Fishermen's dilemma – Rock bass crowding in on Winnipesaukee's sport fishery

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Fishermen on Squam Lake.  Karen Bobotas for the Laconia Daily Sun


LAKE WINNIPESAUKEE — When is a bass fisherman unhappy about all the fish he's catching? When he spends all day catching rock bass instead of the smallmouth bass he's looking for. It's a scenario happening more frequently on Lake Winnipesaukee, where the smaller, invasive fish have taken over much of the territory previously inhabited by smallmouth bass.

Scott Decker, program supervisor for inland fisheries at the state's Department of Fish and Game, said that rock bass are a Midwestern fish, though they are native to lakes as far east as Vermont's Lake Champlain. The fish has been present in New Hampshire for many decades, first appearing in Lake Sunapee, where it caused great disruption of that prized fishery, and in the Connecticut River.

"I can't pinpoint when rock bass first made it into Winnipesaukee," said Decker. Nor does the department have an exact understanding of how many rock bass are in the lake, or what parts of the lake it dominates. What is clear from anecdotal reports, though, is that the fish has made its way into the big lake, as well as many other water bodies in the state.

Rock bass, which grow to about 8 inches in length, rarely will weight more than a pound, and are larger than sunfish and bluegills, but don't grow as large as smallmouth bass. However, they grow quickly and eat heavily, competing with smallmouth bass for the same small fish and insects. Rock bass, as their name implies, prefer a rocky bottom habitat. They're identified by a color that ranges from brass to olive, and rows of dark spots running along its sides. Its large eyes are sometimes red.

Decker said that the fish was likely introduced to local water bodies by accident, such as by a fisherman dumping his bait bucket full of minnows into the water when he's done for the day, a practice Fish and Game discourages for this very reason. Occasionally, that bucket of minnows contains an errant species of fish, indistinguishable from the rest in minnow form.

"The thing about rock bass is they get a bad rap," said Decker. There is an irony in the situation, which is that smallmouth bass, as well as most of the sport fish in New Hampshire, are also non-native species, having been introduced from other parts of North America.

There's no limit or catch regulations on rock bass, Decker noted. They can be kept at any length or weight, and anglers can keep as many of them as they can catch.

"We treat them, basically, as an invasive species," he said.

Decker expects that rock bass are currently experiencing a population boom in Winnipesaukee, and that the numbers will soon fall. He hopes that rock bass numbers will fall and settle into a balance with other fish in the lake. In the meantime, rock bass offer great opportunities for children learning to fish, because they're so prolific and easy to catch. He also expects that they're a boon to loons and other predators, as they're likely easier to catch than trout or salmon.

At A.J.'s Bait & Tackle in Meredith, owner Alan Nute said, "Winnipesaukee is starting to get flooded with (rock bass)," and his customers are finding the newcomer to be a nuisance.

"People are spending money on bait and they're catching rock bass instead of what they're targeting," Nute said.

Nute, concerned about the effect that rock bass will have on the future biodiversity of the Lakes Region, said he would like to see a rock bass-specific fishing tournament, where the winner would be the person who catches the most fish, In doing so, he hoped to give smallmouth bass a fighting chance to take back some territory.

He is also telling his customers not to return the fish to the lake. Rather, take them home for dinner.

"They are a very good eating fish. I'm telling everyone to take them home and eat them," he said.

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Rock bass typically grow to about eight inches in length (Photo courtesy of NH Fish and Game)

Sheriff steps down - Craig Wiggin taking teaching job at SNHU

Craig Wiggin Wiggin



LACONIA — Belknap County Sheriff Craig Wiggin has resigned effective Friday to take a full-time job teaching at Southern New Hampshire Uiniversity.
Belknap County Delegation Chairman Frank Tilton (R-Laconia) confirmed Thursday that he had received a letter from Wiggin regarding his resignation a few weeks ago and that both the Belknap County Commission and members of the Belknap County Delegation Wednesday have been informed that Wiggin is stepping down.
Wiggin started his law enforcement career with the Laconia Police Department in 1982 and joined the New Hampshire State Police as a trooper in 1984, where he served for 21 years, rising to the rank of major before retiring.
He was appointed to take the place of Belknap County Sheriff Dan Collis in 2007 and was elected to the office in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014, but did not seek re-election this year. There are four months left in his term.
Tilton said the department will be managed by Chief Deputy Sheriff David Perkins, who was promoted to that position earlier this year, while the delegation, which has the responsibility to name a replacement, decides what to do.
He said there is a good possibility that the delegation will decide to leave the position vacant for several months because a new sheriff will be elected this fall.
Two candidates, both Republicans, have filed for the office: Belknap County Deputy Sgt. William Wright and former Laconia Police Chief Michael Moyer.

