Coastal New Hampshire and Maine Fishing Report- March 9, 2023

rainbow on ice
After a long season you may find less angling pressure and cooperative fish!

As is typical of March and after a long season, many anglers are succumbing to ice fishing overload. Shop hands are reporting less effort in spite of good ice and a solid bite. Interestingly because not all large lakes locked up uniformly. The feeling is that when open water arrives, the fishing should be fantastic.

New Hampshire Fishing Report

Tammy from The Tackle Shack in Newbury told me that big lakers have pushed smelt closer to the Lake Sunapee shoreline. And big is the operative word since the winning lake trout in the annual state-wide ice fishing derby – including this year – often comes out of this lake! Todd Lake remains tops for warm water species, especially good-sized crappie which are stacked right now like cordwood and suspended under bait.

The word from the other Tackle Shack in Meredith is that anglers aren’t complaining as much about parking near 19 Mile Bay as there appears to be less anglers fishing Winnipesaukee. With freezing temperatures at night still the norm the bet is that the season should last until the end of the month. Because Winnipesaukee never completely “iced in” large chunks of the big lake, such as The Broads, have not been fished since open water in the fall and when his happens the April/spring fishing season for rainbows and salmon is often superb!

Southern Maine Fishing Report

Peter from Saco Bay Tackle Company told me about the shop’s annual seminar will take place on April 1st. There will be some real heavy hitters dolling out some serious advice such as Al from Al Gag’s, a rep from Gravity Tackle and local plug turner Ron McKee. In addition to looking forward to the show, Pete said that sea run brown fishing in the Ogunquit and Mousam Rivers will be the next endeavor anglers will be interested in the Saco area.

Not all is lost on the hardwater front according to Fisheries Resource Technician Brian Lewis.

Where to fish: The month of March has long been considered the last month of ice fishing in southern Maine. Warmer temperatures and generally easier traveling conditions on the ice open up a variety of ice fishing family oriented outdoor adventure options. One possibility is that of overnight camping on the ice with night time fishing for cusk as one of the main events. Many waters that support a cusk fishery also support other game fish which can be targeted during daylight hours.

Possible cusk fishing destinations in southern Maine include Bryant Pond in Woodstock (cusk, splake, and salmon), Hancock Pond in Sebago (cusk and brown trout), and Thompson Lake in Otisfield (cusk and lake trout). Dead bait fished at or near the bottom of the lake in shallow to moderate depths seems to be a favorite tactic of successful cusk anglers. Remember to check your nighttime cusk traps at least every hour as required by law and to check ice conditions around your fishing area before setting out in the dark.

Want to get in on the bite? Find an OTW-approved Charter Fishing Captain for Maine!


New Hampshire And Southern Maine Fishing Forecast

I have a hunch that if hardwater fans from Massachusetts read these reports, you folks are going to have company! It’s not easy in the western part of New Hampshire, the choices of Lake Sunapee, Lake Todd and Kezar Lake are vexing! To the east Squam Lake and Nineteen Mile Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee offer solid ice and solid fishing. Spawning urges have pike on the prowl in Lake Sabattus while trout can still be taken from the Range Ponds. Of course as evidenced by Jason Seider’s report for variety, the Belgrade Lakes is hard to beat!

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