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?

 

 

 

 

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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”

 

Jazzy Little Raft has Ph.D in Hypnosis: VIDEO

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

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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!

2 Endings

Uncategorized

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After a particularly frustrating fishing spell, I find myself ending the 2013 fishing season with a beautiful rainbow on the last day of the season.  Speaking of endings…His running strength was the finale for the surprisingly beloved cheapo Cortland Wal Mart fly rod I have been fishing with for much of the season.  Smallmouths started the wiggle in the reel seat and this guy put finishing touches on its end.  Plenty of snowy time ahead to get equipment organized.
Thanks to Janet from North Country Angler for her fly recommendation.  I will be calling her today to find out what the name of the plain looking little wet fly that enticed this fish and a cast and a quick strip. 

If Jerry Garcia were to be reincarnated as a trout…

Ammonoosuc River: Our NH "Home" River, New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Rainbow Trout

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He might look like this.   This young trout has a flair for the psychedelic.  Check out the depth of the green near his tail.   This photo was edited just for exposure…no Photoshop trickery.  This is just a beautiful fish held in sunlight.   Trippy.

Brother/Sister Trout Score

Ammonoosuc River: Our NH "Home" River, New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Rainbow Trout

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Sister Anne and Brother Richard are trout reeling in sunny high pressure with the assistance of our beloved “black ghost”.  Always a treat to find fish willing to nibble in beautiful weather.  Notice the light coloration of the rainbow Brother Richard is cradling.  I am always surprised by the silvery light coloration of rainbow trout who live atop of ledge and sand.  And Sister Anne…well, her shirt has in the color department what Brother Richard’s fish lacks…and, a snappy little rainbow she landed.

Changing Waters, Changing Flies

Ammonoosuc River: Our NH "Home" River, New Hampshire Fly Fishing: Rainbow Trout

It’s late July. Everything in and on the water is changing. My Dad and I find ourselves switching flies more often searching for an effective recipe. This spot on the Ammonoosuc River, awash in the sinking evening sun, is as pleasant a spot to tie knots as any.

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“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”

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

On the way to First Bridge put in, Sam and I had the pleasure of hearing Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get enough. After some shoulder rolling, head bobbing and other embarrassing seated dance floor replications, I pondered that maybe this song was a good soundtrack for our recent fishing binge. We paddled the Saco from Conway to just above Davis Park and had good luck with woolly buggers. We split the bounty evenly, each catching two beautiful Brook Trout and two Rainbow Trout. The last fish was a devilish large one who, jumped and dove only to wrap my line and leader around a submerged tree. Sam (upstream of me in his kayak) was able to grab the line and pull him up by hand eventually nabbing him with the net. So, it is here, in trying to release this fish, that the true meaning of Mr. Jackson’s ode as it applies to our reality comes to light…this rainbow trout would not leave us. He hung around my knees and the kayak for minutes after being revived and free. It was, in fact, this large trout that was living the Jacksonian Dream. He just couldn’t get enough of these two interlopers, even as we tried to encourage him back to the deep. Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough of these strangely dressed, curious folk. We like these friendly trout. Very hospitable.

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the fish that wouldn’t leave…

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And a head shot for his portfolio…

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Brook Trout at the Putting Hole

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Scary Wader Clad People…I wouldn’t stick around!