NH Weekly Fishing Report - June 14, 2012

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

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North Country

About two months into the NH fishing season, I have just as many successes as I do failures. Water conditions have been constantly changing and climatic influences have been non-typical and hard to predict. Insect hatches seem to starting a little early and the bass spawning period started early and remained late. With that said, I will offer a few spots worth casting a line at.

The Ammonoosuc River from Bretton Woods to Littleton is a great June trout fishery. There are plenty of deep pools and fast runs. Brook trout are being caught at a steady rate and every method seems to be working right now. Worm fishermen are finding aggressive fish, and fly casters are taking advantage of hatching mayflies and caddisflies. With a liberal stocking regime, this waterbody should be fishing well for another few weeks.

Mirror Lake in Whitefield and Dummer Pond in Dummer have been providing anglers with holdover fish that are quite large and beautiful. With a fresh stocking last month, these ponds are teeming with fish and every report that I have gotten has been a good one. Partridge Lake in Littleton has also been reported to fish well this spring. Both largemouth and smallmouth seem to have had a few good years there and large fish are common. – Andy Schafermeyer, Fisheries Biologist

Lakes Region

Recent rains in the lakes region (nearly 4 inches) have brought lake levels over their normal summer levels. The Winnipesaukee River is running at moderately high flows now, but fishable conditions are just days away as we get back into a calm weather pattern (less rain)! A recent site visit to hydropower stations on the river really opened my eyes to the wonderful tailrace fisheries we have right here in the Lakes Region. The area below Franklin Falls Dam (the last dam on the Winnipesaukee River) looks like great riffle water all the way down behind the high school to the junction with the Pemigewasset River, where the rivers combine to form the mighty Merrimack.

Brown and rainbow trout stocked in this section often move upstream into the aforementioned area during high flows. The river in this area is incredibly rich in invertebrates, and baitfish (shiners and minnows) abound. This is a recipe for big trout. The area of the Pemigewasset River from the Rte. 3-11 bridge upstream is catch/release only; single hook lures and flies only. This section of the river can be big and brawling during high flows, but it also holds some big fish. Further upstream on the Winnipesaukee River you have an excellent stretch of water right in the heart of Tilton, and access is good off Route 3. The Lochmere Dam section at the outlet of Lake Winnisquam should continue to produce a variety of fish species under these flows. I have seen fly hatches here that make it difficult to breathe! Caddis and mayflies abound here at dusk, and on cloudy, moist days. And I would be remiss in not mentioning the fishery at Lakeport Dam in Laconia; we have seen landlocked salmon hang out in the outfall of the hydro plant well into June!

I have experienced some great bass popping on Lake Winnisquam of late. Small panfish poppers seem to do the trick, fished over rocky and sand flats. The bass are done now in their nest guarding duties, and they are roaming around in search of a meal.

I have had some great reports from anglers fishing the White Mountain trout ponds. Working the edges of these ponds with dry flies has been very productive. I have had great success with this technique on Sky and Saltmarsh ponds to name a few. You may just see smaller fish along the edges, so try dredging some nymphs or wooly buggers in deeper water for larger fish. I like a sink-tip line for this, just give the fly several seconds to get down 6-10 feet before slowly stripping the line in.

Get out and fish, I know that is my plan! – Don Miller, Fisheries Biologist

Monadnock/Upper Valley

This week’s report displays the vast diversity of fisheries present in southwestern NH. With the exception of whitefish and cusk (of which small ones can be caught in some tributaries of the Ashuelot River), every game fish species found in NH can be angled in this corner of the state.

A great trout report came in recently from the delayed harvest section of the South Branch of the Piscataquog River in New Boston. This section of the river is open year round, runs from 300 feet upstream of the Lyndeboro Road Bridge and then downstream to the first bridge on Route 13, and gets stocked three times each spring with a generous number of brook, brown and rainbow trout. From June 16 to October 15, the daily limit is five trout or five pounds. From October 16 to June 15, regulations are catch-and-release with single barbless hook artificial lures and flies. The intent of these regulations is as follows: 1) allow for year-round fishing with the catch-and-release portion taking place when water conditions are best for post-release survival, 2) allow both catch-and-release anglers and those looking for a trout dinner to enjoy the same waters, 3) attempt to maintain a fishable population of trout for anglers throughout the year, and 4) allow for harvest during the warmer months.

