Fools rush in where anglers fear to tread
By The Fish Nerds, Dave Kellam and Clay Groves
We think that April Fool’s Day, April 1st, was inspired by a fisherman. He was probably an average guy, one who worked in an office every day but daydreamed of fishing. One spring, this fish nerd probably had the day off and found himself standing waist deep in a cold river, casting to shadows that his winter-addled mind were convinced were hefty trout or bass boiling in the current. In reality, the shadows were sticks and rocks that happily snagged his lures, proving an old adage — A fool and his lures are soon parted.
In New Hampshire, coincidentally April 1st marks the opening of salmon season. There are 15 lakes that are managed for landlocked salmon, with some of the best known being, Merrymeeting Lake, Newfound Lake, Ossipee Lake, Big and Little Squam Lakes, Silver Lake, Conway Lake and Lake Winnipesaukee. Just in case you were thinking that fishing for a landlocked salmon on April 1st is a foolproof plan, note that Pleasant Lake in New London has landlocked salmon, but is classified as a trout pond, and thus opening day for fishing is April 27th. Reel in an landlocked salmon there on April 1st, and a conservation officer will make a fool of you.
There are many other tricky legal elements that are unique to salmon lakes. First you can not take salmon, or any trout, between two hours after sunset and one hour before sunrise. Salmon have to be 15” long and the head and tail must be left on while on or leaving the lake. The combined daily limit for salmon and trout is 2 fish.
Don’t feel bad if you feel foolish that you did not know all the rules regarding salmon. Sometimes the fishing regulations in this state require a lawyer to figure out. Take for example rainbow smelt, the salmon’s primary springtime food. Did you know that a daily limit of smelt is measured in quarts, a day is considered noon to noon, they must be keep in an unbreakable container labeled with your name and you cannot catch a smelt while using a boat propelled by a motor. Seems to us that smelt fishing in general is just one big April Fool’s joke.
The best places in salmon lakes to find fish is near the mouths of rivers and streams. Salmon, trout and fishermen school up at these spots because they are all attracted by the large schools of smelt who are preparing to spawn.
Landlocked salmon did not always patrol spring waters in the Granite State. All inland Atlantic salmon are stocked in the state and originated from from Maine. Every year NH Fish and Game biologists have to catch a bunch of salmon and strip them of their eggs to be raised in a hatchery and released later in salmon managed lakes.
Never scared of by being foolish, we set out on April 1st to catch a landlocked salmon at Silver Lake Dam. Upon arrival we saw the majority of the lake was still locked up tight with ice, however the water at the mouth of the river was wide open. Mesmerized by the crystal clear water, we envisioned large salmon cruising the edge, waiting to pounce on a early spawning smelt.
Ken Fecteau, a trusted fish nerd from Silver Lake Hardware, recommends using a small shiner or smelt on a small hook with no weight or bobber; allowing the bait to swim freely. Lacking live bait fish, we tied on a couple of salmon spoons called DB Smelts that mimic the small silver fish. We lobbed some purposeful casts near the edge of the ice. It felt good to fish open water again after a long season of ice fishing, but alas the salmon were not playing. We began switching to every lure we had in the box, ending with a desperate worm and bobber rig.
It was at this point we got the joke that the smelt played on us. By not showing up, the smelt had snookered us: making us stand there on a cold and rainy morning fishing like a coupled of kids. We looked foolish, but we will be back once the water warms the food chain.
As an ancient Roman poet once observed, even fools are sometimes right. There are plenty of places to get information on the salmon fishing in New Hampshire. NH Fish and Game issues a good press release describing the fishing techniques and locations. They also have a video of kayak fishing for salmon. Anglers also freely share fishing reports on NH forums, like MyFishfinder.com. Before you do any fishing this spring, check the NH Freshwater Fishing Digest to learn the rules and avoid being the fool who starts the season with a fine. And please check out our new website and facebook page at FishNerds.com.
©The Fish Nerds, all rights reserved Catch-M-All, llc
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