In a development that may have serious impacts on the fisheries in one of eastern Maine’s storied coldwater ponds, a state biologist has confirmed the presence of landlocked alewives in Hancock County’s Beech Hill Pond.
Gregory Burr, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s regional fisheries biologist for Region C, confirmed the information posted over the weekend on social media by a local guide.
“We did confirm that there are now landlocked alewives in Beech Hill Pond. This would have been due to an illegal introduction,” Burr wrote in an email.
And that’s not good news, according to Burr.
“This could be very detrimental to Beech Hill Ponds fisheries. We will be keeping a close eye on this situation,” he wrote.
Beech Hill Pond, which sits in Otis, has a maximum depth of more than 100 feet, and holds landlocked salmon, togue and smallmouth bass, among other species of fish. The state-record lake trout, or togue, came out of Beech Hill back in 1958 when Hollis Grindle caught a whopper than weighed 31 pounds, 8 ounces. That record has never been topped.
There have been large-scale efforts to reintroduce anadromous — or sea-run — alewives into Maine lakes and ponds in recent years. A Maine Department of Marine Resources fact sheet asserts that anadromous alewives pose no threat to resident fish. That is not the case with landlocked alewives, however.
“Landlocked alewives are different than ocean alewives (anadromous alewives) in that they do not migrate to and from the ocean,” Burr wrote. “They live in freshwater lakes their entire lives but can move from lake to lake and [in this case] may possibly move down into Graham Lake.”
According to the DMR fact sheet, “In several studies throughout the Northeast, landlocked alewives have been implicated in the decline of resident fish populations.”
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly described the location of Beech Hill Pond. It is confined to the town of Otis.