A few months ago, we booked a ski weekend with some friends. Upon arriving at the cabin last weekend, I found the front entrance piled high with gear: poles, skis, boots, and more. I added my own gear to the pile: an Orvis Helios 2, waders, and boots.
Such were the questions I was asked — and, fair enough. There was a sheet of ice on the driveway, and snow had fallen that very week in the mountains. But as any fishermen will tell you, late February is the season for cabin fever. As I’ve referenced in some recent posts, with a few major snow storms behind us, the polar vortex back, and another storm ahead, the Hex hatch seems far enough away to be a mirage: as soon as warm temperatures have given a glimmer of hope for what’s to come, sub-zero temps have followed closely behind.
And so it was last weekend that I swapped my ski gear for my fishing gear. With the sun out and temperatures in the mid-40s, it was a perfect day for winter fly fishing.
I have to thank Andy Bonganzi, the owner of Concord Outfitters, for making the trip possible. (If you haven’t seen Concord Outfitters’ new website, I highly suggest you check it out. It’s a huge improvement over the old site.) In only have two trout rods under in the 5 weight or under size, and both of them are bamboo. I wasn’t about to use them in slippery, icy, cold conditions. And so Andy lent me his Orvis Helios 2 — a generous gesture. He also gave me some guidance on where to fish around Sunapee — advice I took.
Our ski cabin was in the shadows of Mount Sunapee, and so I had a bunch of options: the large water of the Pemi, to the north, or the smaller water of the Contoocook, or the intimate water of the Newfound tailwater. I went for the latter, and was glad I did.
Flowing out of the damn at the southern end of the Newfound lake, the Newfound river is a beautiful stretch of water, with lots of character: it has some depth, it can be very narrow and tumbling, or it can also be wide open and calm. It’s classic New England tailwater trout fishing.
I wasn’t the only one out, either. There were plenty of other people out: I ran into at least three separate groups. I even met and talked at length with a guy who shares my love of Atlantic salmon fishing. I saw one fish caught, up above the damn, but didn’t care to fish that section as I always prefer moving water to the interminably slow current that run through water before a dam. It’s just not my kind of fishing.
My kind of fishing did prove fruitless that day, though. I fished a number of deep pockets with a variety of flies: big sculpin, little lymphs — the whole spectrum, with not a bite to show for it.
But that’s ok. I had to get out on a river and cast a line. I did just that, and soaked up some sun in the process. I’ll be heading back out soon — just as soon as we get through this snow.