Fish Fact Sheets
At a Glance - Popular Coldwater Species
Due to the low levels of nutrients in the water bodies housing brookies, they are short-lived and rarely exceed 6 inches in length. Sixty remote ponds are stocked with fingerling brook trout and are managed for put-grow-and-take. It is possible to catch a 4-pound trout in some of these ponds, due to the light fishing pressure they receive.
In New Hampshire, brown trout are usually between 7 and 14 inches and weigh less than one pound. However, it is not uncommon to find fish that weigh between 2 and 4 pounds. After reaching about 12 inches, they feed almost solely on baitfish during twilight and nighttime hours. Live bait, spinners and flies fished at dusk are equally effective on brown trout.
Early spring and late September are the best times to catch salmon. In the spring, they follow smelt when these bait fish spawn. During the day, salmon cruise the shallow water of the lake near stream mouths. In the fall, salmon swim upstream to spawn. Salmon can be caught on streamer flies trolled close behind a boat at a rapid pace. Trolled spoons, wobblers and sewn-on bait are also excellent.
Winter ice fishing on New Hampshire’s big lakes centers around bobhouse colonies. Jigging with lures or cut sucker bait are effective ways of catching lakers through the ice. In early spring, just after "ice out," they are generally taken by trolling near the surface with spoons or wobblers and natural bait, such as shiners or suckers. In summer, troll deep with wire or lead-core lines or downriggers, with sewn-on bait or spoons.
Lake whitefish can be taken almost any time of year, though most fishing is done through the ice. Summer or winter, the usual method is by baiting the location with chum (cut-up fish) several days before fishing, then bobbing a light sinker and small hook baited with a piece of cut-up fish near the bottom. During ice out, lake whitefish may be taken with flies at the surface.
At a Glance - Popular Warmwater Species
Several methods may be used to take smallmouths, including fly casting with floating bugs, and trolling or casting with a plug or spinner. The most common and successful method is still-fishing with live bait, such as worms, minnows, hellgrammites and crayfish. Fall brings them back into shallower water, which awakens a drive to eat and put on weight for the winter.
Not as spectacular a fighter as the smallmouth, the largemouth is best caught by fishing the open places among lily pads, around sunken logs or stumps or along a stream bank. Surface poppers and plastic worm lures probably take most bass, but live minnows and crayfish, artificial flies and streamers, and trolled lures will all work.
The chain pickerel is a voracious carnivore. Its diet includes golden shiners, brown bullheads, yellow perch and sunfish. The pickerel’s popularity peaks during the winter, when considerable numbers are taken with ease through the ice. Most ice anglers fish with a "tip-up" device, using a live minnow. Pickerel fishing in open water is also profitable. Trolling, still fishing with a live minnow or frog, or spincasting with plugs, spinners or spoons all produce good results.
A horned pout prefers a mud bottom, but does well with or without vegetative growth. It is a hardy fish and can survive extreme conditions that cause other fish to perish, such as water temperatures of 90 degrees and oxygen levels as low as one part per million.
The horned pout can be caught by any angler, skilled or unskilled, using most any type of tackle. Earthworms are probably the most common bait. Live minnows, crayfish, corn kernels, hellgrammites and dough balls are also good, if fished near the bottom. Fishing in the evening, at night or early morning hours is usually best.
A northern pike, like the pickerel, eats other fish. As the pike gets bigger, other animals, such as frogs, ducklings, and even small muskrats, are also consumed. Although the northern pike prefers cooler waters than the pickerel, both fish are usually found in quiet, shallow, weedy areas. Northern pike are generally fished in the same manner as chain pickerel.
Walleye are found only in select New Hampshire water bodies, and are prized by successful anglers. Fishing methods include still fishing with live minnows or by trolling or casting almost any artificial lure, spoon, spinner or minnow and spinner combination. The most productive fishing is generally in the evening and early morning.
This is a much esteemed and highly valued panfish throughout much of its range. Like other sunfish, the bluegill is easily caught with simple tackle. Small flies, panfish poppers, and live bait such as grubs and worms all work well.
They are not difficult to catch and can be taken year round. In the summer, an artificial fly, spinning lure, trolling spoon and live minnow work well. In winter, the tip-up or handline with live minnows are good methods for catching yellow perch. Fishing for yellow perch is fun and encouraged. They often compete with game fish for habitat and need to be harvested to keep numbers manageable.
Waters within 3 miles of New Hampshire's coast provide essential habitat for many species. Fish that use inshore and estuarine waters for spawning and nursery habitat include smelt, American shad, blueback herring, alewives and winter flounder. Coastal migratory fish such as striped bass, mackerel and bluefish frequent New Hampshire waters to feed on the abundant forage species. Shellfish common to inshore waters include oysters, softshell clams and blue mussels. Other important commercially and recreationally harvested species found in New Hampshire include Atlantic cod, haddock, pollock and lobsters. We also have marine mammals such as harbor seals and various whale species.