New rules in effect for ice fishing
ICE FISHERMEN will need to check the new fishing regulations at the start of the new year, including reflectors on each side of their bobhouse as well as a no-lead policies. (Daryl Carlson/Citizen Photo)
LACONIA — As ice fishing enthusiasts set up bob houses and drill holes, they might want to be aware of a few new rules from the state Fish and Game Department.
The state agency announced three new ice-fishing regulations recently.
First, bob houses now must display 12 square inches of reflective material on the outside of each of the four walls. This includes portable shelters.
Mark Beauchesne of the state Fish and Game Department said that the new regulation is designed to protect everyone on the ice at night. Snow vehicles will be better able to spot bob houses, he said. Beyond that, he said, the new regulation might help people to find their own bob houses in the dark.
There are a number of ways that people could adhere to the new regulation, he said.
“Driveway markers would work,” he said. He said he plans to meet the requirement by spraying reflective paint on his bob house in the shape of a big fish.
Jason Parent, owner of Paugus Bay Sporting Goods Co., said that most portable bob houses come with enough reflective material on them already.
Lester Firstenberger, the owner-manager of Martel’s Sport Shop, said that his shop has ordered reflective tape to meet the new demand. The tape should arrive in the store by Tuesday, he said, and would sell for about $5.
“We ordered industrial, weatherproof tape that’ll last forever,” he said.
The second regulation sets bag limits on yellow perch, horned pout and all sunfish. As of Jan. 1, the daily limit will be 25 for white perch, black crappie, yellow perch, horned pout and sunfish, with a 50-fish aggregate daily possession limit for all these species combined.
Previously, there was no daily bag limit for yellow perch, horned pout or sunfish, and there was no combined limit for these species.
Parent said that the second rule was probably the most significant. Perch travel in schools, he said, and once a fishing enthusiast finds the school, he or she can draw large numbers from the water. The new bag limits will regulate that.
Beauchesne said that the bag limits were the result of a scientific analysis of fish populations.
“We want to manage them so there are catchable numbers for them down the road,” he said.
The third rule prohibits the sale of lead sinkers weighing one ounce or less and lead jigs less than one inch in length.
Parent said that rule was not particularly significant because the use of those sinkers and jigs was already prohibited. Stores were allowed to sell them for use in other states, he said. But, Parent said, those sales were so minor that Paugus Bay Sporting Goods didn’t keep them in stock.
Beauchesne said that the new regulation is “just another means to get lead out of the hands of our children and out of water.”
Parent said that small, lead sinkers and jigs had been banned initially because they affected both fish and loon populations.
Firstenberger said that other materials, such as tin, were available. While less dense, he said, other metals were still effective. He said that other metals are on the horizon for use as sinkers and jigs, as well.
“They’re talking about magnesium,” he said.
The state Fish and Game website recommends tin, brass and steel sinkers, as well as steel, bismuth, nontoxic pewter, and steel and glass tackle.
Anyone interested in ice fishing must also purchase a new license for 2006. Licenses expire Dec. 31, and new licenses take effect Jan. 1.
Beauchesne said that the season looks good already, and fishing enthusiasts should be encouraged to get out onto the ice.
“It’s a good time to get out there and get ice fishing,” he said.
By GORDON FRASER