Fishing Report: Find the cold water and you’ll find the fish

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Find the cold water and you’ll find the fish.  The heat is on and you may have to modify your fishing pattern to cope with it for success on the water.  Get those lures down to the “thermocline” in the deep lakes where the baitfish and their predators (trout, salmon) are hanging out.  This is the area in lakes where most rapid change in temperature occurs (about 25-30 feet in the bigger, deeper lakes).  Try night fishing for bass if you’ve never done it.  Bass move into the shallows at night to feed on newly hatched fish fry, frogs, mice, hoppers, and whatever else may fall into the water.  The strikes can be sudden and violent so be prepared!

•    Public hearing on 2016 freshwater fishing rule proposals August 5:

•    Trout stocking reports

•    Fishing licenses

Southeast NH/Merrimack Valley

A study recently occurred on the Cocheco River in order to collect angler opinion regarding a proposal from an outside group to extend the catch-and-release period and gear restriction (single barbless hook artificial lures or flies) from the fourth Saturday in April until June 15.  Staff spent four hours on one weekday and one weekend day between this period, approaching anglers to ask them if they support this proposal, as well as to evaluate the current catch, release, and harvest rates of brown trout and rainbow trout stocked here this spring.  A total of 63 anglers from four different states were involved with this study.  Thank you to those who took the time to answer our questions and let us look at your fish. The information gathered is currently being analyzed and will be used to determine if this proposal moves forward or not.

Although late July is traditionally a time where trout fishing in lakes and ponds in southeastern New Hampshire slows, our previous fall surveys indicate that plenty of stocked fish are still present.  With water surface temperatures ranging from the mid 70s to low 80s, an angler must be prepared to reach the depths of the thermocline in the deeper ponds.  There are several options available to do this and many of these can be pretty simple. Those fishing out of smaller watercraft (cartop boats, canoes, kayaks) can extend their summer trout fishing season by using divers, downriggers, and leadcore line.  Smaller clamp-on downriggers can be somewhat inexpensive and allow the angler to be able to troll extremely tight circles at depths below or at the thermocline. Keep in mind the lure, fly, or bait does not have to be very far away from the downrigger ball or release. This device also allows the angler to quickly change gear to find what is being effective that day. A lure, fly, or bait trailed shortly behind the downrigger ball allows the angler to target specific fish or bait pods if electronics are also used.

Leadcore lines and divers (there are several different variations available) are very simple to use and the jerking motions given to the lines by paddling or windy chops add a great deal of action to the lure, fly, or bait.  However, these devices can be somewhat challenging if the extent of deeper water is limited and therefore the angler has to be aware of catching the bottom.  As always, be sure to be prepared to handle caught fish. Have in mind whether or not you are planning to harvest fish before the fish is landed.  Nets and needlenose pliers need to be readily available to minimize the handling time and injury. – Ben Nugent, Regional Fisheries Biologist



Fishing has been hot this week. That opening line has little to do with the subject of angler success. What I meant was that fishing has been hot this week. Twice, I’ve gone out and been flailing fly line in the heat and twice, I’ve been forced off the water by thunderstorms. That leaves me with little to write about when constructing a fishing report. Fortunately, a large part of my job is communicating with fishermen who seem to have more time and greater success than I do.

A gentleman stopped me in my Fish and Game truck in Errol last week. He had been fishing Little Greenough Pond in Wentworth’s Location and seemed to be enjoying every minute of it. The hex hatch is just about over, but he was still catching trout on emerger patterns just below the surface. The summer heat has a significant impact on the willingness of a trout to rise, and this angler was doing his best after 6 p.m. He told me that the pond has been quiet and he had not seen another person all week. When we finally parted ways, he gave me a couple of his favorite flies and drove off, hoping to fish Corser Pond that evening.

I have been working on a culvert replacement on a tributary to Indian Stream this week. The goal is to remove an old, impassable culvert and replace it with a new structure that offers wild brook trout a better chance to utilize more of their home stream. It is hard (and hot) work, but the result will be fixing a piece of a much larger ecosystem and improving the habitat for trout. It has been satisfying in many ways and reminds me of how lucky I am to be able to manage fish in this way. – Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist

 Lakes Region

As indicated in the previous report, night work has begun, sampling large-lakes forage (prey) fish populations, so this report will be necessarily brief (please refer to the last report for more details regarding this work, along with large-lakes predator/prey relationships).  Regardless, as previously noted, the same numbers typically hold for most of late summer:  trolling depths of 30-40 feet (6-8 colors leadcore) will readily put you into the thermocline with waiting landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, and lake trout, particularly at daybreak.

Per usual at Winnipesaukee’s sampling onset, young-of-year (YOY) pelagic forage-fish are currently very small (1-1.5 inches), with YOY smelt and white perch essentially translucent.  “Match the hatch” in this case can be nearly impossible, and not really necessary, but keeping presentations generally small can typically generate more consistent action – think single-hook, sparsely tied streamers, often in sizes more considered apt for brook trout.  The wide variety of smaller trolling spoons available today (e.g. mini-Mooselook) are also solid choices. Of course, the angler in the next boat will be catching some fish on the larger, classic and coveted nickel/copper 61 Sutton this time of year…so go figure.  But when in doubt, try smaller.

Late summer is also a fantastic time to hit White Mountain headwaters for wild brook trout; it’s tough to beat a lazy, hot and humid summer afternoon of wet-wading and rock hopping with a trusty ultra-light spin or light fly rod.  Pick a “thin blue line” on the map (many aren’t even named), check for temps under ~65F, and refresh, literally and figuratively.  – John Viar, Regional Fisheries Biologist

 Monadnock/Upper Valley

Things have been pretty quiet on the fishing front down here in southwestern part of the state and I haven’t been able to get out much myself.  Drop me a line at and let me know how you’ve been doing regarding fishing in our area. – Gabe Gries, Regional Fisheries Biologist

 Seacoast Area

Stripers are scarce with the mid-summer heat upon us.  For those determined souls, stick to the coast and find a rocky ledge or other large structure and cast your bait just outside of it, you may find a large striper lying in wait. Mackerel have moved inshore and people are catching them in the river. Reports have come in of large numbers of squid in the Piscataqua, as well as our other harbors. So find the nearest lighted dock, or bring your own light, and get out there while the nights are still warm! – Becky Heuss, Marine Fisheries Biologist


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About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!