N.H. Weekly Fishing Report - July 29, 2010
Note: Fish stocking is over for the season. Click here for past stocking reports.
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Native fish, what are they? A native, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, is “originally living, growing, or produced in a certain place: indigenous.” Most people reference brook trout when they think of fish species native to New Hampshire, but there are many other fish species that are native as well. I was working Sunday and came back to a bucket at my office door holding one slimy sculpin. The angler that dropped it off didn’t know what it was and thought it was harmful to brook trout. We get this misinterpretation a lot with this particular species. Actually, slimy sculpin are native to the state. They coexist with brook trout in many locations and are indicators of good water quality, meaning they only live in areas with cooler, clean water. They are a small (2-4 inches) bottom dwelling fish that resides in the rocks within a streambed or lake bottom. They are omnivorous and eat aquatic insects and vegetation, crustaceans, and small fish. Current research taking place in northern New Hampshire has revealed that these guys have a small home range. They can spend their entire lives in an area less than 20 feet. So look out for the native slimy sculpin, and remember: moving live fish is illegal, so look but don’t touch!
The weather and water temps are still warm in the afternoons in northern NH so focus on the rivers, like the upper Connecticut, or small shaded mountain brooks, like Carroll Stream. Also, head out to some bass waters, like Umbagog, Mirror and Partridge Lakes. – Dianne Timmins, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Lakes Region/White Mountains
I would like to briefly discuss a new concept that the NH Fish and Game Department is working on in regards to our landlocked salmon fisheries. A small group of Inland Fisheries staff, Fish and Game commissioners, and lake charter fishing guides continues to meet at F&G headquarters to fashion a new "salmon anglers’ pledge." Briefly, this concept is intended to help preserve and perpetuate the wonderful landlocked salmon fisheries New Hampshire anglers have enjoyed since 1865. Our discussions have covered many areas, including angling ethics, education of anglers in the proper methods of release, and general knowledge of landlocked salmon, their life history, habitat requirements, etc. With the increase in fishing pressure and advanced technological resources employed by today’s anglers, this finite resource needs our help. I will certainly keep anglers "up to speed" on this topic as the group completes this task.
Currently, the salmon fishery in Lake Winnipesaukee is producing some nice three-year-old fish. As fishery managers, we would like to see more of the older age classes as part of the fishery, with a number of high-quality, trophy fish in the mix for anglers. Anglers might consider releasing some of these healthy age-3 fish, which have the potential to become true trophies in the next 1-2 years. No surprise to veteran large-lake anglers, the summer thermocline (layer/depth of water where the temperature changes) is well set up. We’re seeing 6-8 colors leadcore with small streamers, 35-45 feet with spoons on downriggers, producing in the first hours of daylight. Note this year's salmon (age 1) are large enough to take presentations, with reported high numbers being caught; it is imperative to safely and quickly release these (and other) fish; not doing so will increase hook wounding that will negatively impact future growth. – Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist
The scorching summer heat and boat traffic on New Hampshire’s lakes and ponds can be discouraging for many anglers to get out and fish during the day. Why not beat the heat and traffic by bassin’ or poutin’ after dark.
Some of the largest bass I have ever caught came from fishing top-water lures at night. Focus on shorelines, weed bed edges, and drop-offs from shallow to deeper water. Darker colored top-water lures produce the best because their silhouette contrasts better against the evening sky. Black spinnerbaits fished along weed beds also produce good bass. Try Island Pond (Washington), Warren Lake (Alstead), and Pleasant Pond (Francestown).
Fishing for bullheads, a.k.a. horned pout, is a fun way to spend an evening with friends and family on the water. You don’t need any fancy gear, either -- a simple drop-line with a hook and worm will do fine. Fish areas with soft, mucky bottoms and spotty vegetation. Try Edward MacDowell Lake (Peterborough), Hubbard Pond (Rindge), Sportsmen Pond (Fitzwilliam) and setbacks on the Connecticut River. – Jason Carrier, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley
Some of our recent surveys have indicated that stocked trout can be very mobile in search of cooler waters in southern New Hampshire. With water temperatures of the Merrimack River maintaining in the mid-70s (minimum), the stocked trout will travel great distances to find more tolerable (cooler) areas. We suspect the trout stocked, particularly in the Bow and Hooksett areas, have been ascending various tributaries to the mainstem Merrimack River. We observed this in Concord where a small first-order tributary to the Turkey River (a tributary to the Merrimack River), had a minimum of a dozen stocked brook trout in a single pool about half a mile upstream from its mouth. Neither the smaller tributary nor the Turkey River receives hatchery brook trout. Additionally, while conducting a survey to evaluate how the fish community reacted to the removal of the Maxwell Pond Dam on Black Brook in Manchester, we found a yearling stocked brown trout upstream of the dam's former location. Anglers seeking a way to extend the season for these stocked trout should try these smaller tributaries. A quick water temperature reading may help guide where to start. The ability for fish to migrate seasonally to find more tolerable water temperatures, find food, and spawning locations cannot be understated and must be considered when road/stream crossings and dams are being discussed. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist
This past Wednesday we were out on the Piscataqua River by Dover Point and saw what looked like a school of snapper blues. They were in the distance, so we could not verify that they were indeed bluefish, but schools are frequently in this area and further upstream toward the Cocheco and Salmon Falls Rivers, so I was excited at the possibility. Well, we have confirmation! Thank you to Jerry Digrezio of Dover, NH, who recently went out with Sean Smith of Stonefly Guides, sent a fish photo and corrected me on my last post. It appears as though the bluefish are here, if not in great numbers yet. You can see this photo posted on our facebook page. Well, I am glad that you could prove me wrong. Keep the pictures coming! – Rebecca Heuss, Marine Biologist
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