New Hampshire’s countless fishing spots: a log

New Hampshire has some incredible fishing opportunities: a vast amount of species, innumerable and beautiful destinations from salt water to fresh. On top of that, no matter what time of year, something’s always in season.

In 2009, I kept an online log of trips I took, posted for a NH radio station where I was program director. Most of the trips were on freshwater (my preference). They follow, as a partial example of what can be done here in the state. You’ll notice I frequented Winnisquam, which was mostly because it’s 3 miles from that station, along with several other areas in what is referred to as New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. One could easily spend a lifetime in that area alone. I also took a trip out of state, where my fishing habit followed me… that’s included in the log.

Obviously, even in a year of fishing, you’ll see I just scratched the surface in regards to fishing New Hampshire. The options are countless. Obvious omissions from my log are: fishing for “football” tuna off of the Isles of Shoals, striper fishing in Rye, ground fishing off the coast, fly fishing on the blue-ribbon stretches of the Connecticut River, ice fishing for smelt in Great Bay, bow hunting carp, night fishing for horned pout and largemouth bass… I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. Enjoy, get a few ideas, and I’ll see you out there!

2009 Fishing log

1/4: Highland Lake, Andover
conditions: sun & clouds, breezy, 20s
equipment: ice fishing gear
baits: dillies/ sm. crawlers, shiners
Watched in disbelief as someone drove their extended cab truck across the lake. Looked to me like we had about 6″-8″ of ice at best. I still don’t understand why anyone would drive a vehicle on the ice – under any conditions… the previous Sunday I had found ice I could punch my chisel through in one stroke. Back to fishing,,, Most action was on a jigging stick, adding some motion to the bait.

1/11: Highland Lake, Andover
conditions: sunny, calm, mid-upper 20s
equipment: ice fishing gear
baits: dillies/ sm. crawlers, shiners
Went out after the snowstorm – afternoon trip. Ice 10″-11″. Things quieted down a bit… but both dillies and shiners worked on tip-ups. Fish may have been more neutral with more activity on the ice. Still… a nice day to be out there. I think next stop will be either Webster Lake or Waukewan… or the Big Lake. We’ll see!

1/12: Winnisquam, Sanbornton
conditions: clear, calm, 20s
equipment: ice fishing gear
baits: deadbait (shiners)
Set cusk rigs on Winnisquam – I like this lake, and although the word is some good lakers are being taken here, I’ve chosen to target cusk. Hey, chowder weather is coming in… and cusk makes supremely delicious fish chowder! 4″-5″ inches of ice where I went. Short work for the ice chisel. Won’t be like this after the next few days…

1/24: Waukewan, Meredith
conditions: sunny, windy, 20s, falling through the teens in the afternoon
equipment: ice fishing gear
baits: shiners, worms, small jigs
Took a shot at rainbows and perch on a cold, windy day. 12″-15″ ice under the snow – still some thin places where the water moves. Even though it was a Saturday, the cold made us the only ones on our spot. Dillies did the trick for rainbows.

1/31: Massabesic, Manchester
conditions: clear, breezy, mid 20s
equipment: ice fishing gear
baits: worms
Too short a trip targeting rainbows, perch. Some folks will fish Massabesic next Sat/ Sun, hoping to put a fish on the leader board in Meredith.

1/26-1/27: Winnipesaukee, Meredith
conditions: clear, teens
equipment: cusk rigs
baits: dead bait
Set cusk rigs on the north side of Meredith Neck. Starry skies on Tuesday night put on a real show.

2/8: Waukewan, Meredith
conditions: cloudy, windy, some sunny breaks and one wild squall, upper 30s
equipment: ice fishing gear
baits: Powerbait, jigs, worms, smelt
Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby weekend is always a good time! Decided to give Waukewan a try this time with a group of friends. 15″-16″ ice covered with slush, corn snow and water. Pretty quiet, one pretty untagged rainbow. I picked up a cusk on lines I’d set the previous night. The guys had done better on their trip Saturday, picking up some decent untagged rainbows. From my perspective, Saturday does seem to be the best day, before all the hubbub quiets the bite – and the Derby winner is frequently caught Saturday morning.

2/16: Winnisquam, Sanbornton
conditions: sunny, calm, 35
equipment: ice fishing gear
baits: jigs w/ cutbait, smelt shiners
After lake trout (togue) this time, and my fishing partner had all the karma, hooking and releasing three lakers from a single spot, fishing just off the bottom using a perch pattern jig with a piece of sucker. We were fishing in 40′-50′ of water. We got a fly-by from a huge bald eagle I’ve seen over Winnisquam before… just spectacular! A good, full day on the ice – and a touch of sunburn.

3/1: Massabesic, Manchester
conditions: cloudy, light breeze, 20s
equipment: ice fishing gear
baits: dillies
This was a fun trip, looking for whatever would show up for the bite. Ice was thin at inflows, but over a foot thick over much of the area I worked. The ice boats were taking advantage of the slick surface prior to a big snow storm that was forecast.

3/10 & 11: Winnisquam, Sanbornton
conditions: overcast, 40s
equipment: ice fishing gear
baits: dillies, jigs
Did a little jigging for lakers, set my cusk lines. One of the nice things about the time change is that now there’s more light, so you can sneak out after work! Set up cusk lines, and then ran a tip up and a jigging rod for lakers. I’ve been told that some of the biggest lakers of the year are often taken in March – but it hasn’t worked that way for me… yet! Watching the fog get peeled off Winnisquam by incoming winter winds made quite a sight at sunset on Wednesday night. There’s a good foot and a half of ice under some slush and soft ice. Interesting how old ice fishing holes open or are just lightly covered when the weather warms a bit. Got to step carefully. There’s a whole different dynamic at work with spring ice.

3/16: Merrimack river, Hooksett
conditions: mostly sunny, 50s
equipment: 4/5 wt. fly rod
baits: bead-head wooly bugger, and other sinking flies
Say “Halleluiah” for open water! The stretch of the Merrimack that includes the run from Hooksett village down to the Amoskeag dam is year ’round. Usually by the first couple of mild days in March, I’m sooo ready to do some casting – which was exactly my intent here. A little lunch time break, 30 minutes on the river working the rust out of my arm on some fly casting makes me feel a lot better. There are fish to catch. But don’t let me fool you, I didn’t catch a one… and that’s OK.

3/18: Merrimack river, Hooksett
conditions: mostly sunny, breezy, mid 50s
equipment: 4/5 wt. fly rod
baits: wet flies and streamers
I just HAD to do it again. A little roll casting this time – I was in a tight spot with cover in back of me. Really good therapy. Angus Bozeman talks about fly fishing the Upper Connecticut at F&G HQ tonight. My casting has to get vastly better before I go to the Great North Woods, but I sure as heck don’t mind practicing.

3/28: Newfound River, Bristol
conditions: sunny, 50s
equipment: 4/5 wt. fly rod, floating line
baits: bead-head wooly bugger, black stone, bead-head prince
Though I typically come to Bristol to fish the Pemi, I decided to visit to this little gem that runs from Newfound Lake to join the Pemi at Bristol’s downtown. The stretch from West Shore Road, where the outlet flows to the old dam site adjacent to Crescent Street is fly fishing only with special regs. What a beautiful day to be out! I fished several spots from the outlet downwards, working any eddies, pockets, and channels I could find. A fair amount of growth along the river makes casting interesting, but you don’t have to cast far – much of the river is barely 50 feet across, and enjoys some good access. A bike path runs up from Bristol, and you’ll find a number of places to park alongside it.

4/7: Lake Opechee, Laconia
conditions: cloudy, windy, 40
equipment: fly rod w/ sinking line, noodle rod for trolling on top
baits: live smelt, smelt pattern streamers
A little after work fun chasing cold water fish. It was certainly cold! But it still amazes me how much one warms up when the fish are hitting! Caught and released a few salmon – yes, they’re in Opechee and catchable this time of year. They were good length, just on the skinny side. Fish were actively feeding. Best action at sundown. Big fun on the little fly rod I was using. Getting a heavy take when you’re working the streamer is a thrill. Still a couple raft size chunks of ice floating around. A full moon peeked around the clouds as I headed home. A good start to salmon season, just a later than normal start for yours truly.

4/10: Little Squam Lake/ Holderness
conditions: mostly sunny, windy, 50-60
equipment: fly rod w/ sinking line, noodle rod for trolling on top
baits: live smelt, smelt pattern streamers, marvels
Paddled my kayak on Little Squam, chasing salmon while the ice continues to break up. The little waves working against a billion broken pieces of ice at the edges of the flows sounds like a thousand watery wind chimes. Never heard anything like it. Nice, sunny day, usually not the best weather for salmon fishing… but any day of fishing beats… well, you know. Moved over to Squam and worked ice edges as the set went down. Good time, a couple blisters from paddling, and a hearty appetite. Ice out before too long I think.

4/16: Winnisquam/ Laconia
conditions: clear, calm, 50s
equipment: fly rod w/ sinking line, noodle rod set up for downrigger use
baits: live shiners, smelt pattern streamers, red/ grey ghost, Top Guns
Spent the evening hours trolling for salmon/ trout. Picked up my first flyrod caught laker, which slammed a smelt pattern that I had tied. Pretty slow outside of that. Dry weather keeping inflows lighter.

4/17: Winnipesaukee/ Laconia
conditions: clear, calm, 50s
equipment: noodle rod set up for drifting live bait
baits: live shiners
Hit the Weirs for a little shore bank fishing – was just there briefly, more just to see the Big Lake than anything else. A number of anglers were working the channel, although I didn’t see anyone take anything. Sometimes the bite is on. Sometimes it isn’t.

4/23: Pemigewasset River/ Franklin
conditions: cloudy, windy, 40s
equipment: fly rod, spinning rod
baits: streamers, spoons
Stretches of the Pemi can hold more species than you can shake an Ugly Stik at: bass, salmon, rainbows, crappie, perch, etc. Water flows were up from recent rains, and in the current and rips, river smallies were on the hunt. Caught and released some that were quite large, at least by my standards, 18-20″ footballs. On a fly rod, that’s a heck of a good time.

4/25: Beaver Lake/ Derry
conditions: sunny, light breeze, 70s!
equipment: fly rod
baits: wooly buggers
The first half of a fun day on the water. Late morning, my wife and I took our kayaks for a little paddle around this nice little lake. Given its size and location in the well-populated southern part of the state, it has some restrictions, one of them a weekend speed limit of 10mph. The upside of this, is it makes the lake a fairly peaceful spot for a paddle. I found some little largemouth bass playing in the shallows, probably the warmest part of the lake. The spot I found will, no doubt, be covered with nests a month from now.

4/25: Pemigewasset River/ Franklin
conditions: cloudy, windy, 70s
equipment: fly rod, spinning rod
baits: streamers, spoons
Later in the afternoon, I caught up with my fishing partner, and we headed for Highland Lake in Andover to pursue trout. By the time we got to Webster Lake, which is on the way, it was clear it was going to be a rough boating day – whitecaps everywhere. So, we re-routed and went to the Pemi, where the wind was not as much a factor. Action was a little slower, but we got into a few river smallies and my buddy picked up a silvery missile, a broodstock salmon that cavorted in the air. The wind finally calmed down as we got off the water, just in time to hear the Sox get into the Yankees.

4/30: Winnipesaukee/ Meredith
conditions: cloudy, breezy, 60s
equipment: fly rod w/ sinking line, noodle rod set up for downrigger use
baits: streamers: smelt patterns, red ghost; Guide Specials/TopGuns in silver w/ red
I can’t believe I let (almost) all of April go by without a boat trip on Winni. Took an evening shot at salmon out in back of Meredith Neck. Some fish were down 25′, others close to the top. Caught and released two that were on the skinny side.

5/5: Soucook River/ Loudon
conditions: cloudy, lt. rain, 60s
equipment: fly rod
baits: wet flies, terrestrials
Did some quick recon of one of my favorite places. It’s one of those nice little spots to hit after work. Several folks were out, enjoying the breaks in the rain to go after stocked trout.

5/9: Highland Lake/ Andover
conditions: sun & clouds, breezy, 60s
equipment: light tackle, fly rod
baits: dillies, streamers, spoons
Went after rainbows and brook trout here, but got chased off by the wind. Fishfinder marked a few fish deep, but they seemed to be off the bite. People were taking stocked brookies down by the outlet. After an hour and a half of being blown around, we picked up and moved to another, more protected body of water.

5/9: Pemigewasset River/ Franklin
conditions: sun & clouds, windy, 50s
equipment: light tackle, fly rod
baits: dillies, streamers, spoons
Temp continued to drop as evening approached, but we were able to dodge most of the wind by heading to the river. Spent a couple hours on this multi-species stretch, containing everything broodstock salmon to smallies.

5/15: Winnipesaukee/ Laconia
conditions: mostly clear, calm, 50s-70s
equipment: more than you can imagine
baits: shiners, streamers, Guide Specials, DB Smelt lures
WINNI DERBY, DAY ONE – met Jason Parent at his place, Paugus Bay Sporting Goods @ 4:15am. Jason runs NH Guide Services, guiding everything from turkey, bear, deer and moose hunts to salmon charters on Winni. This guys knows what he’s doing. In fact, an entire chapter of Dr. Hal Lyons book “Angling In The Smile of the Great Spirit” is devoted to Jason, as a Master Angler of Winnipesaukee. He’s a great guy, and can find salmon on the big lake like you wouldn’t believe. My new tradition is to be out on the water, reporting on conditions at the start of the Derby for the Wolf, and “brother” station, Frank FM. This makes the third year I’ve reported from Jason’s big 23′ Sportcraft, that’s armed to the teeth with gear. The reporting does not keep me from fishing, and that’s a good thing. Anglers are permitted two lines apiece and Jason is the CEO of line management, being able to keep 8 lines running untangled from the back of the boat with 4 anglers aboard. Every imaginable method is used. At first light, running lines on the surface, using either live bait, or streamers on sinking fly line, does the trick. Jason will also run some lines on downriggers, devices that carry light lines down to a specific depth, that then release the line when a fish strikes. Friday was a challenging day. The chatter on the CB radios indicated that the bite was sporadic. I got a call from a good friend I do a lot of fishing with, indicating he had a big fish, about 25.5″. That was about as big as anything we’d heard about that morning. We saw some salmon, though not that large, after beginning our journey from Paugus with a lively rainbow that decided to weigh in on Jason’s offerings. We wrapped the day around 11:30 – and I went back to work to prepare for the next day.

5/16: Winnipesaukee/ Laconia
conditions: cloudy, lt. breeze, calm, 50s-60s
equipment: 1/2 a cord of fishing gear
baits: shiners, streamers, Guide Specials, DB Smelt lures
WINNI DERBY, DAY TWO- Another 4am meeting… one of the things I love about Winnipesaukee is that the lake has so many different looks and moods. Pre-dawn at Derby time is unique, it’s very quiet, cool, and expectation hangs in the air like the early morning mists. We’re away from the dock before most, skimming through the blackness to a pre-selected target. Jason’s increasingly determined to find big fish… today… it’s game ON. By later that morning, we’re rewarded for our approach – cloudy skies keep the fish on the bite, and we see a bunch, including several salmon 18″-19″, and a laker spirited up from the deeps with a dodger and fly set to dance at 20′. That friend of mine who caught the big salmon Friday? He wound up winning the Friday Daily Prize, and still leads the Derby, with a nice male weighing 4.12#.

5/17: Winnipesaukee/ Laconia
conditions: cloudy, lt. breeze, calm, 50s-60s
equipment: 1/2 a cord of fishing gear
baits: shiners, streamers, Guide Specials, DB Smelt lures
WINNI DERBY, DAY THREE- Staying at The Margate on Winnipesaukee has been great. It’s a very nice place, and it keeps me close to the water. Pretty handy for the 3am wakeup time. Today starts a little more cool, and breezy… salmon weather! By the time we get out on the water, it’s raining, and then as the morning grows old, the wind is whipping, making me grateful for the hard top and the comfortable setup aboard the Salmon Patrol Charters Sportcraft. Again, Jason Parent surveys his lines like a general strategizing. Lures and baits change, lines are reset, over and over. Before you know it, more salmon… and a couple of rainbows – but today, it’s a challenge to get the size we’re after. Everybody on the big lake has the same issue, and it’s all to one angler’s advantage. Yes… the guy who took that big salmon Friday… he remained leader and will wind up winning the 2009 Winni Derby and a 17′ Starcraft loaded with gear. At the awards ceremony, I get the privilege of working with Rick Davis and his whole family and crew… it’s is amazing how much work they get done with so few. I also announce the names of all the winners. I watch the Jr. Division winner, a 9 year old with a big smile and bright red hair, get into his new boat. It’s been a great experience, and I feel like I’ve learned even more about Winnipesaukee, it’s water, and it’s angler culture – all a very unique part of our Granite State.

5/20: Waukewan/ Meredith
conditions: sunny, calm, 70s
equipment: fly rods and lt. spinning gear
baits: wooly bugger, streamers, jigs.
After work trip to mix it up with bass and rainbows. Smallies are on the beds – picked up a couple using my 4wt. fly rod and a bead-head wooly bugger. Good fun. Then switched to trolling for rainbows, which I caught on one of AJ’s streamer patterns that employs a lot of purple and red flash. I’ve found that those work well for rainbows, and in the summer, surfacing white perch.

5/28: Pemigewasset River/ Franklin
conditions: sun & clouds, 70s
equipment: light tackle, fly rod
baits: dillies, streamers, spoons, deep-diving crankbaits
As you can see, my fishing partner and I prefer this river early season, because you never know what you’ll run into, species wise. Now as the water warms, things have slowed down. We got chased from the water finally by a thunderstorm.

6/2: Winnipesaukee/ Meredith
conditions: lots of sun, 60s-70s
equipment: trolling gear, light tackle for bass
baits: shiners, streamers, Guide Specials, DB Smelt lures for trout/salmon; wacky rigged plastic worms for smallmouth bass
I put in at Shep’s on the back of Meredith Neck, where I get quick access to some great water. We vacation on Winnipesaukee, so I always feel at home here. A pretty day to be on the water, though a tad windy at times. This is the shakedown cruise for my little boat – its a late as I’ve ever got it in the water, but everything is running well, so I’m pleased. Picked up a chunky little stocked rainbow in a pocket off of Timber on a pink Top Gun about 20′ down, then it got quiet in the bright sun. I remember that June can be an off month for salmon. Fish & Game reports that this is the time that fish gorge on June hatches, and can be tough to coax away from the feast. A evening came on I switched to casting around structure for smallmouths, even they were a bit tentative, but I’m not disappointed with the day. I’ll be back.

6/10: Soucook River/ Loudon
conditions: cloudy, a little light rain at times, 60s
equipment: fly rod
baits: a mix of flies – sm. marabou, sz 20 dries, pheasant tail emerger
Stopped after work for the evening hatch. I’m not a real good fly fisherman, but I’m a “try” fisherman, so I gave it a shot. Got a few takes on the wet flies, none on the dries, even though fish were busting the surface every now and then. A nice way to shift down at the end of the day.

