NH Weekly Fishing Report - April 25, 2013

Anglers heading to Stonehouse Pond in Barrington weekend should be aware that the access road has been flooded by beavers and the gate may be closed to vehicles in order to prevent further damage to the access road.  Fish and Game is working to rectify the situation and hopes to have the gate open as soon as possible.

The Wellington State Park boat access facility on Newfound Lake in Bristol, N.H., is currently open, with both ramps available for public use, but no dock available at this time. Expect a brief weekday closure sometime in June while Fish and Game wraps up work on a new dock there.  See an update at http://www.fishnh.com/Newsroom/2013/Q2/Newfound_access_042513.html.

Stocking report: www.fishnh.com/Fishing/fish_stock_current.htmTake Me Fishing!

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North Country

Although I have not fished much in this early season, my mind is transforming into that of the early season angler. When I drive by a river or stream, I subconsciously wonder where I would cast and which fly would be best. As I glance at lakes and ponds, I find myself looking for rising fish and hatching bugs. Part of my job in the spring is stocking fish and, although I've done it thousands of times, I watch them slowly swim away and still marvel at their hypnotic grace.
 
Once our rivers and streams are flowing at comfortable levels and reach water temperatures around 50 degrees, stocking begins in earnest. Anxious to get the fish out and steering clear of frozen lakes and ponds, biologists, Conservation Officers and hatchery technicians move thousands of fish at a time. Spring flows help the fish spread out, and they are soon residing in those areas more common for coldwater fish. Both aquatic insects and other baitfish are hard to find, and fish adjust their eating habits accordingly. Keep this in mind as you pursue early season trout.
 
Designated trout ponds open for fishing on Saturday, April 27, and most North Country ponds will be ice free. This week has seen a subtle change in the weather, and open water is taking over. Again, stocking fish has been the major work detail, and these ponds will be full of trout for the adventure-seeking angler. Water temperatures will be cool, and fish may be less aggressive than those caught in warmer months. Remember to change tactics if the fishing seems slow. Switch tackle, depths, speeds, or even locations in your search for fish. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Lakes Region

Well, it seems like the nasty weather we have endured the last few days has finally ended.  Three days with a cold, east-southeast wind had conditions on the lake miserable at best, but I managed to fish with fellow biologists Ben Nugent and Matt Carpenter on Winnipesaukee for a few hours.  The east wind was not the best direction to fish on, but when has that stopped the true fisherman? We managed a couple salmon on trolled live bait, and saw a few other boats battling the conditions along with us.

The smelt runs in Winnipesaukee are over now.  They are generally done around the first week of April.  Conditions on the lake are changing rapidly, as the smallmouth bass have begun to “turn on.”  Usually this puts a hurt on those spring anglers who like to troll the shorelines, but continue on, battle through a few bass and you will still find some salmon on those warmer shorelines. 

Just today, I have seen an explosion of phantom midges here on Winnisquam, so much so that it makes breathing difficult in the swarms.  These midges produce countless tons of food for springtime fisheries…everyone feeds on them, especially salmon.  The midge hatch actually extends pretty much throughout the summer, with the heaviest hatches occurring in April-June.  Often salmon will get interested in the midges to the exclusion of other forage prey.

Within a week, white perch will begin their spawning runs around tributary mouths, shallow coves, and rivers entering our big lakes.  Areas to fish for these tasty perch include; Lakeport Dam/Opechee Lake, Moultonborough Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee all the way up to Greens Basin, the Melvin River, Smith River (including Back Bay Wolfeboro). On Lake Winnisquam, try areas below Mohawk Island, near Mosquito Bridge and the mouth of the Winnipesaukee River in Laconia, near the Fish and Game boat ramp.  There are so many area lakes with white perch, the list is nearly endless.  Try Kanasatka and Waukewan lakes for a change of pace.

I can’t wait for this weekend for the chance to fish an area trout pond from my canoe.  Trout ponds will open on Saturday, April 27.  I like to head north, not only to beat the crowds, but to look for ponds with good holdover capability; I feel most ponds will be open this year (free of ice) from Lancaster south.  In the lakes region, old favorites are Saltmarsh Pond/Gilford, Sky Pond/New Hampton, and Spectacle Pond/Groton, Hebron.

Enjoy the spring, it doesn’t last long! – Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Monadnock/Upper Valley

The recent wind has opened up our Southwestern New Hampshire lake trout/landlocked salmon lakes, and Silver Lake (Harrisville), Granite Lake (Stoddard) and Nubanusit Lake (Hancock) are open for business.  This is a great time of year to get out and troll without needing downriggers.  All three lakes offer rainbow trout and lake trout, and Nubanusit also has landlocked salmon.

Reports indicate some nice trout being caught in the Cold River (Walpole/Alstead), Otter Brook (Sullivan), and the Nissitissit River (Brookline).  Go to fishnh.com/Fishing/Stocking/current.html for a complete list of waters that have been stocked so far in 2013.

6.3 pound largemouth caught in southwestern NH in April 2013

 Early season bass fishing is starting to get hot on local lakes.  An angler sent me a picture of a 6.3 lb largemouth bass caught this past weekend (photo at right). I also heard of a four-fish (two anglers), 21-lb. winning catch from a local bass tournament.

The walleye bite on the Connecticut River appears to have slowed with the high water we have been experiencing, combined with a drop in water temperature.  The good news is that the bite will likely pick back up once water levels drop.  Connecticut River anglers are reporting good catches of smallmouth bass and northern pike.  I also have a report that anglers are starting to catch a few black crappies in the setbacks.
Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley

Saturday April 27, marks the opening day of designated trout ponds in New Hampshire.  Here, in southeastern New Hampshire, several anglers will make the traditional trek to these ponds before daylight to beat the crowds to get to their prime spot. 

Most designated trout ponds have the forage and habitat to afford multiyear survival of stocked brook, brown, and rainbow trout, allowing these fish to reach larger sizes.  These fish should be larger and more acclimated to the conditions of the pond, providing anglers a bit more of a challenge.  Additionally, older hatchery fish are stocked in several of these waterbodies in an effort to increase the opportunity to catch a trophy trout. 

The designated trout ponds in our area include:  Archery Pond (fly fishing only) (Allenstown), Barbadoes Pond (Madbury), Clough Pond (Loudon), Exeter Reservoir (Exeter), Hothole Pond (Concord/Loudon), Lucas Pond (Northwood), and Stonehouse Pond (fly fishing only) (Barrington).  While water temperatures remain cool, trout will still be swimming in the shallow areas.   This makes trout available either from fishing from shorelines or by boat.  Shoreline fishing can be rather simplistic and can be a good way to introduce someone new to this activity.

Contoocook walleye
This 13 pound walleye, found dead, likely lived in the Contoocook River for 15 years or more!

We were recently notified of a large fish found dead in the Contoocook River in the Boscawen/Concord area.  The caller suspected the fish may be a walleye.  Knowing a small population of the species existed in the area, and despite several failed attempts to learn more about the population, we rushed to meet the caller.  He had a 31-inch, 13.02-pound female walleye saved in a cooler.  This impressive fish had lived easily in excess of 15 years in the Contoocook!  We are aware of populations of walleye in both the Contoocook and Merrimack rivers, but have had a difficult time establishing the status, densities, and overall distribution of the species in these two rivers.  We welcome any information from anglers who have encountered walleye in these areas to report them to us. See photo at right. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Brood Stock Salmon Are In!

All of the Atlantic salmon broodstock will likely be stocked by the time that this report reaches you.  (See anadromous fisheries biologist Matt Carpenter's report at fishnh.com/Newsroom/2013/Q2/broodstock_salmon_042313.html, including a link to a short video on brood stock salmon fishing in the Merrimack).

With the purchase of the Atlantic salmon broodstock permit, anglers can target these larger salmon in both the Merrimack and Pemigewasset rivers.  The majority of these fish are being stocked into the Pemigewasset River between Bristol and New Hampton.  Other fish will be stocked at the mouth of the Contoocook River, the Sewall’s Falls area on the Merrimack River, and below the Hooksett Dam.  When targeting these salmon upstream of the Garvin Falls Dam (Bow) anglers can take these fish only by fly fishing.  Below the Garvin Falls Dam, anglers targeting the salmon can either use flies or single hook lures.  Despite where the salmon are stocked, these fish move around, eventually making their way downstream in an effort to get to the Atlantic. You can find more information on New Hampshire's brood stock salmon fishery, including an access map, at fishnh.com/Fishing/atlantic_salmon.htm.  – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Seacoast Area

Groundfishing is still the word here on the seacoast. The headboat companies are doing very well with groundfish, mainly haddock with some cod, pollock and redfish mixed in as well. I am still waiting for the first flounder reports; I have only heard of unsuccessful trips so far. In other news, the river herring have arrived! Roughly 2,000 alewives have passed through our coastal fish ladders so far this season. – Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist

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