Hook wounding rates appear to be declining, officials say
Efforts to improve the health of the landlocked salmon fishery at Lake Winnipesaukee appear to be working.
State Fish and Game staff have worked closely with Winni Derby organizers for the past 30 years to assure the health and sustainability of the fishery.
Hook-wounded salmon have been a problem that the department has attempted to address for the past few years. The department reports that over the past six years, there has been a “dramatic” increase in hook-wounded landlocked salmon in New Hampshire's large lakes, including Lake Winnipesaukee.
At Lake Winnipesaukee, landlocked salmon hook wounding rates have increased from 15 percent in 2005 to 36 percent in 2010, according to Fish and Game. But this past fall, 26 percent of salmon examined by their staff had noticeable hook wounds — and Winni Derby officials saw little hook-wounded catches this year.
Hook-wounded fish generally have poor body condition, as the growth potential is directed toward healing the wound. As a result, fishermen are unlikely to harvest the wounded fish once caught, and the fish are caught and released again and again. Fish and Game urges anglers to harvest the wounded fish, and careful release healthy fish to sustain the salmon fishery.
The Salmon Anglers Pledge includes the following tips: use single or barbless hooks; use a rubber landing net to protect the fish, as the hooks won't catch on the netting material; use a pair of needle-nose pliers or a similar tool to grip the hook while removing it from the fish; a water soaked towel or cotton glove to hold the fish while you remove the hook and release it aids the salmon's health; never shake a fish off the hook and never unhook a fish suspended in air; and minimize handling time the fish is out of the water.
The advisory also recommends harvesting any fish that has been hooked severely, shows a prior debilitating injury or has been excessively handled after it was landed. For more information, go to wildlife.state.nh.us/Fishing/salmon_anglers_pledge.html.
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