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Fishing Reports - 2004

This is a running report of what is going on in New England in the way of fly fishing. If you have something for me to add, just drop an email.

November 11: For the last few weeks I have been fishing the Pemi in Bristol for broodstock salmon. Big fish and lots of them. Small ones were about 4 pounds and the largest about 10 pounds and almost 30 inches long. Most were caught below the Smith River near Profile Falls. Most were caught on Black Ghosts, white or yellow maribou muddlers or Moose River streamers. Today may be the last day on the river for a while, with rain and snow coming in.

October 23: Today I gave a little exercise to some big Atlantic Salmon in the Pemigewasset River in Bristol. Jim and I had two double hook-ups. I got one 30 incher on video tape from hook-up to release. I'll probably wear out the tape watching it all winter. I skipped reporting a few trips to Skye Pond, the Squannacook River, and the Pemi. 

September 22-26: The BSC held their Fall Conference in the Rangeley Lakes Region of Maine at Haines Landing on Mooslookmeguntic Lake in Oquossoc. This was the 31st conference of the Bull Salmon Club and there were eight members in attendance. Since we had so much rain this summer and we were in between hurricanes, the fishing was not as good as in past years in the area. Many fish had run up into the rivers early when earlier storms passed through and had either dropped back into the lakes, or proceeded upstream to spawning areas out of our reach behind gated roads, or in protected areas. Another factor was that the dam operators were just starting to draw down the level of the lakes, so the inlet rivers were bank-full and the outlets were a torrent. We did catch fish though! Here is a picture of a nice fat brook trout caught in a FF-only pond in the area.

September 5: Jim and I fished the Moore Reservoir tailwater in the morning. They released water early and the level came up pretty fast. Before that, there were a few rises. Got a couple strikes, no hook-ups. Got a chance to see how the lake boat handles in the current. We were going through about a foot of water and it handled well under power and also using the oars for positioning. It also was a very stable casting platform.We left to explore some new waters below Comerford dam, in Haverhill at the confluence of the Connecticut and the Ammonoosuc Rivers. Then we followed the far western end of the Kancamagus Highway up over Kinsman Notch to North Woodstock, where we fished the old reliable Pemigewasset River and caught quite a few nice rainbows on dry flies - lime humpies, black caddis and BSO emergers were the hot flies.

August 27: Put the lake-boat into Lake Nubanusit in Hancock. Checked out the boat in the wind and trolled and cast along the leeward shores. Jim got a decent smallmouth bass, and we each got a couple small ones, but that was about it. It ws fun to be on the water and the new boat handled well.

August 28: Drift boated the Connecticut below Colebrook. We put in around 8:00am and I got my first fish - a nice brown- on a lime Trude, while waiting for Jim to get back from shuttling the truck. We fished all day and got some nice browns and rainbows. The water was a little high, but we were able to wade all the good spots, although some had me tippy-toing to keep the water level below the top of my waders, where I could usually wade knee-deep.

August 8: Barb, Jim and I fished the Upper Pemi (UP) again. The flow was extremely low compared to the last couple times, although the water temp was still holding around 59F. Quite a few swimmers, kayakers, tubers and sun-bathers, and with the low water level, the fishing wasn't quite as good. We only caught about a dozen fish between us for an afternoon's fishing. I caught a few nice brook trout sight-fishing nymphs, and a mixed bag of brookies and rainbows on dark brown elkhair caddis and a couple on a dark mayfly emerger. Barb and Jim caught some on caddis dries and woollybuggers. We didn't see much surface activity until mid-afternoon, when the fish were making slashing rises. There were a few tiny BWO in the air, along with a few dark mayflies and some small caddis. A little rain to raise the water level will help the fishing.

