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Some Winni Derby fishermen report seeing smaller catches

MEREDITH - The fish weren't biting much at the Winni Derby on Lake Winnipesaukee Saturday.

Dan Dunlop of Meredith and his son, Drew, spent several hours on the lake in their high-tech fishing boat, which allowed Dan to perch on the front while several fishing lines trolled the waters behind, with Drew tending them.

But under the bright blue sky dotted by clouds, the Dunlops came back empty-handed.

"There's nothing out there today," Dan said. "If you look at the winning fish so far, they are tiny."

Participants in this year's derby, a fundraiser by the Laconia Rotary Club on Winnipesaukee, were catching fewer fish than usual Saturday afternoon, said Diane LaBrie, the derby's chairman.

Friday's windy weather made fishing difficult, she said. Saturday morning's catch was better, and LaBrie said things were picking up at the weigh station in Weirs Beach.

There are 1,400 registered anglers in the derby this year. For the first time, the winner in the salmon contest will have to take a lie detector test to ensure the fish was actually caught in Lake Winnipesaukee to avoid the possibility of cheating.

Derby entrants likely did find smaller salmon than in years past, said John Viar, a fisheries biologist with New Hampshire Fish and Game, who helps the derby run smoothly as fish are brought to the weigh station.

The derby takes fish entries in the landlocked salmon and lake trout categories. The largest lake trout caught as of mid-day Saturday was good-sized at 7.64 pounds and about 27 inches long, while the largest salmon was 3.7 pounds and just over the 20-inch minimum for salmon.

The larger salmon on the lake have probably already been taken by anglers, Viar said.

"The lake trout that have been caught are fabulous, but the salmon are not so large," Viar said. "It's just the way it is; there's been a decrease in the amount of larger ones. I would classify the salmon size on this lake as 'fair.'"

The derby continues today, with $50,000 in prizes on the line.

Wally Ryan of Canterbury also was disappointed with his catch, a 22-inch lake trout.

"It's a nice fish, but I don't think it's big enough," he said.

"It's all that was out there for me today."


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