The Connecticut River

Come float with us!
Climb aboard our new 15′ Low Profile Clackacraft Drift Boat on the Upper Connecticut River to fish in style and comfort.

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Upper Connecticut River
Upper Connecticut River
Connecticut River rainbow trout caught by Gearge Pruce on a VT Caddis #16 dry fly.

Your guide will maneuver you through riffles laden with caddis-feasting rainbows, glide past undercut banks where browns lie in wait for terrestrials and anchor you over the deepest runs untouched by wading anglers. After a morning of casting to finicky rainbows and shy brook trout, enjoy a shore lunch fit for the heartiest of appetites. Relax and enjoy the serenity of a quick siesta or cast to hidden trout from shore. The afternoon hatches are starting and the brown trout are patiently waiting. Allow your guide to tie on a custom secret fly and head down-river. Don’t forget your camera to capture the memorable scenery and perhaps that fish of a lifetime!

• Connecticut River Drift Trips start June 1st and run till October 15th.

• Waders are strongly suggested as we may hop out of the boat now and again to fish the shallows, water temps can be in the 50’s even during the heat of summer. Rocks are slippery; felt soles are recommended.

• Check out our Hatch Chart for insect information.

• Wading trips and fly-fishing schools are also available on the Connecticut River.

• VT non-residents will need to purchase a New Hampshire non-resident fishing license in order to fish the Connecticut River.

• Francis Smith is a Registered New Hampshire Fishing Guide (NRF-#15).

Kingdom Rivers

The Willoughby River has been pronounced, “The best trout rearing habitat in Vermont” by VT F&W Fisheries Director, Eric Palmer. The second Saturday of April is the trout opener and the banks of the Willoughby are always lined with anxious, cabin fevered anglers willing to endure Vermont’s whirlwind spring weather for the chance to hook one of the Willoughby’s stunning steelhead (rainbow trout).

Rainbow on the Connecticut
Catching a Brown on the Connecticut River
Willoughby River
Chubby Brown Trout, Black River
Willoughby River
Willoughby River, April

Steelhead run up the Willoughby, Barton and Black Rivers every spring season to spawn. The water temps are cold and steelhead rarely chase anglers’ imitations. Rather, a steelheads lie needs to be learned and the imitation bounced just right to annoy these beautiful salmonids into striking. Our guides have fished these streams for years and know where the steelhead lay and the perfect method of delivering the fly. They also know the local patterns and what color or size works best for any given condition. The opening day of trout season is the second Saturday in April and the steelhead start to run. The Willoughby River attracts large crowds of anglers from all over the east coast. It is truly a time of excitement to see the fish jump the Willoughby Falls or to see a young angler holler, “Fish On!” We suggest that you plan a steelhead trip for early May, unless you don’t mind numerous anglers sharing the river with you. The run of steelhead usually lasts 4-6 weeks starting in mid-April.

While the Willoughby River is the talk of the state for hot action early on, don’t forget about the Barton and Black Rivers. The Barton River has a small stretch of excellent riffles, runs and pools where steelhead swarm before jumping a small cascading set of falls. Brown trout also inhibit this area year round. The Barton fishes well from May into July. Small hatches of mayflies and caddis convince numerous trout to give up their resident hiding spot.

The Black River has more than 20 runs and pools that hide rainbow, brown and the occasional brook trout. The Black River receives very little fishing pressure compared to the Willoughby a mere 5 miles away. Trout fishing is good from May-July and September-October. The Black River is also where we run our group and private Fly-Fishing Schools.

The Clyde River

The Clyde River, of recent fame (for being the first river in the country to have a dam removed for “environmental” reasons), has an outstanding run of landlocked Atlantic salmon. May water levels bring in schools of smelt and other baitfish for a feeding frenzy. The salmon also run up the Clyde in the autumn during their spawning run.

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Releasing a Salmon on the Clyde
Releasing a Salmon caught on a dry fly
on the Clyde River
Salmon on!
Salmon on! Clyde River

In May water temperature and flow give walleyes, suckers, perch, smelt and other baitfish the urge to spawn. Walleyes run up first–sometimes as early as March. Then as the waters warm and run-off levels out, perch, smelt, shiners and redfins spawn by the thousands. Salmon move in for the opportunistic feeding frenzy that can last several weeks or be done in five short days. The suckers are last to spawn and any remaining salmon in the river key in on sucker eggs.

During this spring frenzy most anglers cast down and across in traditional salmon fashion with a ghost-type streamer. Your guide will show you different casting techniques and patterns that will lure up those silver-sided footballs.

During the fall (October) run of landlocked salmon, fishing is catch-and-release only. This is the best time of the year to catch a trophy-size salmon in the Clyde River. Again water flow is a factor in giving salmon the urge to motivate up the Clyde. However, even during low flows cold water can stimulate these amazing salmonids into action. Brook trout also make the journey (we have released 16-inch brookies in September).

Bass Fishing

3-lb Smallmouth
Michael Smith fights a 3lb smallmouth bass on Salem Lake.
3-lb Smallmouth
Smallmouth Bass caught by Michael Smith (left) on June 4, 2003 on Salem Lake.

Smallmouth Bass inhabit almost every lake or pond in the Northeast Kingdom. A four-pound smallmouth on a dry fly is not a rare occurrence and the chance to catch a record-setting bass is just a cast away. The time to fly-fish for bass is mid-June into August. The ultimate time is during the Hexegenia limbata hatch. This hatch of wildly large mayflies starts around July 4 and continues till the end of August. The 2-inch long mayflies hatch at dusk and are a spectacular sight. The Hex is even more impressive when a bass glides under the surface and inhales it, creating a slurping sound that will haunt you in your dreams.

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We also fish for smallmouth and largemouth bass utilizing terminal tackle. Plastic tube baits work wonders on our clear ponds and rocky bottoms. Spinner-baits and weedless jig’n pigs have accounted for most of our early season bass. And top waters of any sort work wonders on August evenings. This fishing is great for anglers wanting to learn an area and for anyone who just wants to learn more about bass, their environs and how to fish for them–kids also love bass fishing!

Brooks and Ponds

NEKO will take you on an adventure of the bushwhacking kind if you like small brooks, beaver ponds and beautiful brook trout. Armed with a box of imitations, a backpack full of lunch and beverages, your guide will show you places where few anglers go. This is not for inexperienced casters or big-fish enthusiasts, but if you have the desire to find peace, solitude and enjoy the cool, clear brooks of our highlands, then this trip is for you.

The best times to enjoy a deep-woods brook or pond adventure is mid-June-July and September-October.

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