March 24, 2015March 31, 2015
As you can imagine, the open water fishing seasons, many to open on Wednesday, April 1st, is really going to be an April Fool’s Day joke, as open water is very scarce. Just getting to many of the places that on a normal spring would be a good opening day-choice, are going to take a huge effort and in most places not even a practical choice.
In some places in our reporting area there will be opportunities to wet a line but chances of having a great day catching fish are not that great with water temperatures just above freezing and high, dirty water in rivers and streams not conducive to a good fish bite.
In southern Maine’s coastal rivers that are managed for sea run brown trout, on a sunny and warm day there’s a chance to hook onto a nice fish as they are known to be feeding as they drop down to the ocean and shoreline. Conditions in some places will be snow and ice free, making access at least possible.
Some of the old-time brook trout anglers will tell you to follow a brook as far upstream as you are able to for the best chance at a fish, but with feet of snow still in a lot of woods with those small brookie streams, travel is going to be tough. The closest to the coast and the southernmost brooks may, and we say that cautiously, hold some opportunities to have some success.
In the Granite State, anglers fishing for landlocked salmon and lake trout as well as rainbow trout in some of the mid-state big lakes have a chance at some available fishing sites that normally have a good opening day catching success, but even in these spots access through heavy snow drifts are going to make this very difficult.
One of the busy and productive spots is at the Lakeport dam at the end of Paugus Bay (Lake Winnipesaukee). The outlet of the dam feeds Opechee Lake, which while not managed for salmon or lake trout has a good population of salmon and is stocked with a lot of rainbow trout. An occasional brown trout will show up as well. This place on opening day is often shoulder-to-shoulder fishing. But on some years there is enough open water to launch a boat. Again, where the dam releases water is one of the hot spots but also for both shore and boat anglers, the outlet where the water leaves the lake is a great bet and in some years produces some fast and productive fishing.
Another good early season bet is where this water flows through the Town of Laconia and into Winnisquam Lake. This can be both shore and dock fishing until the ice goes out at the nice boat launching facility right at the river mouth. When this happens you’ll often have to join a fleet of closely packed boats working the ice rims. It’s a bit crowded at times but for a chance to get out on the water, it’s one of the few choices available.
Once a kick-butt early season landlocked salmon resource, the Merrymeeting River that runs into big Lake Winnipesaukee (Alton Bay) in the Town of Alton has really slowed down from the times when getting a limit of opening day salmon was almost a sure bet, but there are some salmon and some great rainbow trout caught there each year. The snow banks this year may make fishing there both dangerous and very hard to get to the water.
At the bridge where the river runs into Alton Bay, it’s usually shoulder to shoulder “combat” fishing and you’d best have a good attitude to try to join this crowd. The same applies to the Wolfborough Bay Town Docks, where the outlet of Wentworth Lake and Crescent Lake flow into Winnipesaukee. Lots of both rainbows and salmon are caught in these two places but again we stress that it’s crowded, shoulder-to-shoulder fishing.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Nick at Suds-n-Soda Sports had some pretty exciting news about their former sales person, master NH Guide Tim Moore. “Tim was ice fishing Lake Winnipesaukee for white perch and landed a big white sucker, which at first was a disappointment. But he decided to put it on his scale to check the weight and found it weighed 5 pounds, 4.16 ounces. With his smart phone he got a list of state records for freshwater fish and found that the big white sucker he’d caught was a potential New Hampshire state record so was pretty excited about this catch.
Note that with the opening day of open-water fishing on the salmon and lake trout lakes, ice fishing is not legal, even if you are standing on the ice and fishing a natural opening. But it’s completely legal to fish natural openings when standing on shore, docks or bridges or from a boat.
Tim also noted that ice conditions remain great on some of the local ponds, with Pleasant Lake in Deerfield producing some very good trout fishing, mostly rainbows, as it has all season long.
“Most of the fish are being caught on live bait and soon many of the dealers won’t be carrying it. But know that both worms and salmon eggs have been good producers at Pleasant Lake and are both good baits for fishing any of the other ice-bound trout ponds.”
“A lot of our crappie fishermen have been going to Pawtuckaway Lake in Raymond/Nottingham and this fishing has been holding up pretty well. This lake also produces some nice smallmouth bass and both white and yellow perch. The crappie have been caught mostly on small shiners but jig anglers are also doing well with small grub-tipped epoxy drop jigs and some are finding that adding a meal worm to the grub is attracting a lot more hits.”
“On Pleasant and Pawtuckaway Lakes we’ve told the ice conditions are still very good but it thins out a bit around the sandy shorelines so beware.”
“We’re also starting to see some of the tidal white perch anglers come in looking for seaworms, which we don’t carry any more but they’ll settle for regular earth worms that will work, but not just as good.”
(Note to tidal white perch anglers, we’ve found that a small hunk of regular steamer-type clam also is a very good choice for those sea-run perch!)
Check Eastman’s Fishing Fleet (Seabrook, NH) website for their 2015 Marathon Dates (12 hr fishing trips): http://www.eastmansdocks.com/index.cfm
Trips run on Mondays unless otherwise indicated. $85 per person includes rod & reel. A $40 deposit is required at the time of booking to hold a position.
