NH Weekly Fishing Report - May 30, 2013

The weather's been a wild ride this week, and the heat wave is hitting just in time for Free Fishing Day on Saturday, June 1. Take a friend out on the water, and be sure to stop by and visit one of our six state fish hatcheries, which will be welcoming visitors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. fishnh.com/Newsroom/2013/Q2/free_fishing_day.html

Also on Saturday, June 1 – Open House at Owl Brook Hunter Education Center, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. huntnh.com/Newsroom/2013/Q2/OB_open_house_052313.htm

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!

Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/nhfishandgame

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NORTH COUNTRY

One of the main goals of writing my fishing reports is to build enthusiasm for the wonderful fishing opportunities that we have in New Hampshire. A guideline that directs these reports is an honest and accurate style that builds a level of trust from my readers. Keeping both of these details in mind, I am now going to tell you about the most miserable fishing week that I’ve had in a long time.

As we are all aware, the weather over Memorial Day weekend was abysmal and laid the groundwork for my suffering tale. Free of work obligations and baseball games, I had planned for some serious fishing time. I watched water levels rise all week, but still hoped to spend a day on the Upper Connecticut. Even after a friend suggested turkey hunting, I favored a day on the water.

Saturday morning started with a cold rain, but my spirits were high as I cast flies into fast, muddy water. If fish were there, they showed no interest in feeding. Recognizing my glass to be half-full rather than half-empty, I was glad that I had the river to myself and that the bugs weren’t too bad. When the day ended, the snow had accumulated to an inch or two on the riverbank; I caught no fish and clearly suffered from mild hypothermia.

Sunday brought renewed hope which quickly disappeared with worsened water conditions. Rivers were over full bank, ponds were flooded, it was still raining hard, and I decided to wait until Monday, which finally brought the sunshine that was promised. The icing on the cake for this fisherman was the 40-mile-an-hour sustained wind. After a few wind knots in my leader and a Black Ghost streamer stuck in my back, I called it a day.

Back to work on Tuesday, but my fishing story does not end. The weather was finally beautiful, and I spent the day stocking fish. Watching brook trout swim out of my net and into quickly flowing streams made me fall in love with fishing all over again. One of the perks of being a fisheries biologist is being able to take your kids fishing to a spot where you know there should be some fish, so after school, we each grabbed a slice of pizza and a container of worms. This experience had the potential to wipe away all of the tears from the weekend. Instead, it followed the same pattern and convinced me that there is a condition known as bad fish Karma and I had it…bad. We couldn’t catch a fish even though we watched them rise and jump for hours. Occasionally, one would deliberately mock us by leaping over our bobbers like dolphins at a Sea World show.

I’ve been fishing long enough to know that there are good days, bad days, and everything in between. What I have experienced over the last five have left me a little soured but not without hope. I will be back at it this week, seeking revenge on those forces that plagued me. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

LAKES REGION

What a wild weather week we’ve just experienced!  After four days of rain, central and northern NH saw a late-season snowstorm!  High winds and cold temperatures saw lake water temps plummet!  Unfortunately, the drop in water temps came during the middle of the bass nesting phase.  Reports of abandoned nests abound here in the lakes region.  Currently, the water temperature in the main part of Lake Winnipesaukee is in the low 50’s!  This is after water temps had reached the low 60’s!  This will certainly not be a banner year for bass reproduction.  Our fall electrofishing surveys of young-of-the-year (YOY) bass, headed up by fellow biologists Gabe Gries and Jason Carrier of our region 4 office in Keene, will provide us with the data regarding this years’ success rate.

With the rainfall, streams and rivers are running at springtime levels.  This will certainly rejuvenate stream fishing for trout.  Quite a few of our small brooks had seen high water temps and low water levels prior to this bout of rain.  The Mad River in Waterville Valley has been fishing well, as have the area trout ponds.  I plan on fishing a trout pond on the northern reaches of the lakes region soon and will report back on my success.

Anadromous herring (alewife) transfers have slowed down, as river levels have increased while water temps have dropped.  Approximately 5,000 herring have been stocked into Lake Winnisquam this spring, a far cry from the numbers last year.  It is hoped that with a drop in river flows, we will see a few more herring transferred to Winnisquam.

