N.H. Weekly Fishing Report -- April 9, 2009

In today's report, Fish and Game hatcheries supervisor Robert Fawcett presents the annual plan for growing and stocking trout throughout the state. Also, anadromous fisheries guy Matt Carpenter offers a brood stock Atlantic salmon update with locations, fishing tips and more.

STOCKING TRUCKS ARE ROLLING! We don't have a list of waterbodies for you just yet -- but check the stocking page (click here) and we'll get it updated as soon as we can.

Are you a Let's Go Fishing Instructor? No? Well, here's your big chance! Sign up for LGF training by April 20 and you could be teaching this spring and summer. Click here for info.

Final Fish Talk! Our spring series of Fish Talks wraps up next Weds., April 15, with a repeat of the popular "Downriggers and Trolling" presentation at Fish and Game in Concord (click here for info).

Purchase your fishing license online (click here!) or from any Fish and Game license agent. Don't forget -- kids under 16 fish free in N.H.!

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We have what you're looking for: Quality hatchery-raised trout and landlocked salmon
By Robert Fawcett, Supervisor of Hatcheries

This year's trout yearlings are more than ready to go. The fingerlings are outgrowing their raceways and need space in the larger pools, currently occupied by the ones normally distributed by this time. There will be the usual nice big rainbow trout surprises in the southern part of the state. Milford Hatchery stocked fifteen thousand pounds last week.

Fish Culturists and Conservation Officers will be distributing over 200 tons of hatchery-raised trout and landlocked salmon this season. Whether you fish for trout in waters open to fishing year-round or trout ponds that open the traditional fourth Saturday in April (April 25 this year), excellent quality trout and salmon will be there for your angling pleasure -- or just for the satisfaction of knowing there are beautiful fish out there in selected cold waters of New Hampshire.

The landlocked salmon to be stocked in 2009 had their left ventral fin clipped off on April 1 and 2, to mark them for future identification. If you see missing fins on fish you catch, those markings have meaning for the Inland Fisheries Division biologists who evaluate the fish populations.

THE PLAN FOR 2009 STOCKING CALLS FOR:
438,470 Eastern brook trout yearlings: 58.1% to streams, 41.9% to lakes and ponds; 14,515 two-year-olds: 39.4% to streams, 60.6% to lakes and ponds; and 1,685 "three-year-pluses" (surplus brood fish): 37.4% to streams, 62.6% to lakes and ponds.

Also:

  • 277,925 rainbow trout (RT) yearlings: about 26.5% to streams, 73.5% to lakes and ponds.
  • 132,120 brown trout (BT) yearlings: 58.3% to streams, 41.7% to lakes and ponds.
  • 5,000 tiger trout (TT). Tigers are a cross between a brook trout male and a brown trout female, and have the potential to keep growing to a trophy size if not hooked and cooked at a younger age. They are up to size and being stocked in the spring this year.

HATCHERY PRODUCTION PLAN NUMBERS FOR STOCKING 2009

 

Berlin

Milford

Powder

New Hamp.

Warren

Twin Mt.

TOTALS

Brook trout - fingerlings

23,050

0

0

134,200

0

0

157,250

Brook trout - 1-year-olds

86,390

72,800

123,850

103,140

23,090

29,200

438,470

Brook trout - 2-year-olds

6,175

0

4,020

1,160

1,810

1,350

14,515

Brook trout - 3-year-olds

1,195

0

490

0

0

0

1,685

Rainbow trout - 1-year-olds

96,250

56,535

95,620

18,570

10,950

0

277,925

Brown trout - 1-year-olds

42,280

35,220

32,000

16,390

6,230

0

132,120

Tiger trout - 1-year-olds

0

5,000

0

0

0

0

5,000

Landlocked salmon - 1-year-olds

0

0

42,000

0

0

0

42,000

Totals by hatchery:

255,340

169,555

297,980

273,460

42,080

30,550

1,068,965

HATCHERY CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT CONTINUES TO BE DRIVEN LARGELY BY WATER QUALITY LIMITS TO HATCHERY DISCHARGE
A timber sale was contracted to remove trees from Twin Mountain Hatchery where the space was needed for excavation to install pre-cast concrete water treatment and monitoring units, in addition to pipe consolidation. We'll let you know how this project progresses.

FISH CULTURE 101
The Fish Culturist's mission is "to produce fish of the right species, size, and timing to fill the gaps in the natural eco-cycle, to contribute to management goals for a wide variety of users, and restoration of self-sustaining native fish populations."

If a waterbody has plenty of natural habitat capacity to meet all phases of a fish species' life cycle, then fish populations are self-sustaining and don't need to be supplemented with hatchery-reared fish. But where there are gaps in that natural habitat capacity, hatchery resources are used to provide a fishery that would otherwise not occur for some reason -- for example, lack of adequate habitat for spawning or juvenile rearing, but plenty of habitat for grow out. "Room and board" provided by a hatchery stand in for natural habitat and food organisms. Fish culturists nurture fish eggs through the fry and fingerling stages, until they're large enough to be released and survive in lakes, ponds and rivers. This helps the cycle complete itself, and allows New Hampshire's trout and salmon fisheries to remain productive.

We work all year long to make sure you have stocked fish to catch. When you see our trusty Fish Culturists and Conservation Officers out there stocking, be sure to thank them! Have a great season.

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Melting Snows Mean Leaping Salmon
By Matt Carpenter, anadromous fisheries biologist

The stage is set for a good start to the Atlantic salmon broodstock season. Unusually low snowfall in late March has led to a gradual snowmelt this spring. Without the high flows associated with a lingering snowpack, the only obstacle to stocking this year’s brood stock is the potential for flooding rains. Barring any major storms, we intend to begin stocking as early as the week of April 20th.

Spring can offer the best opportunity to catch a trophy sized Atlantic salmon. Be sure to bring a camera. The Atlantic salmon broodstock available in the spring tend to be larger and older than those stocked in the fall. These are the adult salmon that have returned after spending 1 to 3 winters at sea in the North Atlantic. They are captured at the Lawrence Dam and trucked to the Nashua National Fish Hatchery, where their offspring provide the salmon fry and smolts used in the restoration effort. This year we have a total of about 760 fish to be stocked out of the Warren State Fish Hatchery, where the broodstock are moved in the winter to make room at the Nashua Hatchery. Just over 20% of these salmon are four year olds with an average weight of 10 pounds. The three year olds are not far behind, with an average weight of about 8 pounds. Dave Riel, the Warren Hatchery manager, commented that this year’s broodstock are “looking great . . . very healthy and active.”

Atlantic salmon brood stock are typically stocked in small batches, starting in the Pemigewasset River, below the Ayers Island Dam, and working downstream to Franklin Falls Dam on the Merrimack River, Sewalls Falls in Concord, and occasionally below the Hooksett dam depending on the number of fish available. Atlantic salmon will migrate downstream as water temperatures warm, so the best strategy may be to follow the fish south as spring turns into summer.

A new development in the Merrimack River Anadromous Fish Restoration Program may present some additional late season fishing opportunities for broodstock anglers. The Merrimack Village Dam at the mouth of the Souhegan River was removed last summer. In the past, people have reported broodstock below the dam in early summer. These fish may have been seeking refuge from the warmer Merrimack River water. With the dam no longer blocking movement, there are now over 12 miles of river for broodstock salmon to explore. There are many access points for fishing along the lower Souhegan River, but below the McLane Dam in Milford might be a good place to start.

Season and Permits: The special broodstock Atlantic salmon season runs year-round, but all salmon taken from October 1 through March 31 must be immediately released. Adult anglers need an $11 Atlantic salmon permit and a regular New Hampshire fishing license. Children under 16 are not required to hold a permit or a fishing license. Each angler can keep one tagged salmon per day and five for the season. The minimum length limit is 15 inches. Note that area 1a (below Eastman Falls Dam in Franklin) is catch-and-release only. Stamp and possession tags are no longer required for salmon anglers. The salmon permit is a simple check box on the regular license application. Don't forget -- anglers now can purchase their salmon permit online -- click here.

When to go: The best time to fish for broodstock is in April and May and again in the fall during October and November, when water temperatures are between 45 and 65 degrees F. Salmon are migratory, and they head back to the ocean once water temperatures rise in late June. An additional stocking takes place in the fall.

Best Fly-Fishing Areas: The most successful fly fishing is found in the fast, free-flowing sections below the dams along the Merrimack and Pemigewasset rivers and its tributaries. For fly anglers some of the best spots include the area below the Ayers Island Dam in Bristol. There are two sections that offer excellent wade fishing opportunities: the first area is along Coolidge Woods Road on the east side of the river, the other is Profile Falls Recreation Area. This is a new site located near the Smith River confluence on the east side of the river.

Other recommended areas include the catch-and-release section just below the Eastman Falls Dam in Frankin, the river below this section in the vicinity of the Winnipesaukee River confluence, the section near the Stirrup Iron Brook in Boscawen, the Contoocook River below the first dam in Penacook, and the Sewalls Falls Recreational Park area in Concord.

Tackle tips: Gear recommendations for fly anglers include 7- to 9-wt. rods with either floating or sink-tip lines, depending on the height and speed of the river flow. While most fly anglers prefer heavyweight rods with 10-pound test line, nymph fishing with lighter gear has proven successful in catching big salmon. Recommended flies include traditional hair wing flies and streamers. Some patterns to try are green highlander, black bear green butt, cosseboom, soft hackle marabou and muddler minnow.

Spin-fishing areas: The area below the Garvin's Falls Dam in Bow to the MA/NH border is open to both fly and spin fishing. The best areas include in this section of the river just below the Garvin's Falls and Hooksett dams where the river is fast flowing. Fishing success in these two areas is best angling from a boat; however, these two areas offer some limited but good shoreline angling as well. Excellent boat access is provided at Public Service of New Hampshire's ramp on the west side of the river in Bow and at the state-owned ramp on the east side of the river below the Hooksett Dam.

Gear tips: Spin casting anglers would do best to use medium to heavy 6 1/2 to 7 foot rods with a minimum of 10-pound test mono line. Some of the lures recommended are Little Cleo (chrome, chartreuse colors), Blue Fox Pixie, Trixie (silver, chartreuse), Rapala's CD model, and large in-line spinners such as Mepps Aglia (nickel, green, yellow) and Rooster tails. Be reminded that the use of lures for the taking salmon is by the use of an artificial lure having no more than ONE hook point! A solution for lures sold with treble hooks is to either cut off two of the hook points or replace the treble hook with a #6 bait holder hook.

Want more broodstock salmon fishing info? Click here!
 

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