North Country Fishing: Blowing Out Boots and Catching Plenty

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George Liset and his son, Reed, fishing in Pittsburg


  PITTSBURG – The words “Fishing Trip” conjures up vastly different pictures and thoughts to one’s mind depending upon past experiences. I remember watching Ted Williams on the Wide World of Sports fishing for Salmon in northern Maine. I picture the rustic cabin in the deep Maine Woods, fishing with a guide in an Old Town wood/ canvas canoe, landing large fish.  

   For some it could be a day trip to a local river or lake, for others, a weekend to the Adirondacks or Catskills. A few have the ability to get on a plane and fish out West or in Alaska. Whatever your vision of a fishing trip looks like, it takes some planning.


George Liset of Dover is Writing on the Fly

    Preparing for a fishing trip, especially an overnight trip takes some thought and organization. I usually fish locally and close to home because of my schedule and work commitments. Since I am familiar with where I am fishing I know exactly what I need to bring.  With that in mind I travel light and don’t bring extra gear.

I have a sling pack that has all the basics in it. I have my nippers to cut line, tippet, extra leaders, strike indicators, hemostat, flotant and a net. I have my rod, reel and waders and boots in the truck. It is usually a grab and go process. This all changes when you are going for all day and/ or overnight, and for a long distance. You just can’t run home if you run out of something or worse yet, blow out your wading boots like my son just did.

   Each trip takes on a life of its own. My son Reed and I have been to Pittsburg, N.H., a few times before, primarily to camp and watch moose. This was the first trip with fly rods which made it extra exciting. We had talked on the phone and texted to figure out what rods and equipment  to bring, what we were going to do for meals and where to fish.

    This was the first time we actually stayed in a cabin, which brought a new dimension to the trip. Usually we camp at Lake Francis State Park, but now that Reed has a big boy job and I am not paying for college, we sprung for the cabin.

     We arrived in Pittsburg about 11 a.m. the first day and went to Indian Stream to check it out. We drove down a logging road to a bridge that crossed the river and decided to drop in a line, because check-in at the lodge wasn’t til 3 p.m. It was a beautiful day and and we had the river to ourselves. We fished for an hour with no luck, so we headed to Lake Francis.

After parking down by the boat ramp we walked up the Connecticut River which is the bottom part of what is called “The Trophy” stretch. We would walk a while, then stop and throw in a line in a nice looking pool. Reed caught a Rainbow Trout just before we left to check-in to the lodge. After check-in we headed for the dam below First Connecticut Lake.

    We had fished for awhile when Reed blew out one of his fishing boots. He was able to land another Rainbow before we headed back to the lodge to get dinner and figure out his boot situation. Fortunately, the lodge we stayed at had a complete fly shop and had boots in his size to buy and rent. If we had been in a remote or rustic setting we would not have had that luxury.

     This trip was to explore as well as to fish, so we parked at Lake Francis again and walked and fished the bottom half of The Trophy stretch. This took all of the morning and early afternoon. We came out at the bridge on River Road. As we were walking up the river we would ask the fly fishers we saw if they were having any luck and if so, what flies they were using. Most were using the same set up that we were, a Nymph on a Nymph or midge dropper.  We took the walk down River Road to Lake Francis to get the truck and grab something to eat.

    We then drove up the road to Carr’s Bridge to try our luck. There were a number of fly fishers up and down the river on both sides of the bridge, so we just watched for awhile. A few were catching fish so when we had the opportunity to slide in we went down and threw in our lines. I was fishing across from this young man for about an hour. During that time he caught about 7 trout, Reed caught one and I was still batting zero. After a bit, Reed walked over and said “Dad, ask him what he is doing? That’s what you tell me to do. If you don’t know ask.”

So I yelled over, “Can I ask you some questions?”

“Sure” he replied, “Come on over.” So we did.

      We met our new friend Connor who turned out to be an amazing young man. A UNH graduate in mechanical engineering who was working in Boston, and had previously worked at the Orvis Fly Fishing Company in Manchester, Vt. designing and building fly rods. Connor was using a rod he had designed himself. I showed Connor my set up and he made some changes telling me I was using the correct flies, but that I wasn’t getting them down deep enough because of the river flow from the dam. Within a minute I got my first fish and added a few more later. The next day we went back and were catching fish left and right.

    There were a number of takeaways from this great weekend. If you are fishing an area for the first time, hiring a guide would be a good choice. Our new friend Connor was asked to guide at the lodge we were staying at and was in the process of getting his guide license. Guides can show you where to fish, what to fish and to rig your fly line. We knew the where and what to fish, but a little thing like how to rig your line makes a big difference when it comes to catching fish.

   When I fish locally, I usually don’t lose too many flies. This is because I know where all the hidden snags are and I am familiar with the waters I fish. My first day in Pittsburg I lost more flies than I did all last year combined. I was thinking that I was pretty much stinking up the place, then Connor shared that he had probably lost $100 worth of flies during his stay so I thought I was in good company.

    I know sometimes that it is easy to complain about what the state of New Hampshire doesn’t do, however, the fishery in the North Country is incredible. Kudos to Fish and Game. I have already booked my trip for next year!

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.


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