Most trout fishermen will shy away from bass and rarely, if ever target them. On the whole, you would have to put me down as someone who fits that category. However, this time of year, I can be as enthusiastic about bass as TV personality and all around bass authority Charlie Moore. When the local rivers begin to warm up and trout fishing slows down, I go bass fishing.
A lot of fly fishermen are under the opinion that their trout gear is not up to the task of taking on bass. There are fly rods designed specifically for bass, and if you really want to go after them you might want to look into buying one. However, I find that my 5 and 6 weight trout rods work just fine. The difference is that because larger flies are often used in bass fishing, rods designed for heavier 8 and 9 weight lines are preferred.
I don’t own a $30,000 bass boat, either. I do, however own a canoe and a one-man pontoon fishing craft. The waters that I fish for bass are just perfect for these kinds of boats. I live on one of the larger lakes in New Hampshire and find the boat traffic to be ridiculous. I much prefer the more quiet waters of the smaller water bodies far from Cigarette boats and Jet Skis. I also have little use for competitive fishing. Bass tournaments leave me cold. I have nothing against those who enjoy bass tournaments, and more power to them. I do draw the line at competitive trout fishing as I think that it has a negative effect on trout.
You will need some flies and my first choice would be to get a few bass poppers. Nothing is more fun than catching a bass on a top-water fly. My second choice would be a couple of large streamers in bright colors: chartreuse would be my first choice. For variety, have a cute mouse and a frog pattern. And lastly, a crayfish fly.
So, where do we find bass in an area that is known far and wide as a trout fishing destination? If you read this column on a regular basis then you know that I am not the kind of guy to kiss and tell. However, when it comes to bass, I have no such trepidation. Bass are an underutilized recourse and more anglers should target them especially during the warmer months. In no particular order here are my top five bass waters.
The Ossipee is a wonderful bass river for the angler with a small car-topped boat, and it also offers some great place to wade fish. If you want to wade, try right under the bridge on Route 153 between Freedom and Effingham. Parking is limited, but you rarely find anyone else fishing there. This is fast water and the small mouth will give you a fight on light gear. If someone is there drive up to the dam and fish from the island. Again, this is fast water and caution is urged.
If you do have a car-topped craft put in at the boat launch on Route 153, just off Route 25. You can set up a shuttle and drift downstream. However, the current, in low water, is slow enough that you can paddle up river with ease. I tried to launch there last week only to find that they were releasing water from the lake after a night of heavy thunder storms. No problem, I just drove back up 153 to my second spot.
Purity Lake in Madison is pretty much surrounded by Purity Spring Resort and as a result is private, unless you are a guest, so fishing from shore is out of the question. However, there is a very nice small boat launch just a little past the resort on Route 153. This launch is provided by N.H. Fish and Game, and, in my opinion, is a gem that gets little or no use from fishermen. Purity is a great place to fish for bass and other pan fish. As an added bonus the lake is stocked with Rainbow trout.
Crystal Lake in Eaton. Crystal Lake is a good-sized body of water and can be windy so be careful. The boat launch is at the town beach and a resident sticker is required, therefore parking is a small problem, but there is plenty of space to park across the street from the beach. The boat launch is public — you just have to park across the road. No motors are allowed on the lake. You can also fish from the shore from the public picnic ground. You could probably launch a small craft from there as well. There are some bug bass here and some trout, too.
Chocorua Lake in Tamworth is a well-known trout lake, but it is also a great bass fishery. There is room to launch small craft at the bridge off Route 16. Again, no motors are allowed. It is possible to wade near the bridge as well and also along the public beach. Needless to say, you would want to avoid peak swimming times. I have had some great evenings fishing from the bridge for both trout and bass.
Loon Lake in Freedom is a sleeper and well-worth checking out. There is a small boat launch near the town beach on Loon Lake Road. Parking is very limited so choose to fish during the slow times when the beach is unoccupied. When my son was in elementary school in Freedom, we used to fish Loon quite often together. I think that Andy’s largest bass came from Loon Lake. I still have the outline of the fish traced on a brown paper bag. Some day, he is going to find that and have a great memory.
There are a lot of other locations to fish for bass close by the Mount Washington Valley and they are just waiting for you to discover them. In the meantime, give these a try.
See you on the river.