Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Trout stocking was a big successBy DICK PINNEY October 22. 2017 2:48AM
WE'RE KIND OF surprised that so few people are fishing for the huge trout in one of our state's coastal streams this time of year.
We're talking Berry Brook in Rye, where some of the largest brown trout with occasional brookie or rainbow are migrating in from their time at sea, where they are able to feed on the almost unlimited amount of minnows and shiners along with any shellfish they might choose to inhale.
The Berry Brook sea-run fisheries was probably the best gift that my time as New Hampshire Conservation Officer achieved. And it was done by some clandestine work that we dared to do and apparently got away with, because of the goal of big sea run trout was a success.
It all started with some conversations with sportsmen (and women) about our coastal marshes, which they waterfowl hunted with great success. They all adored those tidal resources.
They, like us, had been reading about a fisheries biologist in Connecticut (of all places!) who created a viable run of brown trout in one of the state's best freshwater streams that dumped into the saltwater.
"Why not try this in our Berry Brook?," they would hound me when we had a chance to sit down over a cup of coffee with them and just chat about whatever was going on at the time.
So without any official approval, we kind of stole a small percentage of our brook trout stocking schedule and clandestinely slipped them into the brook, with the stocking truck driver shaking his head in disbelief!
But it seemed Lady Luck was on our shoulder as that next fall we almost fell off the bridge when we watched a huge brook trout turn up in a homemade live trap we installed with the help of our new, rookie marine biologist who, because we don't have permission, we omit his name.
We were both very excited, to say the least. So with that experience in mind, we decided to talk with our head of the fisheries division and ask him for a small allotment of brown trout to see if that would work.
And work it did as our homemade weir trap, which we modeled from a smelt trap, was visited by the prettiest pair of adult and ripe brown trout you'd ever want to see. (Especially if it proved that your experiment was viable!)
With that as some proof that Berry Brook was a viable prospect to go with a regular stocking of brown trout, we started to get a nice allotment of yearling brown trout. They were in the 7- to 9-inch size length. Keeping an almost daily watch on what was going on there, we were very concerned about the amount of predation by seagulls and other marine predators, but the fish got smarter and some of them returned that next fall to attempt to spawn. (Which we knew probably wouldn't amount to a viable population, so were were going to need annual stockings.)
But the end justified a place on our regular trout stocking allotment and some of the most ardent anglers were taking advantage of hooking and in almost every instance releasing fish they'd never dreamed of when fishing coastal New Hampshire!
We haven't visited the bridge there for our annual treat of seeing some outstanding sea-run trout turning up but we won't let a year go by without doing it. It's an incredible rush when you watch trout that you'd only dream of catching swim under the bridge and eventually attempt to spawn.
We've seen reds (their spawning attempts) in the upstream gravel but we're pretty sure that those attempts are fruitless because of the salinity of the water. The purely freshwater spawning grounds are not viable so natural reproduction, if it happens at all, is miniscule.
But those big trout are still there. Take the time to throw a fly at them or view them on the incoming tide with a the help of polarized sun glasses. They will make your heart pound!
Drop us a line at DoDuckInn@aol.com and enjoy the fall scenery!
Dick Pinney 's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.