New Hampshire has its share of excellent bass fishing lakes. Lake Wentworth bass fishing ranks up there with the best of them. There are a lot of ways to catch the Lake’s smallmouth and largemouth bass. We discuss Lake Wentworth topwater fishing with Matt Razey who knows a thing or two about catching the lake’s bass on topwater baits.
How long have you been Lake Wentworth bass fishing?
I have been fishing on Lake Wentworth since I was four years old, so about 26 years. It’s always been a special place for me because it is my first memory of catching a smallmouth bass. My family would go up for a week in the summer every year as I was growing up and those trips are something I will always remember.
If I wasn’t fishing, I remember waiting up at night for my dad and uncle to come back so I could find out how they did or what they caught them on. My dad’s grandfather rented a cabin up there when my dad was growing up so I’m the 4th generation in my family to fish there. My son who is 3 now will be the 5th.
How would you describe Lake Wentworth bass fishing on the lake in comparison to other New Hampshire smallmouth bass fisheries, especially its more famous neighbor Winnipesaukee?
The smallmouth fishing there is comparable to all the other lakes in the New Hampshire lakes region. It is nice to go fish there to get away from the boat traffic that Winni (Winnipesaukee) sees in the summertime. Average smallmouth will range in the 1 to 2.5 pound range but I have seen some quality 3 plus pound smallmouth in there as well.
The lake is a hidden gem largemouth lake as well. I’ve caught many in the 4 to 5 pound class there. There was an 8 pound largemouth weighed in at a tournament this season up there.
Lake Wentworth is a lot easier to break down than its larger neighbor, Winni at 30,000 plus acres. Lake Wentworth is a little over 3,000 acres so a tenth of the size of Winni. Larger bites will come with patience. The smallmouth schools can be large in the summertime and waiting it out and burning through the 1 to 1.5 pound fish will usually lend itself to a larger bite coming.
This lake is the 7th biggest in New Hampshire. What kind of structure and habitat are the keys to being successful on the lake?
It is home to some offshore shoals, flats, offshore grass, and has many islands that can be productive at certain times of the year.
The smallmouth will winter in deeper holes much like other lakes in the region. Early spring and early winter at the end of the season holds smallmouth on deeper sloping points that run into the main lake. 25 to 35 feet of water seems to be the magic number.
Springtime, all the islands will be productive. Summertime is all about taking advantage of the offshore humps, flats, and grass lines. Any place with easy access to deeper water near that offshore structure is always a safe bet. Some shallow rock piles can be good in the late spring and early summer if the wind is blowing in the right direction.
What is the overall fishing pressure on the lake?
I would say that there is definitely fishing pressure there. There are bass tournaments there during the summer but definitely does not see the same pressure as Winni, Squam, and others in the area.
With sonar advancements, side imaging, and GPS I don’t think any spots are secrets, but I always have 10 to 15 spots I can hit on any given day on that lake that will yield fish.
What is your favorite time for Lake Wentworth topwater fishing?
Anytime of year is great to catch smallmouth on topwater. It is one of my favorite ways to fish and is always exciting when smallmouth are in the mix. I would say the best time is spring and summer. Spring is great because there is such a huge population of smallmouth shallow at that time of year whether they are spawning, cruising the shallows looking to spawn, or cruising the shallows post-spawn guarding fry or feeding. You can really cover a lot of water with a topwater. I will always have a topwater on the deck of my boat when fishing summertime flats early and late in the day.
What are your favorite baits for Lake Wentworth topwater fishing when targeting smallmouth?
I have been throwing a Heddon Zara Spook there for as long as I can remember. Walking baits are great in the spring. Late spring and early summer with the bluegill spawn, I usually switch to a Pop-R. I would say though the spook or any topwater walking bait is good on Lake Wentworth.
I wouldn’t necessarily key in on a specific size as I have had plenty of fish from all different sizes hit a spook there. The key to success is to make long casts as the water is clear.
A lot of smallmouth will hit the bait several times. I’ve had some that will hit 4 to 5 times and then hit right next to the boat. When that happens, keep the bait moving. Make the smallmouth think the bait is trying to get away quickly. The more erratic you can make your topwater presentation the better.
How much do you worry about color when Lake Wentworth topwater fishing?
For Lake Wentworth topwater fishing, gold, silver, or white always fare better there. Lot of perch in the lake. The bass are either on the perch or they are on crayfish.
I keep it fairly simple with color selection for topwater. Most of the lakes up there have the same forage base in them. What I will do though is switch to a color that is more translucent on the belly on sunny days with no wind. We are talking 10 to 15 feet of visibility in the water there. That translucent belly usually puts more fish in the boat. On cloudier days or if there is a chop on the water a white or more solid color on the belly of the bait is better.
What is the coldest water you will fish topwater?
I always will have a topwater ready to go in my boat. I think it is often reserved by many to just be a summertime bait. If the conditions are right, I will always throw it. Smallmouth bass will come up from deeper water than you would think to come hit a topwater.
The coldest I have ever fished one is in the late fall, there was ice on my rod guides and on my reel. Had two largemouth in the 3 to 4 pound range within minutes of each other.
What are your favorite rod/reel/line setups?
I like a fast reel for topwater fishing. My go to is a Team Lew’s Custom Speed Spool SLP in a 7.5:1 gear ratio. The faster gear ratio will help you cover more water and will help catch up to fish striking your topwater on those longer casts. Like I said the best thing is to keep the bait moving. The faster gear ratio helps with that.
For rods, my rule of thumb when fishing any bait with treble hooks is to have a rod tip that is more moderate action. When you are setting the hook, you aren’t ripping the bait out of the fish and there is some shock absorption in the rod tip with the moderate taper.
I like the Lithium Series by Denali Rods. I will fish a 7’4 for walking baits to help with longer casts. When I switch to Pop-R where it is more target based around boat docks, moored boats, etc. to mimic a bluegill I will downsize to a 6’10” because I am more accurate with that.
For line choice for Lake Wentworth topwater fishing, I like P-Line CXX Monofilament in Moss Green in 12 or 14 lb test. I used to fish braid exclusively for topwater fishing because of the zero stretch to get a solid hook set in, but with changing your approach to rod tip as noted above, I can put fish in the boat with confidence on topwater with mono. With that clear water I think they shy away from that braided line.
What baits do you use for Lake Wentworth topwater fishing when targeting largemouth?
The largemouth population has come along in the last 15 years or so. I remember not even knowing largemouth existed there when I was growing up. My dad would agree. He never remembers catching one in all of his trips up there either. If someone were to tell us 15 years ago there were largemouth there I would have laughed. Now though its a whole different story. There have been days that every 4th or 5th fish in a school has been a largemouth. I’ve seen 5 largemouth go for 25 pounds there.
Same topwater choices for largemouth there. Most of the places that have largemouth will hold both species. There are a few shallow coves with thicker emergent vegetation that you can fish a frog in but, most of the shallow flats that I would fish for smallmouth with a topwater will hold largemouth as well.
So who wants to go Lake Wentworth topwater fishing next year? I know I do. Thank you Matt. It is always a pleasant surprise to learn something I didn’t know about a lake. I did not realize about the largemouth population on Lake Wentworth. For more information about Matt, his fishing and his sponsors, please visit mattrazeyfishing.com.