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All 760 brood stock Atlantic salmon slated for spring release have been stocked into the rivers, according to Matt Carpenter, who coordinates Fish and Game's Anadromous Fish Restoration Program. "The fish look great this year, averaging over 8 pounds, with some big 15 pounders sprinkled in," said Carpenter. "There have even been some reports of holdovers from last year. We started stocking early this year in Bristol, but then were delayed by a spike in river flows. Rapidly melting snow in the mountains from an unusual spring heat wave led to high water in the Merrimack River at the end of April, Carpenter explained. Flows have dropped significantly since then, despite some recent rain, and flows should continue to drop as the trees absorb more moisture during leaf production.
Sites in Bristol and Franklin were stocked in late April. Fish and Game was able to put some fish in the Contoocook River, accessed from the south bank near the confluence with the Merrimack, during the high water. During the first week of May, a stocking truck broke down at Sewalls Falls in Concord. "We were forced to stock a large number of fish, some of which, unfortunately, were meant for Hooksett," said Carpenter. "To take advantage of the situation, head straight to Sewalls Falls!"
To fish for brood stock salmon, anglers need a current New Hampshire fishing license and an $11 brood stock salmon permit. Both can be purchased online at http://www.FishNH.comor from Fish and Game license agents statewide.
Only salmon marked by Fish and Game with a T-bar anchor at the base of the dorsal fin may be kept, and the bag limit is 1 per day and 5 total for the season. For more information on New Hampshire's brood stock salmon fishery, including an access map, visit http://www.fishnh.com/Fishing/atlantic_salmon.htm.
"So if you're on the fence, it's time to jump off and head to the river . . . and let me know how it goes. We appreciate the feedback," said Carpenter. Carpenter can be reached at 603-271-2612 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're not familiar with the program, big broodstock Atlantic salmon are stocked each spring and fall in the Merrimack and Pemigewasset rivers by Fish and Game, giving New Hampshire the only managed Atlantic salmon river fishery in New England -- a unique sport fishery. These fish have completed their maternal duty producing the fry used in the Atlantic salmon restoration program, a partnership between N.H. Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Purchase of salmon permits helps support this cooperative state-federal restoration effort.
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