crappie fishing
crappie on ice

Fish Representative Species and Types of Fish
Other Names: Striper, Rockfish, Rock, Linesider

Scientific Name: Morone saxatilis

Lifespan: 30 years

Estimated Size: Up to 59 inches and 55 to 77 pounds

Identification: The striped bass is currently the most sought-after coastal sportfish species. This highly migratory fish moves north from the mid-Atlantic area during the spring and back southward during the fall, spending roughly the months of May through October feeding on Great Bay’s abundant food resources, including river herring, pollock and silversides. The Chesapeake Bay and Hudson River estuaries contain the major spawning and nursery areas for East Coast striped bass. Spawning typically takes place during April and May in the freshwater tributaries of these estuaries. Almost all females are mature by the time they reach 36 inches in length and 5 to 9 years in age. The striped bass has a large mouth and sharp, stiff spines located on the gill covers, anterior dorsal fin and anal fin. A full-bodied fish, the striped bass is bluish to dark olive dorsally, with a silvery belly and sides. Several dark, lateral stripes, reaching from the gills to the base of the tail, are the most prominent features distinguishing the striped bass from other coastal species.

General Information: Striped bass can be taken from shore and from a boat while casting, trolling and drifting. Fly fishing for stripers has become increasingly popular in recent years. Popular striped bass fishing spots include shorelines, bridges or docks with nearby drop offs, holes, or strong currents. Striped bass fishing is especially good during an evening or early morning tide, as stripers are nocturnal feeders. Live or natural baits are effective, especially live eels, pogies (menhaden), and chunks of mackerel, squid or herring. An 8- to 10-foot surf rod and reel spooled with 30- pound test or a medium to heavy spinning rod with 12- to 20-pound test line is preferable, depending on fishing location. Effective lures include the spoons, poppers, lead-head jigs and swimming plugs. Effective flies include streamers that look like bait fish. A particularly good one is Lefty’s Deceiver.

Brown Bullhead

Other Names: Bullhead, Hornpout, Catfish

Scientific Name: Ameiurus Nebulosus

Identification: As the name implies, the brown bullhead is dark brown to olive green on the back, with mottled sides, and a creamy white belly. Individuals having white patches on their sides and back are common in some Maine waters. Brown bullheads have a thick rounded body, a broad, somewhat flattened head with a distinctive set of "whiskers' around the mouth called barbels. The dorsal and pectoral fins have sharp saw tooth spines at their base that can be locked in an erect position. The caudal fin is square and there is a pronounced adipose fin. They have no scales on their skin.

General Information: The brown bullhead thrives in a variety of habitats, including lakes and ponds with low oxygen and/or muddy conditions. In many areas of the U.S., Brown Bullheads are opportunistic bottom feeders. They eat insects, leeches, snails, fish, clams, and many plants. They are also known to eat corn, which can be used as bait. Similar to other catfish, they spawn only after the temperature of the water has reached 80 degrees F (cooler in the northern US) in June and July. When caught in very clear water when the flesh is firm and reddish to pinkish, the hornpout is quite edible and delicious. Nevertheless, its genial cousins such as the channel catfish and the blue catfish are better known for their consumption qualities. Hornpout are not commonly eaten nor are they sought by anglers and usually caught while pursuing other fishes.

Winter Flounder

Other Names: blackback, Georges bank flounder lemon sole, sole, flatfish, mud dab

Scientific Name: Pleuronectes americanus

Lifespan: 15-20 years

Estimated Size: Up to 23 inches and around 8 pounds

Identification: The blackback is a rightsided flounder, which means the dark-colored side where the eyes are located occurs on the right side of the fish. It is distinguished from other right-sided flounder by its very small mouth, relatively flat lateral line and the presence of scales between the eyes. The color is highly variable and can change to mimic the bottom habitat. Winter flounder populations occur in most bays and estuaries, from Newfoundland down to Chesapeake Bay. In the Gulf of Maine, winter flounder begin moving into the bays and estuaries from offshore areas during late winter in preparation for spawning, which occurs in April or May in New Hampshire. After spawning, blackbacks in the Gulf of Maine remain in the bays, harbors and near shore areas throughout the summer before migrating to offshore waters in the fall. All females are sexually mature at a size of 14 inches (generally 2 or 3 years old). Tagging studies have shown that winter flounder generally return to the same estuaries to spawn year after year.

General Information: Fishing for flounder in New Hampshire begins in May and generally continues through September. Anglers can fish for flounder from jetties, piers and bridges, but those fishing from boats near the mouths of estuaries and harbors are more successful. Light to medium tackle rods are used, equipped with 1- or 2-ounce weights and long-shank flounder hooks attached to “spreaders.” In most instances, lures are ineffective in catching flounder; bait is best. Favorite baits for flounder include clam worms, blood worms and clams. Chumming is a common tactic for attracting flounder to the location you are fishing.

