The Dreaded Offseason
December is a difficult month if you’re a fisherman … it’s the time of the year where we take stock of the season that just passed and look forward to the fishing season yet to come. A time for reflection in other words.
We are exactly three weeks away from the start of another fishing season here on the upper Connecticut River in New Hampshire, and while it seems more distant than that (it’s currently under 30 degrees and snowing lightly, with a good dose of the white stuff to come tomorrow, not to mention the below zero temps coming later this week), it will be here before we know it.
Clean your fly lines. Organize the multitude of fly boxes you carry around. Check your waders and make sure your boots are still functional. Even tie up some of the fly patterns that you have confidence in and cast most often with a never-ending sense of optimism. Don’t forget to buy your license too – it’s never good getting pinched by the fish cops on your first visit of the new season to the river.
It’s been a while since my last post, and I apologize for that. My fishing season ended just prior to the start of the grouse and woodcock seasons on October 1 – it was a very busy bird hunting season, striving to keep up with my pack of bird dogs, and the fly rods collected quite a layer of dust in their unused state. No late October trips to rivers that I enjoy in Vermont, and not even any North Country Fly Shop Esox Tour trips in November either. Unbelievable.
How was last fishing season? Probably depends on the eye of the beholder, but I thought it was mostly good. The river flows were steady until the end of the season, when a tremendous drought caused some havoc with the river.
For me, a season is judged not just by the amount or quality of fish caught and released, but also by the discovery and exploration of some new water. Some of it was up here on the Connecticut River, but I also had the good fortune of being turned on to some fishing just over the border in Maine that has me yearning for some return trips next summer. Being able to get out on the water with my wife and great friends was the proverbial “icing on the cake” for me as well – yes, it was a good year.
The one disappointment in my humble opinion was the less-than-stellar Hexagenia Hatch on Back Lake in 2017. Our weather was generally uncooperative during the hatch, and it seemed to greatly affect how and when the hatch came off. It still happened, but some of the best nights for the hatch appeared to happen well after dark (the evidence on the Tall Timber boat house suggested this). Let’s hope for a better Hex Hatch in 2018 …
I would love to hear from some of you about your observations from last year’s fishing season – it’s always good to read some fishing stories!