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NH Fishing Report - April 25, 2019

Greetings anglers!

scott decker

Welcome to the first of our bi-weekly New Hampshire Fishing Reports for 2019. While most of southern New Hampshire has been ice free for several weeks, the North Country is still dealing with winter-like conditions in a few areas. Trout stocking is underway in the lakes and streams south of the White Mountains but will begin later than normal up north. The April trout pond opener is upon us! Most southern New Hampshire ponds should be stocked and ready to fish on Saturday April 27. Stream fishing will also be on the increase as the temperatures rise. As always, check the stocking report to see where we’ve stocked trout during the previous week.

 

Like always, I’m putting out a request to let me know about your angling adventures for inclusion in these reports. Send me an email at scott.decker@wildlife.nh.gov to let me know what’s going on in your fishing world. At a minimum, include the date you fished, the name of the lake or stream (and town of the stream section), species caught, and methods used (bait, lure, fly, etc., – be as specific as you want). Feel free to send me a photo of your catch for possible inclusion in the reports. Thanks for reading and tight lines to all!

 

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In the North Country, biologist Andy Schafermeyer noted that even though this Saturday will bring opening day for New Hampshire designated trout ponds, Mother Nature might not cooperate. Many of the lakes and ponds in Coos County are still covered with a solid layer of ice. Despite warm temperatures and heavy rain, the ice persists. Mirror Lake in Whitefield only recently cleared of ice and will be stocked with trout for opening day of trout ponds. Opportunity still abounds for ambitious anglers, though. Most of the tailwaters (the fast water flowing below dams) on the Connecticut River are a good place to try your luck and Andy has been getting good reports from those fishing for trout, pike, and smallmouth bass.

 

The water below the Gilman Dam in Dalton is always a good spot for early season fishing. If one were to throw a heavy spoon like a Little Cleo in the fast water, you never know what you might catch. Last year, Andy caught a big brown trout and a big pike on two consecutive casts. The river below Moore Dam in Littleton is also a good choice. He spoke to a fly fisherman last week who was catching a lot of fish by ripping streamers through the fast water. With the recent heavy rains and snowmelt, use extreme caution below these dams as flows are at high levels now. Steve at North Country Angler in North Conway says while anglers wait for the rivers to subside and the ice to go out on the trout ponds, some have been pursuing landlocked salmon. Catches of landlocks have been reported at the inlets and outlets to Conway Lake, Silver Lake, and Lake Ossipee. The AD’s Better Smelt, Gray Ghost, and Red Gray Ghost should put you onto fish in these lakes.

 

Zac Curran

Early season landlocked salmon from Lake Winnipesaukee. Photo courtesy of Zac Curran. Select image for larger view.

In the Central and Lakes Regions, official "ice-out" on Lake Winnipesaukee was declared on April 24; however anglers have had access to the majority of the lake because Alton Bay up through “The Broads” and into the Gilford area has been ice-free for more than a week. Anglers have been having good luck catching landlocked salmon using live bait (smelt, shiners) and streamer flies lately. Find the warmest water available and fish thoroughly. Slow-trolled live smelt or shiners can't be beat when the water is less than 45 degrees. Some pockets of protected bays are already pushing past this -- follow the wind patterns to help locate warm water pockets. Many salmon will be in the 2.5 to 4 pound size range in Lake Winni this year. Reports from Big Squam Lake and Newfound Lake indicate that the ice has not cleared and may not be fishable by boat yet, but Little Squam Lake may be open by now. Recommended area trout ponds for opening day include Saltmarsh Pond (Gilford), Belknap Recreation Area Pond at Gunstock Ski Area, and Sky Pond (New Hampton- fly fishing only).

 

In the Upper Valley Region, reporter Scott Biron says water has been high making many rivers and streams tough to fish. Watch for the smaller tributaries to become fishable first. Always good at this time of year is Bloods Brook (a.k.a., Trues Brook). This brook feeds into the Connecticut River in Lebanon at the Lebanon WMA, and is a great spot for large brown trout. Early season favorites in the upper valley are Crystal Lake in Enfield, Tewksbury Pond in Grafton, and Hopkins Pond in Andover. Warm water ponds are heating up and bass are on the move. Anglers were reporting fish in smaller ponds like Russell Pond in Sutton.

 

In Southwestern New Hampshire, the walleye fishing has been going strong since the beginning of April on the Connecticut River, especially below the Vernon and Bellows Falls dams. The river is now swollen from recent rain and snowmelt and access can be tricky. Be careful and wear your personal floatation device (PFD) if fishing from a boat. Fish are being taken mostly on live bait (shiners and crawlers) with slip-sinker rigs or soft artificial bait on jigs. Fisheries biologist Jason Carrier noted that most walleye have spawned by now so the “run” is winding down. Jason mentioned anglers were doing well on most of the bass lakes in the region. The water temperatures have warmed quickly over the last weekend from the high 40s to the mid 50s. Dublin Lake, Willard Pond (Antrim), Mt. William Pond (Weare), Cold Spring Pond (Stoddard) and most of the other trout ponds should be ready for opening day this Saturday. Randy over at Morse’s Sporting Goods in Hillsboro says he’s heard of reports of trout being caught on the Contoocook River in the trophy section on flies. Anglers looking for trout this weekend should check out French Pond (Henniker), Smith Pond (Washington), as well as Beard’s Brook (Hillsborough). Finally, some good early reports are coming in from Lake Sunapee because the ice has cleared the lake. Landlocked salmon and lake trout are both being caught by trolling the top five feet of the water column with both flies and live shiners or smelt. Solid numbers of age-3 (16-18 inches) with the occasional larger age-4 salmon are in the mix for anglers this year.

 

In Southeastern New Hampshire / Merrimack Valley area, anglers should have plenty of water to choose from for the trout pond opener. Popular ponds include Lucas Pond (Northwood), Exeter Reservoir, Hot Hole Pond (Concord), and Clough Pond (Loudon). Picturesque Stonehouse Pond (Barrington) is a favorite of fly anglers and should see some good action. Pleasant Lake in Deerfield/Northwood which is open all year has been ice-free for some time and anglers are taking advantage of the broodstock brown trout stocked last fall that remained after the ice fishing season ended. Several 18-inch plus fish were caught there this spring. Tower Hill Pond (Candia/Auburn) has been producing some brook and rainbow trout recently. Area rivers are running a little high still from recent rains, especially the Merrimack River.

 

On the Seacoast, not too much to report yet other than folks have been catching haddock on the head boats out of Rye and Hampton harbors since the season opened on April 15. Good catches of redfish are also being reported. A few river herring are starting to show at the fish ladders on the coastal rivers but no reports of stripers as of yet.

 

 

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