ON THE FLY
By George Liset
Fly Fishing for trout in the rivers of New Hampshire’s Seacoast can be quite a challenge during the dog days of summer.
Trout like cold water and will gravitate to it as soon as the waters warm. For those rivers that flow into big lakes, the trout head for the deep water. For the trout that are confined to rivers, they search out any pool that might be spring fed or any spring fed mountain brook that might be feeding into the river.
When neither is available, they might find a pool below a falls or dam where the water is oxygenated to help them survive.
During this time of year, the best times to get out and fish are early in the morning, before 7 a.m., and later in the evening, after 7 p.m. Cloudy and or rainy days are also good times to fish. So, when I decided to try my luck at the local river, I knew the fishing would be mostly catching panfish, so I set up my Orvis Superfine 3 weight, eight and a half foot fly rod with 7x tippet and headed out the door.
On my way to the river I grabbed my customary coffee at my local 24-hour convenience store and took a 10-minute drive to my destination. I walked down to my favorite spot and decided to put on a size 16 flying ant. I felt sure that the fish would be all over that pattern. A half hour later, with no bites or takers, I decided to go small and put on a size 20 Griffiths Gnat. No big deal to most fly fishers, but a big deal to me. Did you ever try putting 7x tippet on a size 20 fly? Even with “Cheaters” it takes me 10 minutes to get the fly threaded. A good day is five minutes, but it was a lucky day for me and I did it on my second try!
When I first started fly fishing I made the rookie mistake of using big flies because they were easier to tie on and because I was thinking like a human, not a fish. I was thinking that if I had a choice between a big steak or a little steak I’d take the big ones. Through years of reading and fishing experience, I have learned that smaller is better when it comes to fly fishing. When my son and I were up in Pittsburg, he was catching fish left and right. I asked him what he was using and he had on a size 20 Bead Head nymph with a size 22 midge dropper and the fish were hitting the dropper.
As I drifted my gnat down the slowly moving current, the rod tip began to bob and I was into a 5” Sunfish. On a light rod they are fun to catch. Five minutes later my rod tip bobbed again and I thought I was into another Sunfish, but to my pleasant surprise it was about a 6” trout. Over the course of another 30 minutes I caught two more Sunfish and a couple of good size Chubs that put up a good fight.
The sun was now above the trees so I headed home. When I got back to the truck I paused a few seconds, debating whether I should keep my pole rigged with the size 20 gnat still tied on. I didn’t know if I would be as lucky next time.
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.