NH Weekly Fishing Report - May 19, 2011

Free Fishing Day is Saturday, June 4!

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

FYI: The NH Fish and Game Department's boat access facility at Merrymeeting Lake in New Durham, NH, previously closed for repairs and improvements, has now reopened.Take Me Fishing!

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North Country

One of the advantages of this wet weather pattern is that water temperatures have been slow to rise. As trout have been stocked in the North Country, temperature readings are coming in around the mid-fifties. At the same time last year, after an early, warm spring, lakes and ponds were already hovering in the sixties. What this means for anglers is an extension of the spring action in many places. I’ve heard great reports about the trout fishing at Akers Pond in Errol and Little Diamond Pond in Stewartstown. I am also aware of some monster fish being caught at Profile Lake in Franconia which include some brook trout over three pounds.

When water levels drop a little, rivers and streams will be a great place to test your skills. Fish are going to be spread out and can be found in every pool and riffle. Brook, brown, and rainbow trout are all going to be feeding heavily on all of the natural foods that have been washed into the water. Nash Stream, Phillips Brook, and the Ammonoosuc River will be great spots to fish in the coming weeks. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Lakes Region/White Mountains

We continue on with our cold, wet spring here in the lakes region of New Hampshire! After flirting with a near normal lake level, Lake Winnipesaukee again has risen above full pool. Streams in the area are running near bank-full, but are highly fishable due to the water temps (mid 50s). The water temperature of Lake Winnipesaukee is in the 50-52 degree range, excellent for landlocked salmon and rainbow trout.

Speaking of salmon, last weekend’s Winni Derby on Lake Winnipesaukee was a success with 206 salmon entered, with a mean length of 21.4” and weight of 3.25 pounds. Only 19 lake trout were entered, mean length of 24” and weight of 4.5 pounds. More evidence that salmon is “king” and more highly sought after. Congratulations to the winners, and I hope everyone enjoyed their angling pursuits in spite of the “finicky” weather!

We’ve been busy this week, stocking landlocked salmon yearlings into 15 lakes. The yearling salmon look great, and with water temperatures around 52 degrees, we couldn’t ask for better stocking conditions. With the numerous insect hatches, and abundant smelt population, these salmon will get a big boost in their growth, especially in Winnipesaukee, Sunapee, Squam and Newfound lakes, where our smelt populations continue to thrive.

Our anadromous fisheries team has completed an initial stocking of Atlantic salmon broodstock in the Pemigewasset River, with additional stockings to follow as water levels stabilize. Try fishing the stretch along Coolidge Woods Road below the Ayers Island Dam in New Hampton, but don’t forget your broodstock permit and also remember it’s flies-only for broodstock salmon in the Pemi.

The trout ponds continue to produce well, with many fall stocked trout up to 18” appearing in the catches. We are hoping that in another week, the ponds up in the Sandwich Notch area can be stocked after road repairs have been completed by the White Mountain National Forest. Area ponds such as Sky, Saltmarsh and Spectacle are good bets in the lakes region, while Echo and Profile in the Franconia Notch area have begun to produce well. - Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Monadnock/Upper Valley

Given the predicted forecast for rain through tomorrow, lets talk a bit about how this weather pattern we are in could affect fish and fishing.

Bass: Many locations south of the Lakes Region were fast approaching, or already at, water temperatures where largemouth and smallmouth bass would begin their spawning activities such as nest building. This rain and cool weather now has these water temperatures decreasing. Last week, I observed some lakes and pond in southwestern NH with males already guarding eggs, others where no nests had been built, and still others where males were trying to maneuver females onto the nest to spawn. Bass, such as those north of the Lakes Region, should not be impacted too much by this cool weather and should begin to spawn once water temperatures warm up. Bass production in waterbodies where eggs have already been laid may, however, be impacted. Studies have shown that a decrease in water temperature can cause a male bass to abandon the eggs that he has been guarding from predators. Luckily, not all bass in a waterbody spawn at the same time, so there should still be some bass production in all waterbodies throughout the state, even if it is limited in some.

The weather and its impact on bass behavior were apparent to me as I fished the same waterbody on both Saturday and Sunday. Both days were cool and overcast, and there was heavy rain on Sunday. On Saturday, I found water temperatures as high as 65 degrees Fahrenheit and big bass were cruising around in the shallows in pre-spawn mode. Those bigger bass were hesitant to bite, but plenty of smaller fish were not. On Sunday, the warmest water temperature I was able find was 62 degrees. Although it doesn’t seem like a big drop in temperature to us, it was enough to scatter the big bass and make it tough to get a bite at all.

Trout and salmon: The cool and rainy conditions should go a long way to ensuring trout and salmon anglers continued success. Cooler surface water temperatures in lakes and ponds should continue to keep these fish in the upper 15-20 feet of the water column and along shore, making it generally easier for anglers to target these species. The rain will also help to extend trout fishing in rivers and streams with conditions that will be beneficial for anglers and fish alike (remember the horribly low water conditions during last June?). – Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley

We were able to stock a couple hundred (huge!) broodstock Atlantic salmon late last week. The weather this week has thrown a wrench into our plans; ideally, the rest of the broodstock salmon would have gone out, and we would have transferred over 10,000 river herring from the Androscoggin River (Maine) to the Merrimack River watershed. But the high flows have put a delay on these two endeavors. We’ll let you know when it happens.

While we wait for more accommodating flows, we’ve been working to better document the distribution on walleye within the Merrimack River. While no walleye were found, our surveys emphasize the value of the Merrimack River as a New Hampshire trophy fishery. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass were found in excess of five pounds and twenty inches within the tailraces of the Hooksett Dam (Merrimack River) and the Lower Penacook Dam (Contoocook River). Additionally, several carp were captured downstream of the Hooksett Dam at lengths greater than 30 inches. Once the river flows subside we hope to work our way downstream and survey likely habitat in an effort to learn more about one of the Merrimack River's most elusive species. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Seacoast Area

The striped bass have been teasing anglers down in Portsmouth and along the Lamprey River in Newmarket for a couple of weeks now. As far as I know, they have yet to show their faces anywhere else. The river herring runs have slowed in the Cocheco River in Dover, so I imagine that as soon as we get another big pulse of baitfish in that river, the stripers will appear.
We are in the midst of the winter flounder closure which is from May 15 to the 24th. The weather forecast looks like it is going to cooperate with the opening on the 25th, so you all have a few days to get those flounder rigs ready and wait for the sun to come out. Flounder can be found on sandy bottom, most often near inlets of bays and harbors. The most popular bait for flounder is sea worms. Remember that these fish have small mouths, so you don’t want to load up on the bait. Good luck out there and don’t forget your rain gear! – Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist

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