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Old 02-07-2017, 01:13 PM   #1
Donzi Minx
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Smile Crayfish at Winni

Thinking of days gone by, and warmer more carefree times at the lake.
As we (Melrose Howland's, related Spencers and Moschella clans) enjoyed the cottage altogether for the month of August at my uncle's West Alton property we all spent a lot of time in the water. The boathouse always housed the little blue gray lobsters that were a neat challenge to catch, really early 60's. We were always filling pails with many crayfish which seemed to populate more in the boathouse than in front of the dock.

As I returned with my own clan of 5 early 80's, crayfish were not to be found.
Did they miss the Chris Craft? Did they not enjoy the Mastercraft? Was it the thunder of the Donzi being parked above them? What banished them from the boathouse where they seemed so abundant.

As I ponder those wonderful childhood memories I am angst with the thought that it was an "environmental" thing that may have caused this disappearing act. Chief Thundercloud and I talked about it on one of our 3.5 "speed walks" and she rightly said.....your forum friends will know the answer to that!

Gawwwd, I hope it wasn't the Dr. Bronners all Natural soap!
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Old 02-07-2017, 02:08 PM   #2
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Default same here

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Originally Posted by Donzi Minx View Post
Thinking of days gone by, and warmer more carefree times at the lake.
As we (Melrose Howland's, related Spencers and Moschella clans) enjoyed the cottage altogether for the month of August at my uncle's West Alton property we all spent a lot of time in the water. The boathouse always housed the little blue gray lobsters that were a neat challenge to catch, really early 60's. We were always filling pails with many crayfish which seemed to populate more in the boathouse than in front of the dock.

As I returned with my own clan of 5 early 80's, crayfish were not to be found.
Did they miss the Chris Craft? Did they not enjoy the Mastercraft? Was it the thunder of the Donzi being parked above them? What banished them from the boathouse where they seemed so abundant.

As I ponder those wonderful childhood memories I am angst with the thought that it was an "environmental" thing that may have caused this disappearing act. Chief Thundercloud and I talked about it on one of our 3.5 "speed walks" and she rightly said.....your forum friends will know the answer to that!

Gawwwd, I hope it wasn't the Dr. Bronners all Natural soap!

We have a lot of rocks where I am in Meredith and summers ago, you could lift any rock and there would be one if not 2 crayfish under every rock. No more. Not for the past 5-6 summers.
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Old 02-07-2017, 02:33 PM   #3
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Default Crayfish

I remember this question came up some years back. I still find them snorkeling around the shoreline. Bass will follow me around and I can hand feed them if I catch one.

I believe the reason there are fewer of them is actually because water quality is better overall. But I leave it to a marine biologist to confirm.

And btw, cusk are bottom feeders that feed on crayfish too and I usually find bellies full of them when I'm cleaning my catch.
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Old 02-07-2017, 02:51 PM   #4
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Default missing

In the 1950's you could find crayfish under any rock you moved.There were still a few around in the 1970's. But have not seen any in recent years. There were always large schools of minnows which also have disappeared.
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Old 02-07-2017, 03:52 PM   #5
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In the 1950's you could find crayfish under any rock you moved.There were still a few around in the 1970's. But have not seen any in recent years. There were always large schools of minnows which also have disappeared.
Has anyone found any hellgrammites? My father use to fish with them in the 50's and 60's.
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Old 02-07-2017, 04:30 PM   #6
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Improving water quality, if in fact Winnipesaukee's water quality was improving, would not adversely impact crayfish. They are in fact indicators of good water quality and highly sensitive to pollution.
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Old 02-07-2017, 05:04 PM   #7
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Default missing crawfish

I asked this question a couple of years ago. I remember finding crawfish under lots of rocks on Moultonborough Neck in the late 80's / early 90's but can't find a one these days (and I have looked, repeatedly). I question whether water quality is improving - is there any established data that suggests it was worse 30 years ago? Just curious.
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Old 02-07-2017, 05:33 PM   #8
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Default Crayfish

I can join in and say that crayfish have been among the missing in Winter Harbor for a number of years. I can remember always being able to spend a few minutes and find/catch enough crayfish to supply bait for a long afternoon of fishing.

When my family operated Camp Wyanoke in Winter Harbor it was standard modus operandi for a camper to first catch some crayfish, then go fishing. I can remember snorkling along the shore line in shallow water turning over flat rocks and finding several at a time.

