Trout season can’t come soon enough


photo courtesy of Miles Solsky

This photograph of a stocked brook trout was taken in Errol in June 2022 during a weekend camping trip with family.

Now that we have moved into the frigid winter months, I have been itching to get back in my waders to target some New Hampshire trout!

The Granite State offers great opportunities for fly fishing. Trout season on rivers and streams runs from January to mid-October. Trout ponds and wild trout ponds are closed until the fourth Saturday in April, according to NH Fish and Game.

You can find trout all over New Hampshire, but I like to break it up into three areas to find the best ways to target them: central/southern NH, the White Mountain region, and the far north.

Trout require cold temperatures, and these various regions will determine the life of the trout. While trout can be found in still bodies of water such as lakes and ponds, this article will focus on rivers and streams because that is what I am familiar with. 

The central and southern regions of New Hampshire offer little to no native fish. The water just generally doesn’t get cold enough. Due to the fact that there aren’t plentiful amounts of native brook trout, stocking becomes your best friend.

Stocking is when fish and game puts fish in bodies of water. They are usually sterile and unable to reproduce, and specifically there so people can catch them.

Unfortunately, most of the stocked trout in this region die off with the entrance of warm summer months when their water gets warmer or too low. 

This stream, one of my secret favorites, is ideal habitat for native brook trout. (Miles Solsky)

In the White Mountain region, native brook trout and wild brown and rainbow trout populations are plentiful due to the elevation that supplies the trout with cold water. You can find trout on numerous small mountain-side streams and larger rivers all around the region.

Stocking still takes place here, and fish usually hold over for numerous seasons due to the prime cold-water conditions. Around this area, native brook trout populations reside in just about any stream that doesn’t exceed 68℉ (most won’t).

Rainbow trout and brown trout can survive in slightly warmer waters, but generally the colder the water is, the more likely there is trout. Not every stream contains brown trout and rainbow trout, so you will need to do some research.

In the far northern region, the terrain isn’t very mountainous. However, most bodies of water will stay cold due to mild weather because of how far north they are. Stocking is heavy in the far north, and takes place all year round in bodies of water such as the Androscoggin River. 

This is a stocked rainbow trout from a small river in Concord. This is probably about a two- or three-year old trout. (Miles Solsky)

In terms of stocking, three species of trout are stocked all over New Hampshire: brown, rainbow and brook. The brook trout is the only species that is native to the eastern United States, but rainbows and browns have wild populations as well. 

In New Hampshire, stocking starts in mid-late spring. You can find new batches of stocked trout during the summer, but spring is where they stock the most.

Targeting stocked trout is simple. Nymphs and streamers seem to work best for me during the spring months, and dry flies become more useful as summer moves in, and insect hatches are more prevalent. 

There are various flies used that are generally broken up into three categories. Dry flies that float, and imitate terrestrial, or flying insects that may have fallen in the water, Nymphs that sink, and imitate the premature phases of flying aquatic insects, and finally, there are streamers, which are larger flies that imitate small fish.

You can never go wrong throwing a nymph as they contribute to 90% of a trout’s diet.

Many nymphs can imitate numerous species of insect, making them very versatile. I like to use pheasant tail nymphs, prince nymphs, copper johns, hare’s ear nymphs, and a few others to catch trout almost guaranteed. 

When fly fishing, “matching the hatch” is very important. Matching the hatch is using a fly that imitates the insect or fish as best as possible. Sometimes, fish are selective, and will only eat what looks exactly like the insect, but other times, they will eat anything that looks relatively buggy.

It all depends on the day. 

Native trout are generally not “keepers” and most fishermen let them go. (Miles Solsky)

Native fish tend to be very small, and spook easy, so stealth in those small, mountainous streams will be your best friend. However, it is not the size that attracts anglers. It is the beauty.

Natives love bugs and will readily munch on any dry fly that looks buggy, and any nymph that replicates aquatic insects found in those rivers. I like using what is called a dry dropper rig, which is a way to fish a dry fly and nymph at the same time.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, I greatly encourage you to get out there and fly fish! It is a very rewarding hobby, and quite fun at the same time. Just do some research, and practice in your yard, as the learning curve can be quite steep. However, once you have it, it is easy.