NH Weekly Fishing Report - September 16, 2011

Take Me Fishing!Good morning, fishing fans – we’ve got 3 regional reports today. This is probably the last fishing report for the spring/summer season, so...thanks for reading, have a wonderful autumn, and we’ll check in with you during ice-fishing time!

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Lakes Region/White Mountains

The recent rains in the lakes region have not affected the fishing for salmonid species at all. A recent trip on Lake Winnisquam produced some fantastic lake trout fishing! Again, the pattern of close trolling to shoreline, in water less than 50 feet deep, produced multiple catches of nice lake trout. Only a handful of trout were sublegal (under 18 inches), while most were 20 inches or better. The downrigger proved to be very important in regulating the depth (very quickly), as the bottom near shore consists of humps that rise up 20 feet in some cases. Baitfish pods were evident along the shore, again I think most were young-of-the-year white perch, with some smelt schools also evident. Lure size is critical, with the small (2-inch) Mooselook wobblers producing the majority of fish. We didn’t try flies, but I bet a small white streamer would also do the trick. We fished near numerous loons, with one brave soul approaching the boat within 15 feet! I always keep a lookout for waterfowl, such as mergansers, cormorants and loons, they reveal where the baitfish are congregating.

I’ll be fishing a bit more in the weeks to come, some trips to Winnipesaukee to try for salmon, and definitely a couple trips on Winnisquam, looking for that big laker!

The river flows south of the White Mountains are great now, and brook trout will be spawning soon in these areas. It’s a great time to get out and enjoy these days of early fall, for they will not last very long. - Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley

We have been busy evaluating Atlantic salmon parr survival and growth throughout the Merrimack and Connecticut watersheds. Perhaps the biggest obstacle this year is trying to plan around the weather and high flows. High flows with increased turbidity can make electrofishing very difficult to see fish when they are temporarily immobilized. As the field season winds down, we still hope to continue looking for wild brook trout populations in the southeastern part of the state, particularly within the Lamprey River watershed, before we shift gears and focus on the fall netting season in the lakes region.

Our need to collect more information on the round whitefish, a fish species of concern, took us out of southern New Hampshire this week. Recent records indicate the species may only be present in Newfound Lake and upper reaches of the Connecticut River. While we have been able to find an effective way to sample the species on Newfound Lake, the population in the Connecticut River presented more challenges. Through the use of boat electrofishing, we were able to capture close to 30 juveniles and adults within the stretch of river between Colebrook and West Stewartstown. As a bonus, we were also able to capture a 22-inch-long brown trout adorned in a great example of spawning colors. In the future, we hope to radio tag these whitefish to determine what seasonal habitats they prefer as well as the areas they tend to avoid. This information will be invaluable to the future sustainability of the species. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Seacoast Area

This past weekend I decided to poke around Rye Harbor using a snorkel, just to see what I could see. I entered the water at slack high tide over by the boat ramp at the marina and made my way to the jetty at the state park. The visibility was good, down to about 15 feet. There were no winter flounder to be seen; these most likely abandoned the harbor a while ago due to the warmer water temps in the shallows. To my surprise, I did see a school of stripers! About halfway through my journey, I observed about 15 to 20 of them - mostly schoolies, but there were a couple that appeared to be of legal size. As I continued on, they were following me! I noticed a few anglers on the jetty and decided to take advantage of the fishes’ behavior, bringing them right to the anglers; unfortunately as we neared the jetty the stripers wised up and moved into deeper waters. Strangely, I did not see any baitfish around; the stripers must have been attracted into the harbor by the commercial boats.

Striper fishing has picked up in recent days. Anglers are reporting catching them in the rivers, bay, and ocean side. Most of these fish are being caught with live mackerel, which are also still available just outside the river. A growing number of people are fly fishing for stripers; it is becoming increasingly popular to fly fish off of bridges, just dropping the fly into the water, no casting involved.

Groundfishing is still decent, boats coming in from Jeffreys Ledge report good catches of pollock and haddock. A few of my colleagues also had luck out at Old and New Scantum at the beginning of September. - Robert Eckert, Marine Biologist

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