N.H. Weekly Fishing Report -- April 17, 2008

This week, fisheries biologist John Viar reports on ice out and early season prospects for fishing in the Lakes Region.

Fish stocking has begun! CLICK HERE for most recent stocking chart. Now that water temperatures are warming up, we will be seeing a lot of stocking activity in the weeks to come. The stocking page is usually updated on Thursday and lists stocking events from the previous week.

CAMP DEADLINE 5/1: Do you know a "wild child" between the ages of 10 and 16? Do we have the camp for you! Barry Conservation Camp in Berlin, NH still has July slots open for the following camp weeks: fishing, shooting sports, hunter ed, and "walk on the wild side." Cost for a full week (Sunday through Friday), including lodging and meals, is $400. Register by Thursday, May 1! For more info or to register, CLICK HERE.

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For past fishing reports and all your NH fishing info, click here to visit Fish and Game's fishing page.

Purchase your fishing license online (CLICK HERE!), or from any Fish and Game license agent.  Annual NH resident fishing licenses are $35.  Resident one-day licenses are just $10. Annual nonresident fishing licenses are $53.  One-, three- and seven-day nonresident licenses are also available (click here for pricing and purchase info).  Why not bring a new fishing buddy on your next trip! Don't forget -- kids under 16 fish free in N.H.

Fish New Hampshire and relax... We have what you're looking for. tiny fish

Impending Ice Out!
By John Viar, Fisheries Biologist, Region 2/New Hampton

A not-so-small reward is about to be bestowed for the good old-fashioned winter endured...open water and the promise of a sleek, slashing, landlocked salmon taking you on a "silver bullet sleigh ride"!  At the time of this writing (April 15), the entire middle portion of Lake Winnisquam was ice-free.  Salmon and lake trout have already been taken at the Winnipesaukee River inlet area at Lake Winnisquam, which current had opened considerably before northwest winds blew ice back in, blocking off access to most of the open water.  Shifting ice packs always make for adventuresome and very unpredictable conditions this time of year; be sure to play it safe!  Conditions literally change by the hour.


This bruiser male landlocked salmon (just under 8 lbs.) paid Fish and Game nets a visit last fall – check your knots!

By most accounts, Opechee Bay (which is wide open other than very northern end and has seen its share of shore and water craft anglers already) and the Lakeport Dam area have been a "bust" so far this year, as the fish just didn't seem to drop down from the Big Lake compared to last year.  Some occasional nice salmon and rainbows were taken in the Winnipesaukee River through Laconia, and it may heat up yet, but again, it's somewhat slow to date compared to last year.  Unlike Lake Winnisquam, with ice out aided by the Winnipesaukee River current plume from all this winter's precipitation, Lake Winnipesaukee, Big Squam, Newfound, and others remain relatively locked in ice, although progress in the form of open water leads and breaking from shore is finally evident and gaining steam literally by the hour.  Given that most of this winter's ice was white "snow ice," when it goes, it will go fast.  It is already waterlogged, blue, and melting as I type!  With daytime high temps in the 50s to mid-60s F predicted through the week with bright sun, make sure your watercraft and gear are ready - the time is nigh.     

Just when is "ice out," really?  Well, to most early season anglers, it can range from when one can fish the tiniest openings along the shorelines and docks, to when small craft can be navigated in pockets capable of trolling, to the "official" Lake Winnipesaukee ice out definition -- when the M/S Mount Washington can visit all of her ports across the lake.  Ice out on the Big Lake typically occurs in the third week of April, with April 20 being the date most declared "official" ice out, followed by April 24.  The earliest recorded ice out was March 28, 1921; latest was May 12, 1888.  Despite the seemingly endless winter, basically, we are right on track for a typical ice out date! 

Region 2 Fisheries personnel have already collected smelt samples for length and weight data from Winnipesaukee, as tributary and shoreline spawning has commenced.  As is typical in "Winni," most smelt were age-1 from 2.5-3 inches in length, although a fair number of older age smelt from 4.5-5.5 inches were also observed, which is atypical for this lake in recent times.  Smelt populations in Winnipesaukee, Sunapee, and Big Squam are all excellent, translating to healthy salmon fisheries.  Last fall's netting activities revealed a plentiful age-2 class (this season's 3-year-olds) in all three lakes, which will provide a combination of quantity and quality most anglers seem to prefer, with salmon in the 18-22 inch range.  For those anglers seeking trophy landlocked salmon, concentrate on Sunapee, Big Squam, and Pleasant Lake (New London; note trout pond opening April 26).  For a "sleeper" adventure, check out Ossipee, Merrymeeting, or Conway lakes. 

Grease the trailer bearings, spool fresh line, tie up some streamers, buy that new fly rod, do it all, because ice out is nearly upon us!  Don't get left behind, as early season salmon fishing is one of the most productive times of year, with the fish relatively shallow and high in the water column.  Whether you prefer to cast streamer flies from shore, dock, or wading at inlets or troll open water in the largest of boats, reward yourself soon...it really has been a long winter!


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