Time to Speak Out on Fishing Rule Changes

If skiers had to master 100 pages of rules, no one would be coming down the mountain. Maine’s fishing rulebook is a complicated, confusing, mountainous mess of more than 100 pages. So anytime changes are proposed in those fishing rules, anglers should pay attention.

Last week Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife advertised 42 pages of fishing rule changes. You can access those changes on the department’s website. Most address two concerns. 

A large number of the proposed changes remove length and bag limits on largemouth bass in waters where they have been illegally introduced. Sixteen rule changes would prohibit the use of live fish as bait on 16 waters that hold native and wild brook trout, in order to deter the introduction of fish species that compete with brook trout.

Anyone see a connection between these two groups of rule changes? One recognizes our miserable record of protecting Maine’s native fish; the other seeks to step up our protective strategies on a very modest number of waters.

If you care about Maine’s native and wild brook trout, please speak out now. Speak at one of the four public hearings, and if you can’t, send in written comments before the November 15 deadline. Better yet, do both!

And let me emphasize this: you don’t have to be an angler to comment and support these important rule changes. All Mainers have a stake in protecting our state’s native species.

Written comments should be sent to Becky Orff, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, #41 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333Hearing, or emailed to becky.orff@maine.gov.

Here is the schedule for public hearings on the proposed fishing rule changes.

October 22, Presque Isle Inn & Convention Center, 116 Main Street, Presque Isle.

October 23 Northern Timber Cruisers Snowmobile Club, Millinocket Lake Road, Millinocket

October 24 City of Ellsworth Council Chambers, 1 City Hall Plaza, Ellsworth

October 25, Brunswick High School, Multi-purpose room, 116 Maquoit Road, Brunswick.

Some of you know that my wife Linda and I are travel writers with a weekly newspaper column. You can access our travel columns on my website: www.georgesmithmaine.com, as well as my other outdoor news blog.

If you attend the Millinocket hearing, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a sandwich from Orvietto. Best Italian sandwiches in the state. In Ellsworth, Cleonice (in the business district) is phenomenal. And in Brunswick, the Tavern at Brunswick Station or Bombay Mahal are great choices, as is the Sea Dog Tavern just across the river in Topsham.

For more background on the proposal to ban the use of live fish as bait on those 16 waters, read my blog posts here and on my website, posted September 21 and 22.

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George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In the spring of 2016, Islandport Press will publish a Maine travel book by George and Linda, and Down East Books will publish a book about Maine sporting camps by George. In 2014 George won an award for the state's best sports blog, from the Maine Press Association.