My friend Art is interested in nymphing. He has invested some serious effort in learning how to assemble knotty leaders of Amnesia. Wait, what? I know. I was not biting upon Art’s first presentation of the seemingly wax figurine posture that is the nymphing stance.
But I have been offered an opportunity to be convinced of its usefulness by the master of making fish play even in the most unfavorable conditions, Mr. Angus Boezeman. Angus, a New Hampshire fishing guide who has spent many hours on the upper reaches of the Connecticut River with my friend Art, is an interesting flavor of fishing expert. He sports a fiercely practical approach to interacting with water, often producing magical results. As impressive as his ability to read trout water is his knack for being able to establish what kind of carrot will motivate a person to adopt a more open-minded approach to fly fishing. Fact is, I am not inclined to drink the nymphing kool-aid. I think Angus recognized this in me from the first couple of sentences we exchanged that first morning despite my efforts to disguise my lack of enthusiasm. Angus combated my resistance in the most practical fashion…by employing the Whoopie Pie approach. So it goes… “Hey, I know this local baker who I ordered homemade chocolate whoopie pies from, man they are going be amazing, picking them up later, maybe I’ll drop some by your cabin.” There it is. I’m going to work VERY HARD for this guy. He really “gets me”.
Turns out, I am a lucky nymphing student. 15 minutes of lobbing and we find this handsome rainbow 4 feet from where Angus places me. “Side pressure! Just wait! Side pressure!” Angus knows that if we land this fish there will be a full conversion.
As the fog settles, we end the fishing day looking for large fish with no results. This allows Angus to spend some time correcting bad fisher-woman habits of which there are so many, he has to use a rapid fire, machine gun approach to address them all before the fog chases us off the water. “Trigger Finger!”
Our final hour of our final day presents us with an opportunity to fish two productive and lovely pools on the way out of town. When we arrive at the parking area it is raining and 37 degrees..AND not a single car or fisherman to be found. Even with the settling chill, on a weekend in Pittsburg, this is something of a paranormal event. Art and I suit up for a solitary and greedy nymphing session on Judge and Jury. That’s right, not even a thought of swinging a streamer grazed my mind. Having ingested the most amazing Whoopie Pie left on our doorknob the previous evening, I instinctively defaulted to the Angus Method. 5 rainbows and 10 cold fingers later, I am now a True Believer.
If you would like to fish with Angus, well, I wish I could tell you how to book him. The fact is that I was lucky to have had the opportunity to spend time on the water with him. In all truth, I think that getting a spot in his date book was a result of the friendship that he and Art have developed over the years. These are two men who have logged mountains of hours building community and advocating for New Hampshire’s trout waters over the past 25 years. As veterans of this movement, they have a common and unique understanding of the time, hard work, diligence, terrible frustrations and enduring friendships that are necessary to protect and preserve these fragile environments. We can all be grateful for their efforts as they allow us the joy of casting into a river that holds the hope of a trout.
My best advice for extracting some wisdom from Angus would be to make some stellar whoopie pies and, as soon as they come out of the oven, drive around Pittsburgh and hit all of the most famous pools. FIll your net with your whoopie wares and wait for some interest. You just might pull him off the water. And if you do, you will find him to extraordinarily and surprisingly generous with his knowledge. He might just be the best catch you have landed yet.