NH Weekly Fishing Report - July 21, 2011

Please note that fish stocking is nearly done for the season. Latest report: www.fishnh.com/Fishing/Stocking/current.htmlTake Me Fishing!

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2012 Fishing Rules: Weigh in on proposed changes to NH fishing rules at a public hearing on July 26 at 6:30 p.m. in Concord.

Fishing Camp: Know a kid age 10-16 who wants to learn how to fish or improve their skills? It's not too late to 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.

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North Country

Hot weather is here and everyone is looking for ways to beat the heat. You could crank up the air conditioner and sit inside looking for relief, or you could grab your fishing gear and head to the water. This may be the perfect week for planning a fishing-float trip. Boats, canoes, and kayaks can bring you to destinations otherwise unexplored. You may discover, in one day, 100 new fishing holes. There are certain types of tackle to bring on these trips when you don’t know what to expect concerning target fish or their habitat. Every tackle box should have a few Mepps spinners of varying sizes, because almost every fish in New Hampshire will strike one if it’s presented correctly. The same theory applies to Rooster Tails, gold spoons, and the red-and-white Daredevil.

The Upper Ammonoosuc from West Milan to Stark is becoming a popular drift for anglers and boaters. There is great access and many places to launch and take out your chosen watercraft. A lightweight spinning rod, a net, and a small box of tackle are as easy to pack as your lunch. A dead-drifting worm on decorated, snelled hooks is also a very effective way to catch any fish. Casting from a moving object in a river presents some challenges and some opportunities and once a fish is hooked, things really get fun. This same type of drifting and fishing adventure can be found on the Androscoggin River and many sections of the Connecticut River. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Lakes Region/White Mountains

We are officially in a heat wave here in New Hampshire! How do fish adapt to these conditions? Luckily in New England heat waves don’t last that long, thanks to frequent inputs of cool, Canadian air from our neighbors to the north! Stream dwelling trout are forced into smaller pools as stream flows diminish. Even though stream temperatures in the White Mountain region may still be cold, reduced water levels have a serious impact on trout. Many small headwater streams and brooks may dry up completely, leaving only “landlocked” pools of water where trout may continue to exist. Trout may travel downstream to bigger holding pools as levels drop. In rivers where temperatures become too warm, trout will seek out tributary brooks that enter the main stem of the stream. I have witnessed brook trout lined up in great numbers in remote ponds at sites where a cold spring enters the pond. In ponds, especially deep waters, thermal stratification may exist to some degree. A layer of colder water will form below the warmer surface water. This condition will only be found in our deeper remote trout ponds, such as Big Sawyer and Cole Ponds. Higher elevation ponds will typically be colder also. Many “old-timers” jealously guard their secret spring holes in their favorite trout ponds, as these spots will hold trout in the heat of summer.

All of our large lakes thermally stratify into three layers of water; the epilimnion (warm surface water), metalimnion (transition zone where temperature begins to drop), and the hypolimnion (zone of cold water at the bottom of lakes). When anglers ask how the “thermocline” is setting up, they are referring to the lower edge of the metalimnion. Generally speaking, anglers will want to fish in the zone of water that is in the mid 50 degree range. Coldwater species such as landlocked salmon and rainbow trout will venture into the upper metalimnion to feed, especially pre-dawn, as smelt begin their daytime descent to colder water. Anglers can often “spot” where the thermocline is as this zone appears to have “clutter,” namely zooplankton and phytoplankton clusters.

And remember, during a heat wave, the “early bird” gets the worm! Get on the water at first light and again near dusk, your chances will improve greatly! - Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Monadnock/Upper Valley

The 95+ degrees and high-humidity weather we’re having is enough to put a damper on even the most ambitious angler’s fishing plans. Seeing the forecast made me weary and excited at the same time. I intensely dislike the heat, but weather like this offers some fantastic nighttime bass fishing opportunities.

