Let’s dive into the heart of New Hampshire's great fishing utopia at Lake Winnipesaukee, where angling dreams come true year-round—but especially in the vibrant Summer season! With its crystal-clear waters teeming with a rich variety of fish, the Lakes Region stands as the ultimate fishing haven for enthusiasts of every stripe, whether you're casting off from the serene shoreline or cruising the sparkling waves by boat. This place provides 'reel' adventure!


In the Heart of the Lakes Regions

Lake Winnipesaukee, nestled in the heart of New Hampshire's picturesque Lakes Region, is a crown jewel of natural beauty, recreational activities, and unforgettable memories. As the largest lake in the state, covering about 72 square miles, it has long been a beloved destination for both residents and visitors seeking a serene escape into nature. Encircled by charming towns like Wolfeboro and Meredith, the Lakes Region presents a slice of local culture through artisan shops, lakeside dining, and vibrant festivities. Beyond the mainland, over 250 islands offer everything from secluded fishing coves to romantic picnic spots, making Lake Winnipesaukee not just a destination but an experience, marked by year-round beauty and activities.


Picturesque views of Lake Winnipesaukee.

Fishing on Lake Winnipesaukee

Lake Winnipesaukee offers a rich and diverse habitat for landlocked salmon, lake trout, rainbow trout, small and largemouth bass, as well as many others. Each species has its own preferred habitats and conditions, making certain areas of the lake particularly fruitful depending on what you're angling for.

What's Biting

A prized catch in the lake, stocked annually, best targeted in the early morning or late evening. Consider fly fishing, casting, or trolling to catch them feeding near the surface in the Spring and Fall. For landlocked salmon, consider downriggers or lead-core lines to get your lure down to the preferred depth. Spoons and live bait like smelt are effective.

Known for their spirited fight, Rainbow trout can be found throughout the lake, especially near cooler, deeper waters. Also stocked annually, fly fishing is the best option for catching this fish, though bait and spin casting will work, too.

Preferring deep waters, Lake trout are a common catch during the Summer. Make sure your bait and lure reach the appropriate depths that vary throughout the seasons. Also, consider downriggers or lead-core lines to get your lure down to the preferred depth. Spoons and live bait like smelt are effective.

Thriving in the rocky areas of the lake, smallmouth bass are plentiful and provide exciting fishing. Consider using spinnerbaits, crankbaits, or soft plastics for smallmouth bass. Also, try fishing near rocky outcrops or structures, as this area can yield good results. Cast or troll with a plastic lure.

A popular choice for anglers, largemouth bass can be found in the warmer, slow-moving, and shallow waters of Lake Winnipesaukee. They are often located around protective coves and stable structures such as docks, weed beds, and downed trees.

Where to Fish on Lake Winnipesaukee?

Mother and child fishing off a dock together.
Angler holds in their hand the prized catch of the day

Landlocked Salmon & Rainbow Trout

Both species are often associated with areas of moving water, such as the inflows and outflows of lakes. They are also attracted to structures like underwater ledges, drop-offs, and areas where streams enter a lake, as these locations can offer cooler temperatures and abundant food sources.

  • Meredith Bay: This area is known for its early-season salmon fishing. Trolling near the surface in the Spring can yield good results as the salmon are active and feeding aggressively post-spawn.
  • Weirs Beach: Near Weirs Channel and the public docks can be productive spots, especially during the Spring and Fall migrations. Early morning is the best time to catch salmon here.
  • Alton Bay: Offering a deep-water habitat that salmon favor, especially during the warmer months. Fishing near the mouth of the Bay can be particularly rewarding as the season transitions from Spring to Summer.

Lake Trout

Prefer deep, cold, oxygen-rich waters. They are less likely to be found near moving water or shallow areas unless during spawning season in the Fall when they might move to shallower rocky areas to lay eggs.

  • The Broads: The widest and deepest part of Lake Winnipesaukee is a haven for fish, especially during the Summer months. Given the vastness of The Broads, trolling is a highly effective way to fish this area. It allows you to cover a lot of water and target species like Lake trout that are found in deeper, colder waters.
  • Moultonborough Bay: Its deeper waters make it an excellent spot for Lake trout. Ice fishing in the Winter months can also be successful in this area.

Small & Largemouth Bass

Both species adjust their location based on seasonal changes, moving to deeper water in extreme heat or cold and coming into shallower areas during the spawning season in Spring or when actively feeding in the early morning or late evening. Understanding these preferences helps anglers decide where to fish and what techniques to use.

