Freshwater Smelt

Fishing Regulations New Hampshire Freshwater Fishing


Bag Limits and General Rules

The daily bag limit for smelt is 2 quarts liquid measure of whole (head and tail intact) freshwater smelt in the 24-hour period between 12 noon one day and 12 noon the following day. Persons taking freshwater smelt must at all times keep their individual take in separate, unbreakable containers marked with their name. A person cannot take smelt while using a boat propelled by mechanical power.

Season for Taking Smelt by Angling

From June 16 through March 14, smelt may be taken by angling only, except in Trout and Fly-Fishing-Only ponds, which are open June 16 through Oct. 15.

Season for Taking Smelt with a Dip Net

From March 15 through April 30, smelt may be taken by means of a dip net not over 18 inches in diameter, between the hours of sunset and 12 midnight. Only the following waters are open to the taking of freshwater smelt by dip net:



Deering Reservoir Deering
Manning Lake/Guinea Pond Gilmanton
Pea Porridge Pond Madison
Rust Pond Wolfeboro
Sandy Pond Richmond
Suncook Lake Barnstead
Sunset Lake/Places Pond Alton, Gilmanton
Webster Lake Franklin

Stream/River NAME


Bearcamp River (From Tamworth/Ossipee town line to Ossipee Lake) Ossipee
Mascoma River (From Canaan/Enfield town line to Mascoma Lake) Enfield

Use of Lead Tackle Restricted in N.H.

New Hampshire state law prohibits the use and sale of all lead sinkers and jigs that weigh one ounce or less, regardless of length, in all fresh waters of the state. The law does not apply to lead core line, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, spoons, poppers, plugs, or flies.

Loons and other waterbirds can die from lead poisoning after swallowing lead fishing sinkers and jigs lost by anglers.

Biologists have studied the effects of lead sinkers and jigs on waterbirds, such as loons and swans, since the 1970s. Their ongoing research has documented that, in the northeast U.S. and Canada where loons breed, lead sinkers or jigs can account for up to half of dead adult loons found by researchers.

What You Can Do:

  • Do not use lead sinkers and jigs.
  • Spread the word. Tell other anglers about the problem with lead.
  • Dispose of old lead sinkers and jigs properly. Drop-off locations include
    all N.H. Fish and Game offices.
  • Learn more at fishleadfree.org.


Careful with Those Plastic Baits!

New Hampshire fisheries biologists are reporting increasing numbers of caught trout and salmon with indigestible soft plastic lures in their stomachs. A discarded soft plastic lure consumed by a trout from the bottom of a freshwater lake likely remains in that fish’s stomach for the rest of its life, and may cause health issues such as ulcers and weight loss. Anglers are strongly encouraged to purchase biodegradable and food-based lures rather than soft plastic ones. It is also important that anglers not discard plastic lures into any waters, and also to attempt to retrieve any soft plastic lures that have become unhooked.