Solving Problems with Nature - Naturally
ERIC P. ORFF
Certified Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife Author - Wildlife Lecturer -
Non-Lethal Control of Bats since 1983
OPEN - WATER FISHING SEASON STARTS FOR TROUT, SALMON
CONCORD, N.H. -- Enthusiastic anglers have been waiting for what they consider the true start of spring -- April 1, which marks the beginning of the open-water season on lakes managed for landlocked salmon and lake trout.
Anglers will seek out fish in open water near bridges and public docks, and the inlets and outlets of the 14 lakes that New Hampshire Fish and Game manages for landlocked salmon: Big Dan Hole Pond, First and Second Connecticut Lakes, Conway Lake, Lake Francis, Merrymeeting Lake, Newfound Lake, Ossipee Lake, Big and Little Squam Lakes, Sunapee Lake, Lake Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam Lake. (Pleasant Lake in New London also is managed for landlocked salmon, but is classified as a trout pond, with an opening date of April 24.)
In early spring, salmon feed heavily on spawning rainbow smelt congregated near tributary inlets. In Winnipesaukee, smelt usually spawn at the end of March and beginning of April. Salmon, lake and rainbow trout are attracted to shallow waters at this time of year because of gatherings of smelt near the shore, warming waters and the influx of nutrients carried by tributary streams.
"It's going to be a great year for fishing on the big lakes," said Don Miller, Fish and Game's Large Lakes Fisheries Biologist. "Winter anglers have noted the abundance of smelt in Winnipesaukee, which will translate to fat landlocks this spring."
The salmon season offers anglers some of the most exciting fishing in the state. At Lake Winnipesaukee, the average salmon measures over 20 inches long and weighs more than three pounds. Big Squam Lake will offer fast action for fish in the 20-inch and 2.5-pound range, with larger fish in the mix. (Note that the minimum length for landlocked salmon in the Squam Lakes is back to the statewide minimum of 15 inches.)
During April, Fish and Game will stock more than a thousand broodstock Atlantic salmon, ranging from 3.5 to 16 pounds, into the Merrimack and lower Pemigewasset Rivers. To target these fish, anglers need a special $10 permit, which comes with five possession tags, in addition to a regular fishing license. The fees help support the Merrimack River Anadromous Fish Restoration Program, a partnership of N.H. Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Successful anglers generally fish for salmon using live bait -- smelt, shiners and worms -- and use a variety of methods, one of the most popular being trolling. Drifting live baits or suspending them under bobbers can also pay dividends for boat and shoreline anglers. You can use an assortment of lures to entice salmon, including stickbaits (Rapala, Rebel, Yo-Zuri), spoons (Mooselook, Flash King, Sutton, Top Gun) and miscellaneous flash lures (Super Duper, Harry Lure).
In tributaries and rivers like the Winnipesaukee, fly-fishermen often have success working weighted nymphs, such as olive or black Woolly Buggers, various bead-headed nymphs and heron flies. Other proven methods include fly-casting or trolling smelt-imitating streamer patterns, such as the Gray Ghost and its many variations, Nine-Three, Supervisor, Winnipesaukee Smelt and Maynard Marvel. Depending on flow rates, the Merrymeeting River can offer some excellent early spring salmon and rainbow trout fishing. Upstream from the bridge in Alton, special regulations apply from January 1 to June 15, when it is restricted to fly-fishing and catch-and-release only.
One of the most overlooked resources in New Hampshire are the plentiful and tasty wild brook trout, according to Miller. While they rarely attain sizes of more than 9-10 inches, with average fish being 4-7 inches, "it is hard to describe the magic of fishing small, intimate brooks in unsurpassed scenery," Miller says. He advises anglers to look for small branches off main rivers like the Bearcamp, Saco, northern Pemigewasset, Swift, East Branch of the Pemigewasset and Baker. Don't forget the White Mountains, where many small brooks are teeming with crimson beauties that have never seen a line.
Anglers can find lots more fishing information -- and purchase licenses online -- at http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us. For updates on fishing in the Granite State, check out Fish and Game's free weekly email "Fishing Report," which starts going out next week; sign up at http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Inside_FandG/join_mail_list.htm.
