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What would you consider to be a healthy fish? I think that for the average fisherman's perception the fishery may appear to be fine. (we are all catching fish) However my opnion is that I see only a handful of quality Salmon all year long! The data mirrors my opnion, every year we have had a decline in both weight and length of our average say three year old Salmon! If we want to catch three pound Salmon and call that a nice one well than I think we are all set, we have got that, but if we want to catch a "quality" Salmon of four pounds or better than we all had better smell the rose's! We used to think that a three pound fish was a nice one but now we have lowered our bar to thinking it's a stud! Keep in mind many angler's think that a three pound Salmon is much larger like 4-4.5#'s.... I see this all the time in talking with people on the lake and with my customer's!
What do you consider to be a quality Salmon????
I haven't seen a 5 pounder since in a long long time, and last year there was maybe only one 4+ pounder brought on my boat, the year before a couple of four pounders. The majority of the salmon always seem to be 19-20 inches which just won't make it to the scales at the derby! I think the same as others probably do and estimate these fish to be 3 to 3.5 pounds and then put them on a scale only to find they weigh 2.8-3.2 pounds.....I catch heavier bass off of my dock...When a 4+ pound salmon does end up in the boat these days you know it because it just dwarfs anything that has been caught previously.
I would like to see bigger salmon in Winni like the ones that can be found in Squam. I know it would mean giving up the days when I can go out by myself and boat 15 or so cold water species in a 4-5 hour trip, but I am willing to give that up to see the 4 pounders become common, like the just over 3 pounders are now in August, and only the 5+ pounder will cause me to jump up and down hooting and hollering like a little kid on Christmas morning.
I don't have any real answers as to how to do this except that we all need to practice better catch and release and selectively harvest better. (Here's where everyone shoots me! sorry guys) Maybe F&G could stock less salmon, in theory it would lower catch rates but increase size!
When I read about salmon and laker fishing from 40,50-60 years ago those guys would have laughed at a 3 pounder as they would see 6 and 7 pounders. When is the last time any of us have ever seen one of those? I know I never have in Winni anyway, but wouldn't it be nice?
I think we all should take another year to evaluate the quality of the fishery.
Poor stocking quality in my opinion has resulted in what we've seen in netting these recent years. Yearlings to be stocked are looking good for this year from what the guys who were fin clipping said, so let's see what the results show in the fall. Of course gentle handling of the fish we release is a must, since I believe that the success of catch and release practice has obviously increased the percentage of fish that have hook wounds in the fall netting process.
If F&G stock fewer fish we probably will just have fewer fish to catch. Isn't there enough bait already to feed the amount of fish stocked?
My 2 cents. I think there are a series of variables in the mix. Maybe stocking size of fish, hook wounds, downriggers, sonar, fishhawks, every lure and color pattern under the sun that wasnt available years past! But number one in my mind is PRESSURE! The lake takes a pounding compared to what it saw back in the 70's and 80's and even early 90's. How can F&G control the number of boats out there.....they can't unless they shorten the season. I say shut her down 8/1 or 8/15 for a few years and see what that does. I would love to see the mortality rate on salmon that are caught in August at depths of 40-50+ feet depths in 50 degree water and hauled up to the surface temps into 75+ degree water and then released after that shock.
Improve the other lakes managed for salmon ie. sunepee newfound pleasent.Try a couple of others again mascoma,crystal.That might spread the pressure out a little.Thats my .02+ worth BARRY
I agree with proline. It certainly makes sense with the high water temp stress and hauling them up from the depths.I also don't think Newfound is managed for salmon any more. I have got one in the last 10 yrs and that was thru the ice and it was a healthy 4-5 lb fish. That was 2 yrs ago and yes I cut the line. None of my friends have caught any in some time either. However, the rainbow stocking seems to be working and the smelt have been back good the last few years. Lance
I would much rather catch fewer larger fish than many 2 pound fish. By larger I mean 4lb fish would be fairly common and 6-8lb salmon wouldn't be just a dream. Right now, catching any salmon over 5lbs on Winni is very rare. I would love to see it become more realistic, provided you put your time in. I'm not saying to fish once a year for 2 hours and expect to catch a 5lb fish. I think everyone would agree that's unrealistic. I've said this before on this site and I hope someday F&G will realize that salmon do not HAVE to be stocked in all our large lakes. Take 2-3 of our large "salmon" lakes and turn them into trophy brown trout fisheries. I'm not an expert by any means but I'd be willing to bet browns could grow to large sizes (7lbs plus) in some of these waters. They aren't as finicky and will eat smelt,perch,crayfish, etc... Discontinue stocking salmon in a few select lakes large enough to handle the pressure and put browns in them instead. We'll never truly know if this could work unless it's given a fair shot.
