Best Fly Fishing in New Hampshire

Image of a person fly fishing in a scenic New Hampshire mountain stream, capturing a trout.
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New Hampshire offers a serene and picturesque landscape for fly fishing enthusiasts, with an array of rivers, streams, and lakes teaming with trout and other species. Known for its wild trout streams and lush natural scenery, it’s an ideal destination for those who yearn for both tranquility and the thrill of the catch. Whether you prefer the challenges of river fishing or the calm of a lake, the Granite State’s diverse aquatic environments provide ample choice for every skill level.

Connecticut River

When you’re scouting for some of the finest fly fishing in New England, the Upper Connecticut River demands your attention. With its origin in Pittsburg, New Hampshire, this river presents a variety of fishing experiences.

Trophy Stretch

In particular, there’s a segment known colloquially as the “Trophy Stretch”. Here, you’re likely to find a healthy population of salmon and trout, especially during the summer months.

Ideal Fishing Season:

  • January 1st to October 15th

Gear Recommendations

For a rewarding day on the river, equip yourself with:

  • An 8 1/2 to 9 foot, 4 to 6 weight rod

Fishing Regulations

Adhere to the following to preserve the river’s ecosystem:

  • Bag Limits: Two fish total, with trout at a minimum of 12 inches and salmon at 15 inches. Though, catch and release is highly recommended.

Diverse Fishing Opportunities

Aside from the Trophy Stretch, the river boasts sections that are perfect for float fishing, and if you’re game for something different, seek out pike with your fly rod in lower sections.

Your experience on the Connecticut River is enhanced by the beautiful New Hampshire backdrop. Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting, you’ll find the river accommodating. Remember to respect the local fishing regulations and conservation efforts to ensure this pristine environment remains a top destination for fly fishing enthusiasts.

Androscoggin River

The Androscoggin River is a prime destination for fly fishing enthusiasts in New Hampshire. Starting in the town of Errol, this expansive river winds for 178 miles, offering a diverse range of fishing experiences.

  • Location: Errol, New Hampshire
  • Length: 178 miles
  • Flow: Southward to the Kennebec River
  • Watershed Area: 3,530 square miles

In New Hampshire, your adventure begins at the confluence of the Magalloway River and the outlet from Umbagog Lake. As you follow its flow, the Androscoggin reveals a variety of sections designated for fly fishing. Specifically, the Errol dam section is renowned for its fly fishing, teeming with trout and salmon.

When planning your trip, consider the river conditions:

SectionFlow Rate
Upper1200 to 3000+cfs
Lower3 to 5 thousand cfs

Your success on the Androscoggin River is influenced by seasonal and environmental factors. For timely updates before your venture, check the current fly fishing reports to ensure optimal conditions.

Despite boasting a riverbed that supports trout and salmon, not all stretches are conducive for these species. It’s crucial to focus your efforts on portions noted for their suitability. Keep in mind, fly fishing regulations may apply and can change; always confirm the current rules before your fishing trip to preserve the health of this robust fishery.

Merrimack River

When you explore fly fishing opportunities in New Hampshire, the Merrimack River stands out as a prime location. It winds through southern New Hampshire into northeastern Massachusetts and offers a landscape that is mostly urban, yet still provides a surprisingly underutilized fishery.

Ideal Flies and Sizes:

  • Clouser Minnow: Size 2
  • Royal Wulff: Size 12
  • Poppers Chartreuse: Size 4

The Merrimack is known for its warmwater fishing, with the Lowell area presenting some of the most engaging spots. You will find that sections of the river near the confluence of the Winnipesaukee and Pemigewasset Rivers are particularly rewarding due to their rich nutrients that sustain a healthy trout population.

Access is convenient with multiple points along the river that allow you to enter and fish. You can make use of the Boscawen Boat Launch, or find shore access along Route 3 and the rail trail that crosses it.

Keep in mind the flow and weather conditions as they can greatly affect your experience. Checking real-time data can be a critical step before heading out to maximize your chances of a good catch.

By choosing the right spots and preparing for the conditions, your fly fishing experience at the Merrimack River can be as fruitful as it is enjoyable.

Swift River

Known for its crystal-clear waters, the Swift River in northeastern New Hampshire is a medium-sized freestone river extending for approximately 25.6 miles. It is surrounded by scenic landscapes including the White Mountain National Forest and is easily accessible from towns such as Livermoore, Waterville Valley, Albany, and Conway.

