SOUTHEAST NH/MERRIMACK VALLEY
In the middle of July, southern New Hampshire starts to feel a little like South Carolina. Some people look forward to this stretch of hot humid weather all year. If you are more of a winter person like me, this time of year feels like a bit of a struggle. Your best chance at a successful fishing trip this time of year is to avoid the mid-day heat. Sometimes fish will only be actively feeding for a brief period right around dusk or dawn. Dusk is a good time to try fishing for smallmouth bass fishing on the Merrimack River.
There are boat ramps in Concord and Hooksett, or you could try shore fishing at Sewalls Falls. Shore fishing is hard to come by in New Hampshire, since most lakefront property is privately owned. The best strategy for finding shorefront fishing access is to spend some time with a good map. Look for publicly owned shorelines, boat ramps, bridges, and roads that parallel the water’s edge. France Road along Swains Lake is an example of a causeway with water on both sides, which provides good access for anglers.
Pawtuckaway Lake is bordered by a state park on the western shore and there are many trails that provide access to the water. The boat ramp at Northwood Lake, just off of Route 4, is a good place to try if you don’t mind wading. Massabesic Lake has a number of access points, including the bridge that bisects the lake on Route 28B. If you are a summer person, get out there and enjoy the heat. As a winter person, I take comfort in knowing that fall weather is just around the corner.
– Matt Carpenter, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Sorry guys and gals but this week’s fishing report will have to be brief. I’m at the Barry Conservation Camp, this is fishing week and for most of it, I will be offering my expertise to impressionable young anglers. We will visit several waterbodies in northern New Hampshire and will canoe, wade, fly cast, worm dunk, camp out, slap mosquitoes, laugh, and have one of the best weeks of our lives. I would encourage everyone to do the same!
– Andy Schafermeyer, Regional Fisheries Biologist
This week’s report is presented by one of our avid volunteers and anglers, Drew Dunlap, a senior at Interlakes High School in Meredith. Take it away Drew:
Hello anglers! Despite the warmer water and air temperatures we have been having lately, there is plenty of good fishing if you are willing to work for your fish. On some of the lake trout and salmon lakes (Big Squam, Winnipesaukee, Sunapee, Newfound, Winnisquam lakes), the fishing has recently been picking up as a result of the thermocline setting up nicely and the fish going to more predictable locations. Many lake fishermen are picking up landlocked salmon and rainbow trout with the occasional lake trout primarily near the thermocline, or 30-35 feet underwater.
Given the increased water temperatures of the lakes and ponds across central New Hampshire, targeting the greater depths is essential for this time of year. Now that smallmouth bass are done spawning, many have also moved off to structure in slightly deeper water (15-25 feet) offshore. Using deep water lures such as jigs and weighted bass worms have worked very well and are sure to bring success. Many of the rivers and streams have warmed up considerably with temperatures surpassing the 70 degree mark in many locations. If you are going to fish for trout during these warm temperatures, remember to be practice good catch and release techniques and keep fish handling to a minimum.
If you want to have some fun catching trout, then go fish a remote stream. Many mountain streams have good populations of feisty, wild brook trout that prowl the depths. Although most of them are small (less than 6”), one can catch dozens upon dozens in these small essentially “unfished” brooks. And of course, nothing beats fresh brook trout in the flying pan. Good spots to try are the many streams in the heart of New Hampshire in towns such as Lincoln and Franconia
With the breaking of two panfish records in the past few weeks, now couldn’t be a better time to have some fun with the family and catch many of the overpopulated sunfishes such as bluegill and pumpkinseed sunfishes. Fishing the shoreline is definite way to find “sunnies” but to look for larger panfish, go off shore in slightly deeper water. A worm and a spinner is arguably the best way to catch sunfish, but small jigs can also be very effective. Don’t let the heat get the best of you; there are plenty of good fishing opportunities around if you are willing to put in the effort and try to catch a “big one”. Good luck!
– Drew Dunlap, NHFG Volunteer
It’s interesting to get mixed reports from the same waterbody. One bass angler recently reported fishing Warren Lake in Alstead, which often fishes really well for him, but the day he went it only produced a few fish. He is a seasoned bass angler and knows the lake pretty well so it may have been related to a combination of things: location, weather pattern, time of day, and even activity on the lake can make fish tight lipped at times. Another angler reported fishing Warren Lake last weekend and caught many largemouth bass and they were all scattered around in open water. They didn’t catch anything on the shoreline or docks. It just goes to show how things can change from day to day and even the difference of how one angler fishes to another. It’s always good to take notes, mentally or on paper, on the conditions of each day you fish and the techniques you use to help make you a better angler.
– Jason Carrier, Regional Fisheries Biologist
Small pollock, commonly referred to as harbor pollock, have been plentiful this year. During a SCUBA dive this past week, we saw a large school of roughly 6-inch pollock just off of New Castle. This has been a common sight during many of our recent coastal dives. The smaller pollock will stay close inshore and even inhabit harbors and coastal rivers during much of the year here in New Hampshire, only moving into deeper waters to avoid the coldest of temperatures. Adult pollock, however, generally live further offshore and in waters up to and maybe deeper than 600 feet. The movement of these fish is greatly influenced by their food supply, which for larger fish, is generally small fish and pelagic crustaceans. You may have seen anglers using shrimp as bait. The majority of offshore pollock fishing occurs in fall and early winter as pollock begin to congregate in preparation and during spawning. You may not have to wait for fall to satisfy your pollock cravings this year, as many recent groundfishing trips have reported landing pollock. This species has been shown to rely more heavily on sight than scent when feeding, so while bait will work, jigging is a more popular and generally more productive type of fishing. The basic deepwater setup is a 10- to 20-ounce cod jig with a teaser tied a few feet above the jig.
Striped bass have still been hitting heavily, with many “schoolies” in Hampton Harbor. Squid are being caught off of the Route 1B bridge between Portsmouth and New Castle and throughout the Piscataqua.
– Becky Heuss, Marine Fisheries Biologist