Salmon: Fish of a Thousand Casts

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George Liset photo

Reed Liset and the one that didn't get away.

By GEORGE LISET, Writing on the Fly

    The magic mirror in my truck tells me it is 43 degrees and that I am driving North West. The weatherman on the radio tells me that Minnesota got 7 inches of snow and that it is 9 degrees in Douglas, Wyoming. So I guess I am going to have a good day.

 Most fly fishers are amateur meteorologists, so I know that the front in Minnesota will be here in a little over 24 hours and will probably be a rain event since the Gulf Stream is still pretty well off the coast.

    I am driving up to the Lakes Region to fish for landlocked salmon which should be heading to the rivers to spawn. The Salmon will be followed by the rainbow trout and any other fish that wants a free meal of eggs. There is a window for salmon since the rivers close Oct. 31. As I pull into the parking lot, I see a few cars, a couple I recognize.

     Salmon, most fly fishers will tell you, is the fish of a thousand casts. It is my experience that it is true. Plan to put your time and casts in to be successful. The river is unusually low, which will make finding a spot to fish difficult. Normally the river is high and you could use streamers its whole length. This year the river is a series of pools with shallow riffles in between.

 I noticed a few people using their nymphing rigs in hopes of getting a salmon or a rainbow trout. I head down to a pool that I have had success with in the past. A few days before I fished the same pool and after about 3 hours of fishing with no bites, managed to land a 16” pickerel.

    Already I have noticed a few salmon being a little more active so my hopes are high. I like to fish with a partner when going after salmon, primarily because it is nice to have someone to talk to when the action is slow. Also, it is nice to have another person to reassure you that after three hours of not getting any bites, that you really don’t stink at fly fishing.

    I am fishing with my son Reed, so he has to be nice to me, since it is in the son job description. During the course of a couple of hours a few guys drop by to see if we are having any luck and to commiserate, because fishing is difficult. We all come to a consensus after changing flies a few times, that it is not the flies. That it wouldn’t matter what fly you had on, the fish are plain not biting.

     About 30 minutes later the water explodes and Reed’s fly rod is doubled over. The salmon makes another jump to try and shake the hook, but to no avail. After a couple of runs down river and another jump, he ends up in the net. A huge 22” salmon. After a few pictures, he is released back into the river.

    It is nice to know that there are fish in the river. Twenty minutes later I get into a salmon, but I am not so lucky on this one. The fish makes a couple of jumps and as I bring him into the net he makes one more jump and shakes me off. He was big. As I drive home, all I can see is that fish. I know that all I’ll see tonight is that fish.

 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.

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