CONCORD — One of the first questions that came in to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department following the recent closure of the Merrimack River salmon restoration program was, “What does this mean for the Atlantic salmon brood stock fishery?”
While many of the details remain uncertain, for this fall’s stocking, it means extra fish. About 1,500 Atlantic salmon, ranging from 2 to 5 pounds, have been released at the usual fall stocking sites in Franklin and Bristol.
“This is double the usual number of fish that typically get stocked in the fall,” said Fish and Game Anadromous Fisheries Coordinator Matt Carpenter. “So, if you have been meaning to get out and fish for fall brood stock, but just never found the time, this is your last chance.”
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 fishnh.com or from license agents statewide. All salmon caught from Oct. 1 through March 31 must be released immediately.
To watch a three-minute video of New Hampshire fishing guide Jon Lockwood fishing for brood stock Atlantic salmon in the Merrimack, visit fishnh.com/Fishing/atlantic_salmon.htm.
The brood stock salmon have been 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. An access map is available at fishnh.com/Fishing/atlantic_salmon.htm.
Most broodstock 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.