6/26: Winnisquam, Laconia
conditions: sun & clouds, 70s
equipment: fly rod, trolling gear
baits: smelt pattern streamer, Top Gun spoons
An evening trip chasing trout and salmon on this lake that’s a favorite of mine, even though it can be frequently challenging. In our search for fish, we ran a mix off the back of the boat: placing spoons 20′-40′ down, and running streamers close to the surface. Tonight, it was the surface where most of the action was. Picked up a hard fighting salmon early evening on top. I’m convinced that working the streamers, and using long flouro leaders to keep things stealthy, is the recipe for success – at least, under the right conditions. At sunset a big rainbow grabbed the fly with a splash as I let out line – it was only 60′ from the boat. These moments are what we live on as anglers; one’s mind cradles them in reflection as if holding a precious gem, sparkling over the backdrop of New Hampshire waters.

Mid-July: Winnipesaukee/ Meredith
conditions: A little more rain and cool weather than normal for this time of year. Surface temp hovered around 70, also cooler than normal.
equipment: trolling gear, light tackle for bass
baits: shiners, streamers, Guide Specials, DB Smelt lures for trout/salmon; wacky rigged plastic worms for smallmouth bass
Spent some quality time on water in July with many days out on the water during vacation. Winni was tough to figure out this time – typically, salmon are scattered about in July, the thermocline is only starting to set up, and you can find fish both down and up (the latter esp. in the morning). I was left thinking that the rains of June, combined with the unusually cool weather, kept conditions more like June, when the fish gorge on hatch after hatch, and become more selective. I’ll admit, I’m no expert, but if the jillions of nymph shucks on the water in the morning were any indication of a feast at hand, then the clouds of mayflies, and other insects, billowing in morning air confirmed it.

I finally started to reap the benefits after a discussion with Alan Nute at AJ’s Bait & Tackle in Meredith. Targeting the white perch hatch with flies and lures, and using attractors on the downrigger ball, yielded better results. AJ’s white perch fly was deadly, I had one fly that probably was responsible for a dozen fish, mostly salmon, before I surrendered it to a big bass that insisted on keeping it. BTW – that fly was on an inline leadcore set up, something I’ve become fond of. It handles much like a fly rod with sinking line, keeping a fly just under the surface while trolling. I set up a star drag reel on a downrigger rod; backing the reel with 10# mono followed by one color (10 yds.) of old leadcore line (its a good way to recycle it), tipped with a 50′-100′ flourocarbon leader. I use 4-6# test to keep it stealthy – I’m a flouro convert after fishing with guide Jason Parent – its fair to say that using strong, thin, clear lines and long leaders in Winni has substantially upped my game. The trick with any surface setup is to work the streamers as you troll. I would say 80% of strikes happen when you have the rod in hand, and isn’t that what’s its all about?

The attractor setup was interesting as well: I ran a vertical set of Davis spinners attached to the end of my downrigger cable, with the ball at the bottom, and release set just at the top of the attractors. You then run your lure or fly no more than 10′ back. In theory, fish see all the activity and will strike instinctively. A pink and silver mylar Top Gun was particularly effective. I spent most of my time chasing cold water fish while on the water, but my son-in-law had a very successful afternoon working a wacky rigged plastic worm around docks and boathouses, landing some smallies up to 20″. The trick there seemed to be just letting the rig drop, giving it an occasional twitch as it descended. I’ve gotten similar results with tube baits on light jigheads – the fish just slam ‘em on the drop, and then you’re off to the races.

There was a lot of wildlife to be seen on Winnipesaukee: an enormous heron was frequently at Shep Brown’s in Meredith, right on the dock, as if he was waiting for a boat to pick him up. At the same docks, we watched a pair of horned pout protect a little black cloud of fry. Deer walked with my family in the woods. Loons were all over the lake, their melancholy calls wafting up to cottage at night, taking us to another time. And then, while we were fishing one morning in back of Bear Island, a bald eagle, a good sized adult male, flew over as if to remind us who the best angler on the lake really is. No argument there.

