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Matt Carpenter: (603) 271-1743
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211

Stocking brood stock salmon
Fisheries biologist Matt Carpenter with a brood stock salmon stocked last spring.

October 5, 2010 

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 he fall foliage should head to the Merrimack and Pemigewasset rivers to hook the "King of Fish.”  October and November are prime months for fall Atlantic salmon fishing in New Hampshire.  Expect some great salmon fishing by the first week in October – the fish are in!  This fall the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will stock the Merrimack basin with about 800 brood stock Atlantic salmon, averaging about 2 to 3 pounds each.  

“The two-year-old fish that we stock in the fall are smaller than the 3 and 4-year-olds put out in the spring, but the tradeoff is that fishing conditions are usually better in the fall,” said Matt Carpenter, a Fisheries Biologist with the Anadromous Fisheries Restoration Program.  “Salmon are in no hurry to leave the river as the water temperature cools and lower average flows provide better access for anglers.”

Fisheries statistics suggest that the success rate for catching salmon is higher in the fall than in the spring season. The brood stock Atlantic salmon season runs year-round, but all salmon caught from October 1 through March 31 must be released immediately. 

To fish for brood stock salmon, anglers need a current New Hampshire fishing license and an $11 brood stock salmon permit; both are available at or from license agents statewide.  All proceeds from salmon permits support the Merrimack River Anadromous Fish Restoration Program, created in 1993 by Fish and Game, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to help restore migratory fish populations to the Merrimack River watershed. 

To watch a 3-minute video of NH fishing guide Jon Lockwood fishing for brood stock Atlantic salmon in the Merrimack, visit

The brood stock salmon will be stocked this fall at two sites -- below the Eastman Falls Dam in Franklin and the Ayers Island Dam in Bristol. 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), below the Eastman Falls Dam in Franklin and the public boat launch behind the Franklin High School on the Winnipesaukee River. Find more information and an access map at

Carpenter suggests that anglers use traditional salmon flies or trout streamers such as Grey Ghosts, Mickey Finns or any patterns that imitate small baitfish.  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 at the Fish and Game website.

Brood stock salmon anglers can help the program by reporting their catch to Fish and Game.  If you have questions, comments, or just want to share your fishing experience, call Matt Carpenter (603-271-2612).  "We are always interested in your feedback on the brood stock program," said Carpenter.

Brood stock salmon are kept by the US Fish & Wildlife Service 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.

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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