CONTACT:
Don Miller: (603) 744-5470
John Viar: (603) 744-5470
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
March 30, 2005


Open-Water Fishing Starts for Lake Trout, Salmon

CONCORD, N.H. -- Enthusiastic anglers may want to start their weekend early, as Friday, April 1, marks the true start of spring for sportsmen and women with the launch of the open-water fishing season on landlocked salmon/lake trout managed lakes.

While many New Hampshire waterbodies are still ice-covered, anglers will seek fish in open water near bridges and public docks and near the inlets and outlets of the 14 lakes New Hampshire Fish and Game manages for landlocked salmon: Big Dan Hole Pond, First and Second Connecticut Lakes, Conway Lake, Lake Francis, Merrymeeting Lake, Newfound Lake, Ossipee Lake, Big and Little Squam Lakes, Sunapee Lake, Lake Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam Lake. (Pleasant Lake in New London also is managed for landlocked salmon, but is classified as a trout pond, with a 2005 opening date of April 23.)

In early spring, salmon feed heavily on spawning rainbow smelt, which congregate near tributary inlets. In Winnipesaukee, smelt usually spawn at the end of March and beginning of April. Salmon, lake trout and rainbow trout are attracted to shallow waters at this time of year because of gatherings of smelt near the shore, warming waters and the influx of nutrients carried by tributary streams. As a result, anglers can enjoy some of the most exciting fishing of the year.

"Salmon action should be very good this year. We're expecting high catch rates in Winnipesaukee, with fish upwards of three pounds," said Don Miller, Fish and Game's Large Lakes Fisheries Biologist. "Winnipesaukee's Alton Bay, at the mouth of the Merrymeeting River, has lots of good fishing in open water around docks and piers; ditto for Long Island Bridge and Smith River mouth in Wolfeboro - locations with current flow such as these are opening day hotspots."

"It's been a tough winter, but recent rains will help the water flow and may cause salmon and rainbow trout to run up the Merrymeeting River," Miller said. Depending on flow rates, the Merrymeeting can offer some excellent early spring salmon and rainbow trout fishing. Upstream from the bridge in Alton, special regulations apply from January 1 to June 15, when the river is restricted to fly-fishing (barbless) and catch-and-release only.

Early season anglers generally fish for salmon using live bait -- smelt, shiners and worms, from shoreline, docks and bridges. "My earliest recollection of spring salmon fishing was drifting a smelt under a bobber at the mouth of Black Brook in Lake Winnisquam," Miller related. As the ice recedes, and open water appears around brooks and bridges, one of the most popular methods to catch salmon is by trolling. Successful trollers use slowly presented smelt or shiners, or an assortment of lures including stickbaits (such as Rapala, Rebel, Yo-Zuri), spoons (Mooselook, Flash King, Sutton, Top Gun, DB Smelt) and various flash lures (Super Duper, Harry Lure, etc.).

In tributaries and rivers like the Winnipesaukee, fly-fishermen often have success working weighted nymphs, such as olive or black Woolly Buggers, various bead-head nymphs and heron flies. Other proven methods include fly-casting or trolling smelt-imitating streamer patterns, such as the Gray Ghost and its many variations, Nine-Three, Supervisor, Winnipesaukee Smelt and Maynard's Marvel.

Don't let the snow banks get the best of you! Get out and check the inlets and outlets of our salmon/lake trout lakes. It definitely is true...the early bird does get the salmon!

Click here to sneak a peek at what anglers have caught this winter on Fish and Game's "Big Fish - Ice-fishing" web page.

Anglers -- purchase your license online by clicking here.

Fish New Hampshire and relax...we have what you're looking for.

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