackluster. We were able to muster a couple fish from 18-20" an most days but we were not seeing much for numbers. Brian was fine with the challenge and seemed more concerned about Greg and I trying to guide in these tough conditions. "It will all fall into place." I explained with confidence. I had been trough this routine before. It was only a matter of time before the conditions improved and we dialed in on the right techniques. 

So after a few days of arduous streamer fishing we moved to the Northfork of the White river and Norfork river where we had much more success with numbers of fish, in the 16-18 inch class. Even though we were catching fish I could tell that Brian's focus was still on the white River, throwing streamers to brown trout. So we returned to the white and Brian did manage a good fish of 20". Still, we knew that the river had more to offer. Brian was confident. "I know I am going to have my best day on the last day here." 

Well Brian was right. if we hadn't had to get him to his plane he probably would have caught more, but in four hours he landed six fish over sixteen inches including his biggest fish of the trip, a 22" male. 

As is often the case, (and I'd have it no other way) Greg and I put our clients on far more big trout than we caught on our own. We had dialed in on when where and why, realizing that nymphing shad patterns, while not as glamorous as throwing streamers, was much more productive. As a high abundance of shad in the river had fish in a lazy snacking mood on most days. 

In the ten days that I fished with Greg and Brian we landed five fish over 20". Conversely in the sixteen days that I guided my clients landed sixteen fish over 20". It would take me all day to post the pictures here but you can find them on our instagram feed @natefish83. 

This is the job of a fishing guide. To go through the frustrations of figuring out the fishing before the clients arrive, and to have that part out of the way for the paying customer. It doesn't always work out perfectly, but, when we put in the time, it pays off. 

As for the future I am not sure I will be able to head back to Arkansas next year, as Alicia and I will be having our first child in May. For those interested in hunting southern brown trout I do have plenty of guide connections in the Ozarks. I'll keep you all posted, I do plan to get back there someday! 

Late Fall Report

Late September/ October wrap up

We apologize for for the lack of reports this fall. From guiding almost every day through late October to a trip to Idaho we have been very busy. Late September and October provided some of the best fall fishing we have seen on the Androscoggin River. We saw more wild rainbows over 15" this fall than we have ever seen! A warmer than usual September and October kept hatches of BWO's and Isonychia mayflies consistent through late October. Things changed with two big rain storms at the end of the month. Lucky for me I was in Idaho enjoying ideal conditions on the South Fork of the Snake river! 

 Typical October dry fly fish. 

Typical October dry fly fish. 

 Androscoggin River Brown...a good one. 

Androscoggin River Brown...a good one. 

 South Fork of the Snake River fishing with Teton Valley Lodge Guide Milan Krainchich. 

South Fork of the Snake River fishing with Teton Valley Lodge Guide Milan Krainchich. 

November Report

We have been out a couple times since returning from Idaho. We had a good streamer bite last Monday when temps were in the 60's with clouds and a light rain. Fishing has slowed a bit more recently as the coldest temps of the season are upon us. Fishing should improve next week as the fish acclimate to this colder weather. We are going to head out in search of some bigger browns next week and we'll let you know what we find. 

 November Rainbow Trout

November Rainbow Trout

Arkansas Update

We still have dates available for our Arkansas trips this coming March of 2018. If you are interested in getting spring started early chasing trophy browns, rainbows and cutthroat please let us know asap as dates are filling fast. Guiding dates are from March 7- March 31st. This is prime time on the White and Norfork rivers! Last year was epic with 50-100 fish days and 18"-22" fish landed nearly every day. 

 Arkansas Fine Spot Cutthroat. 

Arkansas Fine Spot Cutthroat. 

 An Average Norfork River Rainbow. 

An Average Norfork River Rainbow. 

 White River Brown Trout

White River Brown Trout

Early September Report

Overview:

We are in the thick of full on Autumn fishing! Water temps and levels are prime for float and wade fishing! We've been having some great days on the Saco, Andro and our wild brook trout waters. Dates are available from now through mid November. Now's the time to fish!

Andro:

We have been having some excellent floats on the Andro. With daytime highs in the 70's most days and lows in the 40's water temps have dropped into the sweet spot for trout metabolisms. We are seeing good bio drifts of nymphs starting at about 8am. From here some days have had consistent bites right through while other days there is a short mid-day lull. We should see good fishing for a while now with prime conditions in the forecast through at least the end of next week. Look for Isonychia, October caddis, Green caddis (Rhyacophilia), tan caddis, and golden stones to be of great importance through September.

 Clay Emery of San Antonio TX landed this healthy wild rainbow right around noon at the end of a half day float.

Clay Emery of San Antonio TX landed this healthy wild rainbow right around noon at the end of a half day float.

 Andrew Cook of Greenland NH hooked trout all day long including this wild bow that ate an Isonychia nymph at the tailout of a pool.

Andrew Cook of Greenland NH hooked trout all day long including this wild bow that ate an Isonychia nymph at the tailout of a pool.

 Julie Lawton outfished her brother Brian but both had an epic day with over 60 trout to net and six doubles to net! Julie got the Grand slam!

Julie Lawton outfished her brother Brian but both had an epic day with over 60 trout to net and six doubles to net! Julie got the Grand slam!

Saco:

The Saco has fished very well so far this September. With recent rains were were able to float the river a couple times and had good streamer fishing. Fish have also keyed in on recent ant swarms and midge hatches. Fish small Griffiths gnats or cinnamon ants to get their attention. As waters cool you will want to focus on streamers more and dries less.

 Client Mark Varveres with one of a many browns he caught while floating the Saco.

Client Mark Varveres with one of a many browns he caught while floating the Saco.

 Brian Boyle with a decent Saco brown.

Brian Boyle with a decent Saco brown.

Ellis:

While the Ellis has been slow for stocked fish this year there have been some good numbers of wild brook trout moving into even the lower river. I fished a short stretch the other day and managed five nice wild brookies from 6-8 inches in the FFO stretch. Fish orange stimulators to mimic October caddis on the surface. Birds nest nymphs and stonefly nymphs will work subsurface.

Mountain streams:

Our mountain streams continue to fish well for brookies, rainbows and browns. You have about two more weeks of good fishing with October caddis, ants and small streamers all working well. As waters cool in Late September Early October these fish will head to spawn move to bigger water. This is when you will want to head to bigger water as well.

 Hayley Lewis with a small stream brook trout.

Hayley Lewis with a small stream brook trout.

Wild Brook Trout water:

Our wild brook trout streams are off the beaten path spring feed fisheries that we try to keep to ourselves. That being said they are fishing very well right now as brook trout are pre spawn and aggressively striking streamers! If you would like to experience some high quality native brook trout fishing please let us know!

 Paul Shinsky was having a blast catching good sized wild brook trout.

Paul Shinsky was having a blast catching good sized wild brook trout.

 Former owner of North Country Angler Bill Thompson setting the hook on a wild brook trout.

Former owner of North Country Angler Bill Thompson setting the hook on a wild brook trout.

 Those are the hands of Jordan Hill with an impressive small stream native.

Those are the hands of Jordan Hill with an impressive small stream native.

Arkansas 2018:

We are now booking dates for Arkansas 2018. We will be guiding on the White and Norfork rivers in Cotter Arkansas from March 5th through March 31st 2018. Please give us a call or email if you would like to book!

 Dick Peterson with an impressive monster he landed on 5X in Arkansas spring 2017.

Dick Peterson with an impressive monster he landed on 5X in Arkansas spring 2017.

Summary:

With the days getting shorter but temps still warm now is a great time to get out and fish. We consider September and early October our favorite fishing of the year as crowds are small, fish are hungry, temps are comfortable, and the scenery is breathtaking. We have dates available for September and October so please let us know asap if you would like to book.

 

Mid-August report and Arkansas update

Overview:

Fishing has held on through the dog days of summer this season! Fall is in the air and we are already seeing Fall hatches begin on our local rivers! Now is the time to plan your Autumn fishing getaway!

