Northern New Hampshire Landlocked Salmon

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Steve Knapp, Oct 12, 2013.

  1. Steve Knapp Beach Bum

    Posts: 688
    Maple Valley
    Ratings: +262 / 3
    I have to tell this story, and I'm going to let the pictures do the talking for the most part, probably too many pictures.

    My in-laws live in Pittsburg, NH, the last town before the Canadian border, and home of the Connecticut River headwaters. I have been visiting this area for over ten years, but generally in off season times like the Holidays. This year I told myself I would learn about the river and add fly fishing to our annual visit... with a priority on landlocked salmon and brookies. I had hiked all over the area, but with limited time to fish I needed to cut the learning curve. I contacted local guide, Greg Inglis, out of Orvis' Lopstick Lodge. I had never hired a guide and was pretty apprehensive. As soon as I walked into the shop in the morning I knew I had made the right decision. Greg said if I wanted to hike in, we had a great chance at finding some landlocked salmon moving into the rivers from the lakes to spawn. Here's how it went... and no those aren't browns. DSCN2299 (800x600).jpg DSCN2300 (800x600).jpg DSCN2301 (800x600).jpg DSCN2303 (800x600).jpg DSCN2304 (800x600).jpg DSCN2306 (800x600).jpg DSCN2310 (800x600).jpg DSCN2313 (800x600).jpg DSCN2315 (800x600).jpg DSCN2316 (800x600).jpg DSCN2319 (800x600).jpg DSCN2328 (800x600).jpg DSCN2332 (800x600).jpg DSCN2320 (800x600).jpg DSCN2322 (800x600).jpg DSCN2340 (800x600).jpg DSCN2346 (800x600).jpg

    It was an incredible day, and I had a very hard time picking out photos to post. I insisted that Greg fish a run towards the end of the day, and 5 minutes later he was battling a fish that jumped all the way down the river. I had a great day fishing with Greg and learning about landlocked salmon and the wild brookies we found. I did find a small rainbow at the end of the day, but no brown trout to wrap up the Great North Woods Grand Slam. He was very knowledgeable and a blast to fish with. I think I told him enough stories about Puget Sound Searuns that I wouldn't be surprised to find him standing on my porch sometime soon. The best part was taking the knowledge he gave me and finding a pair of awesome salmon the next morning on my own. A day I won't soon forget.
    Stonefish, GAT, ganglyangler and 9 others like this.
  2. Alosa Active Member

    Posts: 352
    Seattle
    Ratings: +142 / 1
    Great pics and some awesome fall colors. Makes me miss fall fishing in east coast New England.
  3. Alex MacDonald Dr. of Doomology

    Posts: 3,336
    Haus Alpenrosa, Lederhosenland
    Ratings: +895 / 0
    both thumbs up, Steve! Great photos, great fish! Sounds like you're getting the area wired, too.
  4. John Hicks Owner and operator of Sea Run Pursuits

    Posts: 2,137
    Olympia
    Ratings: +182 / 1
    I used to live in Manchester and would fish northern NH all the time. I love fishing in the fall in New Hampshire.
  5. David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

    Posts: 1,997
    Walla Walla, WA
    Ratings: +783 / 0
  6. dryflylarry "Chasing Riseforms"

    Posts: 4,102
    Near the Fjord
    Ratings: +569 / 0
    Nice trip and report Steve. That looked like some fun there!
  7. Freestone Not to be confused with freestoneangler

    Posts: 2,366
    .
    Ratings: +1,215 / 0
    Fantastic report Steve! Looks like you got into some great fish. It is awesome that you'll now have a reason to bring a rod along on future visits. There is so much good water to explore up there you're going to have a blast.

    I fished up there a couple of summers ago and loved the feisty brookies. I expected it to be crowded but once I got 50 yards away from the parking/access areas, I never saw another soul. Lopstick Lodge is awesome and I'd love to stay there someday. I was camping NW-style (aka sleeping in the rental car) and while it is normal for me, it must not be done up there as everyone felt sorry for me. The wonderful Lopstick Lodge hostess adopted me and let me come to the lodge in the mornings for coffee and to use the internet to check in with home and work as I had no cell signal. I'll always be grateful and hopefully, I'll get back up there someday.
    Steve Knapp likes this.
  8. Steve Knapp Beach Bum

    Posts: 688
    Maple Valley
    Ratings: +262 / 3
    It was definitly a beautiful time of year, I couldn't ask for better fishing or weather. I can't wait to hit it again next year... and now I'll be looking for the big bruisers! They are a fun fish to chase, and I'm bringing a 4 wt switch to swing streamers... the grabs were awesome. We got them stripping streamers, on an even swing, and then on nymphs. Pretty fun to break down a run three different ways and find fish all over. I lucked out for sure.

    Now it's time for fall SRC... Looks like you found them Larry! Got me excited!
  9. Olive bugger Active Member

    Posts: 2,494
    Woodinville, WA
    Ratings: +438 / 0
    Great pictures. I had occasion to visit NH and managed a day of fishing. My success was not nearly as good as yours but it was a venture into nature and wonderful also. Thanks for posting.
  10. biker_dd Member

    Posts: 28
    Seattle
    Ratings: +43 / 0
    Steve,
    What a great trip. I grew up in New England, went to college in NH. I do miss it this time of year. It is beautiful in October, made all the more so by some very nice fish you landed! Money well spent on getting a guide, I'd say.

