Freedom man hooks state-record white perch

Posted Feb. 12, 2009, at 12:34 a.m.

Ask your favorite angler about some of the biggest fish ever caught in Maine, and it’s likely they can bend your ear with a few examples.

Veteran lake trout fishermen, for instance, will probably regale you with the story of Hollis Grindle’s state-record togue, a 31-pound, 8-ounce bruiser that was hauled out of Beech Hill Pond in 1958.

I fish that water regularly during the summer, and when the fish aren’t biting, I often think of Grindle … and wonder whether that monster’s hefty grand-fish are swimming below my boat.

Many landlocked salmon anglers can tell you the official record belongs to Edward Balkely, who pulled a 22-pound, 8-ouncer out of Sebago Lake back in 1907. Some are also likely to debate the record with you: Many current anglers, who view 10- or 12-pound landlocked salmon as the largest the state has to offer these days, argue that the record fish must have been an Atlantic salmon, which tend to grow larger.

All of us would like to catch a record fish. Few of us will. And in many cases, the standing records reflect a time that’s long since past.

In many cases. But not in all cases.

That’s what Jeff Paquette of Freedom learned a couple months ago, when he spent the day fishing at Ellis Pond in Brooks.

On Dec. 19, Paquette hooked and landed a 3.02-pound white perch that broke the previous record (2.84 pounds) that was set in 2002.

According to a press release issued by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, Paquette’s fish was weighed on certified scales at the Freedom General Store, and his record fish has been officially recognized.

The state doesn’t really keep fishing records, the DIF&W pointed out — Harry Vanderweide, editor of The Maine Sportsman, an outdoors newspaper, maintains the record book — but DIF&W biologists Bill Woodward and Scott Davis inspected the fish and confirmed the record.

The fish was the second record-setting catch of 2008, according to the DIF&W. In August, 11-year-old Carter McLaughlin of Mapleton caught a 5.24-pound, 25.4-inch arctic char while fishing at Pushineer Pond in T15 R19.

Congratulations to both anglers.

Birders can pitch in to DIF&W

So-called “consumptive” users of the state’s fish and game resources have long griped that the state’s fish and game department relies nearly exclusively on them for funding.

Hunters and anglers buy the licenses that provide most of the money in the yearly DIF&W budget.

A new DIF&W program is targeting non-consumptive users, giving them the opportunity to show their support for the state’s wildlife resources and the department that manages them.

According to a DIF&W press release, the Maine Birder Band was designed by biologists Steve Walker and Judy Camuso, who are also avid bird watchers.

“Many birders do not buy hunting or fishing licenses but want to contribute to the conservation efforts of the department,” Walker said in the release. “The Maine Birder Band was designed as a way for this growing constituency of wildlife watchers to help support the resource.”

The Maine Birder Band is a metal circular band that resembles the bands that biologists use to band migratory birds and track their movements.

But instead of attaching the bands to birds, the DIF&W hopes bird watchers and wildlife supporters will buy the bands and put them on binocular or optic straps or similar field gear.

The band carries the DIF&W insignia and a registration number that is assigned to the wearer, along with a number to call if someone finds lost binoculars or equipment the band was attached to. The DIF&W would field those calls and contact the person whose gear had been lost.

The DIF&W says Maine is the first state to create this kind of voluntary program to officially register an individual’s support with their state wildlife department. In the first two weeks of the program wildlife enthusiasts from 10 Maine counties and five states have participated in the program.

A $20 contribution to the program gets the donor a 2009 Birder Band; proceeds go into the DIF&W’s Non-Game and Endangered Species Fund.

“The Wildlife Division of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife takes seriously its efforts to protect Maine’s birds and bird habitat and to provide access to bird watchers,” DIF&W Commissioner Roland “Dan” Martin said. “The Maine Birder Band is a unique way for birders and other wildlife watchers to proudly display their support in our bird conservation program.”

For more information, or to participate in the Maine Birder Band program, go to www.mefishwildlife.com.

jholyoke@bangordailynews.net

990-8214

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