It was time to take our annual trip north to Pittsburg. My son Reed and I have fished the area on and off over the past 20 plus years, but now that he is working full time, it is becoming an annual event.
I have been getting to his house in Gilford at about 7 a.m. and we head up I-93 and then over to Columbia to see my friend Frank.
Frank lives right next to the Columbia Covered bridge where there is also some great fishing.
Frank’s late wife Olive was the librarian at my school. Before caller ID, I would call them claiming to be from the school library and tell them they had some seriously overdue books. The first few times I called it was hilarious, but they soon caught on. We always looked forward to his homemade donuts.
After our visit, we headed up to Pittsburg and hit the Trophy Stretch of the Connecticut River. The Trophy Stretch of the river runs from First Connecticut Lake to Lake Francis. Along this stretch of the river, fishermen have given certain sections of the river names. We started fishing at the Bridge Pool and worked our way down to the Junction Pool. We used a Beadhead Nymph with a Midge dropper.
We weren’t there two minutes before we both got into a couple of nice rainbow trout. Their colors were amazing, so we knew they had been in the water for awhile and were not freshly stocked. We had caught a number of brook trout and some more rainbows over the next few hours before we packed up to check into our lodging.
When we first arrived at the Bridge Pool, I heard someone yell out my name, “Mr. Liset.” I looked over and it was one of my former students. He was participating in a fly fishing camp that Trout Unlimited was running. So I pumped him for information on all the places they had fished. He said he was having fun and a lot of success. It was great to see so many young people enjoying the sport.
After we checked in, we headed up to the Dam Pool below First Connecticut Lake and worked our way down to the Pockets. We had some success there, but decided to head back to the lodge and grab some dinner.
The next morning, after breakfast, we headed back to the Bridge Pool. The challenge for most fly fishers is to try and get the big four, a rainbow, brookie, a brown and a salmon. We had both gotten a rainbow and brookie, but Reed pulled ahead by getting a nice salmon. Salmon are fun to catch because they like to jump.
As we were thinking about trying another spot, we heard a commotion up river. Coming down the river we saw a young couple in an aluminum canoe. This was a first. One of the fly fishers said they were trying to canoe the length of the Connecticut River.
Having canoed quite a bit, I noticed that they were having control problems as they passed me going sideways. I noticed they didn’t have life vests or water shoes on, another red flag. Below us were the Step Pools which could be treacherous. It looked they were in for a long trip.
We decided to head down to Lake Francis State Park and worked our way up to the Skating Rink. As we trekked up, some of the better spots were taken. We tried a few that looked fishy, but decided to change our plans and check out the Meadows between First Connecticut and Second Connecticut Lake. This required a little bush-whacking since the path was more like a game trail.
When we arrived, there was one other fly fisher there. We struck up a conversation and found out this was his first time at this spot. He mentioned that this is usually a good spot to get salmon in the fall. After our conversation and a half-hearted attempt to throw a few streamers, we decided to do an early dinner.
After dinner we fished the Dam Pool and caught a few more rainbow. It was getting dark and we decided the time was right to go after our next quarry, a moose. We drove to Moose Ally, between First Connecticut and Third Connecticut Lakes. Moose watching is an art. Driving slowly and checking the woods on the side of the road.
You are also checking the road ahead for tail lights which might indicate a moose spotting. We made it up to Second Connecticut Lake when we turned around to go back to the lodge. As we were halfway there, we drove slowly past an access road where we saw a Bull Moose standing and eating. “Moosion” accomplished, we drove back to the lodge.
The next morning, after breakfast, we packed up the truck and put a few more hours on the river. Reed completed his weekend by landing a big brown trout. I was having luck with the rainbows, but couldn’t get my brown or salmon. As we headed home, we started planning next year’s trip. Then with a laugh, I looked over at Reed and said, “I hear the fishing is good here in September too.”
A writer from Dover, George Liset writes about all things fly fishing.
George has worked as a lobsterman, lifeguard, wrangler, boat captain, fishing instructor, and has traveled in most of the lower 48 states. Upon graduation from Wheaton College in Illinois, George began his teaching career and currently teaches in Dover and has coached track and field most recently at UNH. Liset has been published nationally and internationally in the area of track and field and coaching.