N.H. Weekly Fishing Report -- August 28, 2008

Reporting in from the seacoast, Marine Biologist Kevin Sullivan says its been a bit of an unusual year for saltwater anglers, but if you go with the flow, there's always something biting!

The Intermediate Fly Fishing Workshop for women September 26-28 at Purity Spring Resort in Madison, N.H., still has space, so spread the word.  Registration form and course description are at the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman website at www.nhbow.com or call (603) 271-3212.  

Fish and Game's boat ramp on Turtletown Pond (aka Turtle Pond) in Concord, N.H., will be closed for repairs from September 8-30, 2008.   The boat launch will be closed, but the canoe/kayak area and parking will be available on weekends from 4:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday evening.  CLICK for more information.

Purchase your fishing license online (CLICK HERE!), or from any Fish and Game license agent.  Why not bring a new fishing buddy on your next trip! Don't forget -- kids under 16 fish free in N.H.

CLICK HERE to check out Fish and Game's hot fishing tips on streaming video.

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

Fish stocking is done for the season. CLICK HERE for previous stocking information.

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Not Your Average Fishing Trip
By Kevin Sullivan, Marine Biologist, N.H. Fish and Game Department

The mid-summer months on New Hampshire's seacoast are generally slower and anglers have to work a little harder at locating the fish and enticing a bite, but it's no secret that this summer the fishing has been TOUGH!  We have had a few sporadic events where the big stripers have been hitting hard and consistently for about a week, but then the fishing seems to turn off completely.  In addition, the bluefish were extremely late arriving, although they are finally here in large numbers now. 

So what is the coastal angler to do at times like these?  ...Change your target!  Versatility is key, and a good fisherman knows that if the fish you intended to catch aren't biting, there are plenty others that will.

Switch to Flounder

Shore fisherman who generally target striped bass from the bridges and jetties may consider targeting flounder or cunner instead.  We have interviewed anglers fishing in the Hampton Harbor area this summer, who have had fairly nice catches of both blackbacks (winter flounder) and fluke (summer flounder).  To target the winter flounder, as always, you should use long-shanked hooks baited with very thin strips of clams or seaworms, and double your odds by using a spreader rig. 

Fluke, on the other hand, have much larger mouths and are very aggressive, so they can be caught on larger lures, like jigs or chunked herring.  However, my favorite method is to try to locate live mummichogs at your local bait shop, or better yet, obtain a coastal harvester's permit from the N.H. Fish and Game Department and catch your own.  If you are able to find some mummichogs, fish them in the same way you would fish a freshwater shiner for bass.  I recommend a small hook through the upper jaw, approximately 24 inches of leader and a small egg sinker so the fish will remain near the bottom, but is still free to swim.  A great spot to try this method for fluke is in the Blackwater River in Seabrook, or at either of the railroad trestles in Hampton.

Go for Blues and Groundfish

If you're fishing from a boat and are having a difficult time catching striped bass, try finding the bluefish.  First cruise the harbors and shoreline looking for any working birds.  If you can't see birds, it doesn't necessarily mean the blues aren't around, but I can tell you that it is going to be a little harder to find them! 

On days like these, you might want to consider going for groundfish.  Take out your chart and try to locate inshore "humps" where the groundfish will congregate, even through the summer months.  The easiest way to find these areas is to find contour lines on the chart where the depth rises from 200+ feet to about 100 to 120 feet.  There are plenty of these areas well inside the usual offshore location of Jeffreys Ledge.  When groundfishing on nice days, when the wind and current allow, it is best to start at the peak of the rise and drift off the edge, making sure to keep your bait or jig just off the bottom as it slopes down.  These inshore areas can produce keeper codfish, plenty of Pollock, and the occasional Atlantic wolfish and hake.   If you are able to land a cod on one of these inshore locations, you will be amazed at the coloration of what is known to fisherman as "Rock Cod."  The usual pale brown cod caught offshore don't compare to these fish, which will be bright cardinal red or even purple at times, but don't be fooled -- it's the same fish.

Catch a Striper before They Take Off

Finally, for those die-hard striped bass anglers, hopefully there will be some light at the end of the tunnel, because the summer is ending and, as we all know, the southern migration will be beginning shortly (September/October).  This time of year allows the coastal angler to see just how big those cow stripers become after feeding all summer.  Fall fishing for striped bass is generally best just outside the harbors and along the immediate coastline as the fish begin to group up before heading south.  Night fishing along the sandy beaches (Wallis Sands, Jenness Beach, North Hampton Beach) works great for large fish, and the bait of choice is usually chunked mackerel or live eels.

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