Creepy Highway Drifter or Fly Person?

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It’s the end of the Alder cycle and I am hell bent on experiencing it again before they wrap up their lives on the river.  Today, I head out with all versions of the alder fly in my fly box; two nymph versions, a wet, and two stages of the dry alder.  Thank you, Art!  We arrive at our launch site and it is immediately apparent that the Alders have wound down.  There are less of them fluttering and fewer excited fish piercing the river’s cieling.  What there are decidedly more of, however, is people.  This is the first time I have been on the river on a summer weekend day in a some time and I had forgotten that it is a pure luxury to be able to take up residence in a trout spot for hours.  Today, I will need to have my fly fisher manners on and move down the river succinctly.  It’s a bluebird day with little wind so I am feeling no worry about how the fish will behave.  It’s going to be picturesque ride, with or without trout on my leader.

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After some lack luster rises at the early stage dry alder, I move down a bit to open up space for those fly fishers that have come to try their rod wading from the launch area.  We pull into one of my favorite little “micro” holes where we land a couple of little rainbows who take a submerged late stage dry on the strip.  The fishing,all together, is slow.  I am just about ready to call it a river day as my boat mate today is not a fisher.  She is patient, but if the fishing isn’t special, I can’t help but feel a little selfish as she bakes in the sun waiting to move downriver to the next point of interest.

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I climb a rock to get a look at the upcoming current and take another distracted cast which, to my surprise, results in an undoubtedly much bigger fish.  Problem is, I’m perched high on a boulder with deep water all around and can’t get enough leverage or reach with my net to get this guy on board.  And I WANT to see this fish!

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Angus, I hear you!

I’m not confident that I will land him given the restricted ability to adjust my angle and the lack of a barb on my Alder. I can hear Angus now…”side pressure, Stephanie!”  After 4 or 5 swings towards the net combined with advanced yoga  moves, I contain him.  And he is beautiful.  I love brook trout.  No other fish triggers such wonder and amazement as this fellow does with his Kodachrome dots.

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After his successful catch and release, we enjoy a snack and a little coffee before heading out.  At this point, the sun is bearing down on the water pretty hard, dashing my hopes for subsequent exciting catches.  We enjoy the remaining quick water and take notice of herons and loons on our stillwater paddle to the take out.  And since we wanted to drive together, we now have the last leg of the trip…the walk to retrieve the vehicle.  At this point I am always dishelved, hungry, thirsty and beginning to feel the scorch of the sun.  Shortly after taking to the pavement, I am in receipt of many very strange looks from oncoming drivers and passengers alike.  As I walk, I wonder what is so interesting/compelling about me that so many people are taking notice.  I am also very careful to be sure that I avoid any interaction with persons who might have murderous intentions (because, as you know, the cautionary tales of people with hatchets waiting under your car at the mall told to all youth by nervous parents die hard.). It’s in that moment that I realize, IT’S ME!  It’s me, in fact, that looks like the creepy ax-murdering weirdo!  So as a public service, I felt it prudent to put you at ease.  Should you see a person who looks like this:

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Ax murderer?

DON’T WORRY!  The person will be unsteady, dehydated, wearing multiple pairs of eyeglasses and other sundry headgear. He or she will be wearing clothing that would seem to be incongruent with the current weather conditions.  This is to avoid being baked any further.  Rest at ease, you are not in danger!  This Creepy Highway Drifter is just a tired fly fisher fetching transport after a long day fishing. The little grin you observe is not her responding to comical internal voices.  Rather, it’s a welcome residual symptom of a day spent falling in love with brook trout …all over again.

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Flying Zebras: A magical hatch

Fly Fishing: Photography, Flyfishing Photography, New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Brook Trout, New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Brown Trout, New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Rainbow Trout, Uncategorized


The Alder Hatch.  Wow.  There are few things this special that can be experienced without going to a whole lot of trouble.  Its cast, drift, and set a rhythmic fly fisher’s dream sequence…on a loop. 

Thanks for alerting me, Chris!