8/3: Winnisquam/ Laconia
conditions: sunny, 80s
equipment: kayak, fly rod w/ sinking line, leadcore setup
baits: streamers, Top Gun on the leadcore setup
Took the kayak out from the new state launch in Laconia. Not a cloud in the sky, and like one would expect, not much in the way of any action until “magic time” at sunset. Some debris/weed pieces on the lake with a lot of inflow still coming from the rains – it was a little tough to keep my lures clear. Magnificent sunset, immediately followed by a near-full moon as I paddled back to the launch. One of those portable white stern lights made me feel more visible as light faded, as I stayed out later than I had originally intended – but hey, this is the kind of night where nobody wants to go inside. The truly balmy nights of summer are too few, maybe that’s what makes us all appreciate them more.

8/6: Winnisquam/ Laconia
conditions: sun & clouds, 80s
equipment: fly rod w/ sinking line, leadcore setup
baits: streamers, Top Gun on the leadcore setup
Another evening on the water, this time from my fishing partner’s boat. We worked the inflow just out into the deeper water from the new public launch in Laconia… with some limited results. The talk lately has been about lake trout schooling up off of structure, and sure enough, we found some working the turbid, debris filled waters still flowing strongly as water continues to be dumped from Winni. All were on the small side, about 20′ down in 30-40′ of water, and came on silver Top Guns. With the limited time we had to troll that evening, I wondered if I wouldn’t have seen better results with a different pattern… but its hard to part with the old stand bys sometimes. Silver with a red stripe has always been a good all-around lure. It interesting to see how the summer rains have disrupted the normal patterns here, it seems fish would typically be deeper, around the thermocline, but moving water has proved to be a bit of a game changer. We’ll give Winnisquam another try soon.

8/30: Winnisquam/ Laconia
conditions: sun & clouds, 70s
equipment: fly rod w/ sinking line, leadcore setup
baits: streamers, Top Guns and streamers on the leadcore setup
A nice Sunday morning on Winnisquam, trolling for trout and salmon. Following the previous day’s rains, the fish seemed to be somewhat neutral, but we did pick up some lakers 20-30′ down near structure in 50-60′ of water, especially in the cove next to the new state boat launch. Zero surface action, as one might expect this time of year.

9/6: Hey, this ain’t NH! Jones Beach Inlet, Long Island, NY
conditions: sunny, breezy, 70s
equipment: med. surf rod
baits: pencil poppers, Kastmasters, shallow running crankbaits
Go places. Fish places. Love to do that. No better opportunity than to take a morning Labor Day Weekend to fish with my brother who makes a home with his lovely bride on Long Island, close to Jones Beach. We were up early and drove out past the very toll booth where Sonny met his untimely end in The Godfather, looking to whack some snapper blues (and pray for a striper visit). After doing so much fresh water fishing, its fun to see how incredibly vigorous saltwater fish are… and the bluefish really fits that bill. Smaller “snapper” blues were in, and rather spread out, along the western end of the inlet, past the Coast Guard station. My brother had one blue attack a flashy silver Yozuri crankbait. I had the pleasure of a splashy surface strike on a pencil popper. Hook sets not required with these guys, they just hammer you. Grilled bluefish filets for lunch for a perfect summer finale.

9/21: Winnisquam/ Laconia
conditions: sunny, 70s
equipment: trolling gear – fly rod w/ sinking line, leadcore setup, downrigger rod
baits: streamers, Top Guns, Guide specials
A beautiful, sunny day… not the best for fishing, I always like a little cloud cover, but a nice day out for sure… Found rainbows chasing baitfish along the shoreline early – like mini-striper blitzes. Picked up a feisty one on the fly rod, using a white perch pattern – one of the most effective all-around summer patterns on the Lakes. Noted that there was a robust insect hatch going on. That seemed to be keeping the baitfish busy. Though we marked some fish suspended around some drop-offs and points, we couldn’t rile ‘em. Sometimes the bite is on, and sometimes you get humbled. With the dams shut off, there was no flow in the river as we headed back to the launch in Laconia – the surface was carpeted with the rises of small fish, a sure sign that Winnisquam is very healthy.

