N.H. Weekly Fishing Report -- April 16, 2009

In today's report, fisheries biologist John Viar and Don Miller check in from the Lakes Region, where early-season anglers are already out in force.

STOCKING TRUCKS ARE ROLLING! Check the stocking page (click here) for last week's stocking sites.

DISCOVER WILD NH DAY is this Saturday 4/18 in Concord! Bring the kids for a fun-filled day. Click here for info and schedule.

POWWOW POND: Fish and Game's boat access facility at Powwow Pond in Kingston, N.H., is closed to trailered boat launching until further notice because of silt and debris issues at the site related to adjacent bridge construction. Cartop access is still available. We'll let you know when it re-opens.

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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Ice Out - Lines In!
By John Viar and Don Miller, fisheries biologists, Region 2/New Hampton

After a second good ol' fashioned winter providing another tremendous ice fishing season, a somewhat early ice-out -- declared on Lake Winnipesaukee April 12 (with much open "fishable" water available even earlier) -- came as a welcome surprise to many. Nearly all other large lakes in the central Lakes Region are ice-free or nearly so at the time of this writing. Pelting rains and heavy northwest winds, always welcome weather events to those anxiously awaiting ice-out, helped the ice make a speedier than normal exit -- especially on Winnipesaukee, where nearly the entire Broads opened before many smaller bays.

fish - fins
What's this? An illustration of which fins are where. Want to find out how old the landlocked salmon you caught is? Just check out this chart (PDF - click to download), which shows which fins were clipped on stocked salmon over the last several years.

Despite a slight reduction in salmon size at Winnipesaukee, some solid results have been reported to date, in terms of quantity -- along with some nice bonus rainbow trout. The "drop-down" fisheries such as Lochmere Dam/Silver Lake and Lakeport Dam/Opechee Lake have been outstanding. This gives shoreline/wading anglers a great shot at both landlocked salmon and rainbow trout, and even the rare lake trout that has wandered out of our large lakes through dams/spillways/water release events. Everything from live bait (worms, shiners, smelt), generic nymph/invertebrate patterns (e.g. wooly bugger), classic streamers (e.g. grey ghost), and egg patterns (particularly during the upcoming sucker runs) will take these fish. Although the weather pattern has been drier of late and is predicted to continue, a future slug of rain/wet weather will extend these fisheries further into the season... we all know the saying about New England weather... Get out there and enjoy these fish, quite literally at your feet!

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Of special note, please use care when unhooking and releasing salmon (or other species). We've been finding evidence that hook wounds can decrease salmon growth and quality. 27% of Winnipesaukee salmon exhibited moderate to severe hook wounds -- this percentage has increased annually over the past four years. The negative effects of hook wounding have affected the overall quality of this popular fishery. To minimize hook wounding, consider the following:

Use extreme care when unhooking and releasing fish.

  • Prepare and organize tools (pliers, hemostats) to minimize release time.
  • NEVER shake a fish off the hook.
  • NEVER unhook a fish suspended in the air.
  • NEVER sharply pull hooks out while the fish is moving and twisting.

Use rubber or other "fish friendly" landing nets.

  • Rubber nets minimize stress, decrease unhooking/exposure time, prevent loss of slime coat and scales, fin splitting, and other damage caused by traditional nets. Tackle is also much more easily removed, allowing quicker return to fishing!
  • Tip: Turn the fish upside-down in the rubber net to help calm while unhooking.

All hook styles and sizes can cause damage.

  • Fish size, hooking location, and angler experience in executing proper release techniques are critical variables - exercise caution to ensure future quality fisheries! Remember, it's YOUR resource!

If you're keeping fish, keep the wounded ones.

  • Wounded fish taste great, and you'll be helping the fishery: Healthy, lightly hooked, and properly released salmon and trout, with no prior hooking injuries, have much greater growth potential and a realistic chance of becoming tomorrow's trophy!

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Two items of interest, which are often requested from the Region 2 Office:

1. Recent netting results from four salmon lakes:

Lake

Number of fish processed

% Hook Wounds

Mean Length (in)

Length Range (in)

Mean Weight (lb)

Weight Range (lb)

Big Squam

395

21

20.4 

16.2 – 25.5

3.1

1.3 – 6.4

Sunapee

279

26

20.1

16.5 – 25.2

3.1

1.4 – 5.3

Winnipesaukee

211

27

19.4

16.6 – 23.2

2.5

1.4 – 4.0

Merrymeeting

52

19

20.9

18.1 – 25.8

3.5

2.0 – 5.8

 
2. Fin clip chart: A handy chart and photo showing which fins were clipped on stocked salmon over the last several years. Check the chart and age your landlocked salmon catch! Click here to download PDF.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions (email is best - reg2@wildlife.nh.gov). Get out there and enjoy the annual rite that is ICE OUT...it was a long winter, you deserve it!

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