Tuesday, July 19, 2022
HomeHikingBackpacking and Fly Fishing the Dry River

Backpacking and Fly Fishing the Dry River


The Dry River is without doubt one of the wildest elements of the White Mountain Nationwide Forest, positioned beneath Mt Washington within the Presidential Vary-Dry River Wilderness Space. Probably the most direct method to entry it’s by following the Dry River Path, which runs alongside the river and detours up and down the various landslides that scar the river valley’s sides. Since this path is in a nationally designated Wilderness Space, it isn’t blazed in any respect, it has minimal signage, and isn’t maintained to the identical normal as extra fashionable or accessible trails. It’s additionally sparsely used compared to different areas of the Nationwide Forest, so it has solitude in abundance, which is why I discover myself drawn again to it again and again.

Dry River Path

Whereas I’ve fished the Dry River prior to now, I’ve by no means taken a visit the place it was my major aim and I felt free to spend all day fishing alongside its boulder-strewn banks. So I loaded up my Tenkara Fly Fishing Gear and my hammock and headed up river, pausing often to work my method right down to the river banks to fish the extra accessible swimming pools and runs for brook trout.

I don’t know why the Dry River is known as the way in which it’s, as a result of it at all times has water, even when the remainder of the rivers within the Whites are operating low. That is even though the Dry River Valley is pretty slim and doesn’t have a big watershed, in comparison with a lot bigger rivers just like the Saco or the Swift. I’ve at all times assumed that the water “comes” from Mt Washington, both from springs or precipitation, since “George” is positioned simply past the Oakes Gulf Headwall on the high of the Dry River Valley.

Tenkara fishing gear is compact and lightweight
Tenkara fishing gear is compact and light-weight.

My plan on this journey was to hike as much as the Mt Eisenhower Path path junction (5.2 miles w/ 1550′ elevation acquire) on day 1, taking my time. The final time I’d hiked up the Dry River Path and fished the river, was about 2 years in the past, once I fished the swimming pools and pour overs beneath this junction and camped streamside. That had been in September, so late within the season, and I’d used dry flies to catch and launch the smaller brook trout that reside excessive up the river, near its supply.

I’ve been fishing dry flies for near a month on different White Mountain rivers, in order that’s largely what I introduced on this journey. These are tied with thread and animal hair, together with elk or moose, so that they float on the floor of the water like a moth that’s landed on the floor and might’t take off as a result of its wings are moist. They’re very easy to tie and also you don’t must exit of your method to make them appear to be any particular bug, as a result of the trout aren’t picky…particularly New Hampshire trout.

The Dry River is full of boulders
The Dry River is stuffed with boulders

I acquired an early begin and headed up the path, passing the Wilderness boundary and climbing up and across the landslides which have obliterated the outdated path. The perimeters of the Dry River valley are slowly eroding and dumping their particles into the river mattress, which resembles an enormous boulder backyard filled with pour-overs, swimming pools, and runs. Fishing the river requires loads of scrambling from place to position and isn’t an informal cast-and-wait sort of affair.

As I hiked up the path, I burst out laughing at among the detours that the path takes round and thru these landslides, if solely as a result of they had been detours across the detours that I encountered the final time I’d been up the path two years earlier. The Dry River “Path,” in quotes, shouldn’t be for the faint of coronary heart or for anybody afraid of heights, for the matter, as there are some sketchy-sketchy bypasses of landslides that journey proper throughout free particles fields, lots of of ft above the river mattress.

Landslides and erosion make it difficult to reach the water.
Landslides and erosion could make it tough to achieve the water.

I dropped right down to the river a number of instances to fish tantalizing stretches of trout water and whereas I used to be getting dozens of hits, I didn’t land many brook trout. Each river is completely different, so I began altering my techniques attempting to determine how one can improve my success charge. For instance, I rotated via the completely different flies I’d introduced attempting to see if the fish had a choice for one sort over one other. Then I switched to smaller flies as a result of I suspected the trout could be too small (as in younger) to swallow my flies. Nothing made a lot of a distinction.

My success charge improved once I acquired as much as the Mt Eisenhower Path junction the place the river is way smaller and fewer highly effective, however that would have additionally been a time of day impact since trout prefer to feed within the late afternoon higher than at noon. I fished for about an hour right here and had a lot better luck whereas scrambling alongside the banks to get to smaller swimming pools and searching for a very good campsite to hold my hammock.

The river is much smaller at the Mt Eisenhower Trail ford
The river is way smaller on the Mt Eisenhower Path ford

I didn’t discover something I actually favored on the river, so I hiked uphill a close-by a USFS-designated campsite that I’ve camped at earlier than that’s positioned simply above the Isolation West Path junction. It’d been expanded since I used to be there final (from overuse), however I discovered a secluded spot with a very good breeze and a view of Crawford Notch for the evening. I arrange my hammock, cooked dinner, hung my bear bag, and known as it a day. I used to be the one particular person there that evening.

I found a nice spot to hang my hammock.
I discovered a pleasant spot to hold my hammock.

After breakfast the following morning, I packed up and headed out decided to offer the river one other likelihood. The morning was overcast, which was good as a result of the river rocks warmth up in robust daylight and fish are typically extra energetic in cloudy climate. As I hiked, I discovered it a lot simpler to search out locations the place I may get right down to the water to strive fishing than on the day gone by.

Relatively than drops or swimming pools, I targeted on getting right down to sections that had a future after a shallow drop.  There could be a number of of those in a row, 100 yards or extra lengthy, making it straightforward to go from one to the following. I additionally placed on a for much longer tippet (going from 2-3 ft to six ft), the practically invisible line connecting the excessive visibility backer to the hook so I may let the fly drift extra.

The river runs for miles through a vast boulder field.
The river runs for miles via an unlimited boulder discipline.

These adjustments labored properly and I used to be quickly catching just a few trout in every run earlier than transferring to the following one upstream. I nonetheless had just a few battles, the place one fish would repeatedly hit the fly and spit it out earlier than I may set the hook, however I’d simply transfer to a unique spot on the river after which come again later and check out some extra. Fishing with barbless hooks is much more tough since you lose extra fish, however it doesn’t maim the fish within the course of.

Fishing with a really lengthy tippet is somewhat tough as a result of it’s tougher to evaluate the place the fly is, by way of water depth. Whereas I used to be fishing floor flies which ought to have floated the entire time, they did sink after they acquired moist sufficient, so I may fish them beneath the floor in deeper water to be a focus for larger trout once I may see them. Polarized sun shades make it a lot simpler to see what’s lurking in shallow water so you realize the place the fish are.

The Dry River Trail runs high above the river.
The Dry River Path runs excessive above the river.

I exploit a excessive visibility Tenkara line once I fish, which is hooked up to a clear one (a tippet), which is tied to a fly (a simulated bug with a hook within the center). The tippet is designed to interrupt in the event you catch a heavy sea monster, so that you’re rod doesn’t break, however it is usually laborious for fish to see, so the bug on the finish seems extra sensible.

The connection between the Tenkara Line and the tippet is an enormous knot you can see if you’re fishing, and which helps you estimate the depth of the tippet and fly. So along with fishing the floor, the place fish breach the water to chunk a fly, I used to be fishing the water column with a view to get the bigger trout hovering in deeper sections.

Trout are beautiful and wild.
Trout are stunning and wild.

All these adjustments resulted in a a lot greater catch charge and I deemed my journey to fish the Dry River successful. There’s no assure that this method work the following time I go to the Dry River, however that’s a part of the problem. There’s a piece of the river not readily accessible by path that I wish to nonetheless discover and fish so a follow-up journey is within the playing cards. There are simply a half-dozen rivers just like the Dry River inside a 30-minute drive from my place within the White Mountains Nationwide Forest, however I’m now hooked on the Dry River and count on to return quickly.

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