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Wild Brook Trout Fishing in New Hampshire’s White Mountains

Published: 4th August 2020 | Author: Nick Yardley

While other anglers dread the dog days of summer, I secretly await them like a kid waits for Christmas. I love brook trout fishing in New Hampshire.

Though the big rivers shut down as water temperatures rise, the high-altitude trickles in the White Mountains of New Hampshire remain icy cold and clear. Shaded under a canopy of maple and fir, it’s the perfect territory for brook trout. 

A speckled brook trout is held gently in an angler's hand
A stunning wild brook trout.
Photo Credit: Sean Platt

Generally, when anglers talk of chasing brookies in the White Mountains, they are talking about doing so in what most would call a stream. Head uphill a few miles—and three or four tributaries removed—and you’ll find what I enjoy. Little blue lines on the map missed in the blink of an eye if you were to walk by. That’s what the summer’s all about.

An angler crouches on a boulder in a stream.
The fish can scare easily, so it’s important to stay as stealthy as possible.

Some of my spots depart from popular trails on well-travelled peaks. So, when it’s time to depart the path, I always do a quick look to be sure the coast is clear. Once there, I can be fishing as close as 50 yards from well used trails and no one would ever know the trout and I were so close. 

A small mountain stream drops into a deep pool.

You don’t catch 10” brookies in these blue lines. With such short growth periods due to cold temperatures, brook trout can’t get that big in the mountains. In truth, anything that hits 8” gives you bragging rights—though it’s better to smile and never tell. Each one landed is a treasure savored before being delicately released.

A small wild brook trout with it's red spots and blue halos.
They may not be huge, but they sure are beautiful.

A 7’ 7” 2wt is my weapon of choice for these fish. I over line it with a 3-weight line so it excels at short range, which is most of what I do in the mountains. The tackle is simple—a spool of 6x Masterclass Fluorocarbon Tippet in your pocket and a small box of foam beetles and hair winged caddis. I carry other patterns as a security blanket, but some day I’ll leave those behind. 

The flies, rod, reel and tippet necessary for catching wild brook trout.
The gear and flies needed for targeting wild brook trout.

Like many things that are special, trickles are delicate. While a joy to fish, overindulgence can damage them. I treasure my blue lines and ration myself to fishing the same section only a few times each year. With so many trickles to sample, this is not the hardship it may appear. After all, part of the adventure is exploring and finding new streams.

An angler casts from the bottom of a pool in a small mountain trickle.
A perfect day brook trout fishing in New Hampshire.

I’ve yet to meet another angler on these little no-name trickles and I hope to keep it that way. There’s nothing like a day of solitude in the mountains. Besides, who would come this far for a few little fish anyway? Just think of all those big rivers down in the valley stuffed with big fish! That’s where you should head, and definitely not here.

To read more on Brook Trout in New England, check out this piece from a few years back by Joe Klementovich.

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