The recent cold snap appears to be over and warmer temperatures and calm winds are in the forecast for the next week or so. Bass spawning is winding down throughout the state and the catch-and-release season has ended as of June 15. Live bait can again be used to catch bass. The bass bag limit remains at two fish through the end of June. We hear the “alderfly” hatch is on up on the Androscoggin River. The trout can go crazy when the emergence of this caddisfly gets going. Give it a try!
- In the News: Trout Take Flight — To New Hampshire’s Remote Ponds
- Trout stocking: See the most recent trout stocking locations fishnh.com/fishing/trout-stocking.html
- Fishing licenses: fishnh.com. Don’t forget – kids under 16 fish free in NH!
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SOUTHEAST NH/MERRIMACK VALLEY
For the past two weeks I have been moving American shad trapped at the fish lift at Essex Dam in Lawrence, MA, on the Merrimack River. We are able to transport about 200 fish at a time with the Department’s “shad truck.” You may have seen this truck, a heavy duty flatbed Kenworth with its double circular tanks traveling up and down Interstate 93 a lot lately. By the end of this week, we will have translocated about 2,000 shad up river around several of the dams on the Merrimack, and released in the Concord area. The fish will spawn millions of eggs to carry on the life cycle of this important fish species that helps transfer marine-derived nutrients that benefit the river ecosystem. You can angle for shad in the Merrimack but as this species is under restoration, it is catch-and-release only.
Most of our trout stocking in the region has wrapped up and as the surface temperatures warm on our ponds and lakes, trolling flies or spoons in the deeper water will produce better than surface lures. On the warmwater side, bass have pretty much completed spawning and can be tough to catch right now. Sunfish are on nests and can be quite aggressive and fun to catch on light tackle or fly rods using surface poppers. I heard from an angler who did quite well with the feisty bluegills in Great Pond in Kingston using a small surface plug.
Working hard is easy when you love your job. This idea may seem oversimplified but at the end of the day, it brings out the best results and everybody wins. Last week, I was called out to an unscheduled minor fish stocking emergency. Two of our fish culturists from the Berlin State Hatchery were driving a heavy load of brook trout into a remote pond and needed someone with a boat (in this case, your humble narrator) to meet them.
Wayne Paschal and Brian Newton have a great deal of expertise between them and they wanted these fish to be taken out to the deeper, cooler water rather than unloading them in a warmer shallow spot. As mentioned, the truck was densely loaded with beautiful one and two-year-old trout that would only benefit from this type of release. I hooked on to my 18-foot boat and drove the long road in to the boat launch. To clarify, the “boat launch” is as much of one as “the road” is a road. The drive was slow and bumpy and ended at a steep, rocky decent into the pond. I was able to back my trailer close enough to allow us to shove the boat off the trailer, across a few massive boulders, and into the water. This had to be done after removing the awkward, heavy motor, and resecuring it to the stern once the aluminum boat was afloat. The fish needed to be unloaded quickly…we all knew what to do and spoke very little as we undertook this task under a 40 degree rainfall. When we were finished, the three of us took pride in knowing that the exercise was a success.
All of our remote trout ponds will be fishing well now. The recent cool weather has rejuvenated this type of fishery and I have been getting good reports from anglers who get to fish more than I do. I will investigate for myself this week and hope to include some pictures in my next report.
Brook trout fingerlings (~3 inches) took annual flight on Thursday, June 16, as 47 remote ponds statewide from Newbury to Pittsburg were stocked via contracted helicopter services (JBI Helicopter Services, Pembroke, NH). Spawned and raised by New Hampton State Fish Hatchery staff, the fingerlings’ journey starts when trucked by New Hampton and Berlin fish culturists to predetermined rendezvous sites across the state. The helicopter is consecutively reloaded with fingerlings at each landing site, until ten full sorties are completed, with over 40,000 total fingerlings stocked. Thanks to the efforts of these dedicated hatchery personnel and an experienced pilot/helicopter team, this highly-coordinated, cost-efficient operation allows all the ponds to be stocked in just one day! This methodology also ensures the fingerlings are stocked into the ponds in the best possible condition, where, in these relatively less-pressured environs, they are afforded the ability to grow to catchable size — these holdover, “naturalized” brookies exhibit many wild characteristics, including striking colors and a feisty disposition!
If you’re seeking an adventure that uniquely melds light hiking, scenery, solitude, abundant birds, insects, and other wildlife — and of course, eager, vibrant brook trout — look no further than a visit to New Hampshire’s remote brook trout ponds. Visit the Remote Trout Fisheries in NH webpage to begin your adventure at www.fishnh.com/fishing/trout-aerial.html.
Reports have been slow to come in over the past couple weeks, but the anglers we have heard from are doing well. Don Hubbard of Winchester got out on Laurel Lake last week and was rewarded with a nice 2.5-pound rainbow trout. Jean Goodell, also from Winchester, caught a Spofford Lake rainbow that topped the scales at over 4 pounds. Both Granite Lake and Silver Lake continue to fish well for rainbows, although fish are slowly being found deeper with the increasing water temperatures.
For streams, try the North Branch, Beards Brook, and the Contoocook River in Henniker. I also talked with a fly angler who has been doing very well on brown trout on the South Branch of the Ashuelot.
I think it is safe to say that the bass spawn is over in southwestern New Hampshire. While post-spawn bass can be difficult to catch, there is the potential to do well once you figure out a pattern. Start by fishing points and deep water sections near likely spawning areas. Cover water until you catch a few fish and then slow down once you have an idea where they are holding and what they are biting on. Cover in the form of docks, rocks, trees and aquatic vegetation, are all likely places to start, especially if they are in or near deeper water.
Many people are getting their fill of striper fish action this year, with a great abundance of “schoolies” around Fox Point in Little Bay, and at the inlet of Sagamore Creek to the Route 1B Bridge in New Castle. Shane Conlin of Somersworth reported success using poppers and stick baits at sunrise in Little Bay.
When you head out to New Castle for stripers, don’t forget to pack your squid jig. Squid have begun showing up under lighted areas at night in the Piscataqua. Squid make excellent striper bait, especially when there are squid around. As they say, “match the hatch.” Fish in general, and striped bass specifically, are most likely to take bait that matches what they are currently feeding on, or an artificial lure that mimics it.