N.H. Weekly Fishing Report - August 20, 2009
This week, Fish and Game's Mark Beauchesne finds some sizzling fishing in local warm waters using temperature-appropriate techniques and baits.
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Hot techniques for warming waters
Hot enough for ya? ...Yes, but so is the fishing. We all struggle this time of year when the dew point goes up. The fish also feel the effects of extended periods of heat. But still, I've managed to get out a number of times over the past 10 days or so.
After-work fishing trips have been plentiful this summer. My brother-in-law has been joining me for a weekly fishing excursion. The last two weeks, we fished on Turtletown Pond in Concord. The pond is close to work, so I can maximize my on-the-water time. This pond is perfect for kayak fishing, it's just the right size and the access is great.
Turtletown Pond is a prime bluegill fishery, with 'gills exceeding the 10-inch mark. Now, some of you are thinking, "No big deal: a little ten-inch fish." Well, you're wrong. Matched with ultralight tackle, this fish will take you for a ride.
On the night we fished from kayaks, the crappies were cooperative. We fish the lily pad edges and breaks in the vegetation. Small jigs and bright-colored tube baits were all we needed. Besides the crappie and bluegills, we managed several yellow perch and some bruiser largemouth bass.
Last Thursday, we fished Turtletown again, this time from my boat. The idea was to try and cover more water on this trip. Within the first ten minutes of this trip, I was into fish, but my luck didn't last long, and my brother-in-law proceeded to hand me my hat. He was hot, catching 3 fish to my one. This continued all evening! We fished the same water and the same jigs. Overall, we (mostly he) boated over twenty crappies. The highlight of the evening was watching him fight and land a bluegill that exceeded the ten-inch mark. Watching him fight this fish, I thought for sure he had on a bass. The fish was tough and relentless, and the look on my brother-in-law's face was priceless.
Even the big lakes have warmed up. I fished Squam Lake the other day. At 6:00 a.m. the water temp was 78. That's warm for smallies. I knew I was in for hot day in one way or another. With an amazing orange sunrise on the horizon, I headed out to one of my favorite bays. This bay has a "hump" that comes up to 11 feet of water. The hump is not all that big -- on one side, it drops off to about 16 feet, and on the main lake side it drops to 26 feet. This is one of those spots I fish on hot, sunny days. I toss out the marker buoy on the top of the hump and start the day by throwing a wacky rigged Senko. I customized this rig a bit by weighting the hook with some stick-on weights; simple enough, just peel back the paper and stick on the weight. This helped sink the already heavy Senko faster. I managed two small bass on the shallow side of the hump.
I had rigged up a rod with braided line for drop-shotting. Other fishing report writers have described just how effective this technique can be. The drop-shot is a simple rig to make; it has its roots in old-school bass fishing. I mean old school, the 1920s. Back then a "bass casting sinker" with live bait was all the rage.
Today's version is the drop shot: a sinker with a loop to tie in the line, a specialized hook and high-tech soft plastic baits. The hook is specific for this technique, with an extra eye for threading the line into. The sinker is attached to the tag end that was threaded through the extra eye. Rigged this way, the hook hangs off the line at 45-degree angle. (Once you see this rigged, you'll get it -- Google "drop shot rig" for examples and instructions on the web.) On the hook I used the new Berkley Gulp Alive -- you've seen this stuff in the store, a jar full of floating plastic fish. I chose the 2 1/2-inch smelt minnow bait and rigged the fish so it hung parallel.
On my first cast I hooked up. In four hours I managed 15 smallies, several over two pounds. To do that when the water temp hits 80, you're doing something right. By 11:00 a.m. I was done fishing and ready for a swim. This was a great day with a technique that I'd fished before but hadn't considered to be my go-to hot water tool. Now, I think it has secured a place for hot summer fishing. I'm looking forward to trying the same tactic on crappie. I have a good feeling about that.
P.S. When using soft plastic lures, be sure to use hooks that won't allow the bait to slip off, and make sure the lures end up in the trash, not the lake, if you throw them out. Recent research shows that some soft plastics can remain in the stomachs of trout for months, and that the fish will readily scarf them up off the bottom of the lake. These plastics have a life expectancy of 200 years; let's all do our best to keep them on our hooks and out of the environment. There are also a variety of natural and biodegradable baits that you can try.
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