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NH Fishing Report - May 10, 2019

Greetings anglers!

scott decker

The rivers and streams are returning to normal levels after a rainy past few weeks. We are just a few days away from the mandatory catch-and-release season for bass (May 15-June 15) and the fish are starting to move into the shallows or hanging around near the drop offs next to spawning flats. Fishing suspended jerk baits for pre-spawn fish is hot right now. Good reports are coming in regarding landlocked salmon fishing in some of our large lakes; however, they are starting to spread out into deeper water now. Trout stocking is proceeding at a rapid pace in ponds and streams and insects hatches should start anytime now which will turn the fish on. As always, check the stocking report to see where we've stocked trout the previous week. Don't forget to send me your reports by dropping me a line at scott.decker@wildlife.nh.gov. Our next report goes out on or around May 24.

 

hook

 

In the North Country, fisheries biologist Andy Schafermeyer reports that it has finally started to look and feel like spring in northern New Hampshire. The ice is off the ponds, rivers and streams are below flood stage, and early-season fishing opportunities abound. With water temperatures already in the low 50s, stocking crews have been working every day. Andy told me that he met a family on Airport Marsh in Whitefield today who were wearing t-shirts, slapping at black flies, and catching a bunch of brook trout. This is true of all of the region's trout ponds and the time to fish them is now!

 

It may be a little early for bass fishing as they adjust to warming water and start to seek out spawning locations, but after another week of warm May sun, the bass fishing should really pick up. Fish that prefer the middle of the temperature spectrum (sometimes called coolwater fish) such as pike and walleye have begun their feeding frenzy and should be ready to catch. Much of the Connecticut River from Littleton to Lyme can provide good opportunities for these fish. Steve at North Country Angler in North Conway reports that fishing has been slowly coming back to the Mount Washington Valley. The ice is finally out at all of the area ponds and lakes, and stocking is underway. Lake Chocorua has seen activity with rainbow trout and bass being caught and the same is true of Conway Lake.

 

Looking Back

May/June 2018 Journal

Did you read Headwater Brookies? You can still buy a copy of the May/June 2016 back issue of the NH Wildlife Journal magazine. Get your copy, and other back issues while supplies last.

In the Central and Lakes Regions, landlocked salmon anglers have been experiencing success as water temperatures have warmed to the upper 40s in most areas. Salmon will start actively moving around in the lakes -- not just hugging the shorelines -- so anglers should plan on exploring the deeper sections of the lakes. Trolling with lead core line fished down 1-3 colors with bait, lures, or streamer flies should produce some fish. Keep your speed under 2 mph with bait and go a little faster if using flies or lures. Lake Winnipesaukee has been producing some fish up to 4 pounds this year. The annual Winni Derby will be held May 17-19 this year. This derby is for landlocked salmon and lake trout. Check for updates on the Winni Derby Facebook webpage.

 

This region also boasts some of the best bass fishing opportunities in the state. Right now the pre-spawn bite is hot. Fishing suspended jerk baits or swim baits just off of rocky shoals (look for the marker buoys) on any of the large lakes can produce some trophy smallmouth bass. Having a thermometer is the key to finding productive water. Look for temperatures ranging from 50-55 degrees when prospecting for pre-spawn bass. The best conditions include a slight wind to ripple the surface instead of placid waters. The shallower, dark- bottom bays of the lakes will heat up first so anglers should be aware of this. Trophy panfish can also be taken this time of year prior to the nesting season in these shallow coves. Newfound Lake is known for producing some trophy smallmouth bass while Lake Winnipesaukee is known for larger numbers of fish. Trout stocking in the region has been in full force so many of the ponds and streams should have received at least one stocking by now

 

In the Upper Valley area, reporter Scott Biron says trolling on the bigger lakes like Sunapee, Pleasant Lake in New London and Crystal Lake in Enfield have been sporadic. However, it's picked up substantially in the last week. Trolling both live smelt and smelt-pattern flies has been effective, and traditional Grey Ghost variations have worked well. Several anglers mentioned that when the action slowed down they put on an attractor fly and things picked back up. The salmon are still on top and when caught often have smelt in their mouth because they are feeding heavily now. Warm water lakes are starting to really get going. Both smallmouth and largemouth bass are being caught by anglers using soft baits with the best results coming from fishing these baits slowly and under water. Have some fun with panfish; this is a great time to take a youngster or a person interested in learning to fish out because of the success rates associated with these fish.

 

In the Southwestern New Hampshire, fisheries biologist Jason Carrier reports that anglers were catching post-spawned walleye below the dams on the Connecticut River. He also showed me a photo of a 20-pound northern pike recently caught in Spofford Lake. Jason has been setting trap nets in a local lake to evaluate the crappie population and reports a number of fish have been sampled and are preparing to spawn. Randy over at Morse Sporting Goods in Hillsboro reports that French Pond in Henniker has been the hot spot for rainbows. Recent stocking in Gould Pond and Franklin Peirce Lake is giving fisherman some options to catch trout in the area. Local rivers are still pretty high and fast so anglers are reporting limited success. River action will heat up quickly as the conditions improve. Another great spot to check out is Nubanusit Lake in Hancock and Nelson. This lake has great populations of rainbow trout and smallmouth bass as well as holding some tight lipped trophy lake trout. Right next to Nubanusit, after short portage with a canoe or kayak, you can try your hand on serene Spoonwood Pond.

 

brook trout

Brook trout caught in the Little River, Nottingham.

Photo courtesy of M. Stinson. Select image for larger view.

In the Southeastern New Hampshire / Merrimack Valley area, many of the region's trout ponds and streams have been stocked and anglers are reporting good catches of fish. Check out some of the streams like Little and North River in the Nottingham and Lee area, or Big River over in the Barnstead and Strafford area. Bass are beginning to move to beds in the shallower, warmwater lakes. Best bets for bass include: Swains Lake, Madbury Reservoir, Northwood Lake, and Pawtuckaway Lake. Mike at Wildlife Sports Outfitters in Manchester says that the bass in Massabesic Lake are hanging in 15 feet of water and haven't moved into the shallows for spawning. He recommends hitting up some of the area rivers for trout including the Soucook, Suncook, Piscataquog, and Souhegan as the flows are now at fishable levels.

 

On the Seacoast, marine biologist Becky Heuss told me the river herring runs are late due to recent cold and wet weather, and there are no reports of stripers yet. Haddock fishing has been okay but not fantastic. The headboats are topping off the coolers with redfish when the haddock bite isn't superb. Flounder fishing should be ramping up soon. Anglers might find clamworms by calling around to the local bait shops. If they can find clamworms they should target flounder in harbors; incoming high tide is usually a good time. Or the worms can be used for white perch in the tributaries to Great Bay. The Squamscott River is where most of the perch fishing has been the last few years, off of Chapman's Landing, River Road in Stratham, and the Swasey Parkway in Exeter, but the Lamprey River historically held a good number of perch, so that's a good option to try.

 

 

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