Fishing Season and Regulations:

  • Season: The river is open for fishing from January 1st through October 15th.
  • Best Times: Late spring to fall offers the best fishing experience.
  • Regulations: A White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) parking pass is often required. Ensure you check the latest New Hampshire Fish & Game regulations before heading out.

When fly fishing on the Swift River, you’ll find that early fall is an especially rewarding time due to the beautiful foliage and active fish life. Gear up with the appropriate tackle to improve your chances of a good catch:

  • Fly Line: Opt for a 4, 5, or 6 weight line.
  • Leaders:
    • Dry fly: 9 to 12 ft., 5 to 6X
    • Nymphing: 7½ ft., 3 to 4X
    • Streamers: 0 to 2X
  • Tippets:
    • Dry fly: 5 to 6X
    • Nymphing: 3 to 4X
    • Streamer: 0 to 2X

For flies, successful anglers often rely on patterns like the Frenchie size 16 and the Flashback Pheasant size 18. Having a variety of fly patterns in your arsenal is advised, as hatches can be diverse and abundant. Remember to respect the environment and practice catch and release when appropriate to preserve the river’s ecosystem for future generations.

Pemigewasset River

The Pemigewasset River, affectionately known as ‘The Pemi’, ranks among the top destinations for fly fishing in New Hampshire. Your experience here can range from seeking the serenity of a remote river stretch to accessing easily navigable areas close to urban amenities.

  • Length: Approximately 65 miles
  • Origin: Profile Lake, Franconia Notch State Park
  • Confluence: Merges with the Winnipesaukee River in Franklin, forming the Merrimack River

Ideal Seasons:

  • Spring: May to early June
  • Early Fall: September to November

In the Pemigewasset River, you will find an abundance of brook trout and rainbow trout. When you navigate the river’s winding path through the White Mountains, you might also chance upon some larger fish, particularly in the underlying deeper sections where they tend to hide.

Recommended Gear:

  • Fly Line: 4, 5, or 6 weight
  • Leaders: Dry fly (9 to 12 ft., 5 or 6X), Nymphing (7 1/2 ft., 3 or 4X), Streamers (0-2X)
  • Tippets: For matching your leaders appropriately

When preparing your trip, keep in mind the local hatch schedules to choose the most effective flies. Explore areas known for productivity, casting where waters run clear and the natural beauty of New Hampshire serves as a stunning backdrop for your day.

  • Access Points: Easy access near Lincoln or more challenging upstream locations

Your technique can vary, choosing between nymphing under the surface or casting dry flies upon it. Regardless of your preference, the Pemigewasset River provides a premier fly fishing experience you wouldn’t want to miss.

Saco River

Your fly fishing adventure in New Hampshire is incomplete without a visit to the Saco River. Originating in the picturesque Crawford Notch, the river offers a bounty of trout, particularly as it flows through North Conway. Its journey continues into Maine, transforming into a warmwater fishery, boasting a variety of species.

  • Location: Begins at Crawford Notch, NH
  • Fish Species: Primarily trout in NH
  • Best Time to Fish:
    • Early Season: Late April – Mid-May
    • Prime Season: June – Early July; Late August – Mid-October

When you fish in the Saco River, you’ll be greeted by a landscape of beautiful riffles that evolve into deep, serene pools. These pools are havens for large and alluring trout, providing both a challenge and a reward for anglers.

Fishing Techniques:

  • Wade Fishing: Ideal when flows are below 1,000 cubic feet per second (cfs).
  • Float Fishing: Recommended if flows exceed 1,000 cfs.

Ensure to check current river conditions before heading out, as the Saco can vary from calm to rapid following rainfall. For the classic fly fishing experience, target the Fly Fishing Only stretch in North Conway, where dry fly angling shines.

Remember to respect local regulations and practice catch and release when appropriate, preserving the Saco River’s ecosystem for future generations of anglers.

Squam Lake

When you’re looking to cast your line in New Hampshire’s fresh waters, Squam Lake offers a serene and productive fly fishing environment. Situated in the heart of the state, just northwest of the more bustling Lake Winnipesaukee, Squam Lake provides a quieter, more secluded fishing experience.

