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NH Fishing Report - July 2, 2015

Take Me Fishing!

Greetings, anglers!

Nothing says summer like fishing and the Fourth of July!  Recent rains have brought streams and rivers up quite a bit so be cautious if you head to your favorite riverine haunt.  Keep in mind that lots of potential fish food has washed into the rivers and ponds, so think about that when you consider what baits/lures to try.  Good luck and stay safe out there this holiday weekend!




Brook Trout

Smallmouth Bass

I feel like the Fourth of July should have some temporal significance in terms of summer. Is it the official start of summer? Is it the middle? Is it the All Star break - time to recognize and evaluate successes and failures?  Whatever it means, it has always been synonymous with fishing. I have already fished a lot this season and anticipate fishing much more. In that sense, the Fourth of July is a win-win situation for the New Hampshire angler.


The summer feel really sank in last week, when I fished Lake Umbagog looking for smallmouth bass. Thanks to the rainy June, the water was high and cool and bass were especially frisky.  Whenever I approach bass, I rig up three rods and keep them ready to cast at any minute. My first tactic was a heavy soft plastic worm. During rainy spells, I always throw worms thinking that natural ones have been washed into the water and fish should be gorging on them. On Umbagog, the response was immediate, and I caught a fish on my first cast. It was a 10-inch fish, but started my day off with a smile. Throughout the day, I caught fish on the surface casting a white Zara Spook, on the bottom with crayfish-colored tube bait, and in the middle of the water column retrieving a 4-inch jerk bait. It turned out to be a great day on the water.


The rainy June has also extended opportunities for trout fishing. In more typical seasons, water temperatures would be rising and water levels would be lowering. Right now, our small brooks look very healthy, and I have heard good reports from some of my fishing buddies. From what I’m told, brook trout in small streams have been feeding heavily on aquatic insects that are being swept downstream by heavy flows. Casting a bead-head nymph (specifically a gold-ribbed hare’s ear) has been convincing a lot of fish to strike. In some of these streams, there is little room to cast and not much fly line is being utilized. Often, I will drop the fly straight down into rushing, foamy water and wait for a bite. It has been a good month to fish these small water bodies when you consider that the larger ones are too high and even discolored.  I anticipate taking advantage of these conditions for at least another week.


Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist



 If you missed the rain this spring, well, it’s here now.  Put the sprinklers away.  The spring drought has been replaced by torrential rains and storms of late, with a storm event this past Sunday that saw Lakes Region high air temperatures topping out around 56oF with stiff east winds.  Not so good for “human” fishing conditions, but welcome news for trout in many recently stocked rivers and streams, as well as wild brook trout, basking in the increased flows, terrestrial food input, and long-term habitat availability that, at this rate, will certainly be a far cry better into mid-late summer than appeared in mid-May.


Mountain freestone headwaters are the flashiest, but also first to drop. Conditions will soon be primed for some fantastic stocked and vastly overlooked wild brook trout opportunities in the central White Mountains and foothills. Look for traditional rivers such as the Mad, (upper) Pemigewasset, Swift, Ellis, Saco, and others, as well as numerous tributaries, to provide plenty of sustained brook trout, and where stocked, rainbow trout opportunities, for some time to come - partly in thanks to Mother Nature’s recent liquid infusions.  And of course, in stocked locales, primarily in thanks to the hard work and dedication of hatchery personnel, which in central NH, have just wrapped up stocking duties - translation: the trout are out there waiting!


Bass seem to have had about the most confusing pre-/spawn/post-spawn periods possible in recent memory….low lake levels, warm to cool, drought to torrential cold rains, now higher lake levels, even for New England, conditions have really seemed to teeter.  Fear not, plenty of solid reports on the largemouth and smallmouth fronts from local lakes such as Pemigewasset, Waukewan, Wentworth, and many more…including the large lakes such as Winnisquam and of course, big Winni.  Not all bass within populations will spawn at the same time, or at all, so at any given point, there is usually plenty of action to be had.  That said, time will tell how this year’s particular age class of bass fares over time. 


And for top-water aficionados on the big lakes, get on your favorite smallmouth bite before many of the quality fish head deep with the progressively warming surface temps….for deep-water specialists, e.g. drop-shotters, your time is nigh. 


Have a happy and safe Fourth….

- John Viar, Regional Fisheries Biologist



The recent rains and cooler temperatures have really rejuvenated local streams and rivers to more early summer-like conditions. This is perfect timing for trout anglers looking to get out this holiday weekend to take advantage of these favorable stream conditions before things really heat up this summer.


Students from the Monadnock Regional High School Fish and Game Club have been having fun learning how to fish a drop shot rig for bass recently with great success. They were fishing some local smallmouth bass waters and have caught some quality fish using this technique.


Channel catfish in the Connecticut River have been biting well. Anglers are reporting good numbers of fish being caught the last couple of weeks. As of a week ago some of the female channel cats were still bearing eggs.


- Jason Carrier, Regional Fisheries Biologist



The Merrimack River can be often overlooked as a premier bass fishing destination. What some may not realize is that when driving to the bass waters of the lakes region, they are paralleling some quality bass fishing opportunities closer to home. The Merrimack River has several public access points from Nashua to Boscawen. Anglers can expect to encounter a variety of habitats consisting of submerged and emergent aquatic vegetation, fallen trees, rock piles, sand bars, and tributary confluences. Most of these locations can be fished with any type of vessel from a small kayak to large bass boat.


One of my favorite access points is at the New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord. This launch puts you in a section of river with a lot of different options. You can drift the current downstream and fish the habitat created by fallen maples and white pines, as well some rocky sections and other habitat created by bridges. If you head straight across from the launch, you will encounter a large vegetated cove. Here, as water levels recede to sometime levels, smaller watercraft may have an advantage. There several oxbows and shallow water sections loaded with aquatic vegetation that hold fish year round. Some of these areas have narrow and shallow entrances, but then open up into large pond-like areas.  With all the recent rains, some of these oxbows and backwaters are even more accessible now and can be fun to explore.  The main river is running somewhat turbid and fast so be careful out there and wear those life jackets!

Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist



After a long wait, it is finally fishing season out of the coast. Striped bass are being caught everywhere and anglers are reporting some fish over 40 inches.  Anglers are having luck using chunk mackerel from the beaches, especially at night, but don’t limit yourself to the coast! There have been a number of good-sized fish caught within Little/Great Bay recently as well.  There are plenty of baitfish around right now,  a lot of sand lance in and around Hampton Harbor, and we are seeing a lot of juvenile Atlantic herring in New Hampshire’s harbors again this year.  Winter flounder are still being caught within the harbors in Hampton/Seabrook and Rye, but as the waters warm up, they are starting to make their way outside of the jetties as well. Mackerel made their way inshore and have been in good numbers along the Isles of Shoals. We are still waiting on reports of the first squid; let us know if you find it!


Remember to report your striped bass fishing trips on our striper survey page at - and visit the coast this Independence Day!

- Becky Heuss, Marine Fisheries Biologist



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