CT River Walleye and Ice-Out Bass
By Jason Carrier, Fisheries Biologist, Region 4/Keene

As the days grow longer, the snow melts, lake and pond ice recedes, and the rivers start to swell, I can’t help but get excited about the upcoming open water fishing season and what it will bring me this year. As a new resident to the southwestern part of the state, I have a lot of new and exciting fishing opportunities. There is an abundance of water in this section of the state to be explored and I can’t wait to start.

tiny fishSkip to Suggested Fishing Locations

Walleye fishing in the Connecticut River is the start of our open water fishing here in the Monadnock region. From mid-March to mid-late May, walleye can be caught in and around their spawning grounds. Fish and Game biologists will be seen again this year conducting a walleye creel survey on the river below Vernon and Bellows Falls Dams. We will be measuring anglers’ walleye, taking fin spine samples for aging, and asking anglers questions on their experience and satisfaction of the walleye fishery. (Click here for more info.)

Both shore and boat anglers can enjoy walleye fishing on the Connecticut River. The most popular method for taking this voracious predator is by using jig heads tipped with either soft plastic grubs or worms and or live shiners and worms. Fish downstream from dams and spillway areas, fish current breaks associated with points, wing dams, bridges, tributary mouths, and islands. Jigs can be cast to areas of reduced current along the shoreline especially during high water. Be sure to watch the fluctuating water levels below dams, as they can rise quickly.

The Southwestern part of the state is where anglers can get the first jump on the open-water fishing season in lakes and ponds. When those smaller bass ponds open up there will be some great early season action to be had, and I don’t want to miss it. In the few weeks before ponds start opening up, I will be busy making sure my boat and all my gear is in check and ready to hit the water.

From ice-out to pre-spawn, one of the most popular (and my favorite) way to target bass is with a hard suspending jerk-bait like a Rapala Husky Jerk, X-rap, or a Smithwick Rogue. These baits need to be retrieved with quick, hard jerks or sweeping them a few feet at a time. The critical part about the retrieve is the length of pause between jerks or sweeps. I find that longer pauses, 5-10 seconds, is best right after ice-out, when the water is cold and bass are not very aggressive. This is not always the case, so you need to experiment with pauses and retrieval speed. I have caught smallmouth while ripping a Husky Jerk for pike as fast as I could just days after ice-out. Typically as the water warms and bass metabolism speeds up, a faster retrieve with slight pauses can be deadly.

Fish coves or bays that warm up quicker than the main basin, as bass will be seeking warmer water. You might also catch them cruising the shore, or they could still be held up in deeper water directly adjacent to main spawning grounds. Be prepared to move around to find them, and be ready to play around with different retrieval speeds and pauses.


