My head is still spinning from fishing in the morning that went less than perfect. Ok it was absolutely disappointing. However, I was still fishing while millions world-wide were unable to do so... in reality it couldn't be that bad. There are places I have the luxury of frequenting, then there are others I wish I could visit all the time. The one that stands out above the rest though is the Trophy Stretch up in Pittsburgh, NH off of the First Connecticut Lake.
July 2010, Craig and I had already planned on visiting Pittsburgh, NH. You see I love to fish, Craig did all the research into this trip. What I've wanted to accomplish was to take on as many New England spots within my first year of learning. I love to explore and enjoy keeping these sacred times so close to me. Craig had done it, he found this absolutely great spot. Instead of camping like we normally do we reserved a cabin with The Cabins at Lopstick. Not only are they accurate and give great details of all their cabins, there are photos, video tour, testimonials as well and they are absolutely accurately portrayed. They are situated directly across from First Connecticut Lake, many cabins have beautiful water views. Giving their location, they are in a prime spot to hop on and into the River, Lake, and Streams...
Timing for this trip could not of come any better of a time either. July 20th I was part of a major lay-off with a health insurance company, in this lay-off I was scheduled to return to the company in a promoted position. On the drive up, I was delivered a tough blow. "The position is frozen, we will not be asking you to come back. Sorry." Sorry doesn't feed my daughters, sorry doesn't do anything for my worries. Fishing would cure that this weekend.
Map of the Trophy Stretch from Cabin's of Lopstick site.
Upon arrival, we very quickly checked in, got our licenses and hit the first spot..we went up by the Dam pool and it was a steep climb down and ended up by the Judge and Jury Box....Not sure were that name comes from. Temperature was decent and the sun was setting. At this spot Craig and I were navigating getting down, I can't recall at what CFS the river was flowing but it was a tough navigation through for me, stronger than what I'm used to but wasn't as tough as the White River in Vermont earlier where we went "Swimming' multiple times.
It really is truly sad I can't recall how many times we hooked up that night, that night it was more about decompressing from the emotional blow and allowing myself to take in the beauty of this area. I fished many long narrow swift sections that were fairly shallow, I did get a Rainbow that night. I had a gentleman not take to kindly to me hooking up after a few moments, he took off and didn't even say Hi.
* I'm actually getting used to the fact that there are some men who do not want to accept that women can and enjoy to flyfish too. Which is their loss as we all have the rights to enjoy this amazing art*
As dusk quickly crept in over the trees, I called back to Craig unsure if I heard a response, we saw each other and he knew I was done for the evening. After getting to the side and now in the brush it was pitch black I decided, headlamps are a much needed necessity, and we need those pronto. I also realized I could not navigate the same trail down and needed to get up...straight up and just get to the car, eventually he will too....right?
After what seemed to take 35 minutes, I made it to the main road, trekking along to the car in my waders with my gear. I made it to the car and there was no Craig. This wasn't good...in my mind I was thinking of fast water he had to cross it in the dark if he called out I couldn't hear etc. I waited and waited and finally decided to walk part of the original trail back calling etc. EVENTUALLY we met up. LESSON LEARNED.
The following morning, we got up early ready to explore the remainder of the stretch, again if you refer to the map:
We started around the Covered Bridge, walked underneath and slowly worked our way until the Step Pools... the wind was changing making casting difficult for me. We did however get to see some wildlife including this little dialogue:
Craig: "Wow did you see that bald eagle?"
Me: "Yes, beautiful."
Me: "Good eyes honey."
Craig looks back nonchalantly semi-eye roll: "You don't need good eyes to see a B-52 dive bomb your head."
Me: "Good point" and we carried on...
At the end of the day we had to run into town, I was driving him crazy with my need to see a moose. He was still doing the eye-roll (which I counted how many times) we finally drove 20 miles to get to a store for food and on return we were giggling over the 4x4's with their spotlights on the woods looking for moose. Well, we didn't need a spotlight, our headlights did wonders...just in time too. I was so captivated by the size...they really are large! Our car was between 30-40' from this incredible bull...or cow...I'm going to say bull it was huge. (Summer time no antlers ;) )
After our close encounter, we returned to driving the speed limit, and no longer giggled about those with spotlights...well just a little.
Our final morning, we decided to return to the covered bridge and fish that area, and take more time to really enjoy. This was our last day before our 6/7 hour drive back to RI. Wind was still present but not as strong. We enjoyed the many pools around, however I did more than Craig.
This is the only trip I didn't just out fish him, I really out performed and being how competitive he is, this wasn't going over to well with him. On the last hour or so of fishing I was taking a break talking to a gentleman who lives in New York that frequents this stretch multiple times a summer. It was so refreshing to talk to someone who has been doing this for years and years and listen to his stories. We discussed fish conservation, he is a member of Trout Unlimited and was educating me on some spots in this area to try out before we headed out for good.
While discussing and watching Craig miss after miss a person from the N.H. Department of Fish and Game approached a bridge we were standing on and off loaded so many fish. How many did Craig take? 0. This is not result in a happy mood... I however, got a few rainbows out of the ordeal...
Mr. NY told us where Mr Fish Stocker lived and said there was stocked fish in a great wide open area so we drove down Route 3 to River Rd and turned into a small residential area, we lucked out... We pulled into a persons driveway who lived directly on the river 3 homes away from "Mr Fish Stocker" we fished here for over an hour and let me tell you I wish I had a catheter..waders are not female friendly, nor was the location. It was gorgeous with big beautiful healthy trout all around, Craig landed one and lost one here and he felt redeemed. Mr Fish Stocker was playing fetch with his dog and sent a passing wave. We were truly blessed to be here enjoying what nature provided and learned so much.
Since our New Hampshire trip we have gone to other states frequenting Connecticut's Farmington River many times and call that our "retirement home." We want to call Montanaourretirement home. We are traveling out there July 17-27th and while I want to land as many trout as possible I'm so excited to visit Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas and just really mesh with nature and with that I want this experience to enrich what I've learned and teach me so much more that I can bring back to Rhode Island. I want to bring this back to my daughters, to bring back to our local Trout Unlimited and community. Of course I will be live blogging all during this trip!
On a sad note, Atlantic Salmon and coldwater trout that reside in these waters on at such a devastating decline and the Atlantic Salmon is listed under the endangered species act. While populations decline due to contaminated habitats it pushes an urgency to educate and protect. While standing on the rock's off of River Rd, my boots were getting covered with didymo (Rock Snot Pictured Here)
Even if you do not suspect there has been any Rock Snot in your area you need to do the following:
CHECK – Remove all visible clumps of algae and plant material from fishing gear, waders,
clothing, water shoes and sandals, canoes and kayaks, and anything else that has been in the
CLEAN – Soak and scrub all items for at least 10 minutes in very hot water with lots of soap.
Felt-soled waders need 30 minutes!
If you are unsure if this has been reported, please contact the local Department of Environmental Services so they can come out and research/test the waters.
Rock Snot is not the sole reason why Atlantic Salmon and cold-water trout are on the decline, but it is an important one that shows little to no signs of improving and with your efforts and joining forces with local agencies and Trout Unlimited we can protect our fish and our waters so that others like myself and future generations can enjoy this magnificent art for generations to come.
Please view the photos below and enjoy! I love comments, so please post away and I will respond promptly!
View from our Cabin looking out to First Connecticut Lake from The Cabins at Lopstick
Our fridge properly stocked and ready to go!
Craig fishing into a decent pool below the Dam Pool
Going down the stretch above Doc's pool. Showers on and off and just serene
Fast Waters didn't deter us or the fish plenty of catching and missing here