Copyright 2004 New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, 11 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301.
BRING THE KIDS TO SALMON SUNDAY
CONCORD, N.H. -- Find out everything you wanted to know about fish and fisheries at New Hampshire Fish and Game's annual Salmon Sunday at Pope Dam in Melvin Village on November 16 from 1 to 3 p.m. Pope Dam is located 9 miles north of Wolfeboro on Route 109. For more information, call (603) 744-5470.
"Salmon Sunday is a great opportunity for young and old to view -- up close -- landlocked salmon from Lake Winnipesaukee," says Don Miller, fisheries biologist for the Lakes Region. "Kids love to see the big salmon and rainbow trout, averaging about four pounds each, and watch the egg-collecting process."
During the event, fisheries biologists will be busy harvesting, or "stripping" eggs and milt (sperm) from adult salmon. Standing knee-deep in the cold water of Melvin River, the scientists expertly relieve the colorful adult female salmon of their eggs by stroking their stomachs. Milt (sperm) from the male fish is obtained in the same way, and mixed with the gold-colored eggs to fertilize them. This activity is all part of the "behind-the-scenes" work Fish and Game does to help maintain the landlocked salmon population in New Hampshire's big lakes.
Fish for the stripping demonstration are netted from Lake Winnipesaukee during October and early November. They are returned to the lake after their eggs and milt have been collected. The fertilized eggs are taken to Powder Mill Hatchery in New Durham, where they'll hatch in three to four months. The salmon are raised in the hatchery for about 18 months, then stocked into Lake Winnipesaukee and other New Hampshire lakes.
Fish and Game staff will be on hand to answer questions about the salmon, the egg-stripping process and the stocking program that ensures these beautiful fish continue to be available in the lakes for anglers to catch. Salmon Sunday will be held rain or shine.
New Fish and Game Commissioners Begin Duties
CONCORD, N.H. -- Two new members of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission begin their duties this week when the Fish and Game Commission meets on Wednesday, September 17, at 9:30 a.m. at Fish and Game headquarters on Hazen Drive in Concord. The two new Commissioners are Walter Morse of Hillsboro, who will represent Hillsborough County through 2008; and Sharon Guaraldi of Lebanon, who will represent Grafton County through June 2004, filling out the term of the late Commissioner Frank Clark.
Commissioner Walter Morse served for 31 years with the New Hampshire State Police, during which time he worked extensively with Fish and Game Conservation Officers. Morse recently served ten years as Hillsborough County Sheriff, and he continues to tend 2,000 Christmas trees on his Deering farm. He is a member of the Piscataquog Watershed Association and the New Hampshire Wildlife Federation and has been involved in teaching hunter safety and education in the Hillsboro area for many years. A lifelong hunter and fly-fisherman, Morse looks forward to learning in his new role on the Fish and Game Commission. "I just want to make sure that the people of New Hampshire have a good place to hunt and fish and enjoy our great outdoors," he said.
Commissioner Sharon Guaraldi has worked for over 30 years with Guaraldi Insurance Agency in Lebanon. She served two years as president of the New Hampshire Wildlife Federation and remains active on that organization's executive committee. Guaraldi has participated on the planning committee for the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program, co-sponsored by Fish and Game and the New Hampshire Wildlife Federation, for several years. She holds a lifetime hunting and fishing license, has held a pistol permit since 1975, and has successfully hunted moose in New Hampshire and black bear in Quebec. On the commission, Guaraldi looks forward to being a resource for outdoors enthusiasts. "I consider myself a sportsman's advocate. We've got to get active or we'll lose what we love," Guaraldi said. "I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to do my small part in guaranteeing that our grandchildren and their children have the opportunity to enjoy hunting, fishing and trapping, as well as having the pleasure of watching wildlife in our state."
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission has eleven members, one from each county in the state, plus one representing the coastal area. Members are appointed by the Governor, in consultation with the Executive Council. The Commission oversees the work of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, which is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources. Visit www.wildlife.state.nh.us