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NEW HAMPTON, N.H. -- Ice anglers broke New Hampshire's state record for cusk twice in a month's time this winter. Both record-breaking fish were caught in Lake Winnipesaukee. The previous record for cusk had stood for 23 years.
"Having two record-breaking fish caught in such a short timeframe is really exciting -- a once in a lifetime occurrence," said John Viar, a fisheries biologist with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. "Lake Winnipesaukee has always been known for quality cusk through the ice, with numerous fish caught in the 3-6 lbs. range, and near state record cusk in the 9-10+ lbs. range taken annually. This winter two of our most dedicated cusk anglers were finally successful in toppling the old benchmark. I wouldn't be surprised to see the record fall again in the near future."
John Thurston, of Wolfeboro Falls, caught his record-breaking cusk on February 11, 2007, at the Great Rotary Fishing Derby in Meredith. His record catch weighed in at 11 pounds, 13.92 ounces and measured 34 inches in length.
Thurston's reign as state cusk record-holder lasted only a few weeks. Ken Cayer, of Candia, proceeded to top the charts on March 13, 2007, when he caught a cusk that tipped the scales at 12.22 pounds and measured 34.5 inches long. Cayer's catch now stands as the current state record.
Cusk, also known as burbot, lawyer, ling and many other common names, are native to New Hampshire's large, glacial, oligotrophic (high-oxygen, low organic content) lakes - yet even some experienced anglers have never seen them. The only freshwater member of the cod family, this species is most active under the ice in cold water and actually spawns over shoal areas during the winter. Thus, it is a favorite among ice anglers and has developed a reputation as one of the finest eating fish, either fried or in hearty winter chowder. Adult cusk are essentially dormant in the deepest, coldest waters in the summer months and thus rarely caught by open water anglers.
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