The Boat Diagram is on the 'Deep Sea Fishing' page - under the Marathon Heading - in a PDF format. (About 3/4 of the way down the page) All trips leave at 5:00am & return at 5:00pm. Tickets should be picked up before 4:30am.
Other Marathon Dates will be added as we get into the season, so stay tuned to the website for updates under the 'Fishing Reports'. The Tackle Shop is open Mon - Wed - Fri & Sat from 9am to 3pm. See you soon, Liz
The word from Dover Marine Sports is that nearby Willand Pond still seems to have fishable ice but as always in late season ice fishing, caution is the key word.
“Crappie, a few nice rainbow trout, and occasional bass make this place an unusual fishery and it seems that this tiny pond just won’t quit producing fish. One of the reasons probably is that it’s completely spring fed so has the ability to hold-over fish through the hot and dry summer seasons.”
“One big disappointment this year is that because of the snow and ice conditions, fly fishing on the special management stretch of the Cocheco River for quality trout that are stocked there has been impossible and continues to be a hard and dangerous place to fish right now. So keep that in mind! One other place, below the Wiswall Dam in Lee may be an opportunity to try some early season fly fishing as this is also a special regulations and special stocked stretch of water—the Lamprey River.”
At Taylor’s Trading Post in Madbury, George Taylor says that the ice there is apt to be getting chancy and really doesn’t recommend taking the chance and going out on it.
“There is a tiny bit of open water at the causeway and around the dam. The causeway is fishable because it’s a bridge but going near any other open water to fish is not recommended for safety.”
“Plenty of ice left on some of our other local ponds but getting on and off could be a problem around the shorelines. The main parts of these ponds have a good ice thickness so we’ll probably soon see the usual wooden planks being used to get on and off the ice, which also can be chancy.”
Alan Nute at AJ’s Bait and Tackle in Meredith on Lake Winnipesaukee reports that the ice there is still good but ice fishing ends on March 31st. “We went out on the ice off Long Island looking for a catch of white perch, which is usually a sure thing this time of year but instead of white perch, we ended up with a nice catch of yellow perch that ran from ten to thirteen inches, so we were happy.”
“There’s going to be very few places to fish open water for salmon and lake trout on Winni and our surrounding big lakes. Most of the usual places where running water come into or flow out of the lake will have some open water to fish but it’s going to be very crowded.”
“Over at Winnisquam Lake, in some years there’s a big open pool of ice free water where the Winnipesaukee River flows into it but this year the access to launch into that area is very limited. There’s also going to be limited areas at Alton Bay and Wolfeborough Bay but crowds.”
“We’d think that a better bet would be to ice fish on some of our local ponds for both trout and panfish. The ice is still good and the ponds that are not listed as salmon or lake trout waters the ice fishing season doesn’t end on March 31st. Locally we’d suggest Winowna and Wakewan as two good bets as well as Lee’s Pond, Pemmigewasset Lake, Hawken’s Pond and Wickwas Pond.”
MAINE: “The Saco River broke up over the weekend and that’s a sure sign of last minute ice fishing on the lakes and ponds in southern Maine,” according to Maine Master Guide Stu Bristol of Lyman.
“On Little Ossipee in Waterboro the boat launch parking lot is lined with shanties recently taken off the melting ice. Still, there were a couple pickups and ATVs on the ice but nobody I talked with admitted to catching fish.”
“Open Water season in Maine begins on Wednesday and the snow is plenty deep along most brooks and streams. I did see some open water around the edges of local ponds so I would guess it will be a while before we see canoes and small boats launched.”
“In the higher elevations, brook trout are still being taken in Rock Haven, right in front of the beach and parking area and a couple anglers were coy about where on the pond they caught crappie but they had some nice ones. Surprise to me that crappie were that large in Rock Haven.”
“On the back bays of Arrowhead (Ossipee Overflow) the crappie anglers were doing fine with double digit catches but the fish were all under a pound. The same was happening on Wadley Pond in Lyman. The ice is gray and anglers need to pay attention.”
“My advice for early anglers is to hit the running water where dams and narrow passageways occur. The brooks are running full and cold so they may want to seek out some back country beaver flowages,” Stu ends.
Greg Cutting at Jordan’s Store in East Sebago reports that the ice fishing on Sebago Lake had been pretty good, with nice catches of togue (lake trout) being taken.
“Although you can’t keep salmon taken while ice fishing, the lake trout and other species such as crappie and other panfish are still fair game. Some really fast fishing at Hancock Pond surprised some anglers there over the weekend, as brown trout were providing the action, a very rare occurrence at this pond as it’s known for quality fish but slow fishing.”
“Last time out for me on Sebago I did catch five lake trout, smallest one was a tiny nine incher that at first I thought was a brook trout and the largest one, a twenty-two inch fish was a nice fat specimen.”
Because of the inherent time restrictions of gathering fresh, up-to-date information, editing and producing this report in a timely manner, occasional errors or marginal information may slip by us. We try our hardest to provide accurate information. We urge readers to use this report as a tool to increase their fishing pleasure and not to rely on as their sole resource. First or second hand information is offered by fishing guides, commercial fishing charters or party boats, bait and tackle dealers, well known successful anglers and state and federal fisheries and natural resource law enforcement officials. We also welcome and use reports forwarded to us by fishermen that use this report. Thank you, Kittery Trading Post Fishing Report Reporter.