February 25, 2020
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Feathers ‘n Fins

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN

Obviously, the Penobscot River Restoration Trust’s plan to install a fish bypass at the Howland Dam has created a spate of public controversy. The contention of those opposed to the plan is that northern pike, illegally stocked in Pushaw Pond, will follow Pushaw Stream into the Penobscot River, thereby gaining access to the Howland Dam bypass — and the Piscataquis River’s important wild brook trout fisheries. Conversely, however, the feeling is that the pike issue holds about as much water as a landing net.

Though I’m usually anchored to an opinion on such matters, in this case I admit to being somewhat ambivalent. Therefore, my casts into this pool of controversy are somewhat conflicting. To start with, it’s no secret that pike have inhabited the Kennebec River watershed for the past 25 years, give or take. Yet it hasn’t been established that the illegal aliens have adversely affected the Kennebec’s main-stem salmonid fisheries. Moreover, while fishing for silver salmon and rainbow trout on Alaska’s Alagnak River, I also caught pike that cruised the river’s weedy coves and backwaters. Likewise, pike have long coexisted with trout in European rivers and streams, as well as in Canadian waters.

Nevertheless, I’m not comfortable with thoughts of voracious pike prowling the Piscataquis River and its trout tributaries. Suffice it to say, Maine’s wild brook trout fisheries are too special to risk having them decimated by fish from away. It makes sense, then, to think what’s needed at the Howland Dam bypass is a fish trap in which pike and other invasive species would be captured and sorted. But it also makes sense to think that monitoring a trap would be more expensive than installing it. All things considered, however, the consensus is that what’s needed most is a trap to catch the mindless individuals who are dumping bass, perch, crappies, walleyes and pike wherever they please.

Tom Hennessey’s columns and artwork can be accessed on the BDN Internet page at www.bangornews.com. Tom’s e-mail address is: thennessey@bangordailynews.net

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