Gloddy murder examined - Sister of Franklin victim writes second book


BRIDGEWATER — It's been six years since her first book, "A Child is Missing, A True Story," and 45 years since Karen Beaudin's kid sister Kathy Lynn Gloddy was raped and murdered in Franklin.

Beaudin, then 15, shared a room with her 13-year-old sister, and has written a second book about Kathy's death that is wildly different than the first, which focused on the grief and pain her close family endured in the minutes, days, weeks and months that stretched into years following her sister's unsolved murder.

"A Child is Missing, Searching for Justice" is about Beaudin as she retraces the criminal inquiry into her sister's death and chronicles some of the internal state and police politics that may have thwarted the murder investigation.

In the area for two book signings, one Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Gibson's Bookstore in Concord and one Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Franklin Public Library, Beaudin talked Thursday afternoon about her research and why she even wrote her second book.

"I thought I would speak to about three people who were involved," she said. "I ended up doing more than 50 interviews and researching everything I could find."

She said she would talk to one person, who would lead her to another, who would lead her to another. By the time she was through, she had interviewed a number of retired police officers who worked on her sister's case in 1971 and officers who were assigned to the first New Hampshire Cold Case Unit in 2010, which was created after she wrote her first book and encouraged the legislature and then Gov. John Lynch to form a special unit for old homicides.

She interviewed classmates of her sister, friends of the young men thought to be involved, and newspaper reporters who remember the case.

Beaudin also interviewed a former female acquaintance of the prime suspect who spoke extensively with police at the time and who still doesn't understand why there was no grand jury convened by then State Attorney General Warren Rudman.

She writes about competing jurisdictions during the time of the investigation and how the State Police, the Merrimack County Sheriff's Department and the Franklin Police were reluctant to share information with each other.

And she retells her own story about some of the intimidation and pain she suffered in the years after Kathy's murder while she lived in Franklin and tried to raise her young family there.

Kathy Lynn Gloddy's death was a horrible one. She had been raped and strangled. Her naked body had been run over repeatedly by a car and left on an old logging road in West Franklin. She was found on Nov. 21, 1971, three miles from the family home she had left in the early evening to walk to the store, accompanied by her dog, Tasha. Hours later, only Tasha returned.

Beaudin said the first three chapters of her new book were the most difficult. It's where she forced herself to review her sister's autopsy reports, research medical terms to explain the science, and write down the gory details of her sister's death.

She said the tone of the second book is different because it's more clinical.

"My first book was about the emotions, the steps we (her family) went through," she said.

While writing "A Child is Missing, Searching For Justice," Beaudin worked with victim's advocates, helping them understand how kids cope with pain.

"I weave a prism of emotional things through evidence," she said.

She described her feelings when she entered into the bedroom she shared with Kathy the day after they found her body and realized that in the course of the investigation, the police had moved everything, had torn up the room, had cut open the mattress and, in her mind, ruined or took everything she had by which to remember her sister.

Beaudin said when she told this part of her story to a group of homicide investigators in Ohio, one of them told her that he has since ordered his detectives to leave everything they can of a deceased person as intact as possible, for the benefit of the family left behind.

Beaudin also identifies the people who were in Franklin at the time. She names names but said she comes to no conclusions because it's up to the reader to do that.

"Everything is validated by law enforcement," she said.

She said writing the book has given her an opportunity to help others.

"I blog," she said. "I have families who contact me from all over the place."

She lectures at universities and colleges for students who want to be victim witness advocates or police officers.

She said she shows pictures of Kathy and one particular picture of her grief-stricken father that gives students a sense of what survivors experience.

Beaudin talked about her relationship with law enforcement and how she has grown to appreciate the work they do and the sacrifices they make to do it.

In a recent lecture she gave to a criminal justice class at Plymouth State University, she said she was asked by a student what is the one thing she would want a police officer to know.

Her reply: "No matter when you go back, the family is still grieving that loss."

She also counsels families who survive victims of crimes not to "burn their bridges with law enforcement" no matter how long the investigation takes or how slow it seems to be moving forward.

"They are your life line," she counsels. "Don't be so quick to judge them. Look at their job and what they do. Hopefully they won't be sloppy, but you can't expect them to be perfect."

Beaudin said she is moving on from writing about death, murder and grieving. She is almost finished with a children's book, which is being illustrated by a family member and is loosely based on the antics of three grandsons.

"I'm not writing a third book about the murder," she said. "If they solve it or make an arrest, I'll write an addendum."

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Karen Beaudin has written a second book about the rape and murder of her younger sister, Kathy Lynn Gloddy, 45 years ago in Franklin. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)