NH Weekly Fishing Report - August 16, 2012

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Monadnock/Upper Valley

Aquatic plants within a water body are too often given a collective term that implies they are undesirable. While some aquatic plants can cause problems, such as non-native invasive species, the word “weed” holds too many negative connotations for something that can be so beneficial to the aquatic and terrestrial environment.

The benefits of aquatic vegetation are many. As vegetation respires, oxygen is added to the aquatic system. Aquatic plants provide food for a number of species including waterfowl, muskrats, macroinvertebrates, and crayfish. Aquatic plants can help stabilize sediment which can lead to increased water clarity and help minimize shoreline erosion from currents, waves, and boat wakes. Additionally, nutrients introduced to a system can be utilized by plant growth preventing less desirable algal blooms that in some cases present harmful or toxic situations. It has also been shown that a healthy native plant community made up of a number of species is better able to resist invasions by non-native plant species.

Aquatic plants provide important habitat for many organisms including aquatic insects, snails, crayfish, and many species of fish. These plants also provide cover for fish and amphibians trying to avoid being eaten by larger fish or birds. The protection provided by these plants combined with the increased food supply make these areas very important areas for juvenile fish as well for frogs and salamanders. Often, vegetated coves provide the production of fish species that will eventually reside in open water areas becoming a necessary food source for several species associated with aquatic ecosystems. Some fish species such as yellow perch and chain pickerel utilize the aquatic plants to lay their eggs on. A healthy yellow perch population then benefits other species such as loons, herons and larger game fish.

Although fishing in aquatic vegetation can present greater challenges than fishing in open water, anglers can capitalize on larger predatory fish, such as largemouth bass, within these areas and be rewarded. There are several options for tackle that are specifically designed to be used in dense vegetation. One of the most popular is the frog and there are a number of good ones out there. For examples see those made by Spro and Snag Proof Lures. The frogs are virtually snag proof and are a surface lure that is fished slowly through the vegetation. Strikes on these lures are explosive!

Another great option for bass fishing in vegetation is to fish an un-weighted plastic lure on the surface. Take a plastic stickbait or worm (examples include a Senko, BPS stick-o, or a 7” Culprit Fat Max) and using a size 1/0 weedless hook, such as those made by Eagle Claw, hook the bait straight on the hook shank. Another option that provides more disturbance on the water surface is to use a paddletail or swimbait type plastic bait. For examples of these lures, do a search for Havoc Grass Pig or Z-Man Grass Kickerz. Texas-rig these on a 4/0 or 5/0 Extra Wide Gap hook.

Fish these un-weighted plastic lures by keeping your rod tip at 11 o’clock and reeling just fast enough to keep them on the surface. Giving a little action as you reel via the fishing rod can help as well. Another great tip is to stop reeling when your lure hits an opening in the vegetation or just when you reach the end of the vegetation. This allows the lure to slowly sink and often triggers a bass that has been following the lure to strike.

A medium heavy to heavy action rod is recommended when fishing in vegetation as fish can bury themselves in the plants very quickly. Additionally, it’s wise to use braided line of at least 20-lb. test. - Gabe Gries, Fisheries Biologist and Ben Nugent, Fisheries Biologist

Seacoast Area

It looks like the weather may take a turn this coming week and finally give us some relief from the heat. It’s about this time of year when I start dreaming of cool breezes, changing leaves and apple picking. We still have a while to go before fall arrives and with it the large stripers that will be trolling our coast on their way south. While the heat persists there are still some fishing opportunities. Stripers are still hanging around; many schoolies are in the inlets and rivers. Remember that the best time to fish for striped bass is early in the morning or late at night, which is much more comfortable for the angler as well this time of year.

Groundfish catches are picking up and are slowly changing over to a majority of large pollock as the season progresses. Bluefish are still staying offshore with no reports of shore fishermen catching them this past week. Most of the boat anglers that caught bluefish hooked into a lone fish with no large schools spotted. The only ones having much luck with bluefish this year are the party boats, which are reporting catches on most trips and some trips doing very well with them. Priced at around $35, a half-day trip might be the way to go if you’re craving some bluefish action. – Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist

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