So Much Water Volume 1 Issue 3 Summer 2015 - Page 41

North Conway, New Hampshire

North Conway, New Hampshire is located in the beautiful White Mountains. While best known for its multiple ski areas, extensive retail outlets, golf courses, unmatched tourist infrastructure, and breathtaking views; greater North Conway is also home to two of the states twelve fly fishing only rivers, and two of its three formally designated “Wild Trout” ponds. It is also within striking distance of the state’s longest stretch of catch and release water.

North Conway has had a fly shop—North Country Angler--for over forty years. It has been owned by such notables as Dick Surette—the founder of Fly Tyer magazine, Dick Stewart—a well known fly tyer and author, and Hunter’s Angling Supplies—a nationally known catalog retailer. It is also home to Fly Fish America magazine headquarters.

If you ever find yourself in New England, give these towns a try. All three can be used as a base for a multi-water fishing vacation. Each offers fly shops, guides, lodging and dining that rival anything found in the region. And all are within a short drive of Boston, Massachusetts; Hartford Connecticut; and Providence Rhode Island.

BOB MALLARD has fly fished for over 35 years. He owned and operated Kennebec River Outfitters in Madison, Maine from 2001 to 2014. Bob is a blogger, writer and author. He has written for newspapers, magazines and ezines at the local, state, regional and national level. His work has appeared in the Northwoods Sporting Journal, The Maine Sportsman, Angling Trade, Fly Fishing New England, Eastern Fly Fishing, Fly Tyer, Fly Fishing & Tying Journal, Fly Fish America, American Angler and Fly Fisherman. Bob is the Northeast Regional Editor for Fly Fish America magazine. He writes a column—Gearhead--for Southern Trout online magazine. Bob has appeared on radio and television. Look for his books from Stonefly Press, 50 Best Places Fly Fishing the Northeast (Now Available), 25 Best Towns Fly Fishing for Trout (Spring 2015), 50 Best Places Fly Fishing for Brook Trout (Spring 2016), and 50 Best Places Fly Fishing Maine (2017). Bob is a staff Fly Designer for Catch Fly Fishing in Billings, Montana, with over 30 cataloged patterns. He is also the northeast Sales Rep for Stonefly Press and Catch Fly Fishing. Bob can be reached at (Guiding), (Books), or 207-474-2500.

The Saco River is the largest stream in the area and one of the most beautiful rivers in New England. It begins approximately 25 miles northwest of town at tiny Saco Lake—a fly fishing only water. It flows over forty miles--and drops 1,500 feet in elevation--before entering Maine just southeast of town. Much of the river lies within the White Mountain National Forest and Crawford Notch State Park. There is a roughly 3-mile fly fishing only section right in town.

The Ellis River just north of town in Jackson is a rugged freestone river. It boasts a roughly 2.5-mile fly fishing only section. Its primary tributary—the Wildcat River—is also a solid trout fishery. South of town is the Swift River which parallels the famous Kancamagus Highway for much of its length. Remote Ethan and Shoal Ponds in Crawford Notch are designated “Wild Trout” waters managed for catch and release. Roughly a half hour north of town is the Androscoggin River. This boasts the longest catch and release section in the state.

North Conway is also home to numerous small streams that offer season long fishing for small trout—many of which are wild. This includes the Rocky Branch, East Branch, Sawyer River, Dry River, Ammonoosuc River, and Peabody River. For the Stillwater enthusiast, there are several other ponds worth looking into as well--Mountain Pond, Sawyer Pond, Falls Pond, Hatch Pond and Long Pond.