New Hampshire Fishing on
Lake Winni With Master Angler,
Harold (Hal) C. Lyon, Jr.
Yes, to my sons, Eric, Gregg, and step sons, Roy & Dan, and my step-daughter Laural. I taught my brother, Bob to fish when he was very young and he has since become a much more successful angler than I am as well as an outdoor writer, and guide.
And I am passing my New Hampshire fishing skills on to my grandchildren, Taylor, Jordan, Miranda, Amanda, Crystal, Tiiersten, and Brittany, and my next door neighbor and friend, Vince's son, Michael. And, God willing, I will also pass it on to my other two grandsons, James and Jaymie who are infants, as I write this.
- My top five New Hampshire fishing tips for salmon?
- Fish very early in the morning or late just before dark.
- Vary speed and course so as to make "S curves."
- Use light long leaders: 4 to 6-pound test.
- Give action to your lure by jigging.
- If you do not get hits, try a radically different lure.
- My top five New Hampshire fishing tips for Lakers?
- Troll as slowly as you can, but fast enough to make your lure have some action (1-MPH).
- Troll off deep drop-offs.
- If you do not get hits trolling one way change your direction to the other way as big lakers sit facing one way and will not chase your lure like a salmon.
- Use big lures or large bait for big lakers.
- Stop where you see large fish on your fish finder suspended above deep water and jig for lakers there.
- My top New Hampshire fishing tip for rainbows?
When fishing for salmon, I see rainbows as bonus fish and use the same tackle and lures as I do for salmon. I consider rainbows as occasional rewards for patience.
- My top five New Hampshire fishing tips for bass?
- Fish in late evening off structure and, if you have no luck, do not stay long in one place but move on and try another spot (“buoy hopping”).
- Let hellgrammites or crawfish (or imitations of them) sink slowly without a weight stripping them back in slowly after they reach the bottom (less than 3-5 minutes/cast) as a bass often hits as you bring it back in slowly.
- Let the bass run until they swallow the bait. They will take off on second run and that is the time to set the hook.
- If you have no luck, either pull in your anchor and throw it out several times as this attracts bass and then they will hit. Or dive in the water with fins and snorkel and swim around the structure and then get back in the boat and fish, You will often attract them and they will hit.
- Use a large Eagle Claw hook (#2 or 1) as bass have large mouths.
- My top five ice fishing tips?
- Bring hot thermos with beverage.
- Dress warmly.
- Drill many holes to check ice thickness. And if you do not catch something, move on and try another hole.
- Fish off of drop-offs.
- Fish with others for fellowship in the cold.
- New Hampshire Fishing Catch & release?
Much of the time I release the fish that I catch, but my entire family loves bass, trout, and salmon, and we look forward to cooking, smoking them and eating some each summer.
- What do I think has happened to the New Hampshire fishing for Lake Winni yellow perch?
I believe that they have been displaced by the white perch, which have proliferated and competed for the available forage fish along with the salmon. Also, they now stay in the more fertile bays where the water is not as clean, as it is out in the open areas where we troll.
- What do I think has happened to the New Hampshire fishing for Lake Winni whitefish (“shad”)?
I have not caught one in 10 years now, though I used to catch one or two each year while trolling for salmon. I believe it is the same story as with the yellow perch: too much competition for forage fish. We are also at the southern tip of the whitefish range.
- If I were NH Fish and Game Commissioner what initiatives would I take to improve Lake Winni angling?
I would introduce no new fish. I do not believe in messing with Mother Nature and there is already too much competition for the forage fish which the salmon and trout need. I would also increase the length limit for salmon to 18” to enable more to grow larger. This will improve the New Hampshire fishing on Lake Winnipesaukee.
- My favorite New Hampshire fishing stories:
One summer, I was having a dry spell and couldn't catch a salmon for 2 weeks. I was bemoaning this, and a fisherman on the lake told me I must have been offending the fishing Gods.
He asked me if I ever had bananas on board my boat. I told him that I ate a banana almost every fishing morning. "That's your trouble!" he exclaimed, confidently. "Salmon are allergic to the smell of bananas!
