8-15-2020 North Country Angler-Wildcat River

A Wildcat River jewel. (BILL THOMPSON PHOTO)

Driving up the Carter Notch Road in Jackson, the Wildcat River peered through the trees. I thought I caught the river winking at me each time I took my eyes off the road to look at her beauty. We continued to flirt all the way to the Melloon Bridge crossing.

Crossing over the bridge, I stopped the truck. I rolled down the windows and looked up stream. The flows looked good for this time of year. I looked downstream and the “honey holes” still held plenty of water. The Wildcat was sending a sirens song, calling me to the river and her wiles.

I crossed the bridge and glided to a stop at the small pull off. Just enough room to not block others headed for the hiking trails but just enough to be able to climb out of the truck.

I opened up the cabs second door and slid out the bamboo fly rod, seven feet long and a four weight line. This is the one time of the year that I go old school in pursuit of wild brook trout.

As I ran the line through the guides, I could feel the aura of the river whispering to me. The Wildcat knew I was here to fish as those who had many years before me. She reminded me that old school wet flies would please her and the wild trout she protected.

My passion when tying flies is for the old classics. Royal Coachman, Professor, Orange Fish Hawk, Silver Prince, Campbell’s Fancy. I could tie the old wet flies only and catch plenty of fish everywhere.

Here on the Wildcat, she favored these flies above all others. She rebuffed the Chernobyl Ant, the Frumpy, the Moodah Poodah. She honored those who honored her and her traditions.

Finishing the stringing of the bamboo, I opened the Perrine fly box. Perrine was the fly box of fly anglers after the last World War. No longer being manufactured, it is a cherished part of any angler’s outfit.

Opening the box, a vast array of Bergman style wet flies shimmered in the fading light. A slight wind rustled the trees and the flies in the fly box. A fly jumped out in the breeze. The Silver King literally jumped into my hand, just asking to be attached to the 5X leader.

Quickly tying the fly to my tippet, I was ready to receive whatever the Wildcat was ready to show me. I climbed down the bank and cast the fly under the bridge. The bamboo smoothly and efficiently delivered the fly to the water. The fly landed softly and floated to the end of the pool.

A quick tug and the fly slid underneath the surface of the Wildcat. A couple of quick strips of the fly line and a beautiful wild brook trout was fast to the line. The bamboo arched and began to vibrate with every shake of the trout’s head. As the trout was played back, each dive of the fish, each shake of the head, was felt in my hand.

I reached down and wet my hand. I cradled my hand under this jewel that the Wildcat had honored me with. The colors of the trout were dazzling. There is truly nothing else in nature like a wild brook trout. I slid the barbless hook from the trout’s mouth and opened my hand. The Wildcat gladly accepted back the jewel and smiled. She enjoyed participating in a tradition as old as time.

Tip of the Week

Consider using old school wet flies when fishing. While old school to the angler, they are all new to the fish.

Steve Angers is a native son to the Conway area. He is the author of the acclaimed book “Fly Fishing New Hampshire’s Secret Waters.” When he is not casting to trout in the valley, he operates the North Country Angler.

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