Like its New England neighbors, New Hampshire has incredible ice fishing opportunities.
New Hampshire is a gorgeous state whose residents love the water. However, whether you live there or are visiting, we’ll help you discover lakes teeming with gamefish under the ice.
You shouldn’t just pack up your auger, ice rod and bait and hit the nearest lake on blind faith.
New Hampshire opens some lakes at the first of the year, especially when managing lake trout. Other lakes and ponds are open all year. It’s wise always to check fishing regulations before you head out.
New Hampshire’s Top Ice Fishing Lakes
New Hampshire’s largest lake has largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, lake trout, landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, yellow perch, sunfish, whitefish, and white perch.
At more than 44,000 acres, or 71 square miles, Lake Winnie, as locals often call it, also is the third-largest lake in New England, behind Moosehead Lake and Lake Champlain.
The Meredith Rotary Club puts on an annual derby with more than $50,000 in prizes, including a $15,000 cash prize. All anglers catching the longest fish in their species category are eligible for the $15,000 top purse.
Visitors should note that the taking of salmon through the ice is prohibited.
Luckily, salmon aren’t the only game in town during the winter. In 2022, an angler pulled a state-record cusk (burbot) through the ice on Winnipesaukee. It weighed 12 pounds, 8 ounces.
Note where the islands are in this enormous lake and fish the drop-offs, especially for smallmouth bass.
The Lovejoy Sands Road public boat ramp in the town of Meredith is one of many public access points.
If Squam Lake weren’t in the shadow of nearby Winnipesaukee, it likely would be more famous in its own right.
Squam Lake, although smaller than Winnie, has good numbers of largemouth and smallmouth bass, pickerel, perch, and lake trout. If you’ve ever seen “On Golden Pond,” starring Henry Fonda, you’ve seen Squam Lake. It was a gorgeous movie set.
Although it’s got a good variety of New Hampshire species, the lake’s smallmouth population is especially revered.
There is a public ramp off Route 113 on the lake’s southwest corner.
Just southeast of Squam Lake is another “Winni” lake that offers spectacular ice fishing.
If you’ve ever heard of Laconia, it has probably been in the context of the world-famous “Bike Week,” drawing Harley riders from around the country every year in June.
But Laconia is also a great fishing destination. Anglers can target lake trout, rainbow trout, bass, and white perch through the ice from January through March.
For rainbow trout, try fishing live bait in the shallower portions of the lake.
If you’re chasing lake trout, focus on drop-offs and deeper structures.
Ahern State Park off Route 106 sits right on the lake’s eastern shore and is open year-round for angler parking.
Fed by natural springs and featuring not one but two lighthouses on its banks, Newfoundland Lake is a beautiful part of the New Hampshire landscape.
Rainbow trout and lake trout are the main draws here, and the lake reliably produces big rainbows every season.
For decades, the Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department has put on an annual ice-fishing derby. Anglers can purchase tickets at the Wellington Park boat launch, which is also a good point of access for ice anglers.
The water clarity on Lake Sunapee can be exceptional, with some anglers reporting the ability to see 30 feet or more down on a sunny afternoon. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass are present in good numbers here.
Boat launches in Sunapee, Newbury (Mount Sunapee State Park), and New London (Blodgett Landing) also provide the best walk-in access once the lake is frozen.
Smallmouth bass and largemouth bass are the main focus on Highland Lake, which at only 700 acres is easier to move around for anglers looking for something slightly less challenging than Winnipesaukee can be.
The lake is a shallow, warm-water fishery that also has perch, pickerel, and crappie.
The best access is the boat ramp off Route 11 in Eldred in southwestern New Hampshire.
First Connecticut Lake
We’ve got a lake named after a state it’s not in, near a city (Pittsburg, New Hampshire) that’s often confused with a big city of the same name in yet another state.
Go ahead, tell someone you’re fishing First Connecticut Lake near Pittsburg, and have them guess which state it’s in.
The one thing that’s clear about the fishery is the quality: With good numbers of lake trout in the 2,800-acre lake, First Connecticut is a popular New Hampshire fishery despite its far-off location in the northeastern corner of the state.
First Connecticut is particularly popular among anglers looking for scenic beauty, as its shoreline is largely undeveloped.
River Road in the southwest corner of the lake offers the best access.
One draw of Tewksbury Pond, near Canaan east of Lebanon, is that the state stocks it with three species of trout: brown, brook, and rainbow trout.
It’s a 47-acre pond that gets as deep as 50 feet. Brown trout, stocked in the fall and spring, are the biggest draw during ice fishing season and also help make this one of the best all-around trout fishing lakes in New Hampshire.
Anglers can park off Tewksbury Landing Road.
If you’re looking for a smaller lake in the Winnipesaukee region that doesn’t get quite as much pressure, check out nearby Mirror Lake.
At only 54 acres, Mirror clearly is much smaller than its neighboring giant, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have plenty of fish.
It doesn’t hurt that the stocking truck shows up with brook, brown, and rainbow trout each year.
The best public access point for ice fishing is off Route 109 on the lake’s western shore.
Massabesic Lake gets its name from a Native American phrase meaning “The Land of Much Water.”
The lake indeed has much water. Massabesic Lake covers more than 2,500 acres, can hold as much as 15 billion gallons of water, and provides the drinking water for the city of Manchester.
The lake also has much fishing. Massabesic Lake is stocked with rainbow, brown, and brook trout by the state and supports self-sustaining populations of largemouth and smallmouth bass.
There are boat launches at Clair’s Landing, off Route 121 on the lake’s eastern shore, off Route 28B at Deerneck Bridge, and at Candia Road on the northwest corner of the lake.
The lake’s deepest holes, roughly 50 feet down, are closest to the Candia Road launch.
Catch More Fish
We have a complete guide to get you started with ice fishing, including bait and tackle, techniques, safety tips, and more.