Straight talk from a Guide

Posted by bs - September 20, 2017 - landlocked salmon, Trophy Stretch, Upper Connecticut River - 2 Comments

I know that sounds like an oxymoron, and don’t worry, I’m a guide, so I can say that. The guide I speak of is Chuck Degray of North Country Fly Shop & Guide Service, and he has been plying the upper Connecticut River in search of trout and salmon for his clients this week. In short, things are picking up on the fishing front – get up here, as our season is now only a little over three weeks away from concluding.

A little background on our conditions this week, and for what may be the foreseeable future …

The weather has been unusually warm and sunny over the last week and a half, and it looks like more of the same for the next week. Temps have been reaching the mid 70’s to low 80’s lately – a far better stretch of weather than we’ve had at any point this summer. Nice if you’re vacationing, but not necessarily of you’re fishing, and definitely not if you’re trying to get your bird dogs ready for the upcoming grouse season!

The river flows in the stretches have changed a bit in the last week as well, and this seems to have made a positive impact on the angling.

The flow at Second Connecticut Lake Dam was raised from 80 CFS to 110 CFS last weekend, while First Connecticut Lake Dam saw a rise from 150 CFS to approximately 200 CFS. In either case, it doesn’t sound like that much would be different, but that modest raise in river flow has made for some favorable conditions for landlocked salmon to come up river from First Connecticut Lake and Lake Francis.

The salmon are “in” on the Trophy Stretch and the “No Kill” Stretch, and some mighty hefty ones at that. Don’t get too excited, folks – they’re not all the same size as the one pictured above. That fish was a spectacular specimen (22″), caught on a soft hackle wet fly, delicately presented, and just as delicately released. Sounds like the flows in these stretches will remain constant through the end of this month, and then we’ll see what October brings us for weather.

Murphy Dam’s flow at Lake Francis was brought down last week from 400 CFS to 300 CFS, so that is a sizable change, and you can bet that the fish down there are hunkered down and feeding selectively, when they feel safest. Early morning and later in the evening might be your best bet for pursuing our fishy friends down there.

As for what is happening, Chuck Degray has provided his thoughts below, and I have transcribed them to the best of my ability. If it doesn’t sound right, perhaps getting the straight poop from the horse’s mouth would be your next step.

“As I sit here at the vise, thinking about the last couple of days, they have not been your typical salmon fishing days (bright sunshine and blue skies). We have found that mixing up techniques and varied retrieves have been paying off. Also, don’t overlook the tail end of pools …

The shorter daylight hours and a slight increase of water flows out of 1st Lake Dam and 2nd Lake Dam have triggered some salmon to start their annual run. Fly selections for this last week have been all over the place depending on the type of water we have been fishing. Soft Hackle Streamers in olive, Black UV Midge, UV Caddis Pupas in olive and tan, Angus Boezeman’s “Red & Black”, Soft Hackle Hare’s Ear, BWO Gill Nymph, Olive Pheasant Tail, UV Soft Hackle wet flies …

And always bring flies that you have confidence in … you’ll fish them harder.”

That is some grade A advice right there, from one of the north country’s best guides.

Only three weeks left in our season folks – get up here before it’s OVAH!


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