If you haven’t tried it, bass fishing at night is great for a number of reasons. First, bass often move into shallow water at night to feed. Additionally, air temperatures are cooler and you often have the lake to yourself. Areas to try are somewhat similar to when day fishing during the spring. Concentrate on rocky banks and points, shorelines close to weed beds with deeper water nearby, stumps or downed trees, etc.

You can use heavier tackle at night than you might normally use during the day. I would suggest only bringing two rods per person to avoid broken gear and tangles. Organizing your lures and gear before heading out on the water can save you valuable time and headaches. Although bass can see in low light conditions, they mainly rely on their lateral line to “sense” food, so using a lure that makes noise and/or produces vibrations can increase your success rate. Dark lures are typically the most successful choice to use after dark, because dark colors offer the most contrast to a fish looking upward. Using a constant retrieve with topwater baits generally results in fewer missed strikes. Also, consider using a fish attractant on your sub-surface lures. My top lure choices include a jig and pig (with rattles), spinner baits, 10” plastic worms, top water lures such as the Arbogast jitterbug or hulapopper, and baby brush hogs.

When night fishing, the first thing to think about is safety. Make sure your boat is up to specs in terms of the regulations set forth by the Department of Safety. Bring and wear PFDs at all times and make sure your boat lights are working. Even if you are familiar with a water body, go slow. It is a good idea to fish a water body during the day and note the location of rocks, markers/buoys, and any hazards before going out at night. If you have a GPS, go out during the day and mark areas you are likely to fish at night and then use the coordinates you collected to help you navigate after it gets dark. Always get a full weather report before going night fishing. – Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley

The field season is well underway, allowing us to see a lot of different waters throughout the state. Recently, surveys were conducted in the Mink Brook watershed in Hanover. One of the goals of this project was to determine the distribution of wild brook trout within the watershed. Of the 16 survey locations, wild brook trout were found at 14 of them. These surveys could not have been done as easily or as quickly without the help and volunteers associated with the Hanover Conservation Council. It was truly rewarding to work with such a dedicated group.

We also conducted a boat electrofishing assessment at Swains Lake in Barrington this week. We had received reports expressing concern over the bass fishing here. A summary of the data will not be available until after the field season. Several smallmouth and largemouth bass were found to be in the 10 to 15 inch range, with the largest bass captured being close to 18 inches. There were other, apparently larger, bass that eluded our nets. There are signs that the fishery should be improving in the near future as a large quantity of younger (age 1 and 2) largemouth and smallmouth bass were captured. The number of American eels found within Swains Lake was impressive. It appears that the access for juvenile eels into the waterbody is suitable. This survey was also an opportunity to evaluate mercury levels in fish tissue. In a cooperative effort between the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the EPA, fish were collected to later be analyzed. It is expected that mercury levels in fish tissue will become reduced overtime since the implementation of the scrubber at the Bow Power Plant. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Seacoast Area

The dogfish have retreated for now and the groundfishing has benefitted from it. Stripers are still being caught in good numbers, including a few from the beaches; remember that the optimal time to fish the beaches is at night, especially when there is an on-shore breeze. The east winds will consolidate plankton and other forage material in close to shore, attracting the baitfish and thus the predators. Stripers will wait in the calm waters adjacent to turbulent waters (breaking waves, currents, etc.) for their prey to become disoriented - then they attack.

Even in this heat, people are still catching flounder. When the water get too warm for their comfort, they will seek deeper waters. For some, this means leaving the harbors - but for others, they will find a deeper part of the bay or harbor and sit in the cooler water while still enjoying the benefits of the tidal action. Take some time looking for one of these areas (deep, sandy bottom) and you may be surprised with what you find there. Other uncommon species are caught every now and then when an angler happens upon these isolated holes, if you can find a spot with structure (there are a few to be found in the Piscataqua and off of the Jetty in Hampton). Species like tautog and black sea bass may be lurking in there.

The latest reports are of blues off of the Merrimack, hopefully this heat wave will help us out on that front! - Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist

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