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Why Has the Smile of the Great Spirit turned into a frown?
We have heard many ideas as to why and how to solve the small size of the salmon in Lake Winnipesauke.
Some say it is hook wounds, some say it is not using rubber nets. Some say it is too many rods per angler. These are all questions of concern However; we the co-authors of this post don't believe this is the reason for the small sized salmon in Winni. There has to be other reasons. Reasons we currently can not put our fingers on, but allow us to explain why we do not think the reasons mentioned above are not the cause of our dilemma. We are going to ask you some questions, and want you to give your answers to these questions. We together need to find why the salmon are not getting to the size that they get in other lakes such as Squam, Sunapee etc.
Give your answers using a percentage rate 1% to 100%
Question # 1 What % do you think get hook wounded?
Question #2 What % do you think get wounded because of use of non-rubber nets?
Question #3 What % do you think get killed by boat traffic?
Question #4 What % do you think get caught or killed by ice fishermen?
Question #5 What % do you feel are stunted or killed by other means?
Hypothetically we are going to use what we feel are very high percentages to answer these questions. Let’s say for example that the answer to question: #1 is 50%, #2 is 20%, #3 is 2% and for you guys against ice fishing question # 4 is 10% Plus we will in our estimation of question #5 say 10% for other means.
Ok, we now have our figures. Now according to F&G they stock between 20,000 - 25,000 salmon annually. We will not even consider the hold overs that have survived over years past. Let's just go with the lowest figure of the 20,000. Plus the F&G are saying that there is plenty of smelt, white perch etc., so there is plenty of feed to sustain large salmon in what is also the states largest lake.
Now if you take the 50%, 20%, 2%, 10% and the 10% these all total 92% of the fish that WE hurt, die, or just get stunted to the point that they never reach the weight of over the 4.5 lb range. This leaves just 8% that are free from harm living fat and happy untouched, by what the posters on this site have stated the problems are as to why we do not have larger salmon in the lake. So do the calculations: The remaining 8% of the 20,000 newly stocked salmon is now 1600 salmon,
So why aren't say even 2% of those undamaged salmon, which would be 16 caught? Just take how many anglers and lines are in the water during the Spring Derby and all through the year and not one trophy fish is caught out of a total of 1600 healthy or should be healthy and hardy salmon. THINK ABOUT IT. We haven’t even included the hold over from the years past.
We think there has to be other reasons why the lake is not producing larger salmon. The salmon all come from the same hatchery so that is not the problem.
Could it be the additives in the gas from all the boat motors, a lot more traffic than the other salmon lakes, Remember they used to catch big salmon in Winni in years past you must agree there were a lot less boats on the lake????????????? And not as many additives in the gasoline. We don't think you can blame acid rain; it rains the same water in the other lakes. Could it be milfoil or other foliage?????????????? Could it be erosion of the lakes bottom that is now changing the water that is having a negative affect towards these fish? Could the Rainbows be eating more than what is expected of them, if so where are the bigger rainbows? Also we ask why, given the size and depth of Lake Winnipesauke it hasn't produced lake trout a fish that is native to the lake over the twenty pound range?
We could go on and on with the questions but we just don't believe line limits, barbed hooks, rubber nets, ice fishing, boat traffic, etc. although may prevent some salmon from getting larger than they do is really not the answer. We do not claim to know the answers, but we do feel it is something unique to Winnipesauke. The co-authors of this article are Russ Johnson and Forrest Currier thanks for reading
No large salmon remain in Winni probably because Forrest Currier has caught them all while ice fishing! LOL
Not that he wouldn't cut the hook off while keeping the HUGE Salmon in the hole.
Happy New Year Forrest
Some good points taken and I agree the problem may be unique to Winni, except it is a known fact the the other Lakes have no fishing pressure like Winni.
Here is my two cents. I think that the rainbow are take over as the domiant fish in the lake is the first thing.The other thing is the Salmon are eating more white peach. The white peach don't have as much nutrients as the smelt. That just my two cents.
My feelings are that the size of the salmon being stocked are too small. I would like to see bigger fish stocked and not as many. I think that might help. I realize cost/space is an issue but it should never be an excuse. Where there's a will there's a way. Also, I (and many others I know) have no desire to fish the Merrimack for the Atlantic Broodstock. I think it would be great if they put all of these fish, or at least a portion of them, in Winni. Raise license fees $5 to cover the cost and do away with the salmon stamp. Without the ability to keep these through the ice, I think some of those 10-12lb brutes could potentially reach 15lbs. Who wouldn't want the chance to tangle with one of these monsters? You can catch a monster Atlantic in Ma. in a 50 acre lake with a maximum depth of 30 feet, and you can't do the same thing in NH's largest lake? That makes no sense to me. I'm geared towards bigger fish and I think most veteran anglers would rather catch fewer but larger fish, as opposed to high numbers of 2lb fish. I don't know; I might be wrong with this assumption. Either way, I think it's good that anglers and F&G are acknowledging that there's a problem. Hopefully, something can be done about it.
My two cents. Lets make the big Rotary Derby prizes for largest lake trout (non tagged) rather than tagged rainbows to reduce the huge number of hook wounded and/or killed salmon that are caught fishing just under the ice in salmon/rainbow territory. Most of the "out of town rookies" do not follow the rules when they have a salmon on the line.