Saco:

The Saco has fished very well throughout the summer. Fish are still being taken on large terrestrial patterns like hoppers and beetles. Black ants have been productive but any day now the Cinnamon ants will arrive and provide some of the best dry fly fishing of the season. Early morning and cloudy days are seeing BWO hatches. Fish in the more popular pools are becoming well educated so be sure to have your "A" game on. Often hooking one fish in a given spot will spook the other fish in the area and require you to move on or give the pool a good rest. While rare, a good summer thunderstorm can raise water levels and lower visibility enough to get the big trout active and feeding during daylight hours. Our good friend Brian Boyle was able to land this beauty the other day while fishing with the Author. Bright streamers are key to get these big fish to bite!

 Angler Brian Boyle with 23" of Saco brown. As always released to fight another day!

Angler Brian Boyle with 23" of Saco brown. As always released to fight another day!

 Saco Rainbows are typically Camera shy...got this guy just in time! August 14th.

Saco Rainbows are typically Camera shy...got this guy just in time! August 14th.

 Saco river brown trout release. Always fun to watch them go!

Saco river brown trout release. Always fun to watch them go!

Andro:

The andro has been hit or miss depending on when you hit it. Yesterday I had the good fortune of fishing with our newest guide in training Will Schmitt. Will worked on his rowing skills and was kind enough to put me on a large salmon and a few spunky rainbows and browns. It was good to see fish throughout the float and I was able to dial in on a few more hot spots for future trips. We had a sporadic Isonychia hatch throughout the day. This mayfly will be important from now until early October when BWO's will become even more important. With hot weather over the next two days the Andro will not be your best bet. BUT...a cold front will reach the region by Wednesday and it looks like we enter a cool, "Fallish" pattern from Thursday through Sunday. This should spur more Isonychia hatches and possibly some October caddis will show up. If we get a hot humid day after this cool front be prepared for that flying ant hatch I mentioned earlier. The key on the Andro is that the water temps are cool enough to bring fish to the surface when the ants drop. Otherwise you will have plenty of bass and fallfish to play with on top.

 The Author with a healthy Andro Salmon caught August 19th.

The Author with a healthy Andro Salmon caught August 19th.

 A bright Andro Rainbow taken on an Isonychia pattern August 19th.

A bright Andro Rainbow taken on an Isonychia pattern August 19th.

Ellis:

The Ellis has been fishing well in the Upper River for wild brook trout. Fishing flashy dries like hippie stompers and Stimulators is effective. When the fishing slows drop a nymph off the back of one of these buoyant dries.

Small Streams:

Our small streams continue to fish well but even here fish are becoming more educated. Head further into the woods to seek less pressured fish. Flying ants have been very productive as have red hippie stompers and red humpies (red seems to be important). If fish are not taking dead drifted dries a small muddler minnow or baby brook trout pattern stripped through drop offs and undercut boulders can produce well. Fishing a dropper such as a red copper john is a good idea when fish are even less willing.

 A wild brook trout stream is a great place to introduce people to fly fishing!

A wild brook trout stream is a great place to introduce people to fly fishing!

Arkansas Update:

We have set dates for our Arkansas 2018 trips. Dates for booking are March fifth through April 30th. Please give us a call if you want in on this phenomenal tailwater fishing! If you haven't heard we had an epic 2017 in the Ozarks with many 50+ fish days and countless rainbows, browns and Cuts from 18-22". This was definitely the best trout fishing I have personally ever seen! Let us know ASAP if you are interested in booking!

 HCG Client Dick Peterson with Arkansas Gold.  Spring 2017.

HCG Client Dick Peterson with Arkansas Gold.  Spring 2017.

 The Author with an average Arkansas brown.

The Author with an average Arkansas brown.

Summary:

After a serious drought last season it has been a pleasure to see our rivers in good shape this August. It was impressive to see the size of some of the brown trout that survived last seasons drought and it is good to see that many fish stocked earlier this spring are still alive and well in much of the Saco. We are happy to see the wild rainbows in the andro doing well as always with some very big fish seen by our anglers this season. All in all it is shaping up to be an exceptional fall to fish in the White Mountains of NH. We still have dates available for this September and October but they are going fast so be sure to book soon!