This Is Fly Magazine – June 2015 – “Pursuing Esox”

We are so grateful to have our article “Pursuing Esox” featured in this month’s online issue of This Is Fly Magazine! Jeff Brennan wrote the words and I took the photos! A huge thanks to everyone who helped make this project (the article and the documentary) possible! You all know who you are: Katie Blizzard, Brian Bergeson, Jon Bukowski, Kevin Ramirez, Brian Cadoret, Charlie Gordon, David Hegburg, Adam Silvis, Mike Ball, and Justin Damude! The list goes on and on and on, with too many to remember!

Check it out here: http://www.thisisfly.com/issue52_4.html?startPage=70&

LLS Insanity

This weekend, Jon Zukowski experienced the most exhilarating day of Landlocked Salmon he could have ever dreamed of. After landing numerous fish alongside his father, he hooked into an absolute beast of a hen. Jon commented, “I ran downstream as it tore line off my real, I fell on very slippery rocks, and the fish was tailed 20 minutes later.” One of our followers noted, “So big it looks like a full-blown Atlantic!” The fish is extraordinarily beautiful and we have included an album of photos below for your viewing pleasure.

Landlocked Salmon

Landlocked Salmon

Landlocked Salmon

Landlocked Salmon

Landlocked Salmon

By Austin Green

The New Face Of The Uncommon Angler

Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

Check out the new face of www.theuncommonangler.com – We have “The Blog” and “The Films” pages up and running… “The Gear” and “The Guides” are coming soon! Yes that’s right! We are working to begin offering hats, t-shirts, stickers, and more! The Uncommon Angler is also preparing to offer endorsed guide services in the Mid-Atlantic region on the Gunpowder River and beyond (Yes…carp trips!). Our New Hampshire guide will be up and running in the coming months and Colorado is in our near future! –www.theuncommonangler.com – All photos shown here are available as custom prints through The Uncommon Angler and Austin Green Photography! A big thanks to Robby L, Jim F, Jon Z, Ruby M, Mike T, Jaybo Art, and George Hill Art for showing interest in my work thus far!

Trout Fishing The Northeast

The Uncommon Angler: Trout Fishing The Northeast  from Austin Green Photography on Vimeo.

Trout Fishing The Northeast features music by my favorite local band, The Herd of Mainstreet! Be sure to check them out at http://herdofmainstreet.com/music

New Hampshire Fly Fishing – Spring 2014

The first fish of the trip! A six pound brown caught by Mike Terrien on a Gunpowder Custom Tackle white "Squishy!"

The first fish of the trip! A six pound brown caught by Mike Terrien on a Gunpowder Custom Tackle white “Squishy!”
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

During the fall of 2013 The Uncommon Angler crew gathered in New Hampshire for the first of many trips to come. Although the numbers of fish caught were few, all had a good time. The outcome was another trip planned for the spring of 2014. After a brutally cold and snowy winter in the Northeast, I was eager to begin chasing fish once again, especially with good friends.

New Hampshire Brown Trout - Fall of 2013

New Hampshire Brown Trout – Fall 2013
Copyright 2013. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

New Hampshire Fall 2013

New Hampshire Fall 2013
Copyright 2013. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

Early spring angling was more difficult than the previous season due to the seemingly never-ending winter. Pond fishing was exceptional once air temperatures began to rise above 50 degrees. River fishing was not an option until about the last two weeks of May due to continual runoff.  This was a difficult circumstance for me because I enjoy fishing rivers and streams more than any other type of water. Although still waters and spring hatches are enjoyable, I love finding a particularly fine stretch of riffles or a nice deep pool to cast into. Trout, bass, pike, and salmon are some of the species I like to pursue most in rivers. Having knowledge of each species and the types of water that each inhabits is essential to consistently finding fish throughout the year. Spring is the prime time to find any species in every body of water. This was the goal for the spring ’14 Uncommon Angler trip, set for the last week of May.

The Tahoe Packed And Ready To Go

The Truck Packed And Ready To Go
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

Nothing Like A Little North Woods Advertising To Welcome You Into Town

Nothing Like A Little North Woods Advertising To Welcome You Into Town
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

Austin Green, chief of The Uncommon Angler, and myself had been in contact with Mike Terrien of Burlington, Vermont for some time before the trip, and decided to invite him to join us. Having only met Mike once before in person, not on the water, but rather at a Phish show, I was eager to cast a fly with the guy. Mike was making the trek from Vermont to New Hampshire the evening of the 23rd, while Austin was driving north from Maryland. The plan was to convene in N.H. at my house and fish the morning of the 24th. On my drive to work I received a call from Austin notifying me of a car accident he was involved in. A vehicle had side-swiped him on the highway while driving through Pennsylvania. The news was at first an end to the trip before it began, but luckily the damage to Austin’s truck was minor. Without a passenger side view mirror and a lengthy scrape alongside the car, Austin continued on his route north.

