Some Icy Hot Fishing on Tewksbury Pond

Tewksbury Pond in Grafton is a 47-acre body of crystal blue water. Its deepest point is 50 feet with an average of 25 feet in most areas. Even though the pond has easy access, the ban on petroleum powered engines has kept it mostly pristine over the years.

I have never had any luck on Tewksbury, mainly because the few times I have fished there I have used soft plastic bass lures. There aren’t any smallmouth bass in the pond, which no doubt accounts for my lack of success. I only recently learned that Tewksbury is known mainly for its great trout fishing, especially through the ice.

The December freeze formed enough ice for anglers to get on Tewksbury a bit early this season. David Titus drives all the way from Sunapee to fish there. In the summer, he prefers to troll Lake Sunapee for lake trout and rainbows, but when the ice starts to form, Tewksbury becomes one of his favorite spots.

His first fall outing onto the ice was not a disappointment.

After boring holes in less than two-feet of water, Titus set a tip-up rig baited with a minnow. He didn’t even have a chance to bait the second rig before the flag popped up. He had landed a brook trout.

Then he looked down through the round hole into the clear water. “It was unbelievable,” Titus recalls. “You could see the trout down there. All of them good size.”

Titus quickly abandoned the tip-up. He switched to a Fenwick light-tackle rig and used a quarter-ounce jig to tempt the brookies. The fish cooperated, leading to one of those great days that anglers dream about when they are sitting by the fire in deep winter.

“The trout were swarming,” he says, “you got a strike on every drop.”

Of course, he had to release most of them, keeping a legal limit of two fish for the dinner table. Trout are said to taste best when they come out of frigid water.

The brookies were big, too.

“Most of them were in the 11- to 16-inch range, with the bigger ones running about 21 inches.”

Anyone who has sat for hours waiting for a tip-up flag to fly can appreciate the hot action. Enduring the cold is worth it when you’re catching one fish after another.

In addition to brookies, Tewksbury also offers rainbows, browns, rock bass and brown bull heads. (There’s no limit on rock bass, an invasive species, so keep as many of them as you like.)

The weather warmed again up so Titus hasn’t returned to the ice.

But with the colder weather returning, you can bet he’ll be boring holes and watching for the school of brook trout to appear below him.

Deer hunters had an incredible season this year.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game reports the fourth largest deer harvest since records have been kept, estimating around 12,387, a seven percent increase over last year. The record numbers can be attributed to milder winters which result in a higher survival rate for fawns and easier forage for the bucks and does.

Overall, the deer herd in thr state is healthy, though there has been a decrease in Merrimack County where most of the state’s deer are taken. Fish and Game has worked to reduce the herd in Merrimack mainly because deer can be a nuisance in more populated areas.

Locally, Jimmy Proctor reports that Proctors Store, a deer and turkey registration point, was busy, especially during the first part of bow season.

“We had a lot of deer come in right after the bow hunters went out,” Proctor says. “It slacked off for a while then it picked back up again after muzzle loader and rifle season started.”

Over 140 deer were registered at the checkpoint.

Proctor also reports that no one has ever tried to register a live deer.

For bird hunters, this is the time of year to start training their dogs. Jamie Whyte of Canaan, brought home a new puppy for Christmas. Josie is a black lab that he plans to train for retrieving ducks.

Whyte is also a member of Ducks Unlimited, which works hard to preserve the wetlands so crucial to the prosperity of the waterfowl population.

Now if you’re thinking, “Why do they preserve the ducks and geese just to shoot them?” keep in mind that Ducks Unlimited does not hunt on more than 60 percent of the land that the organization strives to protect. Their mission is preservation first, hunting second.

Whyte also has another retriever at home, an older dog named Belle.

So how does Belle react to having an energetic puppy around the house?

“She’s not taking it well,” he says, “but I’m sure she’ll come around.”

Fish and Game now allows anglers and hunters to renew licenses online or by mail. However, if you haven’t bought a license since the year 2000, you will not be in the data base and must purchase your license at one of the local dealers.