N.H. Weekly Fishing Report -- April 24, 2008

This week, Mark Beauchesne details his last few fishing expeditions and offers tips for hooking your next big one.

The stocking trucks are really rolling now! CLICK HERE for most recent stocking chart.

If you don't have plans to go fishing this Saturday, join us from 10 to 3 at Discover WILD New Hampshire Day, at Fish and Game, 11 Hazen Drive in Concord. Click for information and schedule.

Of course, April 26 also marks this year's opening day for designated trout ponds and fly-fishing-only ponds! Click here.

CAMP DEADLINE May 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, meals, and equipment, is $400. Register by next Thursday, May 1! For more info or to register, CLICK HERE.

Click here to sign up to get the Fishing Report in your e-mail each week.

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

On the Water in Early Spring
By Mark Beauchesne, Marketing and Promotions Coordinator

The sun is shining and the fish are biting. All along the roadsides, the forsythia are in bloom. Those are the yellow bushes you see on your way to work - and a sure sign that spring has officially arrived. The forsythia have special meaning for me, because their blooming always seems to coincide with the first bass of the year.

This was the case during the past week. A fellow kayaker joined me on the Merrimack River for some panfish action. The river conditions were very high, fast and muddy. Our only option was to fish the setback or oxbows. We managed to reel in several crappies, yellow perch and two largemouth bass.

Most of the fish fell for a small jig with a brightly colored curl-tail grub. The crappies hit the jig very close to the surface. I did notice that the bigger the splash my jig made on entry, the more aggressive the bite was. This was probably a fluke - in my experience, crappies don't usually respond that way.

My fishing partner landed the best fish of the day, a nice largemouth pushing three pounds.

The fish were very active in the backwaters. No doubt they were looking for the warmest water they could find. We encountered several largemouth bass sunning themselves in the flooded timber. They were so far back, there was no way anything other than a canoe or kayak would reach them.

We also witnessed spawning yellow perch. Strands of sticky eggs clung to the woody debris. Another week or so, and this place will be alive with fish activity.

Ice-out on Lake Winnipesaukee was officially declared last night (April 23). When we fished Alton Bay for salmon several days ago, the ice was out well past the bandstand, and there was plenty of room to troll around. I have always counted on a few flies and lures to bring salmon to hand. Well, on this trip, I was schooled in live-bait trolling. The other anglers around the bay were catching salmon on live shiners rigged on a slider rig - what's basically a harness for the shiner. Most folks troll this rig on a fly rod with a long leader of monofilament.  The natural action and scent of the shiner closes the deal with the salmon.

Ice-out trolling for salmon can be boom or bust. The fish are very spread out because the water is so close to their optimum temperature. You can increase your hook-up rate by trolling around points, reefs and islands -- any place that bait may be corralled or schooled up.

This time of year, my choices of fish to catch increase along with the water temperatures. Pike are next on the list -- they have already spawned in the shallows of the setbacks. They are still there, waiting for their prey to enter the shallows for spawning. These setbacks are abuzz with fish in the early spring. We will encounter at least five species back here. They are all there for two things: spawning and eating. The choice is yours, jumbo yellow perch, smallies or northern pike. I'll take the pike. These are very cool fish. They can be aggressive this time of year, especially if they have not eaten for a while. If their bellies are full, they will lay up in the shallows digesting their meal. This is where the lazy, seductive fly comes to play. A slow-moving fly to the pike is like that piece of apple pie to us. There's always room for a bite or two of pie.

The fly will also be quickly engulfed when pike are being aggressive. Hard plastic plugs and soft plastic baitfish imitations have their place also.  The coolest part about pike fishing is that once you figure out where they are and what their attitude is, you will have a ball catching them.

We are so fortunate to live in a state where in one day you could fish for saltwater fish, brook trout, salmon and pike.

The fishing only gets better from here on. Share it with a friend. Take someone new with you next time you go.

Great fishing!!!

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