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A good fishing companion is a valuable asset to anyone fishing ponds for trout. If two men work together, the time required to find the right combinations of fly and depth and retrieve will be reduced. If the trout are reluctant to hit, each man should try different patterns and sizes and each should announce to the other what he is using, so there is no duplication of effort. Also, the speed of the retrieve should be varied, as well as the depth to which the fly is allowed to sink.
Fly-fishing at night on trout ponds is a much-neglected sport. Legion are those who will brave the chill mists of predawn as they assemble their rods for a day on a trout pond. Admittedly, the early morning often produces excellent fishing, but so do the hours after dark. One of the loveliest rainbow and brook trout lakes in New Hampshire is Long Pond in Croydon. It is accessible by car and has a boat-launching area. Often I have gone there in the summer an hour or so before the sunset, just in time to watch the fellows who had been there all day fish the evening rise, then depart as the sun slipped down out of sight. I have had the entire lake to myself when full darkness came. And in that darkness I have enjoyed topnotch dry-fly fishing. This, I hasten to add, applied only to the rainbows. Brook trout, to the best of my knowledge, do not feed during the night. Browns, of course, feed during the night as well as the day.
Legal night fishing for trout in the U.S. is the rule rather than the exception. Eighteen states have no restrictions; twelve more permit 24-hour fishing with some exceptions; seven allow fishing in the early evening with exceptions. The 13 remaining states have only a few scattered trout or none at all. New Hampshire permits trout fishing two hours after sunset.
Night fly casting is not an occupation for the novice. The mechanics of it must have been mastered and the ability to strike at the proper time is almost instinctive. I keep a lantern in the canoe while working for rainbows at night to assist me in handling hooked fish and in changing flies, and the light does not appear to trouble the fish. This does not apply in all rainbow waters—a veteran fly-fisherman from New Zealand wrote me that if a light is shown on any of the rainbow rivers he fishes at night the trout won't hit.
Daylight hours in hot weather provide the supreme test of a fly-fisherman's skill. Trout feed less and with more selectivity as the water grows warmer, and a fisherman must be alert and aggressive if he is to take fish consistently under such conditions.
A fishing trip Vic and I took in 1964 provided a good example of some of the difficulties encountered in warm weather.
Although it was only late May, the temperature was in the 70s at 9 a.m. when our jeep reached the shore of March Pond in Hill, N.H. We had been grinding slowly over a logging road for half an hour. Black flies and mosquitoes swarmed about our heads as we stood looking out over the water. One trout rose 10 feet from shore, then another came up 20 yards away.
Nine-acre March Pond contains both rainbows and brook trout, and it varies from three to 20 feet in depth.
The sky remained cloudless most of the day, but there was one blessing—a breeze blew from moderate to strong, keeping us fairly comfortable and ruffling the water. The conditions were challenging, but by midafternoon we had caught 30 fish, mostly rainbows, and released 15 of the smaller ones. During that time six other anglers—an unusually high number for a remote water—had tried their luck and departed without taking a trout.
The day at March Pond began awkwardly for me. Even though a few trout were still rising to the end of an early-morning hatch, both of us chose to use wet lines. I tied on a small wet Professor and made one cast, retrieving after the line went down a few feet or so. A good fish hit before I had moved the fly a yard. I reacted too sharply and the fly and the 14-foot leader, with its 4X tippet, parted company.