New Hampshire weekly fishing report May 3, 2012

Stocking report

FREE FISHING DAY is June 2, 2012

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<> North Country

The early ice-out and warm weather in March got many anglers excited about opening day for trout ponds – though it seemed like it would never get here. Always the fourth Saturday in April, opening day fell on the 28th this year. Well….it was worth the wait! Warmer water temperatures had the fish moving around and feeding aggressively. Those fishing by boat found a lot of open water. Brook trout were hitting almost everything that could be trolled by them. Streamer flies dragged at 8 feet or less were just as effective as snelled hooks with worms. Trout were even chasing attractor-type lures like Rooster tails and gold Phoebes.

The weekend was cold and very windy, but I heard good reports from almost every trout pond in northern New Hampshire. Little Diamond Pond in West Stewartstown may have been the hardest to fish because of the wind, but the catch rates made it worth it. Mirror Lake in Whitefield seemed a little more comfortable, and fish were just as aggressive. Anglers casting from shore seemed to be keeping up with those on the water, and I saw some very happy young people fishing right from the boat launch.

The weather has seemed to settle back into a late April – early May scenario, and I expect these trout ponds to keep fishing well. Profile Lake in Franconia is fly-fishing only and a great place to hone your skills. Netting surveys have shown some very big brookies and large numbers of fish all throughout the lake. Stratford Bog in North Stratford is a great place to enjoy a remote atmosphere while trout fishing. Make sure that you get out and enjoy a day of fishing. I’ve been in the field all week and I am glad to report the black flies seem to be incubating still rather than sustaining themselves on my blood. – Andrew Schafermeyer, Fisheries Biologist

<> Lakes Region

We’ve been busy stocking landlocked salmon during the past week and I hope to have a more detailed report next week. – Don Miller, Fisheries Biologist

<> Monadnock/Upper Valley

It is often said that fishing is “feast or famine.” If that is in fact the case, then my report from last week was the “feast” and this report is the “famine.” In last week’s report, I told you about a great fishing trip to Forest Lake in Winchester where I did everything right, the fish cooperated, and I caught 25 largemouth bass in less than two hours. Exactly one week later, I made a repeat trip to Forest Lake with completely opposite results, hooking only two small largemouth bass, neither of which I landed.

I made three critical mistakes during my most recent trip. One was bringing a friend and, based on last week’s trip, telling him how many fish we would catch. Two was only bringing two types of lures based on my previous trip that were very similar in function: buzzbaits and spinnerbaits. Three was not paying attention to the weather in between trips.

One of the most important aspects of becoming a good angler is learning from your mistakes. Here is what I relearned: 1) Never bring another angler with you based only on results of a previous fishing trip; 2) Always bring a number of different lures that allow for different “styles” of fishing. For example, instead of just bringing reaction baits like spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, I should have included some jigs and finesse baits like a drop-shot or shakey head so I could slow down and not have to rely on bass being in an aggressive mode. Anyone who has bass fished with me will find my lack of lures amusing as I always get complaints about how much tackle I bring; and 3) Always be aware of environmental changes in between fishing trips. The weather between my two fishing trips consisted of a good deal of rain and cold nights, and the lake was still in the process of filling up after its winter drawdown. As a result, the water during my most recent outing was three feet
higher and six degrees colder. I should have realized that despite the increase in water depth, the drastic decrease in water temperature would likely take the bass out of the pre-spawn mode they were in the previous week, put them in a negative mood, and make them move to deeper water.

At the time, my recent trip felt frustrating and like a failure. These were all fishing fundamentals that I was aware of and have written about and should not have overlooked. However, often times one must repeat mistakes before learning from them. As I look back now, I don’t see my recent trip as a disappointment, but rather as an opportunity to relearn the basics and hopefully avoid the same mistakes in the future. I just hope it doesn’t take you as many years to learn from your mistakes as it has taken me! – Gabe Gries, Fisheries Biologist

<> Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley

We just wrapped up a busy week of Atlantic salmon fry stocking in the Merrimack River watershed. This year's stocking locations were fewer than previous years so that released sea-run returning adults and surplus domestic broodstock salmon spawning success could be evaluated. In the late part of the summer, we will return to the locations where these adult fish were released to look for young-of-the-year salmon. Fewer rivers to stock meant few volunteers were needed to help us. Thanks to all those folks who offered to help us this year. It's likely that we will need your help again in future years.

The quick transition from winter to spring this year has resulted in an early arrival of river herring to our coastal rivers. River herring transfers from the Lamprey and Cocheco rivers to the Nashua River and Pine Island Pond have already begun. Once the stocking targets are reached in these two waterbodies, efforts will focus on transferring river herring to Winnisquam Lake. It is thought that river herring could once access several lakes and ponds in the lakes region before dams were constructed along the Merrimack and Winnipesaukee rivers. Most of these fish will come from coastal rivers in Maine. We have high expectations for the river herring stocking program in this waterbody. In the mid 1980s, river herring were released in Winnisquam Lake for a period of five years. A few year later, the return counts of river herring to the Merrimack River reached record numbers. Adult river herring transferred to inland waterbodies spawn and then emigrate out of the system. Their
juveniles will spend the summer in the upper water column of the system and then leave in the late summer and early fall. These outward migrations are usually timed with rain events and subsequent higher flows. While growing in the inland waterbodies, it is expected that the herring will become a valuable seasonal forage source for other sport fish species, meaning fish like rainbow trout and smallmouth bass have the potential to reach larger sizes.

I hope those who braved the windy conditions during the opening weekend of fishing in our designated trout ponds were well rewarded. CO Mike Mattson reported he checked over 100 anglers on opening day at Lucas Pond in Northwood! Many successful anglers were observed. It should be noted that these waterbodies are usually stocked multiple times during the early summer and that surveys after the season closes indicate there are still a large number of trout remaining in the trout ponds in southeastern New Hampshire. Also, don't overlook the lakes and ponds that are stocked in the area with no closed season. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist

<> Seacoast Area

The strong winds and cold rain certainly haven’t stopped the fish from biting off New Hampshire’s seacoast. The last few days have rebounded from the previous slump, and have been great for haddock fishing. Most headboats are reporting haddock catches too numerous to count, and with no bag limits there is the potential to go home with quite a lot of fresh fillets. Also, don’t forget about the new interim rule that took effect on May 1, dropping the minimum length of Atlantic cod to 19 inches, with a bag limit of 9. Having recently witnessed the majority of cod being caught only just falling short of the previous 24-inch length, this new rule will certainly help anglers have a better chance of going home with some keepers. Redfish are still biting hard and most people are catching coolers full, many of very good size.

If the weather is discouraging you from venturing out offshore, you might want to consider getting out those trout rods and have a go at flounder. Winter flounder fishing has been good, with reports of fish being caught in both Hampton and Rye harbors. Using a little piece of sea worm on a spreader rig should insure a good day of fishing in the relatively calm harbors. Note that May 15 – 24 is closed to the taking of winter flounder.

I haven’t heard of any stripers being caught yet, but with the mackerel along the coast and thousands of river herring ascending the ladders in the Cocheco and Lamprey rivers, I would imagine it will only be a matter of time…– Conor O’Donnell, Marine Biological Technician

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