Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Fish tales of Atlantic Salmon
BRAD AND THE DICKSTER were smart and checked in with Stevie Courshesne at Steve's Sportsmen's Den to get our special permits for New Hampshire Atlantic Salmon fishing on the Merrimack River.
Steve knew quite a bit about how this fishing had been working out and put us on to several places where his customers had been having luck. On one of our first excursions, we fished the rapid flows below the Hooksett Dam and because my boat had been outfitted with special equipment that allowed us to power into some spots that were quite rocky, we had the luck on our first anchor drop to be right above some salmon that were making their presence known.
It was the ability of our boat to get into that spot that entitled us to some awesome fishing and also earned Brad a special lecture about the traditions of courtesy Atlantic salmon anglers practiced.
Because Brad was in the stern of the boat, he had a huge advantage of being able to get the right drift of his fly over those salmon that were breaking water quite steadily. And he hooked, played and landed several before an old-time Atlantic salmon angler that we'd seen fishing other places move to where he could yell at Brad and suggest that Brad sit down and give his partner a shot at those fish!
And when this happened the Dickster finally hooked, played and released his first New Hampshire Atlantic salmon.
These fish were not big by Atlantic salmon average but were in the three- to five-pound range and a lot of fun in that fast water.
That kind of action was never seen again in our several other trips to the river but many a day we'd both catch and release at least one salmon each and often a couple and those fish were big!
We soon moved our operations to the launch area at Boscawen, near the County Farm. This was a nice launching and parking area and had salmon jumping within a long cast of the boat ramp! But this was way more like the traditional salmon fishing like we'd experienced in Maine, with special places that we'd discovered holding salmon time after time. And the river was much easier to boat than the dangerously fast area we'd first fished, and we had a stretch of miles of river both upstream and down to fish and build a nice book of salmon lies that worked more often than didn't!
And these fish were way larger than the ones we first experienced. Some of them were in the 10-plus pound range and we were able to fish for them with many of the tricks we'd developed when fishing in Maine.
To say we were hooked on this fishery would be putting it mildly. We lived for each day when we could get away and head for the Merrimack River, and eventually fished many miles of it. When not catching Atlantic salmon we often found some quality rainbow trout, which livened our day.
Surprisingly, my big story has not to do with salmon but the biggest brown trout we've ever seen, and we've seen some big ones in our day! While casting for salmon, we found that it's best to take turns: fewer line tangles and way more freedom when it's your turn to fish. So one day when anchored just above one of our favorite salmon lies, Brad was casting from the bow while in the stern my fly rod was just hanging over the seat with a leader length of line out, my salmon fly being moved around by the current and boat swing.
I was kind of in a daydream just watching Brad's casting and also occasionally glancing to the stern when a huge mouth and head stuck up and sucked my fly in! I grabbed the rod and set the hook and my 10-pound test leady parted like it was thread! A huge hook jawed brown trout that had to be well into the double-digit weight class had seen that fly swim by just too many times and it gave me a thrill that still makes my juices flow.
- - - - - -
Andy Kalgren, chairman of the Merrimack Chapter of Delta Waterfowl Foundation, sends us this information about what this new Delta Chapter is doing: “I would like to introduce myself and inform you that things are moving along with the new chapter in New Hampshire, we have a good group of people that have committed to making the chapter successful here in New Hampshire. We have a lot of ideas and plans to be involved in local habitat projects and youth programs. I want to start letting members know we are planning our first banquet May 21, 2016, and look forward to meeting you. We also put together a small raffle package to get things moving and generate some income for our upcoming events. Please contact me if you're interested in helping sell these tickets or if you would like to purchase any for yourself. Andy Kalgren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Drop us an email at DoDuckInn@aol.com and enjoy the winter layover!
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.