NH Weekly Fishing Report - April 19, 2012

Stocking report: www.fishnh.com/Fishing/fish_stock_current.htm

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North Country

For New Hampshire anglers, it’s exciting to wonder how things are affected when spring comes a few months early. Water levels are obviously low and temperatures are warming up quickly. These conditions, coupled with a very early ice-out on our lakes and ponds, have created some rare conditions that warrant discussion.

For the first time in nearly a decade, the Northern pike spawning period has taken place without a solid cover of ice. What this means is that these super-sized fish are swimming in shallow water where anglers can get at them. Try throwing a slowly retrieved spinnerbait or buzzbait in long casts that parallel the shoreline. As with any spawning fish, strikes will come from aggression or annoyance more frequently than a fish actually looking to feed. These opportunities have been available for a few weeks at Partridge Lake in Littleton, Jericho Pond in Berlin, and the Connecticut River through the 15-mile falls impoundments.

On Saturday, April 28th, trout ponds open in New Hampshire. Also a rarity this year, these ponds have been stocked weeks ago. Hungry trout are going to be spread out everywhere. Be sure to fish different locations and depths as you search. Early season trout will always gobble up any slowly trolled apparatus such as snelled hooks with a worm or any variety of flies.

If your off-season seemed to linger and you are ready to get out and fish, this year will be perfect for you. It is time to get out and catch the first fish of the year! - Andrew Schafermeyer, Fisheries Biologist

Lakes Region

What happened to our spring? It seems we have been thrust from a mediocre (at best) winter into summer! I fished Squam Lake opening day with fellow biologists Ben Nugent and Andy Schafermeyer and caught a nice female salmon, seven years old and over 5 pounds! The fishing was slow as the lake temp hovered in the high 30 degree range. Now, a little over two weeks later, big lake temps are in the upper 40 degree range, with shallow flats in the 50s! The early bite on Winnipesaukee was good, with numbers of mostly three-year-old salmon in the catch. I recently got a chance to fish Sunapee Lake, and found the temps of this high elevation lake much colder than in the lakes region. We caught two-year-old salmon which looked quite good for this time of year. With continued good growth this season they will be fine fish this late summer/fall. I have heard reports of some great lake trout coming out of Sunapee, double-digit fish. The phantom midge hatch is early this year, with clouds of these insects hovering over the water. These midges are food for surface-feeding salmon and rainbow trout at this time of year. Try trolling slightly offshore in 35-50 feet of water for salmon and rainbows, surface down to 25 feet. And as always, it pays to be on the water before sunrise.

Bass fishing is really picking up now on the big lakes, with smallmouth bass already cruising the 10 foot deep flats, in anticipation of spawning. Look for spawning white perch in the usual locations, Melvin River, 19 and 20 mile bays on Lake Winnipesaukee. The southern end of Winnisquam, below Mohawk Island, is a great place to look for white perch, as well as the Winnipesaukee River near the Fish and Game boat launch.

It seems like a long wait for the trout pond opener (April 28) because of the summer-like weather we have had. The good news is, all of these ponds will be well stocked for opening day, and there will be some very good insect hatches (caddis primarily) for those who fish flies.

And one final note, get out now and fish our rivers and streams, the water is low and highly fishable; no problem at all wading into those hard to reach spots! – Don Miller, Fisheries Biologist

Monadnock/Upper Valley

A. Gries with brown troutMy kids loved to fish until about the age of seven. After that, despite my passion for fish and fishing, their interests swayed more toward friends, sports, and now texting. Although they really didn’t want to go fishing, they would appease me once or twice a year and cast a line for a bit. I was very careful during this “non-fishing” period to respect their wishes and to not force them go fishing, hoping that at some point they would regain interest in my favorite pursuit.

Now, at ages 15 and 12, it has been quite some time since I have heard the words, “Can we go fishing?” Amazingly enough, that was the very phrase they both uttered this past weekend and I couldn’t rig up two rods for them fast enough. Worried they would become bored if they didn’t catch fish quickly, I took them to a local stream for stocked trout.

A few anglers were already at the best spots when we arrived, so we started fishing a smaller pool downstream of them. I separately gave them a brief reminder on casting and the need to keep the rod tip low when reeling so the light lures would not ride on top of the swift water. Small Mepps spinners coaxed a few short strikes; I told them to keep reeling until they felt the full weight of the fish. They each caught a brown trout in the next 15 minutes, my daughter shrieking and grinning with delight (see picture) and my son silent and proud.

I couldn’t ask for a better day or a better start to my 2012 open-water fishing season. – Gabe Gries, Fisheries Biologist

Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley

Anglers in southeastern New Hampshire should be gearing up for the opening day of fishing one of the area’s designated trout ponds (opening day is April 28). Water temperatures and record breaking ice-out conditions have accommodated the stocking of these waterbodies to ensure plenty of fish for opening day. Despite these ponds receiving a high amount of fishing pressure, there always appear to be several trout that elude the anglers and hold over an additional year. These fish should be larger and more acclimated to the conditions of the pond, providing anglers a bit more of a challenge. With one week left before the opening day of trout ponds, trout anglers have an opportunity to hone their skills in several waterbodies that are currently open to fishing. In these waterbodies, anglers should benefit from limited harvest from ice fishing. Some lakes, like Pleasant Lake (Deerfield) and Massabesic Lake (Auburn) received larger broodstock brown trout this past fall. By now, these larger fish are well acclimated to their environments and should reward those anglers who put their time in.

All of the Atlantic salmon broodstock have been stocked within the Merrimack River drainage for the spring season (pink tags). We are already receiving reports of catches from Bristol to Hooksett. These reports also indicate that conditions were suitable to allow for several of the fish stocked in the fall are still present in the system (yellow tags). Additionally, last fall we stocked over 500 surplus broodstock into the Baker River to evaluate the ability for the fish to reproduce. These fish have green tags and they're expected to gradually drop down into fishable waters (probably with the higher flows from rain predicted earlier this week). Once high flows allow these fish to drop down to the Bristol/New Hampton area, they are eligible to be targeted. To learn more about the Atlantic salmon broodstock program, go to: www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Fishing/atlantic_salmon.htm – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Seacoast Area

Codfishing is now open, but the talk is all haddock! Groundfishing has been picking up over the last week with some nice haddock moving in. I was on a groundfishing boat at the beginning of the month when redfish were being pulled in one after another, big redfish, the largest I’ve ever seen at 16 inches! There are some cod to be found, but the big talk is on haddock, they have really moved in and anglers are limiting out on them.

There are some new rules to keep in mind when you venture out onto the water this spring…

Haddock currently has a minimum length of 19 inches and a bag limit of 9 fish per person in federal waters.

Atlantic cod currently has a minimum length of 24 inches and a bag limit of 10 fish per person, these rules are in effect through April of this year. On May 1st the federal cod rules change to a minimum length of 19 inches and bag limit of 9 fish per person.

Be sure to check back for updates. For the most up to date information, contact our Region 3 office at 603-868-1095. – Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist

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