I guess crayfish's time is up.
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Old 02-07-2017, 05:49 PM   #9
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I remember lots of crayfish when we were kids too. However, I almost never see them now. But I mentioned it to my neighbor and he said his grandsons always find lots of them for fishing. So I guess they are around, but I agree, I certainly don't see them like I used to.
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Old 02-07-2017, 07:23 PM   #10
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Interesting. I was surprised to find one in poor health in the shallows near our beach last summer--first one in three summers.

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Old 02-07-2017, 07:46 PM   #11
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Has anyone found any hellgrammites? My father use to fish with them in the 50's and 60's.
I don't believe we ever had hellgrammites in the lake.
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Old 02-07-2017, 08:31 PM   #12
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While I cannot answer the question of crayfish decline, I can state that I have observed the rise and fall of competitive species of fish elsewhere.

My experience is with the CT river. The three species that I target are smallmouth bass, walleyes and rainbow trout. Over three decades of fishing there have led me to believe that a species will rise in dominance as the others diminish. This seems to change every five years or so.

I realize the above is not a scientific study but this is the internet so I shall propse the following theory:

Something has changed in the balance of predatory fish. The crayfish are being eaten in greater numbers than they were in the past. What species of fish has been rising over the last few decades? Could it be white perch or rock bass?
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Old 02-07-2017, 09:01 PM   #13
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I don't believe we ever had hellgrammites in the lake.
But Waldron's had them. One of my childhood memories of fishing with my father on Waukewan was when a hellgrammite fell off the hook and into his lap. I thought my father was going to jump out of the boat. They are nasty little creatures.
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Old 02-07-2017, 10:35 PM   #14
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Default interesting question... what is the answer?

We've had a lot of conversation about this topic over the past few years... back in the early '60s at night you could shine a flashlight in shallow water by the beach and see them crawling around... they were under every rock we'd turn over... and we would set a "crayfish trap" with a dead fish, to capture them and in turn sell them to the bait shop on Moultonborough Neck for 5 cents apiece!

Over beers we've speculated on a lot of theories, but would love to know what's really behind it... there must be a scientific answer out there somewhere!

Doing the ice-in dance... -PIG
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Old 02-07-2017, 11:31 PM   #15
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Has anyone found any hellgrammites? My father use to fish with them in the 50's and 60's.
Hellgrammites are usually found in running water where there are boulder, rocks and gravel for them to hide under similar to crayfish. Not found in the lake that often unless there is some sort of current.

They are harvested by using a cheese cloth net downstream of a person tumbling the rocks and boulders up stream and they get caught in the net before they can get back down to the bottom.

When I first got into fishing I used them a lot, we used to call them "Caviar for Bass" they love'em.

I have see people (women) eat Hellgrammites as part of there daily diet right at the moment that they catch them. I can't imagine eating one myself.

Once in a great while you can find one them as fully developed adult.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dobsonfly

Crayfish:
I still find plenty of fish with crayfish that they spit out when caught, but not as many as in years past. I would not be surprised if the decline in crayfish populations is directly related to the explosion of the rock bass population.
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Old 02-08-2017, 01:03 AM   #16
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I don't believe we ever had hellgrammites in the lake.
They may not be in the lake now, but they were in the 50's and 60's
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Old 02-08-2017, 06:48 AM   #17
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Default Crayfish for Bait

Does anyone know where the bait stores source their crayfish? There always plenty in the bait stores and I assume they are coming from local lakes and ponds? Are there any bait store owners on the forum? Maybe the bait store owner in Meredith could shed some light on the subject?
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Old 02-08-2017, 07:28 AM   #18
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They may not be in the lake now, but they were in the 50's and 60's
Well, that I never knew. I never saw one. When we were kids, we had a bait business and we bought hellgrammites to resell.
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Old 02-08-2017, 09:42 AM   #19
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My opinion is the crawfish are still in the lake but moved to deeper water due to the invasive Rock Bass taking over their habitat and / or eating them. I also think spraying for milfoil has not helped the reproductive process...Just my opinion however.

As far as the lake being cleaner today than the in the 60's and 70's....There is no doubt the lake is MUCH cleaner today than back then! I can still remember all the hillside vacation camps with their over burdened septic systems leaching directly into the lake on almost the entire southern hillside shoreline from Gilford to Alton. It's a good thing they didn't do bacteria testing and beach advisories / closings back then as you never would of been able to swim in the lake!

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Old 02-08-2017, 10:02 AM   #20
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I asked this question a couple of years ago. I remember finding crawfish under lots of rocks on Moultonborough Neck in the late 80's / early 90's but can't find a one these days (and I have looked, repeatedly). I question whether water quality is improving - is there any established data that suggests it was worse 30 years ago? Just curious.
We are improving our efforts to make data available. You can find general environmental data at http://www4.des.state.nh.us/NHEnvironmentalDashboard/ and data more specific to lakes and ponds at http://www.des.nh.gov/organization/d...lake_water.htm. Individual lake trophic studies and invasive species management plans can be found by going to the Lakes Trophic Surveys section on the second webpage listed above.
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:26 AM   #21
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Wonder how much the reduction of the number of 2 cycle engines has caused the the cleaner water conditions. Those old 2 strokes used to pour fuel into the lakes. I don't see many of them around these days.
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Old 02-09-2017, 07:45 AM   #22
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Default where's the data?

I went through the links provided and could not easily find detailed information on water quality for Winnipesaukee. If it is there somewhere, it is not well presented or organized. For example, something as simple as finding water clarity trends over a ten to twenty year period or water temperature changes over the same period. Critical information about water quality should be presented in clear, easy to understand charts.
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Old 02-09-2017, 08:13 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by mishman View Post
I went through the links provided and could not easily find detailed information on water quality for Winnipesaukee. If it is there somewhere, it is not well presented or organized. For example, something as simple as finding water clarity trends over a ten to twenty year period or water temperature changes over the same period. Critical information about water quality should be presented in clear, easy to understand charts.
Spend some time here:

http://winnipesaukeegateway.org/moni...ing-sites-map/

Zoom in and click on a monitoring site.

We had sampled 2 sites off Governors for several years, the deep site CIC constantly had Secchi disk depth of nearly 10 meters. In the bays maybe 7 to 8 meters.

If you have specific questions contact Pat Tarpey:

http://www.winnipesaukee.org/category/about/contactus/
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Old 02-09-2017, 09:02 AM   #24
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We rarely find crawfish on Winni any more but we often find them on squam. Could it just be the amount of shore disturbance and development?
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Old 02-09-2017, 10:00 AM   #25
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I went through the links provided and could not easily find detailed information on water quality for Winnipesaukee. If it is there somewhere, it is not well presented or organized. For example, something as simple as finding water clarity trends over a ten to twenty year period or water temperature changes over the same period. Critical information about water quality should be presented in clear, easy to understand charts.
The Dashboard is fairly new will be used to show trends through charts and other formats. The trophic surveys, accessed by clicking on the waterbody of interest on the map, include detailed sampling data related to water chemistry and flora for different years.
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Old 02-09-2017, 10:38 AM   #26
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In addition to fish, birds and otters also eat them. Guessing the increasing number of otters, loons, and blue herons has not done the crayfish population any good. I think the frog population has suffered as much as the crayfish population. When I was a kid, frogs were easy to find; hardly see them these days.
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Old 02-09-2017, 11:12 AM   #27
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I think you can find a inverse relationship between crayfish numbers and the rock bass population. Most likely it is the juvenile rock bass eating the crayfish fry in the shallows.

It would be interesting to have a rock bass fishing tournament with prizes for the most pounds of fish taken. Opposed to some of the other tourneys on the lake, this would be accessible to everyone with a fishing rod regardless of skill!



Another possible reason could be an increase in water temperature along the shoreline. Decreased overhead cover leads to increased water temperature. These crayfish thrive in cold water.
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Old 02-09-2017, 11:22 AM   #28
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I think you can find a inverse relationship between crayfish numbers and the rock bass population. Most likely it is the juvenile rock bass eating the crayfish fry in the shallows.

It would be interesting to have a rock bass fishing tournament with prizes for the most pounds of fish taken. Opposed to some of the other tourneys on the lake, this would be accessible to everyone with a fishing rod regardless of skill!



Another possible reason could be an increase in water temperature along the shoreline. Decreased overhead cover leads to increased water temperature. These crayfish thrive in cold water.
Welcome to the Forum OTF

We have also seen a decline in crayfish on the west side of Welch. My grand kids can attest to the abundance of rock bass around the breakwater.
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Old 02-10-2017, 04:46 AM   #29
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Arrow Shoreline Ice Preserves Crayfish from Depredations...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave R View Post
In addition to fish, birds and otters also eat them. Guessing the increasing number of otters, loons, and blue herons has not done the crayfish population any good. I think the frog population has suffered as much as the crayfish population. When I was a kid, frogs were easy to find; hardly see them these days.
IMHO, it's the man-made dock circulators that have extended the ice-out season for crayfish-dining.

Since about 1993, we were frequenting Lake Winnipesaukee before ice-outs, and were surprised to see a "new" species of diving duck swimming in spaces between the ice floes. These Hooded Mergansers would predictably paddle into shallow water and come up with two-inch crayfish with every brief dive. It was a veritable crayfish buffet!



These small ducks stayed for less than a week, and moved-on as the ice broke up.

(Their flying speed is 50-MPH, and are on a population surge).

Borrowing from another theory,
Quote:
Decades ago, mink were probably restricted to natural open water areas after "Ice-In". Today, with circulators everywhere, mink have flourished on the lake's mussels.

Since crayfish are also on the mink's diet, I think the reason some lakefront property owners "have no crayfish" is that they have circulators/bubblers operating nearby.
Internet factoids:
• Crayfish evolved 100+ million years ago, during the same time period as our oldest living bird species, Loons.

• Crayfish have been filmed actively feeding under ice cover.

• 'Lots of crayfish species, including adults from Down Under, that weigh 11 pounds!
https://web.archive.org/web/20050513...srac/244fs.pdf

.
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Old 02-10-2017, 08:02 AM   #30
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The problem is very obvious and has been clearly documented right here in this very thread.

The problem is all the kids over many years collecting crayfish, then trying to sell them for 5 cents each!

Save the crayfish, and consider all of the lost revenue, if only there was a state crayfish collection and distribution tax (since NH doesn't have a sales tax).
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Old 02-10-2017, 08:11 AM   #31
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Nope, Rich. We never sold crayfish.

Seriously, we as people have said, we do have great blue herons and loons which we didn't have years ago. We also have more ducks and eagles. I think they also have hurt the frog population.
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Old 02-10-2017, 08:41 AM   #32
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The problem is very obvious and has been clearly documented right here in this very thread.

The problem is all the kids over many years collecting crayfish, then trying to sell them for 5 cents each!

Save the crayfish, and consider all of the lost revenue, if only there was a state crayfish collection and distribution tax (since NH doesn't have a sales tax).
I'm not sure if this is in jest but assuming it's not, that's ridiculous. Children collecting crayfish will NOT wipe out the population and btw we still have plenty of crayfish at South Point on LI.
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Old 02-10-2017, 03:46 PM   #33
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Default Crayfish

We've summered in Wolfeboro since before I was born. In the 70's and 80's crayfish were abundant. Would see them with a flashlight any time after dark and of course around the rocks. I sued to think they disappeared because of the natural cycle of the lake changing our area from sand and gravel to silty and weedy over the last 40 years perhaps ushering the crayfish to move on to more gravely areas. However a smart local friend of mine suggests that the chemicals used to kill millfoil are to blame for the destruction of the crayfish population.
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Old 02-10-2017, 09:00 PM   #34
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Default Sky Pond crayfish decline

This is a really interesting thread to me because the rapid decline in crayfish is something that has recently caught my attention in both Sky and Jackson Ponds. For those of you unfamiliar with Sky Pond it is a very deep small pond and State Park at the corner of New Hampton, Ashland, and Meredith. It is cold, spring fed, and stocked with brook trout by the F&G. It is a fly fishing only pond and there are no motors allowed. Jackson Pond is fed from Sky Pond and used to be the Ashland Town water supply. Neither pond has much shoreline development and they are very clean.
There is a local bait shop that has multiple traps on Sky Pond and cleans them out everyday. I had attributed the decline to their overfishing, but this thread makes me wonder the real reason. Sounds like a good topic for F&G, the Squam Lakes Association, or maybe a paper writing college grad to explore. There is obviously a lot of interest!
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Old 02-13-2017, 09:12 AM   #35
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I'm not sure if this is in jest but assuming it's not, that's ridiculous. Children collecting crayfish will NOT wipe out the population and btw we still have plenty of crayfish at South Point on LI.
Humor my friend, just some humor!
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Old 02-17-2017, 02:31 PM   #36
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Default Crayfish in Winni

There still is a healthy population of crayfish in the lake. Many fish that I catch spit them up during the fight. The increased population of predator fish such as rock bass and white perch as well as loons has forced the crayfish to adapt in order to survive. I catch fish in 30 feet of water that will cough up 3 crayfish at a time...just because we don't see them where we did 30 years ago, does not mean they are not there, or the population is dwindling. I also have trapped over fifty in one night in one trap in the Gilford area of the lake.
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