NH Weekly Fishing Report - July 12, 2012
Stocking report: www.fishnh.com/Fishing/fish_stock_current.htm. Note that stocking is winding down and is almost done for the season.
Boat Note: The boat access facility on the Connecticut River in Orford, N.H., has been refurbished by Fish and Game and is now open for use.
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Several of our reporters are on vacation, so the report is again a little on the light side this week.
I had the opportunity to work with fisheries staff recently on small brooks in the central and west regions of the state. These surveys are used to aid towns, planning and conservation commissions, and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department in determining the extent of brook trout throughout the region. We are collecting baseline data on the streams, which includes morphology of the stream, woody debris, substrate types, water temps and macroinvertebrate composition. It never ceases to amaze me where we find these little brook trout. Water flows now are minimal and a lot of these brooks depend on summer thunderstorms to rejuvenate in-stream conditions. Stoneflies, mayflies, caddis, and crane flies (all larval forms) are common to these brooks. And the most important thing is water temperature; we generally see the cut-off of brook trout habitat as 65 degrees and below. So, when you’re out exploring these wonderful little brooks that dot our state, take a thermometer for a quick check. Remember, these little guys often mature at 5 inches, and a trophy is 8-9 inches!
A recent outing on Lake Winnisquam produced a mixed bag for me and fellow biologists Andy Schafermeyer and Ben Nugent. Trolling flies on lead core and a downrigger at 30 feet with a 2-inch Mooselook Wobbler (my favorite) produced white perch, rainbow and lake trout. The rainbow was a tagged Meredith Rotary Derby fish, one of several we’ve caught this year, and it displayed good growth. The white perch were a surprise, caught at 30 feet on the rigger: nice fish, 14 inches or so and fat! The real surprise was after we had landed a rainbow and released it. Getting the motor ready to troll again, Ben started to reel in his line which had drifted down in the water while the rainbow was being played. Upon reeling in his line, Ben announced “I got a fish on”! Well, Andy and I had a blast watching Ben play this fish for what seemed like 20 minutes! Of course both of us chimed in with “he’s at least 10 pounds” which further made Ben really play this fish. At last he came to the net, a nice lake trout, approximately 7 pounds in size! He released well after taking a quick picture. This is the true measure of why I fish, good friends and a little helpful banter when a fish is caught (and sometimes lost)!
The thermocline is set up well, so enjoy your big lake fishing for salmon and rainbow and lake trout. Remember these are coldwater fish and make sure you can revive the fish before releasing it, or take it home instead for a fine meal! – Don Miller, Fisheries Biologist
Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley
In an effort to evaluate the status of wild brook trout populations in the state we recently surveyed tributary streams within two different watersheds of the Pemigewasset River. With the valuable assistance of volunteers from the Pemigewasset Chapter of Trout Unlimited and some others who were interested in helping us out, we found 13 out of 17 streams as having the presence of wild brook trout. Prior to this, we had a good sense that wild brook trout would likely be present in this area, but now we have information to describe the extent of the population, presence and extent of other fish species and macroinvertebrates, and condition of their habitats. Members from this Trout Unlimited chapter and other volunteers spent over a total of 200 hours helping us complete the surveys in Ashland, Bridgewater, Campton, Plymouth and Rumney. A big thank you to all of those who helped.
It appears that the alewives we stocked earlier in the year in Lake Winnisquam successfully reproduced. While fishing here last weekend, we noted the surface "dimpling" with what we expect were young of the year alewives. The schools of small fish rising to the surface were immediately followed by a larger fish jumping through them. White perch, rainbow trout, and smallmouth bass were caught as we trolled through this area. As the summer progresses, we expect these fish to grow, benefiting resident lake species. They will leave during fall rain events and head to the Atlantic Ocean where they will mature and return five years later to the Merrimack River. – Ben Nugent, Fisheries Biologist
If you have been waiting, now is definitely the time to go fishing on the coast. Striped bass, mackerel, groundfish, squid, bluefish and flounder, what more could you ask for? The dogfish have eased up for the moment and whales have been giving quite a show to the groundfishermen lately as well. The diversity of fishing opportunities right now is ideal, but the hot ticket remains the stripers this year. This past week field staff ran into anglers with keepers from Hampton to Dover. Hilton Park is a popular fishing pier and we often see people catching schoolies and bluefish when they are in the river, but this past week a few keepers were witnessed being landed here using clams. This morning, just around the corner from here while out doing our Juvenile Finfish Survey, I saw a schoolie about 12 to 14 inches chasing Atlantic silversides in the cove next to the General Sullivan Bridge. They really are everywhere this year. – Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist