By GEORGE LISET, Writing on the Fly
Walking across my lawn reminds me of walking on Rice Krispies, every step brings a Snap, Crackle or Pop. It has been so dry that nothing is growing except the weeds. As I drive by the small streams and rivers that dot our surroundings, they remind me of Hampton Beach at low tide, rocks everywhere and not a lot of water.
When summer conditions get like this, I enjoy breaking out my light 3-weight fly rod and a box of small dry flies, usually sizes #18-#22. Any smaller than #22 and I can’t seem to tie them on. Many fly fishers are dry fly fishers only. I am an equal opportunity fly fisher. I will fish dry flies, nymphs and streamers, but there is a definite allure to fishing dry flies.
I can vividly recall fishing a Blue Wing Olive hatch on a small pond near Jackman, Maine. I was in a float tube using a 10-foot fly rod with a 12-foot leader. I had a size #20 fly on. I cast my line out and watched a 16-inch Rainbow gently come up with his nose out of the water and sip my fly in. The line tightened and after a five-minute struggle I brought in that beautiful fish.
Being able to watch the fish take your fly is such a rush. Your heart starts beating as you wait for the take which you don’t want to rush. When you feel the pressure on the line, you gently apply pressure to set the hook and then the fight is on. You can understand why a fly fisher would be a dry fly purist.
Today I was heading to a small stretch of water that held mainly small bass and other panfish. The evening was overcast and actually a little cool after a long stretch of 90-degree weather. I would be fishing the shallows where the bass and sunfish like to hang out. I tied on a # 18 Caddis and let the fun begin.
When fishing for these warm-water fish your presentation doesn’t have to be perfect. I find that letting your fly make a gentle splash attracts the fish, much like throwing pellets to the fish in the hatchery. It’s a feeding frenzy. When my first cast landed and the water exploded, I had my first sunfish. After that, the smile on my face never left.
I was finding that many of the smaller fish were eager to grab the fly but sometimes couldn’t get on the hook. There was action on almost every cast. After about an hour of sunfish fun, I decided to tie on a #12 Grasshopper imitation to entice some bigger fish.
Again, the water exploded on my first cast, but no fish. The little sunnies were still around and couldn’t quite get their mouths around the fly. This went on for about thirty minutes before I was able to land a bigger sunfish. I was hoping that the bigger fly would attract some bigger fish and possibly a bass, but no luck. I decided to call it a night as the darkness approached.
George Liset of Dover is an outdoor writer and avid fly fisherman who shares insights of his time on the water exploring New Hampshire streams and rivers as well of those around New England. George is a graduate of Wheaton College, Illinois, and the University of New Hampshire.