Conway — August 28, 2007 — With the onset of warmer water it is time to put the trout rod away and pick up the bass rod.
As much as I love trout fishing, I also have a soft spot in my heart for the black bass. There are few angling experiences that can top sitting in a canoe in the dead of night waiting for “Old Man Bass” to inhale your deer hair popper. In the dim light it is hard to see your fly on the water, but there is no mistaking the feel of the strike.
No gentle sipping of the fly like a trout. This is an all-out assault, and the water explodes at the point of attack. Your heart tries to free itself from your chest as you try to keep the rod from being pulled from your hands. Those with weak hearts should stick to golf.
Visitors to our valley and many locals as well generally think of trout fishing when they fish the area. Many are surprised to find out how much good bass fishing is available to them. True, there is not much bass water in the White Mountains, but just a few miles south there is an abundance of good bass lakes.
Perhaps the closest is Conway Lake. This lake, with its many rocky coves, is prime smallmouth bass water. I have had people visiting from the south tell me that Conway Lake rivals their home waters.
Silver Lake and Ossipee Lake are also excellent for bass. All of these lakes require a boat of some kind in order to fish them. Each of these lakes has great boat launches, and boats may be rented at the Cove Campground to fish Conway Lake.
There are also a number of smaller lakes that provide great bass in the area. Purity Lake in Madison offers some great bass fishing. There is an unimproved launching area on Route 153 that will accommodate canoes and other small car topped boats.
One of my favorite bass-fishing venues is the Ossipee River. The river starts at the dam on Ossipee Lake between Effingham and Freedom. There can be some good trout fishing there in the spring, but by July it is a bass fishermen’s haven.
There are lots of opportunities for the wading fishermen to target these fish. The bridge on Route 153 is a good place to start. Another good location is at the Huntress Bridge just off of Route 25 as you head toward the Maine border. There is a great boat canoe launch at the site of the old Route 25 bridge on Route 153 in Effingham. Floating the Ossipee can provide an exciting day’s fishing.
It is surprising how few fly fishermen fish for bass. By the same token it is surprising how few spin fishermen, who fish for bass, ever pick up a fly rod. Fishing for bass with the fly rod is an American tradition. In fact the wooden plug, plastic today, owes its origin to the fly rodders’ deer hair bug.
You don’t need to spend big bucks on a bass outfit. Any 8 1/2- or 9-foot rod with a line weight of six to nine will do the trick. A seven or eight weight line is perfect for throwing big streamers and large poppers. You can buy a line designed for bass, or you can just cut four to six feet off the front of an old weight forward line and it will do the job. Reels are typically larger than trout reels in order to accommodate the heavier lines.
It is a good idea to do some practice casting if you have never tried casting a fly line before. However, the skill level needed for bass fishing is nowhere near as high as required for trout. No delicate presentation needed for bass, in fact a big hair bug that is slammed to the water is much more likely to draw the strike.
For the next few weeks, at least until the water temperatures go down, you will no doubt find me in the evenings on one of my favorite bass ponds. I will be sitting in my little pontoon boat watching the stars and waiting to be jarred out of my seat by a “big old bass.”
[Bill and Janet Thompson own North Country Angler in North Conway]