Fishing for brook trout and rainbow trout in the Saco River, North Conway, Carroll County, New Hampshire (July 6, 2020)

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The put-in is just below the River Road bridge in downtown North Conway. I fish the large pool to the left. The municipal park is to the right, upstream of the bridge.


I spend the long July the 4th weekend camping with family members at the Glenn Ellis Family Campground 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 on the beautiful Saco River. I brought my fishing equipment in order to catch some of the numerous trout that live in this river. I fished a different section of this waterbody two days ago, and I’m eager to explore, and blog about, other sections.



I fooled this little brook trout!


During a 2019 family tubing trip on the Saco River between the campground and North Conway, NH, I observed an interesting-looking large and deep pool located just downstream of the take-out point by the bridge on River Road in downtown North Conway. I made a mental note of this intriguing spot for future exploration. Well, that future has arrived! I brought my fishing float tube with me and am eager to put it to good use. This section of the river is fly-fishing only with a two-trout bag limit, as per the NH freshwater fishing rules. Also, except for the lower part of the pool (see further below), the river stretches bank-to-bank, both shorelines are heavily vegetated, and the water is quite deep. So, there’s really no way to fly fish it except using a floating device. Finally, keep in mind that this general location turns into a full-fledged shit show every afternoon-early evenings during the summer as hundreds of Saco River tubers come off the water at the municipal park next to the bridge, turning the place into a circus.


What a pleasure to see this fish jump out of the water several times during the fight!


I arrive at the River Street bridge over the Saco River at 5:15 am. I have the place all to myself. My experience is that fly fishing for trout can be hot business early in the morning before the sun ascends above the horizon (click here for an example). I’m excited to see numerous rises as I’m preparing to launch. The fish are at their posts, feeding! I don my waders, put on my flippers, place the fishing float tube in the water, and off I go. One issue I hadn’t considered is that the current in the pool, though slow, is still strong enough to make returning back upstream using flipper-power quite a challenge. I ponder this dilemma as I slowly drift downstream and catch two small trout on two elk hair caddis flies tied to each other. The pool becomes a bit shallower (< 4 ft deep) further down gradient, and one of its banks turns into a huge vegetation-free cobble island. Great, that’s the solution to my problem. I get out of my tube, leave it behind on the island, wade back into the river, and start fishing. The trout are aggressively feeding on the surface and I’m finally hitting my strides.


Oh, I forgot to mention that I also caught brown trout this morning. A real smorgasbord of salmonids.


From the island, I wade as far upstream as I can, cast my dry flies 30 ft towards the opposite bank, and then “walk” them downstream at the speed of the current. This approach keeps my floating line ram-rod straight and makes for a realistic fly presentation. And it fools fish after fish! I hook and land a dozen rainbow trout and brook trout from a 300 ft section of river located at the downstream end of the pool. All the fish are small (12” or less) but hungry, aggressive, and feisty. Fly fishing doesn’t get any better than this morning! I leave this beautiful place at 7:30 am to rejoin my family at the camp site, happy with my experience. To get out of the pool, I flipper my way diagonally across from the cobble island towards a rope swing on the opposite shore, work my way out of the water at that spot, and walk back to my car on a well-maintained trail. In fact, I would highly recommend using a canoe or kayak to provide more opportunities to fish the full length of the pool and explore all of its fishing possibilities.


The results: I caught 15 small trout in two hours of fast ‘n furious 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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