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That fish wasn't particularly long but sure was fat. Most salmon have been healthy well fed specimens, the fish in the photo had some damage along the jaw but it doesn't look like it slowed down his eating much. I gave the fillets to my mother in law and she said they were fantastic.
I've caught many 5 and 6 pounders, fat as pigs, some with hookwounding, a few with half the lower mouth missing ? I'm told it's hook wounding when they are caught young over and over. The skinny one my mother in law caght (less than 3 pounds, 21") last weekend turned out to be a 5 year old. F and G thought perhaps it was one that swalloed the rubber Bass baits, very common these days, they don't digest it and/or pass it. Must screw them up somehow, but his gut was empty ???
I would think being hooked by ice fisherman would do more harm but not many want to go there. In any case
no Spring Derb, nbo apparent other reason) sure made a difference in the Winni quality this year. But in all fairness, in years past with Derbies, quality was much better too. I still think it's (was) a forage thing maybe combined with hook wounding multiple times when real young, but I'm certainly no biologist.
But with 25,000 to 30,000 a year (29,000 this year) put in a few have to escape being caught I would think ???
No Derby surely helps reduce the number of fish caught in the spring when they are all not at peak health,etc.
I'm still trying to figure out why in Squam, with tons and tons of smelt, the bigger fish are coming to the upper water columns (20/25 feet) in 80 Degree water to eat W.Perch when they have the preffered bait in their own comfort zone to eat at will.
In any case that was some nice fish and sure looked healthy, hook wounded or not.
I'll just try and control the things I can like using a rubber net, single hooks, reviving and releasing, etc. and try to make sense of the many other factors involved. I will say that based on numbers and size of shakers this year next season should be great for 2 yr.olds but we will have to wait and see.