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Conditions favor fishermen for opening day

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 31. 2012 11:03PM

LACONIA - Ken Eldridge at Martel's Bait and Sport shop said he expects the Winnipesaukee River to be lined with fishermen early this morning.

Lake trout and landlocked salmon season begins at dawn today, and the fact the waters are open at this date is a bit of an historic anomaly.

He noted that salmon like water to be about 40 degrees, and the river temperature is already 48 degrees.

'People have been getting more anxious about the fishing season, realizing that all the water is open now,' he said.

While some are concerned that such a warm winter and lack of melting snowpack might affect fish spawning, Eldridge noted that a very minimal ice fishing season may mean there are more fish in the water.

Rain would be helpful, and April is known for its showers.

This year, ice-out occurred on March 22, about a month earlier than usual.

In 2010, ice-out occurred March 24, and Eldridge recalled it as a particularly good fishing year.

Martel's has been selling lots of shiners, suckers and night crawlers, he said, and he noted that he just registered his boat.

'Normally, I don't do that for another month or so,' he said.

New Hampshire Fish and Game Department officials said because of the smaller snowpack, river flows should also be excellent for early April fishing.

'The mild winter kept ice-fishing pressure low, and this will likely translate to better opportunities for the open-water angler,' said Don Miller, a Fish and Game biologist.

Fish and Game manages 15 lakes for landlocked salmon: Big Dan Hole Pond, First and Second Connecticut Lakes, Conway Lake, Lake Francis, Merrymeeting Lake, Newfound Lake, Ossipee Lake, Big and Little Squam Lakes, Sunapee Lake, Lake Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam Lake and Nubanusit Lake.

Pleasant Lake in New London is also managed for landlocked salmon, but is classified as a trout pond, with a 2012 opening date of April 28.

Annual resident fishing licenses are $35. Resident one-day licenses are $10. Annual nonresident fishing licenses are $53.

One-, three- and seven-day nonresident licenses are also available.

Licenses can be purchased online at or from any Fish and Game license agent.

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