Concord, NH – April 1 marked the official start of the open-water fishing season on New Hampshire’s large lakes, which are managed for landlocked salmon, including Big Squam Lake, Lake Sunapee, and Lake Winnipesaukee. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department also manages 11 other waterbodies for landlocked salmon, including Big Dan Hole Pond, First and Second Connecticut, Conway, Francis, Merrymeeting, Newfound, Ossipee, and Winnisquam Lakes. Pleasant Lake in New London is also managed for landlocked salmon, but is classified under designated trout ponds, with a 2023 opening date of April 22.
Winter finally decided to show up in March, with multiple significant snowstorms blanketing the Lakes Region, and below average temperatures. However, recent mild days have begun the meltdown, and areas of the large lakes such as “The Broads” on Lake Winnipesaukee barely gained ice cover this winter—which should lead to an earlier than average ice out. Substantial open water leads and significant pockets are already present on lakes such as Winnisquam. Regardless of ice conditions or location within the state, please note the last day for ice fishing on lakes for landlocked salmon is March 31. Landlocked salmon may never be taken through the ice.
To ensure the future of high-quality landlocked salmon and other fisheries, anglers must take extra care when releasing salmon, as the percentage of hook-wounded fish continues to be a problem. Hook-wounded fish are significantly shorter and in poorer physical condition than non-hook-wounded fish of the same age. Using rubber nets, proper release techniques, and other considerations can minimize the negative effects of hook wounding, thereby increasing the number of quality-sized salmon available in the future. For more information, please visit www.fishnh.com/fishing/salmon-pledge.html.
New Hampshire fishing licenses can be purchased online at http://www.fishnh.com or from any NH Fish and Game Department license agent. Reel in lots more information on fishing in New Hampshire, from depth maps to tackle tips, and download the current Freshwater Fishing Digest at www.fishnh.com/fishing/publications.html.