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Hunters Corner: Opening of trout ponds and youth turkey hunts mark busy weekend

During the 1950s and ’60s, Ed Sullivan hosted a Sunday night variety called the Toast of the Town. Sullivan was the consummate star maker and brought forth the British invasion with the introduction of the Beatles in 1964. Sullivan was a man short in height, but would open each night promising a “really big show.” He seldom failed to deliver. Much later another showman, Michael Buffer, electrified wrestling fans and later boxing fans by boastfully announcing “let’s get ready to rumble.”

So what’s the connection between Sullivan and Buffer and New Hampshire? The simple answer is what happens next weekend.

The “let’s get ready to rumble” moment is the opening of designated trout- and fly fishing-only ponds on Saturday. This particularly cold winter means that many of your favorite North Country ponds will be inaccessible owing to snow and ice covering. For the central and southern part of the state, however, it is open water and game on.

The ponds will be stocked throughout the spring with brook, rainbow and brown trout. My personal favorite is the rainbow because of the fighting quality of this trout and the excellent table quality. The stocking consists of yearlings (8-12 inches), two-year-olds (12-15 inches) and three-year-olds (measured in pounds). Locally, Hot Hole Pond (aka Porch Pond) and Clough Pond are classic favorites. French Pond in Henniker, Mount William Pond in Weare, Dublin Lake in Dublin and Barbadoes Pond in Madbury are also highly stocked with strong local appeal.

Archery Pond in Allenstown, which has a wheelchair-accessible casting platform, and Stonehouse Pond in Barrington are two popular fly fishing-only ponds guaranteed to be ice-free and well-stocked for the opener. Willard Pond in Antrim offers forested undeveloped shorelines and unequalled fly fishing for brook, rainbow and tiger trout. For a complete listing of fly fishing ponds, as well as special rules that apply to certain ponds, check out the 2014 New Hampshire Freshwater Fishing Digest.

I suspect that owing to colder water temperatures, it may be a slow start. As soon as the water temperature gets on the sunny side of 50, the action will jump-start. At one time the Hornberg was the all-weather fly because it could be fished wet or dry. Although my two best hitters are the black-nosed dace and the 88, of late I have been augmenting that starting lineup with Copper Johns, which is a small-beaded nymph. But whatever you use, including Rooster Tails, Mepps, Panther Martins, Power Bait and, of course, the old reliable garden hackle, nothing can compare with spring trout fishing.

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The “really big show” moment also comes next weekend with New Hampshire’s Youth Turkey Weekend, taking place next Saturday and Sunday. This is the ninth annual youth turkey hunt, and based upon last year’s outstanding success, 2014 should be a banner year.

The rules are simple: The youth hunter must be 15 years old or younger and have a 2014 turkey permit. The accompanying adult must be 18 years of age or older and possess a valid hunting or archery license and a turkey permit. The same turkey hunting rules that apply here apply for the regular spring hunt that starts May 3. The turkey must be a beard.

The breakdown for the 2013 spring hunt was 24 bearded hens, 1,483 jakes and 3,039 toms.

Fish and Game urges all turkey hunters, including youth, to memorize the following list of 10 safety guidelines before going out in the field:

∎ Never stalk a turkey. It rarely works and it increases the risk of an accident.

∎ Never wear red, white, blue or black over- or underclothing, as these are prominent colors of displaying gobblers.

∎ Never call from a tree that is thinner than the width of your shoulders.

∎ Never jump or turn suddenly in response to a suspected turkey.

∎ Never call from a site where you can’t see at least 40 yards in all directions.

∎ Never imitate a gobbler call while concealed in a stand.

∎ Never think that your camouflage makes you totally invisible. To ID yourself to other hunters, wrap an orange band around the tree nearest you.

∎ Never presume that what you hear or what responds to your call is a turkey.

∎ Never hide so well that you can’t see what’s happening around you.

∎ Never move or wave to alert an approaching hunter; shout “stop” instead.

“Nothing generates more compliments, letters of thanks, and photographs of proud parents and beaming kids, than our youth turkey weekend,” said Wildlife Division Chief Mark Ellingwood. “We take great pride and satisfaction in providing young people and mentoring adults with the opportunity to learn safe hunting practices, to put lean, healthy, natural food on their table, and to enjoy the spellbinding wonders and beauty of New Hampshire’s spring woodlands.”

New Hampshire offers three youth hunting weekends. The other two are waterfowl and deer. All three are tailored to offer the youth hunter a chance to hunt without the competition of other hunters.

(Bob Washburn can be reached at

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