New book highlights 50 best places to fly fish the Northeast

Ever sit around a campfire with some fishing buddies and start brainstorming new places to wet a line?

Sure, we all have.

That’s how some of us end up with our fishing “bucket lists.” We listen to our pals, hear their tales, and say to ourselves, “Some day,” I’ll go.

Bob Mallard, owner of the Kennebec River Outfitters fly shop in Madison, has recently published a resource that could spur many more of those conversations.

Called “50 Best Places, Fly Fishing the Northeast,” Mallard’s book will likely emerge as the go-to guide for fly anglers willing to travel a few miles in order to get to special spots.

In an email, Mallard explained that he contributed seven chapters to the book, then relied on expert fishing professionals from across the region for the rest of the handsome, 231-page volume that was published by Stonefly Press.

The book includes hundreds of full-color photos and maps, tackle and fly suggestions, and a foreword by Thomas Ames Jr.

Mallard has long lobbied for better fishing in Maine, and has tried to to prompt what he sees as necessary changes by the state’s fisheries managers.

Ever the conservationist, Mallard uses a delicate touch when describing some of the most sensitive waters.

In a chapter titled “Maine Brook Trout Ponds,” he explains that the state is home to about 1,100 brook trout ponds, which makes it unique in the U.S. Among those, about 175 are classified as “remote,” meaning that they’re the special gems that anglers can’t drive directly to.

Though the book is sometimes a “where-to, how-to” manual, don’t expect Mallard to give away all of the secrets of the Maine woods, however.

When talking about those remote ponds, here’s what he has to say: “It would be impossible — and I believe a real disservice — to try to name just one of these ponds for the purposes of this book,” he writes. “In aggregate, they represent a fly-fishing resource unlike anything else found in the Northeast. IN fact, they probably bring more anglers to Maine than all the rivers and streams put together. As a result, I have opted to cover them as a group.”

That’s a good decision. It’s easy, after all, to love a brook trout pond to death, and the ponds Mallard generically addresses in this chapter are the crown jewels of the state’s trout waters.

Some other Maine-centric chapters (including a quote from the writer who prepared each section):

  • Maine Arctic Char Ponds:“That this remnant of the ice age has survived this long is actually amazing. Equally astounding is where some of these char populations are found,” Mallard wrote.
  • West Branch Penobscot River: “The land surrounding the West Branch is some of the most rugged and beautiful in the Northeast. Maine’s highest point, Mount Katahdin (5,269 feet) and other distant peaks n Baxter State Park are constantly in view,” wrote guide Greg Bostater.
  • East Outlet: “The East Outlet represents classic landlocked salmon fishing at its finest. it is a unique fishery on a rugged and beautiful river in a remote and relatively undeveloped setting,” wrote guide Mike Butler.
  • Kennebec River: “Below Harris [Dam] near The Forks, in what is called The Gorge, lies the most rugged and remote stretch of salmonid river in the Northeast. Best known for its whitewater rafting, it is also a great wild brook trout and landlocked salmon fishery,” Mallard wrote.
  • Grand Lake Stream: “Long known for its fabled landlocked salmon fishing, Grand Lake Stream has been a popular destination with fly fishers since the mid-1800s,” wrote guide Jeff McEvoy, who owns Weatherbys lodge.
  • Magalloway River: “Sometimes overlooked in regional guidebooks, the Magalloway River is by any rational definition one of the two finest native Eastern brook trout rivers in the country,” guide Kris Thompson, co-owner of Pond in the River Guide Service in Rangeley, wrote.
  • Rapid River: “The Rapid River is a true treasure — and the nation’s finest wild native Eastern brook trout fishery. It offers fly fishers the best chance of catching a 5-pound wild brook trout of any river in the United States,” wrote guide Kash Haley, co-owner of Pond in the River Guide Service in Rangeley.

The book includes 49 pages dedicated to Maine destinations, but as the name suggests, also covers waters in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The book retails for $34.95, and may be the perfect gift for the fly fisher on your list.

Follow John on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke

John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.