Over the past few weeks I have taken the opportunity to actually go fishing. Most of my clients seem to understand that although I am on the water almost every day of the season, rarely do I get to wave the magic stick myself. On October 21st I had the pleasure of taking out Bill and Janet of North Country Angler. You can read a full report of that trip on their website here .
On October 22nd I had the opportunity to fish with my good friends Bill Rioux and Greg Inglis. I met bill nine years ago when I taught at Kennett High School. Bill was the head of guidance and hunted me down to talk fishing after work one day. I taught him to fly fish that summer and we fished nearly every day I wasn't guiding. Of course now-a-days that isn't often and this was our first day out together in over a year. Greg and I met years ago through a mutual guide friend Pat Ard. Greg guides full time for Lopstick Lodge up in Pittsburg NH. Greg and I make it a point to fish together every season when guiding slows down. We joke that when most peoples fishing season ends ours begins.
The stretch of water we set out to fish is not easy to access and it took us a good half hour to get the boat into the water. As we set out the river was high, which is ideal for this stretch as it pushes the bigger browns into side channels and banks where we can entice them with streamers. Unfortunately as we pushed the boat out the water dropped to a trickle. The dam controls these flows and it is hard to predict when the company will stick to their scheduled releases and when they won't. The day started slow with only a few fallfish to net. As we came upon a juicy riffle I couldn't help but take out the nymph rig. . Greg and Bill stuck with the streamers. After a few fishless drifts I noticed a BWO flutter by. Quickly I tied a BWO nymph below my other two nymphs and made a long tension cast upstream. As my flies drifted past the indicator shot down. I lifted tight to a 12" wild brown trout. This stretch of river has a mix of both wild and stocked fish. Biologists track the stocked fish through fin clipping. The stocked browns have different fins clipped each year to determine holdover rates. This fish did not have any fin clips, indicating that it was wild. A few casts later I came tight to a 15" wild rainbow that rocketed into the air. Both fish ate the BWO.
While I was having fun with the nymphs neither Greg nor Bill were excited about nymphing. They were intent on catching fish on streamers. We got back in the boat with me at the oars. After another half mile without a streamer bite Greg said he would take a turn at the oars. I couldn't pass up the offer as I hadn't cast a fly out of my own boat in nearly six months. After another quarter mile I finally came tight to a trout on the big fly. It was a fourteen inch brown with a clipped caudal fin. I was guessing that it had been stocked this year as the previous year they had been clipping the adipose fins. We pushed on with Greg at the oars in search of larger fish. We concentrated on some side channels that were much lower than we would prefer. I cast to the bank of the channel, in almost dead calm water there was a violent boil on my fly. I cast again and again but the fish never returned. With these larger fish you often only get one chance. As we moved down the channel i heard Bill yell, he had felt the violent grab of a monster but the fish was gone. We continued to concentrate on the left bank when suddenly Greg shifted towards the middle of the river. "What are you doing?" I asked, "We should fish this left bank." I like the look of this seam forming on the right, it looks fishy." "Alright, I guess it's worth a shot" I wanted to fish water where I had seen fish before. But how could I argue, conditions were different and it always pays to experiment.
On my third cast I came tight.
"SEE!!" Greg yelled. We all laughed as I pulled a fat seventeen inch rainbow to the boat. As we released the fish Bill let out another yell. "Gahhhh missed another one!"
We fished on and as we came to some slower water I spotted some trouty noses coming up.. With only an hour left of daylight we decided to stick with the streamers. We didn't land another trout, but it was a great day. We learned some new tricks on this piece of water and we had a few fish to come back for.
Last week I finally got the chance to fish with my good friend and author Bob Mallard. Bob has been trying to get me out on the water now for over a week and we wanted at least two full days to fish together. We set out to fish a good stretch of water for BWO's. We were hopeful that the hatch would be in full swing. It surely was, in-fact it may have been the best BWO hatch I have ever seen.On top of that we had a bonus hatch of caddis both evenings. In two days of fishing together we conservatively estimated that we landed 80 fish, mostly browns. "Yeah right!" You must be saying. And I would be too. But when you get the perfect hatch and find the perfect water these numbers are possible. To give you an example of how furious the fishing was, below are two pictures of two of more than six doubles that we had. In many cases we were hooking multiple fish while the other angler worked to release and re-dry his flies. It was honestly the best brown trout fishing I have ever had.
Since then I have been out a few more times. On Friday I got into some good rainbows fishing egg patterns and small buggers. Yesterday I had another great BWO hatch on a different stretch of water this one was more challenging. I hooked six fish but all threw my hook before I could get them to the net. My guess is that they were all big wild rainbows as they shook violently on the hook sets. I will be back there with the boat to get revenge.
So what is to come? November means colder water temps which will make the warmest hours of the day most productive. BWO and midge hatches will persist and your best bet for dry fly action will be from 1pm to 4pm. I can't count how many times I have seen anglers giving up on the fishing before the hatch has even started. When the bugs aren't on the water egg patterns can be effective in side channels where rainbows move to feed on the spawn of other species. When fishing these areas be aware of light colored gravel. These are often spawning beds and should not be interfered with. As the month progresses more fish will be moving to the slower pools and eddies where you would expect to find nothing but warm water species. This water can be streamer fished, or fished with nymphs, both dead drifted or stripped. This is also the best water type for BWO hatches. There is still plenty of time to get out on the water before ski season arrives. We are still booking trips through November. This is a great time of year to float the bigger rivers!