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Measuring around 18 miles long, New Hampshire has the smallest shoreline of all coastal states. But for about 400 years, it’s been enough to support small boat fishermen in the Seacoast region. They make their livings cruising New England’s waters for cod, lobster, shrimp and other stocks.For decades, the industry’s been challenged by declining populations of fish and shellfish, as well as changing federal regulations. As of 2010, New England fishermen are allowed to catch a set poundage of fish based on their take over a 10-year span. New Hampshire fishermen argue this change has made the cost of working outpace profits, forced many small boats out of business, and discouraged new people from entering the industry. No matter the cause, figures from the US Census Bureau clearly show an industry in decline. In Portsmouth, the Seacoast’s main city, the Census Bureau reports only 0.2 percent of residents work in the “Farming, fishing and forestry occupations” category. That’s compared to 0.6 percent in 2000. A number of New Hampshire fishermen, politicians, and historians believe that without change, the state’s small boat fishing industry is heading toward extinction.Summary provided by StateImpact NH

On Saturday, You Can 'Walk On The Water' With N.H.'s Free Ice Fishing Day

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A. Schafermeyer via NHFG
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New Hampshire residents can fish for free without a license Saturday.

The state Fish & Game Department holds these free fishing days every year, in summer and winter.

Inland fisheries program supervisor Scott Decker says the experience at this time of year is a little different.

“You’re actually able to walk on the water,” he says.

Anglers can find trout, bass, perch, pickerel and other popular species below the ice of New Hampshire's lakes and ponds. Open water and stream fishing will also be permitted.

The license-free fishing day is open to residents of any ages and experience. Decker says it’s one way his department try to recruit new anglers to the sport.

"It gives folks a chance at giving it a try if they're not sure about it, and hopefully switch them over to a lifelong fisherman or fisherperson,” he says.

All other state rules about catch limits, allowed species and locations still apply.

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