    Thanks for sharing.
  11. Steve Knapp Beach Bum

    Posts: 688
    Maple Valley
    Ratings: +262 / 3
    My wife went to school in NH as well, and I grew up chasing LM bass in Massachusetts cranberry ponds and striper on the coast. It's awesome to go home to visit, but we're hitting our 6th year here in WA and I'm not sure there is a better place to be. Neither of us even consider moving back now, but it's a great place to have to go every year. Especially since it's becoming a fishing trip disguised as a family trip.
  12. olypenjeeper Active Member

    Posts: 227
    Astoria Oregon
    Ratings: +27 / 0
    Nice pics and trip report! I've spent alittle bit of time up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and fishing and bumming around Vermont, my relatives live near Montpelier. Beautiful country up there, If I ever move back east it would hopefully be up there somewhere. Reminds me a lot of the PNW.
  13. triploidjunkie Active Member

    Posts: 2,393
    Grand Coulee, WA
    Ratings: +1,337 / 0
    Cool! Some of those landlocked really look similar to browns.
  14. cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    Posts: 1,722
    Olympia, WA
    Ratings: +244 / 0
    Hi Steve,
    I always like Atlantics. I spent two years chasing brookies and landlocked Atlantics on the West Branch of Penobscott in Maine when I live in Old Town, ME. Fall is just amazing in New England. Of course, you got in and out before all that water turned real hard..... Unless you have the coin to head to warmer climes in winter, the dark months there are time to tie flies. That's probably one fact that contributed to the development of elaborate Atlantic salmon flies - too much time in winter when one cannot fish.

    Steve
    Steve Knapp likes this.
  15. highangle I've got blisters on me fingers.

    Posts: 5
    Lake Stevens, WA
    Ratings: +4 / 0
    Thanks for the pics! I'm headed that way for 3 weeks of work and was wondering what to do with weekends - now I know!
  16. Steve Knapp Beach Bum

    Posts: 688
    Maple Valley
    Ratings: +262 / 3
    Steve, I have heard a lot about the LL's in Maine, but have never chased them. I'll have to add them to the list, I've read about 6 lb fish up there... I didn't see any fish of that size. I did however find a bigger fish that broke me off once the first afternoon, and then again the next morning... in the same slot of a tail out. Funny how it doesn't matter how many nice fish you net.... the obsession lies with the wicked strike, head shake, giant golden belly rolling in the middle of a boil, and then immediate slack line.... brain rattling... that was a huge fish... Huge.
    Pat Lat likes this.
  17. cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    Posts: 1,722
    Olympia, WA
    Ratings: +244 / 0
    Hi Steve,
    The name of the game for landlocked Atlantics in Maine was trolling streamers at ice out, especially in the big lakes. I did O.K. on the West Branch with streamers that mimic smelts, their major forage in rivers and lakes (see http://www.nesportsman.com/me/fish/Maine Smelt.shtml). Later in the summer, the landlocked Atlantics will feed on flies, especially caddis.

    During the two years that I lived in Maine, the main-stem Penobscot was open to fishing for searun Atlantics. Their numbers were abysmally low (and fishing was prohibited shortly after I moved to North Carolina) but there were folks who targeted them is a pretty traditional, organized fashion at well-known holes (an amazing contrast to the chaos that is Blue Creek...). While fishing a side channel of the Penobscot that forms the western edge of Old Town, I did manage to hook and release a 20" grilse, a small returning searun Atlantic, that took a black wooly bugger. I was actually targeting smallmouth, which are abundant (and introduced). It put up a great acrobatic fight, especially on a light flyrod, until I landed and released it.

    Yeah, the one that got away. That one fish can haunt you.

    Steve
  18. Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

    Posts: 2,317
    bellingham wa
    Ratings: +565 / 0
    Landlocks are the reason I started flyfishing and because we swung for them they are likely the reason I live in the PNW.
    We fished for them in college. Right in town there was a large tributary to the 6th great lake. Fish came up in the spring chasing bait and warm water and in the fall on their spawning run. The fall run had bigger fish, but I did catch some nice spring fish too. The winter fished for post spawn males that would stay in the river until spring.
    The fall fish were 80% 20-23 inches 2.5-5 lbs. They varied from snake like to football shaped. The largest I saw caught was an honest 9 lb hen caught by a friend who has a 12 lb fish on his wall.
    We fished marabou streamers in white, olive, pink and yellow- size 2 and 4.
    These fish jump as much as their name suggests. My only regret is that in my 6 or so years that I fished for them I only tried to fish dries once, although they did like a waking hornberg in the spring. I wasn't trying to wake though.
    There were regulations in place on the river where you could not put lead on your leader or fish a weighted fly. It resulted in nearly everyone rotating through pools and general good angler interactions as everyone was fishing the same,except the few who drifted whole smelt. The oddest thing that I saw was a gentleman who said he caught them nearly daily in the fall on chug bug bass topwater lures. I am sure that you could skate them up on bombers but I didn't know anything about it until after I had moved.
    They are great fish. If I were forced to leave the PNW I'd move to where there are Atlantics, either ocean or landlocked.

    Sox win,
    cds
  19. Steve Knapp Beach Bum

    Posts: 688
    Maple Valley
    Ratings: +262 / 3
    That is awesome, the guide said he's gotten them on dries when a decent hatch happens, but I didn't ask him about skating them up. Man, for the first time I may be willing to visit the in-laws twice a year!

    Papi with the GS... money.

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk now Free
  20. cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    Posts: 1,722
    Olympia, WA
    Ratings: +244 / 0
    Great night for the Sox!!!

    The late Ed Reif, who ran a fly shop and guide operation out of an extension off the back of his house in Bangor, developed a killer caddis fly that works really well in late summer (http://www.maineflyfish.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=1401) for landlocked searuns on the West Branch. You might not catch the bigger landlocks, but there will be rising fish.

    During that time, I skated up another grilse on a bomber during guided trip on the Margaree River in Nova Scotia. I didn't appreciate just how special that was at the time, but I have that fly over my fly tying desk. On that same trip, I watched another fisher sight fish a 5-6lb mature fish with an egg fly until it took.

    Steve