August 1: What a way to start the month! Fished the Pemigewasset River in Woodstock, NH. Not many insects around and no hatch evident, but caught loads of brook trout and rainbows on dry flies. Mainly caddis patterns. Also caught a few on sparkle pupae droppers. Fished 4 or 5 different spots and caught fish at all of them. All were really nice sized fish- 12 to 14 inches, about one and a half to two pounds - nice dark colors and very lively. The water temp was about 67 degrees, although the air temp was high 80s. Below is a picture with one of a pair of brook trout I hooked on my first cast in in this spot. Yes, I hooked one on a skittering caddis dry and when I was bringing in the fish, I saw another trout swimming next to it. As it drew closer, I could see that I had hooked one on the dry and another on the dropper! I tried to land both for a picture, but as they go closer the one on the dropper went berserk and broke off. I have caught doubles many times, but these two dark, lively book trout were probably my largest combined double hook-up. I proceeded to catch 6 more fish in this area.

July 22: Fished the evening hatch on the Contoocook River in the special regs area in Henniker, NH. I was going to fish one of my favorite pools, but some young teens were using it as their swimmin' hole, so I moved upstream a couple hundred yards and fished an area that was new to me. I am glad I did. Although nothing was hatching, I caught quite a few fish on dry flies. three smallmouth, two rainbows and a brown trout were landed and another 4 or 5 were hooked and long-distance-released. The water was pretty high and the fish were very active. Just at dark, I moved down to the "gauging station" pool, which is another of my favorite spots. No success at all. This is an easily accessed, heavily fished pool, whereas the previous spot was off the beaten path. Lesson: late in the season, the old reliable places may not be productive. Explore; try a new spot.

July 12: Took a client to fish the Newfound River and a special regs pond. Caught quite a few brookies on skittering caddis and sparkle pupae emergers. The hex hatch on the pond didn't start until 8::45. At 9 there were rising fish, but there were so many big mayflies, it was hard to get their attention.

July 11: Went to check out Tewksbury pond in Grafton, NH. Heard there might be a hex hatch. If there is, it is either over or not begun yet. Some of the regulars talked about a hatch of big flies, but none were in evidence. They also talked about 6-pound browns caught trolling deep with steel line. There were signs with bass regs posted, so it looks like the trout stocked by the state are feed for the bucket-mouths and bruiser-browns. Caught one small rainbow and a few small smallmouth.

July 10: Went to take a few pictures of the breeched dam on the Contoocook river in Henniker. It was exciting to be there when they breeched the 80-year old dam, which will open up fish passage and improve habitat on a half mile section of the river. I wanted to see how the revitalized section of the river would look. While there, I rigged up and hit one of my faorite spots, the "Gauge Pool" (see the picture below) where the USGS water monitoring station is located. It was about 1:00 pm on a partly cloudy day, so I didn't have high expectations. First I tried some weighted nymphs bouncing the bottom with no takers. Although there were no insects to be seen, I tied on a caddis dry with a grouse 'n flash dropper and skated it across the surface. Just as it skated across the glassy slick at the tail-out of the pool a nice rainbow sucked it in and put on a spirited fight before coming unhooked at my feet.

July 7: Spent the late afternoon and evening on Willard Pond in SW New Hampshire with good friend Randy Snyder. The idea was to scout the progress of the hex hatch. We only saw two of them, so I have to conclude that the emergence has not yet started. We did see plenty of mosquitos, though! The other observation is that we caught plenty of smallmouth bass on caddis, muddlers and stonefly dries, but no trout. Other fishermen we talked to had similar experience. We can only conclude that the warm surface water tempertures, combined with the proliferation of smallmouth bass successfully competing for cover anad food is squeezing the trout, in this fly fishing-only "trout" pond.

June 27: Just got back from a 4 day trip to Errol, NH with Merrimack River Valley Chapter - TU. About 35 members, friends and family fished the rivers, streams and ponds in the area from Pittsburg to Rangeley. The weather was great - cool, mostly cloudy and a little drizzle. The Alder Fly hatch was heavy! The fish were biting just about everywhere. We stayed at Mollidgewock State Campground right on the upper Androscoggin. Lots of rainbows and a few brook trout and a lot of small salmon were in the river near the campground, as well as up and down the river. The special regs ponds were producing well with the hex hatch really coming on strong. There was quite a bit of wind, but even so, the action on dry flies was great. Elk hair caddis, Hemingway caddis, skittering caddis and the standard Alder Fly pattern all worked well, as did nymphs and emergers, such as grouse and flash soft-hackles in size 16 and 18. Also spent one day fishing the lower Androscoggin from Gorham down to Shelburne, NH. Caught nice (18+inches) brown and slightly smaller rainbows. Mostly on caddis larva and other nymphs, since it was rainy and windy, although we did get a few rainbows on caddis in the afternoon. I also spent an afternoon on the Rapid River and caught a nice salmon and my buddy Mac Duhaime got a 2- 3 pound brook trout. Here is a brookie caught on a hex emerger and an Androscoggin rainbow on an Alder Fly caddis pattern.

