Saturday, April 25, 2015.
Today is opening day for fishing for trout on all of the trout ponds in NH and today we decided to go to Hot Hole Pond in Louden, NH. This 27 acre trout pond has a maximum depth of 40 ft. It has a boat ramp, a restroom and access for handicap fishing. It also has a nice parking area that usually is quite swamped on opening day. I was totally excited about today because I had a new addition to my crew of normal fishing buddies. Anyone who has read any of my blog knows by now that when I fish, I usual do so in the company of my brother and his son, my nephew. Today though, his youngest son decided to join us and I have to say that seeing a father and his two sons sharing a day of fishing brought back a lot of pleasant memories for me. I relived through them the days of old when my pop would take us boys out for opening day. Regardless of weather or temperature, we would always pack up early and hit the water.
Pop would get us out on the water before light, but no matter how much we wanted to drop our lines, pop would always have us wait until day broke. Sometimes we were treated to the breathtaking view of the radiant sun as it arose over the mountains. Let me tell you there is no more serene feeling then sitting in a boat on a glass top pond where the only sound you hear are the quiet whispers of other fisherman/women as they prepare for the first day of trout season. I remember those days with great fondness and a heartfelt thanks to my father who instilled in us boys the love for fishing and for the integrity that true fisherman have when it comes to the fishing laws of NH.
This leads me to today’s topic. My pop always said that what makes a truly good person as well as a good fisherman/woman, is not the rules you follow when others are watching, it’s the rules you follow when no one else is around.
Pop gave us the integrity to treat the fishing laws of NH as gospel. It saddens me to say that not everyone feels the same way when it come to fishing. As usual on opening day the shoreline between the two red bars (in the photo above) was lined with fishermen/women and that is one of the main reasons why we use a boat. I mean who wants to stand shoulder to shoulder with other people fighting for a narrow strip of water to fish right? If any of these people read this blog then they know who they are. It saddens me to say that I witnessed at least 3 of them breaking NH fishing laws regarding the amount of fish they can have.
According to the NH Freshwater Fishing Digest, on page 12, under Trout Ponds, there is a rule (# 3) applying to designated trout ponds, of which Hot Hole Pond is one. The rule is as follows; The daily combined limit for trout is 5 fish or 5 pounds, whichever limit is reached first.
This means, that if you catch 5 fish before you reach 5 pounds of fish, you are done fishing for the day. likewise, if you reach 5 pounds of fish before you catch 5 fish you are done for the day. One of the important things here is that this doesn’t mean that you catch 5 fish or 5 pounds, you take them home (or put them in your car) and then continue fishing. The rule means you are done for the day.
At one point, we watched a shoreline angler catch a nice trout. When he lifted his stringer to attach the fish I was able to count 7 trout on the stringer already there. Seeing this my brother asked if anyone knew the rule on limits? Almost everyone on shore shouted out the correct rule. So then why was this guy still fishing. When I pulled out my phone to check my messages, the guy must have thought I was calling a game warden because when he saw my phone, he packed up real quick and started to leave, but not before promising the guy he was fishing with that he would be back soon. I assume he meant once he had his fish stored away at home where a game warden wouldn’t see them.
A short time later another fish was caught by someone else on shore and we were paying attention when we saw the stringer. We were quite obvious in our attention to him and he well knew we were counting. He then turned to a fellow shoreline fisherman and asked him if he wanted four of his fish. Even after giving four fish away, he was still over the limit of fish allowed. As we were coming ashore he and his wife packed up real quick. We counted her stringer as she lifted it to go. Each of these people were over the allowable limit. I turned to my brother and asked a rhetorical question, if he was just going to give the fish away and not keep them then why didn’t he just quit when he reached his limit? The answer is quite simple. They were POACHING!
The legal definition of poaching is; The illegal shooting, trapping, or taking of game or fish from private or public property.
State game and fish laws now require persons to purchase licenses to hunt and fish. The terms of these licenses limit the kind and number of animals or fish that may be taken and restrict hunting and fishing to designated times of the year, popularly referred to as hunting and fishing seasons. Therefore, persons who fail to purchase a license, as well as those who violate the terms of their licenses, commit acts of poaching.
When we spoke up about the illegal act that some of the people were perpetrating, one shoreline angler decided it was none of our business. He even got angry at us for pointing out this violation. What an idiot!
Obviously he didn’t see anything wrong with the poaching taking place, after all, it’s just a couple of fish. I guess he would feel the same way if someone shot two deer with one deer tag, or perhaps killed a bear with no license at all. Perhaps he would even be OK with the poaching of an American Eagle. In essence, what these people were doing was preventing other people the pleasure and opportunity to legally catch those fish. Poaching is not something we should accept or look away from. What we should do is report it. I now have the NH Fish & Game Depts. Operation Game Thief phone number in my phone and I will call immediately every time I see someone poaching. Please join me in this. Know the fishing rules and if someone is knowingly violating them, please call the
Operation Game Thief – 1-800-344-4262
You can now report violations online – click here to report a wildlife crime.
Protect New Hampshire’s natural resources – report wildlife law violators!
OPERATION GAME THIEF (OGT) is a silent witness, anti-poaching program that encourages the public to report any suspicious activity or knowledge about a poaching violation. The toll-free hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to report wildlife violations.
POACHING is the illegal take of game or fish, trespassing, littering, theft, or destroying property.
Are you aware of a poaching situation? Have you witnessed a wildlife crime? Call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-344-4262.
Report as much of the following information as possible:
- Vehicle Description
- License Number
- Travel Direction
- Description of Person(s)
Tight Lines, The Amateur Angler