Sunday, June 28, 2015

New England Fly Fishing Lessons: Connecticut River, Trophy Section

Fly Fishing Lessons: $5 per Hour!

We believe, in order to get more people into the sport of fly fishing, you deserve the very best instruction, at the lowest price possible.  This is why we offer lessons based on a donation only fee system.  In other words, if you have a well paying job, do the right thing by paying the suggested minimum donations.  If money is tight, make a donation that works for you and your family.  It's that simple.

Beginner Casting Class Donation Rates

  • (1) Angler: suggested minimum donation is $20.00 per hour
  • (2-3) Anglers: suggested minimum donation is $10.00 per hour, per person
  • (4-6) Anglers: suggested minimum donation is $5.00 per hour, per person
  • Minimum Course Time: 2 hours
  • Age: Under 12 years old, must be accompanied by an adult  
  • Monday- Sunday

You can read more about our lessons and guiding programs at

The judge and jury box pools are a popular spot.

CT River Facts: Trophy Section

Location:  Pittsburg, New Hampshire area.  Google Maps:
Fishing Season: January 01 to October 15th.
Special Rules: Yes. Fly Fishing Only. Please use barbless hooks. Catch-n-Kill is legal, please see special rules at
Licensed Required: Yes, general fishing only. 
Floating:  No.  You could float the inlet at Lake Francis.
Walk-Wade: Yes.  There is a path from the First CT Lake Dam to the outlet at Lake Francis. Parts of the path are unfinished.  Bring a lunch, it's a long walk-wade round-trip.
Entrance Fee: No.
Camping & Lodging: Yes, private and public camping options.  Many options in the Pittsburg area.
Length: 2.5 miles.
Depth:  Greatly varies due to the structure of the river and dam releases  Some pools, with optimal water flows, may reach +10ft.  However, most pools are small and reaching bottom is never a problem.
Origin:  4th Connecticut Lake, along the border of USA and Canada. The trophy section begins at the first CT lake dam, and ends at Lake Francis. 
Tributaries:  In the trophy section, there are a few small tributary streams. 
Access: At either end of the trophy section, there is access and parking.  River Rd offers parking at Carr bridge.  Along Route 3, there are few pull-offs and paths that lead to the river.
History:  I highly suggest reading any book detailing the logging history of New England.  If you do, you'll be pleased by the vast amount of information pertaining to the CT river.  Also, for a quick read, check out
Disease:  Parts of the CT river has diatom didymo.  After fishing the trophy section or other neighboring sections of the CT river, and to prevent the spread of disease, you should wash your gear.

Fishing this stretch of water, especially the day after stocking, may produce good results.

Why Fish the CT River Trophy Section
  • Native Species:  Eastern Brook Trout and Land Locked Salmon.
  • Non-Native Species: Rainbow and Brown Trout.
  • Stocked Fish:  NH Fish & Game HEAVILY stocks EBT, and Rainbow and Brown Trout. Holdovers and migrating fish from the lake, are known to occur in this stretch.
  • Structure: Rocky Bottom.
  • Tailwater:   Fishes more like a freestone river.  Water levels can get low and the water can warm in this section; however, due to the bottom release dam, and compared to other rivers, you'll get more cold water in this section. 
  • Location: Known to be the fishing and hunting capital of New Hampshire.  Great access to ponds and lakes.  Other areas of the CT river are very accessible: Magalloway River Rd, downstream of Murphy's Dam, up/downstream of Indian Stream.
  • Communications:  Once your drive past Colebrook, you'll have limited service in/around Pittsburg.
  • Experience:  The trophy section of the CT river is a very popular fishery.  Paths are well worn and this stretch of river gets fished hard.  Pools are not big; one or three anglers per pool is crowded. Aside from the general public, you have a handful of independent guides working the river.  Plus, full service lodges such as Tall Timber of The Cabins at Lopstick send clients and guides out, on a daily basis.  Take Away Message = during the weekends, and peak season, don't be surprised if the pools and parking lots are full. 
  • Scenery:  Seasonal colors are good, especially in the fall.  A good chance to see a moose. 

There are 11 known pools on the trophy section. You could park at Lake Francis Campground and work your way upstream.  You could park at the first lake dam and work you way down.  You could park at the Carr Bridge and flip a coin.  NOTE: The majority of the water in the in between section is flat and shallow.  There are a few sections worth fishing/exploring; especially if other areas are crowded.  These few spots can be accessed by parking at obvious pull-offs, on Route 3.  Simply follow foot paths and explore. Good chance to see moose.

How to Fish the CT River Trophy Section

Option A:  We believe you hire a guide because they 'live in' their home waters.  That being said, we would be happy to work with you, but we are not fishing this river every day. If you would like to hire a local guide, who is on/in the water more frequently, we can put you in touch with a respectable guide.     

Option B:  DIY (Do it Yourself).  If you plan to fish this section on your own, your best bet is:

  • Check water flows at
  • In my opinion, early season produces the best fishing.  There is a STRONG correlation between the good fishing reports/experiences, and when NH Fish & Game stocks (i.e. to increase your odds, fish immediately following a stocking).  
  • As summer approaches, dam releases can be infrequent = water levels can get low and water temps will rise.
  • Fly Rods: Depends on your strategies, but 3wt to 6wt, should get the job done.  Note: this is not a wide ride, therefore, the need to carry a canon of a rod, and cast +40 feet, is not necessary (best to focus on presentation).
  • Fly Line:  A standard floating line, with sink tips, if needed.
  • Techniques:  Due to the size of the river, I tend to favor nymphs and dry flies. 
  • Trophies:  This is one of New England's premier fly fishing rivers.  Due to pressure and climate change, the river is not what it used to be 50 years ago.  There is a large amount of hype and marketing; all designed to get you to visit the north country.  Not that the hype is a bad thing, but if you visit and fish the area, don't expect to catch a trophy fish on every cast.  However, anglers catch plenty of fish and each year, a few lucky anglers hook a monster; big enough to keep people coming back and the legacy alive. 
  • Plan B: If you encounter crowds at the well known areas, be prepared to go to option B. Perhaps option B is fishing the CT river on Magalloway Road, Murphy's Dam, or the stretch of water south of town, near the confluence of Indian Stream.  

Final Word

Regardless of fishing, visiting the north country has always been very popular.  This stretch of river can get very busy and fished hard.  Personally, I like to fish in places where there are no other, or limited anglers, even if it means targeting small fish.  Due its popularity (crowds), especially at the larger parking areas, I am not overly impressed with the trophy section.  But, like any river in New England, be prepared for plan B. The good thing about this area, and if your willing to walk beyond the most popular pools, there's always room for an alternative option.  If you can manage to fish the river early season, or on a weekday, I think you'll enjoy this stretch, and have a greater chance of catching wild, non-stocked fish.

Thanks for reading.  We hope you enjoyed this post.

Gone Fishing,


PS. If you would like to float the CT river, please read