N.H. Weekly Fishing Report - September 16, 2010
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Stocking is done for the season. Look for fall stocking info and previous reports at www.fishnh.com/Fishing/fish_stock_current.htm
As I travel the roads, woods, and waterways of Northern New Hampshire, I am reminded of how September takes an already beautiful landscape and gives it a facelift. Darkness comes earlier, daylight arrives later, and the breeze carries a cooler, crisper feel. It is hard to view these changes and not wonder how they affect fish. Most of our coldwater fish like trout and salmon are fall spawners and many undergo physical changes that seem to arise from the same forces that direct foliage. A male brook trout, for example, will turn a deep orange with such vibrant spots, that it seems to almost be a different species from that which it was a few months ago. Physical changes aside, behavior patterns begin to streamline as energy expenditure becomes more focused. A spawning fish will waste very little effort on activities that don't increase the chances of successful reproduction. What these behavior patterns mean to anglers is this: fish will be in different locations, feeding on different resources (if feeding at all), and will be more weary and unpredictable than they have all summer.
A successful fisherman may turn from natural baits to what are known as "attractor patterns." Where a natural food such as an insect, worm, or baitfish may be shunned, a louder, more colorful bait may induce a strike out of confused aggression on a fish's part. The box of flies that I use the most in the fall contains large, brightly colored flies that more resemble Christmas ornaments than they do fishing gear. Size 10 Wulffs and Coachmen dry flies are both easy to see and stay afloat longer than small flies and fish in the fall seem to routinely rise for them. Streamers that are normally designed to closely imitate baitfish can now be replaced with oddly colored ones like a red and orange Mickey Finn. The most important gear to take on a fishing trip in the fall may be your camera. The fish are beautiful and any waterbody reflecting trees will be gorgeous. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Lakes Region/White Mountains
It's mid-September, and the fall cool-down has begun. Lake surface temperatures continue to drop - today the "Big Lake" is 67 degrees! Reports have been spotty from area trollers, but I can say that we saw a great looking fish (possibly lake trout) being released in choppy Lake Winnisquam today! I continue to have luck on Winnisquam rainbows, but they are still down 20-30 feet. Our recent forage fish survey on Winnisquam was very heartening, as we saw lots of smelt "targets" and were able to trawl up some great looking young-of-the-year smelt. Lake levels are so low this year that we are unable to launch our research vessel at Big Squam and Newfound lakes. If you can get out on the water before dawn, look for smelt activity on the top, as trout and salmon will be feeding on them before the smelt descend back into the depths of the lake.
Stream fishing is still reliant on a good, soaking rainfall in the lakes region. Trout ponds will provide better fishing, as their temperatures will be ideal heading into the close of the season on October 15. I just love to hunt birds and fish for brook trout in the first two weeks of October. Granted, it's such a short time, but for me, it can't be beat! – Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist
We have been performing field work all week. Look for us in next week’s report. – Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley
I have a confession to make. I am one of the few fisheries biologists who is actually bad at fishing. While my coworkers are talking about all the fish they caught over the weekend, I am thinking about the time that my fly rod reel got so tangled that I had to take it apart with a screw driver; or the time I was fishing for bass at Umbagog Lake when my friend vowed to never fish in the same boat with me again, because I spent the entire day with my lure caught in the bushes; or the time I gave my four year old an ice ladle only to turn around and find him with his arm stuffed in the hole up to his shoulder. "It was an accident," he said. These are my fishing stories. I have visions of catching a giant pickerel on a fly rod or hauling a big lake trout through the ice, but the reality is tangled fishing line and treble hooks caught in my finger.
Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who struggles with the mechanics of fishing, but I know there are others like me out there. All I can say to you is: keep trying. I take comfort in knowing that the people I work with were once like us. They put in their time untangling lures from tree branches and removing hooks from various body parts. Time and patience is the key. It also helps to swallow your pride and ask for help. Since I started working at Fish and Game, I have learned about catching crappie through the ice, setting cusk lines, casting plastic worms for smallmouth bass, and jigging for lake trout in deep water during the summer. I have learned things that I never would have figured out on my own. So, find a friend who likes to fish and see what you can learn. Either that or call the Fish and Game office. The people here are a great resource – but you might not want to ask for me! – Matt Carpenter, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Our shore anglers saw a relatively productive week, with quite a few schoolies being caught from the jetties and beach bank areas around Hampton. Stripers are still being caught in the rivers, so don’t rule those locations out just yet!
When you head out to the shore this week to fish for stripers, try using live eels. Simply attach a 3-way swivel to the end of your line, add about 2-4 feet of fluorocarbon (50-80 lb test) to the second loop on the swivel, and attach a 1-foot length of line to the third loop for a 3/16 oz bank sinker. You can also fish eels with light to medium action spinning gear using a 30-inch length of 50lb fluorocarbon leader attached to a barrel swivel. I suggest placing the eels in a bucket filled with ice. This will help the eels slow down, making it easier to put them on your hook. Try using a rag to pick the eel up and simply hook the eel below the jaw and out through an eye socket. After making your cast, be sure to give a slow and steady retrieve so as to keep your line tight.
If handling live eels isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of coastal fishing opportunities left in the season! The head boat companies are still making consistent catches of bluefish and ground fishing remains fair. I’ve also witnessed a lot of bluefin tuna being landed! If you wish to pursue these ferocious ocean giants, please follow federal regulations which can be obtained by calling 1-800-USA-TUNA.
Lastly, our sea-run brown trout are preparing to spawn. You can try fishing for them at Berry Brook in Rye. As brown trout are mainly piscivorous (preying mostly on fish), they can be taken on various spinners and even some rapalas. Fly-fishers will do best using various streamer patterns. Only single hook artificial lures can be used, so make sure to modify your gear accordingly! If you do fish Berry Brook, please take a moment to complete a voluntary angler survey which can be found at the shore access point or you can download a copy at wildlife.state.nh.us/marine/Berrys_Brook_sea_run_BT.html. – Lon Robinson, Marine Bio-Aide
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