MOST trout fishing opportunities in New Hampshire close on Oct. 15. This marks the end of a long stretch of fishing, and the closing provides protection for these delicate fish as they spawn, incubate and over-winter. It has been an awesome, satisfying season for me and I have landed some beautiful fish.
Mother Nature cooperated pretty well in 2019 as a cool, wet spring was followed by a spectacular summer and fall.
An enthusiastic trout fisherman probably begins his or her season by chasing fish in our lakes and ponds.
Everyone has their favorite and the excitement of getting out early on opening day is a sacred ritual for many anglers. It is a good idea to fish these water bodies before the water gets too warm and fish become difficult to find.
Whether trolling around or casting at rising fish, April and May were good months for everyone I chatted with. Often landing freshly stocked trout, the bite is aggressive and the fight is strong. Early-season fish in small ponds are not very selective and take advantage of any food source, hitting streamers, nymphs and certainly the occasional worm.
About the time that July begins to warm our days and before water levels drop, it is time to hit the many remote trout ponds in New Hampshire. These are often hike-in spots without road access. Most are not stocked but in those that are, it is done by helicopter.
These small ponds are beautiful and the solitary experience really enhances a fishing experience. Most anglers use a small canoe, a boat hidden on shore, or a float tube to navigate these waters. The mid-summer sun stays out a long time and fishing until 9 o’clock at night can be a lot of fun, with the last half-hour usually the best.
When August rolls around, the rivers and streams in New Hampshire start to shrink. This is a huge advantage for fishermen as fish get forced into smaller pockets and channels. Where once a river was 50 feet wide, the trout must now occupy a third of that volume and a smart fisherman can identify that type of water. The insect life that supports a fish’s diet is in full bloom and every type of fly will be effective. From the smallest caddis fly imitation to the biggest grasshopper pattern, I often use 30 different flies on an average August day.
The season winds down as September turns to October when warm jackets and winter hats replace the T-shirts and ball caps. The bothersome insects like mosquitoes and black flies are almost gone but mayflies and other trout foods continue to buzz around the water. At this late point in the season, all fish have achieved a respectable size and are smart enough to present certain challenges to fishermen.
In the fall, the days are shorter and the water is cooler. This is unfortunate because, after a million fishing trips, most of my waders leak and cold water invades my clothing. My hands are always cold and my lips are often chapped. My sun-soaked and wind-burned face can be seen squinting at the small flies that drift in the water.
As any fishing season comes to a close, there is regret interlaced with a little relief. There is finally time to clean out my truck, put some gear away, replace/repair items, and really start tying some flies. After Oct. 15, the chapter on trout fishing will conclude but new ones will open up. They always do.