Last week I took an angler (or a small group of anglers) to task for leaving dozens of dead lake trout on the ice of Sebago Lake after an ice fishing derby. Then I heard from readers.
Reaction to that column was quick, and opinions varied vastly. Some thought that I was a jerk because I called out what I saw as behavior that would make all anglers look bad by association. Others praised the stance I took. And still others wanted to argue about my assertion that many Mainers consider yellow perch “trash fish.” (They do. Trust me.)
Today, I’ll share some of your thoughts — the good, the bad and the ugly — on what I wrote, and I’ll add in a few editorial comments of my own.
From Tom, via email: You should [pursue] a career with Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries [and Wildlife]. You seem to know more about fishing regulations than objective reporting. What’s your opinion on the one gallon smelt limit in Maine?
C’mon, Tom. Even I know the smelt limit is two quarts, and the last time I went smelting, we only caught one. Not one quart. Not one gallon. One smelt.
From Sean, via email: I really enjoyed your article and appreciate the focus on the foolish and wasteful actions. Whatever happened to the idea if you kill it, you eat it?
Wondering the same thing, Sean.
From Matt, via email: You are not an ambassador for Maine sportsmen in my opinion regarding your latest ice fishing article. You do fit in with the BDN and I guess I give [you] credit for always playIng it safe for job security. Congrats on the “clicks” I suppose. No need to reply. With that said, I hope you are doing well.
Let’s start at the end and work our way forward. Thanks, Matt. I am doing quite well. The enthusiastic response to the column indicates that many people read it. That’s a good thing. Also, after 29 years here at the BDN, I’m happy to hear that I’m finally fitting in. That’s always been a concern of mine. As to “ambassador”? Well, I’ll settle for “co-participant.”
From Bob, via email: I am a Pennsylvania resident and fisherman, and I read with interest, and frankly a bit of astonishment about the lake trout kill, but what interested me most was the fact that yellow perch are considered a trash fish in your neck of the woods. Perch are a sought after fish in many parts of the northeast, as they are a flavorful, white meat, as good as any you can put on the table in my opinion … I was not surprised, however, to see that Maine has the same issue with slob “sportsmen” as every other state in the union.
I try to avoid the old “trash fish” vs. “game fish” arguments, but trust me: I’ve heard many people call yellow perch the T-word in these parts. I’ve also heard, in these emails, that yellow perch taste a lot like shrimp, so maybe I’m missing out on something special.
From anonymous, via email: You give anglers a bad name to sell papers for a few [bucks] when you know full well the biologists want small lakers culled.
Culled is one thing. Culled and left on the ice is waste, in my book.
From another Bob, via email: Your fish kill article referencing the Sebago Lake Ice Fishing Derby was a perfect example of mainstream media’s propaganda and not telling the whole story. Why didn’t you focus on the fact that the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife caused this problem by introducing lake trout into a pristine salmon fishery like Sebago Lake? … Lake trout are a predatory, unwanted, species not native to Sebago Lake and should be eradicated. The DIF&W is incompetent and are using sportsmen to fix their screw-ups. If you insist on writing articles, they should not be inflammatory, and should focus on the facts and placing blame where it belongs. After all, you are a reporter, aren’t you? Then act like one.
Some valid points, Bob, but two things ought to be mentioned: Lake trout were introduced to Sebago nearly 50 years ago, and were stocked annually from 1972 until 1982. In all, more than 300,000 lake trout were stocked into the lake over that span. Focusing on what was done a half a century ago won’t pay dividends today, in my opinion, because that stocking can’t be undone. Also, there is no feasible way to eradicate just the lake trout in such a massive lake. Tossing fish on the ice — by the dozens or by the hundreds — will reduce the population, but there’s no way to set back the clock. Lake trout are there to stay.
John Holyoke can be reached at email@example.com or 207-990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke. His first book, “Evergreens,” a collection of his favorite BDN columns and features, is published by Islandport Press and is available wherever books are sold.