Jon Zukowski Showing Off One Of His Pike Flies with the 3-TAND T-90 Fly Reel

Jon Zukowski Showing Off One Of His Pike Flies with the 3-TAND T-90 Fly Reel
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

It was around 11:00 p.m. when Mike pulled up the dirt driveway in front of my house. He transported his fishing gear inside and shortly after began tying a large pike fly. I instantly knew he was a serious angler and an exceptional fly tyer. Our plan was to whip up a few flies as we waited for Austin to arrive, and then get some rest so we could fish early the following morning. We could not have been more wrong about this plan. When Austin finally arrived at 1:00 a.m. we began drinking Fiddlehead Brewing Company’s Second Fiddle, an extremely hoppy double IPA which comes in at 8.2% ABV. Before we knew it, we were all tying flies and discussing the days of fishing to come. As the common phrase goes, “time flies when you’re having fun”, this was indeed what happened, but instead could be more properly labeled in our case, “time flies when you’re tying flies”.

The River With A Dense Fog In The Distance

The River With A Dense Fog In The Distance
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead!

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead!
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

When it was finally time to set our alarms for the morning we noticed we would be getting an hour and fifteen minutes of sleep. This realization was the first step towards an all-nighter, the second was more beer, more tying, and a late night breakfast. When the clock hit 3:30 a.m. we loaded the car and set off. Driving through an early morning fog was a feeling that I missed very much after the long winter. There is an eerie, almost mystical sense associated with driving through a dense fog that I cannot fully explain, but really enjoy.

Mike Terrien His Smallmouth On The Fly

Mike Terrien His Smallmouth On The Fly – Orvis Helios 2 and Mirage Fly Reel
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

New Hampshire Smallmouth

New Hampshire Smallmouth
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

After parking the car at our first fishing destination we rigged up our rods and walked to the river prepared to catch some trout. We began fishing expecting one of us to hook up within the first few minutes. After an hour and a half of ruthless sleep deprived casting we determined that it just wasn’t happening and decided to move on to another location. After arriving at our second spot Mike instantly hooked into a decent sized smallmouth. A few moments later Austin hooked and landed another bass. The morning was fishless for me, but I knew the week ahead would surely bring something good to my hand. At this point we were losing steam from no sleep and decided to head back to my house and relax. Of course we skipped out on rest and went right back to tying flies. The skewed sleep patterns of an angler are certainly hard to explain to a normal human being, a.k.a a non-angler.

Mike Terrien And  A Huge Brown Trout

Mike Terrien And A Huge Brown Trout
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

After a hearty meal we actually went to bed at a reasonable hour (before 1:00 a.m.) so we could wake up and fish the entire day. The following morning went similar to the previous except a trout was actually landed by Mike. It was a gorgeous football of a brown, which was estimated at 6 lbs and 20 inches. After Mike’s hookup the crew was stoked for what the rest of the day would bring. Although it was an excellent day of fishing with friends, missed fish and empty beer cans were all that came of it for me.  Satisfied with his fish, Mike decided to hit the road and head home to Vermont after our day on the water, while Austin and myself planned our next days approach to pike fishing.

My First Pike On The Fly

My First Pike On The Fly
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

A Deathly Pike Setup: The 3-Tand T-90 and The Rio Outbound Sinking Line

A Deathly Pike Setup: The 3-Tand T-90 and The Rio Outbound Sinking Line
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

The next day brought intervals of rain, not too heavy that it would put the fish down, but rather energize them. After casting for a short period of time Austin hooked into a good fish. I positioned myself below him in order to net the fish from the water, but quickly noticed something bizarre about it’s appearance. After several quick runs I got a glimpse of the fish, which was not a trout to my eyes. Despite having no wire tippet on, Austin managed to land a decent sized pike, which measured around 32”. It was a great start to the day and was the first pike Austin had ever latched into.

