N.H. Weekly Fishing Report -- June 18, 2009

This week, fisheries biologist Andy Schafermeyer shares some secrets from a banner bass day, fishing Moore Reservoir in Littleton with pro angler Terry Towle.

Happy Father's Day! Give your dad or grandfather a memorable Father's Day this year - take him fishing! We don't need to tell YOU that fishing is a great way to slow down and celebrate your family. Have a wonderful weekend.

FISH STOCKING: Fish stocking is winding down for the season, with stocking in the southern tier almost complete for the year. Stocking in northern NH is likely to continue for a few more weeks, and aerial stocking took place this week. Check the stocking page (click here) for last week's stocking sites.

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Bass Fishing Like A Pro
By Andrew Schafermeyer, Fisheries Biologist, Region 1/Lancaster

I've often written that the most appealing part of freshwater fishing is that no one has it figured out completely. Success is measured one trip at a time. Effective methods one day may be worthless the next and both angler and fish have the same chance at outsmarting one another.

Terry Towle
Professional bass angler Terry Towle of Woodsville, NH

Terry Towle
Terry Towle lands a nice smallmouth on Moore Reservoir

swim bait

Five-inch swim bait and weighted hook

In an effort to turn the tables as much in my favor as possible, I went fishing with a guy who never seems to be outsmarted and comes as close as I've seen to mastering the sport. Terry Towle of Woodsville has been fishing the bass tournament scene for better than 10 years and is one of the most accomplished and dedicated guys I've met. As a member of the Central Vermont Bassmasters club, he spends most of his summers wrapping up titles all over New England.

We decided to fish Moore Reservoir in Littleton because of its size, varying conditions and history of producing trophy large and smallmouth bass. When I learned that Terry once had a string of 19 consecutive tournament wins on Moore, I deemed him more than qualified a guide. I met him at 9:00 a.m. on a clear, sunny day and we quickly loaded our gear into his 20-foot Triton. After observing water temperatures in the low to mid-sixties, our plan of attack was to assume that we were fishing over post-spawn bass who may be staging on elevated substrate next to deep water. With the help of his depth-finder and a GPS system that looked cooler than my television set, we quickly found a 20-foot bump surrounded by 60-foot depths and decided to give it a try.

Terry selected one of his 12 pre-rigged rods -- this one with a drop-shot setup that consisted of a 3/16-oz. egg sinker, 22" of 8 lb. line leading to a 1/0 octopus hook baited with a 4-inch green Chomper worm. In those depths, the retrieve almost resembled a vertical jigging method, but Terry worked it with the skill and anticipation of a seasoned angler. It was this very method that he used to win the 2007 Ironman Open on Lake Champlain with a six-fish creel of 32 pounds.

I watched Terry catch a few smallmouth this way before he declared, "We can do better" -- and we were off to another spot. The 200-horsepower Mercury made the search process very efficient. Unlike some professional anglers, Terry never showed a sense of impatience or anxiety when catch rates slowed down. He also never showed a competitive side that can keep anglers from having fun. He enjoyed every catch and seemed just as rewarded when I caught a fish.

After fishing another spot of quickly elevated depth, we started fishing large boulders in 15 to 20 feet of water. Things got very exciting as we both started landing fish and I watched Terry throw so many different baits and approaches that I could've gotten dizzy if I wasn't so amazed. He caught fish on 3" dark-colored tube baits, skillfully reading the bottom from the feel of his 8-pound line and seven-foot light-action rod. I saw him accurately pitch jigs and boomerang a 3/8-oz. spinnerbait under overhanging vegetation.

I asked about color preferences and was somewhat surprised to learn that he never over-thinks the matter.  "I spend most of the time trying to find the fish and then worry about colors." Once we found fish, Terry had little trouble getting them to bite. Fish were routinely outsmarted by a smoke-colored RattleTrap, 4" Senkos, and spider jigs. Most of his soft plastic baits were watermelon or green pumpkin in color and he was clearly trying to imitate the crayfish that he knows are an important bass forage in Moore Reservoir.

Despite our success, we changed approaches routinely. Applying different methods kept things exciting and fun. At 11:30, we entered a shallow cove where the water temperature had warmed to 67 and we cast around woody material like downed trees and submerged stumps. We also cast over large shallow shelves where Terry threw lipless crankbaits, explaining that they are his favorite "fish locator" as they allow you to cover a lot of water.

One of the most exciting approaches came when Terry decided to trophy hunt by throwing a 5-inch swimbait rigged on a 3/0, weighted worm hook. His quick retrieve kept the bait swimming in a sub-surface action that resembled a buzz-bait and we both got the feeling that this was the bait that would bring the monsters into the boat. After a few short strikes, we watched as an explosive strike cut his line in the fashion that made us both realize he'd lost a big northern pike.

Our day on the lake ended at about 3:00 and we'd landed between 20 and 30 bass. I thanked Terry for an awesome education and made it clear that I wouldn't write specifically about his methods, as most tournament anglers are understandably protective of their secrets. He dismissed any of that attitude and told me to share anything with my readers, which reminded me again of his genuine love for fishing. It was a great day and I look forward to fishing with him again.

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P.S. to anglers fishing Lake Winnipesaukee: watch for tagged largemouth and smallmouth bass; they're tagged as part of a NH Fish and Game Warmwater Fisheries Management Program study. For info or to report a tagged bass, click here.

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