Taking Time to Smell the Fishes Under NH’s 66 Covered Bridges

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George Liset photo

Reed Liset is pictured in front of Hall Covered Bridge in Columbia

By George List

Driving home from Vermont my wife and I passed the Hall Covered Bridge over Saxtons River. Standing in front of the bridge was a couple having their picture taken.

As we were driving by a couple of thoughts went through my mind. The first thought was how did the river look to fish? The second thought was about the covered bridges I had fished, and the third thought was about how many covered bridges are there in New Hampshire?

If there is one thing that is iconic about New Hampshire, it is covered bridges. If you live in New Hampshire, covered bridges, mountains, the ocean and fall foliage are common place. Although I try not to let it be so, it happens nonetheless.

Going about my day, usually in a hurry, I barely notice the beauty around me. Many times it takes standing in a river with a fly rod to make me notice the inherent beauty of New Hampshire.

When I arrived home, I Googled “Covered Bridges in NH.” I was thinking to myself that there were probably 10 to 15  covered bridges in New Hampshire. I came to a site that listed 66 covered bridges and you could take an online tour. Sixty-six, who would have known?

As I started looking at the list of bridges and their locations, I realized that I had been to more than half of the bridges and had actually fished about half of those. So much for paying attention.

The bridge that I have fished the most is the Columbia Bridge  in Columbia, New Hampshire. One reason is that it is on the way to Pittsburg, and it is also a beautiful spot to fish. The other reason is that my good friend, Frank Gray, lives right next to it. I remember the first time I went up to Pittsburg and my son and I camped in Frank’s yard for a couple of nights to visit on our way up.

I was just starting to learn to fly fish. I got up early the first morning and walked the 10 yards to the river and was standing on the bank. I didn’t have waders and I could see a few fish rising out under the bridge.

My casting left a lot to be desired, as was evident by me losing about six flies to the bushes in about 30 minutes. That wasn’t even counting the two I lost on the bottom. I remember my son, who was younger then, looking at me quizzically, wondering if we were having a good time yet?

When we got to Pittsburg, I promptly redeemed myself by catching a bunch of minnows, whereupon I became known fondly, to this day I might add, as “The Minnow King” by my son, something that we laugh about to this day. Especially when he out-fishes me, which is becoming most of the time.

My son Reed and I stopped at the Columbia Bridge on the way home from Pittsburg this last trip. Frank was away visiting family in the great state of Iowa. I wanted to take a picture by the bridge to show him that we had stopped by.

After we took the pictures we decided to watch a couple of guys fishing and just take in the beauty of the bridge and the river.

As we drove away, I was looking back over my shoulder, and I couldn’t help but smile and think about the great memories.

A writer from Dover, George Liset writes about all things Fly Fishing. George has worked as a lobsterman, lifeguard, wrangler, boat captain, fishing instructor, and has traveled in most of the lower 48 states. Upon graduation from Wheaton College, Illinois, George began his teaching career and currently teaches in Dover and has coached Track and Field most recently at UNH. Liset has been published nationally and internationally in the area of track and field and coaching.



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