N.H. Weekly Fishing Report -- August 7, 2008

In today's report, fisheries biologist Andrew Schafermeyer finds a sunny side for anglers during this soggy summer season -- in some ways, the wet weather creates good conditions for fish.

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Those Rain Clouds May Have a Silver Lining
By Andrew Schafermeyer, Fisheries Biologist, Region1/Lancaster

For those familiar with my fishing column, you'll know that I always stress change. In order to regularly catch fish in New Hampshire, anglers must be prepared to move around, try new baits, explore new waterbodies, and target different species. In following with this theme, anytime I write about fishing in August, I'll try to suggest good bass ponds or hotspots for horned pout. It seems that trout fishermen often have to put their efforts on hold as low water with high temperatures make trout a very difficult target. 2008 is proving to be a very different season.

It's possible that this year will go down as the wettest on record. This can mean many different things for trout anglers. One of the most obvious conclusions is that water levels are such that fish have access to a lot of habitat. In-stream structure that may not always be available this time of year might now provide refuge for weary fish. Those fish normally restricted to pool habitat could now be found in any combination of areas, including undercut banks or overhanging vegetation.

The water temperatures associated with many rain events can be very helpful to fish that normally struggle through our hottest months. When fish are living in non-stressful conditions, they feed and grow at a more efficient rate. This may translate into some aggressive feeding patterns and bouts of productive fishing.

Insects can also benefit from a rainy season. Anyone with a basic understanding of coldwater fishing can respect the relationship between our trout and the bugs they eat. High water provides nutrient inputs of many kinds, including an increased insect population that may include mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies.

When does a lot of rain become too much rain?

One of the disadvantages of heavy rain events can be washouts of roads and culverts. This type of dramatic stream change can cause major sedimentation and habitat destruction. As fish become stressed and struggle to navigate heavy flows, they respirate more and their gills may not filter heavy sediment, making the oxygen exchange inefficient or impossible. Sediment may also be harmful if it covers valuable substrate necessary for spawning or maintaining insect life.

High water may also present challenges to anglers as they walk in and around fast currents. Water that may have been safe to wade through one day may be treacherous the next. A constant or steady rain may also make rocks and boulders slippery and unsafe. If you don't have a wading staff, find a stout piece of beaver-chewed aspen to help steady yourself while walking through water.

Don't let the wet weather keep you from getting outside to fish -- just be careful around the water, and you may find there's some unusually good fishing to be had during this soggy summer.

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