Excellent Practice Location [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

Excellent Practice Location

04-14-2003, 09:18 AM
Just wanted to mention for those in the NE US that there is an excellent location for practicing spey fishing in Bristol, NH on the Pemmigewasset River, headwaters for the Merrimac where most go today for this purpose. The Pemi is 200' across right now in some spots, in summer it should be about 175-185' in the same spots, probably averaging 150 for most of the Coolidge Woods stretch. Because it's a huge tailwater river with flows coming out of the bottom of the upper Pemi dam, the water temps stay cool all year and it provides good habitat for the brood atlantics used for the restoration programs in the area as well as trout and smallmouth bass. Although the shoreline is typically New Englandish in terms of lack of sprawling gravel moraines >sigh< the water is crisp, bright and the pronounced boulder gardens plentiful. It's an ideal river for doing a float with a short stretch or long stretch option. The river is uninhabited for the most part and I watched a golden eagle overhead yesterday while my fly made a swing into a sweet outside bend seam.

Although it's hardly a "classic" atlantic salmon river it would be if not for the dams and demise of the original salmo salar runs that were rumored to be legendary in the river system at one time. It's not "real" salmon fishing but 40 minutes from White River Junct. Vermont, 90 minutes from Boston, cheap lodging, decent places to eat, etc - make it a nice place to stay in the swing of things between each trip to the salmo meccas of the north. I practice spey casting in frog ponds so this is a nice step up, and there's nothing wrong with the possibility of a big tug when I'm practicing even if they are far from native salmon of the north and across the atlantic.

Flows are a bit high right now but as the season progresses into spring and summer it should prove to be a haven for New Englander's wanting to get a day trip of quality spey casting and a sense of being removed from the urban world that is hard to find in these proportions this close to home.


04-14-2003, 07:26 PM
I second your praise of the Pemi Juro. Without a doubt.

I also wanted to thank you, John (macspey) and Eddie for your advice, patience and good company. I had a great day and I will be back on the Pemi in a few weeks.

Juro, as we discussed you should definitely sign me up for a CND rod. I am very eager to test out the rod and get into fish both on the Pemi and on Joppa.

Here are some pics from yesterday - the 1st two were with my polarizing filter and the 3rd is not. I like the filter - good water shots.

Juro watches John throw some line:

Nice D loop:

Here with Eddie on the near shore:

04-15-2003, 09:13 AM
I'll sure echo the opinions of Juro and Mike- the Pemi is a great stretch of water for some spey practice, with the bonus of possibly hooking up with a fat broodstock salmon. Right in my backyard, too, I want to thank Juro for the motivation to finally get over there, after thinking about it for several years. I really enjoyed the day, meeting Eddie, Mike, and Juro, great guys all. Juro generously and skillfully spent time with each of us, starting with the 'Derek Brown swing' , and giving us tips on getting our D-loops working properly. It was great to get a look at the CND rods, very impressive, the pricing is unbelievable! I look forward to adding one to my arsenal, for sure. All in all, a great day, including getting inspired about Striper fishing, as Eddie, Juro, and Mike proved to be Striper Fanatics, a wealth of expertise. And Juro's tide charts for the Cape in his PDA- beautiful!! Talk about appropriate technology- really...

Hope we can put together another gathering on the Pemi after she settles down a bit, I should be able to get over there periodically, and will post conditions. Nice photos, Mike! Sorry about the lame D-loop!!


04-15-2003, 10:02 AM
Nice pics of the Newfound River basin Mike! This stream joins the Pemi about 1-2 miles down the road, along with several other oxygenated sources in the Coolidge Woods stretch. Aside from providing a comfortable spey practice pool for us it is a good trout and landlocked river from this basin up to the outflow of Newfound lake until it warms up when the fish scoot back into the pristine lake.

I spoke with the NH F&W and learned that due to the quality conditions on the Pemi, nearly half of the 3000-3500 brood and sea-run (limited numbers) are recycled into this section (Ayers Island to Franklin Dam) after spawning each year. There has been evidence that salmon holdover in this stretch, and there is a reasonable amount of forage in the form of shiners, chubs and other river minnows.

It's really sad that this stretch is unavailable to sea run atlantics - the end of the line is Amoskeag in Manchester, even if they did run the gauntlet from Lawrence / Lowell successfully. I have a feeling the historic spawning activity occurred up around Woodstock and higher where the river bottom changes over to gravel moraines, and reaching that stretch would be harder still - but the many tribs offer much promise if the fish passage was there.

Tribs of the Mac and Pemi have been attracting sea-runs for the cooler and oxygenated water, some of which are good spawning candidates e.g. Souhegan if Merrimac had passage, etc.

There is a review of the handling of salmon open to the public on Thursday April 24th in Public Serv. Energy Park, Manchester where the group responsible for fish management (oxymoron) CHI Energy Inc. is responding to the Merrimac River Anadramous Fish Restoration group. CHI is responsible for fish passage systems, which appears to the observer to have not completely ineffective IMHO. It starts at 10am and runs until 1pm so if you are in the area take a long lunch, I plan on attending.

Adopt a river!

04-15-2003, 10:08 AM
Eddie -

left-side snake roll -kewl!