If catching New England trout is on your to-do list, now is the time to go fishing. Here are some suggestions.
By Al Raychard
Ask any die-hard trout fishermen when is the best time to hit New England's trout streams, and nine times out of 10 the first answer will be June. Water temperatures as well as flow rates are near perfect, insect hatches are popping and trout are hungry. Trout fishing just does't get any better.
The Pine Tree State doesn't have what are considered blue-ribbon trout streams by eastern standards, but what it does have are miles of tea-colored or clear rivers and streams of various size that offer decent angling for wild brook trout. A number of these runs are located in the Rangeley Lakes Region, one of the more scenic areas of the state.
Because of its remote setting and the fact it receives less attention than other more accessible streams in the area, and because it is a small, intimate free-flowing mountain stream and holds spectacularly colored resident brook trout throughout the season, the Cupsuptic River is a personal favorite.
Much of the upper Cupsuptic is more like a free-flowing mountain stream than a river. The bank sides are heavily covered with vegetation, making it a challenge to fly fish. Also, to fish the best areas anglers will have to do some bushwhacking. The fishing is worth it, though. The river's riffles, undercut banks and shallow pools hold a remarkable number of brightly colored trout that are willing takers on standard wet and dry flies in June.
The best water is upstream of Little Falls. Popular access points at Big Falls and Big Canyon, where there are pools, are good places to get started. From these points there is good water for miles upstream and down. Both areas are accessible using the Morton Cut Off Road off Route 16 west of Oquossoc, then left on the Lincoln Pond Road, which crosses the river. A series of ungated dirt roads then leads north along the river.
Keep in mind this is a rather remote area so day trippers should make sure their vehicle has a full tank of gas and take a lunch and beverages and plenty of insect repellent.
In New Hampshire's southern regions productive trout runs are not as well-known as rivers in the White Mountains and far north country except by locals. Good trout fishing streams do exist here, however, and are worth getting to know.
A good example is the Ashuelot River in the Monadnock Region. The river flows through a mixture of woodlands, farms, boggy areas and several towns for over 60 miles from its headwaters at Ashuelot Pond in Washington before dumping into the Connecticut River at Hinsdale.
The Ashuelot is by no means a "wild" or "remote" river. The best fishing areas are paralleled by roads, making access relatively easy. Even so, it is one of the better trout streams in southwestern New Hampshire. The Ashuelot offers a variety of water types, from shallow riffles and pools in its upper and middle reaches that are easily waded, to deeper pools, longer riffles and runs downstream.
The river experiences some decent insect hatches and is popular with local fly fishermen, but is open to general rule angling. Best of all, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department stocks about 10,000 rainbow and brown trout into the river annually.
There are several interesting angling spots on this river. The first stretches from Surry Mountain Reservoir upstream through the towns of Surry, Gilsum and Marlow. Approximately 4,000 rainbow and 4,000 brown trout are stocked in this section annually. There are several roadside pull-offs upstream of Gilsum Route 10 and then Washington Road upstream of Marlow.
A favorite stretch among locals is from the junction of Route 10 and the Gilsum Road in the Lower Village area to Route 12A in Surry. The Gilsum Road, also known as the Surry Road, parallels the river in several spots, offering access to some productive riffles, runs and pools. Be sure to hit the pool where the river bends at the junction of Gilsum Road and Route 12A. Downstream the river meanders away from Route 12A but there is some good trout water off Dort Road. From there anglers can fish upstream or down for a considerable distance.
Below Surry Mountain Lake fewer trout are stocked, about 900 brown trout and 900 rainbows annually, but there are some nice riffles, runs and pools at the Coombs covered bridge in Swanzey, and upstream and especially downstream of the covered bridge just off Route 119 in the Village of Ashuelot all the way to the uppermost dam in Hinsdale. This is bigger water and fishes well with streamers, dry flies, Mepps-like spinners and worms. Below the dam downstream to the next dam there is also a near continuous series of inviting and productive deeper riffles, runs and pools. A secondary road off Route 119 parallels the river for easy access. Further downstream, Route 119 offers additional access.
The last spot to try is below Fiske Mill Dam in Hinsdale. The dam is located behind the Hinsdale Community Center with good access downstream and offers the best chances of hooking a brown trout.
There are two good reasons to visit and fish Vermont's Ottauquechee River, located west of White River Junction on the eastern edge of the Green Mountains.
One is the natural beauty of the area. In Quechee the river cuts a long gorge in the ancient granite a full 165 feet deep. Often called "Vermont's Little Grand Canyon," the scenic vistas from the Route 4 bridge, the surrounding state park and quant villages along the Ottauquechee River are among Vermont's most popular tourist attractions.
From an angling perspective, the other reason is the Ottauquechee River itself. Born as a small freestone mountain stream in Killington, the uppermost reaches above West Bridgewater are paralleled and crossed by Route 100 and several side roads including Mission Farm Road, Rabeck Mountain Road and River Road, providing access to crystal-clear pools and riffles holding brook trout and rainbows.
But the best fishing is downstream, from Bridgewater Corners to the covered bridge in Taftsville, particularly in June before water levels drop and temperatures warm. The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department stocks about 2,500 10-inch rainbow trout in this stretch generally in May. The entire stretch is a continuous mix of deepening pools, chutes, riffles and runs that can be waded in most areas. Traditional streamers like the Gray and Black Ghosts and Mickey Finn work well in the faster runs. In stretches dominated by riffles, anglers have success with muddlers and Wooly Buggers. Bead head nymphs and various dry flies like the Hendrickson, Gold-Ribbed Hare's Ear, Adams, Light Cahill and March Brown are top choices in the quieter stretches.
