10/7/12 AM: Echo Lake, Franconia
Conditions: overcast with sunny breaks, lt. breeze, 40s-50s
Equipment: fly rod with sinking line, set up for trolling
On Columbus Day Weekend, I found a need to wrap myself in fall color, scenery and good fishing. Echo Lake in Franconia fits that bill perfectly. The little lake is a trout water at the foot of Cannon Mountain, not far from the aerial tramway with a view of where Jean-Claude Killy raced in the late 60s. The mountain itself is rich in history and lore, sitting in one of New Hampshire’s most dramatic pieces of scenery, Franconia Notch.
I slid the kayak in early morning, before the highway that borders the little lake really started to hum with leaf peepers. Echo Lake gets a good stocking of brook trout, and broodstock size fish can be caught here. I started dragging a green heron streamer with good results. Looking for size, I up-sized to an egg-sucking leech, and then to a 3″ Aziscohas smelt in purple. No real big fish (they can run to around 19″ on occasion here) but I caught and released a bunch of nice trout, including a 12″ kype-jawed male in spectacular spawning colors that attacked the streamer with gusto.
Getting off the water around noon, I stopped by Profile Lake, literally across the Cannon Tram parking lot, just below where the Old Man of the Mountain used to jut his chin. It’s another spectacular spot with good access. Profile is a fly-fishing only pond. According to NH Fish & Game’s Trophy Fish records, some big brook trout have come out of here. It’s a neat spot, but I understand the trout can be very selective at times. I decided I needed to get away from the road and got back in the truck for a run to one of my favorite places to fish in the fall, the Pemi in Bristol.
10/7/12 PM: Pemigewasset River, Bristol
Conditions: partly sunny, lt. breeze, 60s
Equipment: 4 wt. fly rod, floating line
Baits: streamers, wet and dry flies
Hop off Route 93 at Exit 23, and instead of heading to Lake Winnipesaukee, head west towards Bristol. One side of the little downtown is bordered by the Pemigewasset River. There is a nice run that can be accessed from Coolidge Woods Road, below the Ayers Island Dam. It’s a swift-water and the Newfound River tumbles into it from downtown Bristol. There are nice pockets here as well as some interesting runs and pools. This is also one of the prime places to chase broodstock Atlantic salmon, stocked here by NH Fish & Game. Some of these broodstock are reported to be of astounding size. Now, I’ve never caught one of these and am not sure what I’d do if I did, but the anticipation of such possibility, while wading this gorgeous water, enveloped in rushing sound and autumn’s glow is an extreme pleasure. There are also can be some enthusiastic rainbow trout here that seem to like terrestrials and wet flies.
Now… I’ll admit, my waders weren’t in good condition, so I didn’t want to wade too deeply. This limited my access, so I went further downriver to where the swift water slows. There’s a nice spot where the river makes a banked corner by some huge granite ledges that have been smoothed by eons of flowing water. The granite is a good spot to stand and cast. After getting a little more in the groove cast-wise I sat to switch flies and heard a splashy take close by. Creek chubs were working an eddy, so I decided to play, switching to a dry. Figuring out fish can be fun, even if they’re not huge broodstock salmon. So… after a while, I left the river satisfied with that wonderful, tiredness that one gets from a full day outdoors. And… I could say that I hadn’t been skunked.