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NH Fishing Report - January 19, 2017

Take Me Fishing!Greetings, anglers!

Welcome to a special "mid-January" edition of the New Hampshire Fishing Report.  Ice conditions have been up and down along with the crazy winter weather this year but overall much better ice conditions exist compared to last year’s winter at this time.  Most shallower bass, panfish, and pickerel ponds appear to be "locked up" but deeper portions of our lake trout lakes are open or still have thin ice.  Never trust second hand ice thickness information, ALWAYS check it yourself by punching some test holes as you move from shore to deeper water, especially early in the season.  Don’t forget that Saturday January 21 is our first ever Free Winter Fishing Day!  Be sure and invite a friend along and introduce them to the sport.  Check out the regional reports below and stay safe out there!


 

NORTH COUNTRY

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Hunter Normandeau having great luck on the ice. Select image for larger view.

Ice fishing opportunities came early to the North Country and I was drilling holes before Christmas. Since then, ice conditions have been constantly changing. Warm weather always follows the cold and rain seems to follow the snow. I never know what to expect so I stay prepared for anything. Lately, I’ve had good luck chasing panfish like perch and crappie. The jigs that I use are small, tear-drop shaped (non-toxic) and tipped with a mealworm, maggot, or a tiny piece of worm. My ultra-light jigging rod makes it easy to work with such a small lure and every fish becomes a fighter. It’s not hard to find these fish but I drill a lot of holes and constantly move around. It only takes a few filets to make a good meal in the deep fryer.

 

A lot of the early season success that I’ve heard about has been on the many setbacks of the Connecticut River. They can be found from Stratford to Monroe and accessed from either New Hampshire or Vermont. It seems as if they have become very popular places to fish over the last five years or so. Also, South Pond in Stark has been incredible with people catching big brook trout all season.

 

As we head deeper into winter, I will target lake trout and cusk more. Although I catch a few on tip ups and cusk lines, I prefer to jig for both. Strips of cut bait on most jigs seem to do the trick. Using a fish finder to mark lake trout is a lot of fun and allows me to have a unique contact with fish even when I don’t catch them. My son got a new one for Christmas and can’t wait to use it!

 

Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

 

LAKES REGION

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Hunter Normandeau (right), son of Fish and Game Executive Director Glenn Normandeau, and a friend had a great time last week ice-fishing for perch. Luckily, Dad was around to fillet for the fish fry! Select image for larger view.

Winter started off with a “bang” in the central Lakes Region, with relatively early ice formation on smaller waters and large-lake bays, and several significant snowfall events.  Of course anything seemed like a blessing to ice anglers after the last so-called “winter”!

 

In fact, small to medium-sized water bodies in central NH have been ice fished for as much as several weeks, as well as select bays and wind-protected portions of the large lakes like Winnipesaukee, immediately upon the season opener January 1.  However, expanses of the large lakes (e.g., Broads on Winnipesaukee) remain wide open or with sections just “caught”, and unfortunately a recent warm spell with rain and another predicted will likely keep these areas from accumulating more or any ice over the coming week – all depends how much wind we receive during a slight cold snap between the warm spells…ayuh, New England weather!

 

As always, but particularly with these “up and down” weather conditions and variable ice conditions, checking ahead with a spud bar/ice chisel, with safety spikes and flotation at the ready is paramount.  Know before you go, or in this case more accurately, know before you step!  That said, again, smaller waters and some large-lake bays have substantial ice supporting groups of anglers, and in some cases bobhouses, ATVs, and snowmobiles, and these particular opportunities will indeed persist through the (hopefully) brief warm spells.

 

Mixed-bag warmwater species options abound in the region, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, white perch, yellow perch, black crappie, pumpkinseed and bluegill, in waters ranging as small as a few acres to the “fertile” large-lake bays such as Moultonborough Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee. Lake trout, rainbow trout, and cusk are also showing up in large-lake bays, coves, and edges, and of course opportunities for these species will only increase as the wider expanses of the large-lakes “firm up” (hopefully soon!).

 

For more specific recommendations and information, contact your regional Fisheries Biologist and/or local Conservation Officer, and check out FishNH.com for a variety of helpful items - including depth-contour maps and the Freshwater Fishing Digest of regulations.  In particular for ice fishing, keep in mind on “general-regulation” waters up to six ice fishing devices are allowed, and on lake trout managed large-lakes (e.g. Winnipesaukee, Newfound – all listed in the aforementioned handbook), only up to two ice fishing devices are allowed.

- John Viar, Regional Fisheries Biologist


 

MONADNOCK/UPPER VALLEY

Ice anglers have been out in full force the last few weeks in the Monadnock Region. Ice conditions have been great so far this season and the lack of snow has allowed anglers on foot to be very mobile. The Connecticut River setbacks have been pretty busy with anglers catching good numbers of panfish, bass, and pike. Some of our fall stocked waters (Gustin Pond, Newell Pond, Laurel Lake, and Forest Lake) have been producing rainbow trout along with good numbers of warmwater fish mixed in.  Silver and Nubanusit Lakes are always popular destinations for anglers looking for that once in a lifetime lake trout or just want to pursue some rainbows along the shorelines.

 

The southwestern part of the state has numerous waters that provide great warmwater fisheries if you just want to get out with family and friends, put out some tip-ups and enjoy a day on the ice. Try some of these suggested locations that fall under General Fishing Rules in the NH Freshwater Fishing Digest: Pearly Lake and Contoocook Lake, (Rindge); Surry Mtn. Lake, (Surry); Highland Lake, (Stoddard-Washington); Otter Lake, (Greenfield); Franklin Pierce Lake, (Hillsborough); Deering Reservoir, (Deering); Horace Lake; (Weare); Lake Massasecum, (Bradford).

- Jason Carrier, Regional Fisheries Biologist


 

SOUTHEAST NH/MERRIMACK VALLEY

When the ice fishing season starts before the New Year turns I know I’m in for a great season. Throughout the Merrimack Valley and Southeastern New Hampshire, small ponds are hot. We’ve been keeping the young ones very busy catching perch and bluegills on tip-ups on Turtle Pond (Concord) and Crooked Pond (Loudon). I credit our success to fishing worms, yes, worms under a tip-up! A half a Dillie covering a number 10 hook works perfect. This will get you bites when the shiner bite goes cold.

 

Looking for some white perch? Harvey Lake in Northwood has them. These are the perfect eating size, right around 10 inches. You’ll find crappies here too. But for me, it’s those tasty whites.

 

The first couple hours of the day – and the last hour – bring the most action. Pick an overcast day, and the action could be non-stop. Target the deeper water; depth maps are available at FishNH.com.  Drill many holes. Consider drilling holes to be like casting. You wouldn’t cast in the same place all day. 

 

Look to bait shops like White Hunter Sports in Concord for supplies and advice. Wayne is a legend; he always knows where they are biting and what is hot for bait.

 

Winter offers access to the small ponds like no other time of the year. Enjoy it!  Break away from your typical haunts and try a new pond. I’ll report my new pond adventures next time.

 

Mark Beauchesne, Public Affairs Division

 

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