As the season expands, big water opportunities are now presenting themselves with the latest being Sebago. The terrific togue bite there probably has a lot to do with a healthy forage base of smelt. Of course, there’s a lot to love about rainbow smelt as the customers of the smelt camps as well as those fishing Great Bay are finding out.
New Hampshire Ice Fishing Report
You can’t top a report that is based on personal experience, and Al from AJs in Meredith told me he caught well on Wednesday from Winnipesaukee where they left from Levitt Park and headed out to Center Harbor. Along the way, they picked up numerous rainbows and lakers with the lakers hugging bottom in 40’ of water, while the rainbows were more closely associated with roving schools of smelt about 20’ down. Those trophy white perch remain plentiful while slab crappie are making their presence felt on the north side of the lake.
Chad from Dover Marine caught a 5-pound rainbow trout in the Wolfeboro section of Winnipesaukee on New Year’s Day! Chad chases those trophy trout up close to sandy/gravelly bottom in less than 10 feet of water. Most of the corker trout he catches have been loading up with small crawfish. Knowing that those trophy trout are rooting around the bottom, he sticks small shiners/salmon eggs right on the bottom. It works and it flies in the face of those who are determined to march far and beyond the shore looking for less-pressured fish! Willand Pond has been good for nice-sized rainbows up 18”! For crappie, you can usually bank on Bellamy Reservoir and for a more southerly rainbow location, the nod goes to Bow Lake.
Joe from Granite State Rod and Reel Repair recommends Canobie and Cobbetts for trout, while for warm water species the coves of the Nashua River get the nod.
Zach from Suds ‘N Soda in Greenland said that the shop is selling a lot of seaworms because the smelt fishing in Great Bay has been good! The better bite, however, is beyond the bay and into the tributaries such as the Squamscott. He’s heard good reports coming in regarding Downtown Durham for smelt. Zach spent some time sampling the trout from Pleasant Lake in Deerfield where he found cooperative rainbows and browns.
Southern Maine Ice Fishing Report
According to Scottie from Dag’s, anglers putting in the time at Sabattus are rewarded with pike, with the top toothy so far this year being a 20-pounder. Historically, after the “shock” of catches after first ice, it becomes a war of attrition where anglers who put in the time are rewarded for their perseverance with pike. It’s a simple case of being on site, when the pike decide to feed. The same could be said for much of the Belgrade Lakes pike lakes as well as the Androscoggin River. Ice fishing is taking place on Jordan Bay in Sebago Lake now with togue taking jigging spoons tipped with a sucker strip in 40’ plus of water. Thompson Lake has been terrific for togue, even if they are a bit on the small side. For a chance at the square tailed cousins of the togue, Scotty suggests Worthley in Poland for brookies.
I caught Kenny of Saco Bay on Thursday and he informed me that the shop is keeping irregular hours but will be open more consistently if the demand is there and they are stocking shiners. When asked about brook trout, Kenny said Bunganut Lake has been best. My source for the smelt camps this week is my friend Joe Holey who sent me some tantalizing pictures from a successful outing recently at Leighton’s where the crew not only had luck but some of the jacks were nearly 10” long!
Maine, New Hampshire And Vermont Fishing Forecast
The huge Lake Winnipesaukee can be intimidating, but it’s a lot less daunting when anglers are able to catch 5-pound rainbow trout within a few feet of the Wolfeboro shoreline. Of course, something can be said for striking out there and finding lakers stacked like cordwood in 45’ of water in Center Harbor. If after last year’s lackluster ice you’re jamming to fish Sebago, then the locked up Jordan Bay is for you, where the togue are hungry. If the hunger you are most interested in satisfying is your own, then Maine’s smelt camp might have something which interests you, namely a red hot smelt bite!