N.H. Weekly Fishing Report -- September 11, 2008

This week, fish habitat biologist John Magee reports on recent, current and future fish habitat projects that will have long-term benefits to fisheries in NH.

ANGLERS: Do you get NH Wildlife Journal magazine? For a limited time, new subscribers can take advantage of Fish and Game's current "Wild Deals" offer.  Just $25 gets you the 2009 N.H. Fish & Wildlife calendar AND a two-year subscription to N.H. Wildlife Journal magazine (new subscribers only please), plus a free issue of the magazine -- a package valued at $32.90.  For details and an order form, visit www.wildnh.com/wilddeals.  

The Intermediate Fly Fishing Workshop for women September 26-28 at Purity Spring Resort in Madison, N.H., still has space, so spread the word.  Registration form and course description are at the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman website at www.nhbow.com or call (603) 271-3212.  

Fish and Game's boat ramp on Turtletown Pond (aka Turtle Pond) in Concord, N.H., will be closed for repairs from September 8-30, 2008.   The boat launch will be closed, but the canoe/kayak area and parking will be available on weekends from 4:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday evening.  CLICK for more information.

Purchase your fishing license online (CLICK HERE!), or from any Fish and Game license agent.  Why not bring a new fishing buddy on your next trip! Don't forget -- kids under 16 fish free in N.H.

CLICK HERE to check out Fish and Game's hot fishing tips on streaming video.

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For past fishing reports and all your NH fishing info, click here to visit Fish and Game's fishing page.

Fish stocking is done for the season. CLICK HERE for previous stocking information.

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Fish Habitat - Protection and Restoration
By John Magee, Fish Habitat Biologist

We have been working on a number of state rules and restoration projects this year.

NH Fish and Game staff have recently authored, with help from a diverse group of stakeholders and experts in the field, a comprehensive guidance document on the design and construction of stream crossings.  Stream crossings (culverts and bridges) can impact stream habitat by altering the natural flow of water, wood and sediment, and can fragment fish populations by creating impassable barriers to fish.  The final document was completed this month (September 2008), and the Department of Environmental Services rulemaking process will continue into 2009.  A great deal of thought and time was put into this, and fish and aquatic wildlife will benefit tremendously from the improvement of stream crossings in the state.  Not only do stream crossings often block migratory fish from getting to spawning areas, they commonly increase erosion, especially immediately downstream of the crossing, which leads to habitat degradation.  If a crossing fails catastrophically, it impacts the aquatic habitat and often impacts property and people's lives.

In 2007, Fish and Game began a research project with the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and US Geological Survey's Conte Lab, with 100% funding from the USFWS, to evaluate the passability of two culverts in the Nash Stream Watershed.  One objective of this research is to determine what effect the culverts throughout the watershed have had on the genetic integrity of wild brook trout there.  To date, we have learned that wild brook trout move within the two study streams quite often, and they can move very long distances.  Hatchery brook trout have entered one of the streams, and they also move quite extensively.  I snorkeled this stream in early September, and found hatchery fish about 1/2 mile upstream from the confluence of Nash Stream.  Hatchery fish are stocked only in Nash Stream, and not in its tributaries.

We put much time this past year into determining exactly what type of restoration activities to do where for the Nash Stream Restoration Project, which is a joint effort of Fish and Game, the Division of Forests and Lands (NH Department of Resources and Economic Development) and Trout Unlimited.  We plan to use a combination of restoration techniques, including strategic placement of boulders and large trees into Nash Stream and onto the floodplain.  All of this work is being done to speed up the natural processes of how streams move sediment and wood, which was heavily impacted by a catastrophic flood that occurred in 1969 when a dam on Nash Stream failed.  We expect that the project will dramatically improve the instream and riparian habitat conditions at Nash Stream -- so much that anglers will be able to enjoy catching more wild brook trout there.  We anticipate on-the-ground restoration of Nash Stream to start this fall and continue into 2011. 

The Homestead Woolen Mills Dam on the Ashuelot River in Swanzey is in disrepair and the owner wishes to remove it.  Fish and Game has been working with project partners for several years, and the current plan is to remove the dam in 2009.  The Ashuelot is an important river for American shad, river herring and Atlantic salmon, and restoring fish passage there is an important component of Connecticut River anadromous fish restoration plans. 

The Merrimack Village Dam in Merrimack is NO LONGER on the Souhegan River!   It was removed in August 2008 by a number of state and federal agencies and local partners.  The River is now accessible to migratory fish such as American shad, river herring and Atlantic salmon for another 14 miles.  These species require good spawning and rearing habitat in rivers, and will now be able to access much more habitat in the Souhegan River.

Working with the Piscataquog Watershed Association, the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) and the Town of Weare, the Fish Habitat Program plans to construct a small water control structure at Lake Horace Marsh to minimize the impacts that the winter drawdown of Lake Horace currently causes in the marsh.  Because of the drawdown, only several aquatic plant species thrive in the marsh, and surveys by Fish and Game have documented that the spawning and rearing habitat for yellow perch and chain pickerel are nearly nonexistent in the marsh.  Providing a more natural water level regime will allow the necessary aquatic vegetation to proliferate and the fish habitat (and fish populations) to be restored in the marsh.  The fish species likely to benefit the most are yellow perch, chain pickerel and largemouth bass.  The DES Dam Bureau will do the construction work, which is planned for Fall 2008.

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