New Hampshire's 2012 broodstock salmon gets off to early start

CONCORD, N.H. – Record warmth this winter has brought an early start to spring in New Hampshire this year, and that's good news for anglers targeting the "King of Fish" – broodstock Atlantic salmon that are stocked into the Merrimack River watershed each spring and fall.

"With very little snow melt, river flows this April are more typical of early summer. Cold water and low flows make for excellent salmon fishing, so we decided to stock the fish early this year," said Matt Carpenter, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department fisheries biologist who manages the salmon broodstock fishery. "With no rain in the extended forecast, hopefully this will be one of the longer spring broodstock salmon fishing seasons in recent memory."

Stocking has already begun, and the bulk of the salmon should be in by early next week, according to Carpenter. The fish will be spread between stocking sites beginning in Bristol and working south to Franklin, Concord and Hooksett, N.H.

“We have about 680 fish to stock this spring. The salmon looked good when we tagged them about a week ago, with a wide variety of sizes ranging from 3 pounds to over 10 pounds,” said Carpenter.

To fish for brood stock salmon, anglers need a current New Hampshire fishing license and an $11 brood stock salmon permit. Both can be purchased online at or from Fish and Game license agents statewide. Only salmon marked by Fish and Game with a T-bar anchor at the base of the dorsal fin may be kept, and the bag limit is 1 per day and 5 total for the season. For more information on New Hampshire’s brood stock salmon fishery, including an access map, visit

Find out what it's all about by watching a short video about brood stock salmon fishing on the Merrimack at

"Spring is when we stock the robust 3- and 4-year-old salmon, as opposed to the two-year-olds stocked in the fall," said Carpenter. "Salmon are not ready to produce eggs until they are at least three years old. In the spring, we stock extra fish that have already spawned the previous fall. In the fall, we are stocking extra fish that will not be needed to provide eggs for the program."

Brood stock anglers are encouraged to report their experiences to Fish and Game by contacting Matt Carpenter at 603-271-2612 or

New Hampshire has the only managed Atlantic salmon river fishery in New England. The big fish stocked in the brood stock salmon program have completed their maternal duty producing the fry (young salmon) used in the Atlantic salmon restoration program, a partnership between the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Purchase of brood stock salmon permits helps support this cooperative state-federal restoration effort, along with a number of other fish conservation projects. The program is also supported through federal funds from the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program.

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