Ellis Gets a Rainbow

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

At 12 weeks, it’s time to get Ellis on the fly.  Maria and I load him into the boat for his maiden voyage and load an additional passenger…a very reliable catcher.  Today, Nome works hard to sort through her catches to determine which is most likely a “dog trout”.  “Cat trout” detest puppy snouts and will let you know it with a swift swing of the tail.

It’s the last of the late Fall fishing that allows a shiver free pond outing as the sun dives ever deeper in the afternoons.  As we depart the water’s edge I have only one concern…  that Ellis might have the impression that this fly fishing stuff is “easy”!


Ellis Gets a Rainbow

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

At 12 weeks, it’s time to get Ellis on the fly.  Maria and I load him into the boat for his maiden voyage and load an additional passenger…a very reliable catcher.  Today, Nome works hard to sort through her catches to determine which is most likely a “dog trout”.  “Cat trout” detest puppy snouts and will let you know it with a swift swing of the tail.

It’s the last of the late Fall fishing that allows a shiver free pond outing as the sun dives ever deeper in the afternoons.  As we depart the water’s edge I have only one concern…  that Ellis might have the impression that this fly fishing stuff is “easy”!


Creepy Highway Drifter or Fly Person?


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.


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.


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!


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.



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:


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.

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


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.




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.

Catch and Release: The oxygenating effects of relationship on youth.

Fly Fishing: Photography, Flyfishing Photography, New Hampshire Fly Fishing Multimedia








 It wasn’t until recently that I came to understand just how unfairly the decks are stacked against the trout that keep me out in waters beyond the point of reason; unyielding to hunger, discomfort, or lack of appropriate lighting. In fact, the specialness of water capable of supporting trout other than those raised and relocated by government entities is, sadly, an anomaly that is hard to truly comprehend unless you are in the business of science. For those of us who are not scientifically inclined, we may learn the value of healthy waters through our relationship with fish. Where are they? Why are they there? If they are there, then why aren’t they here? Learning to how find an audience for your fly is the obsessive (yet strangely soothing) mental troubleshooting that draws many of us to the past time of fly fishing. It is the fish that teach us… every failure, success, and unexplainable lucky happening.

And I wonder, what if I had never come to the water? How did I come to strike up a friendship with these trout? It was my Dad’s experience of fly fishing that brought me to the water. This is not a story of….”as a young girl, I remember long days on trouted ripples with my father, casting in seesaw like alternating rhythm. You, me, you, me”…nope. I just figured that if it was something my Dad spent his time doing, its probably something worth doing. So, on my own, I made my way to the water and began the process of figuring out how to get a fly somewhere it looked like it ought to be. And given modern culture, this is probably a common scenario. I mean, most of us don’t grow up with nightly fishing opportunities with our extended families at the trout stream down the road.  If you are fortunate enough to live close to a water body that can support trout, it’s likely you live rurally which translates to 60 hour weeks at low paying jobs.  So getting to the water in the company of a parent or influential adult is still an endeavor that requires planning and sacrifice. But, as my experience demonstrates, the absence of being engaged in the actual activity with that influential adult does not negate the influence of relationship.  The simple act of dedicating attention to any given idea, activity, or belief has a legitimizing effect that can have profound influence on young people when conveyed in the context of a safe, predictable relationship, no matter how brief the exposure.  It’s a sort of human version of “catch and release”.

This month, I was invited to attend a summer camp experience provided by the “Clean Water Healthy Trout Initiative”.   This endeavor is an example of resources collaborating to capture and leverage the power of relationship in the lives of young people who may face socioeconomic challenges. Each organization brings a critical component to the project ultimately creating a pristine learning environment. The Copper Cannon Camp provides the habitat that is conducive to growth, understanding the unique needs and strengths of its population.  Folks from the Ammonoosuc Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Plymouth State University, New Hampshire Fish and Game, and the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust are providing the relational context for instruction and introduction to all of the “goings-on” of rivers . All of these folks are providing the brief relational experiences that have the power to bring these campers to water’s edge at some point in their lives. Whether to cast with their first fly rod, to peer deep into a pool for a glimpse of a swimming fish, or to pause and conduct an amateur assessment of the water quality…these interactions have planted seeds that have the potential to influence future attention and behavior.   And for some of the kids at camp this session, a seed may be the equivalent of a tree itself.

As a clinical mental health counselor, it is shown to me time and time again that it is often the most unexpected relationships that later reveal themselves to be catalysts for resilience in the lives of challenged youth. Next time you are compelled to inquire of a high achieving adult who faced serious challenges as a young person “How did you do it?  How did you overcome the challenges of abuse, poverty, and neglect?” Don’t be surprised to hear them reply, “It was the lady who ran the cash register in the cafeteria…she winked at me every single day of 3rd grade and gave me double dessert on my birthday.”

Jazzy Little Raft has Ph.D in Hypnosis: VIDEO

New Hampshire Fly Fishing Multimedia, New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Rainbow Trout, The Good Goods


I’m loving getting to new and complicated lines to fish in my Kodiak.  The entire undertaking feels so effortless and non-lethal, I find myself nearly hypnotized when riding the river.  Trouble is, it’s hard to be prepped for the hit in such a state of relaxation. And when some one does come knocking, it feels a little like being “pants-ed” in gym class: a BIG emergency.  But,as the video demonstrates, even fisherwomen who are half asleep can catch a fish if allowed 3 shots at it!

Worth it? Holes, Seams, and Bends…Rubber Ducky nabs ’em all.

