|Coldwater Species||Warmwater Species||Saltwater Species|
|Brook Trout||Small mouth Bass||Striped Bass|
|Rainbow Trout||Largemouth Bass||Bluefish|
|Brown Trout||Pickerel||Atlantic Mackerel|
|Landlocked Salmon||Horned Pout||Winter Flounder|
|Lake Trout||White Perch||Rainbow Smelt|
|Whitefish||Northern Pike||Atlantic Codfish|
Not as spectacular a fighter as the smallmouth, the largemouth is best caught by fishing the open places among lily pads, around sunken logs or stumps or along a stream bank. Surface poppers and plastic worm lures probably take most bass, but live minnows and crayfish, artificial flies and streamers, and trolled lures will all work.
Any quiet, shallow water with a mud bottom, an abundance of aquatic vegetation and food fishes is ideal for the chain, or Eastern, pickerel. Their optimum water temperature is apparently 80 to 90 degrees. Pickerel like to hide in weeds waiting for a meal to swim by.
The chain pickerel is a voracious carnivore. Its diet includes golden shiners, brown bullheads, yellow perch and sunfish. The pickerel's popularity peaks during the winter, when considerable numbers are taken with ease through the ice. Most ice anglers fish with a "tip-up" device, using a live minnow. Pickerel fishing in open water is also profitable. Trolling, still fishing with a live minnow or frog, or spincasting with plugs, spinners or spoons all produce good results.
The horned pout, also known as 'brown bullhead,' is found chiefly in small lakes, ponds and the sluggish parts of streams and rivers. It also inhabits large lakes, where it is most abundant in sheltered bays.
A horned pout prefers a mud bottom, but does well with or without vegetative growth. It is a hardy fish and can survive extreme conditions that cause other fish to perish, such as water temperatures of 90 degrees and oxygen levels as low as one part per million.
The horned pout can be caught by any angler, skilled or unskilled, using almost any type of tackle. Earthworms are probably the most common bait. Live minnows, crayfish, corn kernels, hellgrammites and dough balls are also good, if fished near the bottom. Fishing in the evening, at night or early morning hours is usually best.
The white perch is a determined fighter when hooked, and is one of our tastier and more popular panfishes. It is an easy fish to catch and will accept almost any kind of bait: worms, live minnows, pork rind, artificial flies, and spoons. White perch fishing is best at dusk, when schools of feeding fish tend to move into shallow water near shore. This fish, unfortunately, often becomes overcrowded and stunted in fresh water. Handle these fish with care; the spines on the back are sharp.
The northern pike is a fast-growing, voracious predator that is highly prized as a sport fish. They can only be found in a few select water bodies in the state.
A northern pike, like the pickerel, eats other fish. As the pike gets bigger, other animals, such as frogs, ducklings, and even small muskrats, are also consumed. Although the northern pike prefers cooler waters than the pickerel, both fish are usually found in quiet, shallow, weedy areas. Northern pike are generally fished in the same manner as chain pickerel.
Both lakes and streams serve as walleye habitat. It thrives best in clean water and prefers areas with a firm bottom, such as gravel or bedrock. It is a nocturnal fish, moving onto sandbars or rocky shoals at night to feed and remaining in deeper water during the day.
Walleye are found only in select New Hampshire water bodies, and are prized by successful anglers. Fishing methods include still fishing with live minnows or by trolling or casting almost any artificial lure, spoon, spinner or minnow and spinner combination. The most productive fishing is generally in the evening and early morning.
Introduced recently to New Hampshire, black crappies are found in few bodies of water, mostly in the southern part of the state. It inhabits quiet, weedy areas of lakes, ponds and streams. As its range grows, the crappie is becoming an important panfish in New Hampshire. Small jigs fished in open water or through the ice are successful crappies lures.
Not a New Hampshire native, the bluegill, sometimes called 'kibbee,' has extended its range into the Granite State. The bluegill is at home in quiet, warm, weedy waters similar to those inhabited by other sunfish, such as the pumpkinseed.
This is a much esteemed and highly valued panfish throughout much of its range. Like other sunfish, the bluegill is easily caught with simple tackle. Small flies, panfish poppers, and live bait such as grubs and worms all work well.
Yellow perch are a schooling fish and can be located in relatively shallow, weedy water. They spawn in April or early May in sheltered coves and backwaters. These fish feed mainly on small aquatic insects, crustaceans and small fishes.
They are not difficult to catch and can be taken year round. In the summer, an artificial fly, spinning lure, trolling spoon and live minnow work well. In winter, the tip-up or handline with live minnows are good methods for catching yellow perch. Fishing for yellow perch is fun and encouraged. They often compete with game fish for habitat and need to be harvested to keep numbers manageable.
Striped bass can be taken from shore or from a boat, by casting, trolling, drifting or fly-fishing. Striped bass fishing is especially good during an evening or early morning tide, as stripers are nocturnal feeders.
Live or natural baits are effective, especially live eels, pogies (menhaden), and chunks of mackerel, squid or herring. An 8- to 10-foot surf rod and reel spooled with 30-pound test, or a medium to heavy spinning rod with 12- to 20-pound test line is preferable, depending on fishing location.
Effective lures include the spoons, poppers, lead-head jigs and swimming plugs. Popular flies include streamers that look like bait fish. A particularly good one is Lefty's Deceiver.
Bluefish run in schools. When you catch one, you often will catch several more soon afterwards. During the summer, large schools of adults migrate up into the Gulf of Maine. The best time to catch bluefish in New Hampshire waters is from the late July to the early September. Most bluefish caught here range between 18 and 36 inches, although occasionally anglers may encounter a school of "snapper blues" (young fish less than 12 inches).
