Over the past 200 years, a 27,000 acre swathe of New Hampshire’s Northern woodland has unknowingly become a stronghold for native Eastern Brook Trout. The Second Dartmouth College Grant (the area of land) butts up against the Maine border and captures the Dead and Swift Diamond Rivers and their tributaries. Outside of the grant, there is an infinite number of opinions on stocking, bag limits, management policies, and best fishing practices. Within the boundaries of the grant, there is no arguing with the success of limiting fishing pressure. Day use is allowed by non-Dartmouth affiliates, a handful of cabins sprinkled through the woods accommodate overnight stays by Dartmouth grads and alumni so don’t expect to be shoulder to shoulder with other fishermen if you visit.
The forest is managed, the visitor pressure limited and the fishing, regulated all to reduce the impact of fishing while still allowing for a fish or two to be taken for the frying pan if you’re still not on board with the practice of catch and release. Traveling deeper into the grant provides a glimpse into what healthy river systems and forests look like. Older trees shading and keeping small tribs clear and cold, streamside alders and willows packed with tasty caddis or alder flies. Combined, it makes a streamside walk challenging but far better than following the muddied, beaten down fisherman’s trail from pool to pool.
I’ve only scratched the surface of the waters contained in the grant and each brief visit has always been memorable. Big, toothy, colorful Brook Trout in pools just large enough to bath in or rolling forest vistas opening up at the top of a long sweaty uphill bike ride. Yeah, the best way for a non-ivy leaguer to explore the vast acres of this river system is by bike or even better tag along with an alumni from the “Big Green” then you’ll be able to spend a night or two chasing one of New England’s legendary species.