Trout Quilt

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

I asked Maria to make me a quilt that evoked all of my favorite trout markings.  She delivered. I can now dream of next season’s catch into the dead of winter while wrapped in brookie, brown, and rainbow spots.  Perhaps she wants me to sleep right through May without complaint re: frozen waters….

Thanks, Maria, for a wonderful interpretation of my favorite river dwellers!

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How Traditions Happen…

Fly Fishing: Photography, New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Brook Trout, New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Rainbow Trout, Uncategorized
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Overnights make late evening and early morning water a realistic endeavor…

 

 

If you mix up the following ingredients:

  1. Waves
  2. Boats
  3. Beers
  4. Fly fishing
  5. Favorite people
  6. Dehydrated junk foods
  7. Weather
  8. Silly tent noises
  9. Hot coffee
  10. Camp Fire plus lantern

….expect a tradition to be born. Year 2, and the Andro float is growing in willing campers.

 

Generations: Passing on the Rod (among other things)…

Fly Fish the Trophy Stretch: North of Northern New Hampshire, Fly Fishing: Photography, Flyfishing Photography, New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Brook Trout, New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Rainbow Trout, The Connecticut River, Uncategorized


I had the honor and all around good fun of accompanying my friend Art and his grand daughter on her first fly wrangling river adventure. A coordinated, focused, and good-humored teenager, she has all of the prerequisite characteristics that translate to fun behind the fly. We incorporate a night camping underneath unsettled skies to up the adventure quotient and find ourselves fortunate to be enjoying our freeze dried meals sans raindrops. 


Once on the water, I am so distracted by the hope of Molly catching her first fish that I find it impossible to move down below them.  I am, in fact, lucky enough to see her reel in her first rainbow and provide netting and snapshot services.  We are off to a good start! 


So, I end up hanging around soaking up the precious scene of generations passing joy.  This is a special kind of teaching- one full of hope that the student will go on to find the friendships, the solitude, the beauty, the escape, and the acceptance that only comes with loving an activity that can never be mastered.  Despite our algorithm driven obsessions to prepare with the right leader, the correct line, 14 sizes of the same fly, the outcome of our day on the water depends on a multitude of factors that do not respond to human influence. It’s a drag…and a hoot!  And for a grandfather, it just might reason enough to sign up to sleep in a tent on a rainy night. This duality -loving the process despite your lack of ability to control the outcome is the cornerstone of resilience.  And resilient people?  Well, they tend to report high levels of happiness and meaningfulness.  And don’t we all want that for the people we love?  Truth be told, you know you’re extra special when someone with lots of years on their skeleton willingly, and gladly, sleeps on gravel studded ground under threat of thunder to find you a cooperative trout!

So, Molly, see you on the river… OR the field, the library, the mountain…wherever you find your  joy.  (Selfishly, your grandfather and I hope the river calls you back because we are usually hanging around there in waders anyway.)

Thanks for having me along! 

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!

Tiny Crapshoots: Dead Diamond/Andro Doubleheader

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

Gauge Pool


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Tiny Brookie: Andro on an 88

I’m experiencing a tiny streak. No matter the body of water, I am hooking minute trout. Infinitesimal, these brookies are rather exciting in their possibility of being born and raised in the river. That said, if I am going to keep catching fish with these physiques, I will need to consider switching to my 3 weight rod to experience some resistance upon reel in.

This Memorial Day weekend I combined a solo day of fishing on the Androscoggin and a trip with Art to the Dead Diamond River in search of large brook trout. The plan is as follows: I will float the Andro on Friday, spend the night camping in Wilson Mills, and meet with Art the following morning to tackle the paddle upriver to the Dartmouth Land Grant to fish the Dead Diamond and its confluence with Magalloway.

Androscoggin River

My day on the Andro is unexpectedly warm and bright. Taking my time, I present a range caddis flies (and nymphs) with no interest. So, out comes the eighty-eight which reveals several little brookies hanging in small eddies behind the protection of rocks.  There is much time in between catches. This common scenario is why I have devoted one of my side pockets to coffee holding.  Coffee on the river is a treat like no other.

I do find one smallish (definition=a little bigger than tiny) rainbow trout on my ride down. All said, it was a bit of a confusing day. I found fish in sections I don’t usually find them and no fish to speak of in the sections that usually produce. It’s a long walk back to my car under relentless sun, so I am ecstatic when 2 friends pass me on the highway. Amazingly, they recognize me despite my dehydrated, wobbly amble and save me the last half mile.

At this point, there is a bit of an emergent situation unfolding. So, before I even remove my waders, I am already taking inventory of burger possibilities. I land a totally satisfying cheeseburger in Errol on my way up to Maine.


