WRITE ON THE FLY
By GEORGE LISET
It was a beautiful day in early November and my friend Coach B, also known as Jim Boulanger, and I decided to take a drive up to Mount Washington Valley and check out some fly fishing spots for the spring. Neither of us fished a lot in this area, so we decided to do some “Blue Lining”. Blue lining is the art of using a physical map and following blue lines, which indicate rivers, in order to find fishing grounds.
I collect cards. It might be a little old school, but there is something about looking at a physical map and appreciating the work that went into drawing and designing it. When I was young, I listened to baseball on the radio. I lived on a hill overlooking Quincy Bay in Massachusetts. I could bring in stations from New York, Philadelphia and on a good night, WGN from Chicago. I would have my map on the wall and imagine the games.
Now, browsing antique shops and old bookstores, I am looking for maps. I have a crate of Appalachian White Mountain guides and a number of maps for Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. All of them obviously have river and stream maps that could be used to find good fly fishing spots.
We took the old road through Rochester, Milton and Unity to take Route 16 north to Wakefield and took the White Mountain Highway to Jackson. I threw my fly fishing gear in the back seat in case we had time to cast a line. There are a few rivers that are open with special regulations at this time of year that I wanted to check out.
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Our first stop after having breakfast was the North Country Angler Fly Shop in North Conway. I had hoped to catch up with owner Steve Angers. North Country Anglers is the valley’s go-to place for everything fly fishing, especially advice. When we arrived we saw that the shop was closed on Tuesday so we were on our own.
The coach drove us to Jackson to check out the Ellis River. We stopped at Jackson Falls which gave us an incredible view of Mt Washington. The Ellis River is a freestone river with pretty pools containing trout. The river is fed by a spring to keep the water cool, creating a friendly habitat for trout. We followed the river to the Kissing Bridge at the entrance to town where we came out for a walk.
Then we drove north past Wildcat Mountain to discover Thompson Brook and the Peabody River. There were a number of stops for the Peabody which got us to some nice pools. There were a few places that would test our agility, and a few more where we just said no luck. As Clint Eastwood said, “A man has to know his limits.”
As we walked back to Jackson, Coach said, “I know a guy.” Anyone who knows Track and Field Coaching Coach at UNH knows they know a lot of guys. We stopped to make a call. The coach says his friend owns five acres on a river. Perfect! I think. The coach joins his friend Tom who gives us the direction.
After going up a few dirt roads, we arrive at Tom’s house. Tom owns a beautiful property that borders the east arm of the Saco River. Tom is a farmer by trade and runs his own business. We walked to the river which was full of beautiful pools and trails. Then it got better. Tom explained that he lets the state use his property to supply the river.
Coach and I looked at each other like we had just played the fly fishing lottery. Tom said we could fish anytime and if he was there he and his lovely wife would love to join us. We just asked him where we can pitch our tent and how he likes his steak.
george Liset from Dover is an award-winning outdoor writer and fly fishing enthusiast who shares his thoughts on his time on the water exploring the streams and rivers of New Hampshire as well as New England. George is a graduate of Wheaton College, Illinois, and the University of New Hampshire. His column Writing on the Fly has won awards from the New England Press Association and the New Hampshire Press Association. george Liset from Dover is an award-winning outdoor writer and fly fishing enthusiast who shares his thoughts on his time on the water exploring the streams and rivers of New Hampshire as well as New England. George is a graduate of Wheaton College, Illinois, and the University of New Hampshire. His column Writing on the Fly has won awards from the New England Press Association and the New Hampshire Press Association.