We are gearing up for our annual, aerial stocking of Kennebago brook trout fingerlings into 48 remote trout ponds across the entire state.  This year the plan is to stock 134,000 fingerlings, weighing 605 lbs., in one day, from Sunapee State Park to the tip of the state in Pittsburg!

Don’t forget, Free Fishing Day is Saturday, June 1st!  Get out and give fishing a try.  Take the kids and enjoy our great natural resources we are blessed with, here in New Hampshire. – Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist

MONADNOCK/UPPER VALLEY

Multiple days of rain have turned the southern portion of the NH section of the Connecticut River brown, and many areas streams are still too high to effectively fish.  As waters return to normal levels, you can expect most of the newly stocked trout to have been distributed widely over the length of most streams and rivers.

The cold snap we just experienced may have an impact on the success of this year’s bass spawn.  While some bass in the state are finished with their egg and fry guarding phase, other male bass were still likely guarding their progeny during this recent weather event.  It is likely some of these guardian males abandoned their duties, as studies have shown sudden drops in water temperature will cause them to do so.  Bass eggs and fry can be quickly eaten by predators when left unguarded.  We won’t know the full impact that this cold weather had on the bass spawn until we perform our annual statewide young-of-the-year bass surveys this fall.

Reports indicate Chapman Pond (Sullivan) is producing numerous limits of brook trout and that hornpout fishing there this spring has been fantastic.  Before the high water, an angler called to tell me what a great day he had trout fishing on the lower Ashuelot River (Winchester).  The section along Route 119 is a beautiful stretch for fly and spin anglers alike.  Bass fishing has been productive in Mount William Pond (Weare), Highland Lake (Stoddard), Crescent Lake (Acworth), and Forest Lake (Winchester).  The trout fishing at Forest Lake has also been great over the past week. – Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist

SOUTHEAST NH/MERRIMACK VALLEY

The expected, quick increase in water temperatures from this weekend’s predicted heat wave, after all the rain we have received, is setting up the conditions for a very stressful situation for fish, particularly those species that inhabit shallow areas during this time of year.  A small pond in Concord has already undergone a fish kill, and it is likely other waterbodies will exhibit similar conditions. 

Several species can be impacted by a large and quick water temperature variation, but other impacts can result in fish kills.  Rains drained into our waterbodies often carry in additional nutrients from fertilizers and scoured soils.  These nutrients can amplify algal concentrations once sunlight is available to promote growth.  When a large concentration of algae expands and then decomposes, dissolved oxygen is stripped from the waters to help break down the algal cells sometimes to intolerable levels for fish to survive.  This situation is further exacerbated when fish begin to decompose further reducing oxygen rates.  Once a fish kill begins to occur, there is little that can be done to stop it.  That being said, preventative measures can be implemented to avoid or reduce these harmful conditions.  Vegetated buffers around our lakes and ponds can help slow the rate of nutrient introduction into waters.  Mature trees around waterbodies help shade sunlight reducing the ability for algae to grow.  Stormwater, especially adjacent to larger parking lots and other impervious surfaces, should be filtered through filtration devices or at least directed away from waterbodies.  Aquatic vegetation can compete with algae for nutrients, as well as provide essential fish habitat.  Efforts to remove vegetation should be minimized or avoided. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

SEACOAST AREA

Stripers are being caught from Hampton Harbor to Dover Point and up to the head-of-tide dams in our coastal rivers. Fish and Game biologists have witnessed sub-legal fish caught from Yankee Coop in Seabrook and a blitz in the Cocheco River that had herring beaching themselves. Reports have been coming in of keepers as well.

Another species that was observed down in Seabrook this spring was the elusive tautog or “blackfish.” This is a fish that has been seen more frequently in NH over the past few years. Our own Shane Conlin recently went out on the bay with one of NH’s oyster aquaculturists to tend their gear. He made an interesting discovery in the oyster cages, in amongst the oysters were juvenile black sea bass and tautog!

If you want to try your hand at fishing for 'tog, go to your nearest pier, jetty, or any one of the numerous spots along Route 1A where there is steep, rocky shoreline. They are daytime feeders who specialize in invertebrates like crabs and mussels, and those are a couple likely baits for them, as well as sea worms and snails. A simple hook-and-sinker setup is best, to cut down on snagging. The state record was 21 inches and 9 pounds, caught in Seabrook. Remember that June 1 is Free Fishing Day in NH; that includes saltwater! – Becky Heuss, Marine

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