What a fantastic spring here in the valley. The sun is warm. The trees are in bud. The birds are singing. It has been quite awhile for us to have enjoyed such marvelous spring weather.
Anglers have been chomping at the bit to get out on the waters of the valley and to try their luck with the local fish populations. Each angler has their own favorite: trout, bass, pickerel, yellow perch, crappie and sunfish.
The first sure sign of spring for the still water angler is the emancipation of their favorite water body from winter’s ice. “Has the ice gone out?” is a familiar phrase uttered among the angling community.
Traveling down Route 153 and up Route 16 has been a regular activity for still water anglers. I have been doing that circle each day since April 1 and I am ready to declare that yes, the ice is out.
What does this mean to those who have waited patiently to get back onto the lakes in the area? It means that it’s time to get your gear ready and to hit your favorite water body.
For the power boat crowd, make sure that your craft is safe and ready to troll. Nothing ruins a day on the water than a power boat on the fritz. Trollers like to drag the Gray Ghost or Nine Three tandem fly or a Mooseluk Wobbler in hopes of attracting that early spring fish.
Canoe and kayak enthusiasts also troll their favorite lures while paddling from the boat launch to their favorite location on the water. Once anchored, they will cast using the “countdown method” to locate the preferred depth of these early fish. These anglers have the advantage of being able to work the shallow waters where baitfish congregate in the warmer water. A big trout or salmon can be fooled as those fish are looking to fill their bellies with a nice fish meal!
Shallow waters are where you will find the wading anglers. Walking slowly along the shoreline and casting to structure like fallen trees will bring some savage strikes from fish looking for that easy meal. This is where you will have the opportunity to catch a wide variety of fish as most fish like the protection that structure provides. You never know what type of fish you will bring to hand. Flies like the Edson Tigers, Black Nose Dace, and Andy’s Smelt are favorites of the wading angler. A Mepps, Kastmaster or Al’s Goldfish are the choice of spin casters.
Finally, who doesn’t like to sit on the shoreline, in a beach chair, soak up some sunshine, and watch their bobber to go under the water signaling fish on! After a cold winter, it is a welcome respite.
My favorite time to fish after the ice goes out is once the lakes have “turned over.” Water is its heaviest at 39 degrees Fahrenheit. This stratifies the lake into different temperature zones. The lake stays stratified until there is a big wind event. The wind acts as a blender and mixes the lake water into one homogenous temperature. Fish can literally be found anywhere on the water.
This phenomenon lasts about a week to 10 days unless we have a stretch of warm weather and the lake starts its summer stratification. After next week’s weather events you will find me on the water looking for my first trout of 2021. I can feel the sunshine now.
Tip of the Week
When fishing a water body that has “turned over” use a sink tip fly line to keep your fly just under the surface of the water. The fish strike will be tremendous.
Steve Angers, a native to the Conway area, is the author of the book “Fly Fishing New Hampshire’s Secret Waters” and operates the North Country Angler.