I am on my soap box this week and directing my comments to Dr. Mark Tisa, the director of Fisheries at Mass Wildlife. Twenty years ago, this state instituted year round trout fishing. It was put in place so hatchery personal would not have to make such a big push to get fish out and allow fisherman the ability to fish year round, stopping fishing for eight weeks, yes, a whopping eight weeks a year.
In those days, some 1 million trout were stocked and now its just 600,000. Yes, the poundage has increased, but the number of trout fisherman has grossly decreased. You have lost an entire family of people who will never know what its like to wake up to the 4 a.m. alarm clock with anticipation of catching a few fish. They will never know what friendship is on an annual basis. They don't know about family meetings at that lucky spot! Having fish to catch week after week or month after month. Seeing your kid head for the local pond or river to drown a few worms instead of hanging on a corner or watching the boob tube.
There is no reason why you had to cut production to 600,000 when 750,000 would have still given trout fisherman a great deal of big fish and limits may not have been cut all the way down to three per day from six per day. Dr. Tisa, you have done a great job raising big fish but you have also done something else, you have spoiled the fisherman. Whatever happened to the 10- or 11-inch fish? When I caught a 12- or 13-inch trout, that was huge -- bragging size -- like a 10-point buck. Now 14-inch trout are a dime a dozen. Worse, you are even releasing 20-inch trout -- more spoilage.
I hear bass fishing is taking over as the top fishery, but I wonder why. It's because there are fewer trout to catch. The stocking crews used to put 10,000 fish in the Squannacook river and now it's perhaps 3,000 fish. This is the same story all over the state. Fewer fish just means fewer fisherman.
When I go to the rivers now, it's mostly the older crowd casting for a fish and when the subject comes up about the old days, the conversation becomes very lively. Most want it back!
The state should be stocking salmon and have it completed by week's end. Only a select few ponds will get fish, with each district receiving just 125 salmon each. I do think Baddacook will be one and Whalom in Lunenburg yet another. I will have more the next time we meet.
The Massachusetts primitive Firearms season is under way and will continue until the end of the month. So far hunters have had mixed results, with the best spot being Devens, which was open for a few days. Thankfully the base commander allows hunters on the base to hunt during the shotgun season this year -- only for one day, but for four days during the primitive season. There was no archery hunting allowed this year.
I hunted there one afternoon and saw many fine deer, including two nice bucks and four does. The deer numbers appear to be in great numbers and very healthy.
Preliminary reports received from 140 agents throughout Vermont indicate this year's rifle season harvest total is slightly higher than the average for the previous three years, according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.
As of Dec. 4, with numbers still coming in, it was reported that hunters harvested 4,897 deer during the November rifle season. The average harvest as of this date for the previous three years was 4,867 deer. Final numbers will be tallied after all reports have been turned in and the information has been reviewed for accuracy.
Archery harvest totals are also up slightly, to 2,915, compared with an average of 2,484 deer reported on the same date over the last three years. Results for youth weekend are still being tallied, but appear to be at or above the previous three-year average. Vermont's whitetail population is healthy, and the antler restriction that started in 2005 has resulted in more numerous and older bucks in the deer population.
The Rockingham Hunting & Fishing Expo will be held Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, at Rockingham Park in Salem, N.H. (www.rockinghamexpo.com.) Stop by the N.H. Fish and Game booth to buy your 2013 N.H. hunting and fishing licenses and the 2013 N.H. Fish & Wildlife calendar. You can also pick up maps, law books and the 2013 summer brochure for Barry Conservation Camp. The expo features many local and national outdoor products and services, as well as hunting and fishing seminars. Young outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy trying their luck at the trout pond or hitting the bull's eye at the archery range. Half the proceeds from the kids' attractions will be donated to Barry Conservation Camp, the overnight summer camp for youth operated by Fish and Game in partnership with 4-H through UNH Cooperative Extension.
Have a Merry Christmas !
Bill Biswanger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.