NH Weekly Fishing Report - June 23, 2011
Stocking report: www.fishnh.com/Fishing/Stocking/current.html
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Boat Ramp Closure: Fish and Game's boat access facility on Connor Pond in Ossipee is currently closed for repairs and improvements and will remain closed for about three weeks. The existing paved ramp is being relocated and replaced with a concrete ramp suitable for "cartop" boats.
Fishing Camp: Know a kid age 10-16 who wants to learn how to fish or improve their skills? Sign them up for the "Let's Go Fishing" week at Barry Conservation Camp in Berlin, NH (July 31-August 5). Cost for the overnight week at camp is $475. Register at http://extension.unh.edu/4H/4HCamps.htm.
This week brought us the first day of summer and fishing in New Hampshire is in full swing. Everything is in place to support an excellent experience on the water. Water temperatures have risen, fish are feeding, insects are hatching, and the days are long. On Saturday, I fished the Androscoggin River in Shelburne until 9:30 and caught fish the whole time. Brook and brown trout were chasing streamers like black ghosts and gobbling bead-headed nymphs. I also caught a few smallmouth bass that, combined with a fast current and 4-weight fly rod, gave me an awesome fight. An angler on the opposite side of the river was casting a purple woolly bugger and matching me fish for fish.
I’m looking forward to 4 days on Lake Umbagog next week. Late June has always been a key time to find fish in shallow water close to structure. I love throwing small top-water baits like a torpedo or Rebel Pop-R. The bass also seem to like the curl-tailed grubs that I normally reserve for crappie fishing. When the water settles like glass and the sun sets on the horizon, there is not a more beautiful place to be. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Lakes Region/White Mountains
The remote trout ponds have been successfully stocked for 2011! We had to use our rain date of June 16 this year for our annual stocking of remote trout ponds by helicopter. Everything went like clockwork. The final tally was 47 ponds stocked, from Sunapee to Pittsburg, with a total of 110,000 Kennebago fingerlings or approximately 730 pounds of fish! I flew three “sorties” from Sunapee to Campton, and got to see some surprised anglers at a couple ponds as the helicopter descended close to the surface! These ponds (wildlife.state.nh.us/Fishing/trout_aerial.html) are producing some great brook trout, I saw one recently that was 16 inches and over two pounds -- that is a nice brook trout, especially one grown from fingerling size. It seems that the dragonfly “blitz” is apparent on these ponds, as the larger trout are certainly feeding on the unlucky ones that linger a little too long at the surface!
We maintain a broodstock line of Kennebago brook trout (ages 2, 3 and 4) at our New Hampton Hatchery. From this line, fish culturists gather eggs each fall for the remote pond stocking program, in addition to Mountain and Upper Hall ponds and Pleasant Lake/New London. In 2000, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department embarked on a program to utilize the Kennebago strain of brook trout, as this strain is the best “match” to the strain of brook trout that was originally found in NH. These trout are definitely wilder than their hatchery counterparts, as the fish culturists will tell you. A bit harder to raise, and being wilder, their growth is unpredictable. Given the chance to grow in the wild, these longer-lived brook trout (4-6 years) are a much better “fit” in remote waters. As any seasoned brook trout angler will tell you, the harder it is to access a “brookie” water, generally means a better fishery for these beautiful trout.
The smallmouth bass are cruising the shorelines; I’ve had a blast on Winnisquam with my favorite fly rod poppers at dusk during these warm (now summer) evenings! Give it a try, bass put up a great fight on a 5-weight rod! - Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Lake trout anglers have been utilizing a three-way rig for years with success. It’s not something we hear of very often in this neck of the woods; actually, I had never heard of it until I was doing some research online recently. This is a great way for anglers who don’t have downriggers or lead or steel lines to fish deep for lake trout. The set-up is simple: a six to seven foot medium to medium-light action rod with a baitcasting or spinning reel and six to eight pound test fluorocarbon line (or the equivalent in diameter of super line). The smaller diameter line allows you to get the rig deeper while having to put out less line.
The actual rig consists of a three-way swivel attached to the main line and two 3-4 foot sections of line tied to the swivel. One of the sections of line will go to your lure and the other to a 2 to 4 ounce weight. Fluorocarbon leader material such a Seaguar Blue Label is recommended for the line going from the swivel to your lure (your favorite lake trout spoon or in-line spinner). Another tip is to use 4-lb. test line for the section running from the swivel to your weight; this allows you to minimize the times you will lose your entire set-up if you get stuck. If you do get stuck, you can usually get free by backing the boat up until you are right over the snag and then pulling up on the rod with a series of short quick tugs.
Gabe and I gave this method a try recently at Nubanusit Lake. We were using 2 oz. weights and trolling about 1+ mph and were able to troll this rig as deep as 50 feet. We had a few hits, but didn’t hook up. This is definitely a technique that we are going to have to fish more and try to fine tune over the summer. – Jason Carrier, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley
The record for Atlantic salmon returns to the Merrimack River since the most recent restoration efforts began in the early 1980s was officially broken this week. More than 340 salmon had been counted at the fish lift in Lawrence, Mass., as of Tuesday, June 21. It appears the bulk of the run is over, as only a few more fish are trickling in each day. We are fortunate to get these numbers in the first year of a study to evaluate the potential for natural salmon reproduction in the Merrimack River watershed. The goal is to monitor released Atlantic salmon using radio tags and redd (spawning spot) counts to see how many fish will successfully spawn in the fall. If you accidentally catch an Atlantic salmon without a red broodstock tag near the dorsal fin, please release it immediately. If you see a fish with a long black wire protruding from its mouth (the radio tag antennae), please report its whereabouts and condition to Matt Carpenter (603-271-2612 or firstname.lastname@example.org). If the fish is dead, we would like to retrieve the tag. Once released, these fish like to move, so they could turn up almost anywhere. Please take care not to target these fish. Our ability to assess the potential for natural salmon reproduction will determine the future of the Merrimack salmon program. – Matt Carpenter, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Groundfishing has been fairly decent the last week mixed in with some “hit or miss” days, but there is still plenty of time to get out and fill those coolers full of cod and haddock. Spiny dogfish are starting to make some trips a little less pleasurable recently, tangling up lines and frustrating anglers.
Mackerel are out in good numbers, and striper fishing has been pretty good along the coast and in the river, with people landing some nice sized ones recently. If, like me, you don’t have a boat, fishing from shore can still be fun and rewarding! I would suggest fishing from some of the coastal access sites like Four Tree Island/Prescott Park, Fort Stark, Great Island Common, and Odiorne Point. I have had good luck recently just jigging in small macs and harbor pollock from the shore and jetties. They can be found in shallow waters, and make great bait for stripers when hooked right away and thrown out alive. Try to fish for them during the high tide using light tackle sabiki rigs or diamond jigs. - Conor O’Donnell, Marine Bio-Technician