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NH Fishing Report - September 10, 2015

Take Me Fishing!

Greetings, anglers!

Let's hope the heat of summer is far behind us now.  Fish like lake trout and crappies will be setting up in their "fall mode" so try deep water jigging for them.  As air and water temperatures cool, trout action should pick up a little, provided some much needed rain arrives.  It is "terrestrial time" for the avid fly angler so give those hopper, beetle, and ant imitations a try.  This will likely be our last report of the year, so have a great fall and winter angling season!



Fishing is no different from any other sport in that weather conditions play a vital role. Golfers have to consider the moisture on the grass and adjust their swing, baseball players have to account for the wind and recalculate chasing fly balls, and football players have to be aware of the rain and decide whether or not to underinflate game balls. The constantly changing climate has a far reaching effect and the successful sportsman must be able to anticipate and adjust. Last week had been so hot that I simply couldn’t imagine any trout rising from cool water to eat a dry fly. I tied on a heavy nymph and hoped it would sink to where the fish were hiding. It didn’t work. Later, I tied a small copper nymph as a dropper from a bead-headed woolly bugger. It didn’t work, either. My final conclusion was that it may simply be too hot to trout fish. I did, however, have the day off from work and was resigned to fish, regardless of whether or not the fish would bite. At day’s end, I caught one brook trout. I’d like to tell you that it was the result of the perfect fly or presentation, but I would be lying. The little trout ate my black ghost streamer while I left it unattended, three feet downstream of me while I rummaged through my fly box.


I spent yesterday sampling a small brook in the Dartmouth College Grant. Water levels were as low as I’d seen them this year and one of my study areas, was completely dry. I was trying to evaluate the success of a new bridge which was installed to replace a culvert that was a clear barrier to fish movement. Although there was no flow in the brook, there were pools scattered throughout the system. Hoping to see fish above and below the bridge, I found brook trout of varying ages in each pool. At first glance, it would seem that the project was a success and brook trout are free to move through the road crossing. It was interesting to see that the fish found deeper, cooler water in times of such heat and low flow. With heavy rain in the forecast, these fish should disperse soon and prepare for the spawning season that lies ahead.

Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist



September is peak time for targeting NH’s largest native, the lake trout – laker, togue, or “namaycush” (“dweller of the deep” to Native Americans), if you prefer.  In the central Lakes Region, lakers spawn on shallow, windswept, cobble shoals, typically each side of Halloween, with water temperatures near the 50°F mark - while seemingly distant, in fact, peak pre-spawn feeding activity is well underway and will continue until the season ends on September 30th on landlocked salmon/lake trout managed lakes.


Standard trolling techniques in the thermocline will certainly take some lakers, but anglers specifically targeting lakers will attest, more “sluggish”, deeper summer presentations can really increase catches – sometimes all day long.  Simply dropping trolling speeds (with spoons maintaining appropriate action at such speeds, e.g., Sutton #5) can pay dividends, as well as kicking the boat into neutral often to simulate dropping, wounded baitfish (with spoon wobbling downward)…shifting back into forward can produce savage strikes as the “bait” seemingly recuperates and tries to struggle upward and away (obviously hits will also occur on the fall).


When calm enough conditions permit, vertical presentations such as old-school hand jigging copper or wire line with “wrecking spoons” (a somewhat lost art, at least in New Hampshire) can really pay off, especially for larger- sized lakers.  However, with most average-sized lakers present, vertical jigging gear can be better matched to the quarry utilizing modern, medium/light weight spinning outfits -  hooking up jigging and battling straight under the boat on these outfits will have you quickly re-assessing the average laker’s fighting prowess vs. “towing in the proverbial boot” with 10 colors of leadcore line...


For the “not faint of heart”, dragging downrigger balls along appropriate bottoms, with a short lead just above the ball off bottom, can really draw the attention of lakers as the bottom sediment is stirred up and lakers are quickly called into the set – however, with the granitic rock-and-shoal strewn nature of most NH large lakes, know your trolling runs – and know them well - before employing this method!


Pre-spawn concentrations of lakers can currently be found in the deepest basins and holes, down 60-120+ feet depending on the exact conditions, time of day, and basin.  That said, by investigating with the fish finder and experimenting, you can still find a surprising number of shallower (and thus easier to target) lakers along reefs and other structure, and even moderately deep flats.  As has been noted accurately, not all fish of one species are necessarily doing the same thing at the same time...


