LAKES REGION FISHING FORECAST - 2009

Lakes Region -- Too much water, not enough time!
By Don Miller and John Viar, Fisheries Biologists, Region 2/New Hampton

Landlocked Salmon
Lake Winnipesaukee will continue to produce landlocked salmon in the 17-21 inch range, with a few larger fish in excess of 22 inches and 4 lbs. Anglers hunting for trophy landlocks over 5 lbs. should continue heading to Sunapee and Big Squam lakes, where 2008 fall netting revealed salmon in excess of 5-6 lbs. Looking for a change of pace or a “sleeper” lake? Pleasant Lake in New London, Merrymeeting Lake in New Durham, and Ossipee Lake in Ossipee/Freedom can be well worth the exploration.

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Please use care when unhooking and releasing salmon (or other released species), as netting results have indicated decreased salmon growth and quality due to previous hooking wounds -- for example, 27% of Winnipesaukee salmon exhibited moderate to severe hook wounds -- this percentage has increased annually over the past four years. The negative effects of hook wounding have affected the overall quality of this popular fishery. To minimize hook wounding, consider the following:

Use extreme care when unhooking and releasing fish!

•Prepare and organize tools (pliers, hemostats) to minimize release time.
•NEVER shake a fish off the hook.
•NEVER unhook a fish suspended in the air.
•NEVER sharply pull hooks out while the fish is moving and twisting.

Use rubber or other “fish friendly” landing nets!

•Rubber nets minimize stress, decrease unhooking/exposure time, prevent loss of slime coat and scales, fin splitting, and other damage caused by traditional nets. Tackle is also much more easily removed, allowing a quicker return to fishing!
•Tip: Turn the fish upside-down in the rubber net to help calm while unhooking.

All hook styles and sizes can cause damage!

•Fish size, hooking location, and angler experience in executing proper release techniques are critical variables -- exercise caution to ensure future quality fisheries! Remember, it’s YOUR resource!

Selectively harvest severely wounded fish!

•Including fish with previous wounds. Healthy, lightly hooked, and properly released salmon and trout, with no prior hooking injuries, have much greater growth potential and a realistic chance of becoming tomorrow’s trophy!

Lake Trout
Winnipesaukee, Newfound, Winnisquam, and Sunapee lakes, along with Big Dan Hole Pond, are classic lake trout haunts. In any lake where the “denizen of the deep” lurks, fish from 15-20+ lbs. are possible, as evidence by the Trophy Fish Program (click here) and Fish and Game netting surveys past and present. Tarleton Lake in Piermont, Silver Lake in Madison, Merrymeeting Lake in New Durham, and Great East Lake in Wakefield, all fit the “sleeper” bill.

Rainbow Trout
Winnipesaukee and other large lakes such as Wentworth Lake in Wolfeboro produce some of the nicest rainbows on the horizon, but if smaller waterbodies are your style, how about Lower Beech Pond in Tuftonboro, Little Sunapee Lake in New London, Stinson Lake in Rumney, or Waukewan Lake in Meredith? In addition to the numerous heavily stocked Designated Trout Ponds like Saltmarsh Pond in Gilford, don’t forget river bows in the Winnipesaukee, Newfound, and Pemigewasset -- they may contain bruisers that have dropped down from the lakes.

Brook Trout
Liberally stocked Designated Trout Ponds such as Spectacle Pond in Groton, Saltmarsh Pond in Gilford, and Perch Pond in Campton; fly-fishing only waters such as Profile Lake in Franconia and Sky Pond in New Hampton; the adventure of remote White Mountain hike-in ponds (click here); miles of rarely explored small brooks and streams yielding wild brook trout gems -- if it’s old squaretail you seek, look no further.

Brown Trout
Compared to other species, brown trout opportunities are relatively limited in the Lakes Region, but still water anglers will find action at Mirror Lake in Woodstock, Crystal Lake in Eaton, and Lower Beech Pond in Tuftonboro. Flowing water fans should check out the Baker River in the Rte. 25 area, the Pemigewasset River in the Franklin Falls area, and the Bearcamp River in Tamworth.

Smallmouth Bass
Between the endless rocky shoals, maze of islands, and countless bays and coves on Winnipesaukee and Big Squam, even the most pesky smallmouth itch will be soundly scratched. Peak bites occur pre- and post-spawn in the large lakes, from not long after ice out through late June/early July. For quality smallies, be prepared to go much deeper during the summer “dog days.” River smallie opportunities are vastly underfished -- check out the Winnipesaukee, lower Pemigewasset, Connecticut, and Merrimack rivers, and many days you will be the only angler targeting bronzebacks. And if you still don’t believe the “pound for pound hardest fighting fish” smallmouth adage, tie into a river specimen!

