Remote pond brook trout. (STEVE ANGERS PHOTO)

With 2019 almost in the record books, it’s time to reflect on the year just past and to look forward to the year ahead. Learning from the past will lead to a more enjoyable future.

The 2019 fishing season got off to a slow start. Heavy snows and cold temperatures were a challenge for the open water anglers. The snow pack was a challenge for hard water anglers as well, with ice depths reaching well over two feet. The weight of the snow kept the ice wet under the blanket of white and made it hard to fish with tip-ups. Jig fishing ruled the days last winter.

When April rolled around, lakes and ponds remained locked in ice. There was very little trolling in the big lakes until the end of the month and trout ponds were still iced in on opening day. It wasn’t until Mother’s Day that the first trout were caught in the area trout ponds.

Major runoff hindered stream stocking by N.H. Fish and Game. While some fish were placed in the most popular rivers just before Memorial Day, the major stocking didn’t start until June. The high, cold water threw the bug hatches behind and streamer fishing ruled the day.

Once June rolled in, we hit the “Sweet of the Year.” All water bodies had fish and hatches, the fishing began to meet expectations, and anglers from near and far descended on the valley.

While the Saco River was not quite what we have come to expect, the Ellis River fished great during the entire Summer and fall seasons. From the base of Goodrich Falls to Glen Ellis Falls, the Ellis was our “go-to” river in 2019.

The summer was strong fishing for warm-water species in all our lakes and ponds south of town. Bass, smallmouth and largemouth, and pickerel provided great top-water action with bass bugs and lures. Some very large specimens were caught.

The fall season saw some great brook trout caught in the rivers and the ponds. If you ever want to hold one of nature’s true jewels, brook trout, fish in the fall. It is a memory one never forgets.

So, what is 2020 looking like for the angler? We have plenty of ice for hard water fishing. Some nice trout and bass have already been caught and the large lakes aren’t frozen yet. Large lake trout are awaiting the angler in Silver Lake and large bass await in Danforth Bay.

Now is the time to plan for a remote pond float tube trip. Scan maps for waters and trails to head into these lightly fished waters. Ethan Pond, Flat Mountain Pond and the Greeley Ponds are on the list of waters to hike into in 2020.

A return to the Androscoggin River with a float trip from Errol to Bragg Bay and a float trip around Bog Brook for the Alder fly hatch are on the list.

Speaking of float trips, a spring float of the Saco River to try for one of the trophy brown trout is a must.

Having missed the opportunity to float the Saco in 2019, in 2020 that float is No. 1 on the list.

Poring over the Fish and Game stocking lists will give us some other fishing ideas to add to the list. If Mother Nature cooperates and gives us a typical winter, fishing these waters early will satisfy our angling jones from a long winter of tying flies.

Tip of the Week

Hiring a guide to float rivers for big trout is worth the investment. Schedule now to reserve the best times on our big rivers.

Steve Angers is a native son to the Conway area. He has been consumed by fishing since catching his first wild brook trout at the base of Champney Falls.

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