This week, we got our first taste of spring here in the Mount Washington Valley. Temperatures rose into the 60s. The sun shone bright in the sky. Snow disappeared quickly. Solid ice disappears a little less quickly. But it is disappearing.
This leads the die-hard ice angler to make some hard choices. It is clear there will not be many opportunities left to hard-water angle. Now is the time to choose your favorite pond and fish it like there is no tomorrow because there may be no tomorrow.
My first choice is Lake Chocorua. This lake has a special place in my heart as it is one of the first lakes that I fished with my dad as a youngster. The water temperatures in Lake Chocorua tend to heat up quickly. The opportunity to catch salmonids is best through the ice and once the ice leaves the lake.
This time of year, we park at the public beach parking lot and head out to the middle of the lake. This water is deepest and holds some rainbow trout. We then place our tip ups here and start a line toward the inlet from Stony Brook. Don’t be surprised if you catch a nice wild brook trout.
Lake Chocorua used to be a fine brook trout water. Dad and I spent many early season afternoons in our pram, casting worms under a bobber. But I digress.
Back to last-chance ice fishing. If the ice on Lake Chocorua seems unsafe, I’ll head down Route 16 and check out White Lake. White Lake gets fished hard all winter but there is always a chance that some of the broodstock brook trout are still in this water.
I like to hunt and peck from the parking area, along the shore toward the beach. Jigging with a small, bright-colored jig in hot pink, florescent orange, or chartreuse seems to work best in the quest for the brook trout. Drill a hole, jig for 10 minutes, move 10 feet and jig again. On a sunny day, there is nothing more enjoyable.
If I just want to feel the tug on the end of my line, Purity Lake never seems to fail. The pickerel in this lake are super aggressive and there are a lot of them. We put the truck in four-wheel drive and plow through the remaining snow in the state boat launch. We head down the ramp and begin to look for fallen trees along the edge of the lake.
Fallen trees are thermo attractors. The ice around these trees tends to melt faster than other ice in the middle of the lake. Fallen trees are also the home to many of the pickerel in Purity Lake.
It is a balancing act to drill a hole close enough to the submerged tree but not so close as to fall through the ice. Play it safe and drill holes at least 10 feet away from the tree to gauge ice depth and then work from there.
As yellow perch prepare to spawn in these environs, pickerel will follow the yellow perch into the shallows and feast upon the easy prey. Jigs that are yellow, red, and orange with barring work best as attractants to the pickerel. Remember to use a wire leader as large pickerel have sharp teeth that will cut your line.
Tip of the Week
Ice melts around the edges of lakes and ponds first. There is typically more ice as you get further from shore. But beware! Many of our lakes are spring fed and these areas tend to melt quickly in the warm spring sun.
Steve Angers, a native of the Conway area, has been consumed by fishing since catching his first wild brook trout at the base of Champney Falls.