In the midst of snow and freezing temperatures, it might be hard to imagine standing alongside a flowing river on a warm, sunny spring morning. But soon enough, that scene is exactly where you might find Burr Tupper, a fly fishing enthusiast who likes to get a jump start on the season by sharing his angling obsession with others.
Tupper, a member of Merrimack River Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited, teaches fly fishing classes with his wife, Mary, each year at the Amoskeag Fishways in Manchester.
“This program fills up every year. It’s very popular. We always say to pre-register and pre-pay, because the spots fill up fast,” said Rachel Brown, the program naturalist at the Amoskeag Fishways.
There will be four classes to teach beginners about fly fishing. Each class is two hours long. Once the classes are completed, Tupper will hold a clinic on Lake Massabesic so students can put what they learned in class into practice.
“We usually get around 20 to 25 people. Trout don’t live in ugly places, so the people who come are people who just want to enjoy being out there,” Tupper said.
Fly fishing is catching fish with artificial flies rather than live bait. The flies are supposed to emulate bugs or resemble larvae that fish might eat. Primarily, fly fishing is done while standing in the water, but on occasion, Tupper said, people will fish from boats or from a float tube.
Casting is done by the weight of the line rather than the lure pulling the line from the reel as it does in bait fishing.
“The classes will feature how to tie a fly in one class, all about what the fish eat, their habitat and the places they like to hide, about fish ecology and also about insect identification,” Brown said. “People will learn about different fishing techniques and the equipment they’ll use to go fishing.”
Tupper’s advice for beginners is simple.
“I think one of the most important things is that obviously, you need to learn how to cast, but you have to learn how to read the water and understand the trout — what they are, what they eat — to catch it,” he said. “You need to know the microbiotics of the river system and how to present that fly to the fish. It’s like going to hunt a deer — you have to understand their habitat. The real key to me is that you have to understand how that plays into cold water. Trout can’t live in a polluted stream; they need cold clean water to exist.”
Tupper will also teach the importance of catch and release, he said.
He said Trout Unlimited deals with cold water conservation, and New Hampshire has around 1,500 members.
“One way we help is through fundraising and educating people on the benefits of cold water conservation,” he said. “We do things to help different watersheds by recruiting members through fly fishing and educate people on the pleasures and benefits of fly fishing as a sport.”
As seen in the March 13, 2014 issue of the Hippo.