My $.02 This is a slightly educated hypothesis based on my study of evolution, biology and genetics at UNH. I think that the sticking process itself can allow for weaker classes of any organism, let alone salmon. Just by the process of artificially reproducing these fish we bypass nature's method of ensuring that only the strongest of the species will survive. We are populating the lake with salmon that may have never survived on their own had it been up to mother nature instead of the Powder Mill Hatchery. NO I am not saying that we should get rid of stocking because then there would be no salmon fishery. I am saying that if we breed weak fish than we will have weak fish for the following generation. I am sure that F&G do their best to select the best salmon on salmon sunday, but are these very knowledge scientists as good at natural selection as mother nature? I also think that F&G need to walk a fine line between quality and quantity with stocking Winni. If half the number were stocked then yes most certainly we would regulary pull out 5+ pounders; however, at the cost of also catching much fewer salmon overall as well as the odds will go up that a good skunking will come your way. If people aren't catching salmon they will lose interest and if they lose interest they don't buy licenses and gear which will cut the funding and make the fishing worse, which will cut the funding, it is a reciprocal effect. I think that if enough voices are heard proclaiming a desire for size over quanity, then F&G may adjust stocking rates.
I think another contributing factor is that the fish population of the lake itself is changing. We have a white perch poplation that is apparently growing out of control, both in number and in the size of the fish. The yellow perch are disappearing along with the white fish(if they are not already gone, i can't remeber hearing of one being caught in the last 10 years)as well as the crayfish. The crayfish can be explained with the cleaning up of the lake over the years. The laws on septic systems have greatly contributed to water that contains much less human waste than the lake used to. What can I say the crayfish like to eat poop. However, we also have a greater amount of houses on the water with these lovely manicured lawns that probably have more fertilizer in them than I'll ever be able to afford. Not all of the fertilizers are bad but do you want them in your drinking water? So who knows just how those chemicals are affecting the chemistry of the lake water.
I think that we as fishermen are to be blamed as well, (again not all of us). We throw back salmon that we have badly hook wounded and we keep the fat 4 pounder. We should be doing that the other way around, throw back the trophy after a gentle hook release, and keep the skinny racer for breakfast. The debate between single and treble hooks will probably never have a clear answer but we all know that the barbs damage the fish worse than barbless hooks so why aren't we all using barbless hooks or pincinh them down? I know some of you do this and I plan on pinching all my barbs down from now on.
My point in all of this very long rambling post is that I don't think it is just one thing that we can point out fingers at and say that that is why the salmon are small, but rather more than a few contributing factors. We as the fisherman have a responsibility to cull out the weak fish, legally of course, and protect the trophy salmon that we all want to enjoy. We as the fisherman have the responsibility to protect what we love. We may not have the ability to make policy at F&G but they do listen to us and answer our questions with facts beyond all of our speculation. This is witnessed in the countless replies from John Viar to our emails and his volunteering his time to speak at the gatherings every spring.
I guess with all I had to say that is was more like my $.03! Tight Lines everybody
Allot of good points Link and others, fact remains all the other Salmon Lakes are doing fine as far as quality. So what is different with Winni ??? More fishing pressure, plain and simple. They are the same fish as most of the eggs were taken from Squam the past few years, not Winni. But yet they don't do well in Winni, whereas they do super in the other Lakes.
Putting in less fish will help, less went in last year due to availability.
I think Derby changes (and/or elimination) should be tried before 2 rods per boat is tried. The two rod thing will lessen the pressure for sure and perhaps help the fishery, but what are all the other ramifications that will come with it.
Fish and Game will try to give us whatever type of fishery we desire and that is exactly what they did with Winni. People wanteed a high catch rate and they got it, unfortunatly you can't have your cake and eat ot too.
Squam and some others are true trophy lakes, many skunks and very slow fishing, but it will give you a nice fish now and then. I don't think the average Winni fisherman would want that fishery for Winni.
my 2 cents on this...
by limiting boats to 2 rods, i think less overall licenses will be sold. Our camp brings in about 12-14 guys for the May Derby, 10 of those guys are once a year visitors, no need for them to ever buy a license under that change. I have to think hundreds of licenses (revenue) are sold just because of that Derby. Also, how many groups or 3-4 guys on a boat, especially derby weekend? thats the majority of what you see... so now instead of 600 boats with an avg of 4 guys, you will have 1200 boats with 2 guys (only due to neededing a witness, the rest of the year I will just fish alone as you all will). so lets double the boat traffic and fuel pollution in order to up the salmon ante... brilliant plan for whom ever thought of it!
My first thoughts on slowing down the catch/injury rate. 1. End the season Aug 30th... We all know Sept fishing is like sticking your hand in the goldfish tank at petco.... anyone can come up with 10 fish in 2 hours. and 2. have a few scattered no fishing saturdays... that will lesson the total amount caught each season as well.
Everyone blames the ice fisherman!! If we are killing and wounding all these salmon why not let us keep them? Nothing like seeing 400 fisherman April 1st crammed into a tiny area catching all these stupid salmon one after another!!
I agree with john, September can be slow, but there are no nicer days in the year than in September.
Also, I think many fisherman that are still working may only have Saturdays to fish (not my problem) Would not recommend any no fishing days.