Saturday morning

I have today a great essay by Dave O’Hearn on ice fishing upon the Squamscott sheet that rises and falls with the tide. Years ago we had a regular essay from Joe Dixx ( Richard Schanda of Newmarket) that would appear in the newspaper. His writing style and subject matter, the outdoors, always captivated me.

You have heard for sure someone described as an “enthusiast” someone “who enjoys” but then there are others who literally, “live and breathe” the outdoors. They are typically very experienced, you want to be on their boat, in their camp, you will be safe, it will  be great fun, and you will land a big one.

Dave is that fellow.

We will pass often on the Great Bay as he darts from one lobster trap to another.

Sometimes we are the only 2 boats as far as I can see. It’s rather nice to know who is near.

I just received my NH Fish and Game newsletter email.


CONCORD, N.H. — Delve into the shadowy world of New Hampshire’s elusive bobcats in the January-February 2014 issue of NH Wildlife Journal. Biologists are studying the abundance, health and habits of the state’s wildcats, which are making quite a comeback.

Also in this issue, walk the trapline with a hardy outdoorsman who traps beaver under the ice, mostly to help landowners control flooding and loss of timber. David O’Hearn is a licensed New Hampshire trapper carrying on a tradition that transcends the centuries.

Transcends the centuries

Let that sink in a bit, wait for it, wait.

I thought for sure I had some bob house photos but could not pull them up, so I dashed out for  a fresh one just now. There were no fish shacks on the Swasey, but there had to be out at Rocky Point. I saw the Stratham shack village from 101,but prefer an Exeter snap, it’s just me.  Also the Stratham pic could be taken from the car, no ramble involved.


I’ll bet Dave could tell me what  time and what was dining here

So I dumped the car at DPW and went over the snow piles out to the River beyond the waste water lagoons. There were some birders with huge spotting scopes checking out some ducks. It was a bit more  of a walk than I expected and I was hoping to be rewarded with at least 2 guys on stools, something.



The fish that come and go with the tide and those that enjoy that bounty , this rhythm, stretches back beyond the centuries. I imagine this fishery will only improve with the dam removed .



Rainbow Smelting

By David O’Hearn

“Having grown up along the banks of Wheelwright Creek, a tributary of the Squamscott River, we were never too far from the shanty towns that dot the river during the winter months. Our introduction to smelt fishing took place in the easterly cove off Depot Rd in Stratham. Groups of neighborhood youths would have a yearly build to see who could construct the best smelt shack. If my memory serves me right the Zarnowski brothers always seemed to come out on top with Craig Leach and Jeff Western not far behind. But I have to say, my ‘across town’ friend Joe Daley’s shack was by far the best I ever fished from. Joe’s shack included a wood stove!”

You can read the rest of the story on

You might also visit Dave’s blog for more outdoor adventures coupled with great photos.


Dear Honorable Exeter Selectmen and Selectwomen,

My feelings were of great dismay when I read about the 3-2 vote against the Great Dam removal. This email is not to get into all the political and financial information that the River Study committee has already presented to the Board.

This email is from a lifelong Exeter resident concerned about the health of the Great Bay. It is a proven fact that the Great Dam removal would be beneficial to the water quality of the Squamscott River and Great Bay.

Selectman Quandt, I’ve known your father since I was a teenager. I’ve always respected his view on local and state government. I was embarrassed when I read his words in his letter to the editor of the Exeter Newsletter that said “raw sewage feed the fish”.

I hope your vote against the dam removal was made after you reviewed all the pros and cons and not personal to support a family member.

Selectwoman Gilman, Your words in the Exeter Newsletter recently about the “major impact” on the culture and history of Exeter does not go far enough back. I am wrong when I see the American alewives as the symbol of the town of Exeter and its historical district?

Didn’t Exeter hold Alewife Festivals in the past to recognize the great importance in history of this anadromous fish species to Exeter?  The current dam is blocking alewives from their historical breeding grounds. A call to NH F&G will confirm that the alewives are declining due to not being able to successfully navigate the fish ladder.

Selectman Chartrand, Wouldn’t property values in downtown Exeter benefit if once again the great run of anadromous fish (alewives and shad) were to return to Exeter each spring and possibly revitalize the Alewife Festival? The removal of the Great Dam would benefit all historical Exeter fish species not to mention the amount of people that would come to see the annual spring fish migration to the falls.

I am in favor of the citizen’s petition to let the people of Exeter vote on dam removal. Yes or no I will support the decision of the people of Exeter. As our elected officials I do not believe your vote voiced the concerns of the whole town especially after reviewing all the stated benefits in the Great Dam River Study.

Would the dam removal benefit me in any personal way? Yes it would because I am a recreational lobsterman and striped bass fisherman of Great Bay. I’ve been fishing Great Bay for striped bass since a young boy. I have been a hobby lobsterman for the past 16 years. I know firsthand what is happening to the water quality and the declining alewife population. I can only say that I believe the Great Dam removal would be beneficial to everyone.

I’d like to leave you with two things.

1.      A link to the Exeter Historical Society on the importance of the alewife to the Town of Exeter.

2.    A  saying at the end of every Bass Pro Shop commercial “We all live downstream”.

Thank you for your time.

Very respectfully yours,

David O’Hearn

9 Hale St

Exeter, NH