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Jon Greenwood: (603) 271-1743
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
September 26, 2006

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. In early October, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will stock the Merrimack basin with 700 brood stock Atlantic salmon averaging 2 pounds each -- more than twice the number stocked last fall. Expect some great salmon fishing by the first week in October.

October and November are prime months for fall salmon fishing in New Hampshire. Since this fall's brood stock salmon are smaller than those released in the past, Jon Greenwood, coordinator of Fish and Game's Merrimack River Anadromous Fish Restoration Program, suggests downsizing to lighter 5- to 7-weight rods, "so you can experience the feel of the fight and have more fun with the fish." He adds, "These fish are challenging to catch, and it's a beautiful time of year to be out at the river." Anglers also may encounter some of the brood stock salmon stocked last spring.

Brood stock anglers need a current N.H. fishing license and an $11 brood stock salmon permit, both available 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.

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.

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 fish will be stocked only in the Franklin-Bristol area. The first good spots to try for the brood stock 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 (in the Stirrup Iron Brook area), Penacook (at the mouth of the Contoocook River), at the Sewall's Falls Recreational Park in Concord and below the Garvins Falls Dam (Bow) and the Hooksett Dam. For more information and an access map, click here.

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 pursuing boodstock salmon this fall should consider using lighter, 5- to 7-weight rods with floating or sink tip lines, depending on river flow conditions. 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 Fish and Game website.

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 and scroll to the bottom of the page.

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.

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