Greetings, anglers! Spring stocking is now complete. Over the past few months, nearly a million catchable-size fish have been stocked into New Hampshire waters. Lots of them are still out there for you to catch. This fishing report will continue on a bi-weekly basis into September.
Fish culturists will spend the remainder of the summer growing out production trout for 2015; if you spot a stocking truck on the road, it’s most likely fish transfers between hatcheries. For example, over the next few weeks, Warren Fish Hatchery will be shipping brown trout fingerlings to Berlin, and brook trout fingerlings will be shipped from the Berlin Hatchery to Warren. All for your angling pleasure next year!
Fish stocking report: http://www.fishnh.com/Fishing/
Fishing licenses: http://www.fishnh.com. Kids under 16 fish free in N.H.!
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New Hampshire anglers are finding themselves right in the middle of summer. We are far removed from spring, and it seems like fall is a long time away. Like I said, we are smack in the middle of summer and I couldn’t be happier. Mother Nature has been very cooperative in delivering just the right combination of rain and sunshine and, except for mosquitoes and deer flies, it would be hard to complain about the summer of 2014. Trout fishing in lakes and ponds is still fun, as water temperatures have not yet crested 70 degrees. Chasing the same fish in rivers and streams has been very rewarding as low flows have forced the fish into smaller, more predictable locations. Insect life is responding and following typical cycles. In addition to the caddis, mayflies, and stoneflies, I have started to see some grasshoppers. I’ve written about them before and will mention that they are among my favorite dry flies to fish. They are so big and naturally awkward in the water that fishing
them is easy and usually convinces large fish to investigate.
I’ve got three days set aside next week to fish Umbagog Lake for smallmouth. A few friends and I will be camping on the lake and getting some well-deserved rest. Mid-July trips for bass can be challenging from a fishing standpoint, but provide a very rewarding camping experience. While fishing may be slow and big fish elusive, hitting the water at 4:30 a.m. after a cup of camp coffee is awesome. This group of guys has been fishing like this a long time, and our camping skills are perfected. The food will be better than most eat at home, and tents are set up to be more comfortable than some hotels I’ve slept in. There will be plenty of fishing, a few mid-day naps, I hope to read two or three books, and nights in front of the campfire create some of the most memorable conversation friends could hope for. I hope to get back to work next week with a renewed sense of calm energy. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist
The Lakes Region and White Mountains have recently experienced some great weather days interspersed with heavy thunderstorm activity and high rainfall amounts. As I write this report, this area has received approximately 1.5 inches of rain every 5 days or so. Lake levels, as one would expect, are high, and streams are running full. The influx of water is good for fishing, as it brings a myriad of food items rushing into lake and stream systems. The thermocline is setting up quite well now on the big lakes, approximately 35-40 feet down. We have had reports of some nice rainbows caught in Winnisquam and Big Squam. Salmon fishing is picking up well in Winnipesaukee, but get on the water early, before sunrise. A variety of hardware (spoons) are producing the catches.
Smallmouth bass have descended deep; try drop-offs 25-35 feet deep, especially sandy/gravel substrate with grass beds. Jigging is the preferred method here. I have had reports of schools of alewives appearing on Winnisquam. Fishing these schools is exciting…it’s much like chasing schools of baitfish down off the coast, albeit on a much smaller level. I’ve seen smallmouth bass and white perch following these schools and grabbing the alewives. Jointed, sinking Rapalas and silver spoons should do the trick.
Most if not all “regular” stocking has concluded for the year, except for a few surplus brook trout stockings keeping us busy here at the Region 2 office. Look for ponds in central N.H. into the southern White Mountains, and streams and rivers in this area also, to receive some of these great brook trout, up to two pounds in size. White Mountain streams are providing some great fishing now, flows are good and water temps are cold!
This is also a good time to motor out on our mid-sized ponds and lakes and fish for black crappie. Wickwas and Pemigewasset lakes in our immediate area have some great crappie populations. They are all done spawning now, and are schooling up in mid-water depths. Follow the schools on your sonar unit, and drop those small jigs in front of their noses! A fine fighting fish on light spinning tackle, and hard to beat, breaded and fried up! – Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist
One of my favorite July activities is fishing in emergent aquatic vegetation for largemouth bass. Some bass anglers try to do everything they can to avoid fishing in vegetation because of the frequent snags that ensue. However, by using the right lures you can avoid this frustration and hook onto some really nice fish.