New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Rainbow Trout, The Good Goods, Uncategorized


Here’s my new\used Water Master Kodiak (aka “Rubber Ducky”, thank you Art) all ready for launch. The first section to fish will be the flat water just upstream the initial elevation drop for this section of river. And then it’s game on! for the mile section of quick water up and around a horseshoe bend.  Is the expense of a high quality, fly fishing specific ring of rubber worth it?  How about the frantic stealth hiding of the boat and sundry items at the put in followed by a two mile “walk” throughout which your mind replays  obsessive visualizations of your craft being molested, damaged, or stolen upon your arrival?  Worth it?  I say yes. Three reasons why:




River Guides: Fishing’s “Ultra-Runner” Equivalent


The Urban Dictionary’s definition of an ultrarunner:

A runner who runs ultramarathons – distances greater than a marathon (26.2 miles). Ultramarathon distances are most commonly 50k, 50 mile, 100k, and 100 mile. Runs can be both road and trail, but usually trail. Ultrarunners are extremely dedicated to their sport and have been found to be some of the most laid-back folks around. They tend to eat like horses, too. Most find them a wee bit eccentric.

This week, I was invited to drift the Androscoggin River by one of my dear friends.  This individual is unique in his combination of inherent technical aptitude and an equally robust capacity for emotional intelligence. That being so, he is the kind of person that has amassed an large inventory of interesting and loyal associates.  You are a fool to turn down an opportunity to be introduced to someone by Art.

This spring Art informed me that he had booked a trip with his friend (and veteran fishing guide), Rick Estes owner of Owl’s Roost Outfitters, LLC, an experience that he had been touting for almost 2 years as a “must do”.  Last year, Art was able to demonstrate briefly from shore the incredible potential for fly fishing elation represented by the Alder Fly.  While scouting spots along the thirteen mile stretch, Art found Alder flies working in the current right off shore.  He pulled out his box of recently tied Alder Flies (in all stages) and immediately fish rose to his floating fly, over and over again.  It was magical.  Needless to say, I have been interested in fishing the Alder Fly hatch on the Andro ever since.


Art’s Alder Flies in all stages…

Rick and Art attempted to forecast the Alder hatch based on whatever semi-scientfic and gut projections they could muster.  Rick has been fishing the Androscoggin Alders since 1998, so he’s an authority when it comes to best guesses on these matters.  And, boy, they nailed it.  What an amazing combo of top water and sub surface trout fishing.  When I fish, I am usually relegated to getting bites from above or below the water resulting in a sort of spoiler effect…you know what the bite will feel like and where it will come from.  The opportunity to see and feel both kinds of takes intermittently throughout the trip was uniquely absorbing and engaging, comparable to a well executed psychological thriller.  This is the kind of fishing you could do all day and never feel finished. It’s the movie you could watch over and over again and find subtle morsels previously passed over.


Lunch prep on the Andro

Of course, as is the case with pristine cinematography, a portion of your attention is captured and held by the environment that the fish have summoned you into.  The Androscoggin is dark.  When I think of wading it, I feel a haunting twinge which keeps me from entering it unaccompanied.  It feels like walking blindfolded in a room full of obstacles that represent the potential for bone cracking.  But unfettered by the risk of being swallowed by it, the blackness of the Androscoggin against a thunderstorm threatening sky is all-consuming of your senses.  The drift for willing fish has the ultimate effect of total sensory immersion by day’s end.  I could have been 1000 miles away…could have been gone for days.
So, what does ultra running have to do with this little hobby of fly fishing?  Well, see, it seems amazing to me that in less than 12 hours my experience of the world could be totally transformed.  It feels sort of unbelievable, even suspect.  I have come to realize that when I have these kind of experiences, it is usually being facilitated by one or more outside forces.  And when it is almost impossible to perceive the planning, intervention, and instruction of those forces enabling the experience, you know that you are in the presence of a professional.  So, I started to think about what behind the scenes effort goes into creating an experience like the one Art and I had on the river last Tuesday.  It was about 15 minutes into this thought process that I realized I would NOT like to be a river guide.  I realized this with clarity at the brain busting moment in which I could not trouble shoot when Rick would logistically be able to find time to feed and bath himself before heading out to meet his next clients the following morning.  Keep in mind, it isn’t just the mental capacity involved for staying organized enough to obtain the paperwork, arrange for supplies, move and clean boats and tackle…no.  He rowed continuously for 10 hours.  Additionally, he has the very same routine responsibilities (maintain relationships with family and friends, attend doctors appointment, mow…) as us non river guides have.


I have signed up to complete my first marathon in September, the weekend of my 43 rd birthday.  My goal is to complete it.  It won’t be simple and anyone along for the ride will be fully aware my pain, my stress, and my potential frustration.  It will NOT be pretty.  I can only arrive at one conclusion.  If Rick was so inclined to join the running community, he would be an ULTRARUNNER, achieving amazing things with almost no noticeable effort.  And most importantly, he would have that wonderful attitude that this group of folk is known and revered for; 1)a willingness to help others learn how to participate in their sport at whatever level they are comfortable with and 2) an uncanny ability to make people around them feel at ease.
Luckily the fishing world has these people too. It’s a great convenience to be able to have a wonderful memory with friends on the river without putting in 8 months of prerequisite training.  Thank you, gentlemen, for a gem of a fishing outing!


Art and  me after lunch…

To Book a trip with Rick Estes at Owls Roost Outfitters, L.L.C. go to
Or call 603-539-7354