Arkansas wrap up
We had an exceptional last week of guiding on the White and Norfork rivers of north central Arkansas. The fishing last week was some of the best all around trout fishing I have ever seen. From big browns on small nymphs to cutthroat sipping dries to big rainbows crushing swimming leach patterns.... there wasn't much we didn't catch fish on.
More impressive than the action was the average size of fish taken. On most days we were catching 40-60 trout with about half of those fish measuring over 15" and about 10 fish a day over 17". We landed at least one fish over 19" on most days with 20" browns and cutthroat being common. Our clients did an exceptional job of landing the vast majority of these large fish caught. We also must admit that our Cortland Competition nymph rods made a big difference in getting good hook sets and protecting light tippets while fighting these large trout. We'd also like to thank Trout Hunter tippets and leaders for making some seriously tough tippet material and offering their tippet in half sizes. Being able to go from 4X to 4.5X and 5X to 5.5X made a big difference in fooling large trout without worrying about being under gunned.
One of the biggest keys to our success on the White and Norfork rivers was our focus on stealth. Guiding out of our raft we were able to slide into spots without spooking fish and were able to rest on spots where we knew big fish were willing to eat when not spooked.
We focused on fishing flies far away from the boat and with long leaders to small strike indicators to eliminate line crash. Keeping a long drift with moderately weighted flies allowed for stealthy natural drifts that often produced the biggest fish. Over the weeks we were able to fine tune our fly selection based on conditions. Early morning midge hatches usually petered out by noon and we'd switch to attractor patterns like eggs and worms. Then if a caddis hatch turned on we would switch to caddis pupa and even dry droppers when the big fish got on the surface. Windy conditions warranted fishing small leach patterns and streamers that would wiggle in the chop. These often produced fish when nothing else would. When the nymph bite shut off we found success bouncing sculpin patterns over the bottom.
Lastly we found some of our biggest fish in what might seem non-descript water to many. In these cold tail-waters big trout do not need the fast riffles we often associate with good trout water. Instead they can often be found in the middle of a slow pool behind an unseen submerged rock. Or resting on a patch of gravel between weed beds in frog water.
Through working with and fishing with other guides such as: Lance Wilt of Outcast anglers John Holsten of Straight Outta Cotter, Larry Babin of Hogs on the Fly, Barry Annalora of Trophy Hunter Guide Service, and last but not least Jeremy Hunt of Flies and guides. we were able to gain a wide range of knowledge and ideas that we blended with our own knowledge base. I can't thank these guides enough for sharing time on the water and many of their strategies and flies to catching these large Arkansas trout.
New Hampshire Outlook
With a heavy snowpack in the mountains things are looking bright for a long and productive trout season here in the White Mountians. Snow melt has begun in earnest and the Saco and Androscoggin rivers were both right around 9,000 CFS today April 11th. With this heavy snowmelt water temps are running right around 33 degress and fish metabolisms are slow. Best fishing will be had early in the day before water levels rise. As snowmelt begins to moderate and flows drop below 4,000 cfs both rivers should begin to produce good fishing. Nate will be out of town from April 15th to April 22nd. So if you are looking to book a trip for late April or May please contact Steve at North Country Angler.
Saco River Browns
We are looking forward to hitting the water later this April in search of large wild brown trout on the Saco river. We've been disecting this early season fishery over the past couple of seasons and are excited to employ some new ideas and strategies to fool these mythical browns that we believe may reach 30" in our waters. We have had some inquries for guiding over these large trout and we are taking tentative reservations but not deposits as we do not want to take people out unless we are confident that the conditions will offer us a good shot at these fish.
If you are interested in pursuing these fish the best time frame is from Late April through Late May when flows are between 1,000 and 4,000 cfs. We will be sure to keep you posted on what we are finding this spring.
Lake run Rainbows and Salmon
As I drove through NH on my way back from Arkansas I was happy to see our lake tributaries swollen with water. This push of water will draw LL salmon and rainbow trout into lake tributaries where we fly anglers will have early season (Late April through May) opportunities at large lake run fish. While traditional streamer patterns like smelt are often effective. We have done even better with mohair leach patterns, sucker spawn, hares ear nymphs, and when waters begin to warm caddis dry flies. If you'd like to book a trip to fish for these large trout please let us know as this fishing will be heating up shortly!
Wild Brook Trout Waters
Over the past five years we have been exploring the vast array of well hidden spring fed brook trout streams that slither through the forests and meadows of the lowland areas of NH's White Mountains. While some of these streams require hiking we have some on private property that require less effort to fish. Since these streams are spring fed their hatches begin earlier than those in the mountain streams. Good dry fly fishing begins with Hendrickson hatches in early to mid-may and is followed by caddis hatches in late May. We are happy to report that last fall we saw many wild brook trout to 12+ inches and we are excited to see how these fish are doing this spring!
Androscoggin River Float fishing
.The Androscoggin River from Errol NH to the Maine border will begin producing fish as soon as levels drop to around 3,500 cfs. This is mainly rainbow trout water with LL salmon, brown trout and brook trout also present. If you are looking to fish this river we highly recommend floating from a boat as you will be able to cover much more water in a much more efficient manner than if you were to try wade fishing this brawling fishery.