"I always inspect the lunches brought on board by fishermen and if any has a banana, I insist he leave it on the dock and wash his or her hands thoroughly before boarding. You need to scrub your boat and stop bringing bananas on board.
"Same thing goes for bass slime. I never board a bass on my boat. I cut the line and let it stay in the water…even if I lose the lure. You've been bringing bass on board your boat? That's certain salmon repellant!"
I thought he had to be pulling my leg. I told him that I had heard always to wash hands when you got petroleum products, like gas and oil, on your hands as they repelled salmon. And I was careful about that, but his response was that he knew a charter captain who always dipped his lures in the oily bilge and he caught more fish than his competitors.
When I told my friend, Vince, about this, he went directly to the Internet and did a search on "Bass and Bananas." There is a whole cult-lore about fishing and bananas - especially among salt-water fishing captains who superstitiously never allow bananas on board their vessels.
It apparently came from back when the slave ships also brought bananas from southern climates and the smell of them was noxious to those on board. But then we also found a web site where a man swore on bananas as the key to good fishing. He always brought them on board and rubbed his lures on the bananas before trolling and caught many more fish on banana scented lures than without! (This guy even made a lure out of a rubber banana!)
So what are we anglers to believe? There is a theory supporting almost every technique. We need “Bean Counter” and his empirical data-gathering. He is probably laughing from heaven watching us as we struggle.
- My favorite New Hampshire fishing recipes for cooking various Lake Winni fish
(We will be producing a “catch & Filet” DVD on the “Culinary Art of Lake Winni” featuring favorite New Hampshire fishing recipes from each of the Master Anglers and others, and also showing how to clean and prepare Lake Winni fish for the kitchen.) Salmon:
I love salmon smoked on my smoker. I season it with lemon and salt (Kosher large grain salt) and smoke them on my smoker for about 30-45 minutes.
When cleaning fish for smoking, I learned from my Alaskan Tlingit Indian brethren to always split them wide open cutting down one side of the spine from head to tail so the fish will open, allowing the smoky flavor to permeate well and the fish to cook evenly. I also like salmon filleted and broiled with lemon. I sprinkle sliced almonds on them for the last 5 minutes of broiling. Salmon are also excellent fried in olive oil. I bread the fillets with corn flake crumbs first. Just do not over cook them!
First of all, I am in a minority among many anglers in my liking of the oily lake trout from my New Hampshire fishing expeditions. (I also love the oily blue fish broiled with lemon butter and cheese!)
A baked stuffed laker is a gourmet dish to satisfy even my German gourmet friends who, when they visit, love this great dish. I always keep all cold water fish (trout and salmon) whole with the dignity and beauty of their heads left on, out of respect for these noble fish.
Lake trout fillets are also excellent fried.
- Spray the laker inside and out with olive oil spray, salt and pepper it, and stuff it with Pepperidge Farm stuffing.
- Sprinkle the fish with corn-flake crumbs and adorn it with thin lemon slices greened up with basil leaves.
- Bake a 4-pound laker at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, taking it out for the last 10 minutes.
- Grate cheddar cheese all over it and sprinkle it with sliced almonds. The cheese melts over the fish and those who get to eat that side, have the best of feasts! I always put a small tomato or raw carrot in the trout's mouth (like a roast suckling pig) and serve it on a garnished platter -- a fish dish for a king!
Smallmouth black bass:
Smallmouth bass are my family's favorite. We often have fried bass and grits for our summer, after-fishing-late breakfast. The tradition of eating fish and grits comes from southern heritage of my mother. I never skin a bass or salmon, but scale it and fillet it.
- Dip the fillets in a mix of one egg and milk
- Toss the fresh fillets in a mix of half flour and half corn flake crumbs.
- Fry them in hot olive oil until golden brown and serve them hot with lemon and grits.
New Hampshire fishing in winter, cusk is a great eating fish (caught only in winter on fixed cusk lines). The white meat, filleted and fried like Tempura in olive oil, after breading, is excellent (firm like lobster). But traditionally, cusk is for great chowders.
- Take the meat after skinning it (and also the backbone with the meat on it) and boil in 2 cups of water for 5 minutes.