  • Moultonborough Bay: Known for its rocky structure and deeper water, Moultonborough Bay offers excellent habitat for smallmouth bass. Focus on areas with drop-offs and rocky points early in the morning or later in the evening.
  • Governor’s Island: The area around Governor’s Island, particularly the rocky shores and nearby deep water, is a hotspot for smallmouth. Using soft plastics or live bait around the submerged structure can be very effective. 
  • Smith Cove: Located near Gilford, Smith Cove has a lot of docks and shallow, weedy areas that largemouth bass favor. Skipping frogs or using weedless lures can yield good results here. 

Basic Gear for Your Fishing Getaway

Having the right basic gear on a fishing trip is crucial for both safety and success. Essential equipment such as a reliable rod and reel, appropriate bait and tackle, a sturdy fishing line, and necessary safety items like life vests can significantly enhance the experience. This gear ensures that anglers are prepared to handle various fishing scenarios, improve their chances of making a catch, and maintain safety on the water. 


Angler casting his reel over the open lake waters.
  • Fishing License: First things first, ensure you have a valid New Hampshire fishing license, which is required for anyone 16 years of age and older. These can be purchased online, at local tackle shops, and possibly provided by your fishing guides.
  • Fishing Rod and Reel: Choose a versatile setup that can handle the variety of fish in the lake, such as a medium-action rod with a spinning reel.
  • Fishing Line: Bring a durable line, ideally a 6–10 lbs. tested line for the variety of fish in the lake, along with pliers and line cutters that are essential for removing hooks and cutting lines.
  • Hooks, Lures, and Bait: Include a selection of lures suited for the target species, like landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, lake trout, bass, and more. Live bait like worms or minnows can also be very effective.
  • Camera or Smartphone: To capture the memories and the trophy catches, you'll surely want to show off and brag about on next year's fishing adventure. 
  • First Aid Kit: For those just-in-case moments—it should include the basics like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and tweezers. But also make sure to add in your own sunscreen and insect repellent, as both will be helpful on the lake. 
Wide shot of man reeling in his fish with the fish still visable under water.

Local Fishing Charters

Still feeling unsure? Use a local fishing guide.

Especially if you're new to the area or looking to maximize your fishing experience, consider hiring a local guide or charter service that can help you navigate the complexities and hidden gems of the lake—making every cast a potential story of success. Here are 3 guides to consider when fishing in New Hampshire:

Tips for Success

  • Understand Seasonal Patterns: Lake Winnipesaukee's fish species, including landlocked salmon and trout, exhibit distinct seasonal behaviors. For successful catches, familiarize yourself with these patterns. In Summer, focus on deeper waters where fish retreat, and during Spring and Fall, target shallower areas near shorelines or stream inlets where fish are more likely to spawn or feed.
  • Local Regulations: Familiarize yourself with local fishing regulations regarding size and bag limits to ensure a sustainable fishery for future generations.
  • Leverage Technology and Local Knowledge: Utilizing fish finders and GPS technology can drastically improve your ability to locate fish-holding structures and depths. Additionally, engaging with the local fishing community through forums, bait shops, or social media groups can provide valuable insights into recent catches, effective techniques, and the current state of the fishery.


Don't Forget, Safety First!

  • Monitor Wind Conditions: Lake Winnipesaukee can experience significant wind that not only impacts water temperatures and fish behavior but also boating safety. Always check the wind direction and speed before heading out, as these factors will guide you to potential fishing spots and ensure you navigate the waters safely.
  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD): Wearing a PFD, whether you're casting from the dock or trolling from a boat, significantly increases your chances of survival in the event of an accidental immersion. PFDs are designed to keep you afloat with minimal effort, which is crucial in emergencies or if you become incapacitated. Ensure your PFD is U.S. Coast Guard-approved and fits well.


Rattlesnake Island on Lake Winnipesaukee

The Summer Awaits in Lake Winnipesaukee

Lake Winnipesaukee offers a picturesque and bountiful fishing experience during the Summer months. Whether you're a seasoned angler or new to fishing, the lake's diverse fishery and stunning scenery make for an unforgettable adventure. Get ready to reel in the excitement with our Summer fishing guide, where every cast brings you closer to paradise on Lake Winnipesaukee.

To elevate your stay and make the most of this idyllic setting, consider booking one of our beautiful vacation homes along the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, where comfort meets natural beauty, providing the perfect base for your fishing expeditions and a serene retreat. Happy fishing!