As I walked the dogs this morning, I saw concrete evidence that spring has actually arrived in Bangor, some five weeks after the calendar made it official: Black flies swarmed around my head, causing me to swat and swear.
But with those hatching flies comes another, more pleasant reality of springtime in Maine: The fish begin to bite, and anglers dust off their equipment and begin visiting their favorite brooks and ponds to try to catch a few.
Brook trout really start to feed when alder leaves get as big as a mouse’s ear, the old saying goes, and I’d bet that in the next week, alders in much of eastern Maine will reach that magical size.
Here’s hoping you’re ready to take advantage of that special time of year, and head out for a bit of fishing.
We frequent fishers come in all shapes and sizes, and our methods and expectations vary as well. Some of us like to troll, others want to cast lures from shore, and still others prefer to break out a fly rod and try to coax a fish to take a small dry fly. Many anglers want to take a few fish home to eat, while others honor a catch-and-release ethic.
Some target wild trout, while others aren’t so picky, and are willing to fish for most anything that’s swimming … even fish that have been recently stocked by state fish hatchery workers.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Some of my fishing purist friends don’t like this much, but the fact is, many of the fish that are stocked each year are put there in order to be kept and eaten. On some waters where midsummer conditions will get too warm to support cold-water fish such as trout, the fish that are stocked in the spring are placed in those spots to provide fishing opportunity for people who’d like to catch (and keep) a few fish for the table.
If you’re looking for opportunities like that — places where you can take a child, for instance, and give them the chance to catch and keep a few frisky fish — you’re in luck: The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife publishes a list that shares up-to-date information about all the waters they stock.
And after taking a look at that list this morning, I can tell you that opportunistic Bangor anglers might want to head over to Kenduskeag Stream over the coming days. On Monday, the DIF&W put 1,000 brook trout that average 10 inches in length into the stream … they’re just sitting there waiting for you to show up.
And in the near future, you can expect the hatchery trucks to show up at easy-to-access locations around the state. If you’re looking to keep a fish or two, it makes sense to target those locations rather than to put undue pressure on more vulnerable wild populations.
Have fun. Fish safely. And remember to leave plenty for the next person.
In my circle of friends, I often assume an important role come early May. I’m guy who keeps his eye on the moose permit lottery deadline, and appropriately (so I tell myself) scold, cajole or remind my hunting buddies that it’s imperative for them to stop procrastinating and enter so that we might, if we’re extremely lucky, get a chance at spending some glorious time in the woods come September or October.
Sometimes, they listen to me. Other times, they continue to procrastinate, then eventually forget, and finally (a few months later) confess that their names were never in the magic cyber-hopper to begin with.
Today, I’ll cajole the rest of you like I do my buddies: If you want to hunt moose in Maine this year, your time to enter the permit lottery is running out. In fact, you’ve only got until May 15 at 11:59 p.m. to fill out the online form.
So log in. Enter! Start dreaming about the hunt of a lifetime.
Or, if you prefer, just procrastinate and eventually forget. My buddies would be happy to accept the permit you would have won. If, that is, they don’t procrastinate and eventually forget.
John Holyoke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke