Last August, for vacation, my wife and I went to Pittsburg, NH for some relaxation and what I hoped would be some of the best fly fishing New England has to offer. We booked the Riffles cabin for late August, which is part of the Lopstick Lodge and Cabins resort. We chose Riffles because it is a beautiful cabin on a secluded property on Perry Stream. It’s a great spot to relax on the porch, listening to the sounds of Perry Stream. Riffles is also pet-friendly which is a must for us as we like to take our two Italian Greyhound mixes on vacation. The cabin itself is a two bedroom complete with fireplace, full kitchen and satellite tv.
Anyone who hasn’t been to Pittsburg, NH is really missing out. It’s an unspoiled paradise, unlike many of the touristy places in lower New Hampshire and the White Mountains. You don’t see too many boats on the lakes. I think it has remained special because it is a much longer drive from cities like Boston than the more popular places like the White Mountains. It is known for some of the best snowmobiling, fishing, and hunting in all of New England. We discovered it years ago when we were snowmobiling every weekend.
When we arrived at Lopstick we were greeted by the friendly staff at the front desk who were happy to greet our dogs and take their picture. During check in I got the latest fishing reports and what was hatching on the Connecticut River. I also found out that my wife had booked a half day guide service for me with Lopstick guide Bill Bernhardt. Talk about a perfect anniversary gift. Who needs another shirt or pair of sneakers when you can fish the Connecticut River with a local expert? Now I’m relatively new to fly fishing and have had some success on my own, but I was really looking forward to fishing with a guide.
On the day of my guide trip, I was greeted by the staff in the office with coffee, some paperwork, and some rental waders and boots. Guide Bill Bernhardt asked for my fly selection as he and the rest of the staff like to see the varied selection of flies that their guest is carrying. Bill picked out a couple of my own flies we would use and added some from the fly shop to match what had been working recently. After a brief talk, we hopped in Bill’s truck and headed to what is famously known as the “Trophy Stretch” of the Connecticut River. It was a rainy morning so we geared up appropriately with me borrowing a spare jacket from Bill. As we approached the river edge Bill explained how to read the river, looking at different flow rates and calm spots. He flipped over a rock to see what bugs were hatching. After a quick study of the conditions, we set up with a double nymph rig and indicator and started to look for a good spot to try our luck. In a short time and with Bill’s help I was pulling in my first rainbows and salmon. I quickly forgot that it was raining out because I was so excited to be on a great spot and seeing results so quickly. It was a very successful day on the river, in fact, it could have been even better if I was a little faster setting the hook. As the morning wore off, the sun began to show itself on what was a very memorable day fishing in one of the most beautiful places in New England. A special thank you goes to guide Bill Bernhardt for his patience, knowledge and unintimidating teaching style that taught me things that I will use my entire fishing career.
I highly recommend Lopstick Lodge and Cabins and their guide service to anyone looking for the ultimate fly fishing experience.
There are plenty of other great things to do in the great north woods when you’re not fishing as well. You can find plenty of great water to canoe, kayak, boat or swim in. You can rent or bring your own atv to ride the many trails. There is a network of hiking trails and the area is filled with wildlife viewing opportunities. At dusk and dawn, the chance of seeing a wild moose on route 3 is very high. So if you go there please be careful while driving. When you’re out looking for moose, don’t forget to visit Moose Alley cones for an ice cream before or after saying hello to Bullwinkle.
I’m looking forward to returning to Pittsburg in the summer to try out my Tenkara gear. Time to start planning and booking a cabin for 2017.
-Bill Holleran, Red Brook Tenkara