NH Weekly Fishing Report - September 5, 2013

Greetings, anglers. We're happy to report that the boat access facility on Baxter Lake in Rochester has reopened, as repairs on the ramp were completed ahead of schedule.  A drawdown for dam repairs will begin in Pleasant Lake in New London on September 16.  Hope you enjoy this week's roundup from our dedicated fisheries biologists.

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

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North Country

As the seasons change in New Hampshire, so do the work details of a Fisheries Biologist. Fish sampling occupies most of my time beginning in late summer with small stream surveys and ending with fall netting and navigating my boat through spitting snow. When September arrives, one can be overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, and smells of the woods where I work. Leaves turn and fall to the ground, mornings get cold, and brook trout develop some of the most beautiful color patterns of any creature on earth. I am beginning to see fish with deep red bellies and red and blue spots along their sides. The milky white stripes on their fins exist in strong contrast with their dark vermiculation and distinct dorsal pattern. Even though I’ve seen thousands of brook trout, my camera is always ready and I snap many pictures before releasing them into the cool water.

There are many angling opportunities for fall brook trout fishing in Northern New Hampshire. When the wind is calm, I like to take my ten foot canoe into some remote ponds from late afternoon until dark. These ponds include Munn Pond in Errol and Trio Ponds in Odell (Nash Stream headwaters). I will cast streamers or wooly buggers until I begin to see fish rise. Once the water dimples a few times with hungry fish, I tie on an attractor dry fly like a coachman or a yellow humpy. If fish seem more picky, I study the insect life more closely.  This will usually bring me to an elk hair caddis or a small blue-winged olive. I will fish until the daylight disappears. After it becomes difficult to tie on a new fly or see one on the water, it is time to pack it in and head home.

I also chase fall brook trout in small streams with a 2-3 weight six foot rod. Reflecting on this outfit and the conditions of which I fish it, I can say that I’ve never had more than five feet of fly line past the rod tip. I usually have a heavy nymph on and flip it into foamy water. There is very little casting in the traditional sense. If everything stays out of the overhanging tress and lands in the water, I have made a successful presentation. I also love dry flies in this manner. It may be hard to get a natural drift, but watching a small wild trout gobble a fly from the surface is as good as it gets. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Lakes Region

Subtle and not so subtle changes are occurring now that September has rolled around.  The birches and some diseased maples show tinges of yellow and red.  The loons on Lake Winnisquam have begun to congregate in small flocks now.  They certainly are taking advantage of the alewives in Winnisquam, as my daughter Holly and I witnessed last night.  The bay, on which I live, was flooded at dusk with thousands of alewives dimpling the surface, and sometimes clearing the water! Two loons expertly fishing together, made inroads on the schooling alewives.  We even had a bald eagle sail over our heads into a near-by pine tree!  Did that ever get the loons’ attention! 

The salmonids in Winnisquam, likewise, are feasting on alewives also.  I’ve been trolling single-hook streamers in size 6 (long shank), and have had success getting some violent strikes, yet have failed to boat any fish.  I suspect these fish are salmon and rainbows, slashing at my flies.  I troll 5-7 colors of lead core line, and run a downrigger at 35-40 feet for the most part.  I’ll try my 50 yard sinking fly line when surface temperatures drop a bit.  The big lakes are still running in the low 70 degree range right now, but will soon drop as September progresses.  I hope the salmon bite “stays on” for a while, for they will soon shift from offshore feeding to running the shores in their pre-spawn rituals.  That makes it very tough to target these salmon when they are in shallow water, when they refuse most of the offerings presented to them.  Shoreline fly casters do have some luck on these salmon (and rainbows too), along gravel/sandy shorelines, casting wooly buggers and small streamers.

We are nearing the end of our summer smelt surveys, with only Big Squam and Sunapee Lake left to go.  Then our busy season will begin in earnest, as we set and tend nets, and examine salmon and rainbow and lake trout for growth characteristics.  In addition, probably one of our most important tasks is to gather enough salmon eggs for the continuation of our salmon stocking program.  Without the ripe salmon and their eggs this wonderful fishery would cease to exist.

Trout ponds are fishing well now, especially from the White Mountains north.  I know I’ll find time between hiking trips to sample the fall colors in the mountains, and to gaze with wonder at our beautiful brook trout in their spawning splendor. – Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Monadnock/Upper Valley

A recent outing on Pleasant Pond in Francestown produced some good numbers of healthy Largemouth Bass while fishing off-shore. During the heat of the summer, I have more success fishing submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in 6 to 10 feet of water than I do fishing the shallows along the shoreline. Whenever I fish a new waterbody it can take me just as long to find the submerged vegetation as it does for me to fish it, but the time spent scouting usually pays off. When fishing the SAV, I like to use creature baits rigged Texas-style with enough weight to be able to feel the bait drag and bounce on the bottom. Another technique that I have been fishing this summer that has produced for me is a shakey-head worm.

We’ve had reports of good catches of Walleye on the Connecticut River lately. Many anglers are trolling crawler harnesses and even crankbaits this time of year. Drifting jigs tipped with worms can also be effective but with the lack of rain there is not enough flow in the river to get a good drift going unless you have some wind. One angler reported catching a few incidental channel cats while fishing for walleye this summer. The Connecticut River is a lot of fun to fish because you never know what you might hook into. – Jason Carrier, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley

Southeastern New Hampshire has several multi-tiered fisheries that may be worth a try at the tail end of the summer.  These waterbodies have fishable populations of both stocked trout and warmwater fish species and give the angler an opportunity to completely change tactics if things are working too slowly.  As surface water temperatures begin to cool, trout are less restricted to deeper, cooler waters and are able to once again return to shallow areas.  This may increase catch rates for those who fish for trout from shore.  Some of my recommendations are Massabesic Lake, Bow Lake, Lucas Pond, Hothole Pond, the Suncook Lakes, Pleasant Lake, and Tower Hill Pond.  The accessibility of these waterbodies can vary (i.e. Lucas Pond has a no motor restriction and Tower Hill Pond is only accessible by walking in).  Some of these waterbodies can be sleepers, particularly when it comes to warmwater species in the lakes and ponds better known for their trout fishing.  Multi-species rivers that I would recommend are the Cocheco River, Lamprey River, Exeter River, and Merrimack River. Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Seacoast Area

The passing of Labor Day means two things for the coast, one, that the fishermen who remain will have much more elbow room, and two, the shellfishing season has begun! Oyster licenses are available to residents of the great state of New Hampshire only. Individuals may take up to ½ bushel of unshucked oysters per day, but before you go be sure to check the tide as well as the “clam flat status”, available at fishnh.com/Fishing/clam_flat_status.htm.  Also on the page is a link to maps showing the open and closed areas of New Hampshire’s coast and the Great Bay Estuary.  Soft shell clamming is also open this coming Saturday EXCEPT for Hampton/Seabrook Estuary which does not open until November.

Stripers are being caught mostly along the coastline at the moment, however we did see a few people pulling them in inside of Hampton Harbor this weekend; these were all caught on clams. Black Seabass are still hot in the Piscataqua and mackerel have moved in closer and have been found near 2KR once more.  Groundfishing has remained steady with Pollock and Cod making up the bulk of the catch and a few Haddock mixed in.

If you are at the seacoast this weekend, don’t forget to stop by the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival.  There is a small entrance fee but parking and shuttles in are FREE! More info at http://hamptonbeachseafoodfestival.com.  - Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist

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