On lightweight or medium spinning gear Mepps-like spinners and Panther Martins are good lures, and of course worms will always catch trout.
Route 4 parallels and crosses the river much of the way and there are numerous roadside pull-offs. But to get away from the highway, anglers can take advantage of several bridge crossing and secondary roads on the south side of the river, most notably the Standish Road and Mountainside Road upstream of Bridgewater Corners. There, Route 100A crosses the river and the River Road leads to some interesting water.
In Bridgewater Blanchard Road cross the river and going downstream Curtis Hollow Road turns into Larry Curtis Road.
In West Woodstock the river is also crossed by Mill Street and leads to Carlton Hill Road, going upstream. Route 4 offers the best access downstream until passing through Woodstock. There Route 12 and then Old River Road offers access to some good water all the way to the Taftsville Covered Bridge.
For the adventurous anglers, there are also some extremely nice pools holding some brown trout in Quechee Gorge. A trail on the east side leads down to the end of but caution should be taken. The trail is steep in places and keep in mind water levels are controlled by the dam upstream of the bridge — keep an eye out for rising water levels.
If you're going to fish trout in Massachusetts, you might as well spend the time on what is arguably considered the commonwealth's premier trout river.
The Deerfield River rises in southwest Vermont, crosses the border into northwest Massachusetts at Monroe and is immediately stopped by Fife Brook Dam. The Deerfield flows for about 70 miles before dumping into the Connecticut River in Deerfield, and much of it above Deerfield is good trout water. The two catch-and-release sections in the upper reaches, however, draw much of the attention. Anglers will find wild brown and rainbow trout, as well as stocked trout on one of the most scenic rivers in some of the most scenic country in Massachusetts. And while fly fishing these sections is popular, the use of artificial lures is allowed.
The uppermost release area starts immediately below Fife Brook Dam and stretches downstream 1.6 miles to the Hoosac Tunnel. Along with Fife Pool, anglers will find nearly a dozen pools and riffle areas with names like Lookout Run, Diamond Drill Hole, the Swimming Hole and Yankee Flats.
The lower release section starts where Pelham Brook enters the river and stretches downstream just over 2 miles to just above Indian Bridge near the Mohawk Park Campground. Pelham Pool, Crib Pool, Black Ledge Run, Hideaway Pools and Mohawk Run are just a few of the popular fishing areas.
Access to both areas is relatively easy from Route 2 just west of Charlemont Center. Just before the Indian Bridge, Zoar Road turns right along the river and lower release area. While the river can be seen in spots, some sections require a hike from roadside pull-offs. Zoar Road connects to River Road, which leads to the more accessible upper area.
Deerfield River trout have seen their share of flies and artificial lures and can be a challenge to catch. Fly fishermen should be well armed with caddis imitations, Sulphur Duns, Light and Dark Cahills, Blue Quills and Golden Drakes sizes 12 to 16. Midges down to size 20 should also produce.
It should be noted that water levels in the upper Deerfield are controlled daily by water releases at Fife Dam, so this is another river that requires anlers keep an eye open for rising water. Information on water release schedules can be obtained by visiting www.h2oline.com, or by telephoning (800) 452-1742.
The Moosup River starts its journey from Sterling Pond in Foster, in northwest Rhode Island. It eventually crosses into Connecticut at Sterling and travels over 23 miles before joining the Quinebaug River in Plainfield.
Much of the Moosup is good trout water, particularly in the Rhode Island section, where it is free-flowing with no dams, and is somewhat isolated — much of it protected within the Nicholas Farm Wildlife Management Area.
Once it crosses the border, the Moosup is dammed at several locations, to create Sterling Pond on Route 14 and Oneco Pond on Route 14. At several locations downstream in Moosup bridges cross the river. Anglers looking to do some exploring will find good trout water along this middle section. The Connecticut DEEP stocks about 4,400 trout annually at the Water Street Bridge, off Water Street, East Main Street and off Barber Hill Road (all in Plainfield). Trout are also stocked below the Sterling Pond Dam and Oneco Dam.
But the two most popular stretches of the Moosup River are the Rhode Island 3.5-mile-long section from Route 14 and through the Nicholas WMA and the Connecticut section within the 1,227-acre Quinebaug River WMA in Plainfield.
The Rhode Island stretch has some pleasant riffles and pools that hold some nice trout that are receptive to standard dry and wet mayfly and caddis imitations and small streamers. The stretch is stocked each spring but some wild holdovers are also quite possible. Small Mepps-like spinners and worms are also productive.
Access is possible by walking downstream from the Route 14 bridge. A dirt road also runs down the west side and eventually leads to an old railroad bed that parallels the river to the border, providing access to locations that see fewer anglers.
The Connecticut stretch within the Quinebaug WMA starts at the Route 14 bridge in the Central Village area of Plainfield and runs down to the confluence with the Quinebaug River, a distance of about 1.5 miles. The river has deeper pools and longer riffles, particularly the posted lower fly fishing section. This section produces some excellent holdover trout but is also stocked with about 5,000 trout annually.