NH Weekly Fishing Report - May 17, 2012
Stocking report: www.fishnh.com/Fishing/fish_stock_current.htm
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After a pleasant, sunny weekend the Lakes Region plunged back into a prolonged rain event! The Lake Winnipesaukee lake level is now over full pool, and there are currently increased flows at the Lakeport and Lochmere dams on Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam, respectively. These flows have really brought the white perch into the Winnipesaukee River on Lake Winnisquam. I wouldn’t be surprised to also see some rainbows moving into the river too. On May 10, fisheries biologists Matt Carpenter and Ben Nugent transferred approximately 2000 river herring (alewives) into the Winnipesaukee River in Laconia. These alewives were trucked form our seacoast Cocheco River in Fish and Game’s “shad truck.” It is hoped that this re-introduction of alewives into Lake Winnisquam will help increase the returns of herring to the Merrimack River, and provide forage for bass and rainbow trout in Winnisquam.
May 15 was the start of the catch and release season for bass, and will continue through June 15. John Viar and I recently tried to obtain a sample of largemouth bass from nearby Wicwas Lake, and were very surprised to see the lack of nesting bass along the shoreline. Water temperature was 58 degrees, but a cold front that pushed through the area after the last bout of rain evidently has delayed nesting activity in the area. Generally, bass are well on their beds at this time.
Small brooks and streams have great flows now, and stocking has occurred on just about every water managed for trout. The larger rivers, like the Pemigewasset for instance, will need to drop a bit to fishable levels; this will happen quickly with a forecast of better weather for the next several days.
I had a chance to fish a local fly-fishing-only pond and had a great time with some great looking brook trout. Brisk winds and early morning temps in the 30s kept fly hatches to a minimum, but one sheltered corner of the pond produced a hatch of blue-winged olive mayflies that turned the trout on for a period of time. Again, small midges were present and the occasional trout would sip them off the surface, but these trout were hard to pattern with our offerings.
Look for plenty of anglers this weekend as the 30th annual Winni Derby is held on Lake Winnipesaukee, May 18-20. Water temps are good for the salmon bite, and the weather looks promising. Good luck to all the anglers, young and older, enjoy the time on the water! – Don Miller, Fisheries Biologist
This has been a spring of frustrating outboard motor repairs for me that has kept me from my traditional early season bass fishing. Last weekend I found myself waiting for parts in the mail and itching to get out and do some fishing. I decided to do something that I haven’t done since I was a kid fishing with my friend and his father up in Berlin, in the area referred to as Kilkenny on the Upper Ammonusuc River: what we called “brook fishing.”
I decided to fish close to home in the area of Hancock, where there are plenty of streams to choose from. I grabbed an old rod that didn’t matter if it got banged around sneaking through the brush, some worm hooks, small split shot, worms, knee boots, my lab Drake, and off we went with minimal preparation and little gear.
I started fishing at a stream crossing and worked my way downstream. It didn’t take long for me to start catching wild brook trout from three to six inches long. Eventually the stream brought me to some beaver flowages that intercepted another stream. I worked my way upstream of the next stream, finding places where I could fish the small beaver ponds. There were a lot of trout, most were too small for me to hook, but I did catch several. The best part of my day was catching a beautiful and very healthy tiger trout, a first for me. This just goes to show that you don’t need a boat or fancy gear to get out and enjoy the fishing opportunities that we have here in the Granite State. – Jason Carrier, Fisheries Biologist
Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley
An argument can be made that this time of year is the busiest time for shoreline fish activity. The water temperatures of our lakes and ponds in southeastern New Hampshire have reached the mid-60s this week and will likely climb given the warm weather forecasted for the weekend. A recent boat electrofishing survey showed several different fish species utilizing shoreline habitat features for spawning, while others used the same features as ambush points to capitalize on this vulnerable stage to feed.
The haphazard progression from late winter to spring to early summer, back to early spring, and then back to early summer conditions observed this year have seemed to alter some normal spawning calendars and now have caused several different species to flood the shorelines at the same time. For sunfish species like bluegills, pumpkinseeds, and red-breasted sunfish, spawning activity is well underway and visible by their colony nests providing a contrasting white color to the normally dark shallows. The males of these species go to extensive efforts to clear off proportionally large areas free of detritus, leaving a circular nest that appeal to a female.
At this same time, largemouth bass seem to use somewhat less visible nesting sites with minimal to moderate detritus removal occurring, while taking advantage of protective features offered by shorelines. It is not uncommon for male largemouth bass to stake all their hopes in spawning in close proximity to or within fallen trees and their branches, beaver caches, dense emerging aquatic vegetation and manmade structures. During a typical year, yellow perch spawning is all said and done by now, but variations in weather patterns this year has stalled some from returning back to moderate depths. The key to finding large schools of yellow perch is dense vegetation or a freshly fallen tree where most of its branches are still present. The habitat complexities offered by these two components are very appealing to this species. These same areas are often utilized by black crappie for a staging ground before spawning. During our recent survey, we found large schools of black crappie of various sizes. In other locations, which is normally observed in June, we found smaller groups of males or solitary male black crappie holding their ground, presumably already protecting fertilized eggs. These nests tend to be along shallow point extensions and less visible or contrasting to the natural lake bottom. – Ben Nugent, Fisheries Biologist
This year is going to be one for the record books. So far the river herring run in the Lamprey River has surpassed the highest recorded yearly returns since the fish ladder was constructed to allow for passage of anadromous fish. It is looking like this may be a great year for striped bass fishing as well. We are already seeing them in good numbers up in the rivers at the heads-of-tide where they are gorging themselves on the bountiful herring. So far anglers have been having luck with live herring and lures such as poppers, just remember that Wednesdays are closed to the taking of river herring everywhere and the Squamscott River has special rules for river herring (www.eregulations.com/newhampshire/fishing/saltwater/special-river-restrictions). There are a number of good fishing spots to catch striped bass this time of year; a boardwalk in downtown Exeter right next to the Philips Exeter boat house is a prime location. This is at the head-of-tide just below where river herring pool up below the dam and it is an excellent spot to spend a tide fishing. Other spots include the river bank in downtown Newmarket, just behind the mill buildings; and Henry Law Park in Dover. For those of you without a boat, this is the most productive time of year for striper fishing, before they move seaward. – Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist
No report this week.