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NH Fishing Report - April 21, 2016

Take Me Fishing!

Greetings, anglers!

Stocking trucks are rolling! See where the fish were delivered last week on our weekly trout stocking report. We update stocking information on the Fish and Game website on Thursday afternoons throughout the season, and a link is posted to the Department's Facebook page.


 

NORTH COUNTRY

One thing I learned about last winter is that I can always find fault with winter. Sure, I didn’t have to shovel much and there weren’t many 30 below zero temperatures but the skiing was no good and I only put three miles on the snowmobile. The point that I’m trying to make is that no matter what type of winter we have, I’m always glad to see it go. When ice disappears from our lakes and grass starts to turn green, I always rejoice that one more winter is behind us.

 

Jimmy HalkiotisJimmy Halkiotis of Hampstead, N.H., submitted this photo for the Trophy Fish Program. This outstanding brown trought was caught in Pittsburg, N.H., after quite a fight.

Select the image to view larger size.

The first fish that I get excited for at ice out is the northern pike. They spawn early, frequent shallow water, and seem to emerge from winter in the same way that a bear does –hungry. I like using a heavy lure for them like a red-and-white spoon which I can seemingly cast a mile and a half. Many of my favorite spots are shorebank fishing and these long casts help cover a lot of water. My approach for pike is always fast retrieves and jerky motions. I imagine this triggers the predator instinct in these aggressive fish that strike as their prey seems to flee. All of the reservoirs and tailwaters in the 15-Mile Falls section of the Connecticut River are great spots. I especially like the Gilman Dam in Dalton and have caught some beautiful early season pike there.

 

I really love the early season pike I just mentioned but this report would be incomplete if I didn’t mention trout fishing. Our hatchery staff has been stocking fish every day and I help them out as much as I can. Designated trout ponds open on Saturday April 23 and fishing should be great. After I stock a few thousand fish in a pond, I often sit and watch as they rise and dimple the surface. This gets me excited the same way a deer hunter does when he sees a big buck before the season starts. It won’t be long before my son and I are sitting in a boat at dusk trying to out-do each other.

Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist


 

LAKES REGION

Unlimited trolling water available on Lake Winnipesaukee since the April 1st opener has amassed the ever-unique early-spring “armada.”  When the weather has finally cooperated – some winter amends were made over the first couple weeks of April -- untold numbers of 10-14 foot v-hulls and johnboats, dinghies, Coleman Crawdads, rubber rafts, canoes, kayaks, mid-size runabouts, massive “porcupined” offshore vessels seemingly fit for the TV show Wicked Tuna, and even the occasional wakeboard boats and two-story Carver cabin cruiserswith lines hanging off the back, were all out in full force.  Sprinkle in some float tubers kicking around near select shorelines and tributaries, and the picture is complete.  If it floats, you are likely to see it landlocked salmon fishing Lake Winnipesaukee in early spring!

 

Such “fleet” variety is likely due to the simplicity of landlocked salmon fishing at this time of year; as the surface waters still remain cold (40’s at this writing), simple flat lines with a split shot, 1-3 colors of leadcore, sinking fly lines, and/or downriggers set primarily above 20’ have still been successfully taking landlocked salmon.  Preferred daily presentations can be as varied as opinions on what constitutes a “successful” day’s catch, but live smelt and/or shiners remain a staple.  That said, many anglers have still found success with classic streamer patterns (e.g. the various Ghost patterns, Joe’s Smelt) as well as spoons (e.g., DB Smelt, Top Gun), and occasionally, stickbaits (e.g., Yo-Zuri Pin Minnow).  Most salmon taken have been reported at +/- 20 inches and +/- 3 lbs., as anticipated given fall 2015 netting results.  To ensure and further improve the overall quality of the fishery, please be aware and/or continue to practice proper catch and release techniques.

 

Early ice-outs in the region have allowed stocking trucks to roll extensively, amply supplying many Designated Trout Ponds for this Saturday’s (April 23) opener.  Next time you see them, thank Fish and Game’s dedicated and hard-working hatchery personnel and Conservation Officers for taking advantage of the conditions, to maximize stocking efforts to the anglers’ benefit.  Some classic regional Designated Trout Ponds at which to make some wonderful family memories include Saltmarsh Pond-Gilford, Duncan Lake-Ossipee, Connor Pond-Ossipee, Hopkins Pond-Andover, Hunkins Pond-Sanbornton, Long Pond-Lempster, Oliverian Pond-Benton, Russell Pond-Woodstock, Spectacle Pond-Groton, Waukeena Lake-Danbury, and Perch Pond-Campton.  Keeping it simple is part of the fishing fun for the whole family; anything from the venerable worm/bobber and worm/spinner combos, PowerBait, Mepps and Panther Martin in-line spinners, and a variety of flies -- cast traditionally or with a casting “bubble” -- will certainly take stocked brook, rainbow, and brown trout.

 

With the weather now seemingly settled into a milder, true spring-like pattern, take full advantage of the improved conditions and fishing opportunities!

