A Pheonix on the Andro

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?

 

 

 

 

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17 thoughts on “A Pheonix on the Andro

  1. Glad you had some action. 🙂 I fish that section many times per year because it’s handy. Can get dropped off with my pontoon and take out here at the house, about 2.5 miles downstream. Good to know there are a few fish in there again. I fished it quite thoroughly a couple of months ago with nary a hit. 😦

    I’ve got a little 6 foot 2 weight rod on the drying rack right now, waiting for the epoxy on the thread wraps to fully cure. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll christen it on the float down from that funny looking little building… Those rainbows should feel like baby tarpon on this little fiberglass wand. 🙂 I’ve always been curious what that building was used for… any ideas?

    • Hey Chris, That rid sounds like a blast. I would love to drive by and glance over while you had a fish on it! Hahah. I always thought that was the usgs gauge 01053600 at Bog Brook. For those of us that don’t have the good fortune (like yourself) of looking out the window to check water levels, it’s an important little structure ;;). Let me know how your trip goes! Steph

      • I got to christen the new 2 wt fly rod this morning. 🙂 Only got to fish for about 20 minutes but I caught one of those pretty rainbows just down from the little building. The Alder flies are coming off like crazy. Zebra caddis by the thousands everywhere. Should be good fishing for a few weeks. If you get back over this way stop and say hi. 🙂 And if you ever need a shuttle back up river and I’m home would be happy to.

      • I got to christen the new 2 wt fly rod this morning. 🙂 Only got to fish for about 20 minutes but I caught one of those pretty rainbows just down from the little building. The Alder flies are coming off like crazy. Zebra caddis by the thousands. Should be good fishing for a few weeks. 🙂

  2. I got to christen the new 2 wt fly rod this morning. 🙂 Only got to fish for about 20 minutes but caught one of those pretty rainbows just down from the little building. The Alder flies are coming off like crazy. Zebra caddis by the thousands everywhere. Should be good fishing for a few weeks. If you get back over this way stop and say hi. 🙂

  3. I got to christen the new 2 wt fly rod this morning. 🙂 Only got to fish for about 20 minutes but I caught one of those pretty rainbows just down from the little building. The Alder flies are coming off like crazy. Zebra caddis by the thousands everywhere. Should be good fishing for a few weeks. If you get back over this way stop and say hi. 🙂 And if you ever need a shuttle back up river and I’m home would be happy to.

    • That’s awesome Chris!!! Just this morning I was wondering when the alders were going show up. Thanks so much for the update. That pretty rainbow must have felt like a monster on the 2 wt. I so appreciate your shuttle offer. I try to force myself to get the good exercise of walking, but there are definitely times when I am happy to skip the walk! I will be jetting up soon to catch the alders per your update. Have fun up there, Chris.

  4. Always have fun. 🙂
    Sorry for all the same post. First few times it didn’t show up, so figured my phone had a hiccup.

    • It was me! I forgot that I have to hit approve even though I replied to the comment. User error on my end. I’m glad you were persistent. I always enjoy hearing your thoughts, Chis.

      • Couldn’t resist going back up to the funny little building after dinner last night. Took along the new 2wt again. Had a blast. Rising fish all over the place – many of them coming completely out of the water after skittering bugs. 🙂 If I didn’t land 100 it wasn’t far from it. About 2/3 of the fish coming on top (#14 deer hair caddis and later a #14 stimulator), with the remainder on the dropper (#14 alder wet, and later a #16 caddis sparkle pupa).

        I have a gopro mounted on my net that takes a photo every 1 second when I remember to hit the button. It picks up some interesting photos. Put a few of them from last night here:
        https://www.dropbox.com/sh/rvcbzstr3fmqsg4/AABDoWI3YJq2shMjHVDJVqrHa?dl=0

        I did catch 1 native – see if you can pick him out. Hint: his mouth is on the bottom. 😉

      • I suspect things will be similar in a few days… I’m heading back over again after dinner. (eat your heart out) 😉 I just wish it didn’t take so long to get there… that 3 minute drive is soooo tedious…

        I tied up some experimental dries earlier to try tonight. Some deer hair caddis with a longer than normal wing with different colored bodies (tan, brown and a peacock angel hair) to see what they take best/quickest for the alder. I wrapped the body hackle very dense to get them to float real high and jump around better when trying to make them dance and provoke some acrobatics. We’ll see. I bet the tiny fly rod gets another workout. 🙂

        If I’m not around Monday you’re welcome to take the little rod to try it. Those 10″ rainbows felt like 3 pound smallmouths. 🙂 It’s fiberglass and nearly indestructible. I was concerned it wouldn’t cast tandem flies well, but it was surprisingly easy to get them out there 20 to 30 feet. I’ve got another one started – this time a 12 foot 3 wt for fishing out of the pontoon. A big, long rod should be handy or floating, especially for fishing multiple nymphs. I’ll have it done before Monday so I’m sure I’ll be busy messing with that on the water. 🙂

      • Hey, flies look great. I love your experimental/troubleshooting approach. I hope the fish dance for you. You are inspiring me to bring along my smaller set up next time I’m your way. Oh, by the way, I feel for you. You must spend at least 6 cents in gas every time you go out on a fishing excursion. And the wear and tear on your vehicle….:)

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