N.H. Weekly Fishing Report -- July 3, 2008

Today, some tips for catching smallies in a river setting, courtesy of summer staffer Mike Norkun.

Have a happy Independence Day weekend, everyone! Looks like there's some pretty nice weather in store the next few days, so I hope you and your families will have some time on the water along with grilling, parades, and fireworks!

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Seeking Summer Smallmouth
By Mike Norkun, seasonal fisheries staff, Region 4/Keene

The level of the Connecticut River has calmed down since the early spring, and recent daily showers are keeping the water level at a great fishable height. The walleye run is well over, but they are still feeding aggressively if you can get out to the deeper holes and vertical jig. Now is the time to get out for walleye while the baitfish are still really small. The hungry walleye will be looking for a larger meal, like a 1/2-ounce chartreuse jighead tipped with a grub.  You can also get some decent walleye by trolling crankbaits slowly through areas adjacent to the deep holes.

This is my favorite time to get out for lunker smallmouth on the Connecticut River. The spawn is over, the fish are hungry, and they are typically very aggressive during the evening hours right at sunset until an hour after sunset. The dawn-patrol runs also provide a hot bite, but you've got to get on it early, before the sun. Anyone can get out and catch those 10 to 13-inch smallies, but the nice 4-pounders take a little more work. The smallmouth is a schooling fish, and they tend to school in groups of similar sizes, so if you are out for that lunker, be aware of the size fish you are catching. If you catch a 12-inch fish, most likely the majority of fish in that area are the same size.  Regardless of their size, inch for inch, a river smallmouth will outfight one from a lake or pond.  These fish spend their lives swimming against current, and they are as toned and strong as a New England Patriots runningback.

I like to move around from spot to spot, targeting woody debris, boulders, ledge rock, gravel, and any change in conditions. For example, if you are floating down the Connecticut River and see a section that seems really muddy, then turns to gravel, fish along that change in habitat. Smallies like to linger in places where habitat shifts. Another ideal spot is to look for rock clusters forming eddies, or causing any change in water velocity. Those lunkers like to tuck right up in those tricky casting spots.

I have found that fishing a crayfish pattern right on the bottom produces bigger fish. Typically I will find a log jam or a rock pile and cast a Booyah Baby Boo jig tipped with a 3-inch Yum plastic crayfish and work every angle really really really slow. The fish are aggressive, but you also have to make that crayfish look real to trick those lunkers. If the water level is up, try casting in one of those spots, let your lure sink, then let the current do the work for you. The bite is really light, it will feel like you're stuck on the bottom, but pull up slowly and hang on for a serious fight. Another great pattern is to throw a black spinner bait with one large teardrop-shaped blade. Again, run the lure really slow along the bottom (retrieve it just fast enough to feel the blade thumping). This pattern works best at night near weedy areas.

We hope you enjoy fishing this year in the Monadnock/Upper Valley Region and don't forget to take a kid fishing anytime you can.  We are always happy to talk to you about fish and fishing, so please contact us at Region 4 (603-352-9669; reg4@wildlife.nh.gov) if you have any questions.  Click here for a list of popular waterbodies to fish for by species in the Suggested Fishing Locations for the Monadnock Region/Southwest N.H.

Good luck, we'll see you out there. 


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