Professional guides reveal the best fly fishing spots in New England

MASSACHUSETTS

The narrower upper portion of the Deerfield River is reminiscent of Colorado in the Berkshires: steep slopes, white birch trees, sedan-sized boulders, and fish lurking in ponds and rafts. Hydroelectric dams segment the more than 70 mile run from Deerfield, from the Green Mountains to the Connecticut River to Greenfield, reliably releasing cold water that stimulates brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout. sky seeded and wild. Head north of Route 2 to Florida City and get to the Fife Brook Dam boat access point off River Road – winter runoff and high flow rates make a raft essential – and keep an eye out for the crumbled remains of a flour mill as you float downstream under a trestle bridge.

Advice from a pro: Brian Lynch of Pheasant Tail Tours (413-834-7301, pheasanttailtours.com)

In early spring, look for deeper pools and head to the shallow rim (known as the tail), says Lynch. If you can’t tell what’s hatching, a woolly bugger Krystal Flash, which is a streamer mimicking a baitfish, rarely misses. “This thing is responsible for the first more people fish on a fly rod out of my boat than any other fly I have,” he says.

Take a bite: The restaurant of the blue rock

Cafe-rubbed pork ribs are a constant on the ever-changing menu at this eclectic restaurant, with porch seating overlooking the river. 1 Ashfield Street, Shelburne Falls, 413-625-8133, thebluerockrestaurant.com

CONNECTICUT

The West Branch of the Farmington River, a wild and scenic national river that winds through the evergreens and hemlocks of Litchfield County, is renowned for its reliability: like the Deerfield River, it is a stream – it that is, downstream of a dam – which remains a little warmer than other rivers in winter and a little cooler in summer, which makes it possible to fish for dry fly trout 12 months a year . And although it is a favorite haunt for fishermen in Manhattan, Maine, the abundance of the Farmington has increased: in 2019, state authorities counted 4,500 trout in a catch segment and 5.6 mile re-launch, the highest number ever. The church pool at Barkhamsted, where a green steel truss bridge crosses at the junction of routes 181 and 318, sits in the middle of this stretch. Park on the adjacent dirt lot, walk down the trail, and launch yourself into a gun that throws itself into wide, deep water that stretches for a quarter of a mile.

Advice from a pro: Torrey Collins of UpCountry Sportfishing (860-379-1952, farmtonriver.com)

For flies, Collins suggests tying a black stone or blue-winged olive in March, a blue feather in early April, and a Hendrickson in the weeks of mid-April to early May. Considering this is one of New England’s most fished waterways, plan to show up early. “If you go to a place like Church Pool in the afternoon,” Collins warns, “people will have been in that gun all day by now.”

Take a bite: Royal Coachman Tavern at the Old Riverton Inn

Sharing a space with an 18th-century inn on the Farmington River (and named after the Royal Coachman fly motif), the tavern offers a menu of comfort food with coconut chili wings and grilled burgers. 436 East River Road, Riverton, 860-379-8678, rivertoninn.com

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Gerry Crow has a hard drive filled with “hero photos” of his rookie students, snapshots of what I took of anglers hoisting their first aquatic trophies. Many of them were broken on part of the Contoocook River, which runs along a jagged parallel with Route 202 between Henniker and Hillsborough in southwest New Hampshire. Oxygen-stirring whitewater rapids – including Freight Train, a roaring Class IV – deep pools and seaweed-covered rocks make this the best trout fishing habitat on the north-flowing stream. is. Spring fishermen come out of hibernation to greet the browns and brookies feasting on the first mayflies. Park along Ramsdell Road east of the Highway 114 bridge, where downtown Henniker recedes among oak and maple trees.

Advice from a pro: Gerry Crow of the New Hampshire Rivers Guide Service (603-889-5611, nhriversguide.com)

In early spring, wait for the water to warm up by mid-afternoon when the insects are most active. If you can’t identify what’s hatching, try an instant pattern like an Adams Parachute. And no matter how calm the current seems, bring a fording stick to keep your balance just in case. “It could be nothing more than an old ski pole or a beaver pole – you don’t have to spend $ 150 on something from the Orvis catalog,” says Crow.

