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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

Cold Weather Expected For N.H.'s Free Fishing Day

Andy Schafermeyer
N.H. Fish and Game

Saturday is Free Fishing Day in New Hampshire, the day when residents and non-residents alike can fish any inland water in the state without a fishing license, free of charge.

Scott Decker, Inland Fisheries Program Supervisor at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, says Free Fishing Day is a great way for people to try out the sport of ice fishing.

He advises people going out this weekend to check ice depths, as last weekend's warm temperatures have created variable conditions across the state.

"When you get those warm spells it softens the ice, usually around the edges,” he says. “And it does make it difficult to get on and off a lake or a pond.”

Decker says he believes Friday’s cold snap will help improve conditions, but warns no ice is ever completely safe.

“There are recommended thicknesses for ice fishing,” he says. “We recommend a minimum of 4 to 6 inches of ice for a lone angler to go out and fish, and thicker ice if you’re taking out snowmobiles or heavy bob houses.”

He says high quality black ice is also safer than white, honeycombed ice.

Decker predicts this year’s ice fishing season will be shorter than years past due to above average temperatures earlier this winter.

“It looks like the next couple weeks, though, it’s going to be pretty good for ice making,” he says. “So things should improve as time goes on.”

Saturday is expected to be cold, so Decker encourages those heading out to bundle up.

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