Black Crappie

Other Names: Calico Bass, Crappies, Specks, White Perch, Papermouth, Slabs

Scientific Name: Pomoxis Nigromaculatus

Identification: Closely resembling bass and sunfish species, which have 10-12 dorsal fin spines, crappies possess 6-8 dorsal fin spines. Body form is very deep and narrow (laterally compressed). Coloration is silvery-olive to golden brown, with an irregular mosaic of dark black blotches.

General Information: Crappie feed on small minnows and insects. The best baits for them are small minnows and jigs. Crappie make beds in shallow water in the spring when the water temperatures reach the mid to upper sixties. The black crappie tends to prefer clearer water than the white crappie does. The breeding season varies by location, due to the species’ great range; breeding temperature is 58-68 degrees and spawning occurs between April and June. Spawning occurs in a nest built by the male, who guards the eggs and young.

Largemouth Bass
Other Names: Black Bass, Largemouth

Scientific Name: Micropterus Salmoides

Lifespan: 15 years

Estimated Size: 18-20 inches

Identification: Largemouths are dark olive green on the back with light green sides shading to a white belly. A dark mottled band extends along the sides. The upper part of the mouth extends past the eye. Smallmouth bass are similar in appearance, but the upper jaw ends below the eye

General Information: Generally found in slow moving water. This includes creeks, streams, ponds and lakes. Largemouth Bass eat almost any type of creature that can fit in its mouth

Smallmouth Bass

Other Names: Smallie, Smallmouth Black Bass, Black Bass, Brown Bass, Green Bass

Scientific Name: Micropterus Dolornieu

Identification: Bass are members of the sunfish family. The upper jaw of smallmouth bass does not extend beyond the back of the eye. The notch between the spiny and the soft-rayed section of the dorsal fin is not deep

General Information: Found in clearer water than the largemouth, especially streams, rivers, and the rocky areas and stumps and also sandy bottoms of lakes and reservoirs. The smallmouth prefers cooler water temperatures than its cousin the largemouth bass, and may be found in both still and moving water.

Landlocked Salmon

Other Names: Sebago Salmon, Quananiche

Scientific Name: Salmo Salar

Identification: Adults are generally silvery with a slightly forked tail and small X-shaped markings on the back and upper sides. Juvenile salmon have a dark red spot between each pair of parr marks. Mature males develop a "kype", or hooked jaw, during the spawning season. Landlocked salmon are a freshwater form of the sea-run Atlantic salmon.

General Information: The landlocked salmon spawns between mid October and the end of November. Migration will take place between the lakes and the in flowing rivers. The female lanklocked salmon will dig a redd or nest in wind-rippled shallows where the bottom is comprised of clean gravel. The landlocked Salmon fry feed on small aquatic insects and they will remain in the river of ther birth for up to two years. At which time they will migrate back into the lakes where they begin to feed on small food fish.


Other Names: Federation Pike, Southern Pike and Jack Fish

Scientific Name: Esox niger

Identification: The chain pickerel has a distinctive dark chain-like pattern on its greenish sides. Its body outline resembles that of the northern pike. May reach up to 30 inches only on rare occasions. The opercles and cheeks of the fish are entirely scaled. The average size for chain pickerel, however, is 24 inches and 3 pounds. (The average chain pickerel caught by fishermen is under 2 pounds). The world record is 9 pounds, 6 ounces

General Information: The chain pickerel is a popular sport fish. It is an energetic fighter when hooked. Anglers have success with live minnows, spinnerbaits, spoons, plugs, and flies, usually tied with some kind of feather or bucktail material. If the angler intends to release a fish, it is advisable use pliers to flatten the barbs on the lure's hooks. Chain pickerel can swallow an entire lure, so it will be much easier to free a deeply-hooked fish and get it back into the water as soon as possible. Practically any bass lure can be effective for pickerel, although like most pikes they seem to be particularly susceptible to flashy lures which imitate small forage fish. Dragging a plastic worm, lizard, frog, or other soft imitation can also be extremely effective. A steel leader is necessary for sharp-toothed and active fish sizing two to three pounds. The angler would also do well to use 12 to 17-lb. test line on an open-face spinning reel. Methods are similar to those for bass such as dragging a lure through weeds in shallow water and jerking it side-to-side to give it the look of injured prey. Chain pickerel are voracious and opportunistic feeders and will attack most any fodder that moves into their range of vision.

