Too Few Anglers – Too Many Fish

DIFW Fisheries Biologist Tim Obrey of Greenville has written an interesting column about the decrease in anglers causing a large increase in fish, which in turn has decreased the size of fish.

Tim writes, “When I started work for MDIFW in the mid-1980s, fishing activity was at its peak. Angler use was at an all-time high and I used to cringe the Monday of Memorial Day Weekend seeing the steady stream of traffic heading south all loaded with fish (in my mind anyway) from my favorite trout ponds. Back then, we frequently crafted more restrictive regulations to limit harvest to protect the wild fish resources. It was rare to liberalize regulations. Doing so would have certainly led to overharvest and the depletion of the popular trout and salmon fisheries in the region.

“But now, things are much different. Overall, fewer people are fishing and those that do practice catch and release at a much higher rate than in the 1980s. This has led to a number of cases where we now have too many fish in some waters. Chesuncook Lake is a glaring example of the pitfalls of too little harvest.

“We attempted to alleviate the situation by liberalizing the salmon regulations, but with little success. We estimated total angler use at less than 500 days in 2017 compared to the peak of 4,200 angler days in 1991. The MDIFW has a harvest goal of 2,000 salmon per year until growth recovers. In 2017, the estimated salmon harvest was just 400 fish. Therefore, there is a need to attract more anglers to the lake and encourage them to remove more salmon to reach this goal.”

You can read all of Tim’s column here:

When Angler Numbers And Habits Change, Regulations Change To Enhance A Fishery

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.