SPECIAL Winter-Edition Fishing Report from
N.H. Fish and Game
Greetings, anglers! You are receiving this message because you are a subscriber to Fish and Game's "Friday Fishing Report," which will resume its regular weekly schedule in late March. It's been a long time since our last contact, but we hope you've all had a chance to see what's beneath the ice at your local fishing holes. The ice fishing in New Hampshire has been pretty good this year, so we're bringing you this special midseason report from Fish and Game's fisheries experts and fishing fanatics around the state. Enjoy the report, and enjoy the fishing out there on New Hampshire's beautiful frozen waterways....
Remember -- you can always buy your fishing license online at Fish and Game's web site, www.wildlife.state.nh.us. To unsubscribe from this list, or to join other Fish and Game lists, such as our new Wildlife Report, visit www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Inside_FandG/join_mail_list.htm.
NOTE: There are a few spots left in our "Becoming an Outdoors-Woman" ice-fishing workshop on Saturday. You must register and pay by tomorrow, Thursday 2/13 -- call Lisa at 603-271-3128 for information.
Trout stocking last fall involved a greater-than-normal amount of rainbow trout. Recent reports indicate that those rainbows are healthy, ready to feed, and compromise a large portion of this year's catch. The best method of catching them involves setting traps in shallow, sandy water. Place a small hook in light bait like a salmon egg or powerbait and place it right on the bottom, without any weight.
Good spots to try this method include Streeter Pond in Lisbon, Akers Pond in Errol and Martin Meadow Pond in Lancaster. Other winter fisheries to check out include lake trout in Big Diamond Pond in West Stewartstown or big northern pike in Jericho Lake in Berlin. Make sure to bring lots of bait, a camera and plenty of warm clothes. -- Andy Schafermeyer, Region 1
The recently held Meredith Rotary Derby, February 8th and 9th, saw some big pot-bellied cusk (4-8 lbs.) and gorgeous rainbow trout (3-5 lbs., including a 6.5-lb. beauty) brought in from Lake Winnipesaukee. For cusk, try large shiners or suckers on cusk lines (see Freshwater Fishing Digest) or jig with bucktails tipped with shiners, smelt or a piece of sucker meat. Rock and cobble areas, offshore reefs and large flats near deeper water are attractive to cusk, which are ferocious feeding machines in winter. Remember, cusk are nocturnal so most activity will be at dusk and into the night. For rainbows, bait tip-ups with salmon eggs, waxworms, powerbait, or small shiners or smelt along sandy, gravel shorelines in 2-5 feet of water. Dawn is the prime time.
A nearly 10-pound lake trout was the largest entered at the derby. Lake trout fishing has been fast and furious, with anglers taking advantage of adequate ice cover. Hard to believe, but many areas being fished were ice-free at this time last year. Lake Winnisquam has been turning out numbers of fish, along with Newfound, while average size is larger in Winnipesaukee. However, in most of our waters containing lake trout, there is always the chance to wrestle with a real monster of over 20 lbs. The first several hours of daylight is prime time for lakers; the same areas attractive to cusk often harbor lake trout. Try jigging on bottom in 20-40 feet of water with a bucktail jig tipped with a smelt, shiner or sucker meat. Remember -- when ice fishing, only single hooks may be used in conjunction with bait.
Some whopper white perch in the 2.5-lb. class, yellow perch in the 2-lb. range and chain pickerel up to about 5 lbs. from various lakes and ponds throughout the state were registered at the derby. Ice anglers have reported good catches of white perch in the southern end of Lake Winnisquam, and both white and yellow perch from Ossipee Lake. Lake Winnipesaukee continues to churn out huge white perch, but it is hit or miss. Look for whites on muck bottom flats in 15-30 feet of water; dusk is often prime time. Pickerel and yellow perch can be found in a variety of areas, ranging from old weedlines to deeper basin waters; both are primarily daytime feeders. Tip-ups baited with shiners will work fine; jigging with smaller lures and baits is often more effective and efficient for yellow perch.
When talking ice fishing, it would be remiss to not mention one of the most popular all-around species -- the black crappie. A few Lakes Region water bodies worth trying are Pemigewasset Lake, Lake Winnipesaukee (northern Moultonborough Bay), Pine River Pond and Balch Pond. Standard presentations like small shiners suspended on tip-ups can be effective, but when crappies get finicky, scale down to small jigs tipped with maggots or waxworms on ultra-light jig rods. Remember, crappies will suspend over deeper water and they are most active at dusk and into the evening, though they can be caught all day long in certain situations. -- Don Miller and John Viar, Region 2
The anadromous smelt run the gauntlet of fishing lines with seaworms dangling from those small hooks as they ride the tide into the rivers or the bay looking for feed. Fishermen have been successful in the Squamscott River in Exeter down through Newfields. The Oyster River in Durham as well as Great Bay in Newington and Greenland has produced some great catches although it can also be a spotty proposition. The Lamprey River in Newmarket or the Bellamy River in Dover hasn't had a lot of fishing activity this year to be able to determine the success rate.
Since the passing of Junior Sawyer, the Sawyer Farm at the confluence of the Lamprey and Great Bay has been closed to smelt fishing. The Sawyers' and Great Bay Retreat in Newington were at one time the only areas to rent shacks, obtain bait and equipment and kibitz about the fishing activity. If you don't have a shack to set up this year it can be a cold experience.
The daily limit is 10 liquid quarts of smelt with head and tail intact. Don't forget, you need a N.H. fishing license for smelt, even though this is saltwater fishing. If you plan to sell any portion of your catch, a Commercial Saltwater Fishing License is required; see the Fish and Game web site for details. -- Cheri Patterson, Region 3
The annual Washington Ice Fishing Derby will be held on February 15th and 16th. Fish can be entered from any lake or pond in the town of Washington where ice fishing is legal (check the Freshwater Fishing Digest for legal waters). Please remember that entering black bass (largemouth and smallmouth) in an ice-fishing derby is illegal.
Fish and Game is currently conducting winter creel surveys on two lakes in Southwestern NH and two lakes in mid-central N.H. These surveys will assess angler opinions, effort and harvest of warmwater species (bass, black crappie, perch) and the results will help Fish and Game continue to make well-informed decisions when managing warmwater species.
Do everyone a favor and take a kid ice fishing this winter. -- Gabe Gries, Region 4
Although trout waters are less abundant in this region, several lakes -- including Pleasant Lake in Deerfield and Bow Lake in Strafford -- provide good ice fishing opportunities. -- Steve Wheeler, Headquarters
The New Hampshire Fishing Report will resume its weekly schedule in March. Stay tuned.
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