Jon Zukowski And His Monster Brown

Jon Zukowski And His Monster Brown
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

Notice How The Fish's Fat Engulfs Jon's Fingers

Notice How The Trout’s Fat Engulfs Jon’s Hand
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

As Austin and I were about to head to another location I decided to take another few casts into the swift current. Moments later my line was tight and being ripped off the reel at lightening speed. “Fish”, I yelled to Austin who was upstream at the time. He quickly came to me with the net ready. The fish was staying down deep giving some serious head shakes. I claimed a brown trout was on the other end, but after the pike hook up earlier I knew that anything could happen. Seconds later a massive brown was thrashing on the surface. After a few more runs the fish lost steam and was swaddled in the net. A high five was issued after gazing at the brown that we estimated to be ten pounds and 25 inches. The fish slammed a new variation of an old classic I have been working on lately, a grey ghost tied with laser dub, craft fur, lateral scale, and blue frost fox tail. It was the first fish I had taken on the streamer, more appropriately, the first fish to annihilate the fly. It is a wonderful feeling to hook and land a fish on a new pattern, that was to be honest, a total experiment.

The New Pike Setup: 3-TAND T-90 Reel, Orvis Access 10wt Rod, and My Blood-Orange Pike Deceiver

3-TAND T-90 Reel, Orvis Access 10wt Rod, and My Blood-Orange Pike Deceiver
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

Exploring New Water

Exploring New Water
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

The next day we decided to take the beginning of the day off and actually get some rest. As morning turned to afternoon we decided to go after some pike at a location that I had never fished before. We loaded the canoe with our gear and set off. Casting to the banks repetitively is the name of the game when pike fishing in early spring or fall. Our 8 and 10 wt. rods were tossing large (6-12 in.) flies without issue. I was utilizing my Sage Flight rod, which has been my go to river rod for several years now, while Austin chucked flies with a 10 weight Orvis Access and 3-TAND T-90 reel. The fishing was relatively slow until Austin latched into a smaller pike, but it spit the hook seconds later. We decided to switch banks as we paddled back up river. Within minutes I hooked and landed a small pike. Though it was no trophy I still got quite a rush as the fish hammered my fly. The fish inhaled the fly deep into the back of its mouth, so we decided to keep the pike for a feast. Both Austin and I had never dined on pike and figured it would be a good time to try.

Stocked Up On Fiddlehead's Double Fiddle And  The Alchemist's Heady Topper

Stocked Up On Fiddlehead’s Double Fiddle And The Alchemist’s Heady Topper
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

When we arrived home we cleaned the pike and cooked it simply with bacon, salt, and pepper with a side of fiddleheads. It was a local feast with great flavor. Paired with the meal was Lawson’s Finest Liquids Peril Imperial India Pale Ale, a limited release beer brewed for the Lawson’s 6th anniversary bottle sale. I had been holding onto the brew for a few weeks to share with Austin, which we decided was to be drank only after catching a pike. Since we had both caught Pike it was our time to indulge. Peril comes in at 11.0% ABV with serious grapefruit and hop flavor and aroma. This is apparently accomplished utilizing a triple dry-hopping process, which Sean Lawson can only lay down with such perfection. We were also lucky enough to indulge in a bottle of Lawson’s Double Sunshine. Other beers cracked throughout the week included the renowned Heady Topper (DIPA) from the Alchemist, Focal Banger (IPA), Beelzebub (Imp. stout), and Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout (Barrel aged Imp. stout). We had consumed a beer selection that was undeniably “world class.”

Jon Zukowski And A Gorgeous New Hampshire Brook Trout

Jon Zukowski And A Gorgeous New Hampshire Brook Trout
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

The Beautiful North Woods Region

The Beautiful North Woods Region
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

The next several days did not include much fishing, but instead moving. It was the end of the month and I was set to move out from the house my girlfriend and I had been living in for the past three years. It was one of those moves where you stop and ask yourself “how the hell did I accumulate so much shit?” Although a U-Haul would have been suitable we instead loaded my Subaru countless times until the house was empty. Definitely not an enjoyable experience, but it had to be done in order to chase fish the following days. After one morning of moving Austin and I decided to hit a favorite remote brook trout pond to catch the evening hatch. After hiking to the pond we loaded one of the canoes that awaited us and set out. A handful of trout were rising, but not enough to target with a dry fly. We started out stripping bright colored buggers just below the surface and received non-stop action. After landing several fish each we decided to switch to dries due to an increase of hatching insects. The next few hours were filled with brilliant takes on the surface and many hookups with fish in the 5”-15” range. It was the highlight of the week for both of us. There are few things in life that equal a good hatch on a remote pond where it is just you, the fly, and the fish.

