NH Weekly Fishing Report - May 9, 2013

Take Me Fishing!Stocking report: fishnh.com/Fishing/Stocking/current.html

New Hampshire's first-ever high school bass fishing tournament took place on Lake Winnipesaukee today. See some photos on our Facebook page at facebook.com/nhfishandgame.

Access note: The water level of Scotts Bog in Pittsburg is being lowered to prepare for reconstruction of the dam this summer, a project of Fish and Game and the NH Department of Environmental Services Dam Bureau. No stocking there this season.

Fishing licenses: fishnh.com. Don’t forget -- kids under 16 fish free in N.H.!

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NORTH COUNTRY

The stretch of weather that we have had for the last two weeks has made winter a distant memory and fishermen like myself are taking full advantage. Trout fishing has been fantastic in our ponds, and the stocking trucks just keep rolling. Water temperatures are warming, and fish respond by increasing their feeding habits. Trolling worms on flicker-style hooks is very effective, and adding a little weight or slowing the boat can get your bait right in front of some hungry trout.

The walleye have just finished spawning on the Connecticut River and will also start feeding heavily. Throwing lipless crankbaits can be a good way to catch their attention and convince them to bite. After spawning, they will exit the shallow water and seek deeper spots. They are also a strong feeder of live bait, and jig heads with shiners or worms will do the trick.

Both largemouth and smallmouth bass are still in a pre-spawn state of mind, and some of the biggest bass I catch are in May. It becomes important to slow down your retrieve and convert to a more finesse style of fishing. A gentle presentation of plastic baits or a drop-shot set up is a good approach. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

LAKES REGION

As this unseasonable warm spell continues, our big lakes are warming up rapidly.  Early morning lake trollers are still finding fish near the surface, but the norm is to fish 3-4 colors of lead core at depths of 20-25 feet. We continue to see salmon and some nice rainbows showing up on Lake Winnipesaukee, while Big Squam and Newfound have been a bit slow.

The phantom midge hatch continues full force on Winnisquam; it never ceases to amaze me the amount of midges that hatch in the spring!  The first load of anadromous alewives has been stocked into Winnisquam, and hopefully the full complement will again be stocked into the lake.  As I reported last year, both salmon and lake trout were taking advantage of this new forage item, which is a side benefit to the restoration of these fish to the Merrimack watershed.

A recent electrofishing survey of Lees Pond in Moultonborough turned up a healthy population of large and smallmouth bass that were already in the process of nesting. We also observed some nice yellow perch and monster bluegills.  This pond is actually a headwater for Lake Winnipesaukee, as it flows directly into the Lees Mills area of the lake. 

My daughter Holly and I recently had quite an afternoon fishing a Lakes Region trout pond.  The brookies were hitting an orange heron fly with zeal!  The heron fly is probably my favorite “attractor” fly, as it really doesn’t seem to represent any local hatch. It is tied with wood duck feathers as wings, with the different colors applied to the neck.  I’ve also heard some great reports from Willard, Stonehouse and Saltmarsh ponds.  Also, now is the time to try our remote ponds before this warm-up affects those fisheries.  – Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist

MONADNOCK/UPPER VALLEY

Trout fishing in the Contoocook River has been great, according to recent correspondence I have received.  The Henniker stretch has all been stocked, and the local Conservation Officer reports talking to many happy anglers.  The Contoocook in Hillsborough has been giving up some nice rainbows, especially for fly anglers.  Beard’s Brook (Hillsborough) receives brook, brown, and rainbow trout and has produced some nice limits within the past week.  Anglers fishing Willard Pond (Antrim; fly fishing only) had a productive opening weekend, with a report of a holdover tiger trout being caught.

This is a great time of year to fish the lower stretches of major tributaries to the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers.  Smallmouth and largemouth bass will be coming into spawn, and walleye can also be found in some locations, feeding up after their spawning season.  Shallow running crankbaits and jerkbaits work great this time of year, as do weightless lures such as the Zoom Super Fluke. – Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist

SOUTHEAST NH/MERRIMACK VALLEY

The river herring run on the Lamprey River is off to one of its best starts ever, with many thousands of fish counted so far at the fish ladder in Newmarket and many more fish observed downstream. Check out the migration totals on our coastal rivers, updated weekly on our website at fishnh.com/marine/river_herring_shad.html.

The striped bass will not be far behind, and there were reports of some huge fish taken in Newmarket last year.  While many anglers on the seacoast are aware of the big striped bass that follow the river herring upstream, there is very little known about how river herring impact local freshwater fisheries.  The alewives in the Lamprey River are pretty big, usually between 8 and 12 inches long.  Even so, I find it hard to believe that big largemouth and smallmouth bass would not take advantage of a prey source whose numbers last year approached 100,000.  It might be interesting to cast a silvery lure that imitates a small herring in the river reach upstream of the dam in Newmarket. Biologists from Fish and Game's Marine Fisheries Division are working on a large-scale pit tag and radio telemetry study on the Lamprey River to get a better understanding of river herring movements after they enter freshwater. 

There have been reports of some broodstock Atlantic salmon being caught in Hooksett.  The water level for broodstock fishing on the Merrimack River has been exceptional for this time of year, and anglers should have good access to the river for as long as this dry spell continues.

There is a lot of focus on trout fishing this time of year, but warmwater fish are becoming more active during this string of sunny days, especially in southern New Hampshire, where we are noticing the difference in leaf-out compared to areas north of Plymouth.  The Nashua River and the Powwow River, near the border with Massachusetts, are not only the first to warm, but they are productive waters that support an abundance of bass, pickerel, and panfish. – Matt Carpenter, Regional Fisheries Biologist

SEACOAST AREA

I would love to report that the striped bass have arrived, but sad to say, they are not here yet. Many anglers attempted to catch a striper this weekend, with no prevail. River herring started running up the coastal rivers in New Hampshire last week, with roughly 11,000 river herring passing the Cocheco fish ladder in Dover and 60,000 fish passing the Lamprey fish ladder in Newmarket!  Anglers at Henry Law Park in Dover have been successful catching alewife as bait. With all of these river herring, one would have to assume that the stripers will be here any day!  – Robert Eckert, Marine Biologist

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