WRITE ON THE FLY
By GEORGE LISET
Fly fishing in New Hampshire during the fall is my favorite time to get out on the water. The colors, in and out of the water, are spectacular. I check the foliage maps on my phone and plan accordingly. I saw the foliage around the Lake District starting to peak so I packed my truck to hit some of the tributaries heading towards Winnipesaukee.
Normally I was planning on hitting places where I knew I could catch some nice trout, but this time of year I go for the scenery and a little less fish. There are rivers and streams a bit off the beaten path that have small waterfalls nestled in vibrant maple trees. The red, orange and yellow leaves that have fallen on the water and gently float along the creek look like so many sailboats on Winnipesaukee.
The word from North Country Anglers in North Conway is that the foliage is at its peak and the fishing is good. My plans to go fishing this way have been delayed due to some adult responsibilities. So I chose to head for the big lake. I was not deceived.
When I got on the water I had a sweatshirt, when I left I was in shirt sleeves. I started by throwing a banner. I’ve been lucky with a Hornburg lately, so I put on a size 16 as it’s small enough for the little sunfish to hang on if the trout weren’t interested, and that’s exactly it. what happened. I caught a number of sunfish and a few perch.
I was hoping maybe landlocked salmon would come up the river to spawn, but there were no sightings of salmon, sucker or trout. I decided to switch to my nymph rod and go up the river where there might be trout. As I assembled my rod, another fisherman pulled into the parking lot.
We exchanged jokes and information. Some anglers enjoy seclusion, but I also enjoy talking to others and collecting information about fishing, such as where they last fished and where their home waters are. I also like to know which flies are working for them. I found out that Wooly Buggers, Pheasant Tail nymphs and a Caddis are in the conversation.
This gentleman had just fished at Ellacoya State Park and had similar results, a pan fish and no sightings of the larger fish. As we spoke we figured it would take at least another week or two before the salmon headed for spawning and then the other fish would follow.
As I walked up the river the warmth of the sun was so nice that I almost sat down to take a nap, but even though there was a chance of catching fish in t-shirt weather I didn’t want to waste the opportunity. I found a nice pool under a raft and started working the pool with a size 18 Blue Wing Olive with a size 20 Beadhead Pheasant Tail.
A few throws later, the tip of my rod started to move and I brought in a little Brookie who was starting to take on fall colors. I didn’t want to try my luck so I hitched up my line and found a comfortable seat to enjoy the foliage and the day. I started to think it was some kind of day that Rip Van Winkle could enjoy.
george Liset from Dover is an award-winning outdoor writer and fly fishing enthusiast who shares his thoughts on his time on the water exploring the streams and rivers of New Hampshire as well as New England. George is a graduate of Wheaton College, Illinois, and the University of New Hampshire. His Writing on the Fly column has been honored by the New England Press Association and the New Hampshire Press Association.