First of all, it is important to realize why the bass utilize aquatic vegetation. Vegetation provides a number of functions for predatory fish, including cover, ambush locations, and food in the form of smaller fish and insects. Aquatic plants also provide oxygen to the water.
There are many lures out there that can be used to easily fish in aquatic vegetation, but I will just touch on a few. First and foremost is the frog. There are many good brands out there, and they are essentially all snagless. Combine them with a 7-foot medium-heavy rod and a reel outfitted with 20+ pound braided line, and you are ready to go. Simply cast the frog into emergent vegetation such as lily pads, and slowly twitch the lure back towards you. Strikes can be explosive (that’s half the fun!) and care must be taken to give the fish a couple seconds before setting the hook.
Another method is a heavy (1/2-ounce or larger) jig equipped with a plastic trailer such as a crayfish imitation. Simply target pockets in the vegetation, let your jig hit the bottom, and then raise it up and down a couple times. If you don’t get a bite, reel up and cast to the next location.
Finally, a 6-inch plastic worm or fluke type bait rigged weightless on an extra wide gap hook is a great bait for this type of fishing. Rig the hook “Texas” style making sure to embed the hook point into the lure so it is not exposed. Simply cast out and retrieve the lure across the top of the water. A great tip is to stop reeling when the lure is over an opening in the vegetation and let it sink so any bass following the bait will think it has an easy meal.
The abundance of applicable lakes and ponds in southwestern N.H. for this type of fishing is mind-boggling. Tops on my list include: Stumpfield Marsh (aka Hopkinton Reservoir), Scotts Pond, Grassy Pond, Warren Lake, Potanipo Lake, Highland Lake, and Crescent Lake. Remember bright sunny days are best, as these conditions usually send more bass into the vegetation. – Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist
SOUTHEAST NH/MERRIMACK VALLEY
Fishing can be a little slow in southeastern New Hampshire during the peak of summer. You can still cast for bass, pickerel, and sunfish along the shoreline of lakes and ponds, including the Bellamy Reservoir (Madbury), Swains Lake (Barrington), and Freese’s Pond (Deerfield), but most of the rivers and streams become too warm for trout fishing. Trout stocking is done for the season in southern New Hampshire. The last fish to be stocked are the surplus trout. Each hatchery raises more fish than required as insurance against die-offs from disease or other issues that may occur in the process of raising fish. At the end of the season, these fish must be stocked to clear room for the following year’s production.
This summer there were 3,000 surplus rainbow and brown trout available for stocking in southeastern New Hampshire. These fish, stocked on July 10, were split evenly between Pleasant Lake (Deerfield) and Lake Massabesic (Manchester). The two lakes were chosen because they contain deep water that will remain cold enough to support trout over the summer. The trick to stocking these fish is to boat them out into the center of the lake so that they can quickly swim down to deeper water.
Fishing for these surplus trout will be a matter of accessing deep water. A boat will be necessary, but any boat will do: canoe, kayak, sailboat, or motorboat. The thermocline, or the depth at which the warm surface water transitions to colder water, usually occurs around 30 or 40 feet below the surface. Jigging is the simplest method of fishing in deeper water. You could try live bait (worms), small jigs, or spoons (such as a crippled herring or Swedish pimple). If you prefer to be on the move, then you could try trolling with dodgers (also known as flashers) or lead core line to keep your bait or lure below the thermocline. When you catch a trout, it will be more stressed than usual due to the warm temperature at the surface. Try to keep handling time to a minimum so that the fish can return to deeper water as quickly as possible, if you decide not to take it home for a meal. – Matt Carpenter, Regional Fisheries Biologist
I heard a mix of striper reports this past weekend. Everything from “where are the fish?” to “I can’t keep bait in the water.” Word has it there were some in the 30-inch range being caught off of Seabrook Beach in the early morning. Hampton Harbor is loaded with juvenile herring right now, look for diving terns and you are sure to find feeding schoolies. Live mackerel and chunked herring were the key to landing a keeper ocean-side.
Reports continue to trickle in of black sea bass and squid in the Piscataqua River. If you are going for black sea bass, keep in mind there is now a size (13 inches) and bag (10 fish) limit on them in New Hampshire waters. – Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist