NH Fishing Log: Rotary Derby, Winnipesaukee

2/8 & 9/14: Paugus Bay, Winnipesaukee, Laconia Conditions: Saturday – sunny, 30, light breeze; Sunday – “beach day” bright sun, 30s, calm Equipment: ice fishing gear – jigging rods, tipups Baits: live dillies, shiners/smelt, bucktail jigs, Swedish Pimple lures A couple of very nice days for this year’s Rotary Ice Fishing Derby… Our group setup camp in the middle of Paugus Bay. “Base camp” was a big ol’ bobhouse with a canopy attached where hot food and coffee was prepared. Part of the fun of the Derby is that it is as much a social outing as it is a fishing foray.

On Saturday, some of our members caught some nice fish – three of which were big enough to register on the leaderboard in Meredith. There was a log-like 26″ pickerel, a fat white perch and a deep 5.5lb lake trout. Sunday was quiet, but a simply magnificent day. Most of the fish were caught close to the bottom on shiners. We were covering depths from 15′-60′, with most action in the 20s & 30s. Anytime bait was brought into the water column, salmon would strike (salmon cannot be taken through the ice in NH). Given the spectacular weather conditions and good ice, lakes and ponds throughout the state were buzzing. Headquarters at Hesky Park in Meredith was wall to wall snowmachines, bobhouses, concessions, fishers, gawkers and folks playing in the snow. A great weekend to be out, fishing the waters of New Hampshire!

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NH Fishing Log: Groundhog Day, Southern NH


2/3/14: Ballard Pond, Derry NH
Conditions: overcast, calm, 40, rain midday
Equipment: ice fishing gear – jigging rods, tipups
Baits: live dillies (worms)


The trail access past Ballard Pond is generous and good for xc skiing in winter.

Far back of the Robert Frost Farm in Derry is a handsome, fairly large pond, just off a popular trail frequented by hikers and ORHV users. It’s undeveloped and shallow throughout. Snow conditions in the woods were not great and we were looking for a pond that would hold snow nicely enough for some cross country skiing. I planned on doing a little fishing exploration as well… Featured in the book Quiet Water – New Hampshire & Vermont, by John Hayes & Alex Wilson (put out by the Appalachian Mountain Club) Ballard Pond can be accessed either from the historic Taylor Mill site maintained by the State (which will require a short portage around the upstream dam to get to the main pond) or by parking at the trail access on Island Pond Road and hiking or skiing in. We choose the latter. With a picnic lunch packed, we ventured out onto the quiet pond and worked our way down to the dam, where I cut three holes in the ice to try my luck. Pickerel, by and large, are the only gamefish in this pond and I found none during our rain interrupted outing. Will be back to paddle this one!

TowerHillPond2/2/14: Tower Hill Pond, Auburn NH
Conditions: hazy sun, mid 30s, calm
Equipment: ice fishing gear – jigging rods, tipups
Baits: panfish jigs, live dillies (worms)

Tower Hill Pond is part of Manchester’s water supply and feeds into Massabesic lake. The pond is a 1/3 mile hike off of Tower Hill Pond Road in Auburn. It’s undeveloped, quiet and holds decent fish: largemouth bass, yellow perch, rainbow and brown trout. 13″ of ice adorned the pond during my outing and I was down to shirtsleeves by the time I chopped my 6th hole with the chisel. Hazy sun shone on this calm day. There were other ice fishers down the opposite end. Snowmobiles occasionally went by, but it was mostly quiet and about as nice as a day at the beach. I worked 5 tipups and a jigging rod with bait. Keeping the bait moving with the rod finally yielded two 12″ brown trout that I found in 7′ of water over rocks.

brown trout

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The Great Rotary Ice Fishing Derby, Feb 8 & 9, 2014

One of the biggest events in New Hampshire sports happens to be in a cold place with no grandstands: The Great Rotary Ice Fishing Derby. Run by the Meredith Rotary, the contest lures thousands of anglers from all over, awards over $50,000 in prizes and is a unique piece of New Hampshire winter culture. Why not give it try, if you haven’t already? My article for The Lake House at Ferry Point on Lake Winnisquam, one of the “hot” lakes for the ‘Derby.

Derby 2011 - dawn on Winnisquam

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XC Ski Grooming the Adams Pond Trail, Londonderry NH

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NH Fishing Log: Paugus Bay, Winnipesaukee 1/18/14

1/18/14: Paugus Bay, Lake Winnipesaukee, Laconia
Conditions: cloudy, light snow, calm, 32
Equipment: ice fishing gear – jigging rods, tipups
Baits: live smelt, live dillies (worms)

Met a friend on Paugus for the first ice fishing outing of the year. Fishing was slow: for four hours, we managed only a small lake trout and a lively adult salmon (which was released without removing from the lake). We tried live smelt, shiners and dillies searching for mostly lake trout and perch. Nonetheless, we had a fine day; it was quiet, overcast, comfortable and we were the only anglers on Paugus. We also got the opportunity to “test” the new toy… my fishing partner’s new mansion, er, bobhouse. A nice big bobhouse; we’re talking home built, insulated, heated, surveillance cameras for viewing tipups (that truly qualifies as over-the-top)… pretty plush digs. Paugus has many species. We found big yellow perch out here last year, some white perch, decent cusk and reliable lake trout. We’ll continue to test this spot for the Great Rotary Ice Fishing Derby coming up Feb 8 & 9 or we may go to Meredith Bay, Winnisquam, Highland Lake, Winona, Wicwas, Webster Lake, Massabesic…


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