NH: Weekly Fishing Report – May 12, 2011

Brood stock salmon are coming! More than 750 broodstock salmon
will be released this spring, including some giants. High water has
delayed stocking a bit, but fish will start going in soon, with the
first round going in at Bristol by this weekend (May 14-15). The
fish will be spread between stocking sites beginning in Bristol and
working south to Franklin, Concord and Hooksett. Permit required.
More info and link to a video at

http://www.fishnh.com/Newsroom/News_2011/News_2011_Q2/brood_stock_salmon_051211.html.

Fly-fishing weekend: A few spaces are left for “The North
Country Experience,” a free beginning fly-fishing weekend on June 4
and 5 at Coleman State Park in Stewartstown, N.H. Registration
forms available at
http://www.fishnh.com/Fishing/lets_go_fishing_class_schedule.htm.
Lodging not included.

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<> North Country

When we look back on the calendar, I always reflect about how
good the trout fishing can be in May and June. Water levels and
temperatures are perfect for both fish and fishermen. All of the
waterbodies have been stocked and fish are feeding aggressively. It
is at these conditions that trout can be found anywhere. They will
hit a fly cast in shallow water, a streamer being trolled from a
boat, or a morsel of power bait in 30 feet of water. The sun rises
before five, sets after eight, and up north, the only bugs flying
around are being gobbled up by fish, rather than swarming your
head.

Earlier this week, I watched a fisherman and his son walk up and
down the Israel River in Jefferson. They seemed to be enjoying a
walk and their time together. The fishing was almost secondary,
which says a lot because they were landing fish in every pool.
Their fishing poles were busy and frequently bent by the struggle
of a strong fish in fast water. This type of action may be
difficult to find in a few months, and I realized that I was
watching typical and spectacular spring fishing in New
Hampshire.

– Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

<> Lakes Region/White Mountains

Lake levels are finally dropping to near normal here in the
Lakes Region. Winnipesaukee is slightly below full pool (504.30′)
at the Weirs gauge station, while Winnisquam is still a few inches
above summer levels (482.94′). This means tributary flows into the
lakes are dropping, and becoming more fishable. The Winnipesaukee
River in Laconia should be primed for the white perch run, as
streams on Winnipesaukee have been active for a while now. We still
receive reports of fish flopping on the surface…as I stated in
the last report, these are white perch experiencing difficulty in
expelling their mass of eggs. The shorelines are warming up; water
temperatures at Winnipesaukee are now in the 46-51 degree range,
with even higher temps in shallow, sandy coves. This has energized
the warmwater fisheries, namely bass and panfish. At this time of
year, bass, and later sunfish, seek out shoreline nest areas in 2-6
feet of water, usually near a large rock, log or other
underwater

object. Smallmouth bass will clear a circle roughly twice the size
of their body, by fanning the substrate to clear away silt and
debris. This project, accomplished by the male bass, may take days
to finalize. Once satisfied with his handiwork, the males await the
arrival of the females. It is quite a sight to watch, as schools of
bass roam the shorelines, mostly female in their quest for a mate.
Often, these schools of bass are accompanied by white suckers,
obviously contemplating their next meal of bass eggs! Sunfish will
re-create this scene in a few weeks, as water temps rise into the
60 degree range. Bass are protected during their spawning season
(May 15-June 15), but sunfish, due to their high reproductive
potential and ability to overpopulate, are not protected by a
seasonal restriction, only a creel limit regulation (25 fish per
species, combined species total 50 fish). Sunfish are a great
species for children to learn the sport of fishing. Worms and a
bobber, it

doesn’t get any simpler than this, will provide hours of enjoyment
on a sunny spring day.

Trout ponds in the Lakes Region are hot now! My daughter Holly
and I recently fished Saltmarsh Pond (Gilford) and had a great
morning trolling nymphs from a canoe. Both rainbows and brookies
were active, even more so as we experienced a couple short-lived
hatches of phantom midges during mid-morning. We used size 14-16
hares ear and pheasant tail variations, fished slowly on sink-tip
and sinking fly lines. As a special treat, we were surrounded by
the bird songs of spring. As we trolled the shorelines, we tried to
identify as many species as we could. The trees were full of a
variety of warblers, while wood ducks, hooded mergansers and geese
added to the sounds of spring.

This time of year offers so many opportunities; it’s hard to
single out one pursuit. The streams just south of the White
Mountains are very fishable now, and small brook fishing is on
right now. Don’t forget the fly repellent, as the black flies have
made their appearance.

