Fly Fishing in New Hampshire: 20 Top Spots to Reel in Your Dream Catch

Key Takeaways:

  • New Hampshire offers diverse opportunities for fly fishing, with a wide range of fish species, including brook, rainbow, brown trout, and more.
  • Fishing seasons vary depending on the type of fish and the waterbody, and specific dates apply to different locations.
  • Regulations encourage catch and release during specific periods, and ice fishing is allowed in some waters during the winter months.
  • For detailed and up-to-date information on fly fishing regulations, anglers should refer to the NH Freshwater Fishing Digest.
  • The state’s rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes provide a rich and rewarding fly fishing experience, making New Hampshire a desirable destination for anglers.

20 Best Places to Fly Fishing in New Hampshire

20 Best Places to Fly Fishing in New Hampshire

New Hampshire offers an endless variety of fly fishing opportunities. With that being said, here are 20 of the top fly fishing spots in New Hampshire:

  1. Upper Pemigewasset River
  2. Androscoggin River
  3. Swift River
  4. Upper Connecticut River
  5. Cocheco River
  6. Saco River
  7. Baker River
  8. Ellis River
  9. Lamprey River
  10.  Sugar River
  11.  Exeter River
  12.  Isinglass River
  13.  Contoocook River
  14.  Souhegan River
  15.  Powwow River
  16.  Ammonoosuc River
  17.  Piscataquog River
  18.  Merrimack River
  19.  Suncook River
  20.  Merrymeeting River

Let’s take a closer look at some of these waterways in New Hampshire and discuss why they’re so popular among fly fishing enthusiasts.

1. Upper Pemigewasset River

  • Located in New Hampshire, the Upper Pemigewasset River is a 65.0-mile-long river spanning approximately 1,021 square miles.
  • This location is known for the cold waters that support trout and Atlantic Salmon populations. With stunning natural beauty and restoration efforts, it is an ideal location for fly fishing enthusiasts.
  • Rich trout habitat makes it an excellent spot for fly fishing, and there are plenty of opportunities for beginners to experts.

2. Androscoggin River

  • The Androscoggin River spans both Maine and New Hampshire. It is 178 miles long and flows into the Atlantic Ocean through Merrymeeting Bay in Maine before joining the Kennebec River.
  • This river is home to brook, brown, rainbow trout, and landlocked salmon. Its diverse hatches make it an excellent spot for experienced fly fishers.
  • Whether you enjoy float or wade trips, this river has the perfect location for you, and it offers other species of fish, such as Northern Pike and Bass.

3. Swift River

  • Located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Swift River is a 25.6-mile-long river. The river is a tributary of the Saco River, which flows to the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The Swift River is known for its native brook trout and challenging sections for various trout species. With a beautiful setting, it’s a must-visit location for fly fishing enthusiasts.
  • With its challenging sections, the Swift River is an excellent location for the experienced fly-fisher.

4. Upper Connecticut River

  • It rises 300 yards south of the U.S. border with Quebec and discharges into Long Island Sound near the Canadian border.
  • Known for its beautiful surroundings and productive trout populations, the Upper Connecticut River is a tailwater river that is fishable year-round.
  • Fly fishing is excellent at this location in May since it offers productive fishing.

5. Cocheco River

  • The Cocheco River flows through various towns in New Hampshire, including Dover, Rochester, Gonic, and Farmington. It is a tributary of the Piscataqua River and runs for 38.3 miles.
  • This location is known for its public access points and convenience for fly fishing enthusiasts.
  • There are a lot of fly fishing spots along the Cocheco River, making it an excellent choice for those looking for an accessible location.

6. Saco River

  • In northeastern New Hampshire and southwestern Maine, the Saco River flows. Saco Bay, 136 miles from its source, drains 1,703 square miles of forest and farmland west and southwest of Portland.
  • Known for trout fishing, the Saco River features brook, brown, and rainbow trout. It’s perfect for experienced fly fishers who enjoy rich hatches of Mayflies, Caddisflies and Stoneflies.
  • With various access points for wading and floating, this location offers plenty of opportunities to catch some trout.

7. Baker River

  • New Hampshire’s White Mountains contain the Baker River, a 36.4-mile-long river. In Plymouth, it empties into the Pemigewasset River after rising on the south side of Mount Moosilauke.
  • With excellent fly fishing opportunities for brook and rainbow trout, the Baker River is particularly noted for its fishing near Rumney.
  • Whether you’re an experienced fly-fisher or just starting, the Baker River has the perfect location.

8. Ellis River

  • Head to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and explore the picturesque 16-mile-long Ellis River. This Saco River tributary has quickly become a go-to spot for fly-fishing enthusiasts.
  • Known for its brook and rainbow trout populations, the cascades and pools here make it a perfect location for fly-fishing. Experienced anglers can cast their lines and expect to reel in great catches.
  • The breathtaking location, so non-anglers can bask in the magnificent scenery.

