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Decreased Landlocked Salmon Population Necessitates 2024 “Winni Derby” Cancellation

Concord, NH – Given recent declining trends in the number of landlocked salmon available in Lake Winnipesaukee, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (NHFG) and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have agreed to cancel next year’s (2024) “Winni Derby.” Currently sponsored by the BSA, the “Winni Derby,” an entry-fee based tournament typically held each May, targets landlocked salmon as the primary species with regard to prize structure.

“Lake Winnipesaukee and other landlocked salmon fisheries are only possible due to the extensive sampling and management efforts by NHFGD—fall netting, spawning, hatchery, and annual stocking efforts permit this unique fishery to exist in New Hampshire,” said NHFG Inland Fisheries Chief Dianne Timmins. “In fact, landlocked salmon are not native to the state, despite the fact that this popular species has been managed specifically for sport fishing for over a century. Recent challenges with regard to stocked salmon survival in Lake Winnipesaukee have resulted in poor age-class structure and thus reduced numbers of landlocked salmon available to anglers. Contrary to the current situation, the ‘Winni Derby’ was started over 30 years ago as a means to reduce an overabundance of landlocked salmon at that time.”

“We understand the situation with the landlocked salmon and completely agree that conservation of this and any species at risk is paramount,” said Ray Meyer of the Boy Scouts of America, Daniel Webster Council. “Our organization teaches the importance of respecting nature and of conservation so it is part of our mission to protect the resource, even though it means cancelling this popular event.”

“Current efforts to increase Lake Winnipesaukee’s landlocked salmon population are underway, particularly stocking appropriate numbers of larger, high-quality spring yearlings (juvenile salmon) consistently,” said Timmins. “Previous ‘Winni Derby’ organizers observed challenges with regard to the fishery and cancelled in 2015; unfortunately, here we are again. Because landlocked salmon are a fast-growing and fast-maturing species, given the current high availability of rainbow smelt (primary forage for salmon), we are hopeful that just a few years of consistent size at stocking practices and assistance from partners like the BSA will serve to improve the fishery to more balanced levels experienced before the recent decline. Previously the fishery was noted to be a combination of quantity and quality many anglers argued were some of the finest in the Northeast.”

For more information on fisheries management in New Hampshire, visit https://wildlife.state.nh.us/fishing/fisheries-mgt.html. To learn more about the Boy Scouts of America, visit www.scouting.org.

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