April 1 was the start of open-water fishing on the big lakes that the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department manages for landlocked salmon and lake trout. After a colder than normal winter, high stream flows this spring are expected to attract spawning smelt, the prime forage fish for landlocked salmon.
Sampling in the fall of 2014 revealed a strong, age-2 year-class of salmon in Winnipesaukee Lake, which will dominate the catch as three-year-olds this spring.
There will also be some trophy-sized salmon available in Sunapee Lake,” according to N.H. Fish and Game Large Lakes Biologist Don Miller.
New Hampshire Fish and Game manages 14 lakes for landlocked salmon:
Big Dan Hole Pond, First and Second Connecticut Lakes, Conway Lake, Lake Francis, Merrymeeting Lake, Newfound Lake, Ossipee Lake, Big and Little Squam Lakes, Sunapee Lake, Lake Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam Lake.
Pleasant Lake in New London also is managed for landlocked salmon, but is classified as a trout pond, with a 2015 opening date of April 25.
Anglers should check out the Winnipesaukee River, which flows through the Weirs channel into Paugus Bay, and through the Lakeport Dam/Lake Opechee area. “Drop-down” salmon (and rainbow trout) are found throughout these river reaches.
Other traditional areas include the Winnipesaukee River through Laconia to Dixon Point at Lake Winnisquam, and Lochmere Dam at Silver Lake. There is often a sizable piece of open water in Lake Winnisquam where the river drains into the lake. This water can be easily accessed by the N.H. Fish and Game boat access ramp, just upstream in Laconia.
The Newfound River in Bristol offers great fly-fishing-only water that can often produce drop-down rainbows and salmon. Additionally, several popular Winnipesaukee shore fishing locations exist at the Merrymeeting River (fly-fishing-only, barbless, catch and release), and the mouth of the Merrymeeting River as it enters Alton Bay, downstream of the famous stone arch bridge.
Other good sites to visit include the Long Island Bridge in Moultonborough, Governors Island Bridge in Gilford, Smith River inlet at Wolfeboro Bay, and Meredith and Center Harbor town docks. At these locations, everything from smelt, shiners and worms under a slip bobber to small jigs will take salmon, as well as rainbow trout.
This time of year, salmon are successfully caught by trolling with everything from spoons to traditional streamer flies, and live smelt or shiners. Most early season fish are caught from the surface to about 15 feet down, with everything from planer board set-ups to the simplest of monofilament flat lines.
When the wind kicks in, drifting live smelt or shiners in the waves can be highly effective. Only single hooks for bait while trolling are allowed on certain salmon/lake trout lakes, including Squam, Newfound, Sunapee, Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam lakes (See the N.H. Freshwater Fishing Digest for a complete list).
For more information, visit www.fishnh.com.
source: New Hampshire Fish and Game Department