Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hat's Off On North Conway's Saco River

The Saco River should be a destination for any angler who wants to have a complete New England fly casting experience.  My first visit was in the summer of 1973.  It's really simple.   This is New Hampshire's Beverkill, Battenkill and Ausable in the minds eye of a fly casters dream.  The beginnings of fly fishing in New England can be felt by those who what to experience the lore of the river.  She flows crystal from the Presidential Mountain Range for some 134 miles to enter the Atlantic at Saco, Maine.

I saw many very large browns cruising one of the pools I fished.  Some locations had only brook trout in the ten inch range but what they lack in size is made up in quantity.  They traveled in packs.  Yesterday was a very hard fishing day as the barometric pressure and higher than desired flow made for a hatch free day.  To say activity was low would be an understatement.  The highlight for this time of year is the spinner fall late in the day.  No hatch means no spinners.  I did manage three good browns and five brookies all on Light Cahill Wood Duck Emergers.  They had to be twitched and slowly stripped just under the surface.

You can walk the entire two and a half miles of the fly fishing controlled section to see all pools.  The land is private and locals ask for our civil awareness to keep the area clean.  The area is shadowed by the White Mountains and has the look and feel of the great outdoors at it's best.

By itself, New Hampshire does a fine job with stocking the river as the indigenous brook trout can not compete with angling pressure.   The added bonus is the tradition and understanding in North Conway that the health of the river, as a fishing and canoeing waterway, is vital.  The state gives permission for a controlled stocking in addition to it's investment.

 Bill Thompson, the owner of North Country Anglers writes, "In what has become an annual rite of spring the members of Saco Valley Anglers Trout Unlimited have once again stocked the Saco River with trout. Saco Valley Anglers have been doing this for over twenty-five years. The annual event came about do to the efforts of two of the founding members of the trout club Dick Surette and Dick Stewart. Dick Surette was always fond of saying: “Most clubs stock trout in private ponds for the exclusive use of their members, our club puts trout in public water so that anyone may fish for them”. The stocked fish are in addition to the trout stocked by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. The trout are paid for by funds raised by club members at their annual auction." 

If you are fishing Saco for the first time, I suggest you hire a guide.  You can also make part of the day going to the Ellis River for some quality rainbow fishing.  If you want the best of the fishing, you will not want to spend your time searching. 

The one thing that is hard to deal with is the canoe and kayak hatch.  This river is more heavily traveled as we get closer to July especially on week ends .  If you want to go, go now!


If you want to know more about the Saco then please Email me at

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