N.H. Weekly Fishing Report -- July 10, 2008

Today, a report from the Lakes Region. Fisheries biologist Don Miller has the scoop.

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Popping in the Lakes Region
By Don Miller, Large Lakes Fisheries Biologist, Region 2/New Hampton

Summer has descended on the Lakes Region and with it our afternoon thundershowers.  Actually, after a relatively dry spring, the water from the sky has been welcome, as brooks and ponds had receded quickly during the dry spell. 

The large lakes had a relatively late bass spawn, with many male bass hanging around nests well into late June.  I have had a blast fly rod popping for smallmouth bass along the rocky shoals in Lake Winnisquam the past two weeks.  Balsa poppers in size 2 or 4 fished on a short leader (five feet) have produced some nice smallies -- up to three pounds.  Early morning and late evening on calm days work best for me (I've never really had any luck with poppers when there was a chop on the water). 

Try reducing the size of the poppers if you care to try out panfish in some of the weedy coves of the large lakes -- this is also a great way to introduce youngsters to the art of still-water fly fishing, with feisty panfish eager to take any popper or fly that will fit in their mouth.  I equate surface popping for bass and panfish with dry-fly fishing for trout, it's that much fun!

Winnisquam access site
A bird's eye view of the new Winnisquam boating access site in use on the 4th of July. Photo courtesy of Bill Hemmel, Lakes Region Aerial Photo, www.LakesRegionAerials.com

Coldwater anglers on the big lakes are reporting the thermocline (the water "layer" where warmer and cooler waters meet) is rapidly setting up at 25-30 feet; once the insect hatches settle down, look for action to really pick up over the next two months.  I have caught some decent 14-18 inch rainbows in Winnisquam, at 30 feet on the downrigger and 4-5 colors of lead core line.  DB Smelts and Guide Specials (you name the color -- it works) have been productive.  Balls of baitfish (smelt) are beginning to show up on the bottom in 40-60 feet of water.  This is the critical time of year when one-year-old landlocked salmon feed voraciously on young-of-the-year (YOY) smelt. 

As a reminder, use rubber or fine mesh nets if you need to net a fish in order to release it.  I use wet cotton gloves to grasp the tail of larger fish in the net, and when held upside down, the fish tends to relax.  Be gentle with those fish: hook-wounding is a serious problem in our coldwater fisheries, and we all need to do our part in maintaining a healthy fishery. 

While on the subject of Lake Winnisquam: be sure to check out the new Fish and Game boat access facility off Water Street in Laconia.  I was impressed with the layout of the ramps and parking spaces on the Winnipesaukee River.  Congratulations to all those involved with this project!

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