Jon Zukowski and John Panakio on Lake Winnipesaukee

Jon Zukowski and John Panakio on Lake Winnipesaukee
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

Jon Zukowski And A Lake Winnipesaukee Smallmouth

Jon Zukowski And A Lake Winnipesaukee Smallmouth
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

The next morning we awoke to sunny skies and warm weather. This was a welcome change from five straight days of rain. I quickly determined that it was the perfect day to chase smallmouth bass. I called a close friend of mine, John Panakio (Captain John if you will), who has a humble camp on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee.  We loaded up my car and drove down to the lake ready for some bass fishing. We packed the boat and cruised out to my favorite smallmouth location on the lake. Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in New Hampshire, at 72 square miles there are a lot of places to fish. After reaching our first bank we began casting to cruising fish in the shallows. I hooked into a nice bass within minutes, and Austin continued to do the same shortly after. The remainder of the day was one fish after another. Although trout are hands down my preferred species to catch, I cannot turn down a shot at smallies. In the end it was a good day of beers, fish, and friends.

Fresh Water, Fresh Setup: The 3-Tand T-90 Is Loaded With A Rio Outbound Floating Line

Fresh Water, Fresh Setup: The 3-Tand T-90 Is Loaded With A Rio Outbound Floating Line
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

Floating For Pike: The Old Town Guide Canoe Can Handle It All!

Floating For Pike: The Old Town Guide Canoe Can Handle It All!
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

The next mission was a float on a new stretch of river where we planned on targeting pike with a shot at some smallmouth as well. After cars were parked in proper locations we began the float that ended up being a skunky one. No hookups, no takes, no fish seen. After the float we portaged the canoe up a rather long trail and headed home. The following day we decided to take another attempt at some pike and bass.

Working Hard For That Next Fish!

Working Hard For That Next Fish!
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

Largemouth On The Fly!

Largemouth On The Fly!
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

While driving up to the pond we planned to fish we stopped at a good old-fashioned convenience store for some beers and food. We grabbed a few canned pale ales and a bag of maple bacon potato chips and continued on our way. For a final time we loaded the boat and set out for the day. Although everything seemed like a routine at this point what would come later in the day was far from standard. After a short while of fishing I was into a decent largemouth bass that slammed my fly inches from the shore. After many more casts we decided that the fish had turned off. Although the water temperatures were still cool (50s) the air temperature was reaching into the upper 70s.

Bad Accident, Beautiful Water.

Bad Accident, Beautiful Water.
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

It seemed like a good time to work some big flies down deep with a heavy sinking line. As we paddled the boat back toward the shore I suddenly heard a panicked shout come from Austin who was in the rear of the canoe. Startled, I glanced behind me to see what had happened. What I saw will never escape my mind. Austin was diving off the boat into the frigid waters below. As he hit the water I noticed the tip of his Orvis access 10 wt. slowly fade into the depths of the pond. After a moment Austin emerged from the water, out of breath and out of a rod, reel, and line. I stared back at him in disbelief. At this point I comprehended what had happened and could not believe the reality. As the wind was moving the canoe along, Austin had set his rod down in the stern of the canoe to correct the direction of the boat and his large 3/0 hook must have snagged a submerged log and was ripped into the water.

Bluegrass Heals The Soul

Bluegrass Heals The Soul
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

Stella Watches The House While We're FIshing!

Stella Watches The House While We’re Fishing!
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

As I paddled my soggy friend back to the shore we were both in shock. An Orvis Access rod, 3-TAND T-90 reel, and Rio line were resting on the murky bottom of the pond. The depth was 25’, but without a wetsuit, goggles, a light, and flippers the rod was inaccessible. After contacting several scuba services Austin decided that the price to pay for hiring a diver outweighed the value of the rod. It was a difficult decision, but in the end, shit happens. That night, a heavy session of whisky and bluegrass ensued, helping numb the pain of such a loss and put a cap on our week of countless species.

Goodbye New Hampshire!

Goodbye New Hampshire!
Copyright 2014. Austin Green Weinstein. All Rights Reserved.

 

Text By Jon Zukowski, Photos By Austin Green.

A big thank you to 3-TAND Fly Reels, Montauk Tackle Company, and Gunpowder Custom Tackle for supplying us with the gear that helped make this trip possible!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decline of the Northeast’s Historical Inland Fisheries

Since the last ice age native trout and salmon had lived for centuries without much disturbance other than from limited natural predators. Eventually Native Americans utilized salmon as a major food source, but their overall impact was minute. With the arrival of European settlers the effects on native fishes became immeasurable. I argue that former human caused destruction of watersheds, overfishing, and few state or federal regulations, along with recent issues, both natural and unnatural, have contributed to the significant decline of the Northeast’s native salmonid populations. This research focuses primarily on the Eastern brook trout and Atlantic salmon.