Take a bite: Daniel’s Restaurant

With a view of the Contoocook, diners can watch the fishermen fidget while nibbling on butternut squash ravioli. 48 Main Street, Henniker, 603-428-7621, danielsofhenniker.com

MAINE

Spring arrives late at Moosehead Lake, just above Greenville in north-central Maine: in mid-May, water temperatures are still in the mid-1940s. That’s when that you will want to explore the eastern mouth of the Kennebec River, miles without sign of civilization, filled with spruce and 3 inch fir trees connecting the lake to Indian Pond, where all the pools and trails crisscross. may take a few days. Along with brook trout, these waters released by dams are home to an abundance of landlocked salmon, a silvery-toned species that frequently jumps when you set your hook. And while there is plenty of ford access under the Highway 6 and 15 bridge parking areas, a drift boat or raft is the safest option amidst the river-fed water flows. snowmelt of the season.

Advice from a pro: Wayne Plummer of Northern Pride Lodge (207-695-2890, nordpridelodge.com)

Start with a smelt streamer pattern in mid-May, work in sucker spawn knockoffs over the weeks, and tie up blue-winged olives when the first hatches begin around Memorial Day. And if you just wanna go on the net Something, salmon are a gullible target. “If you scare a brook trout you can imagine you won’t catch it,” Plummer says, “but I had salmon that I saw hiding behind a rock and caught after a couple of trips. “

Take a bite: Stress Free Moose Pub

Grilled meatloaf with cheese? To verify. The humorous head of a zebra moose hanging on the wall? To verify. 65 Pritham Avenue, Greenville, 207-695-3100, stressfreemoose.com

VERMONT

The over 57 miles of the Battenkill River are sacred fly fishing waters east of the Mississippi. On the Vermont side of the border, the fish population is entirely wild – the only fish stocking occurs in New York City – which means patience, skill and luck early in the season can bring in a cunning monster and wary of a 20 inch lead German brown trout. Follow Route 313 West to West Arlington, park near the 19th-century Covered Bridge and Steeple Church, and admire a scene straight out of a painting by Norman Rockwell – the former farmhouse of the The artist is across the river, in fact – and fish upstream or downstream.

Advice from a pro: Martin Oakland from Quill Gordon Bed and Breakfast (802-375-6339, quillgordon.com)

Use streamers from mid-April to early May, then switch to Hendrickson dry flies when the outbreak begins around Mother’s Day. And after a thunderstorm, when the muddy waters clear up and take on a coppery complexion, this is your best chance to take a big one. Oakland says, “It doesn’t happen very often, but [the last time it did] I caught three fish over 20 inches and two more swam into the net.

Take a bite: Mulligans

Eat beer-brewed fish and chips in a cozy Irish pub, then take a quick stroll to the huge Orvis store just up the street. 3912 Route 7A, Manchester, 802-362-3663, mulligans-vt.com

NEVER TRIED FLY FISHING? Immerse your toe IN WATER IN 5 SIMPLE STEPS:

1. Get a fishing license (every New England state sells short-term non-resident passes) and learn about local regulations on what you can catch and keep. Ever-changing water flows can be dangerous, so check out h2oline.com or call ahead for current conditions.

2. Buying entry-level essentials – rod, reel, weight line, a few flies – can cost $ 200 or more, but a guide will likely lend you everything you need.

3. The cast – dropping a fake bug into the water like the real one – is hard to learn via YouTube. Sign up for a free 101 fly fishing class at an Orvis store or take a crash course from your guide.

4. The best fly for a given flow is constantly changing. Contact a local fly shop or guide for up-to-date advice.

5. On the water, look for veins where slow and fast currents meet: the fish hide in the first and feed in the second.

* Official COVID-19 guidelines change frequently. Check national and local regulations before traveling.


Jeff Harder is a Connecticut-based writer. Send your comments to [email protected]

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