April 21, 2015 This next couple of weeks many of the local anglers will find that conditions vary considerably from body of water to body of water. Some lakes have wide open large areas but still have ice in coves and sheltered places and some rivers and streams have been stocked with trout while others may have been passed by because of high water levels. So, it’s kind of like a throw of the dice unless you have the best information from others that have been there!
In the far northern areas of our reporting places (at this printing) there are mixed results. Some of the big northern rivers such as the Connecticut River in Pittsburg have been producing some huge brown trout, and downstream on the big river it’s probably time for some walleyes to be hitting. But in the state of Maine, their big northern rivers haven’t started to produce any amount of fish and those northern lakes will have an ice cover for at least two more weeks and could be longer, such as around the first week in May.
Some of the good news is that smelt have started to run a few of the mid-state brooks and that should produce some occasional big trout and salmon that love to feed on the smelt.
On the saltwater scene, some party and charter boats have started their season but it’s been a puzzle on what species they can target. Right now they know that codfish are not going to be available for fishing by any recreational method but some of the other species such as haddock have not had their regulations made public!
MAINE: In Maine’s Rangeley Lakes Region, where you’re more apt to see a vehicle with snow ski’s on it’s car roof rack than a fly rod, there are some early season fishing opportunities but the big lakes won’t be free of ice for at least two weeks and probably longer.
“The early-bird fly fishermen seem to always find some open water to fling their flies over trout and salmon. The water below the dam at the Aziscohos Lake provides some open water and because it comes from the bottom of the lake, the water temperatures this time of year are apt to be warmer than the surface water and provides the chance to fish over fish that are actively feeding,” according to the guys at River’s Edge Sports in the Rangeley Lake Region.
“There’s one other spot here on the lake that opens up quite a bit earlier than some of the other places and that’s at Hunter Cove Bridge where there’s current from the river that clears out enough open water to fish and also attracts feeding trout and salmon. But, it’s going to be quite a while before we see ice-out on our big lakes!”
There has been some very encouraging news from Greg Cutting at Jordan’s Store in East Sebago. “The upper part of the lake (Sebago) off the Songo River has opened up and in fact, just about all of Jordan Bay is now ice clear but there are some small ice cakes still floating around and much of the lower lake is still ice bound.”
“There was quite a small fleet of kayaks and boats fishing the mouth of the Songo River (he counted 45 boats at one time!) and out into the lake where catches of five to eight salmon were not unusual. The impressive thing to me was that these fish, especially the females, are quite chunky for this time of the season while a lot of the males have not recovered from their spawning run yet and are kind of skinny.”
“If you want to launch a boat over at the Sebago State Park, we’ve heard that the parking and launching area is snow-free so that’s a good bet for launching. And you should know that the lower end of the lake hasn’t given up its ice cover yet so it’s up here at this end for your opportunities.”
One of the other lakes that Greg reported in his area that had seen its ice cover go was nearby Trickey Pond in South Naples and Hancock Pond in West Sebago (not far) would probably be ice-free by the weekend.
“Tricky Pond has some great but scarce salmon, one of the few lakes here that has splake (brook trout/lake trout cross) but can test your patience as it’s not known for fast fishing though it does produce trophy-sized fish each year.”
“Hancock Pond produces some trophy-sized brown trout, though that fishing can be very slow but if you’re there when the fish turn on you can be pretty busy and very happy!”
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Nick at Suds-n-Soda Sports in Greenland reports that the stocking trucks have been active in his area and he’s had some reports of good luck in the Exeter River for trout but also notes that “designated trout waters” are not open to fishing yet.
“We don’t know for sure but would suspect that the nearby Winnicut River has been stocked with fish and usually the area adjacent to the Piscataqua Fish and Game Club is one of their stocking points. Also, in Stratham there are some good places to fish on the river.”
“We haven’t heard any sea-run white perch being caught but this is becoming a very popular fishery here, with just about all the tidal rivers running into Great Bay providing opportunities. Probably the best place so far has been the Exeter River in Exeter, Newfields and Stratham, and it’s almost exclusively fishing from shore with a bottom-fishing rig. The preferred bait are sea worms, that can be hard to find because of their cost and the chance of losing a shipment to freezing or not enough call for them. Regular earth worms will work, but not as good.”
“Last year there was a limit of 25 sea run white perch in possession put into law so be aware of this.”
Master NH Guide Tim Moore filed this report with us: “Things appear to be picking up…finally. The stocking trucks were rolling last week which means trout anglers are happy. Most all of the usual trout streams and rivers in the Seacoast area have been stocked. Trout anglers should expect slightly larger trout this year for two reasons. Since NH Fish and Game has upped the ante with a much higher quality of feed, and the fact that the trout have been fed for about three weeks longer than usual due to the late stocking activities, the fish should be bigger overall. A combination of Berkley Power Eggs and a meal worm on bottom will attract just about any stocked trout.”
“The spring walleye run on the Connecticut River has begun. High water triggers walleye to move up to the damns and into river confluences to spawn. Slowly dragging a 3/8 ounce jig head with a 3” or 4” Gulp! jigging grub on the bottom is my favorite way to catch walleye from shore, but shiners (especially frozen ones) are a great substitute for the Gulp.”
“I heard a report of flounder being caught in Seabrook harbor. This is an area worth looking at since it has had little pressure in recent years. Flounder rigs baited with clams or sea worms are the ticket here. For an added advantage, paint your sinkers pink or yellow to get the attention of sight-feeding winter flounder. Keep your bait moving slowly and you’ll catch fish.” If you want more insider tips from Tim Moore, catch him during his free seminar series at Kittery Trading Post starting later this month. Check out www.ktpevents.com for details.
George Taylor at Taylor’s Trading Post in Madbury seemed to be pretty upbeat as his bread-and-butter pond nearby, the huge Bellamy Reservoir had cleared of ice and quite a few people were taking advantage of it.
“We get a large group of people here that are subsistence fishermen—fishing for family food as well as for the sport of it. They probably are helping out the warm water fisheries here as they keep what they catch of panfish, regardless of the size of the fish. And so the average size of some of our species such as crappie and sunfish is probably larger than usual—we do have some really big sunfish and crappie that push the species state records each year.”
There’s good news from big Lake Winnipesaukee as well. According to Alan Nute at AJ’s Bait and Tackle in Meredith, that although there’s still some ice in Meredith Bay there’s a lot of open water and the ice seems to be moving around and melting fast. “Meredith Bay was ice-free yesterday but today it’s jammed full of ice, so you better not count on fishing any one particular place as we’re in a pretty flexible situation here!”
“One good bet for open water fishing is the Winnipesaukee River that runs down to Winnisquam Lake from Opechee Lake. So far this year the fly fishermen have had the upper hand in this part of the river. The key has been using small green nymphs with a strike indicator. Many fly anglers like to rig a two nymph rig with a larger and heavier nymph tied on under the indicator and a very small nymph tied onto a short piece of leader to the larger fly’s hook bend.”
“As far as I know, Opechee is completely clear of ice and quite a few salmon and rainbow trout have been caught there so far this year. Another hotspot is out into Winnisquam Lake where the water flow always opens up a big portion of the lake for both trolling and still fishing.”
Alan thought that it wouldn’t be too long before some of the smaller ponds in the Lake Winnipesaukee area lose their ice and he says that nearby Winowna and Wakewan Lakes do get some good trout stocking and produce some trophy-sized fish each year.
Friend and avid fly angler and tier, Dave Dawley of Rye recently gave us a call to tell us that the Merrymeeting River in Alton had been producing some of the best fly fishing for salmon in a few years, with an occasional nice rainbow trout also being caught. Dave has been laid up for a few months with a serious surgery but has lately been making a wonderful recovery. He’s been a champion of restoring the sea run trout fishery in Rye’s Berry Brook.
You wouldn’t think that the state’s most northern town of Pittsburg would be producing any fly fishing but this happens each year early in the season and it’s not a fishery for the light at heart, according to NH Guide Tom Caron at Tall Timber Lodges on Back Lake.
“The stretch of the Connecticut River below Murphy Dam may well be some of the most treacherous water in the state because of the icy and rocky shoreline and the current and dam released make it even trickier. We do not recommend fishing that stretch of the river, but there’s always some brave (or foolhardy) ones that do and it’s not unusual for them to catch a huge brown trout there. And also, with those big browns being breeder stock, it’s a shame to remove them from the population.”
“There are other stretches of the river this time of year that are a lot friendlier and safer and can produce the same quality, or better, than that very dangerous stretch below the dam. And for some reason, most of the fly fishermen that fish those stretches are the kind that will not kill a trophy fish.”
MASSACHUSETTS: Our good friend and off time angler partner Pete Santini at Fishing FINatics in Everett reports that holdover striped bass are starting to hit around the locks and bridges where casting plastic shad seem to be the best bet. These fish are targeting freshwater yellow perch that can survive in the mildly salty water there as well as the herring that run these waters early each spring.
“In Cambridge, at Memorial Drive and behind the Sonesta Hotel seem to be two of the hot spots.
“The stripers are not what you could call trophy specimens as they have been on a skimpy diet over the winter but they are stripers and they are fun to catch and release. Also we’ve had some scattered and probably questionable reports of a few flounder being caught in Boston Harbor and it’s possible as some of these places have warmer water that could support them.”
“Rainbow trout are the name of the game here at our freshwater ponds surrounding Boston and even one right in the city. These are quality fish, my friend, up to 20 inches and sometimes over (one 24 incher!), being caught with regularity. These rainbow trout seem to like Power Eggs and the ones with the garlic flavor seem to be their first choice! Dilly-sized worms and crawlers are also a good bet.”
“Horn Pond in Woburn, Silver Lake in Wilmington, Jamaica Pond in Boston and Sluice Pond in Lynn are just some of the ponds producing good trout fishing. My fourteen year old cousin Dave Lebert took a huge rainbow while trolling a tiny Pinn’s Minnow in Horn Pond in Woburn!”
“There’s been a few largemouth bass caught at Wrights Pond in Medford, with live shiners being the most popular bait. And there’s a herring run going on right now at the Mystic and Charles River Locks.
“We wish we could tell you that the harbor is loaded with flounder, but not yet. A scattered few are being caught around Nut Island and off the pier in Quincy. But they’ll be here for our Annual Boston Harbor 6th Annual Zobo Flounder Tourney to be held on May 16. This event is limited to 50 participants and is topped off by a huge fish fry using the flounders caught during the competition. Most of the money raised by the event goes to charity.”
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.