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Jason Smith: 603-271-2501
Vikki Leonard: 603-271-2501
April 22, 2014

Hatcheries Gearing up for Spring Fish Stocking

CONCORD, N.H. -- Winter appears to have released us from its icy grip at last. With spring on the horizon, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Inland Fisheries Chief Jason Smith can’t help but get excited about open water angling and, more specifically, trout fishing. Fish Culturists at New Hampshire's six state trout hatcheries have been holding on, waiting for Mother Nature to provide conditions more favorable to spring stocking. After a brief delay, stocking trucks are ready to get rolling in late April.  New Hampshire hatcheries have nearly 1 million catchable-size trout ready for this season.

"As open water begins to appear and shoreline ice starts to break-up, anglers – including me – can’t help but look forward to open water trout fishing,” said Smith. “Spring conditions have been slow to arrive this year, resulting in Fish Culturists not being able to take advantage of opportunities to stock trout in early April, as they have in recent years. Ponds being locked in with ice and high, cold water conditions have made it necessary to delay stocking in every region throughout the state. Many of our ponds are accessed by dirt roads, so even in places where the ice has receded enough to receive fish, many of these dirt roads are still extremely muddy and do not provide access for heavy commercial vehicles used for stocking trout.”

Smith explained that with cold, high waters from melting snow it will be a few weeks before rivers and streams are at “fishable” levels. Most trout species are reluctant to bite until the streams reach temperatures in the mid-40s. "We don't want to stock streams too early, because cold, high water early in the season does not present suitable conditions for trout angling. Also, stocking access is limited until waters recede. Attempting to carry nets and buckets of trout over steep embankments that are still covered with several feet of snow is a risky proposition for both the stocking crews and the fish!" said Smith.

"We're fortunate to have Conservation Officers in the field who monitor water conditions and make the necessary adjustments to the trout stocking schedules to determine when conditions are beneficial to all parties involved."

New Hampshire’s designated trout ponds, which open April 26, 2014, are generally places where you might find early season success. Fish and Game stocking crews do their best to ensure that there are recently stocked trout in all of our designated trout ponds for opening day, however  it may be unrealistic to have all of our designated trout ponds stocked this year, particularly in the North Country.  As the season progresses, fishing on smaller streams will pick up from south to north with the larger rivers to follow.  A good rule of thumb is to follow the black flies as they move north.

Six Hatcheries Raising Fish for You

Raising a million trout each year is no small task.  New Hampshire's hatchery system, funded by fishing license sales and federal Sport Fish Restoration funds, includes six facilities across the state.

The Berlin Fish Hatchery provides the three primary trout species to the North Country, including Coos County and the northern reaches of Grafton and Carroll Counties.

The Twin Mountain and Warren hatcheries provide trout to the White Mountain Region. 
Powder Mill Hatchery in New Durham provides trout from the seacoast through the Lakes Region and into Carroll County.  Powder Mill Hatchery also provides the Lakes Region with rainbow trout and landlocked salmon for New Hampshire’s large lakes program.  April 1 was the opening for salmon season in lakes managed for landlocked salmon.  Conditions should be improving as the ice recedes as May approaches.  Avid salmon anglers are encouraged to help sustain this fishery by taking the Landlocked Salmon Anglers’ Pledge (visit fishnh.com/Fishing/salmon_anglers_pledge.html).

In the Southwest region, Fish and Game's Milford Fish Hatchery has gained the reputation of growing “the big ones,” and with good reason.  Well water provides favorable growing temperatures for trout year round, giving this hatchery a slight advantage over other facilities during the winter months.

New Hampton Hatchery is responsible for providing trout from central New Hampshire up to the White Mountains.  In June, fingerling brook trout raised at New Hampton Hatchery will literally take flight, as they are stocked by helicopter into remote ponds in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  These remote ponds provide a special opportunity for those who wish to get off the beaten path and spend a day hiking and fishing in the White Mountains.  "Remote pond fishing is a great experience and one of my favorites," says Smith.  The fishing season for designated trout ponds, including remote ponds, opens on the fourth Saturday in April (April 26, 2014).

To help fund the remote pond aerial stocking program, the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire has established a dedicated donation account.  Those who enjoy this experience and wish to contribute to the remote pond stocking program can donate online at nhwildlifefoundation.org; be sure to specify "remote pond stocking fund."

Now that we have a jump start on spring, Jason Smith and thousands of other New Hampshire anglers are eager to welcome the open-water fishing season. Visit fishnh.com to find boatloads of fishing information, weekly stocking updates, a bi-weekly fishing report and to buy your license online.

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NH Fish and Game Dept.
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