Rainbow Smelt

Other Names: Saltwater smelt [Rainbow Smelt]

Scientific Name: Osmerus mordax

Lifespan: 7 years

Estimated Size: Up to 12 inches and 3 ounces

Identification: The rainbow smelt is a small, tasty fish highly sought by winter estuarine anglers. Abundant in inshore coastal areas from the southern Canadian Maritime provinces south to Massachusetts, rainbow smelt congregate in bays and estuaries in the fall to feed on crustaceans and small fish. In March, as water temperatures rise and ice breakup occurs, smelt spawn in areas of high water flow and rocky bottoms in estuarine rivers. The rainbow smelt is a slender fish with a large, toothed mouth, pointy head and small adipose fin. A deeply forked tail, presence of teeth on the jaws and tongue, and green color on the dorsal side distinguishes smelt from most other small fish caught by smelt anglers in Great Bay. Sexual maturity is reached at a length of about 7 inches. Most landed smelt are 7 to 8 inches in length, but some “jack” smelt can exceed 12 inches in length.

General Information: The smelt begin to gather in the bay and near the mouth of tributaries in late fall and winter in anticipation of their spring spawning run. These smelt are often larger than those found in inland water bodies because they spend their life feeding in the rich marine environment, where food is plentiful. During late fall, smelt are occasionally caught by anglers fishing from docks and along the shore in New Hampshire’s coastal harbors and tidal rivers. However, smelt fishing begins in earnest with the formation of ice in the Great Bay Estuary and its tributaries. Smelt fishing is best a few hours on either side of high tide, and catches are most often greater at night. Many anglers use short two-foot-long fishing rods, while others simply tie their fishing lines to cross beams, placing them over the holes in the ice in their ice shanties. Smelt anglers will have success using a variety of gear, whether it’s a small spinning outfit or a handline. A very light line, 4-pound test or less, is essential. Clam (or sea) worms and small local bait fishes like mummichogs are effective using a size 6 to 10 hook and a small sinker. Since schools of smelt can move vertically in the water column while they swim, the depth of a baited hook is critical to successful smelt fishing. An effective lure is a small silver or metallic-colored jig.

Pumpkinseed Sunfish

Other Names: Pumpkinseed, Common Sunfish, Punky

Scientific Name: Lepornis Gibbosus

Identification: The pumpkinseed is a very deep-bodied fish, almost disclike, with several spines in the dorsal fin. The lateral view varies from golden brown to olive on top to irregular, wavy, interconnecting blue-green lines in the middle, to bronze or red-orange on the ventral surface. The side of head and body have blue, emerald, or green reflections. The opercle, or gill-cover, is mostly black with a trailing tip that is black and rimmed with a small halfmoon of bright red.

General Information: Size is typically between 6 and 10 inches. Pumpkinseeds prefer shallow water with some weed cover. They are often typical of ponds and small lakes, preferring water temperatures of 39–72 degrees. They are active during the day and rest near the bottom at night. Pumpkinseeds feed all day and can be caught with live bait or with small lures. They actively fight the line as they are reeled in.


Scientific Name: Tautoga onitis

Other Name: Black fish

Estimated Size: Up to 36 inches and get to 22 pounds for a large fish

Identification: The tautog is a stout fish with a blunt nose and thick lips. Large conical teeth at the front of the mouth recede to flat crushing teeth used for eating hard-shelled prey. Coloration is dark green to black dorsally, mottling to a lighter background color on the sides. Adults average 1 to 1.5 pounds and are sexually mature at 10 inches in length. The tautog is an occasional catch of New Hampshire anglers who are fishing along our rocky, inshore waters. Anglers who catch a tautog will find it is excellent table fare.


Other Names: Sawbelly

Scientific Name: Alosa Pseudoharengus

Identification: Alewives are predominantly silver, except for a grayish green back. There is also a single black spot just behind the head at eye level. The common name "sawbelly" originates from the very distinctive overlapping scales along the belly that creates a saw-like keel.

General Information: Alewives are important to the ecology of freshwater, estuarine, and marine environments. They provide an alternative prey item for osprey, eagles, great blue heron, loons and other fish eating birds at the same time juvenile Atlantic salmon are migrating downriver. Alewives provide cover for upstream migrating adult salmon that may be preyed on by eagles or osprey, and for young salmon in the estuaries and open ocean that might be captured by seals. It is important to understand that alewives tie our ocean, rivers and lakes together, providing vital nutrients and forage needed to make healthy watersheds. Between and within those various habitats, everything eats alewives: striped bass, bluefish, tuna, cod, haddock, halibut, American eel, brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout, landlocked salmon, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, pickerel, pike, white and yellow perch, seabirds, bald eagle, osprey, great blue heron, gulls, terns, cormorants, seals, whales, otter, mink, fox, raccoon, skunk, weasel, fisher, and turtles.

