WRITING ON THE FLY, By George Liset
For those who were lucky enough to grow up in a fishing family, Opening Day was always a special time.
Opening Day is primarily a freshwater event when all the ponds, lakes, rivers and streams are open to all fisherman, baitcasters and fly fishers alike.
My wife has fond memories of fishing with her dad on Opening Day. They would get up early and dig worms behind the barn and then head down to the big brook behind the house and catch 10” Brookies. They would keep a couple and fry them up for breakfast.
The first day of fishing has lost some of its glamor. In New Hampshire, there are special areas that you can fish all year long that are designated catch and release only.
I associated the opening day of fishing with the opening day of baseball and Spring. A time to celebrate being outdoors.
In the spirit of Opening Day, I packed my rod and headed to check out some of my favorite local rivers. I had an idea of their condition, which weren’t favorable, having driven past a few, but sometimes you really don’t know until you are on the water.
I headed over to a couple of spots on the Lamprey River.
The first spot is a well-known spot with easy access. I was fortunate to be the first one there. As I was fishing, other fly fishers trickled in.
I was using a Bead Head Wooly Bugger, trying to entice any hungry fish. The water was rushing and high, so I tried prospecting the sides of the river bank thinking that a fish would be holding there for cover. Alas, no luck. As I passed by other fly fishers and asked about any action, their responses were negative.
I checked out some of the other spots on the river, but they didn’t look any better. So, I drove over to check out the upper Cocheco River. I found a spot where I thought a few fish might be holding and tied on a Bead Head Midge with a Pheasant Tail dropper. I was certain to have some luck.
There were a couple of times where I thought I’d gotten a bite; however, it was probably my fly dragging the bottom.
After a while with no luck, I tied on another BH Wooly Bugger to see if that would interest anything. Again, no success. Time to move on. I thought I would try something a little smaller, so I headed over to the Isinglass River. The river didn’t seem to be too out of control, so I was hoping for some better luck.
I casted a BH Nymph with another Nymph dropper. The day was becoming overcast and cool, especially standing in the water.
I started walking up that section of river prospecting every spot that could be a fish hold. I kept changing flies, in part to try to coax something, anything out, even a minnow. As I headed up the river to a little pool where I have always had luck, I heard young voices.
Peeking my head through the brush, I could see a young dad fishing with his two sons. I paused and watched for a long while, in hopes of seeing one of the little guys catch something. I remember the excitement of my children catching fish when they were younger. Even as they have gotten older, it is still fun to watch the expression on their faces when they hook into a fish.
The young dad was very patient. The two boys were using a bobber and worm set up. You could see their faces intently staring at the bobber, waiting for the slightest of bobs. Dad was using a baitcasting rod while keeping his eye on the boys. I watched a little longer before I headed back to the truck.
As I walked back, assessing my day on the rivers, I knew I’d have to call my son and let him know dad got shut out.
I would also share with him that the spirit of Opening Day is still alive and well, as long as a dad is willing to spend time with his children on the river.
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.