Troutman went over to the fireplace to stir the fire and throw on another log. The Old Timer dried the last dish and hung the dishcloth over the sink. The two were up at camp to see how the camp had fared over the winter.
The Old Timer had bought the camp in the 1970s. It was a place that he and his son, Troutman, used as a base of operations in the pursuit of the brook trout and landlock salmon of the North Country. They spent many nights telling tales and recalling the memories spent on the water. This trip was about tying flies and getting prepared for the upcoming season.
The Old Timer had bought a fly-tying kit for Troutman on his 12 birthday. Troutman became a proficient tyer and kept the Old Timer in flies. The Old Timer had never purchased another fly. While at camp, the two were going to plan their first fishing trip of the season and make sure they had plenty of flies to troll the big lake.
“Tie me a dozen Gray Ghost, size 2,” said the Old Timer.
“So predictable,” said Troutman. Troutman had packed all the materials necessary to tie the Gray Ghost.
Troutman zipped open his tying bag. Sitting on top was a jungle cock neck. Troutman had found one at his local fly shop. The quality was not great, but the feathers were a nice deep color. Once Troutman glued the feathers to the sliver pheasant cheeks, they would be just the ticket for a fine trolling fly.
The original Gray Ghost was tied on a long shank hook. The long shank hook allowed for catching fish as big landlock salmon tend to nip at the tail of the smelt they are trying to eat. Troutman liked to tie flies in accordance with the original pattern. He put a size 2 Mustd 94720 in his vise.
“I found some great yellow orange floss to make the Gray Ghost the way Carrie Stevens tied it,” said Troutman. “I want these to be as close to the original as possible.”
The Old Timer picked up the spool of floss. He nodded in approval. He had purchased original Carrie Stevens’ Gray Ghosts in Rangeley many years ago.
“I hope you are going to tie me some of those in tandem style,” said the Old Timer. “It drives me crazy when the brook trout hit the head of the fly and there is no hook to catch the fish”
Tandem flies are tied with two hooks. A size four hook at the head. Then wire to a smaller hook that will catch any fish that nips at the fly. Often, the wire is covered with red beads. This adds a little more flash to the fly. Tandem flies are more time consuming to tie. They are very effective for trolling but are not a casting fly.
“Good thing we are here for the weekend,” said Troutman. “Tying you a dozen tandems is going to take awhile.”
The Old Timer took out his copy of New Hampshire Fishing Maps. The book had seen a lot of use. The Old Timer turned to the page for their favorite lake. There were plenty of notes on what fly, what speed for the boat, and what pattern they should troll the boat.
“I have a feeling this is going to be a great season,” said the Old Timer. Troutman smiled and got to work on his first Gray Ghost.
Tip of the Week
Wait until your favorite lake “turns over” before starting to troll your lake. Until the warmer water from the bottom of the lake has turned to the top of the lake your fishing will be futile.
Steve Angers, a native of the Conway area, has been consumed by fishing since catching his first wild brook trout at the base of Champney Falls.