- John Viar, Regional Fisheries Biologist


 

MONADNOCK/UPPER VALLEY

Hints of spring and summer-like weather have been teasing us on and off for weeks now.  Sunny 60- to 70-degree days turning quickly to periods of rain and 40- to 50-degree days, or even snow, is enough to confuse and frustrate any fish, not to mention anglers.

 

I hope that more spring-like temperatures are around when this fishing report comes out, but even if that’s not the case, don’t let the weather keep you in, as the fish are biting.  Good reports are coming in on the rainbow trout bite at Silver Lake and Granite Lake.  I also heard about some success on trout at Newell and Gustin Ponds, Chapman Pond, Otter Brook in Keene, and the Cold River.

 

Designated trout ponds should be brimming with hungry trout when they open this Saturday.  Some early season favorites include Dublin Lake, Center Pond (Nelson), Hunts Pond, Sand Pond, and Whittemore Lake.

 

Don’t let cool water temperatures keep you from getting on the early bass bite.  I had one of my better days at a local pond a week ago when water temperatures were only 48 degrees.  Twenty-five largemouths ranging from 2 to 3.5 pounds came in the boat that day.  Jerkbaits (Rapala X-Raps and the new Rapala Shad Shadow Rap) accounted for most of the fish with the rest being caught on a small jig.  I was also prepared to throw chatterbaits and Ned Rigs, two other good early season baits, but never got the chance.  Fish were found in water ranging from 2- to 20-feet in depth, and I’m certain that other local waters will fish in a similar fashion as long as water temperatures remain below 55 degrees.

 

- Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist


 

SOUTHEAST NH/MERRIMACK VALLEY

Fish stocking started early this year after the mild winter.  Usually large snow banks and lingering ice prevent hatchery staff and conservation officers from stocking many areas until mid to late April.  Colder weather over the last few weeks has made for uncomfortable fishing, especially on the lakes and ponds.  Now the forecast is looking good, so I would get out there and take advantage of all the areas that have already been stocked.  The Suncook River, the Isinglass River, and the Mad River are among the rivers in southeastern New Hampshire that have been recently stocked with trout.  The Suncook River can be accessed in Barnstead at the crossing of South Barnstead Road, just east of Rt. 28.  The Isinglass River is easily accessed along Rt. 126 in Strafford and Barrington, and the Mad River can be fished from access points along River Road off of Rt. 11 in Farmington.

 

Trout ponds open this Saturday (April 23).  While southeastern New Hampshire is not known for its remote trout pond fishing, there are a few designated trout ponds in the area.  One pond that often gets over looked is Jones Pond in Middleton.  The dam was recently rebuilt on this small pond in the Ellis R. Hatch Jr. Wildlife Management Area.  Last fall we had reports of anglers catching holdover trout from the previous spring stocking.  Clough Pond and Hothole Pond are two trout ponds in Loudon.  Clough Pond is known to produce surprisingly large brown trout.  Hothole Pond has a handicap accessible fishing pier next to the boat ramp.  Stonehouse Pond in Barrington offers good fishing by canoe in a picturesque setting beneath a large cliff face.  The Exeter Reservoir is one of the southernmost trout ponds in the state and it is heavily stocked.  For some anglers, ponds like Lucas Pond in Northwood have been an opening day fishing tradition for generations.  If you are interested in trout pond fishing you can check the list of designated ponds on the NH Fish and Game website and consult the NH Freshwater Fishing Digest for information on special rules and access. Some ponds can get pretty crowded on opening day, so be aware that parking may be limited if you arrive later in the morning.

 

The Nashua National Fish Hatchery Continues to raise Atlantic salmon to support restoration efforts in the Saco River in Maine.  Fortunately for New Hampshire anglers, they have nowhere to put their surplus broodstock once they are done spawning.  I was recently informed that the hatchery has just under 700 broodstock salmon available for stocking.  At five to six pounds, these salmon will put up a tough fight for anglers willing to brave the cold waters of the Merrimack River.  We will be stocking these fish in the usual locations on the Merrimack River in Franklin, Concord, and Hooksett. General regulations for salmon apply (two fish limit, minimum size of 15 inches).  Also note that all salmon caught below the Garvins Falls Dam must be released.

Matt Carpenter, Regional Fisheries Biologist


 

SEACOAST AREA

Striped bass are still south of the Cape and the first run of river herring are due to arrive in our coastal fish ladders any day now.  White perch are the main target of inshore fishermen while they wait for the migratory fish.  You can find this relative of the striped bass in coastal rivers like the Squamscott, and they make an easy target from shore.  Sea worms are the bait of choice, but these fish will respond to minnows as well as artificial lures.

 

Haddock fishing will open on May 1. New groundfishing regulations are expected to be announced soon so check for updated information before you head out, or call our Region 3 office for the updated regs.  Until then, fishermen looking for some early season deep sea action are riding along on New Hampshire’s party boats and filling their coolers with redfish.  For a list of New Hampshire’s licensed party and charter boats, visit the NH Fish and Game website.

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- Becky Heuss, Marine Fisheries Biologist

 

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