CONCORD — N.H. Fish and Game's Trophy Fish Program Coordinator John Viar has announced the winners of the 2015 Trophy Fish Program. Letters have been sent to advise winners and special certificates of achievement are being prepared.
New Hampshire's Trophy and Record Fish programs provide opportunities for anglers of all ages to receive recognition while giving biologists important information on the state's fisheries over time. The Department has collected information on Record fish as far back as 1911, but the Trophy Fish Program wasn't established until the 1970's.
"Anglers are our extra eyes in the field," Viar noted. "The Trophy Fish program allows us to receive valuable data on fish populations not normally reported to us. We've probably received 2,000 entries since the program began."
All successful applicants receive a Trophy Fish shoulder patch just for submitting their catch information. Then, each February, the person with the largest fish in each species category, kept or released, is awarded a special certificate. "We see entries from all ages, all legal methods and all areas of the state. Fly-fishing, ice-fishing, bait casting and spin casting, trolling and even bow harvest (a method permissible only for carp and suckers) are represented. Almost every year at least one new state record is reported, and that says a lot about New Hampshire's fisheries," he stated.
Fishing is one of the few sports where the most impressive anglers are not separated by age, gender, or even experience. Of the 47 accepted entries in 2015, 14 of the anglers were 18 years of age or younger.
Ten-year-old Dustin Dextraze of Dover won his category of Kept Bluegill with an impressive 10.63 inch beauty caught out of Pawtuckaway Lake in Nottingham.
Other impressive entries this year included a 19.25 inch Released Smallmouth Bass from six-year old Connor Hemmerling of Enfield, and a 21 inch Released Rainbow Trout from seven-year old Noah Wyatt of Concord.
Three new records were set in 2015. When nine-year old Madeline D'Agata of Gilford caught her 6 lb., 1.76 oz. Common White Sucker out of Poor Farm Brook in Gilford, she stole the record from seasoned angler Timothy Moore's 5 lb., 4.96 oz. catch less than a month earlier; only to lose her own title five days later to Randy Comeau's 6 lb., 11.68 oz. Common White Sucker from Lake Winnipesaukee in Tuftonboro.
The record Black Sea Bass (1 lb., 13.28 oz.) was caught in the Piscataqua River, Dover by Timothy Moore of Portsmouth. Donald St. Lawrence of Henniker caught the new state record Common Carp (35 lbs., 13.12 oz.) from the Merrimack River in Manchester.
Program Coordinator John Viar noted only four species of "kept" fish were represented in 2015, and 13 under "catch and release". There are 56 categories available, he explained; 21 freshwater species and seven saltwater in categories for kept fish and catch and release enthusiasts.
"You don't need a big boat and expensive equipment. Plenty of lucky anglers are first-timers, or haven't touched a pole in years," he said. "Anyone can get hooked on fishing. Get out there."
Viar smiled, "Take the kids, grab the camera and catch some fresh air. You will harvest great memories even if your fish isn't the next record. There's always room for that."
A listing of all 2015 entries, forms, rules, records and winners from past years can be found on the Fishing Web Pages at: www.fishnh.com/fishing/trophy.html.