NH Fishing Report: The crappies are biting

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The calendar still says it’s summer, but the days are getting noticeably shorter and the leaves are beginning to turn.Even though hunting seasons are upon us, there are still many days of good fishing ahead.I want to thank those anglers who took the time to send me reports this year to help me write this bi-weekly report.This will be my last report for the open water season, but you can stay in touch by dropping me a line atscott.decker@wildlife.nh.gov.I may do a couple of reports for the “hardwater” season if I hear from some of you.Tight lines to all!

InSoutheastern New Hampshire, Lucas Pond in Northwood was giving up some good-sized brown trout recently with power bait and night crawlers. This pond has the ability to holdover some of the stocked brown trout and there is the chance to catch a trophy here. The crappie bite should be on the rise as the fish go into a fall feeding “frenzy” before the onset of winter. Best bets in this region for crappie include Bellamy Reservoir, Pawtuckaway Lake, and Massabesic Lake.

Smallmouth bass from Comerford Reservoir. Photo/A. Schafermeyer

In theNorth Countryas the statewideNHIAA bass fishing tournamentnears, local high schoolers have been practicing their angling skills on large lakes. Last week, member from Groveton High School and Lisbon High School fished together and shared their skills and knowledge. Technically rivals in this sport, Coaches Greg Superchi (Lisbon) and Andy Schafermeyer (Groveton) brought team members to Comerford Reservoir and tried to finalize an approach to catching bass in the fall. It was a great day and Superchi outshined everyone by landing a smallmouth that weighed 4.3 pounds.

I had the chance to go out and work with several of our biologists in the Nash Stream watershed recently doing some electrofishing surveys. Even this early in September, brook trout were starting to pair up and some males were ripe with milt. Brookies, especially the males, will intensely color-up this time of year, develop a small kype (hooked jaw) and a thickened slime coat as they prepare to do battle with one another for the attention of females. Catching brookies this time of year maybe difficult, as they become more focused on spawning and carrying on their life cycle.

In theLakes Region, I heard from an angler who caught some nice rainbow trout of around two pounds in the Pemigewasset River near the confluence of the Smith River in Bristol. Night crawlers fished on a snelled hook with gold spinner did the trick. This angler noted the trout were feeding heavily on aquatic insects on inspection of the fish’s stomach contents.

Jigging for lake trout in Lake Winnipesaukee right now is popular. Much of the gear used is pretty much the same for ice fishing. A non-lead jig tipped with a tube bait, Mr. Twister, or any kind of jigging spoon on the market will work. Fishing on calm days is best. The salmon bite is still going on but soon those fish will be more interested in spawning than eating. Anglers should note that all lake trout and salmon fishing comes to an end onSeptember 30. The exception to this rule is a special catch-and-release season on the Merrymeeting River in Alton, which runs fromOctober 1 through October 31. Salmon and trout may be caught and released using fly fishing gear only.

InSouthwestern New Hampshire, reports of good catches of walleye and a few pike were reported from the Connecticut River. Crawler harnesses and jigs fished on the bottom were taking a lot of the fish.

Randy at Morse Sporting Goods in Hillsboro reported that the water temperatures are going down with all the recent rain and fisherman are reporting more action on local trout ponds, such as French Pond in Henniker and Smith Pond in Washington. The Contoocook is flowing well now with and fly anglers have seen an increase in surface action there as well with a mix of smallmouth bass and rainbows being caught.

On theSeacoast, the ocean has been churning the past few days from the recent storm. It’s been windy inland too, very few people even trying to fish. The good news is that this isn’t the end of striper season yet. Water temperatures are still around 60 degrees, so there should be plenty more opportunities along the coastline as stripers think about moving back southward. One new activity is the opening of shellfish season! Clams and oysters are now open, however, harvesting is closed at the moment due to the recent rainfall, so keep checking the clam hotline (1-800-43-CLAMS) or visit the NH Coastal Atlas (www4.des.state.nh.us/CoastalAtlas/Atlas.html) for open/closed status. Note that Hampton Harbor Estuary will not be open untilNovember 1for any species and the Little Bay/Bellamy River Area has special restrictions (see the Saltwater Digest on pages 20-23 for more info). Also, if your favorite clamming spot is Hampton Harbor, you may want to take the time now to go view it at low tide. The clam flats have shifted a lot recently, and you may find you need a boat to get to your favorite spot; better to be prepared than disappointed.

Just a reminder, cod is closed in state and federal waters. Haddock will be open throughSeptember 16, with a 12-fish bag limit and a minimum size of 17 inches. Haddock re-opensNovember 1.
National Hunting and Fishing Day:Hunters and anglers — pledge to take someone new hunting or fishing between now and National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHF Day) onSaturday, September 23, and you’ll be eligible to win a Richard Childress Racing VIP race weekend package!Learn more…
Federal Aid in Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration: A User-Pay, User-Benefit Program

Researching and managing fisheries and teaching people about aquatic ecosystems are funded by your license dollars and by the Federal Aid in Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. Your purchases of fishing equipment and motorboat fuels make a difference to New Hampshire’s fisheries.Learn more.

NH Fishing Report is brought to you by Scott Decker, program supervisor for NH Fish and Game Department’s Inland Fisheries Division. Send him your local fishing updates, photos and feedback atscott.decker@wildlife.nh.gov.