Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Name Is Ishmael: #24 Round Whitefish

When we started this quest we felt pretty confident that we could catch all of the fish in New Hampshire. All it would take is a little research. Well as we started to investigate all of the fish on NH Fish and Game's list of freshwater fish we became less sure of ourselves.

By far the fish that scared us the most was the round whitefish, Prosopium cylindraceum.  Just teetering on the brink of being listed as endangered in the state, this fish is only found in two place in New Hampshire:  Newfound Lake and the upper Connecticutt River. But a quest is an obsessive thing and we were determined to go to great lengths to catch our great white whale, uh. . , whitefish. So to Colbrook, NH we went (a 3.5 hour drive away) to where we heard rumors that whitefish lurk in the cool clear pools. 

Colebrook is a welcoming community

It was a beautiful sunny day with people enjoying the river that is shared by VT and NH. 

These three guys were headed out on a five day float down the Connecticut River. They had no idea where they would camp or end up. 

A nice looking pool in Colebrook

Since we had heard that whitefish have very small mouths, we chose a simple #28 hook with a piece of worm threaded on it and just a bit of weight. We caught a few yet unidentified minnows, a young pumpkinseed, and a pesky 12 inch rainbow trout. 
Do you know what kind of minnow this is?
While dropping this tiny morsel in around the rocks a fish cruised by that we thought was a trout, but it had a slow swagger that seemed a bit odd. Then it started feeding on the side of a big rock like we have seen fallfish do. On a lark, we swung the baited hook over the rock and let it drift out of sight on the other side. Tension! Hook Set! WHITEFISH!!!!!  Never was a battle so nerve wracking, knowing this could be the only sighting of this rare fish. After a careful fight, the fish was beached on a sandy patch and wrestled on shore. We had our whitefish!

Our Great Round Whitefish

One of the most beautiful fish in NH

Small mouth for a large fish.

The snout is perfectly shaped for fitting in to rock crannies and sucking out insect larvae Check out the dark margins on the scales.

13.5" of pure greatness
We always feel bad when we kill fish, so we really want to do this fish justice on the dinner plate. When we cleaned it we got a faint sent of cucumbers like smelt have. It was more subtle but it was there. Also we notice that it was a female. Too bad since the population can use all the little whitefish it can get. Apparently, there are a good number of round whitefish in this stretch of the river and locals call them chubs. Fishing restrictions probably won't do much since these fish are rarely targeted, but hopefully land protection and some runoff control can ensure these fish a long existence in that river.

She was a female with eggs.

Stay tuned for the whitefish recipe. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you got this one, I still argue that walleye is going to be your Moby Dick. I do hope I'm wrong though.