9. Lamprey River

  • Explore the southeastern part of New Hampshire and head to the 50.2-mile-long Lamprey River. It begins in Meadow Lake in Northwood and passes through Raymond, Epping, Lee, Durham, and Newmarket.
  • Brown, rainbow, and brook trout are plentiful in the Lamprey River. Heavily stocked, this location is a must-visit for avid anglers who want to challenge their fly-fishing skills.
  • Offering diverse trout populations and a convenient location, the Lamprey River is a great way to spend your day.

10. Sugar River

  • This 27.0-mile-long river is located in western New Hampshire, and the outlet of Lake Sunapee feeds it.
  • One of the most productive fly-fishing sections near Newport, this river is home to brown, brook, and rainbow trout. This section is suitable for fly fishing, where you can expect to catch great fish.
  • Attracting anglers with varied preferences, the Sugar River is another top destination in NH.

11. Exeter River

  • The Exeter River is a 40.5-mile-long river located in Rockingham County in southeastern New Hampshire. It rises in the town of Chester.
  • Offering both warm and cold water, the Exeter River is an excellent location to catch brookies, rainbow trout, and brown trout. It’s a fantastic spot to challenge your fishing skills.
  • The Exeter River is a fun place to explore, with the possibility of finding eels in some areas.

12. Isinglass River

  • Discover the 15-mile-long Isinglass River in Strafford County, southeastern New Hampshire. In Barrington, Ayer’s Pond, Nippo Pond, Round Pond, and Long Pond feed Bow Lake.
  • This wading-only fishery is stocked with rainbow, brown, and brook trout and offers a great location to fish during the summer or early fall months.
  • It’s a picturesque location and ideal for anglers looking to improve their fly-fishing techniques.

13. Contoocook River

  • On the Jaffrey/Rindge border, the Contoocook River flows from Contoocook Lake to Penacook, emptying into the Merrimack.
  • This river offers a challenging trout fishery with big and deep sections, providing a chance to catch brown, brook, and rainbow trout. The beautiful scenery adds to the charm.
  • With its diverse range of trout, it is a great spot for all types of anglers.

14. Souhegan River

  • A tributary of the Merrimack River, the Souhegan River stretches 33.8 miles in the U.S.’s northeastern part.
  • Brown, brook, and rainbow trout are stocked in this river, with many of these fish being native. The location flows through public land, making it easier to access.
  • Not only is there public access, but it’s also a great spot for trout fishing. A definite must-visit for anglers of all levels.

15. Powwow River

  • Located in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts, the Powwow River is a 22.8-mile-long river that offers excellent fly fishing opportunities.
  • If you are looking for brook, brown, and rainbow trout you will find that the Powwow River offers a picturesque setting and a wide range of fish to reel in. With its easy accessibility, this location is perfect for beginner fly fishermen.
  • The Powwow River’s tranquil waters and stunning views make it a popular fly-fishing destination for anglers of all skill levels.

16. Ammonoosuc River

  • Spanning an impressive 55 miles, the Ammonoosuc River offers challenging fly fishing opportunities in Northwestern New Hampshire.
  • This river is home to various trout, including brook, brown and rainbow trout. For experienced anglers looking for a challenge, the Ammonoosuc River will provide a gratifying fishing experience in a scenic setting.
  • The Ammonoosuc River’s natural beauty attracts visitors who enjoy more than just fishing. The surrounding area boasts many opportunities for hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities.

17. Piscataquog River

  • The Piscataquog River is a 34.7-mile-long river located in Southern New Hampshire.
  • This river’s popularity as a fishing spot is due to its abundant trout, including brown, brook and rainbow trout. The accessible location of the Piscataquog River makes it a great option for locals and visitors alike.
  • While fly fishing is the main attraction of the Piscataquog River, visitors can also enjoy kayaking, hiking, and exploring the river’s surrounding forested areas.

18. Merrimack River

  • The Merrimack River runs 117 miles from New Hampshire into Massachusetts before emptying into the Gulf of Maine.
  • Various fish species, including trout, smallmouth bass, and more, make the Merrimack River an ideal spot for anglers of all skill levels. Its proximity to major cities makes it a convenient getaway for urban fishermen.
  • Its urban and rural stretches offer anglers a variety of fishing experiences, from serene and remote to bustling and urban.

19. Suncook River

  • A river in central New Hampshire, the Suncook River runs for 35.7 miles.
  • This river offers accessible fly fishing opportunities for brook, brown, and rainbow trout. The tranquil setting and easy accessibility make it a great option for fly fishermen seeking a peaceful location to cast their lines.
  • The scenery surrounding the Suncook River is breathtaking, offering visitors a chance to reconnect with nature. Visitors can take advantage of the many hiking and biking trails and nearby scenic drives.

20. Merrymeeting River

  • New Hampshire’s Lakes Region contains the Merrymeeting River, which runs for 10.0 miles.
  • The main attraction of the Merrymeeting River is the excellent wild brook trout fishing in a serene setting. Anglers of all skill levels can enjoy fishing on the Merrymeeting River’s crystal-clear waters.
  • Anglers to the Merrymeeting River enjoy more than just fishing. You can enjoy hiking, kayaking, and exploring the riverside forests.

How Do You Know When the Best Time Is to Fly Fish in New Hampshire?

