NH Weekly Fishing Report - May 2, 2013

From the North Country to the coast, trout fishing and more is heating up in New Hampshire.  Enjoy the spring action!

Stocking report: fishnh.com/Fishing/Stocking/current.html

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Spring has arrived in Northern New Hampshire. After a brief period of high, muddy water, our rivers and streams have receded to a level that should be comfortable for both fish and anglers. There are certain spots that are at their peak of opportunity right now. Freshly stocked fish will hang around in locations that will soon be too warm or low; a good example is the Israel River in Lancaster and Jefferson. When the July sun starts beating down, water temperatures will climb above 70 degrees, and trout fishing will come to a halt. So now is the time to hit the river and battle the early season trout that we’ve been dreaming about all winter.

Lakes and ponds follow a similar temperature pattern, and those anglers looking for trout should hit them with enthusiasm right now. Mirror Lake in Whitefield had a great opening day, with a lot of big brook trout caught. For those looking for a quiet, semi-remote trout pond, this week would be a good time to visit Clarksville Pond in Clarksville. It doesn’t get dark until around 8 o’clock right now, and the black flies have not shown up. A person can work a full day and still get a lot of fishing in.

This time of year also brings the spawning period for walleye in the Connecticut River. These fish will visit shallow water and still maintain a feeding pattern that should spark the interest of fishermen. Live bait like a worm, crawler, or baitfish hooked on a jig head is a good choice. These fish can be found with some regularity near the towns of Orford, Haverhill, and Woodsville.  – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist


Sunapee Lake Trout - Don Miller photo
SunapeeSalmon - by Don Miller

I recently had the opportunity to travel over to western New Hampshire to fish with my good friend Gary Cutter on beautiful Sunapee Lake.  We were able to launch his boat at Sunapee State Park, which is really the only public boat launch to be found at Sunapee.  I, along with legions of anglers hope that Fish and Game will be successful in their long quest to finally achieve public access to this lake.

We hit the water at 0600 hours under cloudy skies and flat, calm conditions.  We were trolling with shiners and smelt, using a sink-tip fly and lead core lines.  Things were slow for the first couple hours, when suddenly, Gary’s rod nearly bent in half!  I thought we had caught bottom, but “bottom” started to take line off his reel!  After nearly 15 minutes we got a look at a monster lake trout circling under the boat.  After netting and picture taking, I slid the trout back to the lake, all 28 inches and approximately 8 pounds!  The trout hit the smelt in 20 feet of water, pretty close to the shoreline!

As we continued our troll, we encountered three nice salmon; the best fish was 24 inches and 5+ pounds!  (See photo at right.) As we trolled, I was amazed by the pods of smelt that were apparent on the depth finder!  Water temp was 44 degrees and by the end of our trip, five hours later, the temp had climbed to 46 degrees.  The aerial display that these salmon showed us was unbelievable, with as many as six jumps per fish!

So, for a little change of pace from Lake Winni, try salmon fishing in one of our other 14 lakes managed for salmon, and hopefully, you will be treated to a memorable fishing trip as I experienced! And, by the way, we were the only boat on that end of the lake! – Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist


The trout season is in full swing in southwestern New Hampshire, with lots of fish to go around.  I have heard good reports from Whittemore Lake (Bennington), Spofford Lake (Chesterfield), and Center Pond (Nelson).  Sand Pond (Marlow) appears to be fishing well, with one lakeshore resident reporting catching numerous trout off his dock with a fly rod.  I talked to a very excited angler who caught two 1.5-lb. rainbows in the Ashuelot River over the weekend and another who did very well for numbers of trout on the Cold River.

Bass fishing is getting good as well.  The dam boards are in at Forest Lake (Winchester), making it possible for boats to navigate the channel to get to the lake.  This lake has a good largemouth bass population and also gets stocked with rainbow and brown trout.  Anglers are catching largemouth bass in the setbacks on the Connecticut River, and I have heard indications that the black crappie are spawning in the setbacks, as well.

I fished below the Bellows Falls Dam on the Connecticut River yesterday with a friend and, while we only caught one walleye, we were able to connect with a dozen trout (10 freshly stocked rainbows and two big holdover browns) and nine smallmouth bass that averaged 3 lbs. each. – Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist


Several anglers have begun to send us reports from their open-water trout fishing experiences.  We appreciate this information, as it helps to give us guidance on how current management goals are working out.  Based on these reports, without question, the most inconsistent angler results have been from those who fish the medium to larger rivers in southeastern New Hampshire.  Some anglers are ecstatic about catching larger holdover trout and high numbers of trout.  On the other hand, some anglers are questioning if these rivers have even been stocked this year or if a drastic trout stocking management strategy has been implemented in 2013. While the target numbers for the medium to larger rivers in this area have not changed for several years, there are other variables that may explain why some anglers are observing different results than in previous years.

The target numbers for trout for every river, by town, are prescribed by the Inland Fisheries Division.  The Conservation Officers (who patrol the area) stock these waters with the assistance of hatchery personnel.   If a Conservation Officer moves to a new patrol area, or his/her area undertakes additional towns, the former stocking locations may not be identical to what anglers are used to.  This likely means more exploration may be needed for a successful trout fishing experience.  If a Conservation Officer’s patrol area increases in size, the number of waters they need to stock also increases, possibly preventing some waters from getting stocked as quickly as they have been in the past. 

Our website displays a list of waterbodies that have already received stocked fish for 2013.  This webpage gets updated on a weekly basis.  However, the information provided is not instantaneous.  There is lag time between the hatcheries assembling all the stocking events that occurred for a week before it gets reported to us.  Therefore, think of the website as a guidance tool, but don’t let it be the "end all" that dictates when and where you decide to fish.  Several waterbodies may have received a stocking of trout (or a second, or third), but it may not be reflected immediately on the website.  It is understood that fishing licenses, gas, bait, etc., all cost money, but try not to let a limit of trout be your only gauge for success. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist


The waters are warming and river herring are swarming up the coastal rivers. As of May 1, the Lamprey River fish ladder in Newmarket has passed roughly 20,000 alewives! Striped bass are reportedly being caught just south of us and, with all of these baitfish and mild temperatures, I would expect to hear of the first New Hampshire striper catch shortly.  We are still waiting for the flounder fishing to turn on, but just like the stripers, they are being caught south of the border, so spring fishing is just around the corner. For 2013, there is no closed season for recreational winter flounder fishing, and the bag limit is still 8 fish.  See you on the coast! – Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist

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