NH Weekly Fishing Report - July 11, 2013

Greetings, anglers. Our fisheries biologists have lots of good tips for you this week for making the most of your deep summer fishing.  Enjoy!

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

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North Country

The rain gauge in Lancaster has measured over six inches of rain as of July 9. This has left my favorite spots on the Connecticut River almost unfishable. Even though I am anxious to wade into these spots, I have been having fun searching out smaller water and changing my tactics.  Last week, I fished Lyman Brook in Columbia, which is managed for wild trout, and had a great time. The special rules call for catch-and-release and limit tackle to single barbless hooks on artificial lures and flies. I started by flipping small royal coachmen dry flies into pools and glides. Although this is a great approach for small streams, it wasn’t working on Lyman Brook. I switched to a prince nymph and started catching wild rainbow trout with some consistency. Most fish were holding in riffle habitat and seemed to enjoy the peacock flash in my fly. Within a few hours, I had landed five or six fish, and was genuinely satisfied.

Later in the week, I decided to see what the high water levels had done to Lake Umbagog. One of my favorite smallmouth spots, Umbagog was high, but the water was still warm. I began the day by casting drop shot rigs with a small (3 inch) pumpkinseed colored worm. This worked well, and I caught some small fish. I wanted to find some larger fish and moved my boat to the river channel that can be found where the Magalloway River enters and the Androscoggin drains. Aquatic vegetation has grown up to levels just below the surface, and I tried casting a torpedo topwater lure over them. This didn’t work as well as I’d hoped, and fish were reluctant to come to the surface in the middle of a hot sunny day. I stayed in the same location and tried ripping spinner baits through the grass. I caught one nice fish and missed a few others. By the end of the day, I was dehydrated and sunburned, but had caught enough bass to keep me happy. - Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Lakes Region

May the “Hex” be on you (or all around you)!  This is the time of year that trout anglers anticipate with fervor.  Due to the extensive rains we’ve experienced here in the Lakes Region, the “Hex” hatch has been delayed slightly this year, for whatever reason.  I trolled Lake Winnisquam at sunrise this past Sunday with my fishing buddy, daughter Holly, and was amazed at the amount of spent Hexagenia mayflies that littered the surface of the lake.  Our big lake water temps are high for this time of year, mostly mid-70 degree range, although we measured 79 degrees this past Monday at Big Squam Lake.  These large mayflies are a real great source of food for trout and salmon.  Luckily, we don’t see the swarms of them, as some cities around the Great Lakes have endured, sometimes to the point of calling out snow plows to clear streets of them!

Now is the time to hit trout ponds and fish till dark.  Brook and rainbows go crazy when this hatch occurs.  Any large dry fly, tied with a good amount of hackle, especially in cream or white color will do the job.  Mayflies are a good indicator of the health of a pond or lake, as they require soft bottoms with a good supply of oxygen.  Speaking of trout ponds, fellow biologist John Viar and I have been busy stocking some great, surplus brook trout into area ponds throughout the White Mountains and Lakes Region.  Boat stocking is the only method to use on these fish, as water temps are above normal right now.  Enjoy these fish, raised by our great team of fish culturist’s right here at New Hampton Hatchery!

The summer-time thermocline is well in place, and salmon anglers will find their favorite fish in this band of cold water, generally down 30-40 feet.  I may sound like a broken record, but these salmon are growing at a rapid rate now, feeding on the abundant smelt found in most of our salmon lakes.  Catch and release is problematic when we have surface temps in the range we see now, so be mindful of this fishery and the effects we may have on it.

The amount of rainfall we have seen these past few weeks in the Lakes Region is staggering!  Lake levels are way above normal, and the problem does not seem to be going away.  There is a ton of debris in the lakes now, so be careful boating and keep those lines clean! – Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley

The intense heat and warm rain from the past two weeks are causing an increase of water temperatures, pushing trout species down to cooler depths. For those who tend to reduce their efforts fishing for trout during this time of year because of the challenge of fishing deeper, there are several available options that can be used that are both effective and relatively inexpensive. These items can be used easily in all watercraft including canoes, kayaks, and rowboats.

Bow Lake (Strafford), Pleasant Lake (Deerfield), and Massabesic Lake (Auburn), offer ample trolling room where anglers can cover water over deeper basins relatively easily.  The smaller ponds such as Clough Pond (Loudon), Barbadoes Pond (Madbury), and Lucas Pond (Northwood), require more concentration and attention to depth contours. 

Dodgers (sometimes referred to as flashers) can be tied directly to the terminal line. A short leader (typically less than three feet) is tied to the back of the dodger and the bait, lure, or fly is then tied to the terminal end of the line. Dodgers serve several purposes. They spin erratically giving your lure, bait, or fly a lot of action. The reflective material on them attracts inquisitive predators. They also provide a method to sink the line to greater depths. It is important to check the movement of both the dodger and your lure to ensure it has the proper motion at the speed you are trolling.

Another simple tool one can use to access greater depths is lead-core line. This larger-sized line typically requires a larger reel. The line is color coded, allowing anglers the ability to keep track of the amount of line out and approximate depth. The rate of line descent depends on trolling speed. While trolling for trout, I prefer longer leaders tied off of the lead core line. At a minimum, I prefer 50 feet of light line (4 or 6 pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon line). A small barrel swivel tied 4 to 6 feet up from your lure, fly, or bait is essential to prevent line twist. Windy days tend to work best while using lead core because the rocking of the boat can add action to the line.

There are some disadvantages of using lead core or dodgers. Since heavier lines and objects providing resistance are being used, these types of equipment can dampen the fight. Also, more distance is needed to make turns while trolling. This can be a challenge in some of our smaller trout ponds. That being said, anglers need to be particularly careful when fishing for trout when surface water temperatures are at their summertime levels. Appropriate gear (pliers, hemostats, rubber net, etc.) should be readily accessible to avoid additional exposure to uncomfortable conditions for trout. Anglers should also avoid handling fish with dry hands and equipment.  – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Seacoast Area

With the summer upon us, it’s a great time to take the family fishing.  Party boat companies along the coast are now doing half-day, full-day, and two-hour night fishing trips.  The half-day and night trips are usually fishing for mackerel, while the full-day trips venture out for groundfish.  When fishing for groundfish, there are many ways you can set up your rig.  Use a 20 oz. sinker with a hook and a piece of clam or use a colorful fly with a piece of clam or by itself.  You could also use a jig by itself or a fly tied about a foot above a jig; this appears like a herring chasing bait.

Shore anglers are still catching striped bass and winter flounder.  There are also reports of black sea bass being caught near the General Sullivan Bridge from Hilton Park and Bloody Point in Newington.  Striped bass have been biting on artificial lures pulled through the water quickly; large amounts of juvenile Atlantic herring are in the harbors.  Small stripers have also been caught on clams from the jetties in Hampton and Seabrook.  Keep an eye out for bluefish; they should be arriving soon. – Robert Eckert, Marine Biologist

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