It’s a heartwarming sight on a sunny day, a child hunched over a handheld device with laser-focus, oblivious to others. Hey, we are talking about fishing here, but you knew that. Fishing is one of those time-and generation-transcending activities that serves as the linchpin for camping memories in many families.
One way you do not want to transcend time is on the wrong side of the law (OK, there is a vacation-genre that includes life on the run, but the outcomes are generally better in Hollywood, and even then it’s not a sure thing, just ask Butch, Sundance, Thelma and Louise.) So get a fishing license. New Hampshire takes its fish seriously, and if you plan to take fish you should, too. Get a license; they are available online and at locations throughout the state. You can get a license for the full season or for one day. Various rates apply based on your age and whether you are a New Hampshire resident.
The good news about the state taking its fishing resources seriously is that New Hampshire’s fishing stock is robust. You, the fishing public, have free access to every natural body of water that measures 10 acres or more. In every nook and cranny of the Granite State you can find a place to drop a line. The state also tracks these locations and the fish you will find there. This guide offers information on ADA accessibility, a useful tool for making fishing more inclusive.
For the camping family, fishing is a great way to inspire kids with hands-on learning about weather, seasons, habitat and scientific observation. It could be said that fishing is the cure for an instant-gratification society; there is something very humbling about the amount of time and mental energy it can take to “outsmart” a creature. Fishing with live bait is generally a better starting point for those who are very young and/or new to fishing; and it is the preferred method for fishing for certain species (see this guide). Fly fishing is a more nuanced method of fishing, requiring a firm understanding of fish habits and habitat.
Hit the water for fishing fun
Great North Woods — Lake Francis: At nearly 2,000 acres, Pittsburg’s Lake Francis (22 miles from the Canadian border and 14 miles north of “downtown Colebrook”) offers multiple fish species and well-maintained access points with convenient parking.
White Mountains — Conway Lake: A large lake (1,300 acres), Conway Lake is easy to reach for campers in the Mount Washington Valley and features a range of species and a convenient boat launch.
Lakes Region: Almost every town in the Lakes Region features a pond or lake with public boating access. In addition to the “big ones,” popular fishing sites include bridge fishing at the point where Lake Winnisquam becomes the Winnisquam River (Rt. 3), just a hop, skip & jump from I-93 and outlet shopping!
Dartmouth/Sunapee — Mascoma Lake: Enfield’s Mascoma Lake (1,150 acres) is home to more than nine species of fish and offers two public boat access points.
Merrimack Valley — Lake Massabesic: With multiple access points and a completely undeveloped shoreline, Lake Massabesic (2,500 acres) is a quiet spot for anglers. The lake serves as a water source for Manchester; swimming and waterskiing are not allowed.
Monadnock — Spofford Lake: Spoffford Lake (700+ acres) in Chesterfield offers one of the most diverse fish populations in the region.
Seacoast — Lamprey River: Traveling through Deerfield, Epping, Newmarket and Raymond, the Lamprey River features numerous access points for fishing from boats and/or bridges. It’s diverse route provides habitat for many species.