Brood Stock Atlantic Salmon Offer Exciting Fall Fishing In New Hampshire

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Hundreds of big brood stock salmon like this beautiful specimen will be stocked in New Hampshire's Merrimack River watershed in early October, providing an exciting fall fishery. NHFG photo.CONCORD, N.H. — Anglers looking for some challenging catch-and-release sport fishing while they’re enjoying the fall foliage should head to the Merrimack and Pemigewasset rivers to hook the “King of Fish.”  October and November are prime months for fall Atlantic salmon fishing in New Hampshire. Expect some great salmon fishing by the first week in October.

This fall the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will stock the Merrimack basin with 830 brood stock Atlantic salmon, averaging about 2.5 pounds.   “These fish are a little less than 3 years old and they are in excellent condition,” said Matt Carpenter, a Fisheries Biologist with the Anadromous Fisheries Restoration Program.  “With the cool water temperatures, these fish will be in no hurry to leave the river, so there should be plenty of opportunities for a memorable fishing experience.”

All salmon caught from October 1 through March 31 must be released immediately.  Fisheries statistics suggest that the success rate for catching salmon is higher in the fall than in the spring season, thanks to better wading conditions and cooler temperatures. The brood stock Atlantic salmon season runs year-round, but all salmon caught from October 1 through March 31 must be released immediately. 

To fish for brood stock salmon, anglers need a current New Hampshire fishing license and an $11 brood stock salmon permit; both are available at or from license agents statewide.  All proceeds from salmon stamp permits support the Merrimack River Anadromous Fish Restoration Program, created in 1993 by Fish and Game, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to help restore migratory fish populations to the Merrimack River watershed.

The brood stock salmon will be stocked this fall at two sites — below the Eastman Falls Dam in Franklin and the Ayers Island Dam in Bristol. The first good spots to try for the brood stock salmon are below the Ayers Island Dam in Bristol along the Coolidge Woods Road, the Profile Falls Recreation Area (the access site near the Smith River confluence), below the Eastman Falls Dam in Franklin and the public boat launch behind the Franklin High School on the Winnipesauke River. Because the fish are migratory, anglers should also try fishing downstream as the season progresses, near Boscawen (in the Stirrup Iron Brook area), Penacook (at the mouth of the Contoocook River), at the Sewall’s Falls Recreational Park in Concord and below the Garvins Falls Dam (Bow) and the Hooksett Dam.  Find more information and an access map at

Carpenter suggests that anglers use traditional salmon flies or trout streamers such as Grey Ghosts, Mickey Finns or any patterns that imitate small baitfish.  Fishing with spinning gear is allowed in the section of the river below the Garvins Falls Dam in Bow.  Anglers should review the special regulations for brood stock salmon available on the Fish and Game website. 

Brood stock salmon anglers can help the program by reporting their catch to Fish and Game.  Please call Matt Carpenter (271-2612) with any questions, comments, or just to share your fishing experience.  We are always interested in your feedback on the brood stock program.

Brood stock salmon are kept by the US Fish & Wildlife Service to produce offspring, or “fry,” more than a million of which are released each spring to in an effort to restore sea-running fish to the Merrimack River basin. After spawning at the hatchery, the brood stock fish are released in the Merrimack, creating the only managed salmon fishery in New England.

Fish and Game’s programs for restoring anadromous fish, managing and researching fisheries and teaching people about aquatic resources are made possible in part by the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program, funded through purchases of fishing equipment and motorboat fuels. Visit Fish and Game at