I slipped across country yesterday and find myself in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. I’ll be here through Memorial Day weekend. I haven’t mentioned this excursion because my mom reads my blog and this trip is a surprise visit for her 70th birthday. Its out of the bag now however, she was really excited and this will be a fun week with not just her, but also many more members of my family. Naturally, on top of all the catching up with everyone, I’ll also be dunking some flies.
Wolfeboro, NH is located on Lake Winnipesaukee, New England’s largest lake. My great grand parents purchased a camp here in the 1920’s and nearly 100 years later it’s still in the family. I spent a good portion of my childhood summers at the camp fishing with my grandfather, dad, uncles, brother and sister and my cousins. Fishing was in fact most of what we did those wonderful summers. We had superb smallmouth bass fishing, pumpkinseed sunfish, chain pickerel, yellow perch and the list of species goes on, right off the end of our dock. I couldn’t help but grow up loving fishing.
Now my grand parents and uncles are gone. My dad isn’t able to fish much anymore and my cousins and brother are too busy with their families and jobs. My sister and her husband fish, but they’re busy too. I’m the only one that continues to fish nonstop. My goal this week will be to perhaps get my family out fishing a little bit with me.
Today time was limited. First thing in order was to walk right in my parent’s house and shock them. Even though its moms birthday surprise, my dad didn’t know I was coming either. After some good visiting I got my NH fishing license and went over to the camp and met up with my sister, Becky, for some fishing. The same old green canoe I grew up paddling was lying in the woods. The old Old Town appeared in rough condition, covered with leaves and moss but only because it sadly doesn’t get used anymore. We dropped it in the water and in a matter of minutes I was back in time.
The first move in order was to paddle to some of my old smallmouth spots and try a custom popper made by one of my CA buddies, Ben Byng. I didn’t really have any idea what to expect. Few fisheries are “the way it used to be” so my expectations were low. Our cottage is next to Goodhue and Hawkins Boatyard and just past it is my first good spot – 30 years ago anyhow. The big lake was calm and the temp was a muggy 80°s. I steered Becky around and watched her chuck her popper. She’s a heck of a fly fisher in her own but even so, watching her popper made me pull out mine. I made a few pokes and quickly hooked up to what I thought was a 10” smallmouth. Surprise – it was a rock bass. The first fish of the trip was a specie that did not exist in Lake Winnipesaukee when I grew up here!
Becky and I caught several rock bass. Then I gurgled my popper up against a boat dock and like a trout sucking down a stonefly, a respectable smallmouth took my popper. A moment later I lipped the gorgeous fish and Becky shot this nice pic.
We intended on fishing a short distance from the camp and for just a couple hours. However, to my delight the fishing was far better than I expected. Becky and I ended up paddling several miles and fished about six hours. We landed over a dozen smallies from 10” to 16”, six or so rock bass and a largemouth, all of which ate the poppers.
One other fun thing happened today also. I will toot my horn on this. When I was a kid I was one of the best at catching turtles, frogs and snakes. Becky and I snuck into one of my old largemouth haunts today and saw few turtles on logs. Becky is a lot younger and I bragged to her about my skills in the old days. Then I coached her on one. She messed it up and I gave her a hard time. Naturally when we saw the next turtle she put me on the spot. I nailed the cute little painted turtle. Of course after the pictures we let the colorful little fella right back where I caught him.