On Golden Pond: Squam Lake New Hampshire

squam-lake
By Wayne Hooper

Squam Lake is smack dab in the middle of New Hampshire just a few miles Northwest of Lake Winnipesaukee. A beautiful lake and a great fishery, this 6,770-acre body of water produces big bags of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, pickerel, white perch, yellow perch and lake trout. Other species include: cusk, horned pout, (bullheads) and landlocked salmon.

Squam Lake is probably best known for the movie “On Golden Pond” produced in 1981 and starring Henry Fonda, Katherine Hepburn and Jane Fonda. 32 years later not much has changed around the lake, as it is busy in the summer and quiet in the winter. But don’t think there isn’t plenty to do as fishing is great, hunting, hiking, skiing, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, boating, loon watching, relaxing on the beach, leaf peeping and much more is available in the Squam Lakes area. In my opinion, I think it is the prettiest lake in New Hampshire.

However, all I want to do is fish it for its big smallmouth bass. Yes, there are largemouth, salmon and trout but the smallmouth are huge and spectacular jumpers. These fish love to lie in wait in this gin-clear water for a crawdad, a minnow or a smelt to appear so they can attack it. If you hook one hang on, as it will try to tear the rod out of your hands. They are strong fighters that do not give up quickly or easily.

If you haven’t been on this lake take caution, as it is a dangerous lake to maneuver due to its rocks and shoals. Hence the 40 mile per hour daytime speed limit and the nighttime limit of 20 MPH. Grab a local or use a guide to get around the lake until you feel comfortable or launch your boat and stay on the trolling motor. That way you can get an idea of what lies ahead.

The best lures to use in the spring, pre-spawn, would be small grubs in black or white, tube baits in the darker colors and plastic leeches in black. If you spot a fish making a bed any of these lures will entice a bite. However, if the bass protecting the bed leave the bait on the bed and swims off but she still is watching give the bait a twitch. Sometimes this will encourage her to swing around and strike. At other times the bass may just leave the bed and watch from a short distance away. This is the time to tie on a white grub and cast beyond the bed and then crank your reel as fast as you can right across the bed and back to the boat Do this a few times and then stop cranking just as the bait reaches the bed. Be ready as this tactic can produce a smashing, slashing hit as you have really ticked her off.

If you do visit Squam Lake, be sure to contact Squam Lakes Chamber of Commerce at 603-968-4494 or at info@visitsquam.com.

Wayne Hooper is an avid fisherman searching for largemouth, stripers and trout. He is a member of the New England Outdoors Writers Association and has written articles all over the country. Follow him in his “Great Outdoors” column in the Portsmouth, NH Herald. Seacoastonline.com.

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