With surface temperatures still currently well into the mid-70°F range after the recent hot weather, immediate and proper release of lakers (and all other coldwater gamefish) is imperative for those not harvested/kept.  Immediate release with a sharp plunging motion will typically get most lakers well on their way back to the depths (in fact you can often observe them streaking back downward to bottom on the fish finder); if unsuccessful, often a slight “burping” motion by gently pressing on the belly can help “deflate” the air bladder – all must be accomplished in a very timely manner.  Finally, if all resuscitation methods are unsuccessful, harvest these specimens (within legal limits) while allowing others more likely to survive the chance to do so.


As mentioned, lakes managed for landlocked salmon/lake trout are closed to the taking of salmonids after September 30 (this is the last legal day), so get out and enjoy these last couple weeks.

- John Viar, Regional Fisheries Biologist



Reports indicate that trout fishing in area lakes and ponds has been slow, so I want to focus on warmwater species in this report.  For those interested in huge bluegills, give Spofford Lake a try.  I talked with one angler who has been catching them on crankbaits being trolled at about 15 feet.  Another angler emailed me and reported that he has been very successful fly fishing for panfish and largemouth bass this summer.  He focuses on small overlooked ponds and has been having a blast.  He uses a small 2-weight fly rod with small poppers, foam beetles, and grass hopper imitations for panfish, and streamers fished deep for bass.


Another fly anger said she has been catching some big smallmouth bass (3-5 lbs!) while fly fishing in the Monadnock Region this summer.  She uses a 5-weight rod, fast full sink line, and a 3X leader in about 20-25 feet of water during the day and switches to floating line around dusk for some top water action using poppers and terrestrial imitations.


I talked to a trio of teenagers the other day at Forest Lake (Winchester) who had a fantastic day fishing for largemouth bass.  They caught 25 bass in about 6 hours of fishing.  Everything was working that day, including frogs, drop shots and jigs.


The Connecticut River has been hit or miss for bass fishing the past couple weeks.  You are either catching lots of fish or lucky to get a couple.  Bass anglers are reporting numerous big pike in the shallows and set-backs.


Lake Massacecum has been slow for big fish, but broken-back jitter bugs and rubber worms are working well, along with Clouser minnows on fly rods.  There have been some sizable yellow perch and black crappie caught on fly rods during the past week.


Thanks again for all your reports and please continue to email any updates on fishing in the Monadnock Region to

- Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist



fall fishingAs the season winds down, don’t forgo a trout fishing trip just because stocking hasn’t occurred for some time.  Our surveys indicate modest survival rates of stocked brook, brown, and rainbow trout in the designated trout ponds.  Despite heavy angling pressure, habitat and forage in these ponds accommodate survival and fishing up through the end of the trout pond season (October 15).  Bow Lake (Strafford) and Pleasant Lake (Deerfield) are two of the most popular waterbodies in the area with trout that remain open after the designated trout ponds close.


Vegetation will soon begin to die off in the small ponds and lakeshores of southeastern New Hampshire.  Time is running out to focus on this habitat type for warmwater species like largemouth bass, which take advantage of submerged aquatic vegetation for cover when ambushing prey.  Some places with good shoreline access and abundant fish populations include Freese's Pond in Deerfield, Swains Lake along France Road in Barrington, and Cass Pond (also known as Bixby Pond), behind the closed rest area along Route 4 in Epsom.

Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist



It is that time of year when most fishermen are planning their final trips or cleaning their gear for winter storage, while a few hard core anglers are just getting started.  The striped bass fall migration is just around the corner and we’ve seen a glimpse of it recently with some large stripers being caught from the jetties.


We had a very short bluefish season again this year with small catches being reported for less than a week’s time.   Haddock and Cod are both closed but offshore fishermen are filling their coolers with large pollock, hake, and redfish.


Shellfishing season has begun! Oysters opened on September 1 to residents only.  Softshell clams are also open; however, the Hampton Harbor is still off limits until November 1st.   Consult the Saltwater Fishing Digest on pages 20-23 for specific rules and open areas, visit the Clam Flat Status webpage, and always call 1-800-43-CLAMS before heading out.

- Becky Heuss, Marine Fisheries Biologist



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