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N.H. Weekly Fishing Report - May 27, 2010

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North Country

Get ready. Spring is about to turn into summer and freshwater fishing in New Hampshire is about to get exciting. Trout ponds have been stocked often and early and, as insects react to warming air and water temperatures, fish respond by feeding very heavily. No one can predict what the summer will be like, but if we see warm, dry conditions, trout fishing won’t get any better than it is now.

Bass are beginning to spawn and visit shallow water. They are also driven by the warming water and an increased metabolism to feed, feed, feed! Many times, predicting fish behavior is the key to successful angling. Right now, warmwater fish are following predictable patterns and offer an awesome fishing opportunity. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Lakes Region

Water temps are soaring...big lake temps are now in the mid 60s, and bass are on the nests. A recent netting foray to Big Squam Lake revealed that some bass eggs have already hatched as schools of bass fry were observed along the shorelines. Trout pond fishing is still hot; try fishing in the evening from 6:00 to dark, that’s when the fly hatches (mayflies) will peak.

Now is an excellent time to catch a mess of horned pout (bullheads) for a delicious meal. Any soft-bottomed cove in any lakes region water has pout. Squam has some nice ones -- we netted bullheads up to a foot long, although some prefer younger fish for a meal. Silver Lake, Tilton/Lochmere has excellent shoreline fishing for pout. Bullheads are not fussy, a generous nightcrawler fished on bottom at night will do the trick. Just be careful of the dorsal and pectoral spines, they can inflict a painful wound! – Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Monadnock/Upper Valley

The phone always seems to be ringing off the hook at the regional office in Keene this time of year. Anglers want to know where the hot spots are and what to use to tempt their respective species of choice to bite.

An interesting phenomenon that always presents itself is the difference in success rates among anglers. In a single week, I might get calls or emails from three different anglers that have all fished the same water with drastically different results. For example, last week it was trout anglers calling about the Souhegan River. One angler was frustrated after a couple days on the water without so much as a strike and seemingly no sign of trout activity, while the other angler was thrilled with his catch rates and the size of trout he was catching. The two anglers were fishing in the same general area of the river and both using fly tackle.

After offering condolences/suggestions and congratulations to the respective callers, I began to think about the disparity between the two callers. The number of trout stocked into a waterbody each year does not typically change, and stocking location and timing generally remain consistent (disclaimers to this are extreme environmental conditions such as floods and/or emergencies that the Conservation Officer must respond to such as Search and Rescue events).

It is always frustrating to not catch fish or to feel that the fish are not there; believe me, I have been there plenty of times myself. However, I always try to remind myself that the opportunities are there and that the next fishing trip might be the one where everything comes together perfectly. If you find yourself having a fruitless day, don't despair. It is likely the fish are there but perhaps weather conditions are wrong, the fish are not on the feed, you are in the wrong location, or you are using the wrong bait/lure/fly.

Don't hesitate to call your regional Fish and Game office with your questions or concerns. We can offer you suggestions on where to go and what to use for tackle, but we can't make the fish bite! – Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley

Anglers have been reporting good days at several of southeastern New Hampshire's lakes, ponds, and rivers. Several trout indicative of holdovers have been reported in Pleasant Lake (Deerfield), Stonehouse Pond (Barrington), and the Cocheco River (Dover). Anglers targeting bass have also noted both largemouth and smallmouth bass beginning to occupy early summer habitats. The recent decrease in flow in the local rivers and streams and high jumps in temperatures are beginning to be a concern. Fish kills, primarily of sunfish species, have been reported in some smaller, shallower ponds throughout this region. The examination of collected specimens indicate high algal counts and weakened immune systems associated with spawning and decreases in oxygen from spikes in water temperature. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Seacoast Area

We were out on the Piscataqua River for most of the day yesterday during our SCUBA program for lobster monitoring. We observed several large groups of birds (terns and gulls) working the bait hard. The largest bird activity was near Henderson Point on the Kittery Side of the river near the old Navy Prison, but other flurries of activity were near the mouth of the harbor at the Coast Guard Station and by Pepperel Cove. We couldn’t get close enough to see the bait, but at nearly this time last year there were a large number of juvenile sea herring in the river, so hopefully this is a repeat. As any good coastal fisherman is likely to say, “FOLLOW THE BIRDS!” When bait are balled up in schools tight enough for terns to divebomb them, there are no doubt stripers below. We have measured some keeper-sized striped bass from the Great Bay this week, as well as some landed in Exeter near the boat ramp downtown.

The winter flounder season is open again. As always, I strongly suggest Rye Harbor for shore anglers targeting winter flounder, and Great Boars Head for those with access to a boat. – Kevin Sullivan, Marine Biologist

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