Simpler fishing rules require book twice as thick!

Only the government could double the size of the fishing rule book and call it simplification.

fishing rule bookA recent new story by the Sun Journal’s Terry Karkos reports some of the many fishing rule changes and initiatives undertaken by Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. DIF&W fisheries biologist Francis Brautigam, definitely one of the good guys at the department, outlines rule changes governing ice fishing as well as open water fishing.

Many are welcomed, including those governing the capture of live fish for bait by individuals. A lot of the rules were driven by a desire to make fishing simpler, and they will.

You can read Terry’s story here.

I was especially pleased to read Francis’s remarks about wild brook trout. As Terry reported, one rule change, “was designed to minimize illegal species introductions. The “No Live Fish as Bait” (S-4) special rule will be applied to several newly surveyed wild brook trout ponds, which are mostly in northern and eastern Maine.”

Brautigam noted, “By eliminating the use of live bait, you reduce the risk of adding something that’s not already there. It provides greater protection to wild brook trout.”

This is exactly the argument that will be made at the next legislative session when the department presents a comprehensive policy and management plan for all wild brook trout waters. But the ban on the use of live fish as bait faces stiff opposition, and the outcome of this debate is uncertain.

My only disappointment came when I read that, in an effort to make the rules simpler, DIF&W will require a rule book that is twice as big! I was immediately reminded of an emailed message I received recently from a bait shop dealer. Here’s what he wrote.

“George , how did the fishing laws get so complicated? I have had lots of people in the bait shop that have no idea what this new law book says or how to read it, and many young people who are considering giving up fishing because they cannot understand the new book – and I for one don’t know either. It is very sad to witness this. There seems to be a vast separation between the people in Augusta and the people who are outdoorsmen. Just wanted you to know. It’s amazing to hear what customers have to say about this book. Thanks.”

Boy, I can’t wait to hear what this fellow has to say about a simplified rule book that is twice as thick!

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,, 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 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.