We know you’ll appreciate Don Miller’s advice in this week’s report: “Get out and fish; the season is winding to a close and it will be a long winter!
Note for boaters: Work is complete on the new ramp and parking at the boat access facility on Onway Lake in Raymond, N.H., and the site is now open.
It is getting close to the time of year when our small trout ponds are going to turn on. I’m talking about those walk-in or semi-remote waterbodies teeming with post card image brook trout. Summer months see them with abundant aquatic vegetation, which provides good cover for fish, but makes casting difficult. As this vegetation dies back, long casts and retrieves get easier and bringing a trout into your canoe or float tube becomes a pleasant task. One of my favorites is Whitcomb Pond in the headwaters of the Nash Stream State Forest. The fish in the fall look so beautiful in color and size that I usually fill my camera with pictures.
Most of these ponds see marginal fishing pressure, and I find that the fish are aggressive and not terribly weary. Some of the surface hits are explosive and really get my heart pumping. I use a small, 4-weight rod and cast with ease, even if there is a little wind. My favorite dry fly in the fall on a calm pond is the Quill Gordon. It is simple and seems to closely imitate many flying insects, including mosquitoes and midges. I use very small ones that range from size 20 to 22. In addition to dry flies, I like to cast emerging nymph patterns. When doing so, I shorten my casts and try to get the fly in as much of a vertical retrieve as possible.
Areas to try this fall include Munn Pond in Errol, Trio Ponds in Odell, Wachipauka Pond in Warren, or Stub Hill Pond in Pittsburg. – Andy Schafermeyer, Fisheries Biologist
Recent rains in the Lakes Region have brought water levels up a bit and have washed a lot of food items into our lakes and streams. Lake temps have begun to cool a bit, down to 71 degrees from a high of 78. I was trolling Winnisquam a few nights ago and observed flying ants all over the surface of the lake. In late summer these ants take to the air, only to fall on open water and are eagerly plucked by rainbow trout and landlocked salmon (and gulls too!).
Reports from the large lake salmon fishermen are good…salmon are still hitting in Winnipesaukee, and in a variety of locations. In the early morning, they are a bit higher in the water column; later they drop back down to 35-40 feet. Flies seem to be the ticket, with perch patterns the best bet. Winnisquam has seen its share of fishermen, early and late seem to be the best bite. The alewives are still very numerous in the lake, and the fish are feeding heavily upon them. A few salmon are being taken in Squam, but they come hard. Don’t expect a quick bite up there, but when it happens, it may be the trophy salmon you have searched for!
The trout ponds should be producing again, as soon as their surface temperatures drop into the mid-60 degree range. Stream levels are a bit low, but highly fishable. Lake outlets, (Newfound, Winnisquam, etc.) don’t have very much water in them now, so I would concentrate on rivers like the Pemigewasset, in the towns of Bristol, Campton, Woodstock and Lincoln.
Get out and fish; the season is winding to a close and it will be a long winter! – Don Miller, Fisheries Biologist
We are trying to finish up our young-of-the-year bass electrofishing surveys this week to get an idea of how successful our bass spawning was this year. Hope to have a report for you next week! – Gabe Gries, Fisheries Biologist
SOUTHEAST NH/MERRIMACK VALLEY
Natural reproduction of Atlantic salmon was recently documented in the Souhegan River for the first time in over 150 years. Sea run Atlantic salmon were released to spawn naturally in the Souhegan River in 2011. Electrofishing surveys in August of 2012 documented a large number of juvenile salmon that hatched from redds built last fall and survived through the summer. The numbers were surprising, given the concern that the warm summer temperatures and embedded substrate in the Souhegan River would limit salmon spawning activity.
We are still waiting for the emigration of juvenile river herring from Lake Winnisquam. As flows increase with fall rains, these fish will begin moving downstream in huge numbers. This mass migration may make the Merrimack River an exciting place to fish this fall, as the smallmouth bass focus in on this sudden abundance of prey.
Vegetation is beginning to die off in the small ponds and lakeshores of southeastern New Hampshire. Time is running out to focus on warmwater species like largemouth bass, which take advantage of submerged aquatic vegetation for cover when ambushing prey. Some places with good shoreline access and abundant fish populations include Freese’s Pond in Deerfield, Swains Lake along France Road in Barrington, and Cass Pond (also known as Bixby Pond), behind the closed rest area along Route 4 in Epsom. Cass Pond is created by one of the few remaining timber crib dams left in New Hampshire. For safety reasons, NHDES plans to remove the dam within the next couple years. Although some small rock weirs may be constructed at the dam site to help preserve habitat for the state threatened bridle shiner and to ensure future fish passage for river herring, this may be your last chance to target the big bass that live in the deep pool just above the dam. – Matt Carpenter, Fisheries Biologist
Party boats have been reporting good catches of bluefish still, so if you’ve been putting off a trip to the coast, it’s not too late. Groundfishing trips have been doing well with cod and large pollock, but anglers are having a hard time finding keeper-sized haddock. People are still picking away at schoolie stripers in Hampton Harbor and the snapper blues haven’t left the river yet. It takes a few to make a meal, but if you like bluefish, shore fishermen are having a much better time fishing for these guys at Hilton Park in Dover than for their larger relatives down on the coast. – Becky Heuss, Marine Biologist
FEDERAL AID IN WILDLIFE AND SPORT FISH AND RESTORATION:
AUser-Pay, User-Benefit Program. Researching and managing fisheries and teachingpeople 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 at http://www.wildnh.com/SFWR_program/sfwr_program.htm.
Logo courtesy New Hampshire Fish and Game