NH Weekly Fishing Report - April 21, 2011

Hello friends! Welcome to our first fishing report for the season.

Stocking report:www.fishnh.com/Fishing/Stocking/current.html

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North Country

It was less than a month ago that I was ice fishing Greenough Pond in northern New Hampshire. There were over 20 inches of ice and it snowed on me all day. Today is April 21, and I don’t think that conditions on the pond have changed much. Except for our rivers and streams, many waterbodies as far south as Franconia Notch are still frozen over.

Trout Ponds open for fishing on Saturday, April 23 this year. Our hatchery technicians have been as busy as they are in typical years, but are stocking fish through openings in the ice. Most of our moving water has been stocked and flows are decreasing from the flood stages that they were at a week ago. We have reports that Mirror Lake and Airport Pond, Whitefield and Echo Lake, Franconia are ice-free and should be fishable on Saturday.

If ponds are ice-free, this will translate to some great fishing as the trout have had time to spread out and seek their preferred territory. Water temperatures are rising and fish will begin feeding more aggressively. Trolling is a great way to cover a lot of water and most types of tackle can be effective. Streamer flies, in-line spinners, spoons, and wobblers will all produce hits while trolling a trout pond. Even without a boat, fishing live bait from shore will work.

If the rivers and streams have a flow that is safe to fish, an angler can find success casting Rooster Tails, Mepps spinners, bead-headed flies, or heavy spoons. One advantage to increased flows is that it takes more skill and offers greater reward when a fish is landed. This is a great time of year to visit waterbodies that get warm and difficult to fish in the summer. These places include Mirror Lake in Whitefield, the Israel River in Lancaster, Little Diamond Pond in Stewartstown, and Pond of Safety in Randolph; however, ice-out in a couple these ponds may be a week away. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Lakes Region/White Mountains

The Lakes Region is slowly inching its way towards spring. Trolling Winnipesaukee Lake this morning with fellow biologist Ben Nugent was cold but productive. Water temperature was 37 degrees, and a stiff north wind at 10-15 mph created the perfect salmon chop. On the water by 0630 hrs (I know, it was late!) we had two quick strikes almost immediately. One strike was short, with no fish, but Ben had a real tug-of-war with his fish! Ben fought the fish on his 4-weight fly rod for quite awhile before his line approached the boat. The fish stayed deep the whole time, suggesting a lake trout? After a few minutes, Ben was able to work the fish to the surface where a beautiful rainbow trout appeared! Finally in the net, as I took the hook out, a stream of crimson eggs were expelled from her vent. A gorgeous fish, 22 inches and nearly 4 pounds! Ben caught her near a major tributary, suggesting she was close to releasing her eggs in the brook. We both agreed that the rainbow was a fine table treat, so onto the stringer. The next fish hit my trolled smelt, and like the rainbow, stayed deep. Another rainbow perhaps? As the fish doggedly swam toward the boat, a quick glimpse revealed a nice 23-inch lake trout! As the hook came out in Ben's fine mesh net, I quickly released the laker. Not a bad start, two-thirds of the Winnipesaukee trio. As the morning went on, we managed three nice salmon to the boat and released them all, as the single hook bait rig worked to perfection, as all three hook-ups were just inside the jawbone of the fish. Final tally was 5 missed fish, 3 salmon, 1 rainbow and 1 laker! Ice-out has occurred in the past couple days in Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam, with Newfound still a few days away. Even some small ponds still are ice-covered at this date.
With the trout season opener only a couple days away (April 23), look for many ponds to have received a stocking, with many stocked last fall with some impressive brood stock fish. Trout fishing will require a slow presentation with either flies or bait, as water temps are below 40 degrees in most Lakes Region ponds. Thanks to a heavy rainfall last Saturday, streams are running high, and will be difficult to fish. That said, deep pools fished slowly will produce fish even under these conditions. As a final thought, if you are in the Alton area, stop and try the Merrymeeting River for salmon and rainbows. We've heard some good reports from that area.
Enjoy the spring fishing, and be careful in the cold water! – Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Monadnock/Upper Valley

Lakes and ponds in Southwestern NH are starting to open up and anxious bass anglers have been doing their best to get that first open-water bass of the year in the boat. While early spring bass fishing can result in some of the heaviest bass of the year, it can also be quite slow in terms of numbers caught as water temperatures are still hovering in the 40s. For a change of pace and a better shot at larger numbers of fish, try fishing for walleye, a fish that bites quite well at these low water temperatures. Hot spots on the Connecticut River include below the Vernon, Bellows Falls, and Wilder Dams. Other good locations are the mouths of major tributaries to the Connecticut River: Sugar River, Mascoma River, and Cold River, to name a few. While the Connecticut River is too high to safely or effectively fish at the time of writing this, water levels are bound to drop soon. Two good stream flow websites that are good to review before fishing the river are:

http://www.h2oline.com/TRC.asp and http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nh/nwis/rt

Reports from anglers at some of the lower Connecticut River setbacks indicate the yellow perch are in and spawning and that some black crappie are being caught as well. – Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley
Anglers in southeastern New Hampshire should be gearing up for the opening day of fishing one of the area’s designated trout ponds (opening day is April 23). Water temperatures and ice-out conditions have accommodated the stocking of these waterbodies to ensure plenty of fish for opening day. Despite these ponds receiving a high amount of pressure, there always appear to be several trout that elude the anglers and hold over an additional year. These fish should be larger and more acclimated to the conditions of the pond, providing anglers a bit more of a challenge.

Our field season has begun and we are looking forward to several studies in southeastern New Hampshire. Warmwater electrofishing surveys are planned for several ponds in this part of the state and a two-year study of the trout fishery at Bow Lake will also begin. This week, we tagged the broodstock Atlantic salmon to be released in the Pemigewasset and Merrimack rivers in May. By far, these look to be in the best condition and size (close to 200 being over ten pounds) we have seen in years. Stay tuned for press releases as we get closer to stocking them out. Have a great year on the water! – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Seacoast Area

New Hampshire’s saltwater recreational fishing has officially begun! The headboat companies have been running trips since the first of April. Weather, of course, has been the limiting factor on angler success. Nasty spring storms have frequently disturbed fishing productivity as well as headboat days at sea. Anglers who were lucky enough to get out prior to the opening day of Atlantic cod fishing (April 16) saw healthy catches of haddock and have had to reluctantly throw back some nice sized cod. On less productive haddock days, catches of Acadian redfish have been plentiful, offsetting the sting of a haddock-less day, as redfish make for an excellent meal!

Cod fishing has been off to a slow start as strong weather systems and cold water temperatures have made the fish harder to catch. Anglers are still finding decent sized fish and with a promising forecast in the future, I suspect a lot more fish will be caught! With warmer temperatures on the horizon, the big fish will be moving in. It’s time to dust off your jigs and hit the water! – Lon Robinson, Marine Bio-Aide

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