The Northeast is an intricate network of mountains, forests, rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, and ocean. The landscape went undisturbed for thousands of years, and so did the organisms that inhabited it. The retreat of the last glacier left the waterways we have today. Cold, clean, and free flowing, these rivers, streams, and ponds began to harbor life.

The first significant creatures to come were small insects, then smaller fish, and eventually salmonids. Large populations of Atlantic salmon were thriving in the ocean and utilizing all suitable inland rivers north of the Hudson River in New York for spawning.1 At the same time native brook trout were well adapted to cold brooks, large rivers such as the Pemigewasset and Ammonousuc in New Hampshire, brackish coastal rivers, and even short-lived beaver ponds. Foraging on insects, crustaceans, other fish, shrimp and whatever else was available to these early salmonids was of highest importance in order to survive. Successful reproduction was of course crucial to a healthy population of both brook trout and Atlantic salmon. These natural cycles were disturbed soon after Europeans arrived and drastically changed the Northeastern landscape.

Brook trout, or Salvelinus fontinalis, are technically a char, which varies them from other “trout” such as brown trout (Salmo trutta) or rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). The eastern brook trout historically grew much larger in size than present day specimens reach. The average size was approximately 10 – 20 inches and between 3 – 6 pounds. Although some native brook trout do reach these proportions still today in the more northern reaches of the Northeast, they average 3-15 inches, and perhaps reach a couple of pounds. They feed primarily on aquatic insects such as caddis, mayflies, and stoneflies. They also eat a variety of terrestrials and other fish including grass hoppers, spiders, moths, minnows, sculpins, and even mice and voles. In the Northeast they spawn in late October and early November depending on annual weather patterns.

The Atlantic salmon, or Salmo salar, is a close relative of the brown trout (Salmo trutta).  It is an anadromous fish meaning they are born in freshwater; grow for several years before migrating to the Atlantic Ocean, then return to spawn after years of maturing at sea. This cycle is what makes the Atlantic salmon so unique, yet so fragile. Natal streams where spawning once occurred include headwaters of the Penobscot river in Northern Maine, the Baker river in Rumney, New Hampshire, and the Connecticut river on the Canadian and New Hampshire border. Of these three rivers, only the Penobscot sees a very limited spawning run each fall. Once present in nearly every coastal river along the New England coast, the Atlantic salmon is only found in eleven rivers, all located in Northern Maine. 2 These rivers are the last remaining in the United States with a returning population of wild native Atlantic salmon. The reason for this limitation is a result of centuries of change and destruction to the watersheds these salmonids inhabit.

Amoskeag falls in Manchester was once a grand place in the state of New Hampshire to fish for Atlantic salmon. Native Americans once used the falls as their primary fishing location. Hundreds of years of Native American harvesting of Atlantic salmon to utilize, as a food source never had a significant impact on the population. Native Americans typically would spear the large salmon as they made their way up the falls. This made them an easy target, along with the now rare Atlantic sturgeon. Along with these two fish, striped bass also were present at the falls. According to Jack Noon, author of “New Hampshire’s Native Fish”, “Both of these species (Atlantic sturgeon and Striped bass) were reported in the eighteenth century as far up as Amoskeag falls in Manchester”. 7 The fact that Native American tribes such as the Penobscot, Abenaki, or Penacook were limited to primarily spearing salmon and these other species, they could never take the numbers Europeans were capable of using large nets.

Around 1620 Europeans arrived in New England and found salmon to be a bountiful food source that was ideal for them as a protein rich staple to their diet. As Europeans moved into the Manchester area, they soon found great ease in taking large numbers of Atlantic salmon each year as they reached the falls on their spawning run. During the mid 1700’s, places like Bellows Falls on the Connecticut River and Bangor, Maine along the Penobscot became salmon fishing capitals. Huge numbers of salmon were intercepted with large nets that spanned the brawling rivers.   Before the Pawtucket, Essex, and Amoskeag dams were erected, along with hundreds more in surrounding states, Atlantic salmon had very few natural predators. Natives Americans, eagles, large piscivoruous fish at sea, or otter were the only organisms capable of capturing, killing, and consuming Atlantic salmon before the arrival of Europeans. The population was in no decline before their arrival. Evidence is clear that Europeans were directly responsible for eliminating the ideal and necessary spawning habitat that native salmon needed in order to maintain a healthy population. The loss of access to spawning grounds was mainly attributed to the erection of dams and the pollution that resulted from the processes before, during, and after their construction. Spawning salmon are currently limited to several undammed river in Canada. Shown in figure 1 is the past migration pattern of Atlantic salmon before the building of dams:

The first mill city to be erected on the banks of a New England river was Lowell, Massachusetts in 1825. 3  The purpose of the city was to build mills that would produce textile products for the growing New England population. Once a small farm town, it was quickly developed and changed from its former agricultural past. The Merrimack River was dammed in 1847 in order to produce energy to run the mills. The original dam was reconstructed in 1875. Construction of the dam is shown in Figure 2

Pawtucket Dam construction 1875  - http://savingplaces.org/treasures/pawtucket-dam.

