NH Weekly Fishing Report - July 25, 2013

Greetings!  Here's a look at the angling action around the Granite State this week.

Spread the word: A one-day Intro to Fishing program will be held on August 2 at the Umbagog Lake Campground in Cambridge. fishnh.com/Newsroom/2013/Q3/LGF_Umbagog_072513.html

Thorndike Pond in Jaffrey will be closed to all fishing from September 3 through November 30, 2013, while they repair the dam - fishnh.com/Newsroom/2013/Q3/Drawdown_Thorndike_072413.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!

Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/nhfishandgame

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NORTH COUNTRY

July is coming to an end and the evenings are getting dark a little bit earlier. On Tuesday, I decided to fish a remote trout pond after work and found myself coming off the water around 8:30. It still left me with a good window of time for fishing, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I started by casting small squirrel tail streamers on a dry line. I tie these streamers with a silver body and red throat and assume they look very similar to a black nosed dace when I retrieve them slowly through the still water. This method was effective, and I landed a few nice brook trout.

Changing spools on my 4-weight allowed me to use a sinking line and twitch an olive woolly bugger along the bottom. This seemed to be even more effective than the streamers, and I caught a lot more brookies. As dusk approached, fish started rising with more regularity, although what they were eating was a mystery. I switched back to the dry line and started casting small royal coachmen dry flies. This turned out to be the most effective approach of the night, and I caught a bunch of fish – at one point, three trout in three casts. What a perfect night fishing!

Today, I had a chance to conduct some electrofishing surveys on small streams in the headwaters of the Ammonoosuc River. We had a good slug of rain overnight and the brooks were moving pretty quickly. The water remained clear, and it reminded me of why I like these types of fisheries. Whenever there was a collection of woody material, a scoured pool could be found downstream of it and brook trout always seemed to be there. When the stream undercut the root masses, the habitat became perfect, and trout were also abundant. Shallower, slower sections were where I found this year’s fish (those hatched in the spring); they were very small, somewhere between 1.5 to 2.0 inches. Even at this size, they had the typical markings of brook trout, showing both red/blue spots, and white striped fins. As you may expect, deeper bigger pools were holding larger trout, with the biggest fish reaching 5 inches. I have surveyed streams like this a million times, and I am always excited to find out where the fish are, and marvel at their beauty. - Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist


LAKES REGION

Wow!  This has to be one of the wettest July’s on record!  Yesterday, my rainfall gauge registered 2.6 inches of rain in a few hours’ time.  This is on top of several inches more during the previous days.  Needless to say, the big lakes are above full pool and are very warm also.  Temps are in the mid to upper 70 degree range as I write this column.  The Winnipesaukee River below Lake Winnisquam should be running hard into Silver Lake right about now, and that tends to draw a lot of different species of fish into the tailwater plume extending out into the lake a good 100 yards.

Last night, I noticed some small rises out in front of my camp on Winnisquam, and on further inspection, I observed hundreds of YOY (young-of-the-year) alewives busily feeding on zooplankton.  This is great news for Matt Carpenter and Ben Nugent, fisheries biologists who are spearheading the anadromous alewife program on Winnisquam.  This spring, due to an influx of freshwater into rivers supporting runs of alewives, the guys were only able to truck about 12,000 alewives into Winnisquam, yet the results appear promising!  As I watched the alewives feeding around 8:30 PM, I noticed several large swirls in the water, most likely from white perch and smallmouth bass that were also glad to see the alewives again.  Anglers who work these broad, sand/gravel bays at dusk should throw some small stick baits into these schools of alewives and then hold on tight!  It reminds me of bluefish and stripers working baitfish down on the coast.

The thermocline has set up fairly deep for this time of year, and trollers should get on the water early and as the sun (what’s that?) rises higher they should drop lines down to the 40-50 foot depths for salmon and rainbows.  I’ve seen great surface activity on Winnisquam at sunrise, mostly salmon and rainbows.

Rivers and streams are very fishable; just allow a day or two for the rainfall to flow through the system.  There’s lots of food being swept into streams and this is the dinner-bell for trout.  Even ponds are holding up well, mostly from the White Mountain region and north.  There was a recent catch of an 11 pound “monster” brown trout from a west-central trout pond, further evidence of some fine fishing opportunities in our trout-managed ponds. – Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist


SOUTHEAST NH/MERRIMACK VALLEY

The pound-for-pound fight and table fare of white perch can receive high praise from many of New Hampshire's anglers. This species is not a true perch and actually is within the temperate bass family (Moronidae). This makes white perch more closely related to striped bass than to yellow perch. Although once found primarily in brackish and salt water, white perch have been introduced into several lakes, ponds and rivers in the state. Anglers should take great care that this species is not introduced into other waterbodies, for the species may have a negative impact on native fish species.
 
When it comes to fishing for white perch in New Hampshire, I get the sense most anglers look to our larger lakes in the central part of the state. However, several lakes in the southeastern part of the state contain healthy populations of white perch, including Bow Lake (Strafford), Harvey Lake (Northwood), Northwood Lake (Northwood), Massabesic Lake (Auburn), Pawtuckaway Lake (Nottingham), Pleasant Lake (Deerfield) and the Suncook Lakes (Barnstead). Some of these waterbodies have what is considered a stunted population of white perch. This means you may be more likely to catch smaller fish, and more effort may be required to target larger white perch.

White perch primarily feed on insect larvae and smaller fish. They routinely migrate to shallow areas in low light periods and spend their time in areas with greater depth throughout the day.

Generally, white perch are very aggressive, hitting countless different presentations when put in front of them. That being said, I've observed times, particularly during ice fishing, when the perch key in on one particular presentation and disregard everything else. In the peak of the summer, I have routinely, but incidentally, caught them while trolling around the thermocline. This is usually while targeting rainbow trout and salmon. I'm not sure if larger white perch prefer somewhat cooler temperatures, or if the species is targeting forage species that live there. While trolling, virtually any smaller spoon can work. Finding the right depth for a particular day may take some time. Casting along areas with sharp drop-offs, working the presentation into greater depths can also be productive.

A variety of different panfish jigs, small deep diving crank baits, and spinners can be effective for white perch. There may be times when attaching live bait or imitation live bait to a panfish jig may help. Often, the species schools together by similar size, so be sure to continue focusing on the area once you confirm their presence. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist


SEACOAST AREA

The fishing has been good all around this past week. Ground-fishermen are doing well out at Old Scantum and Jeffries Ledges, especially with cod. Striped bass are still biting, and I got to measure a few of them this weekend in the mid-30’s. Rumor has it that the big ones are biting late at night along the beaches. Mackerel are still around, but I haven’t seen any large catches in a while. – Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist

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