Revered fisheries biologist knew we needed to protect our streams and native trout

After fighting for the last two years for protection of the tributaries to our Heritage ponds, where our native brook trout are protected, I was delighted to read that revered DIFW fisheries biologist Roger Auclair recognized this need long ago.

Roger’s widow, Suzanna Auclair, writes a monthly column for Northwoods Sporting Journal, and often shares Roger’s exceptional work and wise opinions with us, something I really appreciate.

Looking back is often just the thing we need to do to look forward. Here is what Suzanne told us in the March 2018 issue of the Journal. This was Roger’s response to the question, “discuss one of the biggest challenges you faced. The most meaningful opportunity.”

And here’s what Roger said. “One of the biggest challenges during my time was realizing the importance of streams to our fisheries, the importance of habitat and temperature for native species. The most meaningful opportunity was being able to survey and manage Moosehead Lake and its watershed because of its remote vastness, because of its wonderful brook trout populations, and because of its wonderful coldwater species that are still intact.”

“I am most proud of how different Maine is from other states. It’s geography and climate, and the amount of available water throughout the state. Here, we have everything — from high elevations down to the saltwater. Without the water, we have no fish. We have at least three big river systems running through the state, thousands of tributaries. That’s also a challenge because a lot of them are connected, so we have to be careful of the accidental or illegal spread of introductions.”

Exactly right Roger! And the reason we are fighting to protect those streams and tributaries.

If you read this column regularly, you know that I reported several times recently about legislation I proposed to protect tributaries to our Heritage waters. The legislature’s IFW committee enthusiastically embraced that idea, but the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife fought against it.

So last year the IFW committee directed the department to get to work on the issue and report back in February 2018. That recent work session and report was really disastrous for the department. If you haven’t read that column about the work session already, go back through these columns until you get to it.

Last week I reported on the follow-up meeting that the department held with the working group organized to help them with this project. To say it was a very negative and disappointing meeting is an understatement.

The IFW committee has now directed the department to protect tributaries and report back to them in October. Don’t I wish Roger Auclair was still available and alive to direct them toward this achievement, which I am very doubtful will happen.

Roger was one of DIFW’s most respected and successful fisheries biologists, and it is time for the agency’s fisheries division to listen to and learn from him.

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.