NH Fishing Log: 3rd Week of May

Lights twinkle in the distance as we troll Paugus Bay on Winnipesaukee for salmon - 4:30am, Day 3 of the Winni Derby

05/20/12
Conditions: sunny, calm early mid-50s; 80s later
Equipment: downrigger rod, fly rod w sinking line and long leader for trolling, lead core set up
Baits: live shiners/smelt, streamer flies, spoons
A busy week… I was finally able to escape for the last day of the Winni Derby on Lake Winnipesaukee. Up at 2:15am, I drove north to Paugus Bay, where I stumbled through a cottage, breaking my fly rod to start the day at 4am. Joining my fishing partner, Roger Proulx, who won the Derby outright in 2009, we hit the water at first light. Like many experienced anglers on the lake, we trolled live baits just under the surface. The Three Stooges comedy continued as I hooked a small but feisty salmon that completed a 7-10 split… grabbing my light line and swimming through all 3 other lines that were out. It took us a while to recover as we re-lined, cut tangles and baited up again. With the bright warm day quickly developing around us, things got quiet. Such conditions are not the greatest for catching salmon. The fish get pretty spooky during the Derby with calm water, lots of boat activity and a quickly warming top layer of water. Mid-morning, I switched to vertical Davis attractor spinners on the downrigger, placing the bait about 10’ behind the line release. This yielded a few strikes, but no more fish. By afternoon, the sun was reaching Aruban power, blazing in the sky. Grey 45 degree days with a gusty winds are more the norm for Derby time and it had actually snowed three years ago while we were out. The warmth was a reasonable trade for tough fishing. Not everyone had our troubles. Stopping by the leaderboard at the Weirs just moments before high noon, I had an opportunity to meet Shane Nassar of Holderness. Nassar had caught a big 7 year old female salmon earlier in the day – a Derby-winning weight of 5.42 lbs.

Passing through the Weirs Channel on Lake Winnipesaukee at dawn.

Purple mountain majesty: looking east towards the "Broads" on Lake Winnipesaukee. Timber Island to left. Day 3 of the 2012 Winni Derby.

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