N.H. Weekly Fishing Report -- July 9, 2009

This week, fisheries biologist Don Miller offers his thoughts on the season in the Lakes Region, and what all this rain means for the fisheries (and the anglers).

FISH STOCKING: A couple dozen Coos County sites were stocked last week. Check the stocking page (click here) for a list of sites stocked - this is probably the last report of the season.

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Big Rain, Big Fishing on Big Lakes
By Don Miller, fisheries biologist, Region 2/New Hampton

When will the rains end? The Lakes Region received over 8 inches of rain in June, more than twice the normal amount for the month. As most of you know, July has continued this wet pattern. Let's take a look at the good and bad of high water levels. The good news is, a copious amount of food is being washed into our lakes and streams, and as far as I can tell from my trips on Lake Winnisquam, lake trout and rainbows are on a feeding spree. A local angler fishing Winnisquam recently landed a beautiful 14-pound lake trout, while Nubanusit just recently yielded a 16-pound laker.

I've had a great time with lakers on Winnisquam trolling flies and lures on 4 - 6 colors of lead core line. A few rainbow trout are mixed in the catch as well. Reports from area lakes reveal that the thermocline has set-up around 30 feet deep. Although early morning fishing (5 AM) might encounter fish a lot closer to the surface, you will generally want to run your lines at or below 30 feet deep for more consistent action.

Bass fishing enthusiasts report that smallmouth activity is concentrated along drop-offs, generally in water depths greater than 20 feet. Anglers may find some surface activity in the early morning and again at dusk along shorelines near rock and tree cover. One angler in Lake Winnisquam reported catching a lake trout while working the drop-offs and a nice rainbow trout followed his lure on another occasion. In other words, be prepared, you never know what will appear from the depths!

High waters are a blessing for the movement of fish (whether they like it or not!). "Dropdown fisheries" is a term for periodic fisheries that are timed to high water releases. These fisheries exist throughout the Lakes Region. Lochmere Dam (the dam at the lower end of Lake Winnisquam) has been a hot area for fishing nearly all season -- April anglers were treated to some especially fine landlocked salmon fishing. Even now, although landlocks are seldom caught, some fine fishing exists for rainbow trout -- and occasionally brown trout, which are stocked in the lower Winnipesaukee River and also travel upstream to this dam site. Silver Lake (which begins below Lochmere Dam) offers some great small and largemouth bass fishing, with the smallies working the current flows at the outflow of the dam.

Lakeport Dam, the water retention dam for Lake Winnipesaukee, offers some good fishing in the tailwater section below the dam and out into Lake Opechee. Opechee is stocked with rainbow trout and dropdown trout here are numerous from Winnipesaukee.

When rivers run high, trout naturally move downstream; look for deeper pools that may provide relief and protection from fast water. If and when the rivers begin to diminish, fishing will be fast and furious, as the amount of fishable water increases exponentially. Check out the USGS website at waterdata.usgs.gov/nh/nwis/rt, where you can get water level, flow, and temperature information for dozens of river and stream sites throughout the state.

Remote pond trout stocking was accomplished flawlessly by Fisheries staff and an excellent helicopter pilot during the only decent day we had in mid-June! This year, pontoons were added to the helicopter, allowing for the easier dispersal of fingerling brook trout (and taking water samples for pH). The heavy rainfall made conditions in these ponds as good as I have ever seen. For those anglers itching to catch some "back-country" brookies, this year is shaping up to be one of the best.

Yes, some streams and rivers are unfishably high and fast at the moment -- but hope springs eternal. The weather always changes, and there are always fishing opportunities in NH, no matter the weather!

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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