100 Best: Connecticut River
Location: Northern New Hampshire
Type of stream: Tailwater plus
Angling methods: Fly, Spin
Species: Landlocked Salmon, Brown, Brook, Rainbows
Access: Easy to moderate
Season: January 1—mid-Oct.
Supporting Services: Pittsburg
Short take: You’ll need a week to do it justice
Closest Chapter: Ammonoosuc
There’s no more varied trout and salmon fishery than the upper Connecticut. The 2.5 mile run of river between First Connecticut Lake and Lake Francis are famed for landlocked salmon up to 24 inches spring and fall, and the 30 miles below Lake Francis is marvelous brown, brook, and rainbow water. Many anglers who make the half-day trek up I-93 then US Route 3 from Boston ignore untold miles of squaretail rich small brooks that feed Indian Stream and Perry Stream before the Connecticut reaches West Stewartstown. Pools, darkly tannin, turn up brookies of six to ten inches with a trophy sometimes measuring more than a foot. This is the epitome of natural New England trouting of the kind known long before the industrial age. Bring a seven-foot, three-weight bamboo, if you have it, or one of those lovely soft fiberglass rods. Also overlooked are the ponds. These offer a more contemplative approach to brook trout fishing than flinging flies into insistent current.
Paul Doscher, TU trustee and vice president of land conservancy for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, was instrumental in negotiating a conservation easement with TransCanada Hydro Northeast to preserve 2,300 acres in the upper Connecticut watershed which includes 31 miles of frontage on First and Second Connecticut Lakes and 7.5 miles of river bank between Pittsburg and Clarksville. The easement guarantees angler access in perpetuity.