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Northern New Hampshire got some much needed rain this week, with some areas picking up over 3 inches. It has revitalized the small streams and delivered some cooler temperatures to our ponds. Fish will respond by moving into habitat that they haven't been using for a while. An electrofishing sample yesterday in some high-gradient streams yielded brook trout in runs and riffles, as opposed to the pools and pocket waters they have been in for the last few weeks. This presents great fishing opportunities for those anglers that like to hike into their favorite trout stream....and keep on hiking. I've always liked throwing small dry flies as I keep moving upstream. Royal Coachmen or other attractors tied on number 16 hooks or smaller seem to do the trick.
Stocking has slowed down but continues and fresh trout can be found at many of our lakes and ponds. Big rainbows are being caught at Big Diamond Pond in Stewartstown and Cedar Pond in Milan is still fishing well. Summer is in its last stretch but there will be many opportunities to fish comfortably past 8 o'clock. When dusk settles and the water calms down, try throwing surface lures or flies and put together some memories to last you through the winter. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Lakes Region/White Mountains
Recent rains in the lakes region sure have changed our conditions on the big lakes. The area recently received over 3 inches of rain in a span of a couple days. Lake levels are high; Lake Winnisquam rose nearly 5 inches in that time span. The rains have filled the brooks and food has flushed into the lakes. I still find Hexagenia mayflies on my dock in the morning on Lake Winnisquam. Lake temperatures have likewise cooled off; Lake Winnipesaukee is currently 73 degrees.
This is the time of year that lake trout and landlocked salmon are building up their body condition by feeding ravenously on juvenile smelt and occasionally on white and yellow perch that are found in the various levels of the thermocline. Salmon and trout are in a “pre-spawn” mode now, as their eggs/milt mature for fall spawning. During the past few seasons, we have noted a serious “shift” in our landlocked salmon at this time of year. This shift finds the salmon “running” the shores in anticipation of fall spawning. The last few years I have witnessed salmon repeatedly leaping clear of the water along the shores of Winnipesaukee, especially along the sand flats off Ellacoya State Park, and down the Gilford shoreline as well. It is quite a sight to see these salmon performing their pre-spawn rites, as they are in water less than 5 feet deep, in schools of up to 7 or 8 fish! At this time the “bite” off shore definitely drops off for salmon at least. Rainbows will continue to be found off shore, and down into the thermocline. Lake trout also feel the urge for spawning, although their time is still over two months away. Lakers will be found congregating in the mid-levels of the deep basins in Lake Winnipesaukee. I remember a few seasons ago, I trolled the area off Black Point in Winnipesaukee for salmon and lake trout. We did well on lakers with Sutton spoons size 5 and 61, copper/silver. The trick at this time of year, and one I employed, was to troll with 7 colors of lead core line, and frequently shift the motor into neutral, allowing the lures to slowly descend into the depths. The fluttering action of the Sutton spoons was too much for the lake trout, as we caught several doubles, especially as the motor was returned to gear, and the boat began to travel forward. Try this technique over deep basins, and time your drops.
Stream fishing right now is back in good shape with the much-needed rains. The Pemigewasset River from Lincoln Woods all the way down to Campton should provide some great fly fishing for rainbows and brook trout. - Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Anglers pursuing trout in streams often get discouraged during August. High water temperatures and low water levels can often lead to frustrated fishing trips or simply a decision to not go at all. There are some remedies for these “summer-induced” fishing headaches. 1) Fish during twilight hours. Cooler conditions are good for both you and the trout. Fish in low water will be less spooky and will typically be feeding. Use big lures or flies; muddler minnows or big Mepps spinners should do the trick. 2) Fish where smaller brooks enter the stream. Typically, water temperatures in the smaller brooks will be lower and a change of just a degree or two can make a big difference in focusing trout to an area. 3) Fish during or just after a rain event. As the water in the stream starts to rise, various prey items will be flushed into the water and trout will react to this and the rising water levels by feeding. Water at these times is often discolored so go with the big lures or flies I mentioned above. – Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley
In an effort to identify the timing of the outward migrating of juvenile American shad, we electro-fished the Merrimack River between the Garvin Falls Hydro and the Hooksett Hydro impoundments this week. Earlier this summer about 1000 adult American shad were transferred from the Lawrence Dam in Massachusetts to upstream sections of the Merrimack River in Concord and Boscawen. Historical records indicate that prior to impoundments along the Merrimack River, American shad were able to ascend the watershed to spawn as far as the Winnipesaukee River drainage. Juvenile shad, like river herring, will utilize increased river flow levels from pulses of rain (as we saw with the weather earlier this past week) in late summer/early fall to begin their migration to the sea. Unfortunately, we did not find any juvenile shad. That being said, we did manage to catch some trophy-sized smallmouth and largemouth bass, bluegill, and even rock bass that were close to the size of the state record. Despite being positioned between Concord and Manchester, this section of the Merrimack has a "rural" feel to it. This wider, slow moving section has minimal shoreline development and provides warmwater anglers with almost endless fallen trees and aquatic vegetation to target. This section contains a wide variety of access points in the towns of Allenstown, Bow, Hooksett, and Pembroke. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist
It’s pretty quiet on the coast these days. Striper fishing has slowed down a bit, it seems the larger fish are hanging out far to the east. I heard talk of schoolies down in Hampton (not sure I believe it!). I did speak with someone this past weekend who caught a couple stripers down in the harbor, just under 28 inches. Long story short, they are still around but it certainly has died down.
Where are the bluefish? It seems as though this is going to be another one of those years, just enough of them caught to tease us. On the bright side, groundfishermen are beginning to see some large pollock coming in and the dogfish have eased up a bit as well.
More good news, mackerel are still around! This has got to be one for the record books. - Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist