CONCORD, NH – April 1 marks the official start of the open-water fishing season on New Hampshire’s large lakes that are managed for landlocked salmon and lake trout, including Big Squam Lake, Lake Sunapee, and the “Big Lake” – Winnipesaukee.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department also manages 11 other waterbodies for landlocked salmon, including Big Dan Hole Pond, First and Second Connecticut, Conway, Francis, Merrymeeting, Newfound, Ossipee, Little Squam, and Winnisquam lakes. Pleasant Lake in New London is also managed for landlocked salmon, but classified under designated trout ponds and a special exception, with a 2019 opening date of April 27. Anglers are encouraged to test their skills on areas of open water. Landlocked salmon may never be taken through the ice.
The 2018-2019 New Hampshire winter will keep these lakes icebound for another several weeks, with a traditional mid- to late-April full ice-out likely in the central Lakes Region. Please keep in mind fishing through or from the ice is not permitted after March 31 on applicable landlocked salmon/lake trout managed lakes; only open-water fishing, where possible, is permitted beginning April 1. Traditional early-season shore fishing locations will exist regardless, and small craft are often able to fish 1 to 2 weeks in advance of full ice-out declarations, as select ice-free portions of the lakes become available.
To ensure the future of high-quality landlocked salmon and other fisheries, anglers must take extra care when releasing salmon, as the percentage of hook-wounded fish continues to be a problem. Hook-wounded fish are significantly shorter and in poorer body condition than non-hook-wounded fish of the same age. Using rubber nets, proper release techniques, and other considerations can minimize the negative effects of hook wounding, thereby increasing the number of quality-sized salmon available in the future. For more information, please see www.fishnh.com/fishing/salmon-pledge.html.
New Hampshire fishing licenses can be purchased online at www.fishnh.com, or from any NH Fish and Game Department license agent. Reel in lots more information on fishing in New Hampshire, from depth maps to tackle tips, and download the current Freshwater Fishing Digest, at www.fishnh.com/fishing/publications.html.