Fly Fishing the Vernal Equinox in NH

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George Liset

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    The Vernal Equinox means different things to different people. For fly Fishers it means more time on the water with a fly rod in your hand. The Vernal Equinox is the day when there is equal sunlight on both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. It also means, starting the day after that, the Northern Hemisphere will begin to experience longer days. So to celebrate I rose early and drove up to the Lakes Region to one of my favorite rivers to try my luck.

     This river is one that I have found doesn’t fish well in the early season. Any success I have had this time of year is purely luck. l am not a great fly fisher, but I am also not that bad. My thought was that if for nothing else I could practice my casting and try out a new rod. When I arrived, I rigged up and headed down river to try my luck with a streamer when another car pulled up with a couple of gentlemen I recognized from fishing the river previously.

    We exchanged names and pleasantries, and then discussed our plans. I mentioned that I was going to try streamers down stream and then if I had time, work my way back up using nymphs. They had the same idea of starting up river. We wished each other luck and began our day. It was supposed to be a nice day, in the forties with no wind, which for this time of year is a good day.

    I always enjoyed the longer days when I was working. I would be able to get out of work and be on my local river by three in the afternoon and usually fish until dark, which was usually around seven pm in the early season. If I wanted to fish with another person they would usually join me around five. Being retired, I can get out anytime and not have to fight the crowds on popular waters. When you do bump into others fishing you readily recognize them because the fly fishing community is a small group.

    When I got to my spot I tied on a bead head Wooly Bugger. There was a good flow to the river and I knew that if there were any fish in the river that they would be hanging at the bottom, since the water was still cold and I couldn’t see any insects hatching on top of the water. This was a section of river that I have had some great success with in the past. I knew if there were any fish they would be here.

    After fishing for about an hour, the clouds came in, the wind picked up and the temperatures were dropping. The clouds you can deal with but the wind and colds become problematic. I fished for another hour with no luck and walked back to my truck to figure out my next move. In the parking lot were my two friends standing by their vehicle trying to decide their next move.

    We shared information, neither had any luck, and then we spent about forty five minutes talking about fly fishing in general. We talked about equipment. One of them worked part time for Cabella’s and was giving us the scoop on new equipment. We talked about some different waters to fish and flies that worked on them. We had a couple of lulls in the conversation as we all were internalizing whether we wanted to continue fishing. Then a big cold wind came by and almost knocked us over. Then one of my friends said the water temperature was only thirty six degrees.

     We all stood for a while looking at each other when another friend pulled up in his car and got out and asked how we were doing? Again, we all replied with the negative as he was trying to figure out whether to put on his waders and try his luck. As another big gust of wind came by, the conversation stopped. I finally said that the only fish I was going to see today was between to pieces of bread at McDonalds in a sandwich, anyone want to join me? 

 George Liset of Dover is an award-winning 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. His column Writing on the Fly has been honored by the New England Press Association and the New Hampshire Press Association.

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