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Coldwater Fisheries for Brook, Brown, and Rainbow Trout in NH

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Coldwater Fisheries Program is divided into multiple management strategies. However, the program has one major focus: to protect, restore, and enhance New Hampshire's coldwater fisheries. The management strategy for the wild trout component of the coldwater fisheries program focuses on protecting naturally reproducing trout populations from pressures related to increases in fishing exploitation and urbanization. The put-and-take strategy uses hatchery stocking to sustain or supplement recreational fishing. The put-grow-and-take component uses hatchery trout in quality habitats to establish a more natural recreational fishery. Some of these ponds have the potential of producing larger trout and are usually managed under the Quality Trout Management Program.


Wild Trout Management Waters


The objectives of this program are to:

  • Establish wild trout management areas that support wild trout populations at sufficient densities (greater than or equal to 13 lbs/acre);
  • Provide angling opportunities without having to sustain or supplement populations with hatchery reared trout;
  • Monitor trends in: 1) population structure, 2) juvenile and adult production, 3) standing crop biomass, and 4) fish condition.


Put-And-Take Management


The objectives of this program are to:

  • Provide coldwater angling opportunities in waterbodies where high angling pressure exists and/or habitat and environmental conditions exist that limit natural reproduction of trout;
  • Assess water bodies to determine the appropriate number of trout to stock and to examine trout growth, survival and angler catch rates.


Put-Grow-And-Take Management (Quality Trout)


The objective of this program is to identify waterbodies that can provide anglers with either higher than average catch rates (>0.75 fish/hour) of trout and/or provide them with larger trout by increasing the percentage of fish greater than or equal to 12 inches in total length.


In order to identify waterbodies that are able to sustain quality trout fisheries, studies are conducted to:

  • Determine the size structure of the trout population
  • Evaluate trout condition
  • Assess trout growth and survival


The NH Fish and Game Department uses a variety of gear in managing the coldwater species throughout the state. The most prominent sampling gear used in trout pond management is the New Hampshire design fyke net. All trout captured are measured for total length, sexed, weighed and marked in order to estimate the total number of trout present in a water body. When applicable, stocked trout are given a specific fin clip prior to stocking. When trout are captured during surveys, the fin clip allows biologists to identify what year a fish was stocked. Fin clipping is usually performed when Fish and Game is examining trout growth, survival, or determining what percentage of the population is derived from natural reproduction.


Backpack electrofishing units are used to sample trout in streams. This sampling method uses electricity to temporarily stun the fish, enabling biologists to capture them using nets. Upon capture, fish are immediately placed in a bucket of fresh water. Extra precautions are taken to ensure that electrical settings are appropriate to prevent fish mortality. All trout captured are measured for total length, sexed, weighed and then released.


Management strategies on certain waterbodies are modified over time as the result of assessments, changes in fishing pressure, and/or variations in the environment. Management changes are sometimes necessary to promote and enhance trout populations and fishing opportunities.

For more information on the NH Fish and Game Coldwater Fisheries Program, contact Dianne Timmins at (603) 788-3164.