New Hampshire: Lakes and Ponds General Rules
General Fishing Rules
General Fishing Rules apply to most lakes and ponds in the state. Follow the seasons, bag limits, length limits, and important notes listed with each species in the chart on the facing page. The taking of brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, lake trout, trout hybrids, and salmon between two hours after sunset and one hour before sunrise is prohibited.
This section has information on lakes and ponds with Special Rules. These waterbodies have rules that may differ from, or be in addition to, the General Fishing Rules for Lakes & Ponds.
Go to Lakes & Ponds: Special Rules on Lakes & Ponds with Special Rules. If you find the waterbody you intend to fish in the table, look to the right for the waterbody’s designation under the “Special Rules” column. It will either be a Lake Trout and/or Salmon Lake, a Fly-Fishing-Only Pond, a Trout Pond, a Wild Trout Pond, or a miscellaneous special regulation water.
This page (see below) has information on season dates, bag limits, length limits and other species information for these special waters.
Interstate Waters: See Interstate Waters.
Lake Trout and/or Salmon Lakes
Several waterbodies are managed for lake trout and/or landlocked salmon, and are open year-round subject to restrictions listed below. For information on bag and length limits for species other than trout and salmon in this waterbody, see Lakes & Ponds: General Rules (below).
- The taking of brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, lake trout, trout hybrids, and salmon between two hours after sunset and one hour before sunrise is prohibited.
- Minimum Length:
- Brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout and their hybrids: 15 inches.
- Lake Trout: 18 inches
- Landlocked Salmon: 15 inches.
- The head and tail must remain intact while on or leaving the waters of the state.
- From January 1 to March 31:
- Fish may be taken by ice fishing only;
- The combined daily bag limit for all trout species, including lake trout, is 2 fish;
- Closed to the taking of landlocked salmon (salmon season is from April 1 to September 30);
- Two (2) ice fishing devices are allowed per person. Single hook with single hook point for bait, or an artificial lure or flies shall be used to take fish through the ice;
- Six (6) cusk fishing devices may be used to take cusk on approved waterbodies (see Ice Fishing).
- From April 1 to September 30:
- The combined daily limit for lake trout, salmon, brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout and their hybrids is 2 fish;
- Open to the taking of all species, except no smelt may be taken from March 15 to June 15.
- From October 1 until December 31:
- Closed to the taking of lake trout, salmon, brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout and shad (whitefish).
- From April 1 through December 31, no person may take fish through the ice, from the ice, or from any object supported by the ice.
Designated Trout Ponds are managed for trout, and are open to fishing for all species from the fourth Saturday in April through October 15. Fishing for any species is prohibited from October 16 until the fourth Saturday in April the following year. For information on bag and length limits for species other than trout, see Lakes & Ponds: General Rules on next page.
- The taking of brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout, trout hybrids and salmon between two hours after sunset and one hour before sunrise is prohibited.
- Trout ponds open on the fourth Saturday in April. Closed to salmon October 1 and to all species October 16.
- The daily combined limit for trout is 5 fish or 5 pounds, whichever limit is reached first.
- The use or possession of live fish, or their eggs, for bait is prohibited. The use of salmon eggs, however, is permitted.
All rules listed above for Trout Ponds apply. In addition, fish may be taken only by fly-fishing (fishing by trolling or casting with only fly rod, fly reel, and fly line combination with an artificial fly or cast of artificial flies attached, and does not include the use of spinning, spincast, and casting rods and reels and lead core lines).
Wild Trout Ponds
All rules listed above for Trout Ponds apply, except:
- Open season dates are from the fourth Saturday in April through Labor Day;
- All fish shall be immediately released;
- Only single hook, barbless artificial lures and flies shall be used.