What began as a camping plan in Wilson Mills required adaptation due to the multitude of black flies. Scoot over Watermaster, I’m coming in! And you may wonder why bug spray was not effective. Ummm, forgot it. Yep. But remembered just about EVERYTHING else.

Rav 4: Anti-Bug pod, boat tower, changing station, food prep zone.

After sleeping through various waves of thunderstorms that evening, Art arrives in the morning with freshly baked cinnamon rolls from the Polish Princess in Lancaster. We split one. And then, split another. We make a little coffee on the camp stove and take off to launch onto the Magalloway River.

Lower Magalloway River

Once we arrive at the river, we experience a rather eventful “launch” which entailed attaching a rope to our loaded rafts and kicking them over a steep river bank. I think this may be the closest I will ever see my very composed friend, Art, come to having a “fit”. His raft requires 4-5 very serious karate moves before it makes its plunge into the river.  I have video of said event, but remember, this is a man who brought me hot cinnamon rolls just hours earlier.  So, I will refrain from posting his martial arts demonstration here.  Art does an excellent job containing his total dissatisfaction while reeling in a collage of other-than-trout. He is trout loyalist. I, however, am less picky and find myself totally willing to brag about my 3 pound other-than -trout. No congratulations from my counterpart on this catch, though.

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Carp/Sucker/Other-than-Trout


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transition to foot travel

Once we reach the main stem of the Dead Diamond River, we park our boats on a gravel bar and begin hiking upriver in search of large brook trout that swim up from Lake Umbagog in search of carp caviar.  The timing of this run is variable and brief.  While this is the right time of year, it’s a crapshoot in earnest. Not a huge deal for us, though. Art and I both find crapshoots to be extremely worthwhile activities; always allowing for discovery, adventure, and laughter. This crapshoot leads us to an epic pool. Unbelievably, there are no signs of trout here today. I suspect the timing of our visit is either too early or too late…such is the nature of a crapshoot.

Searching for Umbagog Trout

After lots of hiking, plenty of fishing, and many bugs, we depart the banks of the Dead to reclaim our boats – if, of course, they are still there. On our way back we notice one last pool. Art grabs a seat under a tree and explores the emerging caddis larvae, of which I avoid inspection as to curtail wormy nightmares. So I enter the river at the top of the pool with a woolly bugger and catch…yep, one tiny trout. I tell Art that this little brookie is dedicated to him, the trout loyalist. Now, we can officially finish our excursion with all of our boxes checked.

Art, retrieving his boat…it’s been a long day.

By the time we reach the shores of the Magalloway and heave our selves and our boats up the wall of a bank, we are both exhausted.  Having had two days one evening of crapshoots, I am ready for a little sitting in the comfort of shelter. This level of exhaustion is proof that, if you are willing to appreciate the adventures at the scale that is accessible to you, tiny trout and crapshoots can meet the test. Choose a lighter fishing set up, hike a little more, make room for a coffee holder on your boat, find a thoroughly entertaining fishing mate…you will need to be creative about the elements you use to design your crapshoot.  Of course, the other option is to fly out west every other weekend and try to grab a spot in line on “real” trout river. You’ll catch special and amazing un-tiny trout, to be sure. But, I dislike standing in lines at airport security just as much as I am not keen on standing in lines on rivers.  Scale, whether in pounds and inches or the “adventure” quotient, is like anything else…just a matter of perspective.

4 Miles for a Native

New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Brook Trout, Uncategorized


4 miles of interesting, seemingly trout-friendly water revealed one fish, a little native brookie.  A solo jumper feeding on a hatch menagerie, he was hanging in shallow, slow water. Perhaps it was the beaver dam 5 ft upriver and the confluence of a clear stream just downriver that attracted him to this lackluster spot on the Pemi. As thrilled as I was to catch and release him, I have to confess a certain sadness stuck. With a squadron of bugs around every bend of river, this singular trout is the reality of our trout fishery if not for the support of New Hampshire Fish and Game’s stocking program.  While I am ever grateful that we have a stocking program, I am even more regretful of our impact on their habitat that prescribes such a practice. 

Taking Bets on Deception…

New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Brook Trout, Uncategorized


What do you think…brook trout here?  I saw one fish come to the surface on this little pond fed by Deception Brook beneath Cherry Mountain.  I also met eyes with a brute leech that looked to be large enough to drain my entire blood supply in less than 3 minutes.  Hence, any further inspection will be done by kayak. Ewwwwwww.  Perhaps I will take the leech on an 88.  No doubt, it would be a good fight! 