Fish Species:
You can expect to encounter a variety of species such as:

  • Largemouth bass
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Pickerel
  • White perch
  • Yellow perch
  • Lake trout

Fishing Services:
For a great day on the water, local services such as the Squam Boat Livery offer equipment rentals and other fishing necessities.

Remember, before you head out, make sure to obtain a New Hampshire Fishing License.

Natural Beauty:
Squam Lake not only offers excellent fishing but also breathtaking natural beauty with opportunities to see wildlife such as loons and bald eagles.

Access Points:
For your trip, consider the following access points for ease of entry:

  • 283 River Street, Ashland
  • 853 US-3, Holderness

The lake’s diverse structures, from sheltered coves to deeper water, provide excellent habitats for fish, increasing your chances of a successful outing. Advanced planning for the best dates and times will enhance your fly fishing for stripers adventure, especially as Squam Lake is ideal for those seeking both relaxation and the thrill of the catch.

Lake Winnipesaukee

When you’re thinking of fly fishing in New Hampshire, Lake Winnipesaukee should be high on your list. Covering over 44,000 acres, this lake is a fishing haven with a diverse range of species to pursue. Here’s what you need to know before you cast your line in these waters.

  • Species: Your primary targets are smallmouth bass, which are plentiful and offer excellent fly fishing opportunities. In the colder months, you can also engage in ice fishing for giant perch—a surprisingly popular activity on the lake.
  • Technique: Fly fishing for bass here is often most successful near structure, such as rocky outcrops or fallen trees. The lake’s size means you have plenty of spots to explore, so don’t be afraid to move around until you find the fish.
  • Bait and Flies: Use local baitfish patterns or consider nymphs and streamers that mimic the natural prey of the fish you’re targeting. For smallmouth bass, topwater flies can provide some exciting action.
  • Regulations: Be sure to check the latest New Hampshire fishing regulations before your trip, as these can change and might affect the gear you can use, bag limits, and fishing seasons.

With clear waters and scenic surroundings, Lake Winnipesaukee isn’t just about fishing; it’s about an immersive experience in nature. Make sure to have your camera ready, not only for your catches but also for the stunning New Hampshire landscape that envelops you on your fly fishing journey.

Ammonoosuc River

Nestled in the scenic White Mountains, the Ammonoosuc River offers you a serene and rewarding fly fishing experience. Originating from the lofty heights of Mount Washington, it meanders for 55 miles before joining the Connecticut River. This waterway provides an engaging opportunity whether you’re a novice or an experienced angler.

Prime Locations

  • Upper River: Known for its cooler and faster-moving waters, where you can find an abundant habitat for wild brook trout.
  • Wild Stretch: A special 14-mile section that is celebrated for its fly fishing allure.

Fishing Tips

  • Season: Spring and fall are ideal for larger trout.
  • Fly Selection: Consider using local fly patterns to match the hatch, such as the Adams or Elk Hair Caddis.
  • Gear: Bring along a 4 to 6 weight rod with floating line for an optimal experience.

Access and Regulations

  • Access Points: Easily reachable along the river, especially in the upper reaches.
  • Licenses: A New Hampshire fishing license is necessary and can be purchased online.

When planning your trip, remember that public access points are generally well-marked, and local fly shops can provide you with the latest river conditions and hatch information. Always check the current regulations and practice catch-and-release to maintain the river’s health and sustainability for future generations.

Contoocook River

When you explore fly fishing in New Hampshire, the Contoocook River stands out as an inviting destination. You’ll find this river in the southwest part of the state, weaving through picturesque landscapes and towns. It’s a haven for trout, making it a prime location for your fishing adventures.

Accessible Locations:

  • Peterborough: Begin at this spot, where the river has a moderate flow, excellent for catching trout.
  • Henniker: Further southeast, Henniker offers diverse fishing experiences with both challenging deep areas and inviting pocket waters.

Fishing Conditions:

  • Flow Rate: The river’s upper discharge is monitored, providing you with a good idea of current conditions.
  • Known For: It is famous for its clean, clear waters that are rich with trout.

Best Practices:

  • Seasons: Timing is key; fish during seasons when trout populations peak.
  • Gear: Match your gear to the river conditions, opting for equipment suitable for New Hampshire’s varied waterways.

Make your trip memorable by immersing yourself in the Contoocook River’s environment, where solitude and natural beauty abound. While this spot may not be the most well-known, its ability to offer a peaceful and rewarding fishing experience cannot be understated.

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