Welcome to the first issue of our 2017 New Hampshire Fishing Report. We’ve been working on updating and improving our format to bring you more fishing news — the “what’s biting where” info that you can really use.
First, let me introduce myself. My name is Scott Decker and I have been the editor of the fishing report for a number of years, sort of the “behind the scenes” guy. I am a 31-year veteran of the Department and have served as the Inland Fisheries Division Program Supervisor for the last 13 years. Earlier in my career, I served as a fisheries technician and regional biologist in Region 1 (Lancaster); I was also the state’s first fisheries habitat biologist. On my own time, I like to troll the big lakes in my boat and fish the smaller lakes in my kayak. I also venture down to the salt for stripers on occasion.
So, enough about me. In this report, I will continue to bring you insights from our regional biologists in the field. But I also want to hear from you about your angling adventures! I hope to use this information as part of these reports going forward. Send me (or cast me!) an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know what’s going on in your fishing world. At a minimum, include the date you fished, the name of the lake or stream (and town of the stream section), species caught, and methods used (bait, lure, fly, etc. — be as specific as you want).
Thanks for reading and tight lines to all!
The April trout pond opener is upon us! A colder than average March pushed ice-out back this year to more “normal conditions” as compared to last year. However some 80-degree days of late have pretty much cleared all of southern New Hampshire ponds of ice and they are getting the first stockings of the year just in time for the opener Saturday, April 22. Stream fishing will also be on the increase as temperatures warm up things. Most stream stocking occurs when water temperatures rise above 45 degrees and the trout become more active. As always, check the stocking report to see where we’ve stocked trout the previous week.
In the North Country, fisheries biologist Andy Schafermeyer suggests Echo Lake, Mirror Lake, Airport Marsh, and Cedar Pond for opening day. Martin Meadow Pond in Lancaster, although not a designated trout pond, is stocked with rainbows and may have a few holdover fish from last fall’s stocking. Profile Lake in Franconia Notch still had some ice, but the southern end near the launch was opening up and could accommodate a few anglers. Andy also suggests exploring for pike in Moore Reservoir, Jericho Lake, and setbacks in the Connecticut River near Lancaster, as they are just coming out of spawning and are looking for a meal. If attempting to fish some of the rivers up north, be cautious of high flows from snowmelt.
In the Lakes Region, April 1 greeted salmon fisherman with a lot of ice still present in the big lakes and plenty of snow on the ground from the “April Fool’s Day” storm. The Merrymeeting River in Alton was producing a few nice rainbows for fly anglers. As of April 17, ice-out on Lake Winnipesaukee is official, and the fishing is starting to heat up.
Regional biologist John Viar told me that live bait is the way to go right now. Smelt, if you can find them, or small shiners trolled at speeds of 2 MPH or less is the ticket. John says a good crop of age 2 salmon are coming on, as well as a few older fish, but anglers should be cautious about using proper release techniques on some of the smaller fish (learn more).
Merrymeeting Lake in New Durham was also ice-free as of April 17, and rainbows and salmon, along with a few lakers, are possible here. Newfound and Sunapee Lakes have also been declared “ice-free” and Squam Lake is not far behind, if not already out. John recommends fishing Saltmarsh Pond in Gilford for trout on opening day. Sky Pond (fly fishing only) in Meredith should also be a good bet for brook trout.
Down in the Keene region, fisheries biologist Jason Carrier says bass action may be a little slow yet, but the pre-spawn bite should be coming on soon. He took some water temperatures recently and was surprised to find 56 degrees in Island Pond (Stoddard) already. Jason is doing a study on this lake this spring and will be setting trap nets for black crappie soon. Most trout ponds in his area should be stocked by April 22, including Willard Pond (Antrim) among others. Jason also recommends giving Granite Lake a try for rainbow trout. Conservation Officer Jon DeLisle notes that anglers were having some success walleye fishing in the Connecticut, especially below the Bellows Falls Dam. Keep in mind that anglers licensed in New Hampshire can also fish from the Vermont shoreline and anywhere on the Connecticut River. The river flow is still a little high from recent rain and snowmelt in the mountains so please use caution and wear your personal floatation device.
Southeastern New Hampshire anglers should have plenty of water to choose from on the trout pond opener. Popular ponds include Lucas Pond (Northwood), Exeter Reservoir, Hot Hole Pond (Concord), and Clough Pond (Loudon).
Picturesque Stonehouse Pond (Barrington) is a favorite of fly anglers. Stream stocking is a little behind compared to last year at this time as some streams are still a little high and cold but flows appear to be falling as of this past Monday and are becoming more fishable.
Fisheries biologist Matt Carpenter also tells me a few Atlantic salmon broodstock will again be available for the Merrimack River. These big fish come from the Nashua Fish Hatchery run by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Depending on river flows, the brood stock fish may be released in the next couple of weeks up in the Franklin area. Similar to landlocked salmon rules, limit is 2 fish per day, minimum length of 15 inches. No special permit is required besides a New Hampshire fishing license.
On the Seacoast, Marine biologist Becky Heuss tells me river herring are starting to run up some of our coastal rivers, especially the Squamscott. Becky also mentioned runs of white perch in the Winnicut River and the Squamscott. Try fishing for the perch at Chapman’s Landing in Greenland or up along the Swasey Parkway in Exeter. Becky spent some time on one of the party boats last weekend and reported big catches of redfish (ocean perch) and some nice haddock being taken. She cautions there may be changes to the haddock rules coming by the federal government, so stay tuned!
- Trout stocking reports: posted in season at www.wildlife.state.nh.us/
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