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Fins & Feathers: Nine in a Row

December 13, 2013

Long-time Waterville Valley property owner, Fred Upton, recently passed away.  He will be missed here in the Valley.  Renowned local fisherman and author, Ray Kucharski, wrote about fishing with Fred in his book, On the Waters.  The story, “Nine in a Row,” is a great tribute to Fred and illustrates what a true gentleman he was.  Read it below.

Fred Upton Image courtesy of Ray Kucharski

Fred Upton
Image courtesy of Ray Kucharski

Nine in a Row

By Ray Kucharski

The sun was shining brightly one calm, spring morning. A friend and I decided to fish Russell Pond in hope of hitting the mid-day hatches the pond was known for. Fred [Upton], a longtime fly fisherman, and I lashed the canoe to the roof of his car. Beth, Fred’s wife, came out of the house and watched us finish loading our gear and waved us off, wishing us luck.

Upon arriving at the pond, we could see some trout working along the northern shoreline. We unloaded the canoe, strung our rods and pushed off. I told Fred to get ready as I paddled us slowly and stealthily into position and dropped anchor. I positioned the canoe in about fifteen feet of water, a hundred feet from shore. We could see bottom in the crystal-clear water and watched trout as they cruised along the shore picking off caddis flies as they swam along.

Fred cast his Hornberg; the fly landed softly on the water and gently floated on the surface. We watched a brookie rise from the depths and smack the fly. Fred set the hook and was fast to the first fish of the day. This scene was repeated again and again. Fred had had nine brook trout rise to his fly and brought nine to net. Fred hooked and landed nine consecutive trout, must be some kind of record, certainly one of the best hook-up rates I have witnessed. The next fish that rolled over Fred’s fly missed, breaking his streak of hook-ups.

Let me explain, it’s not easy catching trout on a still water dry fly. Set the hook too quick and you pull the fly away, too slow and it’s spit out. Sometime the trout detect the imitation and turn away or they just plain miss the fly.

It was an incredible morning of fishing. Now, about noontime, we had fished our way a quarter of the way around the pond. I asked Fred how long he wanted to stay and he agreed we were having way too much fun to even think about leaving. I asked if he had brought a lunch, he responded that he had not. I offered him one of the Power Bars that I always carry in my vest, and a drink of water, all I had to offer.

A couple hours later we had slowly worked our way back to the take-out point on the shore. At that time we decided we had had enough fun for one day. As we drove into Fred’s yard and began unloading the canoe, Beth came out to greet us. She remarked that it was late afternoon and asked if we had lunch. Fred told her we were enjoying ourselves too much to stop fishing and had lost track of time. Beth was concerned about Fred not having a proper lunch,

It was then I realized I am not a very good guide, only providing a Power Bar and water. Fred told me later, that this was the best day of fishing he had in a long time, and couldn’t have cared less about lunch at the time, and he would definitely go fishing with me again. Nine-in-a-row is as good as lunch any day.

NOTE:  On the Waters recently went into its second printing and is again available exclusively at the Bookmonger in Waterville Valley Town Square as well as online. The book is available just in time for holiday gift giving!

About Jan Stearns

I've been living in and loving New Hampshire's White Mountains for most of my life. I moved to Waterville Valley in 1981 and quickly realized why it was dubbed a Yankee Shangri-la. Once you’ve experienced Waterville Valley, you’ll want to call it yours. The great team of Realtors at Waterville Valley Realty can help you find a Waterville Valley home that fits your lifestyle and budget.

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