Dick Pinney's Guidelines: Open water will be scarce on April 1
OPEN WATER trout and salmon anglers are going to be in for a tough opening day of the big lakes landlocked salmon and lake trout opening day. It's truly going to be an April 1 bad trick as open water will be as scarce as hen's teeth as a huge and thick ice pack has been created by one of the coldest winters in years.
Even though the season is open for open-water fishing, it is illegal to stand on the icepack and fish open water so you need to be either standing on shore or a shorebound dock or bridge or fishing from a boat to comply with the laws.
The last few years there's been one particular spot that has drawn the attention of a lot of opening day or week anglers, and that is Opechee Lake in Lakeport/Laconia. The reason is that the outflow of the Lakeport Dam creates quite a rush of current that opens up enough water for fishing from the shoreline and in a lot of years, enough of a pool of open water to float a boat in. In year's past, that kind of opening day fishing pressure was usually at the outflow of the Winnipesaukee River into Lake Winnisquam, in Laconia, but the amount of fish being caught there has dwindled while the amount of fish being caught at Opechee Lake has increased tremendously.
About 50 years ago, myself and fishing partners Brad Conner and Tom Connors had caught on to the value of fishing the Opechee Lake flowing water below the dam.
It's not as if we had this place to ourselves, because there were plenty of people that would fish from the shoreline. Because there were no real boat launching opportunities into the lake, we used to drop our 14 foot boats onto a lawn and drag them over a rocky patch to get to the water.
Once in the water, we'd pick the choicest spot to drop our very heavy and specially made anchor that would keep us exactly where we wanted to be. Then it was a simple matter to hook on a live smelt or shiner to a sinking fly line and just let it out behind the boat and hold on until a fish hit.
You may want to know the answer to why a fly line. The reason a fly line would out-fish the conventional monofiliment line is that the fly line was activated by the currents that would swing our boat on anchor, with the fly line swinging back and forth across the currents and covering a lot of area that held feeding fish.
On days when the water had warmed a bit and the fish were more active, we also cast streamer flies across the currents and at times had some wonderful action doing this.
At the most, this fishing lasted about three weeks, and we blamed this on the fact that there were not a lot of salmon in this lake and we were removing quite a few of them along with those taken by the other few boat anglers and the shore anglers.
Well before we had discovered this fishery, the best early season/opening day fishing for landlocks was at the Merrymeeting River in Alton. These salmon were mostly spawned out fish that had come into the river in the fall to spawn and hadn't made it back to Lake Winnipesaukee yet. They would hit just about any fly that came by them and attracted bank to bank fishermen and actually a few boats that would make their way up from the lake.
One day in particular we remember vividly. Back when I was a conservation officer in the coastal area, our District Chief Paul Tasker of Wolfeboro would usually let me change my weekly one day off so I could fish on April 1 on the Merrymeeting River. There was very little going on that time of year in my coastal district.
So one April 1, Tasker showed up just as I was coming out of the river, towing my stringer that had two nice salmon on it. He insisted that I give them to him as he had a friend that "would just love 'em." Jokingly I refused to give them to him and told him that Jane would be equally excited for me to bring these fish home. But he did agree to get into my waders and take my fly rod out into the pool and try to catch himself a fish.
His first cast was rewarded with a smart hit and he was fast to a jumping salmon that just as quickly broke my leader. After re-rigging him he put cast after cast into that same hot spot and never got another hit. So he talked me into sharing one of my fish with him. I gave him the smallest one, a beat-up, ugly looking, hook jawed male.
It wasn't because I didn't like my boss. I loved him like a brother. It was great fodder for me to relate to anyone that would listen to the story.
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.