Eligible Fish for the Derby

The fish that are eligible for Derby Prizes are listed below, along with some information about the species and some tips for using the correct bait at the right time of day!
The Black Crappie

The Black Crappie is a large sunfish, although not as big as the Largemouth Bass. It grows up to 16 inches long and can weigh five pounds, but they are usually much smaller. This species was added for the 2012 Derby. The Black Crappie has a rounded body. The back of this fish is greenish and the sides are silvery with black markings. The belly is silvery without the markings. Black Crappie are schooling fish, so they like to stay in groups. Jigs fished through the ice are often successful Black Crappie lures. Minimum size Black Crappie that can be entered into the Derby is 13 inches long.

Lake Trout

The lake trout is prized as a game fish, mainly because of its size and power. Fish weighing between 3 and 6 pounds are caught regularly, and individuals as large as 10 pounds are not uncommon. The ideal temperature for lake trout is near 50 degrees, so they’re usually found on or near the bottom of the water body. Winter ice fishing in New Hampshire’s big lakes centers around bobhouse colonies. Jigging with lures or cut sucker bait are effective ways of catching “lakers” through the ice. In early spring, just after “ice out” they are generally taken by trolling near the surface with spoons or wobblers and natural bait, such as shiners or suckers. In summer, troll deep with wire or lead-core lines or downriggers, with sewn-on bait or spoons.


Also known as “burbot,” the cusk is a long (up to 33 inches) slender member of the Cod family with two dorsal fins and scales that are small and embedded. It is found in lakes throughout Canada, Alaska and the northern US in deep water (up to 300 feet) in large rivers and lakes. Its coloring is light brown to yellow with dark brown to mottling on its back and sides. It is reportedly a tasty fish for chowders.

Rainbow Trout

The rainbow trout thrives best in cold water but can withstand temperatures up to 77 degrees if the water is well aerated. This species is well adapted to lakes and streams. Any trout fishing method can be used to catch rainbows. Spinners, flies, small spoons, and bait are effective. The usual size of rainbows found in streams and ponds is between 6 and 12 inches and less than one pound. In larger lakes, however, 3-5 pound rainbows can be caught.


Any quiet, shallow water with a mud bottom, an abundance of aquatic vegetation and food fishes is ideal for the chain, or Eastern pickerel. Their optimum water temperature is apparently 80 to 90 degrees. Pickerel like to hide in weeds waiting for a meal to swim by. The chain pickerel is a voracious carnivore. Its diet includes golden shiners, brown bullheads, yellow perch and sunfish. The pickerel’s popularity peaks during the winter, when considerable numbers are taken with ease through the ice. Most ice anglers fish with a “tip-up” device, using a live minnow. Pickerel fishing in open water is also profitable. Trolling, still fishing with a live minnow or frog, or spin casting with plugs, spinners or spoons all produce good results.

White Perch

The white perch is a determined fighter when hooked, and is one our tastier and more popular pan fishes. It is an easy fish to catch and will accept most any kind of bait: worms, live minnows, pork rind, artificial flies, and spoons. White perch fishing is best at dusk, when schools of feeding fish tend to move into shallow water near shore. This fish, unfortunately often becomes overcrowded and stunted in fresh water. Handle these fish with care; the spines on the back are quite sharp

Yellow Perch

These are a schooling fish and can be located in relatively shallow, weedy water. They spawn in April or early May in sheltered coves and backwaters. These fish feed mainly on small aquatic insects, crustaceans and small fishes. They are not difficult to catch and can be taken year round. In the summer, an artificial fly, spinning lure, trolling spoon and live minnow work well. In winter, the tip-up or hand-line with live minnows are good methods for catching yellow perch. Fishing for yellow perch is fun and encouraged. They often compete with game fish for habitat and need to be harvested to keep numbers manageable

NH State Fish Facts: https://wildlife.state.nh.us/fishing/species.html

NH State Record Fish: https://wildlife.state.nh.us/fishing/record-fish.html