Fishing for brook trout and brown trout on the Saco River, North Conway, Carroll County, New Hampshire (July 7, 2022)

 

Our target pool this morning is located downstream of the the River Road bridge in North Conway

 

The fam and I are spending the long July 4th holiday week camping at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park located right off Route 302 in Glenn, NH (see the New Hampshire Atlas and Gazetteer map 45 G9). This well-maintained and well-organized campground sits right next to the beautiful Saco River, which has its source in the heart of the White Mountains at Crawford Notch and flows southeasterly into Maine at Fryeburg. I brought my fly-fishing gear in order to catch some of the numerous trout that call this river home. My target this morning is a large, slow-moving pool located just downstream of the bridge on River Road in downtown North Conway. Keep in mind that this general location turns into a circus during the summer months as it is a popular take-out point for hordes of people floating down the Saco River on tubes from further upstream. Kids also use several rope swings along the banks of the pool to jump into the water. The only time to properly fish this section is early in the morning before the crowds arrive or late in the evening after the crowds have left. Parking is available in a small area along the shoulder of River Road opposite the bridge. Keep in mind that the maintained parking lot next to the bridge is managed by the town of North Conway. It costs $20 to park there after 8 am, when an attendant is present to collect the fee.

 

These little trout are so much fun to catch on a dry fly

 

The surface water flowing throughout the Saco River is remarkably clear and translucent. While the faster-flowing sections of the river are filled with smooth boulders and cobbles, the substrate at the bottom of my target pool consists almost entirely of fine sand. As per the NH freshwater fishing regulations, this section of the river (specifically, from the confluence with Lucy Brook upstream of River Road to the confluence with Artist Brook downstream of River Road; see the New Hampshire Atlas and Gazetteer map 72) is fly-fishing only with a two-trout daily bag limit. Also, except for the lower part of the pool, the surface water stretches from bank-to-bank, both shorelines are heavily vegetated, and the water can be quite deep in places. I recommend fly-fishing from a canoe or kayak to provide higher mobility and more opportunities to access different areas, although fishing with waders also works. Finally, the Saco River flowing through the Conway area was stocked last fall with over 8,000 1+ old trout (8 to 10 inches in size). That makes for a LOT of fish in a relatively small stretch of river.

 

This brown trout was caught in less than three feet of water

 

My son Joel and I arrive at the River Street bridge over the Saco River by 5:30 am. We park the truck next to the road, quickly ready ourselves, and carry the kayak (Joel) and canoe (me) to the water at the foot of the bridge. We see multiple rises all over the pool. Great, the trout are at their post and feeding on the surface!! The sun is quickly rising but its harsh light is shielded for the next couple of hours by the tall riparian trees that grow all along the shoreline. The place is popular this morning: we see five other anglers fly-fishing from shore or in waders, but none in boats. We quietly paddle away and soon see dozens of trout swimming right below us in the crystal-clear water column. Holy smokes, this location is like an aquarium! Joel anchors and start fishing, whereas I paddle further downstream to hit a deeper area of the pool. I use two dry flies: a mosquito-imitating fly to which I attach (via a 1-ft long section of monofilament) a spinner fly, which imitates a dead bug trapped in the water film on the surface with its wings splayed open. I get two hits but no hookups over the next 45 minutes, whereas Joel lands seven trout…

 

I also caught several brookies this morning but they were all smaller than the brown trout 🙂

 

I swallow my foolish pride, paddle back upstream, and anchor in the general area where Joel is having so much success. I finally hit my strides, and catch 11 small brook trout and brown trout over the next 2 hours or so. Joel has the same success. The action is steady, although we have no clue what the trout are rising to because we see no hatches or bugs on the surface of the water. Regardless, we catch fish casting upstream, downstream, and sideways. They’re feeding everywhere. It’s now a little after 8 am. The sun keeps on climbing in the sky and the fish activity markedly slows down. We decide to call it good and return to camp for breakfast and story-telling with the family. Although none of the trout had any real size this morning, we greatly enjoyed the simple pleasures of a successful father-son early-summer fly-fishing expedition. Life is good indeed!

 

The results: I caught 11 trout and Joel caught 18 trout in 2.5 hours of fun early-morning fly fishing.

 

Was the information in this blog useful? I invite you to share your thoughts and opinions. Also, feel free to discuss your fishing experiences at this location.

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