N.H. Weekly Fishing Report -- May 14, 2009

In today's report, seasonal fisheries technician Shane Eaton explains what he and the other fisheries folks are up to this summer in the Great North Woods.

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

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.!

BROOD STOCK SALMON - The time is now!  All 760 brood stock Atlantic salmon slated for spring release have been stocked into the Merrimack and Pemigewassett rivers, and successful anglers are already reporting successful brood stock salmon fishing on both rivers.  CLICK HERE FOR INFO

BIG BROOK BOG in Pittsburg will not be fishable (and will not be stocked) this season - an issue with the dam has necessitated a water drawdown. CLICK HERE FOR INFO

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My Brook Trout Summer
By Shane Eaton, seasonal fisheries technician, Region 1/Lancaster

After a long cold winter, the ice has finally left the lakes and ponds of northern New Hampshire, the summer fishing season has begun and the Fish and Game seasonal interns have started work. These seasonal positions are hard work, fun, and key to a successful summer season for Fish and Game, and they give much-needed experience to college students and aspiring fisheries biologists.

Shane and pike
Netting pike in the North Country

My name is Shane Eaton, and I'm a summer intern working with fisheries biologist Dianne Timmins out of Fish and Game's Region 1 office in Lancaster.  My fellow interns and I will be collecting data for the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (EBTJV). The EBTJV project officially starts in mid-May, but since mid-April, I've been assisting with several fisheries projects in the Great North Woods: spawning pike netting in Partridge Lake in Littleton and Jericho Lake in Berlin; smelt collection in Cedar Pond in Milan and Christine Lake in Stark; and the distribution of hundreds of thousands of Atlantic salmon into the streams of northern New Hampshire. There are any number of different projects and chores that will keep me and the other interns very busy all summer long.

I'm returning to EBTJV for a second year, after being part of the crew that piloted the project last summer. The project started a few years back, in a meeting among 17 states and several independent agencies concerned over declining brook trout populations. In this meeting, participants discussed a lack of critical habitat data for this species, and New Hampshire was no exception, with many areas with no data on brook trout. Through grants and Federal Aid, existing data on brook trout in NH has been compiled and areas needing data have been identified.

We're now collecting new data in three main areas: human interactions and manipulation of the habitat; natural habitat (substrate, cover, and structure of the stream); and the presence and health of the native brook trout population. Data collection is rigorous work for even the most fit interns. Many habitat sites to be studied are remote and getting there requires hiking long distances with big, heavy, and clumsy gear. After hiking out to a site, the fun begins with electro-fishing a small section of the stream. Fish in the section are collected, sampled and recorded, and a visual habitat assessment and physical characteristics of the section are recorded. Later, this data will be entered and analyzed back at the office on rainy days.

With data from states up and down the east coast, a draft conservation plan is slowly coming together to deal with the current threats to the brook trout population. In addition to this, corrective measures will be suggested on a watershed-by-watershed basis. If you see the crews out there this summer, give us a wave and know that this study will ensure that anglers like you and me will be catching fat and healthy brook trout well into the future.

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Shane Eaton of Lunenburg, Vt. graduated from Unity College in 2007 with a bachelors degree in Wildlife Biology. Since graduation, Shane has been traveling and working around the country as a seasonal biologist -- starting in southern California, then making his way to the Bering Sea as a fisheries observer (an onboard biologist) on fishing vessels in the winter, and returning to New Hampshire Fish and Game in the summer.

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