by: Theron (a.k.a T-Bone22581)
This is a little story about what I have been upto as of late. Sorry no pictures. I have learned as of late that it is not easy to take pics when you are by yourself. Trying to pose a fish and take a picture is way too difficult. I suppose that would be a good reason to use the net.
It has been awhile since I could say I had a great day fishing. Good days sure but nothing is better than a day that seems as though your fly is screaming “Eat me!” into the current. And the fish are racing to be first in the chow line. I had one of those this season in about mid July, on a day hot enough to make the…. Whoops got going onto something else there….
I had a great and successful day of fishing on an overnight fishing trip to Pittsburg, NH on a weekend where I was lucky enough that a good friend’s wife was tolerant of him running amuck in a river over their anniversary.
After that successful weekend I felt like I had gone from know nothing amateur to mediocre hobbyist or enthusiast maybe. And over the course of the next few months we visited the Contoocook river several times, the Merrymeeting river, and again went up north to Pittsburgh, I caught a few fish here and there but over all I was feeling like I was missing a piece of the puzzle that I was certain I had a short time before.
I managed to get pretty caught up in tying flies in the meantime, and I was offered a chance to join a fly fishing club near my area, and I jumped on it. While I was there the person that invited me asked me about what I had been up to. I said tying and not much else as of late. He looked at me a bit funny and said, “You need to go fishing!”
After thinking it over I decided…. He was right! So I packed my stuff in my car before my third shift work schedule had me off for the night. I had not been in a while and I needed it but I was probably shying away as I had felt less than successful with my latest ventures into the white waters.
When the time clock hit 7am I was skipping out the door and headed to the Merrimack in Franklin, NH where there had recently been some salmon stocked, which I had never laid eyes on before. I found an off the beaten trail spot to park my car and headed down a really steep bank. I had gathered at the club meeting that the eastern bank was the best spot to fly fish from.
The water looked awesome. I had high hopes as I meandered through the trees and out into the whitewater. I fished the edges where little streams broke off from the river creating small islands and then I fished the riffle seams around the islands, with no luck I then began to wade a bit further out into the very fast water to get near the riffles creating massive clouds of white water that seemed to jump out of the river and linger above their origins. I tried streamers of all sizes colors and varieties, nymphs, wet flies, every tactic I could think of and remembered reading about, and to my dismay three hours went by without a single tug.
Not entirely surprised I packed up my stuff and headed home for some shut eye. But before I did I called that friend that was eyeing me funny and telling me I needed some time on the water to let him know I failed as I had honestly suspected I would. He sent me an email suggesting another location on the river, so I hit that spot anxiously the following morning.
When I arrived I was shocked that the spot was empty as it was a Saturday morning about 8am. I got my gear on and while tying on some tippet I saw a very aggressive rise 25 feet or so of the shore. I was so excited I stuck myself twice with the fly trying to get it tied on adequately.
To my dismay I realized this portion of the river severely limited my wading options, and there was tons of debris in the water. Every time I made a cast, I only managed to drag in a ball of sticks leaves and pine needles.
After 20 minutes of that a friendly bird hunter showed up and we got to talking about fishing, which had once been a passion of his too. He told me to hit the Merrymeeting River in Alton, where Lee had recently taken me so I could learn of a new location to fish.
After our conversation I headed home and decided the following morning would be at the Merrymeeting. I got there at 4:50am and I there was no one else there. Little did I realize the sun wouldn’t be up until around 7am. When the sun came out so did the fisherman and the parking lot filled right up. I headed up stream quite quickly and ended up at the base of the dam, where people left me to my business.
I fished for a couple hours sticking mostly to nymphs and trying all the rapids, pockets and riffles I could find. I had not had a single tug on the line all morning, and I was thinking about a post I saw on FFinNH’s forum about needing help to stock the Lamprey at 9:45am, and that ConnorR, a member at FFinNH that I had fished with before said he would be there. I was thinking it would be good to a) find another fishing spot, b) see Connor again and c) maybe meet some new people while helping out. I decided to try and make it from Alton to Packer’s Falls. And with the two guys who were now approaching from above the dam, I figured I’d hit it. Without my handy GPS and a crappy New England map, I headed south or east on 11 and was hoping for the best.
