Native Brook Trout Protection may be Extended by the Legislature

Bruce's big troutRepresentative Russell Black has sponsored two of my fisheries bills. One would extend protective regulations for native and wild brook trout from lakes and ponds to tributaries where they spawn. The second would assure that all waters that qualify for the state’s Heritage Fish list get put on that list.

I’ll have a lot more to say about these two important bills later, but wanted to give you this basic information now. Here are the summaries of the two bills.

An Act to Improve Maine’s Heritage Fish List and Program

This bill seeks to make the criteria for adding waters to the Heritage list, the same as what was used to create the initial lists. Specifically, while the criteria for creating the original lists was science-based and defined by the legislature, the criteria for adding waters was left to the IFW Commissioner’s discretion, and allowed to be based on non-scientific criteria set by the commissioner. Below is how we believe the bill should read:

  1. Addition of waters to list. The commissioner must adopt rules to amend the list established under subsection 1 to add a lake or pond if that lake or pond has been identified as an eastern brook trout water or an Arctic Char water that has never been stocked according to any reliable records authorized for adoption by Resolve 2005, Chapter 172, as amended, or a water identified as an eastern brook trout water or Arctic Char water that according to reliable records has not been stocked for at least 25 years.

An Act To Extend Protection to Native and Wild Brook Trout and Artic Char

This bill will protect Brook Trout and Arctic Char in Maine’s Heritage Waters. Currently these native and wild (self-sustaining) populations of brook trout are protected in a list of lakes and ponds that have never been stocked or have not been stocked in twenty-five years or more. Stocking and the use of live fish as bait are prohibited to help prevent the introduction of invasive fish and disease.

Unfortunately, the tributaries to these waters have not been granted the same protections and there are many documented cases where invasive and stocked fish have entered a lake or pond via a tributary source. This bill will extend the protections provided to our Heritage lakes and ponds to their tributaries. Below is how we believe the bill should read:

Section 12461. State heritage fish waters

  1. Stocking state heritage fish. The Commissioner may not stock or issue a permit to stock fish in a lake or pond, or tributary to them, listed as a state heritage fish water under this section.
  2. Fishing restrictions. A person may not use live fish as bait or possess live fish to be used as bait on a pond or lake, or tributary to them, listed as a state heritage fish water under this section. A person who violates this subsection commits A Class E crime.


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.