December 10, 2018
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State officials propose key change to trout fishing law

John Holyoke | BDN
John Holyoke | BDN
Dan Legere of the Maine Guide Fly shop snaps a photo as Brandon Prescott poses with the brook trout he caught on the East Outlet of the Kennebec River on Sunday, June 18, 2017.

If you’re among those who enjoy spending time in some of the state’s most beautiful places fishing for trout, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has some news that you’ll likely find interesting.

Over the next couple of weeks, the department is staging two informational meetings to discuss proposals designed to help enhance protection of the state’s brook trout and Arctic charr. On the table, according to a DIF&W news release, a change in “general law” fishing in the state’s northern region — or, if you prefer: prime trout country.

In the northern region, general law would prohibit the use of live fish as bait, and live bait would only be allowed on waters governed by special regulations. At the present time, the opposite is true. General law allows live bait, and special regulations on some waters prohibit the use of live fish as bait.

According to the 2018 fishing rules for Maine, more than 500 waters statewide are managed under a special S-4 regulation, which prohibits the use or possession of live fish as bait.

That change would further protect wild trout waters, including tributaries and outlets to heritage ponds in northern Maine.

Included are Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis and Aroostook counties, and northern portions of Penobscot and Oxford counties.

Conservationists and biologists are leery of the use of live fish as bait in waters that have not been stocked, fearing that accidental or intentional stocking of a non-native baitfish in a lake or pond can change the ecosystem forever. In some cases, those baitfish have been known to out-compete native trout or charr, devastating native populations of fish.

Important to consider: Maine’s brook trout are a natural gift that other states simply don’t possess. According to a 2004 Trout Unlimited report, Maine had the best brook trout resource in the lower 48 states and stood alone in New England.

At the time, TU’s Jeff Reardon pointed out that Maine had more than 500 wild brook trout ponds and 20,000 miles of wild brook trout streams.

Combined, the rest of New England had less than a dozen wild brook trout ponds.

And those facts alone make any effort to provide extra protections to those wild or native trout worth considering.

If you’re an avid trout angler, state fisheries officials want to hear your opinions at one of the two meetings on tap. The meetings are not part of the formal state rulemaking process. Instead, they’re being held to allow the public to share their thoughts and concerns about trout conservation.

The meeting details:

— Wednesday, Dec. 12, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine office, 205 Church Road, Augusta.

— Wednesday, Dec. 19, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the DIF&W Ashland Regional Headquarters, 63 Station St., Ashland.

If weather forces schedule changes for either meeting, updates will be posted at mefishwildlife.com.

Fly-tying symposium set

If you are an avid fly tier or have always wanted to learn more about the activity, the Penobscot Fly Fishers have just the event for you.

The group’s annual Fly Tying Symposium will be held Saturday at the Penobscot County Conservation Association clubhouse on North Main Street in Brewer. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free.

What will you find at the symposium?

How about a roomful of some of the state’s top tiers, all of whom will be showing you techniques and materials with which you may not be familiar.

I have stopped by several of the PFF’s symposiums and always am impressed by the tiers they assemble. An added benefit: If you stop by, I bet you can learn more about the club’s popular introduction to fly-tying classes, which typically start in January and always sell out.

John Holyoke can be reached at jholyoke@bangordailynews.com or 207-990-8214. Follow him on Twitter @JohnHolyoke.


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