Largemouth Bass and Chain Pickerel
Too much water to fish in several lifetimes! Back bays of most large lakes won’t disappoint, including Squam and Winnipesaukee, but small to medium lakes and ponds abound -- Pemigewasset, Wickwas, Mascoma, Balch, Crescent, Grafton -- the entire list would fill pages! Don’t forget the sometimes overlooked river backwaters such as the lower Pemigewasset and Merrymeeting River/Marsh.

Walleye and Northern Pike
The Connecticut River contains self-sustaining walleye and pike populations due to particular water quality characteristics of the Connecticut River valley (contrasted with most of New Hampshire's acidic/soft waters). Watch for early spring walleye spawning movements at dam tailraces, and spring/early summer ravenous pike bites in and near the oxbows/setbacks.

Panfish
Legendary Winnipesaukee white perch over 2 lbs., palm-sized bluegills and plate-sized crappie in numerous warmwater ponds and large lake bays, and yellow perch just about everywhere -- all eager to pull a youngster’s bobber into the depths! How about an evening of family bonding by the warm glow of the Coleman lantern, in pursuit of the nocturnal brown bullhead, better known as the “horned pout”? It’s time to make some memories...
 

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Suggested Fishing Locations: Lakes/Central Region
American Eel Winnipesaukee, Silver (Lochmere), Winnisquam, Opechee lakes; Merrimack, Winnipesaukee rivers.
Black Crappie Balch, Milton-3/Northeast, Spectacle (Meredith), Pine River ponds; Belleau, Great East, Pemigewasset, Wickwas, Hermit, Winnipesaukee lakes.
Bluegill Numerous warmwater ponds; Winnipesaukee, Wickwas lakes; Lees Mills Pond; Connecticut, Merrimack rivers.
Brook Trout Most headwater/mountain brooks (wild fish); designated trout ponds; Pleasant (Elkins), White (Tamworth), Highland (Andover) lakes; Tewksbury, Saltmarsh, Perch, Spectacle ponds; Sky, Upper Hall ponds (fly only); Pemigewasset (Lincoln, Campton, Thornton), East Branch Pemigewasset rivers.
Brown Bullhead Nearly all lakes, ponds, and medium to large rivers.
Brown Trout Crystal (Eaton), Mascoma, Webster, Mirror (Woodstock), Tarleton lakes; Big and Middle Pea Porridge, Lower Beech ponds; Mascoma, Connecticut, Pemigewasset (southern) rivers.
Carp Mascoma Lake; Merrimack, Connecticut rivers.
Chain Pickerel Nearly all lakes, ponds, and medium to large rivers; Merrimack, Connecticut rivers and oxbows.
Cusk (Burbot) Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam, Newfound lakes.
Fallfish Winnipesaukee, Opechee, Silver, Winnisquam, Chocorua lakes; numerous medium to large rivers.
Lake Trout Newfound, Winnisquam, Winnipesaukee, Sunapee, Silver (Madison), Merrymeeting, Tarleton, Great East lakes; Big Dan Hole Pond.
Lake Whitefish Winnipesaukee, Silver (Madison), Big Squam lakes.
Landlocked Salmon Big and Little Squam, Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam, Conway, Merrymeeting, Newfound, Ossipee, Pleasant (Elkins), Sunapee lakes; Big Dan Hole Pond.
Largemouth Bass Numerous warmwater lakes, ponds, and medium to large rivers; Winnipesaukee, Big and Little Squam, Waukewan, Wickwas, Pemigewasset, Crystal (Gilmanton), Hermit, Conway lakes; Milton-3/Northeast, Balch ponds; Merrimack, Connecticut rivers and oxbows.
Northern Pike Connecticut River and oxbows; Upper and Lower Baker ponds.
Pumpkinseed Nearly all lakes, ponds, and medium to large rivers.
Rainbow Trout Designated trout ponds; Winnipesaukee, Newfound, Winnisquam, Big and Little Squam, Crystal (Enfield), Mascoma, Waukewan, Winona, Lovell, Stinson, Tarleton, Little Sunapee, Highland, Wentworth lakes; Tewksbury, Saltmarsh, Lower Beech ponds; Newfound (fly only), Winnipesaukee, Pemigewasset, Connecticut rivers.
Rock Bass Mascoma, Sunapee, Crystal (Enfield), Pleasant (Elkins), Canaan Street lakes; Merrimack, Connecticut rivers.
Round Whitefish Newfound Lake
Smallmouth Bass Winnipesaukee, Big and Little Squam, Winnisquam, Newfound, Wentworth, Little Sunapee, Pleasant (Elkins), Merrymeeting, Lovell, Manning, Webster, Ossipee, Waukewan, Opechee, Sunset, Crystal (Gilmanton), Conway, Great East lakes; Goose, Grafton, Rust ponds; Pemigewasset, Winnipesaukee, Merrimack rivers.
Walleye Connecticut River
White Perch Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam, Big Squam, Opechee, Waukewan, Wentworth, Mascoma, Silver (Lochmere), Ossipee lakes; Goose, Upper and Lower Baker ponds.
Yellow Perch Nearly all lakes, ponds, and medium to large rivers.


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