A Peace of Mind on the River

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George Liset with a Great Bay Striper


    It’s been a different summer. I didn’t need to put in the air conditioner since the fan sufficed. After the last few years of below average rain, we had a summer that made up for it. It seemed like every time I planned to fish, the rivers were getting blown out by heavy rains. Then on the good days it seemed like all the busyness crept in that happens when you live life.

    I finally was able to coordinate my schedule to get on the water. I got up early and threw my gear into the truck and headed over to grab coffee for the ride north. I had a few hours so I took the back roads since it would only take about thirty minutes to get to the river. School was beginning so there wouldn’t be much traffic on the back roads or the river.

    I passed a large farm that was being hayed for a second crop. Haying will become a lost art soon. Soon no one will know how to or want to do the job. It’s a job I have done for many years. When you work with horses or own a farm it is a necessity. The reward for all the hard work is enjoying the beauty of a freshly hayed field and the smell of new mown hay.

    The ride helped me decompress. When I arrived at the river I strung up my fly rod. I thought I would start off with my light three weight Orvis rod and swing a couple of wet flies. I tied on a size 18 bead head soft hackle and a size 20 prince nymph dropper. I could tell by the parking lot that I probably had the river to myself. This wouldn’t be the case in another four to six weeks when the Salmon come up to spawn.

     I knew the water was still too warm for the trout to be about, but there should be some fun panfish action. As I approached the river I could hear it roaring. At the river’s edge I scared a large Blue Heron. I took that as a good sign that there must be some fish in the river. The heron spread its wings to take off and looked like a jumbo jet. The heron’s wings seemed to span the width of the river and the sound they made banging against the river and itself was loud. I wondered how many people ever had the opportunity to witness something so simple but beautiful as that.

    I found a nice spot at the end of a riffle into the head of a pool and immediately got a hit on my fly which surprised me. I reacted to quickly and lost the fish. A few casts later I caught a five inch Rock Bass. I worked my way down the river and within an hour I had caught about ten more and lost a few others. I also landed a few of the obligatory River Dace.

    Ounce for ounce, pan fish are fun to catch, especially on a light rod. I caught one that was the size of my hand that fought as hard as any Salmon or Lake Trout. Even though it got lost in my net, it was still a big fish. At least that’s what I tell myself. For a few hours I was able to let the world go by and get lost on the river. I remind myself that you can never put a price on peace of mind.

 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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