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October 11. 2014 8:36PM

Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Experience trumps exuberance with brook trout


IT WAS a morning a lot colder than we had anticipated. We pulled into the boat ramp at White's Pond in Ossipee to do some late-season fly fishing. This pond had produced some great-looking, colored-up brook trout in years past.

As I got my canoe out and strung my fly rod, a Subaru station wagon pulled into the parking area and out came two distinguished looking men, a bit long in the tooth, but seeming full of energy. They had a Sportspal canoe tied onto the top of their wagon and didn't seem to be in too much of a hurry when I told them that they could access the boat ramp as we also weren't in "too much of a hurry."

"Not a problem for us. With that heavy mist hanging over the water, the fish aren't going to be hitting until that clears and the surface water temperature warms up a bit," one of them explained.

"OK, thanks for the info," we answered but didn't believe a word of it. We got our gear ready and launched our own canoe, after parking our vehicle a respectable distance from the boat launching beach.

"Those two old ducks don't have a clue about brook trout," went through my mind.

"Early mornings have always been the best action time for me," we kind of argued to ourselves as we paddled towards the distant shore where we'd always had good luck.

But we had never fished this pond this late in the season and never took into consideration the fact that the insect movement could be delayed by the cooler water and that these brookies fed mostly on insects.

So we cast and retrieved and cast and let dry flies just rest on the surface. We stripped wet flies and small streamer flies down deep and never had a hit, all the time watching those two old-timers sitting on a stump on the shore, going over their fly selections and probably sharing a few stories of trips of the past.

As that thick mist started clearing from the water surface, we caught a few clinks and clanks while making a desperate cast toward the shoreline. We turned and watched them take their canoe off the top of their wagon and push it into the water. They got a considerable amount of fishing gear aboard and slowly paddled out into the middle of the pond.

There they sat, again probably talking about trips of the past, when suddenly one of them made a cast to a little ring of water, lifted up his rod and hooked a fish! By this time we noticed a few small rises of fish we had spotted over a little weed bed in closer to shore.

Our first cast when we got there got taken by the most beautiful 12-inch male brook trout we'd ever seen, and after a spirited fight on my light gear, it was alongside the canoe. I didn't want to put a net under him as that might cause some trauma to the fish's protective slime cover. Clipping off my leader as close as I could to the fish, it slipped away with no signs of any damage done and my little No. 18 black ant fly was surely not a problem for this fish's lifespan.

So out came my fishing pliers from their holster on my belt as we crimped over the barb on the next little black ant fly we tied to our very light leader.

By now trout were dimpling the water all around my canoe but if you made any commotion at all they would either move or go back down, and as it was we found that they would just move a bit and continue feeding.

Using delicate casting and as little disturbance as possible, by making long casts we could reach these small pods of brook trout without them spooking. On almost every cast, a fish would take that small black ant fly as it started to slowly sink under the surface. What fun that was!

It never dawned on me that these fish were not feeding on black ants! But for some reason it just seemed to me that was a good choice to start the day and we never had to change to another pattern.

As the season was still on for catch-and-keep trout, before calling it a (wonderful) day, we did keep two fish, choosing the larger males, figuring that they'd not hurt the spawning situation. And they were so beautiful we couldn't wait to show them to wife Jane, who always delighted to see a beautiful trout and was just as much pleased with eating one of my special baked stuffed brookies.

From that day on we began to pay a lot more attention to what some of those distinguished looking gray-beards had to say at the boat launches! Our estimation of what my fishing buddy Brad and the Dickster used to call the "the old fly duffers" had changed a bit. No - changed a lot!


Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.

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