The Hidden Joy of an Empty Net

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

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September is behind us and the crisp October morning air has taken to painting leaves. For a fisherman, this is a somber and quiet time where memories of spring and summer intrude without warning leaving the fisher with a gratitude that will transform into longing when snow falls. Knowing this, it has become important for me to honor and punctuate the ending of a fishing season, a ceremony of thanks for the rivers, skies, herons, eagles, friendships, post fishing coffee outings, colorful fish, and moments of pure peace that found me in water.

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This Fall, I have convinced my friend Art to let me organize an overnight float on one of our favorite rivers. A forecasted overnight temp of 29 degrees required that we dress and pack accordingly;winter bags in 3 season tents did the trick. I added an additional comfort for my sleeping satisfaction which included Hot Hands stuck in my socks, pants, hat and wherever else I could get them to stick close to my body. Hot coffee in front of a fire after a chilly night in the bag is a pleasure hard to describe and Art and I quietly colluded to stretch this activity out late into the morning. We decided a hot breakfast would be the pinnacle of delight and drove to the nearest restaurant treating ourselves to a full plate of eggs and bacon, a hot water soapy rinse in the diner bathroom and MORE coffee resulting in a late start on the river.

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The river was high offering 4 sets of class 2/3 rapids consisting of waves that felt Hawaii “surfable” from the perspective of our tiny boats. The sound of this kind of water is a pulse raiser for both of us. We have a tendency to use caution when there is a potential for an injury consequence. So we both reel in for these sections and find our route through the waves avoiding the many boulders that can’t be seen until…well, when they are immediately in front of you. We learn that even 2 foot waves make it nearly impossible to see bad things that lurk behind them. We tackle the route together and meander our way through with nothing much to talk about other than the thrill of a little adrenaline.

The weather is 50 in the afternoon with a chilly breeze and a warming sun. Perfect for lunching. We take long pb&j breaks taking every opportunity to experience the combination of color, temperature, and light that are ever changing as the sun arches over the river throughout the day. Poking fun at each other and reliving memories of other trips this season are important past times that are slipped in between the currents.

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At this point you may be wondering how the fishing was, I mean this is a post about a fishing trip, right? Additionally, the above telling of events seems to indicate that our fly lines spent more time spooled up tight rather than unfurled in water.
Well, the fishing was “what it was” and to spend any effort reporting on it further would be a distraction. The most important lesson I have learned this year was highlighted on this outing: whether it be mile 21 in the marathon, a slow/no fish day, a tough life transition…the way to find lasting meaning within the variable momentum of life is to accept and appreciate what things are for the moment. “It is what it is for now” was my mantra at many difficult points along the 26.2 journey. Some people are smart. They can read and practice Eastern philosophy and integrate this way of being without resisting it. Not me. I had to run a marathon, get skunked on the river repeatedly , and waste lots of energy before getting good at patience. Enjoy the extra moments for sipping and conversing with a friend (even when the fish are biting). Take time for the simple sensations that remind us of our primal selves (i.e. a warm mini tubby in the diner bathroom). All together, these moments are the path to realizing an empty net… full of uncrushable hope.

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On a final note, if you are are a social scientist buff, you may be aware that there are markers that can sometimes indicate a pivotal shift toward a more “evolved” species, group, or society. In the fly fisherman niche, I think the following exchange would be a good marker of such a shift:
Fisherman #1: “Mornin’. Catch anything?”
Fisherman #2: “Yeah. Lots of fish, too many to count!”
Fisherman #1: “That stinks. Sorry to hear it…better luck next time”

 

Brookie Love: the kissable trout

New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Brook Trout, Uncategorized

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Another fishing season begins in earnest for me this morning.  Amidst rain and fog, a brookie triplet.  Two reasons these fish earn big smiles from me; #1-they are typically the first of the season for me and…#2-their deeply saturated blue and red spots seem almost psychedelic after a long winter of monochrome.   Brookies arrive on my line with the phlox and the daffodils.  They signal stoop-sitting with morning coffee, rivers readying for wading…these are the dormant visions the first brookie awakes.  Makes me just want to hug them with silly, uncoordinated excitement!  Experience has proven that kissing, rather than hugging them, is the way to go.

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Oh what a difference….

New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Brook Trout, New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Rainbow Trout

I finally pulled the trigger on a sink tip line after finding a deal at the Freeport, Maine L.L.Bean. What a difference it made casting and stripping to big trout chomping around the water this afternoon. Got my ghost down just where it needed to ride. These fish where all caught in less than 5 feet of water, but they liked the quick sink and retrieve. Besides the line, I suppose a little credit for today’s trout-topia might go to the NHF&G fall stocking program….

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Hook

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Land

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Smile, click, laugh, release.
Cast.