31 years ago this week ...
Here's JoeDixx around 2003 with one of his favorite hunting dogs "Dart".
Remember folks, these Joe Dixx articles are thirty one years old - don't rely on them for fish and game rules or tides. Any accurate information is purely coincidental.
March 28th 1974
The Missus and I, along with friends, took in the 25th Annual Game Supper by the Farmington Fish and Game Sportsmen Club. The menu sported bear meat loaf, rabbit pie, scalloped oysters (a specialty of Bob Simpson's) and sliced wild turkey with all the fixings. I'm not to high on bear, but this particular critter tasted like the finest of any game I've ever enjoyed.
After the fine dinner, a short talk by Fish and Game Commissioner Bernard Corsen revealed that, along with the continuing Salmon programs, both Coho and Atlantic, the department was about to get a shipment of wild turkeys, this time from New York State, which they intend to try once more - a restocking of the Pawtuckaway Park. You will recall a similar attempt some 6 years back, which appears to have ended in disaster following the severe winter two years back. Another fact brought out was the shrinking size of the available lands for hunting and fishing. It seems as if outside interests are buying up all available land and then either developing them or posting them.
On deer, all reports point toward a bumper crop of the most sought after animal in the state. Three mild winters in a row have worked wonders. No mention of the proposed pheasant stamp which will allow the state to once again reestablish the pheasant stocking program. A film of the life cycle of a brook trout ended up a perfect night. Newmarket has never, to my knowledge, had any fully organized sportsmen club. Several different clubs once thrived, but never a sportsmen Fish and Game Club. 1'd say it's about time to form one, if only to be able to sample one of Bob Simpson's game dinners.
The cold waters of the bay once more saddened the families of three youths who drowned off of Goat Island this past Saturday. The reason? A small canoe in rough, cold, windy waters. As the waters are still killing cold, extreme caution must be exercised, especially in the use of small craft. Knowing the parents of one of the youths makes the news doubly hard to take.
It's getting close to that magic part of Spring, were those south winds take a'holt and warm up the early morning temperatures. Those are the times that clamming is especially enjoyable. No flies to pester you no crowds to crowd the flats, and the extra low spring tides to uncover the best digging. Right now, temperatures in the early a.m. are still not that far above zero, so wait a bit for those balmy South Winds.
If you're of a mind to dig clams anyway, here are the tides for this weekend.Friday's low at Hampton is at 9:43 a.m.; Saturday at 10:41 a.m. and on Sunday at 11:47 a. m.Here in the Bay, lows come at 12:41 noon on Saturday, and at 1:47 p.m, on Sunday.
At the foot of Water Street, here in Newmarket, low tide at the Hayes Weir, on Saturday, comes at about 1 p.m.; Sunday at about 2 p.m. Dipping has been poor due to icy snow waters, both here in town and over to Durham's Oyster River. I took a run over to Exeter's Dam and took a look for freshly spawned eggs. Not a trace did I see.
Here in town, the weir is doing fairly well, but the fish have not beenable to run the rapids to the dam, due to the high cold water. Durham's icy runoff has also kept the smelts out of the upper Oyster River. Warden Akerly tells of excellent dipping over to the Salmon Falls Dam; Bellamy and Cocheco Rivers have not yet experienced a run of smelts. If we can get some warm nights, things will change. Exeter River catches are away off of normal.
Look for my favorite bird, the tree swallow, to show by April 10th. He is usually right on time. I say usually, because he was real late last year. I wondered at the time, had our little flock of local swallows met with some natural calamity as they did not get here on time, and when a few did arrive, the major flock did not arrive. Thru the summer, these birds were scarce. I hope for a better year this year.
It's time to dress up your birdhouse, as a few early annuals will be looking your backyard offerings over.On robins, they are still scarce around the Joe Dixx's, but not the Ernie Wilson's, as a pair have been seen in his back yard. I've seen a very few on the coast, but no flocks.Sorry to report eye level depths of snow in the north country. Some of the woods in the Pittsburg, which had no snow at all most all winter, are now impassable to deer. A few weeks of this won't hurt too much, but only a few weeks, as many deer were away from yards and now need to travel to eat. Also the does are getting heavier each day with fawn. Hope for a hot spell to melt that north country snow.
The heavy snow runs as far as the mid-state areas.
