We just got back from the White Mountains in New Hampshire where we put on a Tenkara demo day at North Country Angler. North Country Angler owner Steve Angers was kind enough to host us in front of his fly shop. The North Country Angler is in a prime location on Rt. 16 in North Conway NH and is a great starting point for any fly fishing in the White Mountains. It’s a full-service shop with guides and all the gear and info you will need for a great day on the water. Stop in and ask them for their map.
We drove up to New Hampshire on Friday morning and headed straight to the Lincoln NH area where some of our favorite hiking trails that travel along some of the smaller branches of the Pemigewasset River are located. We were in search of native brook trout and knew where to find them. We pulled in to a small parking lot off of the Kancamagus highway, paid the national park fee and grabbed our gear. We made our way onto the trail and walked past some families swimming in a nice pool. We hiked downstream quite a ways to get away from the noise and search for brookies. The water in this branch was gin clear and the bed was all rock. This area requires a little bit of stealth so you don’t spook the fish. In most sections the water is shallow but there are several small to large pools that are known to hold fish.
We came across some decent size pools that looked like they would be holding fish. A few casts upstream, letting the fly drift in the current and sure enough, the fish were biting. In most cases, they were hiding under cover, close to the fast current waiting for food to drift by. I have found that bead head flies with some orange flash work really well in this area. My preference is a fly called the “blowtorch” which is a natural looking nymph with an orange tail and a bead head.
Sure enough, we found some brookies willing to take our flies. We pulled in quite a few small ones, ranging in size from a few inches to 6 inches. We fished this spot for a short while before moving further downstream in search of some bigger native brook trout. It didn’t take us long to find some bigger running water and some larger pools. Denver finally landed his first NH native brook trout. You could see the excitement on his face and could tell he was ready for more. A short while later I felt a pretty good pull on my line. You have to remember that this is small water. I set the hook and right away could see that I had a decent size trout on the line. I let him play a little before bringing him in. It looked to be around 8-9 inches which were pretty big for this brook.
Before we knew it, it was time to go. We still had to get to our campground and set up camp for the night. That night we grilled up some food, tossed back a few cold beverages and got ready for Saturday’s Tenkara Demo Day.
Our demo day started early Saturday morning. We cooked up a quick camp breakfast, packed up the Jeep Cherokee and headed to North Country Angler. Steve the owner of NCA set us up with a tent in front of the shop so we could be seen by all the outlet shop traffic. The demo day went really well. We had all kinds of anglers stop by. Some were familiar with Tenkara and just wanted to say hello or purchase some gear. Others had heard about it and wanted to see it in person. We did some casting demonstrations in the parking lot and let them try it out.
Our table was stacked with gear, apparel, issues of Tenkara Angler magazine and videos to watch. It was a lot of fun showing off our gear and spreading the Tenkara method. At the end of the day, we packed up our gear and went to meet head guide Nate Hill on the water. Nate was anxious to try out our Tenkara gear and had some ideal places in mind. We took a short drive from the shop to meet Nate and follow him to some prime spots for Tenkara. When we got to the river the rain started to fall but that didn’t deter us from our mission. A short hike from the road and we were casting lines with Nate and he was pulling in trout very quickly. He really knows the water in this region and quickly found flies that were working. We made our way upstream and before long we were staring at some good size trout at the bottom of a really deep pool. Unfortunately, these trout weren’t moving or responding to anything we threw at them. Sometimes you have days like this. It reminded me of days on the Swift River in MA when you can see trophy size trout but get frustrated trying to get their attention. Before we knew it, Nate had to leave to meet family for dinner so we packed up and headed out. We called Steve, who was closing up the shop and he volunteered to show us some of his favorite spots for brook trout. We followed Steve into the forest on some gravel roads that lead to some cool spots that he hadn’t visited since the storms last year. He was curious to see how the brooks had faired and if they were holding trout. Sure enough, he brought us to a cool spot under a bridge and the brookies we’re biting. Unfortunately, we were short on time as it was getting dark and we had to get back to camp.
The White Mountain region truly is a perfect match for Tenkara. Now I know that currently Tenkara isn’t allowed in New Hampshire’s "Fly Fishing Only" bodies of water but don’t despair. There are plenty of great areas to fish the Tenkara method in New Hampshire. Most of the fly fishing only sections get a lot of angler traffic anyways. So if you prefer to fish in quiet solitude, grab a Tenkara rod and hike to some of the more secluded fishing areas. If you grab a hiking trail map and minimal gear, you’re all set to explore and go your own way to find some beautiful fish. I don’t know the reasons why New Hampshire doesn’t allow Tenkara in fly fishing only sections but I think it will change. Stay tuned and I will write my thoughts on this issue. For now, I’m going to continue to spread the positive message about Tenkara throughout New England.
Thanks for reading,
“no reel, no problems”