Horned Pout

Other Names: Mud Pout, Mud Cat

Scientific Name: Ameiurus nebulosus

Identification: When caught in very clear water when the flesh is firm and reddish to pinkish, the hornpout is quite edible and delicious

General Information: The brown bullhead thrives in a variety of habitats, including lakes and ponds with low oxygen and/or muddy conditions. In many areas of the United States, Brown Bullheads are opportunistic bottom feeders. They eat insects, leeches, snails, fish, clams, and many plants. They are also known to eat corn, which can be used as bait. Similar to other catfish, they spawn only after the temperature of the water has reached 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 °C) (cooler in the northern US) in June and July.

Yellow Perch

Other Names: Perch, Lake Perch, American Perch

Scientific Name: Perca Flavescens

Identification: The top of the head and back is bright green to olive in color; sides are yellowish-green to golden yellow with 6 to 8 dark vertical bands; belly area ranges from yellow to white; pectoral, pelvic and anal fins vary in color from pale yellow to bright orange.

General Information: Yellow perch normally range from 6 to 12 inches in length and weigh from 1/4 to 1 pound. Larger yellow perch, up to 15 inches and 1.6 pounds. Spawning occurs at the end of April or beginning of May, depositing 10,000 to 40,000 eggs upon weeds, or the branches of trees or shrubs that have become immersed in the water.

Ocean Pout

Scientific Name: Macrozoarces americanus

Other Name: eel pout, congo pout and mutton fish

Estimated Size: Up to 39 inches and get to 14 pounds

Identification: The ocean pout (or eel pout) is easily identified by its long, slender body and broad, heavy head. The dorsal and anal fins extend the full length of the body to the pointed caudal fin. Coloration ranges from muddy yellow to reddish-brown. Females are sexually mature when they reach 20 inches in length. Although there is no direct fishery for ocean pout, they are often taken incidentally while groundfishing on semi-hard to rocky bottoms. The most common length of ocean pout caught by New Hampshire anglers is about 16 to 28 inches

Atlantic herring

Scientific Name: Clupea harengus         

Other Name: Sea Herring, Sardine

Estimated Size: Up to 19 inches and get to 1.1 pounds

Identification: Atlantic herring (sea herring) travel in large schools, feed on plankton and migrate into New Hampshire’s offshore waters during the summer. Unlike the river herring, which travels into freshwater for annual spawning, the Atlantic herring spends its entire life at sea. The body is elongate and laterally compressed, and its head is relatively small and pointed. Dorsal coloration is greenish-blue to blue and blends into a silvery belly. Adult sea herring are sexually mature at 12 inches and rarely exceed 19 inches in length.

White Perch

Other Names: Perch, Silver Perch

Scientific Name: Morone Americana

Identification: The white perch is a spiny-finned fish with large, easily seen scales. The fish is dark gray-green on the back and upper sides and the color gradually changes to silver on the sides below the lateral line to white on the belly. In clear waters, the white perch exhibits a bluish tint on the lower jaw.

General Information: Size can vary greatly according to the type of habitat and the density of the perch population. A 6-year old perch can be anywhere from 6 to 12 inches long. The average 8 to 10 inch perch weighs about 0.45 pounds and is about 4 years old. As for fishing, these fish put up a great fight for their size. They can be caught with blood worms, on small hooks, on double rigs. White perch also have a hard scaley body that along with their sharp fins protects them from predators.

Atlantic Salmon

Scientific Name: Salmo salar         

Other Name: Sea Salmon, Black Salmon, Kelt

Estimated Size: Up to 30 inches and get to 12 pounds

Identification: The Atlantic salmon is an anadromous fish that spends one to three years in freshwater streams after hatching before migrating to the sea. Following a period of one to three years at sea, the adult salmon returns to spawn in the river where it was born. The Atlantic salmon differs from trout in that it has a smaller mouth, a narrow caudal peduncle and a forked tail. The upper jaw is slightly longer than the lower, and barely extends to the back of the eye. Adults and smolts are silver with a brown, blue or green coloration on the dorsal surface that is marked with black spots. Juvenile salmon are stocked in various coastal rivers as part of several restoration programs.

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Types of Fish

Redbreast Sunfish

Other Names: Yellowbelly Sunfish, Longear Sunfish

Scientific Name: Lepomis Auritus

Identification: The redbreast sunfish is very deep-bodied and strongly compressed laterally. The opercle, or gill cover, is long and black with no colored border. The body is usually golden brown to olive, with the dorsal surface darker. Sides are lighter in color with small reddish spots, vague blue streaks, and a yellow to orange-red breast.

General Information: The species prefers vegetated and rocky pools and lake margins for its habitat. Its diet can include insects, snails, and other small invertebrates. Redbreast sunfish are usually caught with live bait such as nightcrawlers, crickets, grasshoppers, waxworms, or mealworms. They can also be caught using small lures or flies. Most anglers use light spinning tackle to catch redbreast sunfish.

