Dick Pinney's Guidelines: Lovell Lake in Sanbornville a hidden gem
THERE ARE certain ponds dotting the state that we like to fish for trout and whatever else we can catch before the stocking truck hits them. These fishing trips often don't yield a lot of fish but quite often they'll put a very nice holdover trout or two on our stringer and most always will provide some panfish to go with the trout for a nice fish dinner. Both smallmouth and largemouth bass also provides some action and usually these fish are released to complete their spring spawning. Because the stocked trout normally don't reproduce, especially rainbow trout in most of our waters, we feel no qualms about adding them to the Pinney's fish and game meals.
One place in particular that we like to hit early is Lovell Lake in Sanbornville. For many years this lake was not stocked with trout but when our fishery division wisely decided to work with a lot of these ponds that will support trout as a two-tier lake (managed for both coldwater and warmwater fish), it's provided us with some quality early rainbow trout. But you never know what you will catch there as there are good populations of both white and yellow perch, smallmouth bass, pickerel, cusk and we've heard but never caught one, walleyes.
Generally our method is to troll very slowly with live shiners. No fancy hooking arrangement, just a spit shot or two for weight and a short shank number six or eight hook. We lip hook the shiner up through the jaw and mouth and out the snout so it will swim naturally.
Early season fish are kind of lazy so trolling slow is key to success and patience is even more key as you are not going to catch a lot of fish before the trout stocking but what you do catch are quality holdovers. And the warm water fish are also lazy and won't chase a fast bait.
We also like to fish Lovell after it's been stocked with rainbow trout. Trolling around the shoreline with streamer flies, size 7 floating Rapalas or similar size Rebel stick baits as well as one of our all-time favorites, the DB Smelt lure, action can be fast on the newly stocked trout and if you're lucky maybe you'll pick up one of those brood stock fish that Fish and Game put out along with the yearlings.
Because of its proximity to civilization, we have no qualms about pin-pointing this lake. But we do have a couple of less noticed ponds and lakes that we won't pin-point because the extra fishing pressure exerted could spoil the quality. On of these ponds my fishing buddies Brad Conner and the late Warren Barker and I had to push the ice out of the launching area (not a defined boat ramp) and it wasn't a minute later when a fish hit my trolled live shiner. When it came alongside the boat it revealed itself as a huge smallmouth bass, the largest we'd ever seen, alive or dead. I'm saying in the eight pounds or more range. But as we slipped our landing net under the very lazy fish, the small hook pulled and the fish just slowly sunk out of sight. Wow, no way would I have killed that fish but it would have been nice to have held it and taken a photo before slipping it back into the water.
On that same day, my old buddy Warren hooked a big trout. He was using an old bamboo fly rod with half the line guides missing and an old wind-up automatic fly reel. Most of you readers probably don't know what we're talking about but these reels were quite popular in the years shortly after World War II and were not the kind of reel that you would want to play a big trout on as the drag was against a spring that would re-wind the automatic feature.
Probably because his rod was so whippy, Warren brought the fish aboard. Also caught on a live, slow trolled shiner. Later at Suds-n-Soda's meat scale, the ugly looking, hook jawed male brown trout weighed seven and a half pounds.
On another trip to that same pond just after ice out, my eight-year-old grandson Nate Griffin pulled in a rainbow trout that was just a tad under four pounds, also caught on a slow trolled single hooked live shiner.
Years fly by. My great buddy Warren died several years ago, while my grandson Nate has a little guy of his own, Hunter Griffin. We treasure those memories but not to the point where we aren't out still making more. Last year we had 19 trips out on Great Bay's striper grounds.
Dick Pinney's Guidelines column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.