Removal of some species aids growth of trout

Posted June 19, 2009, at 11:06 p.m.

Editor’s note: The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife compiles reports on open water fishing. The complete report is available at: www.mefishwildlife.com

Region E – Moosehead Lake

Last year, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife teamed up with the Natural Resource Education Center in Greenville to create a college internship/summer work program to benefit fisheries in the area.

One of the first projects includes a competition removal study on several local trout ponds. The project continued this spring at Crocker Pond in Dennistown and Center Pond in Soldiertown. The goal of this project is to remove species that compete with brook trout for food and habitat. Based on work conducted by this region on Little Moxie Pond in Shirley, the removal of these species can greatly improve growth rates and survival rates for young wild trout.

In 2008, we removed more than 2,000 pounds (5,350 individuals) of white suckers from Crocker Pond. Based on our population estimates derived from the catch rates, we removed around 47-100 percent of the total sucker biomass. Of course, we didn’t get them all but the actual figure was probably close to 85 percent. That was a pretty good start.

In 2009, we again hired two Unity College students to return to Crocker Pond and continue the project. We tended four nets from May 7-22. In this time, we removed approximately 1,200 pounds of suckers. The amount of effort was nearly identical to the previous year. Again, based on population estimates, we removed between 58-100 percent of the total population, with a point estimate of 97 percent.

Clearly, trapnetting can be an effective tool to reduce sucker populations in small headwater ponds. We did see an improvement in the condition or fatness of the hatchery brook trout that were also in our nets. This improvement was likely the result of last year’s removal and a reduction in the stocking rate. Crocker Pond, which has no tackle restrictions and just a two-fish limit, continues to produce some fine fish. Thirty-four percent of the trout in this pond were greater than 12 inches. The Jackman Region has some of Maine’s finest brook trout fishing in the state, and this pond has very good access and worth a stop if you’re in the area.

We captured fewer suckers and trout at Center Pond in Soldiertown. We removed about 200 pounds of suckers over two weeks of netting from this 51-acre wild brook trout pond, which lies just north of Rockwood. We estimated the trout population to be 234 fish with just 6 percent greater than 12 inches, although there were a few nice individuals. This pond is relatively shallow and cool water habitat is probably hard to find in the heat of the summer, making it tough on the wild trout. We believe the removal of suckers could improve conditions for trout on this water in the future.

This cooperative project is supported by donations to NREC from groups and individuals interested in improving the fishing in the region, as well as funds from the winter togue fishing derby on Moosehead Lake sponsored by the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce. We plan to continue the competition removal project next spring and add new projects in the near future. Thanks to everyone for their support!

— Tim Obrey, regional fisheries Biologist, Greenville

Region B – Central Maine

With the advent of spring, Region B biologists have taken to the field, undertaking open water evaluations of a wide variety of lakes, ponds and streams throughout the Midcoast.

While it is often referred to as “the Midcoastal Region,” Region B encompasses about 4,000 square miles, extending quite far inland from the coast. At the coast proper, the region extends generally from the Androscoggin River on the west to the Penobscot on the east. Going north along the Androscoggin, the region reaches Livermore Falls before turning northeast in a somewhat ragged line roughly following the Kennebec/Franklin and Kennebe/Somerset county lines to Canaan. From there, it heads north to Cambridge, again east to Garland, then southeast to the Bangor area and the Penobscot River.

Throughout the region, there is a great variety of aquatic habitat types. Indeed, there are more than 300 named lakes and ponds and about 3,000 miles of permanent and intermittent streams. Region B is somewhat unique in that most of its waters are relatively easy to get to. A pond considered “remote” in this neck of the woods might be all of a half-mile walk. But, that quick hike might provide a pond or stream that one angler has all to themselves. In short, there are as many types of fishing to be found here as there are anglers.

This year, working with State Sen. Dave Trahan, Advisory Council member Mike Witte, Lincoln County Fish and Game, Medomak Valley Land Trust, and the selectmen from the town of Waldoboro, regional biologists were able to create a fishing water for kids on a quarry on a town-owned lot. The quarry is small, not much more than an acre. It was also on a town lot, meaning that the property was owned by all the citizens of Waldoboro.

While it may appear an easy task to get something beneficial like a “kids fishing water” in place, there is a process involved. In this case, Sen. Trahan, acting on a suggestion from Lincoln County F&G, approached DIF&W to see if a kids’ water there was a possibility. Our first step was to notify the town of the suggestion. The selectmen agreed that it was an idea worth investigating, and scheduled a public meeting to discuss the idea with interested citizens. The results of this meeting were to proceed with an evaluation and report back on the results in a second public meeting. After the initial evaluation showed that the quarry was suitable for brook trout, we were able to secure some unscheduled hatchery fish as a startup stocking.

We soon discovered two things. First, both big and little kids took advantage of the fish. Second, not all of the 100 fish we put in that year were caught. Reports received in April of thiss year indicated that anglers had taken several trout from 12 to 14 inches. This meant that not only were the fish able to survive the warm summer months there, but that conditions also were suitable for over-winter survival and growth. All in all, not bad for a little mined-out quarry.

At the follow-up public meeting this spring, Lincoln County Fish and Game pledged their assistance in monitoring the site and proposed to hold a kids derby there. Some concern over liability was expressed by the selectmen and some concerned citizens. It was brought up that state liability laws adequately protected the town in that regard. Ultimately, with the cooperation of everyone concerned, it was agreed that the pond would be included of the department’s list of kids only fishing waters in the next fishing laws revision. To let the big kids, that is, those over age 16 know, the department is providing provide signs to identify it as such. On May 30, Lincoln County Fish and Game held their second fishing derby.

Robert Van-Riper, regional fisheries biologist, Sidney

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