NH Weekly Fishing Report - June 13, 2013

Hello anglers – The silver lining to all this cool rainy weather is that it's keeping the trout happy and active.  Our regional fisheries biologists weigh in with these insights and more to help make your Granite State fishing a great experience.

Saltwater anglers: Help improve our marine fisheries with new strategies for releasing deepwater fish – come to a meeting June 20 at 6 p.m., Urban Forestry Center, Portsmouth fishnh.com/Newsroom/2013/Q2/angler_port_meeting_060713.html

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

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I have often written about early summer trout fishing in Northern New Hampshire. While opportunity abounds in our rivers and streams, it seems as if our ponds have a point beyond which, fishing can really slow down. This threshold is usually reached near the end of June, when water temperatures hit 70 degrees and smaller, shallower ponds just don’t maintain conditions that keep trout happy and active. In contrast are those years when abundant rainfall and cool temperatures extend opportunities into the summer months. June 2013 may turn out to be one of those years.

A seemingly endless rain has kept our trout ponds fishing so well that I have heard from a dozen happy anglers just this week. Fish seem to be rising for dry flies and swiping at streamers being trolled behind boats. I have also talked to fishermen who are having a great season casting from shore. Most are using worms or Powerbait and letting their bait sit on bottom. Cool water temperatures keep fish spread out unlike warmer conditions when they congregate around cooler influences. This means that they can be caught anywhere and at varying depths.

Lake Umbagog is New Hampshire’s second largest and a fantastic place to find North Country Smallmouth Bass. It is a shallow waterbody and warms up quickly. Reports of spawning fish started coming in a few weeks ago and it seems to be fishing very well this week. Early season approaches usually consist of soft plastic baits and spider jigs. As summer progresses and aquatic plant life increases, fish can start to gather around them. Throwing a red and white spinnerbait through this cover can be very effective.
– Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

We have received over 3 inches of rain here in the lakes region over the last week.  I know this report is beginning to sound like a weather update, but the truth is, fishing is intertwined with the weather, like it or not.  Lake levels in the lakes region are pretty much over full pool for this time of year.  The poor bass don’t know what is going on…first they are on the nest…then they are off, and on and on.  Lake temperatures are still quite cool -- 63 degrees at Lakeport Dam on Lake Winnipesaukee -- but temps in the main part of the lake are struggling to break 60 degrees.  If we can get rid of the east wind, trolling for salmon and trout should be quite good.  With all the rain and lack of sunlight, the thermocline has not even begun to set-up.  Salmon and rainbows will be found from the surface down to 25-30 feet, given the time of day. 

I had a report of a fine rainbow coming from Conway Lake recently.  This lake can be a real sleeper, a little trip to get there, but you are treated to near wilderness fishing in the White mountains of New Hampshire.  We visited with my good friend Ken Dean at Cove Camping area on Conway Lake recently as we stocked landlocked salmon yearlings off his beach area.  This lake also provides some serious bass fishing for both large and smallmouth bass, too.  Speaking of bass, the catch and release season will end on June 15, but remember, some fish will likely be guarding nests and fry at that time.  Consider this fact when fishing the shorelines for bass.

Streams in the area and in the southern White Mountains are bank-full now; give them a few (rainless) days, and they should be very fishable.  Trout pond fishing is going great guns…I had a report of a 5-pound brookie from a northern trout pond recently.  Aerial stocking of our remote ponds has been put on hold temporarily because of the inclement weather.  Not to worry, as the Kennebago brook trout fingerlings will have a chance to feed for another week before finding their way into our 48 remote trout ponds! – Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist


The warmwater fish habitat structures we placed into Harrisville Pond last week are already being used by fish!  Various sizes of black crappie were observed via underwater camera in and amongst the structures earlier this week.  As you might remember, these consisted of a bundle of three Christmas trees per structure that were weighted so they would remain near the bottom.

The wet weather is putting a damper on stream and river fishing in many locations around Keene.  Surprising, the Connecticut River has been high, but not unfishable, especially in the setbacks.  I have actually had great success in the past fishing the mainstem Connecticut River during high flows.  Focus on locations right on the bank and use large topwater lures that make a lot of commotion such as the Rapala X-Rap Pop or the Rebel Pop-R.  Big smallmouth can’t resist. 

A friend of mine who likes to troll for trout recently called me after a great weekend of fishing with his uncle who was visiting from Texas.  Silver Lake (Harrisville) and Laurel Lake (Fitzwilliam) were the lakes they visited, and he said his uncle had a great time.  Big rainbows and some nice lake trout were the name of the game at Silver Lake.  He commented that the rainbows were nice and fat, with the largest going almost 20 inches!   Laurel Lake made up for in numbers what it lacked in size, with them catching over ten trout in a couple hours of trolling.  Trout anglers have also been doing well at Millen Lake (Washington). – Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist


The shad run on the Merrimack River is off to a good start this year, with over 30,000 fish counted at the fish lift in Lawence, MA.  These are the best returns that we have seen since the flood in the spring of 2006.  Someday, we hope to get enough American shad in the upper Merrimack River to generate a fishery in New Hampshire.  Shad are popular with anglers on the Connecticut River and on the lower Merrimack River. 

While shad do not feed during their spring spawning migration from the ocean into larger rivers, they will bite at small lures, called shad darts.  I have yet to hear a satisfying explanation of why they do this, but for some reason, it works.  Shad darts are fished in moderate current by casting at an angle to the current and letting the lure drift downstream.  Then the shad dart is held for a few seconds before it is retrieved just above the bottom.  The trick is to avoid getting snagged on rocks or other debris during the retrieval. 

Shad often accumulate below obstructions, such as dams or rapids, as it takes them a while to figure out how to work their way upstream.  During the early part of this year, when flows were lower than average on the Merrimack River, shad had no problem finding the entrance to the fishway in Lawrence, and they were passing upstream by the thousands.  With the recent increase in flow, the attraction flow from the fishway has been overwhelmed by thousands of gallons of water flowing over the dam.  Even when fishways are constructed, dams present challenging obstacles for migrating fish.  Our goal is to help overcome these obstacles, so that anglers in New Hampshire will have the opportunity to catch an American shad, which has a reputation as one of the strongest fighting fish in the river. – Matt Carpenter, Regional Fisheries Biologist


Mackerel fishing has been fair to good recently. Not many reports of them being caught by shore anglers, but boat fishermen are doing well at 2KR and outside of Hampton Harbor. Mackerel fishing is fast and fun and not just for kids! When the mackerel are around it does not take much to get one on your line, a 1 to 1.5 oz. diamond jig is all it takes, however, you can buy more elaborate setups as well.

You most often hear of people using mackerel as bait, but they used to be prized for their superior flavor. To have the best tasting mackerel, time is of the essence. These fish do not freeze well and the flavor deteriorates quickly after the fish is caught, so the sooner they are thrown on the grill the better. Want to try mackerel fishing but don’t have a boat? Most of New Hampshire’s party boat companies are currently operating half day fishing trips for mackerel; check our website (http://www.fishnh.com/marine/charter.html) for a list of licensed party and charter boats, and don’t forget to bring a kid. Fishing is always more fun with them! – Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist

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