9/30: Winnipesaukee/ Meredith
conditions: cloudy, sunny breaks, windy, near 50
equipment: trolling gear – fly rod w/ sinking line, leadcore setup, downrigger rod
baits: streamers, Top Guns, Guide specials
Last day of salmon season on the big lake, and I figured I’d take one last shot. Last September was good. This one didn’t play out so well… Put in at Shep’s on Meredith Neck, and ran down past Governor’s, through the Witches and out into the Broads. Almost as soon as I got my lines out, the wind really started to whistle, so after a short bit I took the rough ride back to Bear, and looked for a little structure that might hold fish. Though I marked some about 20′ down, I couldn’t buy a strike. Nonetheless, fishing Winni is not without its rewards… skies striped with smoky pink at sunset, the calling of a loon, a bald eagle whirling upwards in winds glancing off Bear’s steep sides – I felt as if the Lake was saying “Until we meet again”… We will indeed. I want that rematch.

10/12: Exeter River/ Exeter
conditions: sun & clouds, calm, 50
equipment: fly rod w/ sinking line
baits: sm. wooly bugger
I’ll be honest, this was more about a paddle through autumn glory than anything else, and on this day, it was also about exploring new water. I picked up a book this summer that I enjoy, it’s called “Quiet Water: New Hampshire & Vermont” by John Hayes & Alex Wilson, published by Appalachian Mountain Club Books. My wife and I felt the need for some quiet, and after perusing the book, we chose the Exeter River. This is one lazy river… it meanders, at times practically doubling back on itself, with very little current… It also is largely undeveloped, with tree-lined, deeply undercut banks that would appear to be ideal habitat for brookies. Supposedly, browns and rainbows also haunt these waters, and there are some stretches that run along reeds that look good for bass and pickerel. I was looking to simply drag a line while I paddled, but with all the leaves and pine needles on the water, I quickly realized I should have brought a fly rod I could cast, instead of my trolling fly rod. A very nice paddle through dazzling colors perfectly copied the reflection of still water. The call of an owl echoed upstream, making it hard to believe there was such wilderness, 5 minutes out of downtown. To get there: take 108 South briefly from the bandstand in downtown Exeter, and then go left shortly after the Phillips Exeter Field House onto Bell Avenue. A quarter mile down, look for Gilman Park – there’s room to park your rig and a gravel launch for your kayak or canoe.

11/26: Thanksgiving; farm pond/ Londonderry
conditions: cloudy, lt. breeze, 55
equipment: bait fishing gear
baits: worms
At Thanksgiving, it’s several days of fun, with family from all over gathered at the house. Being that we had a nice day and had some kids looking for something to do, it seemed like a good idea to run down to a pond that sits at one end of a swamp nearby. Nice way to get out of the house, get some fresh air, and work up a bit of an appetite while waiting for the turkey to cook.

12/5: Lake Opechee, Laconia
conditions: snow, breezy, 30s
equipment: fly rod
baits: sm. wooly bugger
I had only a moment to take some casts following assisting with setup for the annual Children’s Auction (run by sister station, 98.3 LNH)… The Conference Center at the Lake Opeechee Inn & Spa looks out on what is one of just a handful of places open year ’round for fishing. Back in April I hooked a few feisty salmon here. The lake also holds rainbows. I worked the area where water inflows from Winnipesaukee. You have to be careful not to work the river coming in, it’s a no fishing zone. As I cast amongst the whirling flakes of an early December snow, I imagined that this must be what steelhead weather is like… and for just a moment, I dreamt of 10 pounds of chrome.


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