Fall fly fishing is probably my favorite time to fish. The mornings are cold, but the days are soon warmed by the rising sun. Fishing is comfortable and sometimes successful. The highlight is the foliage that never ceases to disappoint.
I’ve been waiting to hear from my sources about landlocked salmon coming up the rivers from Lake Winnipesaukee, but all is quiet. My son Reed had a few hours to go fishing so I asked him if he wanted to meet in Ossipee and drive to North Conway. I told him I wasn’t sure what the fishing would be like, but the foliage wouldn’t let us down. I said we could look at some places for the spring.
Reed asked what rods I was carrying, and I mentioned my three-weight for the Ellis and Peabody and my six-weight for casting some streamers in the Saco River. I also mentioned that I wanted to stop by the North Country Angler fly shop to see owner Steve Angers and get the latest on what waters were fishing well.
The climb up Route 16 was relaxing. The traffic wasn’t too bad and the colors and scenery were spectacular even on a slightly overcast day. Driving around Chocorua Lake acts as a greeting card to the Mount Washington Valley. Your blood pressure starts to drop and you can start to relax. North Conway, because of its popularity and beauty, is always busy. It is no longer just a winter destination.
We arrived at the North Country Angler just as they opened and there was a line of customers wanting to do the same thing we wanted to do, get the inside scoop and pick up some flies. Owner Steve Angers is as personable as he appears in the Face Book videos he posts about the latest fishing conditions in the Mount Washington Valley.
After Steve and I caught up, I told him where we were thinking of fishing. Steve mentioned that the rivers had slowed down a lot with the cold weather coming in and the Rainbows and Brookies were heading up the headwaters to spawn and the Browns were heading downstream. Steve took me to the screen where the flies were. Steve has clothespins with river names on them. Around the needles there are flies that are fishing well and attracting some fish.
Steve also provides free fishing maps of the area which is a bargain in itself. After buying some flies, Reed and I headed to the fly fishing only section of the Ellis River. We rigged up our three weight rods and tied some size 18 Caddis flies with size 20 nymph droppers and started scouting some fishy looking pools.
The rivers in the Mount Washington Valley are classified as freestone rivers, which means there is a lot of rock to move to get where you are going.
I might add that if you have any mountain climbing experience that would help. I will also add that the rocks are slippery. I know because I took a fall. The good news is that I didn’t break my fly rod or my head, but my ass still hurts.
We weren’t having much luck so we picked up and looked for a few more points just to check them out.
Time was running out so we got to the confluence of the Swift River and the Saco River to cast some streamers. We ended up under the Saco River Covered Bridge where some leaf spotters took a picture of me. Reed said I looked pretty good. As we headed home the sun came out which only magnified the colors and was a fitting end to a wonderful morning.
George Liset of Dover is an award-winning outdoor writer and avid fly fisherman who shares insights from his time on the water exploring streams and rivers in New Hampshire as well as surrounding New England. George graduated from Wheaton College, Illinois, and the University of New Hampshire. His Writing on the Fly column has won awards from the New England Press Association and the New Hampshire Press Association.