WRITING ON THE FLY,
By GEORGE LISET
Autumn fly fishing is bittersweet. Standing in the middle of a river with the fall colors all around, the blue sky above and the reflection of the trees in the mirrored blue water is almost sensory overload, but I do enjoy it.
Fall fishing has to be my favorite time of the year to fish.
I savor every breath of the crisp air and the smell of leaves as they break beneath your feet, as you make your way to the river. For in New England, we know what comes after the fall. When the snow arrives it is like starting all over with a blank canvas.
I have my favorite local river which I have fished every month through the year, and in all kinds of weather. I have begun to know its different moods, but I enjoy it the most in the fall. I will frequently fish it twice in one day because the different angles of the sun act as a color wheel on the trees and water.
When I was a college student in Chicago, I had to take an Intro to Art class for one of my general education courses. Our class visited the Art Institute of Chicago where we viewed Claude Monet’s most famous works; Haystacks. They are notable because they show the same Haystacks at different times of day in differing light and conditions. I didn’t get it then, but I do now. You can be on the river in the morning, and then go back in the afternoon and it looks like a different place, almost as if it were repainted.
Sometimes when you are in the river, it is hard to remember why you are there until you see the fly rod in your hand. Your line will be drifting down the river and then a fleet of various colored leaves will gently float by like so many sailboats during Marblehead Race Week. Then you feel a tug on your line that reminds you that you have other tasks to attend to.
On this occasion I was drifting a Chernoble Ant with a size 18 Zebra Nymph as a dropper. This is a combination that I usually have luck with, especially when the water levels are lower and the river runs slow. I caught a few small Fallfish and my mandatory Sunfish. Fortunately, they came in intervals that kept me focused on the task at hand. It was hard with the colors and the warmth of the sun beating down on my face.
I slowly worked my way up river to the tail of a nice pool. I decided to change tactics and flies, and go with a non-weighted Wooly Bugger to keep it, hopefully, from getting stuck on the bottom. About the third swing through I had a nice tug on the line. The fish jumped and I knew I was into a nice trout.
I slowly worked the fish in until it was safely in my net. When I reached in to release the fish, I had to stop myself. The colors on the trout were brilliant. It was probably one of the most beautiful fish I had ever caught. Keeping the fish in the net and in the water I just admired it for about five minutes before I released it.
As I watched the fish swim away, I was thinking to myself, this is why I fish. People pay thousands of dollars to come to New Hampshire to fish, and this is in my backyard. Priceless!
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.