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Ames Farm reopening brings relief to Moultonboro waters

March 04, 2009
MOULTONBORO — With the return of bass fishing to Ames Farm in Gilford and a fee imposed on fishing tournaments in Moultonboro, the number of tournaments planned for Moultonboro this year has dropped almost as dramatically as it rose last year.

Last year, while Ames Farm was embroiled in zoning and planning issues involving whether bass tournaments were able to launch from their docks, fishing activities from that dock were suspended. Looking for somewhere else to launch from, many bass fishing tournaments chose Moultonboro.

Back in 2007, before requests started coming in, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department directed a bass tournament club to have their tournament in Moultonboro. The board contacted the Fish and Game Department then, informing them that the fishing organizations must first submit a request in writing to gain permission to use one of Moultonboro's launch facilities, including Lees Pond, State's Landing, and Long Island Beach.

Fearing overuse and abuse of the town's docking facilities, the selectmen passed an ordinance for fishing tournaments visiting Moultonboro. All of those registering with the department would be informed of Moultonboro's policy, and would need to obtain parking passes or find alternative parking at the facilities. Their parking request would then be forwarded to the Police Department for consideration, since the parking lots cannot accommodate huge tournaments.

"We hosted probably 20 or 25 bass tournaments last year," said Selectman Joel Mudgett.

With the reopening of Ames Farm, many of those tournaments are returning to Ames Farm, especially as the Town of Moultonboro imposed a fee of $150. Recording Secretary Hope Kokas noted that just three tournaments had applied to Moultonboro this year.

"The Ames Farm tournaments have opened back up," said Selectman Chair Karel Crawford. "The minute they closed down, we were inundated."

The news came as a relief to some living along the waterfront, who disliked the noise that some of the tournaments had brought last year.

"The noise travels on the lake, and they start at 6 a.m.," said Steve McGuire. "The boats take off every two minutes."

Kokas told McGuire that if the tournaments did that, to let the town know. The time limits for the tournaments are from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and begin this April 29.

The temporary suspension of fishing tournaments at Lake Ames caused a few reconsiderations of Lake Winnipesaukee by fishing tournaments in New England. New Hampshire Bass Federation President Ron Poirier said back in 2007 that though tournaments continue to be held in Gilford waters, with organizations launching near the Ames Farm Inn, with weigh-ins conducted at Ellacoya State Park, the organization was considering other options. Poirier said that the federation at the time was considering other lakes and other towns for their fishing tournaments, such as Meredith. A divisional scheduled for Gilford in 2007 was moved to a Massachussets lake because of the Ames Farm legal problems.

Poirier estimated that his organization had in the past held about six or seven big tournaments at Ames, with anywhere from 40 to 100 boats launching from its ramp. The NH Bass Federation coordinates its tournaments with other organizations, so as not to overcrowd the lake, and encourages its participants to be respectful of homeowners in the area, according to Poirier.

"We try to work together to not put too many boats on the lake at once," said Poirier. "We're also encouraging clubs to go to smaller lakes, and leave Winnipesaukee to the larger tournaments. It can get overfished."

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