It Is All About The Tug

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George Liset


    This has been a different start to the year. I am coming off knee surgery which I had just after Christmas. Strengthening the knee to get back out on the water has been a long process. If I did the majority of my fly fishing from a canoe or a drift boat, I might not be so particular and thorough about my knee rehabilitation. The Physical Therapists have me going up and down steps, balancing on balance spots and walking backwards and forwards attached to weight machines.

     It is difficult. The PT’s having me doing exercises that I couldn’t do before I hurt my knee. They asked me what it was that I wanted to do. I told them I wanted to be able to get in and out of rivers and walk on uneven surfaces and not fall in. I could see their faces light up and thinking “We have a live one here.”

    While I have been rehabbing I have been reading fly fishing magazines and books. I have been watching fly fishing videos on YouTube. I have been looking over maps and Google Maps to find new places to fish, but this only holds you over for a while. The need to get on the water and feel the tug of the trout is addictive.

    So I checked the weather, grabbed a cup of coffee on the way and headed north to some tributaries around Lake Winnipesaukee that I knew had some easy access. By easy access, I mean a spot where you are not hiking into a stream and scrambling over boulders and kettle stones in the river to get to a nice spot. I will occasionally challenge myself if I have young legs around to pick me up when I do fall. The only problem is that they are usually laughing when they do pick me up.

     I decided to take it easy so I hit a spot where wading wasn’t necessary. I could fish from the bank or the stream’s edge. I had picked up a new Cheeky reel with a sinking tip line at Eldridge Brothers in York, Maine that I wanted to try out. I tied on a bead head soft hackle and dropped off a small Prince Nymph.

    Now when you check the weather, one forgets that the weather going north is different from the weather on the seacoast of New Hampshire. I was seeing forty five degrees and I got thirty with a little windchill. Now I dress warm enough so that cold is not an issue. What is an issue is trying to tie a size twenty nymph onto your line, especially after you have been out for awhile. But I’m a pro, I managed.

      My first hour on the water was about getting the kinks out and testing out my new equipment. The fish weren’t cooperating. I thought the fish might be afraid, but then I realized my son wasn’t with me. I kept swinging my rig as I moved down the stream. Suddenly I got a tug but was slow on the draw and lost the fish. I worked the area and got another tug which got the adrenaline going. I finished for another twenty minutes before my knee was telling me it was time to go.

    As I was driving home I began planning my next trip up. I was thinking about what flies I would use and if I would use a different reel and line. All I could think about was the tug, the tug of the fish and the tug of the river.

 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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