Kevin Dunham, fisheries biologist with the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife loads landlocked salmon into aerated cans before using a boat to stock fish in Sysladobsis Lake in Lakeville Tuesday. Credit: Gabor Degre | BDN

Ever want to spend a day in the field with a state fish expert? One lucky winner and a friend will win just such an opportunity in the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s third “Keeper of the Maine Outdoors Experience” contest.

The lucky winner will earn a fisheries experience that will consist of a day in the field with a DIF&W fisheries biologist, collecting fish samples and data, visiting a regional fish hatchery, or observing a fish-stocking operation.

Maine is a popular fishing destination, and thousands of lakes, ponds, rivers and streams are available for those who love to fish. From native trout ponds in remote areas to well-stocked lakes closer to metropolitan areas, opportunities abound.

Few anglers, however, ever get to see the work that goes on behind the scenes. At hatcheries, staffers work to produce fish that will thrive in the wild, and often spend tedious hours clipping fins so those fish can be identified by age class if they’re encountered by biologists in the future.

Those biologists do important work of their own, managing the fish in their assigned regions, and monitoring their growth and abundance. At certain times of the year biologists may spend time interviewing anglers on the water to see what they’re catching, and how frequently they’re having success. At other times, they may deploy nets to capture fish in a specific lake or pond to learn more about those fish.

And here’s a pro tip: If you want to know where you ought to be fishing, it’s a good idea to make friends with your local biologist. They know things.

This experience will give the winner and a friend a look at one of those two work environments and help explain why that work is important to Maine and the anglers who live here or visit.

The Keeper of the Maine Outdoors Experience contest began in the spring; thus far, a winner has received the chance to tag along on a K-9 training, and another winner received a private tour of the Maine Wildlife Park. Each of the first two experiences drew more than 10,000 entrants.

Interested? You can enter the contest here. To enter you must be 18 or older. The deadline is Oct. 21 at midnight.

John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...