General Fishing Rules for Lakes & Ponds
|SPECIES||Season||Bag Limits & Minimum Lengths||Important Notes|
|Black Bass (Smallmouth & Largemouth Bass)||Jan. 1 to March 31||2 fish daily limit; only 1 fish >16 inches.||See exceptions for Clement Pond/Joe Silvia Lake, Grassy Pond, Gregg Lake, and Warren Lake.|
|April 1 to May 14 and June 16 to June 30||2 fish daily limit; no length limit.|
|May 15 to June 15||Catch and release only.||Artificial lures and flies only.|
|July 1 to Dec. 31||5 fish daily limit; no length limit.|
|Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout and their hybrids||Open water (ice-out to ice-in)||5 fish or 5 pounds daily limit, whichever is reached first; no length limit.||Many waterbodies with trout have special rules—see Lakes & Ponds: General Rules. Designated trout ponds and fly-fishing-only ponds open the fourth Saturday in April and close Oct. 15. Lake Trout and Salmon Lakes are closed to taking trout from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31. Designated wild trout ponds open the fourth Saturday in April through Labor Day.|
|Through the ice||2 fish daily limit; no length limit.||Designated trout ponds are closed to ice fishing.|
|Lake Trout||Jan. 1 to Sept. 30||2 fish daily limit. Minimum length 18 inches. Daily bag limit for lake trout and salmon is 2 fish (2 lake trout, 2 salmon, or 1 of each).||Lake Trout and Salmon Lake rules are on Lakes & Ponds: General Rules – Stinson Lake (Rumney) and Tarleton Lake (Piermont) are examples of General Rules Waters that have lake trout.|
|Landlocked Salmon||April 1 to Sept. 30||2 fish daily limit. Minimum length 15 inches. Daily bag limit for lake trout and salmon is 2 fish (2 lake trout, 2 salmon, or 1 of each).||Most waterbodies with landlocked salmon are designated as Lake Trout and/or Salmon Lakes; see Lakes & Ponds: General Rules. Taking landlocked salmon from Oct. 1 through March 31 is prohibited.|
|Pickerel||No closed season.||10 fish daily limit; no length or weight limits.||See illustration on Fish Identification.|
|Northern Pike||No closed season.||1 fish daily limit; minimum length 28 inches.||See illustration on Fish Identification.|
|Walleye||No closed season.||2 fish daily limit; minimum length 18 inches; no weight limit.|
|White and Yellow Perch, Black Crappie, Sunfish, Horned Pout||No closed season.||25 fish each species daily limit; no more than 50 fish total combined; no length or weight limits.|
|Rock Bass||No closed season.||No daily limits; no length or weight limits.|
|Carp||No closed season.||No daily limits; no length or weight limits.||In addition to angling and ice fishing, carp may be taken by bow and arrow with a cord attached from the Connecticut River, Merrimack River and Mascoma Lake.|
|Cusk||No closed season.||No daily limits; no length or weight limits.||Can be taken by all legal methods (angling, trolling, tip-ups). – For approved cusk fishing device waters, see Ice Fishing.|
|River Herring||Closed to all fishing.|
|American Shad||No closed season.||Catch and release only.|
|Shad(Whitefish)||No closed season.||2 fish daily limit; no length or weight limits.|
|Smelt||For smelt angling rules and waterbodies open to the taking of this species by dip net, see Freshwater Smelt Regulations.|
|Suckers||No closed season for angling, ice fishing or traps.||No daily limits; no length or weight limits.||Suckers may be taken for personal use with two traps, not more than 50 inches long, 30 inches wide, with an opening no smaller than 3½ inches in diameter. – All traps or holding boxes will have the name and address of the owner.|
|March 1 to May 31||No daily limits; no length or weight limits.||Suckers may be taken by hand dip nets not over 18 inches in diameter, drop nets not over 48 inches in diameter, spears or bow and arrow with cord attached. Suckers taken by spear or bow and arrow must not be left in, or adjacent to, the body of water.|
Water Supply Reservoirs
The waters listed at right are partially or wholly closed to fishing because they are public water supply reservoirs. Contact NHDES Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau (603-271-7061) for more details.
- Babbidge Reservoir (Roxbury)
- Bradley Lake (Andover)
- Canaan Street Lake (Canaan)
- Hanover Reservoirs (Hanover)
- Gilman Pond (Unity)
- Massabesic Lake (Manchester/Auburn)
- Rochester Reservoirs (Rochester/Strafford)
- Round Pond (Barrington)
- Upper Beech Pond (Wolfeboro)
- Woodward Pond (Roxbury)