Here’s an overview of summer trips in New Hampshire, where there’s always a stunning array of angling opportunities.
May: The Winni Derby
Always the highlight of the month, the Winni Derby is a tradition not to be missed. This year’s edition featured beautiful days as well as quality Winnipesaukee salmon and lake trout. My efforts were spent working spoons and streamer flies from my kayak. Putting in at the Weirs, I paddled out to Spindle Point and then came back through the channel to fish drop-offs right where Paugus begins to widen. After I came off the water, I had the privilege of hosting the final awards ceremony at the Laconia Ice Arena. The Laconia Rotary generously runs the show now, taking over for the family of the late Rick Davis. Rick founded the event and a sportsman’s trophy is given in his name still. This year, many anglers worked extra hard for their catch, but for a select few it paid off. One of the winning fish came from a popular spot on the lake off Black Point – at the mouth of Alton Bay. The place gets a lot of pressure doing the tournament, so to harvest a winning fish took some real persistence!
Late May was my first trip of the year to Hampton Harbor, with my luck just a bit ahead of the striped bass… and a lunchtime stopoff to flycast the handsome Smith River in Bristol.
Another favorite trip is to the Connecticut River. My fishing partner and I have been making a point to fish the Moore Reservoir in Littleton. From my home in southern NH, this is a haul and a half but traveling through Franconia Notch to this magnificent water always lifts my spirits. Smallmouth bass, trout and the occasional northern pike can be found here. The shores are completely undeveloped and in off-season there’s no practically boat traffic. The shores are rocky and feature considerable drop-offs. This is a good place to cast wacky-rigged worms, drag spinner baits of flashy spoons. We were there on a bluebird day – not the greatest for fishing, but I did get one look a decent pike. We got a far better look at a juvenile eagle; the Connecticut seems to always hold these majestic birds.
A week later, it was the shakedown cruise for my boat and a trip on Winnipesaukee to fish around Ship and Moose Islands. A view that never disappoints…
The highlight of July is a little time on Winnipesaukee. Lazy days of summer spent swimming and watching SS Mt. Washington “The Mount” come and go… Daily dawn fishing excursions on the vast quiet lake – contented sunset cruises to applaud another day. This is the place I’d happily spend the rest of my life. In ten lifetimes one could not experience all its sights, moods… or all its places. This 40,000+ acre lake place holds nearly every kind of freshwater fish that swims in New Hampshire. My mornings were spent trolling for salmon and lake trout, found deep at this time of year. Using a downrigger and leadcore lines, we had decent luck with spoons – Top Guns and Guide Specials. Most fish were swiftly released as we worked to keep their time brief in the warm top layer of water. Of these, a couple were harvested for a fine meal. Other mornings, we casted to shorelines, inlets and dropoffs for largemouth and smallmouth bass; caught perch and rock bass, too. Wildlife seen included blue herons and bald eagles, snapping and painted turtles, as well as a mink that decided to take morning swim nearby as I packed up the boat.
A spot that I really like for kayak fishing is Pleasant Lake in Deerfield (not to be confused with the one in New London). The lake is managed year ’round for trout and is a fine fishery for bass and perch. The launch is nice… as is the drive, which is my case took me past handsome farms, quintessential New England colonial villages and the Deerfield Fairgrounds. For this latest trip, I had a bunch of loons hanging around as I paddled. I couldn’t help but feeling like they were chuckling at me, after all, they are very efficient anglers and I must have looked pretty awkward to them.
— Andy Mack Jr (@MackNH) August 10, 2014
I had work that was keeping me so busy it was hard to get away, but I still managed a couple lunch breaks on the Merrimack river, close to my workplace in Concord. Good access in town at the Sewalls Falls Bridge, downstream at NHTI and by the Everett Arena. I highly recommend launching a kayak or canoe at NHTI and paddling the looped backwater – on its way to becoming an oxbow pond someday.
That’s just a sampling of my summer on New Hampshire’s waters. Tweet your comments and favorite outings to @MackNH Tight lines!