Here in New Hampshire we love to fish. We love it so much that we brave the cold to throw in our lines in the middle of winter! Fresh and delicious fish such as lake trout, smallmouth bass and landlocked salmon can be found swimming beneath the ice. For those that are unfamiliar with ice fishing, it involves drilling a sizeable hole in a frozen body of water where one then places lines, fishhooks and other fishing tools into the lake. An angler can either set up a stool to sit by the hole, or he can choose fishing lines that are designed to put up flags when a fish has taken the bait. Either way, ice fishing is a relaxing and unique way to spend your time outdoors in New Hampshire winters.
The earliest forms of ice fishing involved spears instead of fishing lines. The Ojibwa Indians made sharp rods out of wood, chipped away at ice and waited for fish to swim by. Rest assured, you will not have to follow this process. To read more about the history of ice fishing, please follow this link: History of Ice Fishing
I’m interested. Tell me more!
Ice fishing in New Hampshire is unlike other typical winter activities. You don’t simply pick up a board or skis and head to a mountain. When you ice fish, you partake in a cherished tradition that functions more like a ritual than an activity. There is nothing more calming than being out in the middle of a wide, white lake with just the sound of the wind and trees to accompany you. All day long you wait for the fish to bite as you either contemplate the world by yourself, or share stories with the friends you’ve brought along with you. For those who want an authentic ice fishing experience, rent a portable ice fishing shack. This way, you can always go inside to warm up, bring a portable stove to cook the fish, and have a cozy place to rest when you need a break.
That sounds awesome! What do I need to ice fish in New Hampshire?
Probably the most important thing you will need to ice fish other than the actual equipment is a fishing license. A New Hampshire freshwater fishing license can be purchased online at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department website. The licenses are not very expensive and range anywhere from $15 to $35. It is also important to know fish regulations on size and quantity before you fish. Here is a New Hampshire fishing guide that can help you with any other questions you may have: Freshwater Fishing Guide
If you have your license already, here are the other tools you will need to go ice fishing:
- A sled or toboggan to haul your fishing equipment and other materials
- An ice auger to drill a hole in the ice
- A skimmer to scoop out chips of ice and slush at the top of the fishing hole
- A stool for you to sit on
- A jigging rod, lines, hooks, jigs, lures, gaff hook and any other fishing gear you may want
- A bait bucket
If you do not wish to purchase some of the larger, more expensive equipment (such as the auger), there are places in New Hampshire where you can rent the gear you need. For clothing and other supplies, check out this link to our gear shop: Gear Shop
Where are the best places to go ice fishing in New Hampshire?
There are several great places to go ice fishing in New Hampshire. Lake Sunapee, Lake Winnipesaukee, Squam Lakes and Lake Tarleton are quite popular destinations. For a complete list of lakes where you can ice fish, as well as any regulations set by the state, please follow this link: List of NH Ice Fishing Destinations
If you intend to make an extended trip and need a place to stay, check out these links for nearby accommodations: New Hampshire Lodging
Could I take my kids ice fishing?
Absolutely. Ice fishing is a perfect activity for individuals or for the whole family. It is also poses less danger than skiing and snowboarding, and can teach a lifelong skill!