I used a vacation day and on a chilly, rainy June afternoon took a trip to the Piscataquog out in New Boston with two old newspaper friends, former publisher of mine and a news service bureau chief. I say “trip” because there’s a glamour to the word that suggests exotic, dramatic, notable. Now, it takes me less than 25 minutes to get out to New Boston from my place in Manchester, but truth is, fly fishing the Piscataquog in this quintessential New England village is travel and is exotic – even if you’re only coming over from Manchester. It ought to be in a Lonely Planet guidebook or on the Travel Channel. (Perhaps it has been in both.) But being lucky enough to live here in New Hampshire, it’s easy to take something like little New England villages and picturesque trout streams … for granted.
It’s tempting after an afternoon like this, when I’ve just been reminded how astoundingly cool our home turf can be, to recount the whole business in glorious (if you’re the teller), monotonous (if you’re the listener) fish-by-fish detail, but instead a few pictures, a few bullet points and impressions, and that’s it. Wouldn’t want to make it sound too tempting or the river might get crowded.
- The center of New Boston is iconic. A winding drive out through the woods and along the river from Goffstown. American flags line the road as you come into town, hung for Memorial Day, perhaps. Out front of Dodge’s Store there are benches, and if you order sandwiches from the deli and sit out there you’re likely to hear some good talk from local guys, older fellas in baseball caps who know all the people coming in and out. We sat and ate our sandwiches, watched the rain, talked about the kids (mine little, just walking, taking up their first sports, theirs older, just graduating from college). The chicken salad with cranberries and walnuts was good.
- The river flows from 34.7 miles from the Deering Reservoir to meet the Merrimack River in Manchester.
- There are great places to fish south of town, catch-and-release this time of year, but you can also fish right down through the middle of town. That’s what we did. We caught brookies, browns, rainbows.
- Without an obvious hatch to match, I’ve caught fish in here on caddis, and there are big stoneflies, but an olive bead-head wooly-bugger is always a good bet. Especially when the water’s high. It’s been raining a week straight. The water was high.
- Under the bridges, you smell creosote and ozone from the churning water and it reminds you of all the other bridges you’ve fished under in your life.
- Piscataquog can be translated “the place of the dark river”
- You clamber down a bank, over embankment stones, through brush and whippy branches and emerald green leaves and spider webs jeweled with rain drops.
- When a fish takes your fly, somewhere deep the fly line goes taut and time stops.
- You wish there was time at the end to find a local tavern, drink a Scotch whiskey and talk about the fishing, your families, your work, afterward, but there’s not. Because the fishing was good enough so you didn’t want to leave the river until the clock ran out. Then it’s done and a quick handshake and off for home, dinner, work email, put the kids to bed.
And that’s the post. If you want to learn more, drive out to New Boston some misty dawn, park in front of the town hall, and walk up the road to the river. Explore. If you want to read something about the Piscataquog, here are a few places to start:
- A good blog about fly fishing in New England
- About the delayed harvest zone
- The Wikipedia entry
- New Boston Historical Society