I managed to get a hold of Connor and he aided me to the general region at which point the 5 way intersection just off RT4 puzzled me. I kept getting turned around and discombobulated. Finally I found it and by that time Connor was one of the few still standing around.
We shot the bull for a bit and talked about our season of fishing and how dismal they had been. Shortly after we decided to meet up the next morning to fish the freshly stocked Lamprey right there at Packer’s Falls.
When I returned home I saw pictures of Statler and MirrorLakeDave, on the FFinNH forum holding some really beautiful salmon in all the spots I was fishing that morning, and then I realized they were the two who came from above the dam. I was a little irritated. But they were kind enough to tell me what they were doing to catch these fish.
The next morning I met Connor about 6:30am to fish the Lamprey at Packer’s Falls and I arrived a bit early. I was met there by a nice guy I was talking to about my recent experience and he says, “Oh yeah. I saw your posts online,” and introduced himself as Coldwater from the forum.
When Connor arrived we fished for a while in the area where Coldwater was fishing and came up with nothing, so we went upstream and still nothing, we switched strategies from streamers and nymphs to wet flies and fished pockets rapids and riffles on both sides of the river for a few hours. In the mean time I got to talking with Coldwater’s friend who was drifting a nymph successfully and pulling out rainbows before my very eyes. I believe he said his username was TroutUnlimited6 or something like that. A very nice guy as well, who was trying to give me pointers, but the stars just didn’t seem to be aligning for me.
The next morning after work as the weekend was now over I thought, “Well my stuff is in the car so why not?” And I headed from the punch clock to the Merrymeeting to have my revenge for the unsuccessful day. Although I had no Golden Demons in my fly box, I used some Mallard flank wet flies that I tied with some split shot about 24 inches up. On my first cast at the base of the dam I got caught up in some weeds on the back cast. I turned and saw for the first time in my life a mink looking at me from atop the rocks. He casually walked away minding his own business as I stared, holding my tangled line.
Once the line was straightened out and I managed to get a little further out into the rapids I made a cast into the rapid pool below and just drifted that wet fly in and out of the current for a bit and… Wham! A hit!
It was about a 9 inch small mouth. It was decent to catch something other than fall fish, which had been mostly the fruits of my labors as far as fly fishing goes. And without further a due, out came two fall fish that were in the 7 to 8 inch range. I had missed a lot of hits between these two and I assume that they were probably these fish or other fall fish as they would hit over and over sending a trill like sensation through the rod. After that I was having trouble getting anything to bite.
I was noticing that 1 in 20 or so casts was getting visible attention a splash or a wake kept chasing my fly on the retrieve. So I thought time for something different. I looked through my fly boxes and decided on a size 10 Mickey Finn I had tied. I cast it across to the other bank and let it drift and swing across current and WHAMO! I had salmon on! This fish was enormous to me. If it wasn’t 16 inches it was all of 20 inches. It turned sideways into the rapids and beat its tail so fast the rod felt like it was vibrating and then I felt the hook break loose. I stood in shock and disappointment staring at the water.
More casts turned up nothing as I suspected, so I moved up and down between the pump house and the damn for a bit with the same result. On a whim I came back up to where that salmon had bit and flicked that Mickey Finn back and forth up and down stream, then let it drift down. As I went to flick it back up stream, I felt resistance and low and behold my first salmon, a beautiful little fella about 9 inches, probably.
I was as proud as a peacock! But it was time to get going. I strolled confidently down river to talk with the next fisherman who was not having any luck. He was an older fellow and adamantly claimed he was not going to use nymphs. He had said that the guys below him had caught two on prince nymphs. So I shared my experience with him and gave him one of my mallard flank wet flies to try. I probably would have given him the Mickey Finn if I had given it much thought but at the moment it was still attached to me line.
I started making calls on my way home. Not only had I caught my first salmon, but I had had a successful day by my standards just using flies that I tied. What a way to go!