NH Fishing log: March 2012

Here’s March 2012.

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03/22/2012 Merrimack River, Franklin
Conditions: Sunny, calm, mid 60s
Equipment: fly rod (set up for trolling)
Baits: streamers
There’s a spot in Franklin where we like to troll in the early part of the year, between the Franklin Falls and the Eastman Falls dams in Franklin. The fishing pressure is light, probably because the stretch tends to run hot and cold, catch-wise. On the right day, you can see a lot of different species here; from crappie to trout. This day, the water was again heavily silted and cold, gifting us one largemouth bass for our efforts.

An adult bald eagle takes a stately pose on the Connecticut River in March.

03/19/2012 Connecticut River
Conditions: partly sunny, lt breeze, mid 70s
Equipment: light tackle
Baits: spinner baits, spoons, softbait jigs
A few years back, a friend suggested we try a spot on the Connecticut for northern pike and walleye, on the condition that we keep the spot secret. So, please forgive me for not sharing. Fishing this particular spot is tough, pressure already seems to be increasing to the point that the fish of a hundred casts or so, has gone to several hundred. It takes patience and a good arm to cover the kind of water one needs to cover to catch pike on the western edge of NH. Still, even one missed strike will leave you wide eyed. Pike are the boogiemen of the river. Get the conditions right, and you never know when they will fly out of nowhere to hit your lure – and sometimes they do this with great violence. It’s spectacular! Having said that, the conditions didn’t work for us. Despite the unusually toasty weather, the river was heavily silted, and too cold (about 36 degrees). Pike tend to move around more when the water approaches 50. The Connecticut is a magnificent place, in many ways. Before the day was out, we were rewarded with the site of a bald eagle sitting just over our heads, in a bull pine.

An 18" brook trout with bright fins prepares to swim back to the deeps in Pleasant Lake.

03/13/2012 Merrimack River, Franklin/ Pleasant Lake, Deerfield
Conditions: partly sunny, lt breeze, mid 60s
Equipment: fly rods (one set up for trolling), ultralight rod
Baits: streamers, Mepps spinner
On this unseasonably beautiful day, I decided to look take the kayak and chase trout. I ran up to Andover and Franklin, only to find that Highland and Webster lakes were still covered with ice. I paused long enough to wade and do a little flycasting on the Merrimack, just below the Eastman Falls Dam in Franklin. This catch and release stretch purportedly holds brookstock salmon, and large fish (salmon weighing in the teens) have been caught here. I found the flows suitable but silty, and got back in the car for a run to new water. Checking my maps, I found yet another body of water that is managed for the taking of trout year ‘round, Pleasant Lake in Deerfield. This nice little lake, despite the moderate development on its shores, is quiet enough to channel a little of that wilderness-vibe of the Connecticut Lakes. Launching from the public launch at the north end of the lake, I paddled out, working the edges of the remaining ice. Managing to catch and release a decent adult brown trout, and a trophy class 18” brook trout. The brown went for a Mepps on my ultralight. The big brookie hen fell for a Golden Demon streamer.

A brass colored brown trout brought to hand.

03/08/2012 Massabesic Lake, Manchester
Conditions: sunny, windy, 60s
Equipment: fly rods (one set up for trolling), ultralight rod
Baits: streamers, worms
Lake number two was Massabesic. Here I found a place just off of the public park where it was completely sheltered from the SW winds. I watched the wind push the last ice sheets from the lake as I paddled, mesmerized by drifting palm sized mini-icebergs, glistening mementos of a brief winter. Just two weeks earlier I’d been standing on this water. After dragging a line for awhile, I tried casting along the shoreline, which is stippled with underwater grasses. Felt good to be working the fly rod, while people in shorts and tees walked their dogs in the park. What a day!

03/08/2012 Canobie Lake, Salem
Conditions: sunny, windy, 55 degrees
Equipment: fly rods (one set up for trolling), ultralight rod
Baits: streamers, worms
A rare warm day in early March. Decided to hit two lakes in a day with the kayak, as the ice was history, and I was looking for holdover trout from ice fishing season. What a strange winter! The week prior, I had been on a snowmobile, grooming xc ski trails. Got the kayak onto Canobie at the public car top launch on Policy St. Wasn’t on an hour before the waves had me wanting more sheltered water – on another lake. No swimming in 35 degree water.

03/07/2012 Beaver Brook, Windham
Conditions: sunny, calm, 60s
Equipment: ultralight rod
Baits: worms
Another unseasonably warm day. Has a morning meeting. We took our coffee and chatted outside. You don’t get that kind of day in NH in March. As we talked, I watched a mayfly flutter across the parking lot and thought “there’s a hatch somewhere”. So after the meeting, I decided to check a local stream for activity. This particular stretch has some slow meanderings, undercut banks, small riffles and a few deep pools. Typically, I only find fish here after the brook is stocked in the spring, either little browns or brookies. There’s enough bushwacking to be done that I decided to forego the fly rod and use the ultralight. It was a nice outing. After a winter of ice fishing, it felt good to be working a stream. There was a big stonefly hatch in the middle of the day, but those, nor the worms I was exploring with, drew any activity. I saw no fish. Later in the year, this stretch will get dammed by beaver, and bass will move in during summer’s heat, so this little stream has different looks depending on when you visit.

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