NH Weekly Fishing Report - August 23, 2012

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Newfound Lake boaters: The Wellington State Park boat access facility on Newfound Lake in Bristol, N.H., will be closed for repairs from September 17, 2012, through the remainder of the year, opening back up in the spring. Boaters who rely on this launch for removing boats before ice-in will need to get their boats out before September 17, 2012.

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NORTH COUNTRY

Although no one wants to hear it, summer is winding down. Leaves are subtly changing and last night, I noticed that I was walking out of the river at 8 o’clock. I was fishing the Connecticut River near Stratford, NH, and there was a chill in the air that tasted of autumn. There is still enough daylight to hit the river around 5:00 in the afternoon and get in some good fishing until dark. My approach on this section of river has been the same all season and has served me pretty well. I start casting wet flies and streamers in any water greater than waist deep. The river is as typically low as it gets, and this type of water seems to be inviting for browns and rainbows.

I will fish heavy flies on a floating line and usually reach the depths necessary to find fish. I am constantly scanning the water for insects and fish rises. Sometimes I will see a fish rising at regular intervals and with enough observation, I can identify its food source. When I can’t, I will throw a hopper or a stimulator and see if I can induce an aggression strike. As evening approaches, dry flies become the approach. There are usually caddis flies hatching and a small elk hair imitation will do the trick. Lately I have seen lots of green stoneflies that I match with a fly known as a “Sally.”

At this time of year, I make sure that there is a warm flannel shirt in the truck and I get home in time to catch most of the Red Sox game. As the seasons change, I look forward to catching fish in beautiful spawning colors and behaviors. – Andy Schafermeyer, Fisheries Biologist

MONADNOCK/UPPER VALLEY

One thing I rarely think about when choosing a lure color is the water depth at which I will be fishing. Instead, I follow the usual themes of using brighter lures on sunny days, darker lures on overcast days, natural colors in clear water, and darker colors in dark water. This could be a big mistake, especially when trolling for trout and salmon or drop-shotting or throwing football jigs in deep water for bass.

While a number of factors, including the angle of the sun, waves, sediment and plankton density, can impact the amount of light reaching a particular water depth, the following is a general list of colors that are reduced in intensity or “disappear” with increasing water depth. The first colors to be reduced in intensity are red and orange, followed by yellow, green, purple and finally the last to be reduced is blue. For example, red and orange lures are said to look black or brown at greater depths. To further confuse things, there is no definitive depth at which these colors are reduced in intensity, as light availability can vary so greatly from day to day and from waterbody to waterbody.

So, what does this mean for anglers? Perhaps a lot, or maybe not much at all! Many of you might be thinking this can’t be true, as you have caught lake trout on orange lures while trolling at 60 feet before. However, a pivotal question is this: are the fish you are after/catching keying in on lure color, or is it simply the size, silhouette and contrast of the lure that is attracting them? The answer to that question will vary depending on the species you are pursuing, the waterbody you are fishing, and the prey they are keyed in on.

Interesting and frustrating at the same time? Absolutely. More questions than answers? Yes. But, keep in mind that one of the great things about fishing is the evolution of your techniques and choices and the fact that no angler is ever done learning. Additionally, this might be just the excuse you need to pick up some more lures in different colors and get on the water to test them out! - Gabe Gries, Fisheries Biologist

SOUTHEAST NH/MERRIMACK VALLEY

The pound-for-pound fight and table fare of white perch can receive high praise from many of New Hampshire's anglers. This species is not a true perch and actually is within the temperate bass family (Moronidae). This makes white perch more closely related to striped bass than to yellow perch. Although once found primarily in brackish and salt water, white perch have been introduced into several lakes, ponds and rivers in the state. Anglers should take great care that this species is not introduced into other waterbodies, for the species may have a negative impact on native fish species.

When it comes to fishing for white perch in New Hampshire, I get the sense most anglers look to our larger lakes in the central part of the state. However, several lakes in the southeastern part of the state contain healthy populations of white perch, including Bow Lake (Strafford), Harvey Lake (Northwood), Northwood Lake (Northwood), Massabesic Lake (Auburn), Pawtuckaway Lake (Nottingham), Pleasant Lake (Deerfield) and the Suncook Lakes (Barnstead). Some of these waterbodies have what is considered a stunted population of white perch. This means you may be more likely to catch smaller fish, and more effort may be required to target larger white perch.

White perch primarily feed on insect larvae and smaller fish. They routinely migrate to shallow areas in low light periods and spend their time in areas with greater depth throughout the day.

Generally, white perch are very aggressive, hitting countless different presentations when put in front of them. That being said, I've observed times, particularly during ice fishing, when the perch key in on one particular presentation and disregard everything else. In the peak of the summer, I have routinely, but incidentally, caught them while trolling around the thermocline. This is usually while targeting rainbow trout and salmon. I'm not sure if larger white perch prefer somewhat cooler temperatures, or if the species is targeting forage species that live there. While trolling, virtually any smaller spoon can work. Finding the right depth for a particular day may take some time. Casting along areas with sharp drop-offs, working the presentation into greater depths can also be productive.

A variety of different panfish jigs, small deep diving crank baits, and spinners can be effective for white perch. There may be times when attaching live bait or imitation live bait to a panfish jig may help. Often, the species schools together by similar size, so be sure to continue focusing on the area once you confirm their presence. – Ben Nugent, Fisheries Biologist

SEACOAST FISHING
 
The fishing continues to be slow for most coastal anglers these days. A few of the headboats had some luck with the bluefish this past weekend, but results continue to be unpredictable. The few successful striper fishermen I spoke with this weekend were using an umbrella rig and trolling along the coast. The umbrella rig mimics a school of baitfish, this is a good way to entice an otherwise uninterested striper. There have been a number of snapper blues in the Piscataqua this year, and recently they have been caught off of the pier at Hilton Park. These fish were all 6 to 8 inches and were caught with a small hook and bobber. Sounds like a fun fishing trip for the kids! – Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist

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