NH Weekly Fishing Report - May 23, 2013

Trout are being stocked for your Memorial Day weekend fishing enjoyment! Looking to next week, plan to bring a buddy along on Saturday, June 1, which is Free Fishing Day (no license needed in fresh or salt waters; except for brood stock salmon). State Fish Hatcheries are also hosting an open house from 10-2 that day, so stop in and say hi.  fishnh.com/Newsroom/2013/Q2/free_fishing_day.html

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

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

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North Country

I had an opportunity to fish the Upper Connecticut River over the weekend, near the towns of North Stratford and Columbia. It is one of my favorite sections of river to fly cast, and I spent a lot of time there last summer. It seems to fish better after July, but I wanted to give it a try in May and see what I could find. As expected, water temperatures were cool and levels were typical of spring flows. This means that fish are really spread out, in contrast to later in the summer, when they congregate in areas that are easier to predict. Last weekend, I found myself casting to a lot of water and never really found the fish. It was a warm, windy day, and there were caddis flies hatching so densely that they looked like small, brown clouds. They didn’t spend much time on the water – they flew around the surface, but never really landed. As you might expect, I did not see any fish rise for them.

I fished mostly beaded nymph patterns, favoring the typical hare’s ear and pheasant tail. One fish hit a Copper John at the tail of a run and, as it rolled, I recognized that it was a fallfish. It quickly came off, and I was left without any other action for the rest of the day. I tried wooly buggers in deep water, and I tried ripping streamers through pools. One opportunity that presents itself at times of low catch rates is that I get to try a lot of different flies! Out of sheer desperation, I even tried a bright yellow, foam-bodied grasshopper. No luck. It was nice to see how it fished well and floated through rough current in a natural way. In a month or so, this approach should be very effective.

The lesson I learned was that early spring days with cool, high water may not be the best time to fish that section of the river. In the future, I may focus on some remote trout ponds or even some larger, warmwater fisheries, targeting bass as they prepare to spawn. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Lakes Region

We’ve recently finished up the 31st annual Winni Derby on Lake Winnipesaukee this last weekend.  On Friday, anglers were met with heavy NW winds that probably kept many fishermen shorebound.  Saturday and Sunday, the weather turned around, and anglers were able to fish anywhere on the big lake.  The winning salmon was 3.7 pounds, while the lake trout winner was 7.68 pounds.  I had a great time talking to anglers about the salmon fishery and the pressure that is being placed on it.  Hook-wounding was apparent on many of the salmon, and the body condition of those fish suffered.  The lake trout looked great, with three fish over 7 pounds.  Anecdotally, several lake trout had mayfly larvae in their mouths.

Trout ponds are producing very well in central New Hampshire, as a recent trip to a lakes region pond with my daughter Holly produced some nice brookies and rainbows.  This past week has seen some incredible insect hatches, primarily caddis in the area.  Eating lunch on the shore of Chocorua Lake the other day, I was amazed at the amount of jet-black caddis hatching at my feet in the crystal-clear water.  This same hatch occurred at the aforementioned trout pond, as well.  Mayflies haven’t shown up yet…it will probably take some warm weather and a week or so before those hatches start.  Speaking of Chocorua Lake, it amazes me that this beautiful lake has seen very little pressure. Granted, it has a motor restriction, but I would think a canoe or kayak would “fit the bill” here.  Chocorua Lake is stocked with rainbow trout and also has an excellent smallmouth bass population.  Give it a try; you might be surprised.

Recent rains in our area have helped stream levels, and stocking continues right up through the White Mountains. – Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Monadnock/Upper Valley

This weekend I plan to take the canoe out for a float on one of the many small rivers in the area. I might try to find a spot on the Warner River to go for a paddle and do some multi-species fishing. I’ve never floated this river, so I will have to study a map and do some scouting to find good spots to put in and take out. This type of river can be a lot of fun to float and fish, because there is plenty of wildlife to see and you never know what you may catch. I like to cast in-line spinners, which will catch anything from trout and fallfish to bass and perch. Other rivers that have good sections to float include: Contoocook River (Peterborough to Concord); Blackwater River, Webster; and the Ashuelot River in Keene, Swanzey and Winchester. – Jason Carrier, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley

River herring and American shad transfers to the upstream areas in the Merrimack River system have kept us busy this week. The goal of these two projects is to provide access to spawning adults to their historical spawning grounds. Impoundments currently block access to these areas. While the spawning adults do not stay long, the juveniles they produce will summer in these locations and provide an additional food source for resident fish as well as several wildlife species. 

Both river herring and American shad are enumerated at the first impoundment the reach on the lower Merrimack River, as they ascend from the ocean into freshwater to spawn.  It is expected that river herring returns are essentially finished for the year, but the number of fish that returned this spring is the most since 2000. The pace of the returns for American shad is much higher than what we’ve seen in several years. If the run continues through June at this rate, it may be one of the better returns in recent years. In order to help build the stocks, a recent rule change allows for a catch-and-release only fishery for shad in our river systems.

Water temperatures have appeared to stabilize lately, and rains are providing much need flow rejuvenation to area waters. Conditions for this weekend should be just about perfect for targeting hatchery fish in the rivers and streams in the area. The week before Memorial Day weekend can be a busy time for our hatchery staff, as there is usually a big push to ensure there are several opportunities for trout fishing during the extended weekend. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Seacoast Area

The river herring run up our coastal rivers has quieted over the past week. The Lamprey River has passed a total of 77,000 of these fish so far, nearing the record run of last year. The herring will normally continue to trickle in through the first half of June, but not with the same intensity as their early run.  There have been stripers sighted, and a few caught, just below our head-of-tide dams on the Lamprey and Cocheco rivers; the presence of these late-arriving herring will keep them high up in the rivers until the spawning runs fizzle out. We have had reports of a few fish caught around Dover Point and down in Hampton, but right now your best bet is downtown Newmarket or Dover. – Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist

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