Fish of New England

Brown Trout

Other Names: German Brown Trout, Brownie, Loch Leven Trout, Saibling

Scientific Name: Salmo Trutta

Identification: Usually coloration is light brown or tawny with pronounced black spots on the back, sides and head. Spots are often surrounded with reddish halo, along with reddish spots on the sides. Color is highly variable and browns are occasionally confused with landlocked salmon.

General Information: Young brown trout feed on insects and other invertebrates such as shrimp, corixa, caddis, stonefly, mayfly, etc. Both larvae and adults are taken and the fish will eat whatever local insect life is abundant at the time. Larger fish are active predators of fish including young brown trout, suckers, sculpin, shad, whitefish and rainbow trout. Larger brown trout will also feed on small terrestrial animals that fall into the water such as baby birds falling from overhanging nests, or even swimming mice/voles. Brown trout sometimes do not actively feed until the late afternoon or early evening but when the weather is cool they will feed during the day as well. The largest browns feed under cover of drakness. Brown trout can be caught with artificial flies, jigs, plastic worm imitations, spinners and other lures. Dead and live bait also work, but their use is banned in many trout waters due in part to ethical concerns with fish taking the bait deeply and being mortally injured; and therefore dying even if they are able to escape the fisherman or are released. The use of bait also encourages litter in the form of discarded bait and containers. Some anglers also catch and kill a lot of small fish to use as bait, or introduce alien species to a body of water through the careless use of live bait. And the use of bait is associated with the use of chemical additives or 'scents' with some anglers making their own with all manner of chemicals including oils, borax and even things like WD-40. This has potentially adverse impacts on the fishery and the wider food web.

Lake Whitefish

Other Names: Whitefish

Scientific Name: Coregonus clupeaformis

Identification: Whitefish are normally 14-20 inches long and weigh 1-3 pounds, but can reach lengths of 25 inches and over 6 pounds. A number of lakes contain populations of "dwarf" size fish where mature adult whitefish attain lengths of only 6-8 inches

General Information: Their colouration is olive-green to blue on the back, with silvery sides. They have a small mouth below a rounded snout, and a deeply forked tail. On average, they reach 18". They are found in freshwater lakes where they prefer deep, cool water. Lake whitefish spawn from September through January in water two to four metres in depth. Primarily bottom feeders, lake whitefish eat crustaceans, snails, insects and other small aquatic organisms.


Other Names: Snapper blues

Scientific Name: Pomatomus saltatrix

Lifespan: 9 years

Estimated Size: Up to 24 inches and 20 pounds

Identification: The bluefish is a favorite quarry of recreational anglers along the Atlantic coast because of its great fighting ability and its schooling behavior. Since bluefish run in schools, when you catch one, you will often catch several more soon afterwards. The bluefish is most abundant from Cape Cod south to Argentina. During the summer, however, large schools of adults migrate up into the Gulf of Maine. The best time to catch bluefish in waters is from the end of July to the beginning of September. The bluefish has a stout body, a forked tail and a large mouth with numerous large sharp teeth. It has two dorsal fins: the first one is composed of seven to eight short spines; it is followed by a second dorsal fin that is twice as high, made of soft rays, and is similar in appearance to the anal fin. Coloration is a sea-green on the back, fading down the sides to a silvery color on the belly. Bluefish spawn in the offshore areas of the continental shelf in two major locations: southern Florida to North Carolina in the spring, and the mid-Atlantic to southern New England in the summer. After a few months, the young bluefish migrate shoreward into the coastal estuaries. In two years, bluefish will grow to about 18 inches and be sexually mature.

General Information: Most bluefish caught range between 18 and 36 inches, although occasionally anglers may encounter a school of “snapper blues” (young fish less than 12 inches long). Bluefish are caught by anglers fishing in Great Bay and its tributaries, along the coast and at the Isles of Shoals. Anglers can catch them from a boat or from shore on rocky outcroppings, jetties, bridges and piers. Equipment will vary depending on the type of fishing preferred. Fly fishing, spinning or trolling with bait are all good methods for catching bluefish. When spin fishing, a medium- to heavy-duty rod with 10- to 40-pound test line is recommended. Regardless of the equipment or the technique, wire leaders are a must: bluefish have sharp teeth that can easily cut through most monofilament lines. Swimming lures and drifted bait are effective for catching bluefish. Chunks of pogies (menhaden), mackerel, herring and live eels are good baits. Effective artificial lures for casting or trolling include poppers, spoons and plugs. Effective flies include Clouser minnows and foam-bodied poppers