Pawtucket Dam construction 1875 – http://savingplaces.org/treasures/pawtucket-dam.

This modified dam made passage impossible for Atlantic salmon trying to reach their natal headwaters. Without access to the upper reaches of the Merrimack River watershed, the spawning cycle was disrupted. According to an article written in the Telegraph newspaper on April 7th, 1977  “ Sea run Atlantic salmon were eliminated from the Merrimack River by 1859 with the construction of the Essex and Pawtucket dams, although remnant runs of shad continued”. 4

        After some experimentation with breeding Atlantic salmon at Livermore Falls on the Pemigewasset River in 1891, the population actually increased for several decades. Although a number of salmon passages were created and runs were existent, the population again crashed in 1898.5

         The initial attempt to bring back Atlantic salmon to the Merrimack River watershed had failed. Although salmon had migrated up the same waters just fifty years previous, the disruption from dams, pollution, and commercial fishing were prohibiting the salmon population from regenerating. The Telegraph newspaper article, which contains some interesting information on the various Merrimack Atlantic salmon projects, was written in 1977 highlighting a discussion that was to be held in order to attempt to restore Atlantic salmon once again to the watershed. This attempt would be known as the Merrimack watershed Atlantic Salmon Restoration Project. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service conducted studies during the late nineteen seventies on the headwater sections of the Pemigewasset, Baker, and Mad Rivers in order to obtain information that would help understand the spawning habits of Atlantic salmon.6 This later research helped biologists eventually begin to understand the connection and significance Atlantic salmon have to their natal streams.

While mills were operating all over the Eastern coastline and inland region causing harm to the Atlantic salmon population, problems were beginning to appear elsewhere. During the same time dams were being built other activities such as logging and the pulp industry begun. These industries also created a detrimental impact on the salmon’s environment, and were virtually unregulated and unstoppable for over a century.

Today there are hundreds, if not thousands, of environmental regulations regarding logging, pulping, forest management, road systems, watershed use, and various other forestry practices. These have been set in place in order to protect the natural environment that supports an abundance of wildlife. Places like the White Mountain National Forest have been set aside in order to protect wildlife, provide recreational use, and to permit logging. Sustainable timber harvest and prescribed burns are a common occurrence in W.M.N.F today. Without these practices the forests would begin to lose their ecological health, therefore wildlife would suffer.  Although they may seem unregulated and detrimental to the forest and wildlife habitats, they are only a temporary and beneficial change to the ecosystem.  A look back at former logging in the Northeast shows a vastly different approach to the same activities that ultimately changed the landscape forever.

Native Eastern brook trout are known to be a bioindicator, which suggests healthy water quality within a watershed that they inhabit. Along with brook trout is an abundance of other species of aquatic insects in which the trout depend on to survive. An astonishing number of mayflies, caddis flies, stoneflies, midges, and terrestrial insects coexist within brook trout streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. Just as important as water is to these insects is the environment, most specifically the vegetation, which surrounds the water body they inhabit. When extensive, unregulated logging occurs, as did in much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries along most rivers, important riparian habitat is destroyed. This is what occurred on the banks of almost every river and stream within the Northeast during the height of the early logging industry.

With such drastic and negative change to the forests, watersheds were affected equally. These environments supported far less wildlife than they had prior to over logging. The rivers were eventually turned into a way to move timber from one place to another. Huge log drives began to appear on the Connecticut, Penobscot, Androscoggin, and Magalloway rivers. This act resulted in near total destruction to the health of the watersheds. Shown in figure 3 is Azicoohos Lake (Magalloway River) during a log drive.

Item #: 24237, June 1959 Brown Company Collection Parmachenee camp #7

Item #: 24237, June 1959 Brown Company Collection Parmachenee camp #7

Although brook trout were fished for and consumed heavily from the time Europeans arrived until present time, they never were taken for commercial purpose as Atlantic salmon had been and still are today. The brook trout is a small fish in comparison to the Atlantic salmon, which can reach fifty pounds or more. Their small size translates to less available meat to consume. Salmon were more possible to filet, which was a basic method for butchering fish that were destined to be sold or smoked. The brook trout found its place on the dinner table, or rather the picnic table, when anglers were camping after a long day on the water. Perfect for a smaller feast, brook trout were fished out heavily in order to fulfill the ideal camp meal for early outdoorsmen.