We're getting a little behind, so here's another column at no charge
April 4th 1974
The stream of birds flying North has reached its height - especially the water birds. Up in the Canadian wetlands, where most of the water fowl nest, the ground is still frozen up tight, but as the sun gets higher each day, the thaw gets under way. Even tho' the bulk of the ducks and geese nest in the pot hole Canadian barrens, there are many that drop off locally arid raise their broods here-a-bouts in our area beaver dams. If you look about the roadside swamps and wet fields, you'll see many paired blacks and mallard ducks feeding and loafing, getting ready for the long session of ducklin' rearing. Soon as the bayside fields green up, look for the northbound geese to set in for a crop full of new grass. Our second seige of winter set spring back a few weeks, but never fear, that hot sun will prevail. That sure sign of spring, peeper frogs, have yet to peep a single note. I'll take that back, as I did see a dozen or so one rainy night this past month, sitting in the middle of Grant Road Matter of fact
That night was March 16th, a Saturday night, and believe it or not, I dipped up a limit of smelts that night. Those frogs disappeared just as suddenly as they appeared as Winter set in once more. I'd expect to hear these frogs before this week is over. Also, I'd expect to be able to dip a limit of smelts as soon as the river comes back to normal levels.
On song birds, look for my favorite - the tree swallow, to show up within two weeks. Matter of fact, I'd look for him next week. Plenty of robins hustling about looking for earthworms. Woodcock have been here since the first week of March. I'd say that those long beaks got a little bent on our frozen ground last week.
Plenty of small birds showing up at our feeders, but among the missing are the purple finches, our State Bird, and those flocks of white throated sparrows we enjoy all summer. No humming birds either. Could be we're rushing the season a bit.
Two weeks , back, my neighbor, Margaret Plante - who, with her husband Maurice, own and operate the Country Store over to South Newmarket, whoops, I mean Newfields (Sorry about that, neighbor) -'heard from an excited customer that a plane was stocking some sort of colorful bird alongside of the Exeter to Epping Expressway. Now to explain stocking from a plane - this method is used by Western States to stock wild turkey, ducks and once in a while, quail and pheasant. After the 25th Annual Farmington Game Supper, which the Fish and Game Commissioner Buck Coorsen attended, we got a chance to ask him that very question, Did he know of any fancy airplane stocking? He got quite a kick out of the question, and of course his answer was no. Whatever did that lady see over along the highway?
There has been a fair amount of deer sighted this past week. John and Wanda Jakubowicz of Central Street, and the Missus and myself spotted a pair of big deer just off Route 4, between Durham and the Boston Harbor Bridge. Those two deer still sported their winter gray coats and were big and unafraid. The very next day, two other deer were spotted in Bedard's field, on the Durham Flats, by several town folks, including my little woman. Those two were a little skittish, and eventually ran across the field full-speed into the woods. Other sightings from Stratham, Lee and Nottingham point to a fine local herd.
The commercial weir fishermen, while enjoying an early set of their weirs, have not enjoyed a steady run of fish. The Newmarket weir has produced the best catches, but even these are up and down like the tides. Cold water, snow water, muddy water and other assorted reasons have bedeviled the weir men. Over to the Exeter weir, the fishermen were dismayed to see a mystery pollutant suddenly appear one day and hang around for an entire week. The substance looked like lamp black, but was soluble in water, being suspended in solution. When this came, the fish went and didn't come back for the duration. Where this came from is anybody's guess. As samples were taken by the University of New Hampshire, I'm sure the answer will be along soon.
Upon tending the weir on Sunday the 31st, Dave Peaslee came up with a fair slug of smelts., Mixed in, he found a large alewife and a parasitic Lamprey eel. Lots of small flounder and white perch were returned to the water. The appearance of the alewife at this early date points toward slowly warming waters. In the old days April 21st was the day that the official run of alewifes started. Most generally, you could spot small schools at the Lamprey Dam.
Off Shore, the warmer waters have kept fish like pollock and mackerel around in the Gulf of Maine. Matter of fact, some sort of a school of big fish chased a small school of mackerel onto the beach at York Beach. The stranded were quickly grabbed up by people and sea gulls both. The fish were probably giant pollock which have been caught most all winter in the Gulf by commercial fishermen.
Not all countries experience a shortage of game as this news item will show. It seems as tho’ General Franco of Spain and Portugal’s President Americo Thomas had a two-day partridge hunt in Santa Cruz de Mudela. They ended up with just a few birds-just 1100 to be exact. How could they do it? If you ever get to be President of Spain, you’ll find out. ‘Til then, you will just have to guess.
You know we write and talk about the fish weir and infer that it's a fairly modern contraption. Not so - as some dock builders found out. While excavating for a new dock, the construction workers unearthed an Indian fish weir that carbon dated back a few years – 2500 B.C. to be exact. The fish trap much like the modern layout, was constructed of willow poles and woven with willow strands. When done, the trap fished exactly the same as the present day set up with its leads, pastures, and pockets. The American Indian was a master of many arts and fishing was certainly one of his best. Some traces of willow fish nets were unearthed down to Portsmouth’s Puddle Dock. How old they were escapes me, but you can figure many hundreds of years.
Down to Hampton at the State Pier, Vic Jones has been running his ferry to the clam flats since March 3rd. This services saves you the trouble of bringing you own boat. Well worth the price.
Low tides for clamming here in the Bay on Saturday, April 6th, comes at 7:16 a.m. On Sunday at 8:05 a.m.