Scientific Name: Melanogrammus aeglefinus

Lifespan: 25 years

Estimated Size: Up to 43 inches

Identification: Best known as fine table fare, haddock range from the southern end of the Grand Banks in summer to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in the winter months. This member of the cod family prefers deep, cool water and gravel or smooth rock substrates. Haddock migrate seasonally and are most abundant in coastal New England during summer months in the shallower waters of the Gulf of Maine. Spawning occurs in March and April. Eastern Georges Bank is the most productive haddock spawning area in the Northwest Atlantic. Areas east of Nantucket Shoals and off the coast of Maine are also haddock spawning locations. Like other members of the cod family, haddock are distinguished from other New England coastal species by three dorsal fins and two anal fins. A black lateral line and a large dark spot over each pectoral fin set the haddock apart from cod, pollock and tomcod. Most females are sexually mature at 17 inches. Few haddock exceed 24 inches or weigh more than 3 to 5 pounds.

General Information: The haddock resource has declined dramatically since the late 1960s, despite implementation of management strategies for stock recovery. Nonetheless, haddock can occasionally be caught in New Hampshire from spring to fall in deep water areas from private, charter, and party boats fishing for other groundfish. A medium action 8-foot boat rod is effective for haddock fishing. Unlike cod, haddock have soft mouths that gently tap at a baited hook. These are felt as light bumps to the angler, thus requiring a sensitive rod. Lures are ineffective in catching haddock. Fresh clams, shrimp and squid are the best baits.

Atlantic Mackerel

Other Names: tinker mackerel (small mackerel)

Scientific Name: Scomber scombrus

Lifespan: 20 years

Estimated Size: Up to 12-18 inches and less than 3 pounds

Identification: The Atlantic mackerel is a fast-swimming species that often travels in large schools. It has a slender, streamlined body and a long, pointed head. The mackerel is easily identified. It has a wide, deeply forked tail, striking black bands on both sides of the body, and finlets running on both the dorsal and ventral sides from the rear edge of the dorsal and anal fins to the tail. Most Atlantic mackerel caught by anglers are 12 to 18 inches in length and weigh less than 3 pounds. Mackerel range from Labrador south to North Carolina.  The more southerly contingent arrives in early summer from spawning grounds off the New Jersey and Long Island coasts. The northern contingent of mackerel moves inshore to the southern New England coast by late May, migrates north to spawn in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and then passes through coastal New Hampshire again in September-October on its way offshore to overwinter in deeper waters. Mackerel are sexually mature by the time they are 13 inches long. The mackerel is a popular recreational species because of its schooling habit and voracious feeding behavior. In the Gulf of Maine they can be caught from late spring through fall, although mackerel fishing is best in early June after spawning or during the fall when they are fattened following a summer of feeding.

General Information: Atlantic mackerel can be found inhabiting the upper 10 to 25 feet of the water column almost anywhere along the New England coast. They are most often caught from private or party boats, but shore-based anglers catch them as well. A medium spinning rig spooled with 15-pound test line is best for casting with a single, 1- to 1-1/2-ounce mackerel jig. However, any small jig or shiny metal lure can be used with good results. Effective bait includes worms, clam necks and squid. Effective lures include diamond jigs and mackerel trees.


Other Names: Musky, Maskinonge

Scientific Name: Esox Masquinongy

Identification: Muskellunge are long, slender fish with dark vertical bars on a background ranging from light green to light brown. They have soft-rayed fins, with the dorsal fin located just in front of the tail. Their large mouths, full of sharp teeth, leave no doubt as to their predatory nature. Muskies can be distinguished from northern pike by the presence of 7 to 11 sensory pores on the underside of each jaw (pike have only 5), and by cheeks and gill covers scaled only on the upper half (the cheeks of pike are fully scaled).

General Information: Anglers seek large muskies as trophies or for sport. The fish attain impressive swimming speeds but are not particularly maneuverable. The highest speed runs are usually fairly short, but they can be quite intense. Muskies are known for their strength and for their tendency to leap from the water in stunning acrobatic displays. A challenging fish to catch, the muskie has been called "the fish of ten thousand casts." Anglers tend to use smaller lures in spring or during cold front conditions and larger lures in fall or the heat of summer. The average lure is 20–30 cm (6–10 inches) long but longer lures of 35–65 cm (12–24 inches) are not uncommon in the musky angler's arsenal. Anglers are strongly encouraged to practice catch and release when fishing for muskellunge.

Longhorn Sculpin

Scientific Name: Myoxocephalus octodecemspinosus

Other Name: Gray Sculpin, Hacklehead, Toadfish

Estimated Size: Up to 16 inches

Identification: The longhorn sculpin is a year-round resident of coastal New Hampshire waters and is a bycatch of anglers fishing for groundfish. The presence of spines on its nose, head, gill openings and fins makes this fish difficult to handle when caught. Its body is elongated and slender, and its head is blunt and flat. Coloration is dark olive to pale greenish-yellow with three to four indefinite, irregular crossbars along its body. Longhorn sculpin are sexually mature at 8 inches and rarely exceed 16 inches in length.

American Eel

Other Names: Common Eel, Freshwater Eel

Scientific Name: Anguilla Rostrata

Identification: Adult females may reach a size of up to 6 feet, but normally attain a length between 2 to 3-1/2 feet in length. Males do not attain the large size of females, usually growing to 1-1/2 to 2 feet in length. Recent research has shown that most all eels over 16 inches long are females, and most eels under 16 inches are males. A very characteristic snake-like body sets the eel apart from all other Maine fish. Eels are distinguished by true jaws, pectoral but no pelvic fins, and a thick skin with a heavy slime layer. Coloration is olive-green to brown on the back, with yellow-green on the sides and gray-white below. As sexually mature adults leave freshwater to go to the ocean to spawn, eels transform to "silver eels", being black above and silver below.

General Information: American eels are economically very important to the East Coast and rivers where they travel. They are caught by fishermen and sold, eaten, or kept as pets. Eels help the Atlantic coast ecosystem by eating dead fish, invertebrates, carrion, insects, and if hungry enough, they will cannibalize each other. Although many anglers are put off by the snake-like appearance of these catadromous fish, eels are in fact exceptionally good fish. They are usually caught by anglers fishing for something else. The world record weight for the American eel is 9.25 pounds.

Sea-Run Brown Trout

Scientific Name: Salmo trutta

Other Name: Salter

Estimated Size: Up to 39 inches and get to 44 pounds

Identification: Known as a fish difficult to catch, the sea-run brown trout is characteristically shy, wary and rare in New Hampshire. Efforts to establish a small population in Berry Brook in Rye have provided anglers with occasional excitement with catches of fish weighing between 1 and 5 pounds. Sea-run brown trout retreat to salt water to feed for the spring and summer before returning to fresh water for fall spawning. They have a long head, a large protruding lower jaw and a broad square tail. Coloration of the sea-run brown trout is light brown to tan dorsally, with halo-enclosed black spots on its silvery sides.


Scientific Name: Pollachius virens

Other Name: American pollock, Boston bluefish

Estimated Size: Up to 42 inches and get to 46 pounds

Identification: American pollock are distributed along North American continental waters from Labrador to North Carolina. Attempts to define distinct breeding stocks within this expansive western Atlantic range have, so far, yielded inconclusive results – thus, the entire U.S. pollock population is assessed as a single unit. Within New Hampshire waters, pollock are found offshore, near the coast, and in the harbors. The pollock is an active fish living at all depths, depending on the food supply, which includes small invertebrates, shrimp and baitfish. Some generalized distribution of pollock by size class is evident. Larger fish tend to be found deeper and farther from the coast, while small pollock (often called “harbor pollock”) are more likely to be near the surface. The pollock is a late fall, early winter spawner. All females are sexually mature by the time they reach 27 inches in length. Pollock are identifiable by their olive green color, three dorsal fins and small chin barbel. Distinguishing pollock from its two close relatives and sometime associates, cod and haddock, is easily done by looking at color and external markings. Pollock caught by hook may range in size from 10 to 16 inches (harbor pollock), with up to 2- and 3-foot fish encountered offshore.

General Information: Recreational anglers, casting with light spinning gear, may take small harbor pollock from inshore waters near breakwaters or other structures. Larger pollock may be taken offshore in deeper waters. Pollock are caught with either artificial lures, such as diamond jigs and mackerel trees, or with bait, such as clam necks and clam worms.

Brook Trout

Other Names: Eastern Brook Trout

Scientific Name: Salvelinus fontinalis

Identification: green to brown basic colouration with a distinctive marbled pattern (called vermiculations) of lighter shades across the flanks and back and extending at least to the dorsal fin, and often to the tail. There is a distinctive sprinkling of red dots, surrounded by blue haloes, along the flank. The belly and lower fins are reddish in color, the latter with white leading edges. Often the belly, particularly of the males, becomes very red or orange when the fish are spawning

General Information: The brook trout is native to small streams, creeks, lakes, and spring ponds. Some brook trout are anadromous. It is native to a wide area of eastern North America but increasingly confined to higher elevations southward in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia, Canada from the Hudson Bay basin east, the Great Lake-Saint Lawrence system, and the upper Mississippi River drainage as far west as eastern Iowa.


Other Names: European Carp, Common Carp, German Carp, Asian Carp, Chinese Carp, Edible Carp, Great Carp

Scientific Name: Cyprinus carpio

Identification: Stocky fish, with a moderate sized head and a triangular, scaleless, blunt snout. Moderate sized mouth, with no teeth on the jaws, the upper jaw protrudes slightly. Usually four barbels or whiskers present; two long, one at each corner of the mouth, two short, one at each end of the upper lip. Large, thick scales. Strong, saw-edged spine at the front of the dorsal fin. Olive-green to golden upper body, but there are many colour variations including black. Paler sides and usually a silvery-yellow belly. Fins are opaque, dark, usually with reddish edges.

General Information: All types of water bodies, being able to survive a wide range of water temperatures (5-32°C), very low oxygen levels, and clear to very dirty water. Usually most abundant in still or slow flowing water. Can survive in water quality situations too poor to support most other fish species, and can survive for several hours out of water in damp conditions.

Atlantic Codfish

Other Names: Rock Cod [Atlantic Codfish]

Scientific Name: Gadus morhua

Lifespan: 25 years

Estimated Size: Up to 79 inches and 212 pounds

Identification: Atlantic codfish are distributed throughout the North Atlantic, with well-known stocks situated in the area of the Grand Banks and Georges Bank. Smaller stocks exist closer to shore in southern New England and in the Gulf of Maine. In coastal New Hampshire, codfish of various ages are found near the Isles of Shoals, and both juveniles and adults are caught along Jeffrey’s Ledge. Cod can occur from surface waters to depths of 1,200 feet, depending on life stage and season. Most frequently they are found at depths of 200 to 300 feet, living within a few feet of the bottom. Adapted for bottom feeding, cod inhabit rocky bottoms, but may occasionally feed on herring in the water column. Codfish in the Gulf of Maine spawn during February or March, and all females are mature by the time they are 23 inches in length. The most distinguishing physical characteristics of cod are the three rounded dorsal fins and two equally rounded anal fins. The head is large with a blunt snout, large mouth, and chin barbel. The body is marked by a distinct lateral line that is pale in color and arched over the pectoral fin. Coloration varies with the surroundings, but is often dark brownish- black dorsally, with yellowish to bronze marbling on the sides. The back and sides are also marked with many brownish-reddish spots and the belly is invariably white. Average size of codfish caught near shore ranges from 6 to 12 pounds; occasionally anglers may encounter 20- to 30- pound adults.

General Information: Most cod-seeking anglers fish on offshore grounds from private or party boats using fresh bait or jigs with teasers. Opportunity exists, however, for anglers to catch this fish from shore, as well as from boats in near-shore waters. Popular baits include clams, sand eels, squid and shrimp. Cod fishing is at its best in spring and fall when water temperatures are changing. Diamond jigs and other jig-type lures are effective hardware for catching cod.


Other Names: Brismark, Brosmius, Torsk, Moonfish

Scientific Name: Brosme brosme

Identification: It is easily distinguished at a glance from other cod-like fish as it has only one dorsal fin. Also characteristic is the nature of the dorsal, caudal, and anal fins, they are continuous at the base but separated by very deep notches so that they are obviously distinct.

General Information: It is normally found in water deeper than sixty feet (20 m), and practically always is taken over rough bottoms where rocks, ledges, or gravel are common. Good fishing areas are usually much more limited than is the case with cod, haddock, or pollock. It is an offshore fish and rarely is one taken in a harbor. It spawns in the spring and summer, usually between April and early July. A medium sized female has been known to produce more than two million buoyant eggs. The young live near the surface until they are about 2 inches (5 cm) long, and then seek out rocky ocean floors in deep water.

Northern Pike

Other Names: Pike, Northerns

Scientific Name: Esox Lucius

Identification: Scales are present on the upper half of the gill cover, but are absent on the lower half. The cheek area (located just forward of the gill plate), is fully scaled. Pike usually have five pairs of sensory pores along the underside of the lower jaw. The cheeks and gill covers of chain pickerel are fully scaled, and generally only four pairs of sensor pores are present on the lower jaw. The pattern of markings is typically very different on adult and juvenile pike. Juvenile pike possess wavy, white to yellow vertical bars. Adults have shorter markings arranged in a more horizontal configuration. Pike can hybridize with chain pickerel, and the resulting hybrid may possess markings common to either or both species.

General Information: Pike are found in sluggish streams and shallow, weedy places in lakes, as well as in cold, clear, rocky waters. Pike are typical ambush predators; they lie in wait for prey, holding perfectly still for long periods and then exhibit remarkable acceleration as they strike. The fish has a distinctive habit of catching its prey sideways in the mouth, killing or immobilising it with its sharp teeth, and then turning the prey headfirst to swallow it. It eats mainly fish, but on occasion water voles and ducklings have also been known to fall prey to pike. Pike will aggressively strike at any fish in the vicinity, even at other pike.