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Finding the Fish: Island Fishing Charters

Kathi Caldwell-Hopper - April 24, 2014





Photo courtesy Glen Leathers, Island Fishing Charters

Photo courtesy Glen Leathers, Island Fishing Charters

If you want a great fishing experience in the Lakes Region, you have to know where to go to catch your choice of trout, salmon, and other fish. If you do not know the best fishing spots on Lake Winnipesaukee or if you have never fished before but would like to try it, booking a charter is a great way to solve your dilemma.

If that charter guide just happens to have grown up fishing on Lake Winnipesaukee while spending summers at his family’s island summer fishing camp, so much the better.

Glen Leathers, the owner of Island Fishing Charters, knows the lake exceptionally well and offers charters for the seasoned and beginners in the sport of fishing.

The name of the business is a nod to the fact that he spent summers living with family at a rustic fishing cottage on Cow Island. “We still have that camp and it is where I learned to fish. I grew up fishing on Winnipesaukee,” Glen says.

Glen is a third-generation Winnipesaukee fisherman; his grandfather and father and other family members were great fishermen and loved to spend time in the 1960s on that island summer camp. Fishing was a favorite pastime enjoyed by everyone in the family.

After retiring from a career as a firefighter, Glen moved to Meredith and found himself fishing a lot. He decided to turn his knowledge of the lake and fishing into a fishing charter business, and he has been very successful.

Island Fishing Charters docks at Meredith Marina and it is from that spot that he takes eager fishing enthusiasts out onto the lake for a morning or afternoon of great fishing.

“I get excited every time I fish. I found it exciting as a kid and it has never changed,” Glen says. “Being a professional fishing guide is about teaching people how to fish and making vacationers aware that they can, indeed, catch landlocked salmon on Lake Winnipesaukee.”

Talk to Glen for a while and you will discover that Island Fishing Charters is about so much more than simply going out for a few hours of fishing. It is about teaching and conservation and making sure those on the lake understand the fragile ecosystem.

Some of Glen’s charter clients want to go out to catch salmon and lake and rainbow trout, fish that thrive in the deeper, colder lake water. Some want to learn how to catch those fish themselves so they can continue to fish in the future. Others are families vacationing in the Lakes Region, looking for something fun and unique to do.

“Going out with a guide is a great way to fish,” Glen said. “You can learn more in one day of fishing with a charter than in an entire season fishing on your own.”

While many people want to go out to fish for salmon or trout, Glen also offers charters to fish for bass, perch, and other types of fish. With his knowledge of the lake, he knows where to go to catch the various fish varieties. “I am out there fishing from ice-out ’til the day the season closes in September. I live here and I know all the things that make fishing change on a daily basis, such as weather.”

The weather does affect fishing conditions. For example, the water temperature affects cold-water fishing. As the weather gets warmer (and along with it, the water temperature), some fish go deeper to reach cold water.

Glen uses the best safety practices and monitors the weather, and he will not go out if the weather is bad or predicted to be bad.

“I started Island Fishing Charters part-time while I was still a firefighter. In 2009, I retired and started to run the business full-time. I run charters from April through September. It is really more than those months, however, when I figure in boat maintenance, marketing the business at boat shows, and other tasks. It really is more like a10-month job.”

Glen says he got a taste of the joys of running fishing charters when he was a child. He saw his father and grandfather taking others out fishing. He witnessed first-hand the joy that teaching others about fishing brings to people.

In order to run charters, Glen obtained a State of New Hampshire fishing guide license which includes written and oral and practical tests. Glen is required to be a commercial boat operator and, to do so, he passed a test with the NH Marine Patrol. His boat is subject to manual inspection for all safety equipment. After passing the necessary tests and getting licensed, Glen obtained insurance and was set to run fishing charters.

Now in its seventh season, Island Fishing Charters is especially busy at the height of the summer season. “I currently have a sizeable client base and we are already getting calls and bookings for this coming summer,” he said when interviewed in early April.

Vacationers love to take fishing charters and Glen is busy every day in July and August. Fishing clients can be anyone from groups of men and women fishing enthusiasts to families with children. “Children love fishing, and they are very teachable,” Glen explains.

The fishing trips run for about five hours in the morning and again in the afternoon. Those who book a charter must have a fishing license; if they do not have one, Glen can help them obtain the necessary license.

Glen has all the bait and tackle, from 12 to 20 rods on the boat as well as lures, flies, and live bait. “Sometimes fishing is great nearby and we catch there and then go elsewhere so clients can see the lake. I know a lot of island and lake history and I love to share it with others.”

Island Fishing Charters takes out a maximum of five clients per charter. The boat is a 22.5-foot Starcraft Islander and is a very stable and comfortable fishing platform with an enclosed cuddy cabin to get out of the weather (and with a private head). It has all required US Coast Guard safety equipment and is inspected by the NH Marine Patrol.

Rules are strictly followed when it comes to how many fish can be caught. Some clients choose to keep a few fish for an evening supper but others staying in hotels or motels with no kitchen facilities may take a few fish for a beach barbecue if they have a grill.

Glen is a great spokesman for conservation of natural resources and he promotes sound fish-handling with his clients. After catching fish, if they are not to be kept, Glen practices methods to get the fish back into the water as quickly as possible to avoid trauma to the salmon, trout, and other fish.

Although busy in the summer, Glen begins to take out charters once the ice goes off the lake. At that time, it is mostly sportsmen booking his services. “Some people just love to fish and don’t have a boat or want to get a boat.”

Later in the summer, clients are often families on vacation looking for something fun and unique to do. “I’ve had trips of all women and also people from other countries. I love fishing with Englishmen and -women because they are very polite, optimistic, and eager to learn about fishing,” says Glen.

Glen adds that a charter is the best possible way to learn about fishing, even if the client just wants to fish for a few hours and has never held a fishing pole before. “You will learn a ton on a charter because we love to talk about fishing. We try to make the most out of every fish; this is a small and fragile resource and we do have to be careful with it.” That means that, if clients want to keep a fish now and then, Glen must make a choice of which fish to keep and which to put back, such as not keeping a female salmon full of eggs.

Glen plans to continue running Island Fishing Charters for years to come and has some big dreams. One particular dream is to find a way to offer fishing charters to those who otherwise could not get out on the lake, such as disabled people. It is a big dream and will take time to realize, but for a guy who has made a childhood dream of living a life where he can fish every day, it just may someday be a realized dream.

For more information on Island Fishing Charters, call Glen at 603-493-7559 or visit www.islandfishingcharters.com

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