N.H. Weekly Fishing Report -- May 28, 2009

Today's report comes from Robert Eckert, biological aide for Fish and Game's seacoast office, who says that groundfishing is great right now and the striper fishing has already begun!

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Groundfishing Bonanza
By Robert Eckert, Biological Aide, Region 3/Durham

With spring fishing season well underway here on New Hampshire's coast, many offshore anglers are filling their coolers with haddock and Atlantic cod. The daily fishing trips for groundfish on one of New Hampshire's many charter/head boats started off great a few weeks ago, and have not slowed down. During our head boat monitoring trips for the Marine Recreational Fishing Statistical Survey (MRFSS), we have observed daily haddock catches of 10 or more fish per person and some anglers returning with 30!

A giant cod landed last Friday at the Mud Hole, a short distance from Hampton Beach, by Craig Borgeson and Chris Carson of Gilford, NH

Currently, trips out to Jeffreys Ledge have produced some giant codfish. Closer to shore, some of these lunker cod are gathering on muddy bottoms near shore (less than 10 miles, as opposed to 30!) -- like the "Mud Hole," which is due south of the Isles of Shoals. The result: Groundfish anglers over Memorial Day weekend returning with Atlantic cod up to 40 pounds. To target these giant cod, seasoned anglers prefer drifting and jigging a standard jig with a soft plastic teaser above.  Lately I've seen blue and purple working very well.

For targeting haddock, a two-hook bottom rig with a piece of clam, not too big, will work the best -- but make sure to use enough weight to stay on the bottom, so no lighter than 16 ounces. Current limits for Atlantic cod are ten fish per person with a minimum length of 24". For haddock, there is no bag limit, but a minimum size of 19" is required.

For those anglers looking to save money and not venture 10 - 30 miles out into the open ocean, there is good news: striped bass fishing has begun! Although the season is starting off slow, it will heat up soon -- we've had near-record numbers of river herring being recorded at some Fish and Game-operated fish ladders. We have spoken with anglers that have seen the alewives jumping and the "schoolie" striped bass in frenzy below the dams in Newmarket and at Henry Law Park in Dover. The optimal time for fishing these areas is at the peak of high tide, when the herring are really stacking up. The best method for landing the "schoolies" and giant "cow" stripers is to use live bait. Most anglers are using small spoons, sabiki rigs or "flutter hooks" for catching alewives. If the herring are not biting, try throwing out top-water poppers or chunk bait to catch a hard-fighting "line-sider." Anglers are limited to two striped bass per day, with a minimum length of 28", but only one of the two fish can be greater than 40".

The NH Fish and Game Department's Marine Fisheries Division is always looking for volunteers to participate in our Striped Bass Volunteer Angler Survey. Participants are provided with logbooks to fill out information about each striper fishing trip they take and record length measurements of all the striped bass they catch. Information collected from the survey is used in the annual coast-wide stock assessment for striped bass that is used for management. In addition, each participant's name is entered into a year-end raffle for a framed limited edition striped bass print donated to the Department by Coastal Conservation Association of New Hampshire. If you would like to participate, please contact Kevin Sullivan at (603) 868-1095 or Kevin.sullivan@wildlife.nh.gov.
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