Warmwater Fisheries in New Hampshire
By Gabe Gries
The goal of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Warmwater Program is to use the best information available to sustain and improve warmwater fish populations through management and natural reproduction to provide recreational fishing opportunities in an ecologically sound manner.
This goal is met through the following objectives and projects:
- Conduct statewide warmwater population assessments
- Categorize warmwater populations based on population assessments
- Monitor bass tournaments via data collection and analysis
- Identify populations that may benefit from new angling regulations, forage fish introductions, or other management strategies.
- Evaluate any new angling regulations
- Conduct warmwater angler surveys
- Evaluate water bodies where habitat improvements/additions may benefit warmwater fish populations
- Monitor selected populations for baseline data to develop a time-series of information
- Perform young-of-the-year bass and walleye surveys
- Provide public outreach in the form of public presentations and technical assistance
- Interact and be responsive to anglers' desires for management direction
- Survey spawning walleye in the Connecticut River
The N.H. Fish and Game Department uses electrofishing boats and/or nets to sample black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass) populations in various water bodies throughout the state. From 1997-2002, 83 different water bodies have been sampled with some of these water bodies being sampled multiple times. Information collected includes species occurrence, catch-per-unit effort (number of fish captured per hour of sampling), length, weight, and scale samples (for examining age and growth). Similar information is also collected for non-bass species occurring in these water bodies and for other water bodies that contain walleye and black crappie. This information allows fisheries biologists to ascertain the status of various warmwater populations throughout the state and to determine what populations may benefit from angling regulations, forage fish transfers, or other management strategies.
Bass tournament data: Organizers of bass tournaments held on New Hampshire waters are required to apply to the N.H. Fish and Game Department for a permit and also provide the Department with data in the form of a bass tournament summary sheet. These data are analyzed annually to examine angler effort, bass survival to weigh-in, and trends in catch rates and fish weight. These analyses allow the N.H. Fish and Game Department to make well-informed decisions regarding potential influences of bass tournaments on the state's black bass resources.
Fish and Game conducts surveys of young-of-the-year bass each year in Lake Winnipesaukee, the Connecticut River and Big Squam Lake. Locations on each water body are sampled for bass and length, weight and species information are collected. These annual surveys allow Fish and Game to track changes in the spawning success of these populations and also make predictions about year-class strength based on the size of young-of-the-year fish in the fall.