Brook trout caught on Special Regs pond in Errol, NH

Androscoggin Rainbow caught on Alder Fly Pattern

June 23: This report is from Jim Norton my partner in New Hampshire Rivers Guide Service: "We ended up with 23 fish on the 8th (with a client from Ireland floating the Androscoggin in Errol, NH), mostly rainbows and brook trout, a few small salmon, no browns. On the June 4th drift trip same flies 14 trout, two rainbows the rest brookies including one 19 inches. On the 14th Gerry Bernier & I drifted the Lower Pemi and upper Merrimack from the Eastman Falls Dam in Franklin to the County Farm in Boscawen. A good day to be on the river; cloudy, no rain and at most a light breeze on and off. The Alder flies were out, a great hatch day. Picked up a few nice rainbows along with bass, bluegills, sun fish & New Boston Salmon (fallfish/chubs). Saw one nice salmon roll but that was it. Flow was very low, 1200 but still manageable. The water's warming up - it was 66 on the 14th and up to 72 a week later on the 21st. The rivers need rain and overcast conditions."

June 22: Mac Duhaime reports that the fishing has been real good in many of the fly fishing ponds, with dry fly action heating up, although no hexagenia have started yet.

June 21: Sewall's Falls on the Merrimack River in Concord, NH was my fishing destination tonight with my buddy Jim Norton. We got there about 7:15 pm. We ran into John Corrigan, Outdoor Writer for the Concord Monitor, and exchanged pleasantries. There was one boat, a few shore anglers and a couple other fly fishermen spread from above the bridge down to the first rapids. A number of fish were rising, and I a saw two huge splashes caused by rolling broodstock Atlantic Salmon that were stocked last week by NH Fish and Game. One was about 40 feet away and one rolled less than 10 feet from shere I was standing- I could have tapped it on the back with the tip of my rod if it hadn't already startled the bejesus out of me! Unfortunately, I was only able to fool a few smallmouth bass - one on a white woolly-bugger stripped fast and three more on stonefly dries. There were a few large stoneflies and a caddis flying around, but I didn't see anything hatching. The water was very low and many of the salmon are probably already headed down to the canals of Lowell, trying to find a way to the ocean. They plan to stock the rest of them this Fall, so that should bode well for September-December fishing. Almost all the salmon I have caught have been in November when the water is colder and higher.

June 10: Fished the Millers River in Orange, Erving and Wendell Depot, MA in the late-afternnon until dark. Caught a mini-slam of brookies, rainbows and a nice brown trout. All came on caddis dries- elk-hair caddis and Hemingway caddis in size 16 and 18. Just at dark there was a hatch of small white mayflies, and had a couple hook-ups on size 16 light-colored emergers, but none landed.

June 9: Jim Norton of New Hampshire Rivers Guide Service reports that his drift-boat trip on the uupper Androscoggin River with a client from the UK yielded an Andro-slam: brookies, browns, rainbows and salmon. It was a hot day and there wasn't much hatching, with only a few small caddis dancing on the water, bt fish came to a well-placed dry, as well as nymphs and streamers. Top producers were grouse 'n flash (size 16) and ice-nymph fished as a dropper, Hemingway caddis dries, and the old-reliable woolly-bugger.

June 2-6: Went to Errol, NH on the Spring Conference of the B.Sc.. Fished the Androscoggin River, Rapid River, Swift Dead Diamond River, the Rapid River and the Magalloway River, along with a few brook trout ponds. Had a great time and caught a lot of fish. The Rapid was really producing. Lots of top-water action on caddis dries and emergers. See the pictures at BSC June Trip. Will be heading back up there end of June for the Alder Fly hatch.