Bluefish are caught by anglers fishing in Great Bay and its tributaries, along the coast and at the Isles of Shoals. Fly-fishing, spinning or trolling with bait are all good methods for catching bluefish. When spin-fishing, a medium- to heavy-duty rod with 10- to 40-pound test line is recommended. Regardless of the equipment or the technique, wire leaders are a must: bluefish have sharp teeth which can easily cut through most monofilament lines.
Swimming lures and drifted bait are effective for catching bluefish. Chunks of pogies (menhaden), mackerel, herring and live eels are good baits. Effective artificial lures for casting or trolling include poppers, spoons and plugs. Effective flies include Clouser minnows and foam-bodied poppers.
The Atlantic mackerel is a fast-swimming species that often travels in large schools. Most Atlantic mackerel caught by New Hampshire anglers are 12 to 18 inches in length and weigh less than 3 pounds.
Two distinct populations migrate through coastal New Hampshire waters at different times. The more southerly contingent arrives in early summer. The northern contingent of mackerel moves inshore to the southern New England coast by late May, migrates north, and then passes through again in September-October on its way offshore to deeper waters. In the Gulf of Maine they can be caught from late spring through fall, although mackerel fishing is best in early June or during the Fall.
Atlantic mackerel can be found in the upper 10 to 25 feet of the water column almost anywhere along the New England coast. A medium spinning rig spooled with 15-pound test line is best for casting with a single, 1 to 1.5 ounce mackerel jig. However, any small jig or shiny metal lure can be used with good results. Effective bait includes worms, clam necks and squid. Effective lures include diamond jigs and mackerel trees.
Of the half-dozen or so types of flounders occurring in New Hampshire waters, the winter flounder (or blackback) is by far the flounder species most commonly caught by recreational anglers.
In the Gulf of Maine, winter flounder begin moving into the bay and estuaries during late winter for spawning, which occurs in April or May in New Hampshire. After spawning, they remain in the bays, harbors and near shore areas throughout the summer before migrating to offshore waters in the fall.
Fishing for flounder in New Hampshire begins in May and generally continues through September. Anglers can fish for flounder from jetties, piers and bridges, but those fishing from boats near the mouths of estuaries and harbors are more successful. Light to medium tackle rods are used, equipped with 1- or 2-ounce weights and long-shank flounder hooks attached to "spreaders." Lures are mostly ineffective; bait is best. Favorite baits include clam worms, blood worms and clams. Chumming is also a common tactic to attract flounder to where you are fishing.
Rainbow smelt congregate in bays and estuaries in the Fall to feed on crustaceans and small fish. In March, as water temperatures rise and ice breakup occurs, smelt spawn in areas of high water flow and rocky bottoms in estuarine rivers.
Smelt begin to gather in the bay and near the mouth of tributaries in late fall and winter in anticipation of their spring spawning run. Smelt are occasionally caught during late fall, however, smelt fishing begins in earnest with the formation of ice in the Great Bay Estuary and its tributaries. Smelt fishing is best a few hours on either side of high tide, and catches are most often greater at night.
Many anglers use short two-foot-long fishing rods, while others simply tie their fishing line to cross beams, placing them over the holes in the ice in their ice shanties. Smelt anglers will have success using a variety of gear, whether it's a small spinning outfit or a handline. A very light line, 4-pound test or less is essential. Clam (or sea) worms and small local bait fishes, like mummichogs, on a size 6 to 10 hook with a small sinker are effective. Schools of smelt can move vertically in the water column while they swim, therefore, the depth of a baited hook is critical to successful smelt fishing. An effective lure is the small silver or metallic colored jigs.
Atlantic Cod fish
In coastal New Hampshire, Atlantic codfish are found near the Isles of Shoals and along Jeffrey's Ledge. Cod can occur from surface waters to depths of 1,200 feet, depending on life stage and season. Most frequently they are found at depths of 200 to 300 feet, living within a few feet of the bottom. Adapted for bottom feeding, cod inhabit rocky bottoms, but may occasionally feed on herring in the water column. Average size of codfish caught near the shore range from 6 to 12 pounds; occasionally anglers may encounter 20- to 30-pound adults.
Most cod-seeking anglers fish on offshore grounds from boats, using fresh bait or jigs with teasers. Opportunity exists, however, for anglers to catch this fish from shore, as well as from boats in near-shore waters. Popular baits include clams, sand eels, squid and shrimp. Cod fishing is at its best in spring and fall when water temperatures are changing. Diamond jigs and other jig-type lures are effective hardware for catching cod.
This member of the cod family prefers deep, cool water and gravel or smooth rock substrates. Haddock migrate seasonally. In coastal New England they are most abundant during summer months in the shallower waters of the Gulf of Maine. Few haddock exceed 24 inches or weigh more than 3 to 5 pounds.
Haddock can occasionally be caught in New Hampshire from spring to fall in deep water areas. A medium-action 8-foot boat rod is effective for haddock fishing. Unlike cod, haddock have very soft mouths that gently tap at a baited hook. These are felt as light bumps to the angler, thus, require a sensitive rod. Lures are ineffective in catching haddock. Fresh clams, shrimp and squid are the best baits.
The pollock is an active fish living at all depths, depending on the food supply, which includes small invertebrates, shrimp and baitfish. Larger Pollock tend to be found deeper and farther from the coast, while smaller ones (often called "harbor pollock") are more likely to be near the surface. Pollock caught by hook may range in size from 10 to 16 inches (harbor pollock) up to 2- to 3-foot fish encountered offshore.
Recreational anglers, casting with light spinning gear, may take small harbor pollock from inshore waters near breakwaters or other structures. Larger Pollock may be taken offshore in deeper waters. Pollock are caught with either artificial lures, such as diamond jigs and mackerel trees, or with bait, such as clam necks and clam worms.