N.H. Weekly Fishing Report - September 23, 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
What have we learned from the 2010 fishing season? That would seem an appropriate question to ask as I write the final fishing report -- and it is a great question but inaccurately implies that opportunities to catch fish have past. In reality, we are entering one of my favorite times of the year to fish. Water temperatures are cooling and daylight is decreasing, but fish are still behaving in a way that allows a skilled angler to have an awesome time on New Hampshire's waterbodies.
I recently had an opportunity to survey smallmouth bass in Lake Umbagog by means of electrofishing. Without getting scientific, electrofishing is exactly what it sounds like: using electricity to catch fish. It is a very effective method of sampling and takes all of the guesswork out of fish habitat preference. I found the bass to be a little deeper than I thought, with most of them coming from 8 to 12 feet of water. Most of the fish were around manmade structures like docks. While there was a ton a baitfish in aquatic vegetation, there were no bass there. I learned just as much about where fish were spending their time as I did by not finding them in other spots. For example, drop-offs, submerged rock piles and overhanging trees had no fish. I was very surprised. I was able to raise a few bigger bass on the windy sides of natural points.
If I were to fish the lake with rod and reel, I would throw spinner baits in choppy water of 10 foot depths. I would fish them slowly and change colors frequently. As tempting as it may be to fish topwater, I would stick to deeper diving baits like lipless crankbaits and suspended jerkbaits. Fish are still feeding, obviously, and I would try dark colored jigs and tube baits. I would enjoy the last few weeks in the boat, realizing the next time I visit Umbagog for bass fishing opportunities, I may be standing on three feet of ice. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Lakes Region/White Mountains
What a great summer it has been! From heavy rains in March, to a seemingly endless dry, hot summer, here we are at the autumnal equinox. I've just spent a wonderful day with friends fishing out of Ames Farm Inn on Lake Winnipesaukee. The day was beautiful; we were entertained by salmon leaping out of the water in spectacular jumps. The only problem...they were not attached to our lines! We have witnessed this fall phenomenon for several years now and we still don't quite understand it. Chalk it up to hormones...it most likely is a pre-spawn activity...directly related to the act of reproduction that will occur in the next two months. Nature is grand... sometimes you just step back and take in the spectacle.
The lake trout are also staging for their pre-spawn maneuvers, but they accomplish this in rather deep waters. Remember, lake trout prefer water around 52 degrees, it's hard to find that near shore! The recent popularity of "jigging" lakers at this time of year has grown considerably. One of the more popular areas to try this technique is the "triangle" off the tip of Black Point in Lake Winnipesaukee. This is a very productive area, as smelt tend to congregate at this area, where Alton Bay meets the main part of the lake. Use your electronics and drop a small tube-jig down, and watch as lakers come up to engulf it! As always, remember you are dealing with a coldwater species, time is of the essence if you are going to release these fish!
I hope you have some great memories of this season...I know I have. I can't wait for the "hardwater"! – Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist
As we head into fall, my thoughts turn to the Connecticut River and northern pike, smallmouth bass and walleye. October is a great month to fish the river for these species. As water temperatures drop, pike move back into the setbacks and coves they frequented in the spring. Big Mepps spinners, perch colored spinnerbaits, 5” soft swimbaits, and hard body jerkbaits are all good choices. However, my favorite lure for pike is a black and blue 5/8 oz. J-Mac Lures Musky Jig tipped with a 5” curly tail plastic grub; simply cast it out, reel in, and hold on.
Smallmouths will begin to school heavily in some of the deeper sections of the river during October. Look for holes that are 20+ feet deep and use your electronics to locate fish and drop-off areas. A drop-shot rig, tubes, Carolina rigs, and jigs are all great baits for this type of fishing. Finding the fish is usually half the battle, because once you locate them, the fish usually come relatively easily and you can have some 20+ fish days.
For walleye, locate areas in the main river just on the downstream side of setbacks and coves. Use your electronics to find the first area where the water starts to deepen and where there is hopefully a current seam. Start fishing at that first deeper area and slowly work your way downstream. Throwing out a marker buoy is very helpful. I use jigs tipped with live shiners, a combination of a live shiner and 3” curly tail plastic grub, or a Berkley Gulp Alive minnow. – Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley
We tagged the Atlantic salmon broodstock this week and plan to release them very shortly. The current flow levels and decreasing water temperatures should be conducive to targeting these fish. Around 800 salmon will be stocked in the lower Pemigewasset River between the Franklin area and Coolidge Woods Road in New Hampton. Although not as large as the fish we normally stock in the spring season, these fish will be in characteristic spawning colors. The fall season, which is catch and release only, still requires one to have an Atlantic salmon broodstock permit – for details on the permit and special season see www.fishnh.com/Fishing/atlantic_salmon.htm. It may be worthwhile to combine salmon fishing in this area with the upcoming pheasant season; pheasants are routinely stocked along the property managed by the US Army Corp of Engineers, which borders the lower Pemigewasset River. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist
As the summer is coming to a close, the stripers are making their way out of our estuaries and down the coast and the warm weather fishermen are closing their tackle boxes for the season. There is still some action to be had by those hardier folk. I met a few gentlemen down in Rye one morning this past week standing in the rain, waist deep in surf --catching stripers!
While the rest of you clean off your gear, don’t forget to get those ice fishing rigs ready as well. Winter will be upon us before long, let’s hope for some early ice and a good smelt fishing season. I hope to see you on the ice. – Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist
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