Suggested Fishing Locations: Monadnock Region/Southwest N.H.
American Shad Connecticut River below Vernon (Vernon, VT) and Bellows Falls (Walpole, NH) Dams.
Black Crappie Scott Pond (Fitzwilliam), Connecticut River, Contoocook Lake (Jaffrey), Meetinghouse Pond (Marlborough), Monomonac Lake (Rindge), Highland Lake (Stoddard), Surry Mtn. Pond (Surry), Pisgah Reservoir (Winchester), Powdermill Pond (Greenfield/Bennington), Weare Reservoir (Weare), Lake Joe Sylvia (Hopkinton), Stumpfield Marsh (Hopkinton), Clement Pond (Hopkinton), Lake Todd (Bradford), Halfmoon Pond (Washington)
Bluegill Connecticut River, Child’s Bog (Harrisville), Cheshire Pond (Jaffrey), Meetinghouse Pond (Marlborough), Grassey Pond (Rindge), Center Pond & Island Pond (Stoddard), Swanzey Lake & Wilson Pond (Swanzey), Baboosic Lake (Amherst), Halfmoon Pond (Hancock), MacDowell Lake (Peterborough), Waterloom Pond (New Ipswich) and other small warm water ponds.
Brook Trout (EBT) Witches Spring and Flint’ Brooks (Hollis), Sand Brook (Hillsborough), Meadow Brook (Sharon), Caldwell Pond (Alstead), Chapman Pond (Sullivan), Dublin Lake (Dublin), Spoonwood Lake (Nelson), Roaring Brook (Richmond), Shaker Brook (Marlborough), Spaulding Brook (Brookline), County Farm Brook (Wilton), Moose Brook (Hancock), Town Line Brook (Peterborough), Whittemore Lake (Bennington), Beards Brook, (Hillsborough), Baboosic Brook (Merrimack), Coldspring Pond (Stoddard), Swanzey Lake (Swanzey), Sand Pond (Marlow), Blood Brook (Wilton), Mill and Partridge Brooks (Westmoreland), Frenches Pond (Henniker), Nissitissit River (Brookline), Willard Pond (Antrim), Souhegan River (Greenville/Amherst), Stone Pond (Marlborough), Firehouse Pond (Bow), Stoney Brook (Lyneboro/Wilton), Mont Williams Pond (Weare), Smith Pond (Washington)
Brown Trout Ferrin Pond (Weare), Cold River (Alstead/Walpole), Contoocook River (Hillsborough/Jaffrey/Henniker), Forest Lake (Winchester), Gilmore Pond (Jaffrey), Laurel Lake (Fitzwilliam), Newell Pond (Alstead), Warren Lake (Alstead), South Branch Ashuelot River (Swanzey/Troy), Ashuelot River (Gilsum/Marlow/Surry/Winchester), Blackwater River (Webster), Cold River (Alstead/Walpole), Souhegan River (Greenville/Amherst), Beards Brook (Hillsborough), Piscataqoug River (Goffstown), South Branch Piscataqoug River (New Boston), Island Pond (Washington).
Hornpout Connecticut River, Howe Reservoir (Dublin), Grassey Pond (Rindge), Child’s Bog (Harrisville), Meetinghouse Pond (Marlborough), Island Pond (Stoddard), McDowell Lake (Peterborough), Mud Pond (Dublin), Baboosic Lake (Amherst), and most other lakes, ponds and rivers
Carp Connecticut River, Horseshoe Pond (Merrimack)
Chain Pickerel Connecticut River. Ellis Reservoir (Sullivan), Fullam Pond (Chesterfield), Warren Lake (Alstead), Forest Lake (Winchester), Hubbard Pond (Rindge), and Millen Pond (Washington), May Pond & Lake Ashuelot (Washington), Crescent Lake (Acworth), Rockwood Pond (Fitzwilliam) and most other warm water lakes and ponds
Fallfish Connecticut River, Ashuelot River (Swanzey/Winchester)
Lake Trout Nubanusit Lake & Spoonwood Pond (Nelson) Silver Lake (Harrisville), Granite Lake (Stoddard)
Landlocked Salmon None at this time.
Largemouth Bass Baboosic Lake (Amherst), Deering Reservoir & Dudley Pond (Deering), Connecticut River, Center Pond (Nelson), Damon Res. (Rindge), Stumpfield Marsh (Hopkinton), Monomonac Lake (Rindge), Highland Lake (Stoddard), Harrisville Pond & Skatutakee Lake (Harrisville), Spofford Lake (Chesterfield), Warren Lake (Alstead), Pleasant Lake & Shattuck Pond (Francestown), Horace Lake (Weare), Scott Pond (Fitzwilliam), Crescent Lake (Acworth) and most warm water ponds.
Northern Pike Connecticut River and backwaters (Woodsville to Mass. border), Spofford Lake (Chesterfield), Wilson Pond (Swanzey) and Skatutakee Lake (Harrisville).
Pumpkinseed Most lakes, ponds and large rivers
Rainbow Trout Pleasant Lake (Deerfield), Cold River (Alstead/ Acworth), Gustin Pond (Marlow), Center Pond & Nubanusit Lake (Nelson), Laurel Lake (Fitzwilliam), Warren Lake (Alstead), Forest Lake (Winchester), Granite Lake (Nelson/Stoddard), Silver Lake (Harrisville), Spofford Lake (Chesterfield), Mont Williams Pond (Weare), North Branch River (Antrim), Willard Pond (Antrim), Beards Brook (Hillsborough), Piscataquog River (Goffstown), So. Branch Piscataquog River (Goffstown/New Boston), West Branch Piscataquog River (Weare), Whittemore Lake (Bennington), Contoocook River (Hillsborough/Bennington/Henniker), Gilmore Pond (Jaffrey), Blackwater River (Webster), Frenches Pond (Henniker), Warner River (Warner), Swanzey Lake (Swanzey), Mont Williams Pond (Weare), Emerald Pond (Hillsborough), Souhegan River (Greenville/Amherst), Ashuelot River (Gilsum/Marlow/Winchester)
Rock Bass Island Pond (Stoddard), Spofford Lake (Chesterfield)
Smallmouth Bass Connecticut River, Gustin Pond (Marlow), Spoonwood Pond & Nubanusit Lake (Nelson), Laurel Lake (Fitzwilliam), Warren Lake (Alstead), Granite Lake & Highland Lake (Stoddard), Spofford Lake (Chesterfield), Pisgah Reservoir (Winchester), Contoocook River (Hillsborough/Bennington/Peterborough), Emerald Pond (Hillsborough), Deering Res., Weare Res., Gregg Lake (Antrim), Pleasant Lake (Francestown)
Walleye Connecticut River (Woodsville south to Mass. border), Contoocook River.
White Perch Connecticut River, Laurel Lake (Fitzwilliam), Spofford Lake (Chesterfield), Highland Lake & Island Pond (Stoddard), Contoocook Lake (Jaffrey/Rindge), Franklin Pierce Lake (Hillsborough), Pleasant Lake (Francestown)
Yellow Perch Nearly all lakes, ponds and medium to large rivers.

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