Weekly Fishing Report - 3/30/20

Fishing Conditions & Updates for Maine, New Hampshire & Massachusetts

Week of March 30, 2020

Salmon season opens across many Maine and New Hampshire lakes this week. For many, April 1 is a date they begin waiting for as soon as salmon season closes. Salmon congregate in shallow water and close to the surface, especially along the edges of what ice may be left. Most years, anglers line bridges and docks in search of open water and their first salmon of the year. Usually getting a boat in the water on April 1 is a tough task, but that won’t be the case this year. A mild winter has left many lakes wide open at this time.

Anglers deploy a multitude of techniques for spring salmon from floating live bait (usually smelt) under a bobber, to conduit fishing. Conduit fishing? It’s a quite ingenious method of getting a live smelt under the edge of the ice. Anglers attach the bait end of their line to the end of a piece of PVC electrical conduit using a rubber band. They then feed the conduit across the water, attaching as many new conduit sections as needed to reach beyond the edge of the ice. They feed the conduit as far under the ice as their length of conduit allows. They then pull their bait free of the rubber band and let it swim under the ice. Talk to most salmon anglers and they’ll tell you that a good portion of spring salmon are caught at the edge of the ice, or under it.

Anglers who can get a small boat, canoe, or kayak into the usually small areas of open water will be the first to take advantage of trolling live smelt or streamer flies, such as the Winnipesaukee smelt, Governor Aiken, or Mike’s Red Ghost. With an abundance of open water (and open boat ramps) to start the season this year, expect to see more boats on the water than usual for this time of year. When they’re not trolling back and forth along the edges of ice, you’ll see many anglers trolling (very slowly) in as little as 8-feet of water. Those who troll live or sewn-on smelt will tell you that slower is better. Most anglers troll at a speed of around .8-MPH when trolling live bait. One thing that lures many into trolling streamer flies is the fact that they can troll them faster, and therefore cover more water.

Early open water also means early access to largemouth and smallmouth bass. As waters warm, look for earlier than usual pre-spawn patterns to emerge. Take advantage of weather that may drive fish to particular areas, such as shallow sunny structure while the water is still cool, and windy shorelines during peak feeding times, but don’t forget that some fish may still be staging on deeper structure.

Tim from Tim Moore Outdoors is taking advantage of early ice-out and little angler pressure to safely find some pre-spawn smallmouth bass in his Old Town Predator PDL kayak.

One important thing to remember with a lot of fish species is that in almost every other year, lakes and ponds are still frozen. Ask yourself where you might be finding fish right now if you were ice fishing. Panfish, such as black crappie and white perch, will be right where you’d expect them to be right now. We have received reports from local anglers and guides, such as Tim of Tim Moore Outdoors, that the crappies are still hanging in basins and white perch are chasing bait into inside turns and basins around 30-feet deep. We’ve found some good crappie fishing in some smaller ponds that thawed early. The areas where we are usually ice fishing for white perch are still covered with a bit of ice, but as soon as those areas are open you can bet I’ll be there searching out schools of whites, Tim told us.

Thank you all for your continued support through these trying times. Our retail store remains temporarily closed, but you can still take advantage of online shopping at www.ktp.com and use the contactless curbside pickup option. Be safe out there.

Because of inherent time restrictions of gathering fresh, up-to-date information, editing & producing this report in a timely manner, occasional errors or marginal information may slip by us. We try our hardest to provide accurate information. We urge readers to use this report as a tool to increase their fishing pleasure and not to rely on as their sole resource. First or second hand information is offered by fishing guides, commercial fishing charters or party boats, bait & tackle dealers, well-known successful anglers and state & federal fisheries and natural resources enforcement officials. We also welcome and use reports forwarded to us by fishermen that use this report. - Kittery Trading Post Fishing Report Editor