NH Weekly Fishing Report - September 9, 2011

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North Country

As I stood in the Ammonoosuc River yesterday, I watched leaves float by and stick to the rocks. I can't honestly tell whether they had fallen because it is mid-September or because the rain and wind have been knocking them down. Northern New Hampshire has been a dynamic place concerning the weather of the last few weeks and it has been hard to get any fishing in. Water levels are constantly changing and the heavy rain is causing temperatures to fluctuate wildly. I look forward to fishing some remote trout ponds over the next few weeks, and I'm not sure what to expect. Trio Ponds and Whitcomb Pond in the Nash Stream headwaters can both be awesome places to spend a September afternoon. I also hope to out-smart some brown trout in Connecticut River pool habitats around Stratford and Columbia.

I will also make an effort to hit a few of our local bass ponds before the end of the month. I have had some great fall days on Forest Lake in Whitefield. I will approach my tackle choice as an effort to explore as much of the water column as I need to find fish. Plastic baits fished as a drop shot or Texas-rigged will get me to the deep water. A suspending jerk bait or slow-moving crank bait will cover water from 10 to 20 feet deep. I will also throw spinner baits and floating stick baits in shallower water. As mentioned, the goal is to cover varying depths. With all of these approaches, it makes me feel less guilty when I spend the winter buying fishing gear. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Lakes Region/White Mountains

We continue to experience high lake levels in the lakes region. Both Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam are above full-pool levels. The salmon bite continues to be excellent in Winnipesaukee, with the strong two-year-old age class of salmon predominant in the catch. The water temperature has stabilized at 70 degrees, so the thermocline is still down a good 35 feet at least. This is not to say that you won’t find the occasional rainbow feeding near the surface in the early morning hours. Big Squam is slow, with an occasional trophy salmon caught after several hours of fishing, but isn’t that the way a trophy fishery operates? In New Hampshire we are blessed with 15 landlocked salmon lakes to chase these beauties, and each lake brings a different fishery and attitude to the table for our anglers. Ossipee Lake is often overlooked, but we have had reports of some decent two-year olds and an occasional big brown trout (dropdown from the Bearcamp River) being caught. A little further north is Conway Lake, a real North Country gem, with tea-stained water and some nice salmon lurking in this moderately deep (50 feet) lake.

Winnisquam continues to produce some nice lake trout for me and my fishing companions. The same pattern holds true - small Mooselook wobblers are just the ticket as these trout are feeding heavily on young-of-the-year white perch, along the eastern shoreline in 40-50 feet of water. Definitely try some close shoreline trolling in the vicinity of the streams and brooks, which are flowing heavily into our lakes now.

A recent trip up north has revealed dropping stream water levels to the point where angling is more feasible now. Try the deeper pools, where many fish may have taken refuge during our recent heavy rain events. The Pemigewasset River is good now, water clarity has improved greatly, and conditions are excellent, especially in the Bristol/New Hampton areas.

Get out and fish now, the season closes for salmon on September 30! - Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Monadnock/Upper Valley

In the next several weeks, we will be conducting our annual young-of-the-year (YOY) bass surveys. These electrofishing boat surveys target largemouth and smallmouth bass that were hatched this spring. Surveys are conducted on Spofford Lake, Big Squam Lake, Lake Winnipesaukee, Forest Lake (Whitefield), and two sections of the Connecticut River (Claremont and Hinsdale). The same areas of each waterbody are sampled each year, allowing us to determine year-class strength as well as fish size, species composition, and to track how these factors change from year to year within a waterbody and also how they change within a year from north to south within the state.

These samples are important in that documenting a poor (or good) year-class will help us to predict and/or explain good or poor fishing success in the future. For example, a poor year-class of smallmouth bass in Spofford Lake in 2011 would help explain angler dissatisfaction with the fishery in seven to eight years as that year-class reach a size that most anglers wish to catch. Additionally, over-winter survival of YOY bass during their first winter has been shown to be positively related to their length in fall; examining YOY bass size also helps allow us to predict future success of a particular year-class. – Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley

Sorry folks, no report this week. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Seacoast Area

Stripers are few and far between these days. While you wait for their fall migration to begin, you will have more luck fishing the coast from a boat. The migration will begin as the water cools and baitfish leave our estuaries and harbors; this is aided by all the rain we are experiencing. The river herring that ascended our coastal rivers this spring, and brought stripers up with them, deposited their eggs in freshwater; these have by now developed into three to four inch juveniles. The juvenile river herring are in the midst of their journey out of their nursery grounds and this rain should trigger more movement. Stripers are on the lookout for schools of these and other baitfish, gorging themselves before the winter ahead. A good way to simulate these schools and attract the attention of the scattered striper is an umbrella rig. Use one of these rigs while trolling the coast. These can be purchased pre-rigged or unrigged for those that have a favorite lure, be sure to use the same color lure on a single umbrella as it is simulating a school of fish. If you want to vary the color you may use two umbrella rigs, one on each side of the boat. Try to position these so they are just above the depth of the stripers you are trying to catch. When using this setup, it is easy to tangle the lines so put it in the water with ease and let your line out slowly.

Anglers are still catching mackerel and picking away at bluefish, and nice-sized pollock are being caught offshore. Softshell clam season began September 6 (everywhere except Hampton/Seabrook Estuary); the season is Saturdays only and is subject to closing due to bacteria levels or red tide. Check www.wildnh.com/Fishing/clam_flat_status.htm or call 1-800-43-CLAMS for the current open/closed status of NH shellfish areas. Shellfishing maps and other great resources can be found at www.wildnh.com/marine/shellfishing.html. There is still time to get out and enjoy all of what our lovely coast has to offer! - Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist

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