Many photographs exist from the eighteen hundreds showing men with twenty or more brook trout harvested from just a single water body. These photos were often merely a day’s catch and can signify how overfishing pressured the brook trout population. Large brook trout were common in almost all lakes, rivers, and streams up until the end of the nineteenth century. The decline was noticed in places such as Moosehead Lake region in Maine and the Connecticut and Ammonousuc Rivers in New Hampshire. Fishermen began to catch smaller, and less fish than they used to. The effects of such a drastically changed landscape were becoming evident to the people who were familiar with its former condition. In “A Landscape History Of New England” edited by Blake Harrison and Richard W. Judd, there are several quotes from native Maliseet Henry Red Eagle that reflect the condition of the local Maine inland fisheries in the Moosehead Lake region during the mid twentieth century. The authors wrote, “Overzealous fishermen and hunters placed tremendous pressure on local fish and game populations, some people worried.” “Most Fisherman today,” Red Eagle wrote, “would rather sit in the canoe and find a spot easier of access,” yet these same fishermen “yelp like a loon because these spots are fished out.” 8

The New Hampshire Fish and Game website offers a brief history of the Fish and Game department and how it started. Sgt. David Walsh and Sgt. David Eskeland, both conservation officers wrote the history, which can be found on the New Hampshire Fish and Game website. The following quote written in the article describes the loose protection fish and other wildlife had in early times. “ Little to no restriction were imposed to protect birds, furbearers, or fish for a long time.” 9  Non-existent laws and regulations led to overfishing and overhunting within a very short amount of time. The article continued to state the following, “Mostly, any wildlife laws written had no provisions for enforcement, and without special authorization, this duty fell on local authority.”10 In 1866 the fisheries commission had been established in order to bring anadromous fishes back to inland rivers, but at the same time many non-native fish such as black bass, landlocked salmon, brown trout, and rainbow trout were introduced to New Hampshire waters. Years of this non-native introduction ultimately devastated the native brook trout population, which was not adapted to such species dwelling in their environment. These non-native species thrived and eventually took the place of native Eastern brook trout in hundreds of waters across the Northeast.

The upper and lower Baker ponds in Orford, New Hampshire are an example of once legendary native trout ponds, turned warm water fisheries due to introduction of invasive non-native species. A boys summer camp is located on the banks of the mentioned ponds, a probable cause for the introduction of invasives. Once trout numbers began to diminish, new species were brought in for anglers to pursue. This is the story of many Northeastern trout waters that once existed.

In 1880 the “Commission of Fisheries and Game” was established to protect the remaining fish that were left in the state. 11 The New Hampshire Fish and Game history article written by two conservation officers mentions “ In the commissions first report, only two paragraphs are devoted to game, as fish had been, and continue to be, it’s primary concern.” 11 By the beginning of the twentieth century it was evident that the Northeastern landscape, and its fisheries had undoubtedly changed drastically since the arrival of the first Europeans. Conservation organizations had been established long ago, and continue to appear in present times. Trout unlimited, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, and Slow Food are just a few examples of such organizations that are attempting to maintain and restore our native inland fisheries. Modern issues such as politics, aquaculture, and commercial fisheries continue to threaten both Atlantic salmon and Eastern brook trout populations. The negative effects that humans have inflicted on the natural cycles these salmonids possess may be irreversible, but the small and fragile populations that still exist need to be protected and studied. Information is still needed in order to fully understand the complex lives that these native inland and anadromous Salmonids live. From dam removals, to stricter laws regarding commercial and non commercial fisheries, steps must be taken in order to keep these organisms a part of the Northeastern landscape as they had been before the arrival of Europeans.

By Jonathan Zukowski

Notes:

1.David Jenkins. 2003. “Atlantic salmon, endangered species, and the failure of environmental policies”. Comparative Studies in Society and History: an International Quarterly.

2. Monahan, Phillip. “Atlantic Salmon – The Title “Fish of Kings” Describes the Species’ Regal Beauty, as Well as the Exclusivity of Some Salmon Waters.” American Angler, March 2013, 42-43. Accessed December 13, 2013.

3. Mrozowski, Stephen A., Grace H. Ziesing, and Mary Carolyn Beaudry. 1996. Living on the Boott historical archaeology at the Boott Mills Boardinghouses, Lowell, Massachusetts. Amherst, Mass: University of Massachusetts Press. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=26452.

