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N.H. Weekly Fishing Report - May 20, 2010

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North Country

So the sun has finally kissed the North Country. The weekend started out cool but the spring sun is really efficient and by early afternoon water temperatures are rising into the 50s. Just enough to get the suckers moving to spawn and the brookies are hot on their tails. Umbagog has been fishing fantastically, with some large smallmouth bass being caught. These fish should be spawning now, so fishing may slow down a touch. Don’t forget, harvest is by artificial lure or fly only until June 20 on this interstate lake. The warm weather doesn’t take long to heat up the tannic rivers of the North Country, so get out there and fish! – Dianne Timmins, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Lakes Region

Our up and down spring weather continues, two to three days of blustery northwest winds followed by showers and southeast to east winds. As one would expect, this pattern has raised havoc with bass spawning this spring. Look for nesting to really commence this week as the weather pattern (seems?) to quiet down. Remember, bass are protected in NH from May 15 to June 15, with a strict catch and release policy, artificial baits only. Try deeper water drop-offs for cruising bass that may have not nested.

Landlocked salmon are still pretty close to the top, we caught several with 2-3 colors of lead core in Winnipesaukee recently on trolled live shiners, lip-hooked. This technique, with a single, fine wire hook, resulted in the easy unhooking of salmon. Of the two fish harvested, one was feeding heavily on smelt. Also, some very nice lake trout have appeared, up to eight pounds in size. You will find the lakers deeper, try 40-60 feet down, in water 50-70 feet in depth. – Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Monadnock/Upper Valley

It’s one of my favorite times of year -- time to leave the boat at home and do some walking along the banks of tributaries that enter the Connecticut River while casting for smallmouth bass and walleye. Depending on your location, the walleyes are already there and the smallmouths should soon follow. I have found that walleye typically enter these tributaries a month or so after they spawn and that smallmouth will either be there in order to find suitable spawning substrate or to “recover” and fill their bellies after the spawn. Whatever the reason for their presence, the underlying theme here is an opportunity for some fantastic fishing from shore... the kind that would make any kid’s eyes widen, so don’t forget to bring them.

If the tributary you wish to fish has a dam close (within 5 miles) to the river mouth, I would start there. If there is no dam on the lower portions of the tributary, I would suggest starting at the mouth and fishing upriver. Lures of choice include soft jerkbaits on an unweighted hook, poppers, shallow running hard jerkbaits, and 4” curly tailed grubs on a 1/8 or ¼ ounce jig head. I typically cast toward the far shoreline and then let the current do the work while slowly working the lure back towards you. Fly anglers can also have a blast with this type of fishery using weighted wooly buggers, muddler minnows and deer hair poppers.  These fish are typically hungry and not particularly picky, so if you don’t get a strike with 5-10 minutes, start moving until you find them. – Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley

We've received reports of broodstock Atlantic salmon anglers catching fish primarily at Hooksett and Sewalls Falls (Concord) in the Merrimack River as well as the Pemigewasset River along Coolidge Woods Road (New Hampton). These fish are spreading out fast. One fish has already been captured in Lawrence, Massachusetts -- it migrated this far in less than two weeks. Anglers targeting warmwater species will start to find aquatic vegetation blooming and growing quickly. Don't overlook these areas.  Vegetation provides essential cover with young-of-the-year bass, perch, crappie, shiners, etc. With a high concentration of these small fish, the predator fish don't stray too far. Finally, anglers who target some of the larger lakes in southeastern New Hampshire may see some increased catch rates real soon. A hatchery surplus means a big bump to the stocking rates of rainbow trout in at least two waterbodies. I would recommend fishing Massabesic and Bow lakes. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Seacoast Area

The reports of stripers in New Hampshire have started to become more frequent. I was told that a few anglers were catching striped bass at Henry Law Park in Dover. The groundfish have started to come closer to shore and the party/charter boats are doing very well, already starting half-day trips. The near-shore trips south of Hampton are catching a surprising number of redfish along with keeper-sized cod. The “fishermen migration” is already becoming apparent, with boats all begin to head for the “mudhole,” where large congregations of giant cod occur near the end of this month.

As a note, the winter flounder fishing season has a short closure this year and cannot be taken between May 15 and May 24. There is also a closure for Atlantic wolffish in federal waters. – Kevin Sullivan, Marine Biologist

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