Jon Greenwood: (603) 271-1743
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
September 23, 2005
Brood Stock Atlantic Salmon Offer Exciting Fall Fishing
CONCORD, N.H. -- Anglers looking for some challenging catch-and-release sport fishing while they're enjoying the fall foliage should head to the Merrimack and Pemigewasset rivers to hook the "King of Fish" -- Atlantic salmon.
This fall, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will stock the Merrimack and Pemigewasset rivers with big salmon for anglers to fish for -- about 500 brood stock Atlantic salmon weighing from 3 to 8 pounds each. Anglers also may encounter some of the brood stock salmon stocked last spring.
Expect some great fishing by the first week in October, as the fall stocking will take place very soon, according to Jon Greenwood, coordinator of Fish and Game's Merrimack River Anadromous Fish Restoration Program. "These big fish are great fun to catch, and it's a beautiful time of year to be out at the river," Greenwood says.
Fisheries statistics indicate that the success rate for catching salmon is higher in the fall than in the spring season, thanks to better wading conditions and cooler temperatures. The brood stock Atlantic salmon season runs year-round, but all salmon caught from October 1 through March 31 must be released immediately.
Anglers need a New Hampshire fishing license and an $11 Atlantic salmon permit; both can be purchased online (click here for online license sales), or from license agents statewide. All proceeds from salmon stamp permits support the Merrimack River Anadromous Fish Restoration Program, created in 1993 by Fish and Game, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to help restore migratory fish populations to the Merrimack River watershed. As of 2005, stamp and possession tags are not required for salmon anglers.
The fish being stocked this fall are surplus brood stock salmon from the Warren Fish Hatchery. Brood stock salmon are kept to produce offspring, or "fry," more than a million of which are released each spring to in an effort to restore sea-running fish to the Merrimack River basin. After spawning at the hatchery, the brood stock fish are released in the Merrimack, creating the only managed salmon fishery in New England.
The brood stock salmon released in the Merrimack offer New Hampshire anglers an exciting recreational fishing opportunity. This fall, the large fish will be stocked in the Franklin-Bristol area. The first good spots to try for the big salmon are below the Ayers Island Dam in Bristol along the Coolidge Woods Road, the Profile Falls Recreation Area, the access site near the Smith River confluence and below the Eastman Falls Dam in Franklin. Because the fish are migratory, anglers should also try fishing downstream as the season progresses, near Boscawen, Penacook and Sewall's Falls Park, and below the dams at Hooksett and Garvins Falls. Click here for more information and a brood stock salmon N.H. access map.
Fish and Game's Greenwood suggests that anglers use traditional salmon flies or trout streamers such as Grey Ghosts, Mickey Finns or any patterns that imitate small baitfish. Fly casters should use 8 to 10 pound test line and a 7-, 8-, or 9-weight rod with floating line. Fishing with spinning gear is allowed in the section of the river below the Garvins Falls Dam in Bow. Anglers should review the special regulations for brood stock salmon available on the Atlantic Salmon page of the Fish and Game website (click here).
Brood stock salmon anglers can help the program by reporting their catch to Fish and Game; fishing diaries submitted by January 15 are eligible for a prize drawing. For a printable salmon diary and information on how to send in your report, click here.
Fish and Game's programs for restoring anadromous fish, managing and researching fisheries and teaching people about aquatic resources are made possible in part by the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program, funded through purchases of fishing equipment and motorboat fuels.