how do we know these fish are rare the fish are in their and their not getting caught .7 or 8 yrs ago I caught a 4.87lb salmon in the derby which I though would have came close to winning the derby but their was at least 12 to 15 salmon over 5 lbs and 2 or 3 that were over 6 lbs.the fish I caught would have won the derby the last 3 or 4 yrs.I think their are many reasons why the fishery has slowed like over fishing many more boats, lot more charters, people taking fish every time they go out, technology, and other things I am sure. just my 2 cents but maybe the charter guys that do 2 trips a day with 4 or 5 people on board taking 10 salmon home could try a different lake like squam ,sunapee, newfound,merrymeeting and other lakes. also the more lines you have out catching 20 to 30 fish a day has to contribute to some of the hook wounding and kill off. my 2 cents "Reel it in"
With all the pressure in Winni. The only way I see trophy salmon in Winni. Is take some of the pressure off. Or just stock Salmon when they are 3 to 4 lbs. If they can be grown that big in a hatchery. If you want a trophy salmon. I don"t think Winni is the place to go. You would have a better chance at some of the other salmon lakes.
It would be cost prohibitive to raise fish in a hatchery to 3 pounds. I agree with you guys on fish size, not much fun catching smaller 2 lb fish. I have reduced my fishing time by 1/2 because of it. I think if you were to stock Browns in other lakes and they grew to decent size that might help reduce some pressure but there are also alot of guys that just want to pursue salmon. Part of the reason Winni draws so much pressure is for that reason. It has been the most successful salmon producing lake for decades in the local area. Maine offers some salmon fishing but never was able to put up fish at the rate Winni did and you had to travel much further to get them. Everyone went to Winni to catch them and it is easily accessible to Massachusetts. It offers good depths in a very wide range of areas. The smaller lakes, while some are deep, have tighter areas of deep water and people would congregate in them which likely could lead to other issues if one developed into a hot spot.
While I agree that raising larger fish is probably cost prohibitive, with rainbows and browns (and atlantics), hatcheries raise and keep "brood stock" fish that are absolute monsters then release them after their productivity drops so that fishermen can have a chance at these bohemoths. Why couldn't they reserve a tank for 100 or so landlocks to grow to trophy size (and to make and collect eggs) then release these monsters into the lake? Again...not raising all 8 # fish but instead raising SOME big fish for both egg production and to trophy release.
I was a bit ashamed to pick the scab off this topic but it was getting to me in that I am having a solid but not exceptional season and others have posted decent numbers so I was wondering if the single sampling that was done may have not truely represented the state of the fishery. Statisticians require large sample to get reliable results and I thought one netting may not have been enough to raise the warnings we were getting. Now that they are raised, I agree that we should keep them up another year or two...it can only help the fishery PLUS we get the bonus of many fishermen now being more responsible with the resource.
One thing I did find interesting in this response is there is definitely a difference in fishery goals among responders. Some want big fish even if the cost is less fish...some want a reliable fishery for producing average fish. I guess if I ever caught a 7 or 8 pound fish, I might push hard for another but all I've ever known are 2-4 pounders so my itch is scratched.
I've fished the Finger Lakes in NY quite a bit and that's where I got my desire for bigger fish. Same goes for Champlain. In my opinion, nothing we have in NH can compare. I'm at the stage of my fishing life where I would much rather catch larger fish, even if it means fewer of them. I do however realize that others prefer to catch numbers of smaller fish. I just wish we could have a better balance between the two. As the saying goes, "to each his own."
I only get up to your beautiful lake twice a year for the derby's. Even i can see the decrease in the size of the fish. Over the years of doing the winni derby we have gone from maybe catching a couple of fish and having them be large enough to check in, to catching a very good number of fish but all smaller. Just look at the sizes of the winning salmon from the winni derby.
do you think all the complaining about no fish small fish got the fish and game to say ok lets change the rules and all of a sudden everyone said o no where screwing our selfs. all of a sudden im seeing post the fish are big and healthy fat no hook wounds lol just a thought