May 17: Spent a few hours on a fly fishing pond in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It was sunny with a light breeze. Just enough to blow away about half the black flies and mosquitos. We paddled to the far end and fished the cove in front of the outlet. Caught a huge amount (20+) brookies from 8 to 10 inches. Beautiful colors and lively fish - real jewels. All caught on dry flies - best producer was a size 18 griffiths gnat.

May 16: The lack of rain has the rivers starting to run low and warm. Fished the Squannacook River in West Groton, MA. Spent 2 hours and got one long-distance-release on a nice rainbow and landed one brookie about 13 inches. Got it on a beadhead grouse-and-flash nymph.

May 9: The Delayed Harvest Zones on the Souhegan and Piscataquog Rivers are fishing well. The water levels are just right for comfortable wading. Insect activity is good too. A few mayflies, quite a few caddis and loads of black flies. Recently stocked fish like a fast stripped woolly-bugger, but they will also take a well-presented nymph. A few have learned to take naturals off the top, but not many. Remember to release all fish in these waters until June 16, when the regulations revert to general laws with a five-fish limit. Here is a picture of my friend Jim with a nice Piscataquog River Brookie.

April 10: Went to the Squannacook River again today and educated another seven or eight rainbows. A couple were approaching the 2-pound size. Mass Wildlife has grown a real nice looking crop of fish. Caught a couple on stonefly nymphs, a couple on ice nymphs and the rest on ice dubbing soft hackles.

April 7: Flow levels are almost back to normal. Today I spent an hour on the Squannacook River in West Groton and picked up three nice hatchery-fresh rainbows. Got them on an outlandish chartreuse Clouser - two dead-drifted and one fast-stripped. I tied this fly up for broodstock Atlantic Salmon, but it was just the ticket for those rubber-rainbows.

April 3: The rivers are still flooded. Had hoped to get out today and "educate" a few stocked trout or maybe try for a broodstock salmon. I think it will be a few days before the floods subside enough to have a realistic shot at some fish. Then again, it is supposed to SNOW again tomorrow. Will this winter ever end? At least it gives me a chance to replenish my supply of flies. I have been tying quite a few black, olive and chartreuse zonkers. These olive Zonkers have an under-body of red yarn that "peeks-out" at the gills and tail and shows through the body. I have tied them with a variety of collars - one has yellow and one olive, but I have tied some with purple and chartreuse collars, as well. I don't know if the fish will notice the difference, but I do!

March 20-21: The 2004 New Hampshire Fly Fishing Show was a lot of fun. I took in a couple presentations - Sandy MacGregor on fishing the Upper Androscoggin and Angus Boezeman on broodstock salmon in the Merrimack River. Both were real interesting and well done. Also had some interesting discussions with some of the guides and shop-owners. Northeast Kingdom Outfitters seem like nice guys and very competent. Of course, stopping by Cote's Fly Shop booth is always a hoot, with all the rod blanks and tying materials at GREAT prices..

January 21: The Nasua Public Library series "Fish 2004" continues on Jan 22 at 7pm with a program about Fly Fishing New England and New York by Tom Rosenbauer, Marketiing Director for Orvis Rod and Tackle Company.

January 19: TU meeting last week was really good. Ken Sprankle of US Fish & Wildlife gave 2 presentations - one on Federal funding programs and one on shad telemetry and tracking in the Merrimack river, which gave me some ideas for shad fishing in Lawrence and Lowell, Massachusetts in May and June.

January 13: TU meeting tonight in Manchester. Check for details

January 12: The Nasua Public Library series "Fish 2004" continues on Jan 15 at 7pm with a program about New England In-shore Angling by capts. Brett Vaughn, John Vratsenes and Greg Nault. This series is coordinated by Jim Lynch of Merrimack River Valley chapter of TU.

January 8: Jim Norton and I gave a presentation at the Nashua Public Library on fishing the Moosehead region of Maine.(See my Gallery page for some of the pictures shown) About 120 people attended and seemed to like our story. Jim tied some flies before the presentation (check the TU website for Ice-nymph patterns tied) and Mike Byrne showed his video about Atlantic Salmon restoration and volunteer efforts.