Friday, May 17, 2013

The Saco River And The Dry Fly

The weather can be a mixed bag of what you can always count on in the Saco Valley flowing through North
Conway for Mid June.  The river, with head waters at the foot of Mount Washington has a rugged start and flows through New Hampshire, pushing east in Maine and enters the Atlantic at it's namesake on the coast.  Showers, sun, wind, cold and warm are a possible part of any day.  Each year at this time I make sure that the gin clear waters are in my schedule.  I fish a number of single days and could easily make it a week long destination.

This river has all the ingredients necessary to make it one of the finest quality trout streams in the world except one.  It does not have enough low temperature input to sustain  a large population of trout through the warming summer.  But don't let that stop you from enjoying the magic of the Saco's season.  Just looking at this fly chart supplied by North Country Angler will assure you that the river is a very futile environment.  This well stocked shop has a high level of knowledge and can arrange top notch licensed guide service as well.

I show  up in the morning with the intention to refine a bit of my dry fly skill.  For me, this is the part of the game that holds the most satisfaction as well as necessary ability.  Even though the trout are hatchery raised they will get acclimated and turn fussy quickly.  This is not a river that I have the ability to walk in and hit the correct fly immediately.  This is a river where you make your approach in the Gary LaFontaine way where you sit and observe first.  You must always be watching for change and rest assured that change can happen quickly.

Last year on a Friday morning I started with a fine Brown Trout of seventeen inches or more.  I make it a habit to look into the river to see what is happening.  What I saw were the dead mayflies floating down with clear wings.  You may not make the correct choice every time but at least you have the possibilities.   I learned later that the spinner fall was amazing the evening before. The morning fish can also be fooled with size 16 Adams, Red Quills and Yellow Sally's.  One thing needs to be made clear, this is a tough river at times and what worked yesterday, let alone last year might not today.

On Saturday morning I started where I left off the evening before.  What I had learned condensed my fly choices and proved far more successful.  Working small and making frequent changes was the order of the day.   Blue Wing Olive, Adams, Red Quill, Yellow Sally, Rusty Spinner and Black Woolly Buggers accounted for most of the connections.  The comparadun style worked particularly well followed by parachutes.

As the head lamps came on I hooked my last fish of the day.  I had worked this fish a number of times and interest with rejection was the pattern.  This was a real nice size Brown that was as large as the stocking truck had delivered.  I picked out the smallest Parachute Adams with an orange post that was in my box.  The fish rose and sipped the fly and was solidly hooked.   The charge was instantaneous and quick, directly across the pool  making my reel scream with delight.  And then nothing.

Now, I really don't like leaving hooks in fish.  I am always using larger tippet sizes than many anglers and only when I can not get the tippet into the eye of what is needed will I go smaller.  I find that I am still able to take as many fish as anyone else but I land a far greater percentage.  For whatever reason, my tippet did not hold and ,being content with a long day on the river, I called it an evening.

The Saco is as close to perfect as you can get here in the east.  Some say the kayaks and canoe hatch is a problem but I watch the boats go by and the trout start feeding before the wake has left the water.  They don't schedule drop offs very early or late and leave the best of the day's events from disturbance.  The people do apologize way too much.

Give yourself one full day if you can.  This is a river in the most pleasing of surroundings that should not be missed.

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