NH Weekly Fishing Report - September 1, 2011

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NORTH COUNTRY

In late August and early September, biologists throughout the state evaluate the growth and survival of Atlantic salmon in the Connecticut and Merrimack River watersheds. This is accomplished by electrofishing index sites on those streams that received spring stocking of salmon fry. Whenever I sample a river or stream by these methods, it makes me a better fisherman. If I encounter habitat that I expect to hold fish -- a pool on the downstream side of a boulder or an undercut bank -- I place the electrofishing wand in, push the button, and fish roll. It becomes an error-proof way of determining whether or not fish occupy areas that I would expect them to. As I mentioned, after each sample, I become better at reading the water and predicting fish behavior.
 
New Hampshire is a great place to find angling opportunity. One should never feel limited and a healthy sense of exploration will always be rewarded. As I electrofish these brooks looking for juvenile salmon, I find trout everywhere that they should be. Whenever a stream directs fast current into a quiet, deep pocket of water, fish will be stacked at the upstream end of it. In those locations where overhanging vegetation or a thick canopy offer cover, fish will be there seeking mid-day refuge. This is all exciting to discover as I work, but even more exciting as I cast a light-weight fishing rod. If this seems like the type of fishing you would like, try the Ammonoosuc River in Bethlehem, the Gale River in Franconia, or Nash Stream and its tributaries in Stark. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

LAKES REGION/WHITE MOUNTAINS

Good riddance, Irene!!!  Whoever thought that a tropical storm would create more damage than a hurricane!  The lakes region was spared the heavy rainfall that hit our northern and western parts of N.H., although we did receive approximately 4 inches of rain.  That amount of water brought the lakes up quite a bit; Winnisquam rose in excess of 6 inches (my dock nearly disappeared), while Winnipesaukee jumped up around 4 inches.  What does this mean for our fall fisheries?  Plenty of nutrients were washed into our lakes. This will result in a boost for our zooplankton and phytoplankton populations, a boon for the smelt in our lakes!  Current flows in the lakes region are high, while outlet dams on Newfound, Winnisquam and Winnipesaukee are releasing tons of water.  These flows will further signal to our landlocked salmon, that spawning time is near.  The lake temperature has dropped also, expect to see the water temps this weekend around 70 degrees.  Rainbows will be found near the surface in the early morning hours, while salmon are still down approximately 30 feet or slightly deeper.  The two-year-old salmon in Winnipesaukee look good, 16-17 inches, with good body condition.  A few older-aged salmon are in the catch, but the majority of the salmon in the system now are the two-year-olds.

I recently had a great morning on Lake Winnisquam with some nice lake trout and a few rainbows.  Trolling the eastern shore, I encountered bait-fish pods in 40 feet of water along the shoreline.  A small Mooselook wobbler fished 30 feet down on a downrigger was just the ticket for these lakers.  The lakers looked great, fat and healthy, and coughing up numerous young-of-the-year white perch!

Don’t give up on stream fishing just yet!  Small brooks will drop down to fishable levels in a couple days, while the larger rivers will recede in a week.  I will definitely get out this weekend to fish a favorite remote trout pond in the southern White Mountains; water conditions will be excellent, with most of the trout in full spawning colors! -- Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist

MONADNOCK/UPPER VALLEY

I haven’t been getting out to fish as much as I would like to this summer. There always seems to be other events popping up on my weekends off, so I decided to take a day off this week and fish with a friend. We knew the Connecticut River was not going to happen due to the recent storm. Then we were torn between fishing for lake trout or bass, so we decided to fish one of the several lakes in the Monadnock region that offer both fisheries. We trolled for lakers in the morning, catching four shorts and my friend losing one halfway to the boat that was a solid laker. Once the sun got high and the trout bite slowed, we found some water in the 30- to 40-foot range and did some drop-shotting for smallmouth bass. This method works great this time of year when the smallies are deep. We managed a dozen healthy smallmouth in a couple of hours. For your next laker/smallmouth outing try these Monadnock Region fisheries: Silver Lake, Harrisville. Granite Lake, Stoddard/Nelson. Spoonwood Lake, Nelson. Nubanusit Lake, Hancock. – Jason Carrier, Regional Fisheries Biologist

SOUTHEAST N.H./MERRIMACK VALLEY

The current conditions of some of the rivers and streams in the Merrimack River valley and southeastern New Hampshire should be helping local anglers make easy decisions on where to fish this week.  One quick glance should be enough to convince someone to give the flowing systems a break and focus on lakes and ponds.  Lately, every time I pass over the Merrimack River, a new bar is set as to how much more muddy it gets.  Given the current turbidity in the river (especially in the Concord area), it is impressive to think of how any fish species could survive a situation where water clarity is measured in millimeters.

For various reasons, we've been recently sampling some of the smaller ponds in this region with the assistance of boat electrofishing.  Since having the opportunity to study the lakes and ponds of the area, I have learned that our designated trout ponds offer the opportunity for successful fishing up until the season closes.  Our fall netting surveys (typically after October 15) rarely suggest that there is a shortage of remaining hatchery trout.  Looking beyond trout, the smaller lakes and ponds within this region can offer some fantastic warmwater fish species angling opportunities (we captured a five pound bass today). 

Although the lakes region may be considered the premiere destination to target warmwater species, local anglers should not overlook what is close by.  Many of the lakes and ponds in the area provide the angler the opportunity to "puddle jump" between waters.  With the abundance of ponds in the area with access, mobile anglers could move from one waterbody to another.  Some of my suggestions for late season warmwater fishing opportunities include:  Bellamy Reservoir (Madbury), Brindle Pond (Barnstead), Crooked Pond (Loudon), Heads Pond (Hooksett), Hothole Pond (Concord), Lucas Pond (Nottingham), Massabesic Lake (Auburn) and Willand Pond (Somersworth). – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

SEACOAST AREA

Your guess is as good as mine as to what effects Hurricane Irene will have on the fishing in upcoming days. So far, so good, though. The word is mackerel are still hanging around, and people are still catching a few blues, so let's cross our fingers and maybe this storm has in fact left the coast unscathed. A couple of us had a lovely day out on the water this past Saturday on one of the crazy boats that went out. Turns out they were not so crazy, just taking advantage of the calm before the storm. We enjoyed flat calm seas and even saw a few mackerel. We also saw a kayaker in the midst of all the fog outside of Hampton Harbor. To that gentleman, I am glad you were enjoying yourself, but please be careful out there! Remember, the big boats coming out of the harbor have a hard time seeing in the fog too -- try not to become a speed bump.  --  Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist

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