4. “At Lowell Workshop Saturday Merrimack River Salmon Project To Be Discussed.” The Telegraph (Nashua), April 7, 1977.

5.Ibid 15

6.Ibid 15

7. Noon, Jack. “New Hampshire’s Native Fish.” Wildlife Journal, August 2002, 4-7.

8. Harrison, Blake A., and Richard William Judd. 2011. A landscape history of New England. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

9. Walsh, Sgt. David, and Sgt. David Eskeland. “History of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division.” New Hampshire Fish and Game. Accessed December 10, 2013. http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Law_Enforcement/history.html.

10.Ibid

11.Ibid

Bibliography

Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture. Report. Accessed December 12, 2013. http://www.fws.gov/northeast/fisheries/pdf/EBTJV_Conservation_Strategy_July08.pdf.

Harrison, Blake A., and Richard William Judd. 2011. A landscape history of New England. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

Item # 24237. January 30, 2009. Brown Company, Plymouth State, Plymouth. http://beyondbrownpaper.plymouth.edu/item/24139.

Jenkins, David. 2003. “Atlantic salmon, endangered species, and the failure of environmental policies”. Comparative Studies in Society and History: an International Quarterly.

Monahan, Phillip. “Atlantic Salmon – The Title “Fish of Kings” Describes the Species’ Regal Beauty, as Well as the Exclusivity of Some Salmon Waters.” American Angler, March 2013, 42-43. Accessed December 13, 2013.

Mrozowski, Stephen A., Grace H. Ziesing, and Mary Carolyn Beaudry. 1996. Living on the Boott historical archaeology at the Boott Mills Boardinghouses, Lowell, Massachusetts. Amherst, Mass: University of Massachusetts Press. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=26452.

Noon, Jack. “New Hampshire’s Native Fish.” Wildlife Journal, August 2002, 4-7.

Pawtucket Dam| National Treasures. 2013. Accessed December 10, 2013. http://savingplaces.org/treasures/pawtucket-dam.

Walsh, Sgt. David, and Sgt. David Eskeland. “History of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division.” New Hampshire Fish and Game. Accessed December 10, 2013. http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Law_Enforcement/history.html.

The Scottish Bartender

Bowfin Caught By Evan Potter

Bowfin Caught By Evan Potter

A Bowfin caught on Lake Champlain, Vermont. The fish weighed in at 12 pounds!

A Smallmouth Caught By Evan Potter

A Smallmouth Caught By Evan Potter

A smallmouth caught in a Lake Champlain tributary in Vermont, pre-spawn.

Rainbow Trout Caught By Evan Potter

Rainbow Trout Caught By Evan Potter

Rainbow trout caught in the Winooski river, Vermont. I was having luck with drifts just along a gravel drop off as the hungry trout were darting up and grabbing the nymphs as they came into sight. The trout seemed to prefer either fly as they were taking both the stone and the caddis I had on. This bow took the caddis nymph. This was the biggest of the day and the best tussle.

Landlock Salmon Caught By Evan Potter

Landlock Salmon Caught By Evan Potter

Landlock Salmon caught in Lake Champlain. This cock took an old Scottish salmon fly pattern (ally’s shrimp) tied on a double. The fish were up top during spawning and could be targeted with flies. Beautiful Kype on this guy…

Largemouth Bass Caught By Evan Potter

Largemouth Bass Caught By Evan Potter

Largemouth Bass caught on a secret pond in New Hampshire. Caught on a dalberg diver in tight structure. This little gem of a pond has plenty of wild and untouched pickerel and largemouth. Armed with a canoe, it never disappoints.

Atlantic Salmon Caught By Evan Potter

Atlantic Salmon Caught By Evan Potter

20lb Atlantic salmon caught while home in Scotland. I got lucky as the tail end of salmon season happened to align perfectly with my sister in-law’s wedding… I’m also lucky enough to have a friend that owns a beat on my home water and on the very first night home I hooked into this hen. I fished every other day I was home except the day of the wedding, and this was the only fish I had… But that was fine with me. She nearly took my hand off as she kicked away on the release.

Brown Trout Caught By Evan Potter

Brown Trout Caught By Evan Potter

Brown Trout Caught By Evan Potter

Brown Trout Caught By Evan Potter

Brown trout caught on the Winooski River, Vermont. By far the largest brown I have ever caught. Only a month ago this monster in all of his spawning-colour glory, nailed a green egg under an indie. I was having luck with caddis pupa and had lost all of last night’s ties. I took a green eggfly and thought maybe it will work as an imitator… It did. Released healthy.

By Evan Potter