A Pheonix on the Andro

Flyfishing Photography, New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Rainbow Trout, Uncategorized

Well it’s another early winter morning…wait, no. It’s not. It’s 39 degrees at 9:30 am, but it’s Late June?  With gusty winds and no sun, my day on the water requires full winter dressing  including hot hands in the wool lined hand warmer pockets of my waders.  As I pull into my launch area I find one other vehicle. Doors swung open resembling a majestic Phoenix with wings spread, its presence seems a foreshadowing of something epic.  The Phoenix, with its symbolism of renewal, cyclical rebirth, and strength is a relevant symbol for all of us who long for the outcome of a vibrant, self sustaining trout fishery.  But until then, at least in the New England, we have “the truck”.

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Phoenix

Of course, only fisherfolk have such a metaphorical/emotional response to a NH Fish and Game stocking truck.  To the average person, it might be mistaken for a septic truck with its ample tank.  We know better.  As I ready my boat and gear, I listen to the officers chatter as they dump nets of trout into the river.  Now, this is not the first time I have been in this scenario. The time previous, I was already in the lake when the trout truck pulled right up to the bank and commenced shooting fish out of a water cannon in a trajectory that seemed to be ridiculously close to my boat. It was like a feverish dream, or perhaps a nightmare.  I was literally sitting on top of hundreds of fish. I could see them, smell them, hear them. And do you know, I couldn’t catch a single trout!  I did, somehow, manage to catch a bass in all that trouty mess. Needless to say, I left that lake dejected and having a serious feeling that I should hang up the rod. I mean, who can’t get a trout to bite in those conditions?  So, long and short, while a was marveled by the perfection of timing this morning, I prepared myself for a potential total devastation of confidence.

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Pinky

Once on the water, I could see fish snacking in the slow current. An 88 revealed a couple of stocker sized rainbows within the first 15 minutes.  As the nibbles slowed, I moved downstream to a more shallow narrowing section of river with quicker currents and subtle elevation variation. Here is where the rodeo in earnest begins. Just about every cast, these newly re-homed fish are spunky and consistent taking a swinging 88 just about every other cast.

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Standard Fare

I’m simple.  The catching never bores me. No matter the size or variety.  However, I will admit that my focus heightened after hooking a larger rainbow who gave me lots of smile worthy trouble on his way to my net.

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Feisty Sprinter

The 88 doing all of the work today is one of the first I tied. My friend Art has provided me with a generous supply in the past, but he is a real fly tier and needs to focus on tying other inventories that, well, are too challenging to be fun in my opinion. So, I made a commitment to learn the 88 as a production tier for our season. This scene is essentially a quality control laboratory for my first production line and, to my disappointment, he loses his wing at around fish #30.  Don’t tell Art!  His 88’s last years.

An interesting aside, as these rainbows are feeding on my 88, there are 3 fishermen across the river cranking spinners. Only one trout is interested in their metal. I think this is the first time that I have been the “catching” fisherman in this equation.  I’m usually the fisherman trying to manage my rising frustration as I work my tail off to get some interest as smiling folks with spinning gear pull up handfuls of fish all around me.  I think that these gentlemen today might suspect that they are on Candid Camera. I mean it’s so ridiculous. Every time they glance over, there’s another fish on my line. Of course, they also don’t know the stocking truck came 2 hours earlier!  After an hour an a half, they retreated to their truck to have beers and conversation about “what the hell that lady is using”, I imagine.  Luck, gentlemen. She’s using the classic and under-recognized pattern of good fortune.  I, Phoenix-like, have risen from the ashes and will leave the river today with my fisherwoman self-esteem intact.

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Androscoggin Gauge

Because of the wintery feel, I decided to stay upriver of the quick water and wade/paddle back up to the launch. After all, I had the gift of certainty that there were fish here.  The rest of the lower river has been strangely quiet so far this season. I missed the sounds and motion of the float, but greatly enjoyed not walking the 2 miles back to the car when I finally came out of the water at 4:30.  After removal of my 2 insulating layers, winter hat, wool socks, and jacket, I reached over to escalate heat to full throttle as I settle into the seat.  I barely have the energy to raise my arm to wave to the Fish and Game officer who is turning in as I am turning onto the highway. Perhaps he is coming to see how his school is adjusting to their new habitat. They are safe and sound, Sir. Doing just fine.  I will return home to the warmth of the inside until summer returns.  It will give me time to address the poorly tied lot of 88’s that came off of my production line and, for god’s sake,  avoid supplying my teacher with a fly of marginal longevity!

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Does this look like Summer Fishing Apparel?