Joe Dixx's sports corner by Richard Schanda April 11th 1974
Glory be! Those tree swallows arrived last Sunday, the 7th of April and right on time. They arrived in goodly numbers at about 10 a.m. For some strange reason, known only to tree swallows, they always appear in the early morning hours, and most generally, over a body of water. Here in Town, they always show up back of the Mills, over the Lower LAMPREY River. They circle and dip, always on the move in an effort to fill their crops with flying insects. Not made for walking or scratching for seeds, these birds are among the elite of the feathered flying corps, taking all of their meals from the air and always on the wing. Tree swallows love human neighbors and will use any bird house you care to supply. They dislike cats and will attack them at every opportunity. Generally like and tolerate dogs, love farmers and farm tractors which stir up insects in their passage, giving the birds an easy chance at a snack. Back when I was a kid and leading a horse, while father handled the plow, those birds would swing back and forth - bills snapping and their sweet liquid song continually bubbling from their throats. The same was true of horses and mowing machines and hay rakes. You see the farmer working his fields, and you'll see the swallows working the farmer.
An interesting sight is the evening or morning bath by this super bird. Farm ponds are the favorite spots, but I've seen the birds perform this ritual in the lee of Duck Island, out to the Isles of Shoals. The birds glide into the surface of the water and seemingly bounce up into the air once more, shake their bodies and. fly around for another go at the water. Up in the far north, this strange bath very often costs the birds their life, when unseen by the bird, a lurking musky snaps up the swooping critter. All told, the tree swallow, my long time favorite, is welcome wherever he goes, always the perfect gentleman, and furthermore, he loves mosquitoes.
Some purple finches, our State Bird, showed up this past week at Ray and Polly Brisson on New Road. None up here yet, and I'm still feeding every day. Two pairs of cardinals are taking up nests in town, one back of Doris Tourigny's home on South Main Street, and the other near Steve and Gladys Dompkowski's home, down on Beech Street. The cardinal, in its scarlet jacket, could be matched with any tropical bird for beauty.
Sometime this past winter, Carl Akerly, the Fish and Game District Warden, spoke up about the lack of small smelts in the thru-the-ice catches of local Bay smelt fishermen. This, he pointed out, means that a poor spawning year was had the year before. Now that the weirs are fishing along with the dip netters, lots of small fish are showing up. Matter of fact, I strained half of the Great Bay and most all of the Lower Lamprey, and ended up with 10 lbs. of fish. Now I counted that bucket full and came up with 150 fish, or 15 fish to the pound. 95% of those fish were males and fresh from the Sea. Looking at the weir caught fish, the size is now getting up to 12 to the pound of small fish. So it looks as if a fairly good spawning year was had in the Spring of 1972, 1973. The Exeter River weir has been fishing pretty fair of late. While catches are not overly large, they have been comfortable. After an early set, the fish forgot to swim up the Exeter branch. This is the last full week of fishing before the boys shut down for the year.
The Hayes weir has been picking up some alewifes this past week. Matter of fact, I saw
a half bushel on Monday, all iced down and ready to head for some lobster down to Portsmouth.
Marcel Blanchette, of Lamprey Plumbing, has a small fish tank in his window at the shop. In the tank, he has several smelts, 2 or 3 white perch, and a frost fish. Stop and take a look. It's really interesting
The Fish and Game Department is stocking its young Coho this past week. The fish, born a year ago last January, run from 4 inches to l5 inches. The fish are all the same age and were raised at Powder Mill and the New Durham Hatcheries. The fish were to be stocked just below the Wiswall Dam, up to Wiswall Road. Someone told me that they thought that some were stocked in the Lower Salt River, just below the Dam. Could be, but Concord says no. These fish, stocked this year, will return in 1975, late in the fall. This is the state's largest stock:
Low tides for Hampton Beach this 12th of April come at 9:53 a.m.; 10:47 a.m. on Saturday, and 11:42 on Sunday.
The Bay tides on Saturday low at 12:47 noon, and on Sunday at 1:42 p.m. These times are for Adams Point. Add one hour for Newmarket's tide schedule
The trout stocking truck did its job last week late, when it stocked the local Pisscasic River at Crow and Eagle Falls on Grant Road, at Ash Swamp Road Bridge, and at Neal Mill Road Bridge, above Hamel's Farm. Several hundred fish were released, and from what I could see, several hundred were caught.
A little light snow hereabouts on Monday last shows how strange our New England weather can be. After talking with some friends who traveled up to Berlin over the weekend, I found that quite a bit of snow still covers the ground in the woods. The high sun is doing a job on it, but slowly. Rivers are still high and unfishable, so hold off on any North Country fishing trip for a while yet. Some lakes are still ice-bound. Matter of fact, another friend, while driving past one lake, noticed a gent ice fishing on what had to be extremely bad ice. He was running for a flag at the time.