Lastly, good luck to the salmon and lake trout anglers in this
weekend’s 29th Annual Winni Derby on Lake Winnipesaukee. If we can
rid ourselves of the persistent east wind, I predict some fine
salmon and trout will make it to the weigh-in! Stop by for a chat
with the fisheries biologists, even if you don’t enter a fish! –
Don Miller, Regional Fisheries Biologist

<> Monadnock/Upper Valley

This spring I have been mixing things up by pursuing both cold
and warmwater species. I started by fishing Nubanusit Lake for
salmon and lakers, which I was unsuccessful at catching, but
thankfully the Milford Fish Hatchery grows and stocks some
beautiful rainbows that kept me from getting skunked. I caught half
a dozen rainbows trolling DB smelt on one to two colors of leadcore
line in 20 to 40 feet of water. The following day I took my
girlfriend and my yellow lab for a little paddle in the canoe on
the Contoocook River in Hancock/Bennington. It was a beautiful
Sunday afternoon and after a long winter it was just nice to get
out on this beautiful piece of river and enjoy nature. We each
brought a spinning rod rigged with Blue Fox spinners, which will
catch anything that swims in this river. We were casually fishing,
taking casts in promising spots as we drifted down the river. We
managed to pick up a couple of stocked trout and a few smallmouth
bass. Most recently I got

the bass boat out for the first time on Gregg Lake in Antrim for
some pre-spawn bass. I didn’t pick the best day to go out. It was
post frontal conditions with an easterly wind, but I didn’t care, I
just needed to get out. I only fished for about three hours and
managed to catch a few largemouth and a pickerel. I was fishing a
perch colored crankbait along the shoreline and near shore
drop-offs. I love spring fishing, there are so many options on
where to go and what to fish for. – Jason Carrier, Regional
Fisheries Biologist

<> Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley

We’ve been busy this week transferring river herring (mostly
alewives) from the coastal watersheds of New Hampshire into the
Merrimack River watershed. So far, we’ve reached our targets for
the Nashua River and Pine Island Pond. Now, transfers will start
from the Androscoggin River in Maine to a variety of lakes and
ponds that drain into the Merrimack River. The result of these
efforts will not be observed for another three to four years,
allowing the juveniles produced this year to head to the Atlantic
and return as spawning adults. Flows and water temperatures are now
conducive for us to begin releasing the broodstock Atlantic salmon
into the Merrimack and Pemigewasset rivers. Traditionally, the
stocking begins below the Ayers Island Dam and continues in a
downstream progression. It is expected that at least the Ayers
Island Dam area will have broodstock salmon in the water by this
weekend (May 14 and 15). Anglers should focus their effort
throughout the Coolidge Woods

Road area (downstream of the Ayers Island Dam) in Bristol/New
Hampton, downstream of the Eastman Falls Dam (Franklin), the
Sewalls Falls area in Concord, the lower section of the Contoocook
River, and downstream of the Hooksett Dam (Hooksett). These fish
are the biggest and in the best condition we have seen for quite
some time. The fish stocked this spring can be identified by a red
anchor bar tag in front of the dorsal fin. If you’ve often
contemplated going after broodstock Atlantic salmon, this is the
year to make the commitment. In order to partake in this fishery,
one must purchase a broodstock permit for $11 (which can be
obtained online or at any NH Fish and Game license agent) and be
familiar with some regulations specific to this program. Angling
gear type and harvest regulations vary throughout the Merrimack and
Pemigewasset rivers. For more information about regulations and the
history/purpose of this program go to:

http://wildlife.state.nh.us/Fishing/atlantic_salmon.htm. – Ben
Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

<> Seacoast Area

Did you know…

– Striped bass are anadromous, meaning they live in saltwater and
migrate into freshwater to spawn much like the river herring that
they chase up our coastal rivers.

– The average 28 inch striped bass is seven or eight years
old.

– When they are feeding on one particular food item they will
usually ignore all others, much to the chagrin of many
anglers.

– In estuarine waters they exhibit a diurnal feeding pattern (most
active at sunrise and sunset); while in open waters they are more
active at night. This is why you will see surfcasters lining the
beaches during the summer months throughout the night.

The Fish and Game Department conducts an annual Striped Bass
Volunteer Angler Survey. Any willing angler who fishes for striped
bass in NH state waters can fill out a logbook that gives us
information on relative abundance and lengths of caught fish. Some
of the information we gathered last year includes:

– 75% of stripers were caught from a boat.

– 62% of striped bass were caught using bait as opposed to lures or
flies.

– The catch per trip has remained relatively constant over the past
3 years, but is half of what it was prior to that.

– The mean length of a striper caught using bait was 27.35 inches
in 2010 compared with 21.21 inches for those caught on lures and
23.48 inches for those caught on flies.

– The mean length of striped bass caught in NH waters has increased
from 18.4 inches in 2006 to 26.1 inches in 2010.

Remember, the greater the number of trips reported on, the more
representative the information is of New Hampshire’s striped bass
fishery. Please consider taking a few minutes the next time you go
fishing to let us know about your trip. As an incentive, two lucky
participating anglers will win (by raffle) really nice prizes at
the end of the 2011 season: a signed and framed, limited edition,
First of State Striped Bass print, “Shadow” by Victor E. Young,
donated by CCA-NH; and a rod and reel combo donated by Kittery
Trading post. If you would like to participate, please email me at
Rebecca.Heuss@wildlife.nh.gov or call the Region 3 office at
868-1095. – Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist

 

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