The second report is from a totally different fish species and river. During the past several years, reports of large channel catfish being caught in the Connecticut River have been increasing. These fish are prevalent in the river in both Massachusetts and Connecticut and they appear to be establishing a fishable population in the NH portion of the river. The majority of reports come from below the Vernon Dam (Hinsdale, NH/Vernon, VT), but some anglers are reporting catching them upstream of the Vernon Dam, likely indicating some illegal transfers by anglers. The current state record of 11 lbs 3.52 oz was caught last year in Hinsdale by a young angler. A Vernon resident just brought a 10+ lb channel cat to the office yesterday and said that he has caught some during the past few years in excess of 15 lbs! Channel catfish are not picky eaters and the bigger and smellier the bait the better. Reports indicate that night crawlers and big dead minnows are all you need. – Gabe Gries, Fisheries Biologist

Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley

We have initiated our annual surveys to assess the status of wild brook trout at the watershed level. Our first watershed of the year is the Lower Warner watershed in the towns of Hopkinton, Salisbury, Sutton, Warner, and Webster. Before the surveys began, we had no quantitative data to describe the status of wild brook trout in this area. Although we've only spent a few days here, the results thus far indicate some desirable habitat for this species. Without the help of the Basil W. Woods Jr. Chapter of Trout Unlimited and members of the Warner conservation commission and others interested groups, these surveys could not be done.

At the same time, American shad are being transferred from the Essex Dam in Lawrence, Mass., to the Merrimack River here in Concord. By the end of this week, if conditions remain suitable, we hope to have over 600 swimming and spawning in Concord.

Early this month, staff from NH Fish and Game, NH Department of Environmental Services and the City of Manchester participated in the annual river clean up of McQuesten Pond and McQuesten Brook in Manchester. The health of McQuesten Brook is particularly concerning to us as it is home to a healthy population of wild brook trout. This event was organized by the NH Rivers Council who coordinated volunteers from Anheuser-Busch, Merrimack River Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and the Manchester Fly Fishing Association. Despite the event's third year, many hands were still needed to remove litter and other discarded material. Some of the materials removed during the clean up (and properly disposed of) include 20 tires, 42 bags of trash, 2 vehicle gasoline tanks, 1 shopping cart, 1 large aquarium, 1 car bumper, 1 car back seat from a car, 1 recliner, and a washing machine. – Ben Nugent, Fisheries Biologist

Seacoast Area

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) had its annual deep sea fishing trip on Sunday and most of the participants went home with haddock in their coolers. The weather was perfect, and the seas were less than a foot high - unheard of! Each year BOW charters the Yellowbird out of Hampton, NH to provide women the opportunity to fish alongside other women and learn the basics of deep sea fishing. On the two hour steam out to sea the instructors inform the women about the saltwater fishing rules, fisheries management, fish identification, rod and reel operation, and all the essentials. The instructor’s goal is to teach the participants the skills they would need to feel confident to groundfish on their own.

The captain and crew of the Yellowbird are top notch and are extremely accommodating, going out of their way to help each and every angler hone their skills. They were working extra hard because we got into the dogfish. Yes, the bait stealing, line tangling, sandpaper skinned “sharks” are here. We spent a fair amount of time searching for areas without them, but to no avail. On one of our dogfish dodges, the captain came over the loud speaker to inform us of a basking shark off the bow. What a treat! A huge 40-foot basking shark was soaking up the rays, in no hurry whatsoever. Despite the pestering dogfish, it was a great trip and the women went home very excited to cook up their catches for their families! – Jessica Fischer, Marine Biologist

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