The Magic Words of Fly Fishing in NH

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George Liset


    If you want to get a large group of fly fishers together in a hurry, all you have to do is say the magic words.

 I received a call early in the morning and my son said the magic words. Now, for the uninitiated, there are a couple of sets of magic words, depending on where you live.

 In upstate New York, the magic words are, “The Salmon are running.”  In Washington state and Oregon, the words are “The Kings and Silvers are running.”

Here in New Hampshire, the magic words are “They just stocked the “___________.” ( Fill in the blank with the name of your favorite local river, stream and pond.)

    When I got the call, I sprang into action. I put on my waders and boots and headed for the truck that had all my gear. When I arrived, there was only one car parked on the road.

I put my rod together and headed down to the river. When I checked on one spot there was already someone fishing, so I walked farther down the trail until I found a spot. As I waded in, the sun was in my eyes. As I settled in, I heard a voice ask: “How are you doing?’

    I looked around to see where the voice came from. There was not anyone I could see upstream or down. Then I heard, “Beautiful morning, huh?”

As my eyes were getting acclimated to the sun, I looked across the river to see a gentleman casting from the other side. He was fishing from the bank. I asked him if he had any luck and he replied, “Not as of yet, but the fish are rising.” And they were.

Brook Trout. George Liset photo

    I started off with a foam Caddis hoping that would attract some interest. As my fly was drifting down the current, I watched him cast. Wayne, whose name I learned later, had a nice smooth cast and soon got into a nice Rainbow Trout.

I asked him what he was using and he said a “Grey Ghost Streamer.”  I continued to drift my Caddis down the river with no luck, so I changed to a Bead Head Woolly Bugger.

    Wayne and I continued our conversation between casts. I had trouble drifting my fly down stream because it kept on getting stuck on the bottom since the water was low and the streamflow casual. It wasn’t another ten minutes more before Wayne landed another beautiful Rainbow. Now the pressure was on.

Brown Trout. George Liset photo

    In the past I would have been satisfied with just knowing what fly he was using, but I have since learned it is not so much what fly you use but how you fish it. So, I asked Wayne how he was fishing the Grey Ghost? Wayne said that he was using a floating line and an eight-foot leader with a slow retrieve.

    So, I again switched my fly to a non-weighted Woolly Bugger, since I didn’t have a Grey Ghost in my fly box, and started slowly drifting it down the current. Within five minutes I was into a nice Brown Trout. I was on the board and thanked Wayne for his insight. It is amazing how much more relaxed you become after you catch that first fish.

    Wayne walked down river a bit and I just hung out and was enjoying the day. Wayne came back a little later and asked if I had any luck. I replied in the negative. Wayne took a few more casts and said goodbye.

I thanked him for the conversation and his help. A few minutes later I was thinking about heading out when my pole started dancing. I knew that I was into a good one. Five minutes later I landed a beautiful Brook Trout. That fish was fall incarnate. It was the most beautiful fish I caught probably ever. It was just bursting with color. A great way to end the day.

      As I headed down the trail I came upon another gentleman, Pete, with fly rod in hand. He asked how I had done and said I had a great day.  He mentioned he had fished the river earlier in the week and had luck with nymphs.

I told him we had luck with Woolly Buggers and that my friend was having luck with a Grey Ghost. I told him that I was on my way to pick some up at my local fly shop. Pete opened his fly bow to pull out some Woollys and Ghosts then handed me a Grey Ghost.

    I thanked him and wished him luck. As I walked back to my truck, I was thinking that there was even more magic in those magic words.

A New Hampshire writer, 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 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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