Access Update: N.H. Fish and Game's cartop boat access facility on Connor Pond in Ossipee, N.H., has now re-opened.
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It didn't take long for water levels in northern New Hampshire to return to typical August flows. Most are as low as they get in a typical season, and fish are responding by seeking deeper or cooler spots. For brook fishermen, this can be an advantage, because trout will be more concentrated and easier to find. In contrast, those fishing lakes and ponds may struggle to even find fish. Getting them to bite will add to the challenge. What should an angler do, then, to satisfy that urge to land a fish when the weather is great but the water is warm? ...It's time to go bass fishing!
Moore Reservoir in the Fifteen-Mile-Falls section of the Connecticut River can be a bass fisherman's paradise. With both large and smallmouth bass and over 3,500 acres of water, one could literally spend a week there without getting bored. Every type of habitat exists, and you may want to bring four or five pre-rigged rods to vary your approach. Heavy jigs or tube baits might look like a crayfish in deep, rocky substrate. Soft-plastics, either casted and retrieved or set up in a drop-shot, may be a good way to finesse bass out of cover. A quickly retrieved spinner-bait may induce a furious strike from bass or big pike. Finally, topwater baits like poppers or prop-baits can be thrown over rock piles or under over-hanging trees.
The nature of a hydro-electric impoundment is a dynamic one and water levels will be hard to predict. This means that boat launches may more difficult to access, so take caution when putting a boat in. There will also be a lot of driftwood and some bass cover may be hard to get to. The land is owned and maintained by TransCanada, and they do a great job of providing public access. Whenever we enjoy places like this, it is important to return the gracious attitude by picking up anything we bring in and leaving the spots as nice or better as they were when we arrived. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist
LAKES REGION/WHITE MOUNTAINS
Well the “dog days” of summer have arrived and the fishing in the big lakes is heating up! I have had great luck on Lake Winnisquam for rainbows, fishing 35 feet on a downrigger and a small Mooselook wobbler. These new wobblers, now owned by a Canadian company, continue to perform well for me. Mooselook wobblers were a favorite of my aunt and grandfather here on Winnisquam back in the 40’s and 50’s. They used the large size wobblers, while today the new company owners have “downsized” their Mooselooks to a mere 1½-inch size! These small wobblers, with their tiny treble hooks (size 10-12), match the size of the bait that is present at this time in our big lakes. Of course, that bait is the rainbow smelt, primarily young-of-the-year (YOY) individuals.
The staff at our Region 2 office has recently embarked on our summer sampling season on the big lakes, looking at rainbow smelt populations. Winnipesaukee looks great so far for smelt, and soon we will travel to Newfound Lake to check on the smelt population there. These surveys are conducted at night, when smelt make their diurnal trip up into the thermocline to actively feed on the rich zooplankton found in this zone. Our laptop computer, which, in this case, is our sophisticated fish sonar, will display a thick band, generally 25-35 feet down, and this band is the smelt. Often, our surface trawls will find YOY white and yellow perch as they feed in the warmer waters above the thermocline. All these species combined are pelagic (living in wide open areas), i.e. the broad expanse of our lakes, away from shorelines. They are the prey species that feed our coldwater fish populations, and are so critical in our management of these species.
Recent thunderstorms in our area have rejuvenated the stream fisheries in the White Mountains. The forecast for cooler nights will help keep stream temps down, so get out and try some grasshopper imitations on those brookies and rainbows! - Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist
We are out working nights sampling bass populations, so no time to fish! We’ll try to get fishing news for you next week. – Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist
SOUTHEAST N.H./MERRIMACK VALLEY
This is my annual reminder to focus on cooler tributaries of the Merrimack River during this time of year. As the mainstem temperatures rise (temperatures in the Merrimack River are above 75°F right now), brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout will seek out locations where cooler streams enter. These streams do not necessarily have to be very large. We've found trout in tributaries only a few feet wide. The distance the trout will travel up a tributary can vary. We have seen them ascending streams as far as possible. Usually, they encounter a perched culvert at a road crossing and cannot travel any further. This is another reason why we should protect these smaller streams and ensure that fish can move freely in and out of them.
Some trout species will find comfort in the Merrimack River by staging near small seeps that trickle from the riverbank. These seeps offer just enough thermal refuge to allow them to sustain themselves throughout the summer. Polarized sunglasses and a thermometer can be just as important as bringing a rod and reel. Sunglasses will help see target fish in shallow waters, and a thermometer will help to give you a sense of what tributaries are cooler than the mainstem river. Tie a string to the thermometer so it can be tossed quickly and retrieved to examine temperatures. So grab a map book that shows streams that enter the Merrimack River and do some exploring. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist
The groundfishing is still decent when you can get through the dogs, unfortunately dogfish are back at it. Many groundfishermen are heading far northeast to try and escape the sharks. Pollock are being caught in good numbers using jigs; a few lunker hakes are being brought up as well. Dogfish aren’t the only shark around these days, blue sharks are plentiful and being sighted nearly as frequently as tuna. The tuna have arrived in numbers and are being sighted close in to shore, many around the shoals. Lon Robinson had the pleasure of seeing a 400-pound bluefin brought in this past week!
This is the year of the mackerel. They are still quite numerous and are being caught by everyone that wants one, shore anglers and boaters alike. They are still hanging around in the Piscataqua in the Portsmouth area. Striper fishing is still holding on, even with all of the baitfish available. Blues are still hit or miss, a few anglers are targeting them but they seem to be caught most frequently by striper fishers that hook onto a passing bluefish, as we have not seen any swarm of them yet.
Last but not least, the winter flounder are still biting! Whatever your pleasure, the coast has it all these days! - Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist