CONCORD, N.H. — Fisheries Biologist and Trophy Fish Program Coordinator John Viar has announced the winners of the 2016 New Hampshire Trophy Fish Program. Certificates to acknowledge the successful anglers’ accomplishments are being prepared. A listing of winners – and all qualifying entries – is posted on the N.H. Fish and Game Department’s website at www.fishnh.com/fishing/trophy.html.
For 2016, a total of 67 successful entries were received for Trophy (kept and released categories) and State Record fish. Of that number, twelve lucky anglers were under 16 years of age, including nine-year old Lucas Watson of Farmington, N.H., who set a new State Record by landing an 18.25-inch Black Sea Bass weighing 2-lbs., 14.88-oz. from Little Bay in Newington. Way to go, Lucas!
Additional New Hampshire State Records set in 2016 included: Brian O’Day of Rollingsford, NH, with a State Record Black Crappie (kept) caught in Great East Lake, that weighed 2 lbs., 15.84 oz., and was 17.00 inches in length. Dustin Bucklin of Alexandria, NH, reeled in the new State Record Pumpkinseed (kept, 14.96 oz., 10.00 inches), caught in Waukewan Lake.
New Hampshire’s Trophy Fish Program provides the opportunity for anglers of all ages to receive recognition, while providing biologists with important information on the state’s fisheries over time. The N.H. Fish and Game Department has collected information on State Record fish since 1911. The Trophy Fish Program (recognizing the largest fish caught during the year for certain species categories) began in the 1970s, providing valuable data on fish populations not normally reported.
Since 1998, there have been 1,086 successful entries into the Trophy Fish Program, with an average of about 57 entries each year. In that same span of time, 41 new state records have been recognized, with an average of slightly over two per year.
“Five new state records were set each year in 2013, 2014 and 2015, with three set in 2016 — clearly demonstrating not only trophy-sized, but also State Record fish are still available in New Hampshire waterbodies,” said Viar. “Anglers of all ages are out there having a great time anyway. When they share their information with a Trophy Fish application and get a few bragging rights, it only adds to the memories and overall experience.”
All successful applicants receive a Trophy Fish shoulder patch. The angler catching the largest fish in each category, kept and released, is presented with a certificate suitable for framing. There are 21 freshwater and seven saltwater species categories for both kept and released fish. Many different ages, legal methods of angling, and areas of the state are typically represented each year.
“There’s always some drama each year in one category or another, and even some friendly rivalries — sometimes within the same family,” Viar observed. “Nine-year-old Caitlin Klein of Madbury just barely beat out her 10-year-old brother Colin in the released Largemouth Bass category, fishing waters close to home.”
Turner Rowan, a four-year old from Waterville, Maine, also caught a superb Largemouth Bass from a small pond in Amherst, N.H. But the winning released Largemouth Bass was a tie this year, with Benjamin Bonenfant, a 23 year old from Nashua, and 13-year-old Jimmy Park of Brookline, N.H., both catching 25-inch behemoths from southern New Hampshire waterbodies. “And that is just the released category for Largemouth Bass!” Viar noted.
Overall, ten species were represented in the kept category in 2016, as well as 13 in the released category. “Multi-species anglers seem to be becoming more commonplace, with many anglers enjoying the variety of quality-sized fish available in New Hampshire waterbodies,” said Viar. “And remember, the Trophy Fish Program provides recognition not just for the most ardent, seasoned anglers. You don’t need a big boat and expensive equipment for bragging rights, as so many successful applicants have proven year after year!”
A listing of all entries, application forms, rules, deadlines, records and winners from past years can be found at www.fishnh.com/fishing/trophy.html.