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Early Season Angling

Published: 29th May 2020 | Author: Dominic Lentini

Cold, snowy and wet, spring trout fishing in New Hampshire is nothing like the lazy days of summer where you float dry flies to rising fish on calm water. As the temperatures increase and we move toward summer, I took some time to reflect on the most successful spring fishing season I’ve ever had.

Many anglers write off the spring entirely—and those that give it a try once or twice often find limited success. The reason for this is usually quite simple: with colder temperatures and different river conditions, the fish don’t follow the same patterns that most anglers are accustomed to.

Credit: Joe Klementovich

To solve this problem, you have to adapt your game to find the fish. This starts with rethinking where you look for fish. While you might typically find them in highly-oxygenated pocket water or riffles when the water’s warmer, the fish aren’t there when it’s cold. They’re holding in the slow-moving water that you’d skip in the summer. With low water temperatures and shorter days, they have slow metabolisms and significantly less energy. They want to move as little as possible.

Once you find water where you think a trout might hold in cold weather, it’s important to accommodate their eating habits as well. It’s widely discussed that trout eat nymphs the majority of the time and this is no exception in the spring. However, the nymphs you find in the spring months aren’t necessarily the same as you’ll find in the summer. Some species aren’t as far along in their life stage, so you should adjust your fly sizes and colors to match this. It will also be important to get your nymphs down deep, as the water is frequently higher and faster than usual—especially as the snowmelt begins.

Credit: Joe Klementovich

While nymphs will perform well throughout the early season, streamers should not be overlooked. The main difference between early-season streamer fishing and what comes later, however, is that you need to slow everything down. Though there are exceptions to this, it’s rare that you’ll get a fish to move far for a meal. It’s too cold, and they don’t want to work that hard. They’d much rather wait for something to drift into their open mouth. Because of this, it’s most effective to use passive retrieves that mimic an easy meal instead of a fast strip.

Credit: Joe Klementovich


If you’re ready to put in more time spring fishing on your home water next year, here are some gear tips for making the best of your outings:

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