How Do You Know When the Best Time Is to Fly Fish in New Hampshire

It depends on the season and the river you plan to fish when the perfect time to fly fish in New Hampshire is. Here are some tips on when you should fly fish in New Hampshire, as well as examples of rivers and their ideal seasons:

Spring (March to May)

  • Pemigewasset River: Early spring is an excellent time for fly fishing for native brook trout in the upper sections of the Pemigewasset River.
  • Swift River: The warming weather and active trout make spring an ideal time for fly fishing in the Swift River.
  • Sugar River: Early spring offers excellent fly fishing opportunities for brown, brook, and rainbow trout in the Sugar River.

Summer (June to August)

  • Androscoggin River: Summer offers fantastic hatches like Zebra Caddis and Great Winged Olive Dun, providing ample fly fishing opportunities in the Androscoggin River.
  • Connecticut River: Brown and rainbow trout are productive fishing targets in various sections of the Connecticut River during the warm summer months.
  • Saco River: With rich hatches of Caddisflies, Mayflies and Stoneflies, summer is prime time for trout fishing in the Saco River.

Fall (September to November)

  • Baker River: Fall is an excellent time for brook and rainbow trout fishing, particularly near the town of Rumney in the Baker River.
  • Lamprey River: The fall season is a good time to target brown, rainbow, and brook trout in this river.
  • Isinglass River: Ideal for late summer or early fall fly fishing excursions for rainbows, brown, and brook trout.

Winter (December to February)

  • Managed Trout Ponds: These ponds, stocked with trout up to 1-1.5 pounds, are typically closed to ice fishing, making winter an off-season for them.
  • Ice Fishing on Lakes: While not fly fishing, ice fishing on New Hampshire’s lakes is a popular winter activity, primarily targeting species like lake trout, salmon, and panfish.

Year-round (Tailwater Rivers)

  • Upper Connecticut River: As a tailwater river, the Upper Connecticut River remains fishable year-round, providing productive fishing, especially in May.
  • Moore Reservoir and Comerford Reservoir: Accessible by boat, these reservoirs offer year-round fishing opportunities for trophy trout and pike.
  • Wade Fishing on the Connecticut River: Various sections are open year-round, providing swift cascading riffles and opportunities for big fish.

What Fish Species Can Be Caught by Fly Fishing in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire state boasts diverse fish species that can be caught using fly fishing techniques. Here are the fish species that you can target when fly fishing in New Hampshire:

Brook Trout: Known for their striking beauty, brook trout can be found in many of New Hampshire’s rivers and streams. They are a prized catch for fly anglers due to their willingness to bite on dry flies.

Rainbow Trout: With their vibrant colors, rainbow trout are a common sight in New Hampshire’s rivers. They provide a fun and challenging angling experience.

Brown Trout: New Hampshire waterways are home to brown trout, known for their elusive nature. They require more skill and patience to catch, making them a favorite among seasoned fly anglers.

Landlocked Salmon: These salmon are a popular target for fly anglers in larger rivers and lakes. Their powerful fights make for an exciting catch.

Lake Trout (Togue): The lake trout is found throughout the state in deep, cold lakes. They are known for their size and strength, making them a challenging catch for any fly angler.

Smallmouth Bass: New Hampshire has rivers and lakes where smallmouth bass can be caught. They provide a different angling experience than trout, with their tendency to put up a strong fight.

Largemouth Bass: This species is also present in the state’s waters, providing fly fishermen with another option for angling. They can be caught using techniques, including topwater flies and diving minnow imitations.

Northern Pike: Northern pike can be found in some areas of New Hampshire for those seeking an intense fight. They are known for their aggression and powerful strikes.

Sunfish: Ponds and streams contain many sunfish. They provide an enjoyable and often overlooked fly fishing option.

Suckers: Various species of suckers can be caught while fly fishing in New Hampshire. While not as glamorous as other species, they provide a challenge and are a great option for those new to fly fishing.

Carp: Fly anglers find this species challenging due to its size and strength. They can be caught in various lakes and rivers throughout the state.

Is There a Fly Fishing Regulation in New Hampshire?

You must familiarize yourself with the fishing regulations in New Hampshire before heading out to cast your lines. Here is a comprehensive guide to the fly fishing regulations in New Hampshire, divided by species:

Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Brown Trout

You can fish for these species from January 1 to October 15 in rivers and streams. The season in wild trout streams is from January 1 until Labor Day. For those who prefer pond fishing, the season starts on the 4th Saturday in April and lasts until October 15.

Lake Trout and/or Salmon

The trout and salmon season in these waters is from January 1 to September 30, while ice fishing is allowed from January 1 to March 31. Catch and release-fishing for these species is also permitted from May 15 to June 15.

Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass

Bass season runs from January 1 to October 15, whereas trout ponds follow the general trout season from the 4th Saturday in April to October 15. Catch and release is encouraged for bass from May 15 to June 15.

Other Species

The fishing season for other species in rivers and streams is from January 1 to October 15. The general trout fishing season also applies to trout ponds, and there is no closed season for other species in all other waters.

It’s vital to consult the NH Freshwater Fishing Digest regularly, as fishing regulations can change to protect species and preserve their habitats.