It was the end of July and I had reached the end of my rope. With deadlines looming and my brain nothing but a bowl of mush, I needed to get away and recharge my batteries, if only for a day. My friend Stan and I decided to head up to Wells River in Wells River, Vermont and try our luck with some trout.
Stan pulled up at about 6:30am and after loading my gear, we were on our way. I had never fished the Wells River so I was looking forward to the trip. According to Stan, who grew up in Vermont and had fished this river before, the Wells River holds rainbows, browns and brookies. A real mixed bag.
My gear for this trip consisted of two spinning outfits and my fly rod. Both spinning reels were spooled with six pound test monofilament line. My rods were both six foot, medium action rods. One set up would be used for live bait (nightcrawlers) and the other with either an in-line spinner or a spoon. My fly rod was a #5 spooled with #5 floating line. In my official “trout box” I carried a wide assortment of Thomas and Acme spoons, Rooster Tail and Mepps spinners, Eagle Claw hooks and assorted tin split-shot. I also carried a net, as I have dropped way too many fish without one and a few containers of nightcrawlers.
I love fishing in Vermont as no other state in Northern New England treats anglers like they do. Vermont provides plenty of access points to all of its rivers and the Wells River is no different. The access points are all clearly marked, clean and have plenty of parking. The other New England states should take notice.
After a two hour drive we arrived at our first stop where we met up with another angler just leaving. He had taken just one trout on this outing, but he was more than willing to share just where he caught it and what they were hitting. In New Hampshire other anglers would have taken that information to their graves. I love Vermont. Stan and I scouted the spot and decided to come back to it later. We moved on to the next stop and we had the river all to ourselves. After scouting likely fish holding pools we each went our separate ways. Despite the rains earlier in the week the river was not high, though it was moving at a pretty good clip. Water temperature was pretty cool so hopefully the fish were roaming around looking for food.
Before I even made a cast I had to just take in the beauty that lay before me. The Wells River has got to be one of the prettiest rivers I have fished here in New England. In fact I shared this view with a mink who was watching from the opposite bank. Despite the sights, I was here to fish, so that is just what I did. As it turned out I should have just spent my time watching the mink.
I started out with a nightcrawler. While I usually only use one split-shot to weigh it down, due to the speed of the river, I went to two. I wanted to put the bait down to the bottom to where the fish probably were. I got nothing for my efforts. Switching to my other rod which was equipped with a Thomas gold/nickel Colorado spoon I gave that a try with the hopes that the trout were looking for something moving fast. That didn’t work either. I will never say that there are no fish in an area, but I will say that the fish that were there didn’t like what I was offering or ow I was offering it. Stan wasn’t having any luck either so we moved to another spot.
Our new location took a little work to get to, but it was worth it. After climbing down a fairly steep embankment, crossing a stream and then climbing up the other side, we came to a pool. At the head of the pool was a waterfall that cascaded over a jumble of rocks. At the base of the waterfall is where we started getting action. First Stan hooked up and landed a nice 12 inch rainbow. Then it was my turn. I hooked up with a trout, but lost it. A few minutes later I got another one, which I was able to land. I then got a rainbow to strike on the retrieve, but I lost that one too. I couldn’t buy a break. Meanwhile Stan landed another nice rainbow. What we both noticed was that the rainbows were not striking the bait like one would expect. The bait needed to be put right in front of them and even then they weren’t hitting it hard.
We then moved one more time, this time to a section of the river that was little more than a wide fast moving stream. This area screamed fly rod all over it, so that is how I approached it. My fly choice was a Little Greenie tied by my late friend Jack Hanley. This fly is usually deadly so I hoped Jack was looking down on me.
Well, if Jack was looking down he was probably shaking his head. Cast after cast I made, allowing the moving water to take my fly to the eddies created by the rocks. Nothing. I moved downstream and did the same. Still nothing. This was not my day. I worked the river all the way down to where Stan was fishing.
It seems that Stan had found the honey hole. Using a worm Stan had gotten another rainbow and two brook trout. With six trout between us (Stan having caught five) we decided to call it a day and get some lunch. This would give Stan a chance to gloat and me a chance to lick my wounds.
We pulled into P&H Truck Stop right in Wells River, Vermont, sat down and reviewed the morning’s events. Well, let me tell you, second guessing yourself does no good. Fishing is fishing and sometimes you have it and sometime you don’t. Dealing with “would haves, should haves and could haves” will drive you insane. When it comes to fishing it is always, “It is what it is”.
The trout in the Wells River won this first round, but I will be back. Though I didn’t catch but one trout, I had a great time in a beautiful spot and that alone was worth the trip.
By Dana Benner