If the Fishing Season in Northern New Hampshire were like the Major League Baseball season, we would be heading into the playoffs. It has been a long season and there have been as many successes as failures. I know a few players (myself included) who have promised to give it one last aggressive month and a half and then spend the offseason rehabilitating and improving their game.
As a river angler, there is a lot to be learned in the fall. Fish are coping with low water and are being triggered to reproduce. Smaller tributaries are becoming important as they offer both the temperatures and substrate to accomplish this. Insects are still hatching and fish are still feeding. Forage fish are reaching a size where they have become an appropriate food source and I find myself casting streamers more frequently. As with any fish, spawning energy sometimes supersedes hunger and more vividly colored patterns like a Mickey Finn may induce an aggression strike.
Large, terrestrial insects are at peak abundance and grasshoppers and flying ants are always successful. I also have a fly box filled with yellow, foam-bodied beetles that accurately resemble nothing yet catch fish regularly. By September, fish have seen a lot of bugs flying into the water and their instincts have been honed to take advantage. Emerging insects are still an important part of their diet and big stoneflies and dragonfly nymphs can still be effectively presented in low water.
The bottom line is that trout are entering a part of their life cycle where they are behaving in a way that allows me to better estimate their locations. That is one of the greatest keys to successful fishing. As with baseball, I will spend the winter with both memories of the previous fishing season and hopes for the next. – Andy Schafermeyer, Fisheries Biologist
Sorry folks but no report this week. I’ll be getting out to do some fall salmon fishing soon and report back to you! – Don Miller, Fisheries Biologist
I have a wide range of species and water bodies to report on this week based on some great reports from area anglers. To begin with, I caught wind of a 33 lb carp that was caught in the Connecticut River within the past month. If this weight is verified and entered into our Trophy Fish Program, it would tie the weight of the current state record which also came from the Connecticut River
For trout fishing, I have had reports of some nice rainbows (15-18”) being caught at Granite Lake (Nelson). Interestingly, one young angler was even catching some small lake trout by casting from shore into deeper water. I have been getting more and more reports of lakers being caught in Granite Lake in the past three years. A friend has been having continued success for trout in Willard Pond (Antrim). Try some brightly colored streamers if you give that pond a try. The Souhegan River in the general Milford area has also been producing some big brown trout in the deeper holes.
For bass, I have recently heard of some great results from Gregg Lake (Antrim) for smallmouth bass on topwater lures. Spofford Lake (Chesterfield) continues to fish well for big largemouth and smallmouth bass as it has for much of the summer. Dublin Lake (Dublin) has also been producing some nice smallmouth bass in the past two weeks with some fish up to 4 lbs. Talking of smallmouth, Willard Pond also has some very respectable bass and one angler I spoke with made mention of seeing 20+” smallmouth follow in some small trout that he had hooked. Remember that Willard Pond is a fly fishing only pond and petroleum motors are not allowed. – Gabe Gries, Fisheries Biologist
The baitfish have begun moving out of our tidal waters, early as everything else this year, but maybe this means that the fishing will pick up along the coast. As we get some badly needed rain, this could trigger more movement from bait and juvenile fish that spent the summer months in the abundant nursery habitat that our rivers, bay and harbors provide. This means anglers should be moving seaward as well, replacing the sunbathers and summer tourists yet again.
This has been a strange year for fishing indeed, more black sea bass are reported each year, but this year seemed like they were much more plentiful, really taking hold here in the Piscataqua. A few other more southern species made appearances this year as well, anglers in each case were fishing for the black sea bass and in one instance ended up catching scup, and in the other catching a triggerfish! Also, witnessed by one of our biologists, a blue runner was caught in the Hampton Harbor. It is not unusual for warm waters to break off from the Gulf Stream and bring some unexpected fish into NH, however, maybe the mild winter and warm summer allowed more of these fish to survive and allow us to witness their presence. – Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist
Southeastern New Hampshire has several multi-tiered fisheries that may be worth a try at the tail end of the summer. These waterbodies have fishable populations of both stocked trout and warmwater fish species and give the angler an opportunity to completely change tactics if things are working too slowly. As surface water temperatures begin to cool, trout are less restricted to deeper, cooler waters and are able to once again return to shallow areas. This may increase catch rates for those who fish for trout from shore. Some of my recommendations are Massabesic Lake, Bow Lake, Lucas Pond, Hothole Pond, the Suncook Lakes, Pleasant Lake, and Tower Hill Pond. The accessibility of these waterbodies can vary (i.e. Lucas Pond has a no motor restriction and Tower Hill Pond is only accessible by walking in). Some of these waterbodies can be sleepers, particularly when it comes to warmwater species in the lakes and ponds better known for their trout fishing. Multi-species rivers that I would recommend are the Cocheco River, Lamprey River, Exeter River, and Merrimack River. – Ben Nugent, Fisheries Biologist
Logo courtesy New Hampshire Fish and Game Department