- Remove meat from water (so as not to dissolve it) and debone it.
- Add diced potatoes and an onion or two to the fish stock and boil until potatoes are firm but not falling apart.
- Add the already cooked fish particles for the last 10 minutes.
- Serve in steaming bowls with fresh ground pepper, lemon slices, and several shakes of Tabasco.
- Add sourdough bread for great winter chowder! Delicious!
White perch are one of the best eating fish in Lake Winni. I always skin them and filet them. I dip them in an egg mixed with milk, roll them in a mix of half corn flake crumbs and flour, and fry them lightly in olive oil. They are a white firm fleshed fish and delicious!
Horned pout are the sweetest fish in the lake. My father was a master at cleaning them after a day of New Hampshire fishing on Lake Winni. He'd make a deep cut behind the dangerous dorsal spine slanting his knife toward the head.
He would then step on the partially severed head, and with a smooth pull, strip the skin off the pout body in one move. I have never been able to duplicate his art, so I use pliers to grab the scale-less skin and peel it off.
The firm red meat is delicious breaded and fried. We use to catch them on worms at night when they come out to feed.
These used to be one of the sweetest fish in the lake, back when we could catch them by the bucket-full. But in the past 8 years, I have caught fewer and fewer yellow perch, though they are present in bays and around some dock structure. I cut off their heads, skin them, bread them and fry them in olive oil.
Whitefish (locally known as "shad")
Again, one of those fish we now seldom catch. However, they were one of the best eating fish in the lake. I filleted them, breaded them, and fried them in olive oil. A very sweet firm white fish. I wish I could catch more!
Pickerel are another very sweet fish. However, the challenge is the numerous "Y"shaped bones. There is a way to cook and dissolve the bones.
After filleting them, you score the sides of the fish every half-inch or more in a checkered pattern. This enables the hot oil to penetrate the skin, which if done properly, will dissolve the "Y" bones.
Fish Cheeks -- a delicacy!
I learned about this delicacy from my Alaskan Tlingit brethren who work in the salmon processing plants. As they clean salmon for quick freezing and shipping back to New York City for Lox.
They scoop out the scallop-like cheeks from each side of the large fish heads, and drop them into a bag by their feet. In a large king salmon, the cheek is the size of a silver dollar, and it is a piece of sweet firm meat! They take them home and fix the best meat from the entire fish for their family. I eat the cheeks of most fish I cook, after they are cooked.
- Am I concerned about New Hampshire fishing and mercury levels in Lake Winni fish to the degree that I restrict my fish intake?
We are concerned to the point that we restrict our daughters and granddaughters from eating lake fish more than once a week. Also, the scientists tell us that the bigger fish on top of the food chain, contain the most mercury, so we tend to avoid eating the biggest trophy bass and trout.
The scientists also advise that salmon are not as apt to collect mercury as bass and trout. Certain large ocean predator fish like tuna, sea bass, swordfish, and halibut contain high levels of mercury, and people consuming large quantities of them are often at risk, according to reports of Dr. Jane Hightower, a physician, who tested 720 patients who regularly consumed a few meals of these fish per week.
The results were alarming: nine out of ten had high blood-mercury levels.1 But as I see it, the mercury from New Hampshire fishing was even more present a hundred years ago, when so many factories were burning coal and before we had emission standards, and we seem ok! Or do we?
I doubt it has gotten worse, but I expect it is somewhat better than in the "old days." The scare is one more reason to practice "catch and release when New Hampshire fishing, especially with big fish."
"The true fisherman approaches the first day of fishing with all the sense of wonder and awe of a child approaching Christmas. There is the same ecstatic counting of the days, the same eager and palpitant preparations, the same loving drafting of lists …."
To order the complete award-winning book, Angling in the Smile of the Great Spirit, or its accompanying DVDs featuring live interviews with the Master Anglers of Lake Winni, please go to: www.deepwaterspress.com
- Jetter, A. "One fish, two fish, red snapper, swordfish: a menace lurks in your 'healthy' meal." Reader's Digest, August, 2003, pp. 65-71.