Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Brown trout program was success storyBy DICK PINNEY September 29. 2018 11:14PM
As a New Hampshire Conservation Officer, after reading and corresponding with Connecticut's Fisheries Biologist, Bob Jones, in reference to his successful work with sea-run brown trout in his state, we had a chance to meet Bob in person as he was spending a couple of weeks at a Rye Beach vacation home.
At that time we were very interested in his success with creating a sea-run brown trout program in his state, which by the way wasn't considered the greatest place for trout of any kind to have great success.
But he was having it! Seeing pictures of brown trout that seemed as long as your arm returning to his freshwater streams had me palpitating and curious about what our chances here in New Hampshire for duplicating his success.
We started to have conversations about this by both phone and e-mail and made arrangements to meet him when he came here for a couple weeks of vacation.
I gave him a quick tour of one of our coastal freshwater streams (Berry Brook) that emptied into the saltwater in Rye that I had responsibility for both policing and managing the trout population in my assigned territory. Bob told us that conditions at Berry Brook were pretty much the same as he had in Connecticut and encouraged me to give it a try with a stocking of fish.
At that time we had no allotment of brown trout to tinker with but we did have an allocation of both brook and rainbow trout that, without permission (which at that time we felt we wouldn't get), we diverted some of our fish and stocked them in the tidal water of Berry Brook in Rye with a lot of hope but not much confidence that they could survive in those not ideal trout waters.
But they did! We spent quite a bit of our off-duty time watching brook trout as long and large as my forearm appear on the incoming high tide. It was both tremendously exciting and fulfilling my dream!
That next early fall, as we were accustomed to doing, we parked our cruiser near the Bracket Road bridge and were awarded with the sight of a huge sea-run brookie that swam upstream under the bridge - we mean, it was huge in both its impact on me as to our success in stocking it, and for its size and beauty!
Game on! We took some photos of other sea-run trout now using Berry Brook and took them to F&G's office in Concord to show them off to the head of our fisheries division. Can't remember his name but do remember his enthusiasm and his no-strings-attached new allotment of brown and rainbow trout to continue my experiment. And those new stockings were very successful and a great fishery was about to take hold in a very different way in our coastal waters.
Since then Berry Brook gets a regular allotment of trout to be stocked in the tidal waters. And if you are a trout angler and want to have a new experience, you want to visit the tidal waters of this stream in Rye with fly rod in hand and a variety of both medium sized streamer flies and wet flies. You do need to be stealthy as these fish have run the gauntlet of a lot of different predators and are quite shy.
Try to stay away from the stream banks. My best luck has come from mid-coming high tides to about half-out on the dropping tides. Even though it appears that spawning attempts are being made, we don't believe they are successful because of the salt level in the water. But these fish are too valuable to catch-kill-and eat! We've had trout in our hands caught there that were in the six to seven pound range - browns, rainbows and even brook trout.
The best time of year for some good viewing and catching is here. Handle caught fish with care and give thanks to the New Hampshire Fisheries Division for having the foresight to give a rookie warden a free hand at creating this very exciting fisheries.
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Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.