On October 11, 2018, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife publicly announced (MDIFW Exploring Strategies to Enhance Protections for Brook Trout and Arctic Charr While Preserving Traditional Fishing Methods and Fishing Economies) ongoing efforts to explore the development of a wild trout conservation strategy for Maine’s North Region and will host two informational meetings on the strategy. This initiative was in response to direction provided by the 128th Fish and Wildlife Legislative Committee to enhance wild trout protections by reducing unintended introductions of baitfish and other fish that compete with native trout.
The department is hosting two public informational meetings to discuss the conservation strategy in Augusta and Ashland. These meetings are not part of a formal rulemaking process, but instead are intended to provide the public with an opportunity to share thoughts on the conservation of this important resource.
The conservation strategy being discussed, would result in a change to the general law in the Northern Region (Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis, Aroostook, and northern portions of Oxford and Penobscot Counties) to further protect wild trout waters, including tributaries and outlets of heritage ponds in the North Region, while preserving meaningful opportunities to fish with traditional live baitfish methods in northern Maine. A change to General Law will be easy to understand by the public and should increase compliance. Under this approach, waters currently open to ice fishing and use of live fish as bait would remain open and assigned a special regulation that would allow use of live fish as bait. Live fish as bait would continue to be allowed on those same waters during the open water fishing season.
The change would prohibit use of live fish as bait, except where designated by special rule, reducing the chance of any new introductions of baitfish and other fish in the vast majority of flowing waters, dead-waters, small ponds. The change would also eliminate most of the “no live fish as bait” special s-code listings currently applied in the law book to waters in the Northern Region. Additional waters will be considered where there is a tradition of fishing with live fish as bait.
Public informational meeting dates and locations are provided below:
December 12, from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine office at 205 Church Hill Road in Augusta
December 19, from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, at the MDIFW’s Ashland Regional Headquarters at 63 Station Street in Ashland
In the event of inclement weather meeting cancellations will be posted on the Department’s website and Facebook (www.mefishwildlife.com).