If you’re not from Howland, chances are you may not know James “Bob” Foster Sr. If you’re an avid angler who appreciates the history of the sport, however, Foster is one man you certainly ought to remember.
Foster, who passed away Monday at the age of 73, was the fisherman who caught the state record brook trout — an eight-pound, eight-ounce monster — at Aroostook County’s Chase Pond back in 1979.
For more than 30 years, whenever anybody caught a truly big brookie in Maine and started wondering if it could be, possibly, maybe a record, they were ultimately comparing their trophy to Foster’s fish … whether they knew it or not.
Gordon “Nels” Kramer, a fisheries biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, said the fish was truly memorable.
“His fish, seeing that it was a wild brook trout, was very impressive at 8½ pounds,” Kramer said in an e-mail. “I can’t even tell you how long it was, as they didn’t record that information at the time.”
Kramer said scale samples were not taken from the fish, so nobody knows how old the fish was when Foster caught it. Kramer estimated the fish was at least six years old.
“It could have been much older than that,” Kramer wrote. “Keith Havey did extensive work with brook trout at Tomah Lake in the 1970s and 1980s trying to develop a long-lived strain of brook trout. He documented brook trout as old as 9 years old during that program. So Bob’s fish could certainly have been in that ballpark.”
Foster’s record officially stood for 30 years, and was broken by Patrick Coan of Waterboro on Jan. 8, 2009.
Unofficially, there are some anglers who would prefer to put an asterisk in the record book next to the current record-holder: Coan’s 9.02-pound brookie was not wild, and was stocked into York County’s Mousam Lake.
Some message board posters maintained that Foster’s wild trout was much more impressive than the record-breaker, which had been reared in a hatchery before being released.
Kramer didn’t see Foster’s fish when it was caught, but did see it much more recently. And visitors to the Enfield DIF&W office will likely have a chance to marvel over the fish after its mount is restored.
“Currently his massive brook trout is being restored by Dave Footer, acknowledged as the world’s foremost restoration artist of salmonid mounts,” Kramer wrote. “After completion of the mount this summer there will be a presentation to the family here at the Penobscot Regional [DIF&W] Headquarters in Enfield.”
Kramer said the DIF&W paid to have the fish mount restored, and plans called for the fish to be displayed prominently at the DIF&W headquarters, which was chosen because of its close proximity to many of Foster’s family members, for a time after its restoration.
Any-deer applications available
November is months away, and even the most avid deer hunters are likely paying more attention to family vacation plans than scouting chores.
But if they want to improve their odds of filling a freezer with venison this fall, those hunters would be wise to take care of at least one piece of preseason planning in the near future.
It’s any-deer permit time, and the DIF&W has opened up its online application process for the coveted tags that many refer to as “doe permits.”
The possession of a doe permit allows a hunter the option of shooting a deer of either sex during hunting season. Hunters who don’t earn an any-deer permit through the random lottery will be limited to hunting deer with antlers.
The DIF&W no longer mails paper applications to hunters who entered in past years. Online registration at www.mefishwildlife.com is preferred, but hunters without access to computers can receive applications by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Any-Deer Permit Application Request, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, 41 State House Station, 284 State Street, Augusta, 04333-0041.
Paper applications must be postmarked or hand-delivered by 5 p.m. on July 30.
The deadline for online applications is 11:59 p.m. Aug. 16. The drawing will take place Sept. 10.
This year the DIF&W is issuing 48,825 any-deer permits in 13 of the state’s 29 Wildlife Management Districts. Hunters in the other 16 WMDs will be targeting antlered deer.
The WMDs with any-deer permits available are 12, 13, 15-17, 20-26 and 29.
This year’s total allotment is a moderate increase from 2009, when 45,385 permits were handed out. In 2008, 51,350 hunters earned any-deer permits, while 66,275 hunters had the privilege in 2007.
The drastic reduction in permits during 2008 and 2009 was a reaction to two extremely harsh winters that took a heavy toll on the state’s deer herd. The most recent winter was much more moderate and allowed biologists to slightly raise the number of permits.