Time for New England trout
  |  First Published: April 2010

In the October 2009 issue of QFM I ventured the forthcoming New England trout fishing season would be a good one.

This educated guess came on the back of some really good late winter rain. This rain has just kept on coming, keeping streams throughout the high country flushed and the food chain linked solidly.

It’s no surprise the region is experiencing some of the best trout fishing in well over a decade.

Ebor is the epicenter of the region's trout angling with well over a dozen major streams, and plenty of smaller ones, for the angler to enjoy.

But virtually all of New England's trout waters are well worth the effort with many boasting fish well over legal size.

No ask, no fish

As most New England streams are on private property it's a matter of common sense to enquire at the nearest house to a stream before starting to fish.

Refusals are rare and for the most part landowners are surprisingly tolerant of anglers wanting to have a crack at the trout.

My experience has been quite positive with refusals always linked to a reasonable explanation.

Camping is part of the New England fishing scene and an enquiry will usually be successful.

If the landowner cannot accommodate camping there's usually a direction to an area such as a reserve or common area where camping will be no problem.

As the weather can be quite cold in May it's wise to take along plenty of warm clothing and a good sleeping bag.

There are also plenty of pubs within easy reach of trout water throughout New England and a lot of anglers head for the nearest pub for a feed and a bed after fishing. For example, the Ebor Falls hotel/motel is just 50m from the Guy Fawkes River at Ebor.

In late autumn the fish fire up as the day warms, so there's no need to be on the water at first hint of light, unless you enjoy being really cold.


A five or six weight fly outfit is ideal for New England streams. A floating fly line, weight forward or double taper, will do the job.

Lightly greased with Mucilin it will be fine for dry flyfishing and with the leader rubbed down with a little old-fashioned streamside mud the same outfit can fish a wet fly just as easily. Most anglers also set up their chosen trout reel with some backing.

I do make my own leaders but store bought jobs work quite well.

The idea is to take a spool of extra tippet material in your pocket for the time when the leader has been nibbled back to thicker sections and use a heavier breaking strain than desired.

Around 2-2.5kg breaking strain is fine for these small flies. Don't be in too much of a hurry with the fish or he will pop the leader.


New England trout have never been choosy about what they eat. Dry flies that work consistently include Red Tag, Geehi Special, Royal Wulff, Olive Humpy and Adams all in sizes 14 or 16.

The idea is to use the larger size 14 flies through the day to prospect likely spots such as overhanging branches, tussocks and back eddies. Keep the smaller sized flies for later in the day when the fish might be fussier about the fly size.

Wet flies are handy when it's windy, a bit bleak and looks like rain. Fish might not rise at such times but they will certainly take a wet fly quite happily.

I rely on Woolly Buggers in olive and black colours (with or without bead heads) and the various Bunny Fly styles in dark colours. Black and red Matukas are also useful in these highland streams.

Size 8 is about the right size for a wet fly in all New England streams and the idea is to cast the fly into a pool's head and retrieve it slowly in little tweaks and jerks.

You cannot mistake the hit of a trout on a wet fly – it's a solid sort of pull with the rod bending to the job almost instantly.


The thing to remember with trout is that these fish are sensitive to a lot of things that anglers might cause and they will react quite adversely.

The sight of an angler on the bank will make trout flee into their hidey-holes, as will vibrations from a bump or thump on the bank.

The idea is to cast upstream for some distance keeping back a little from the water and advancing slowly. From my experience a cautious trout angler is a successful one.

Other gear

Along with warm clothing a pair of thigh waders are also required. Snowbees are well-made waders and are great value for money.

A landing net in a sheath is also a good idea to keep the net untangled from blackberry bushes and similar plants.

In your vest pocket or fishing jacket it's easy to keep a pair of clippers for cutting the line and hook removers to avoid putting fingers into little mouths with sharp teeth.

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