A Fascinating Look Back In the 1991 Maine Sportsman

 A friend recently gave me a July 1991 copy of the Maine Sportsman, featuring a photo of me on the cover with a huge bluefish. Do you remember catching bluefish back in the day?

Reading through the magazine took me all the way back to the year I started working for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. While we have made progress on many issues, a lot of the issues in this 1991 edition have impacted our hunting and fishing experiences.

For example, the very first article by Bob Cram is titled Poor Forestry Practices Killing Allagash Fisheries.  I have heard DIFW staff express frustration recently that we’ve done nothing to protect forest habitat that surrounds our heritage waters where we protect our native brook trout and Arctic charr.

Letters to the editor are particularly entertaining from two letters defending Maine game wardens to a complaint about the requirement for a bear hunting license. A fellow from Massachusetts criticized Maine attitudes as being too provincial, and one letter actually advocated for stocking of northern pike.

TMS editor Harry Vanderweide wrote a very thoughtful column telling us their focus was on directing us to the best places to hunt and fish in Maine. Ken Allen touted the Jackman region as a trout fisherman’s paradise, and lots of columns did focus on the best places to hunt and fish.

Ken also wrote an article on the controversy over banning lead shot. He reported that Harry  was already using steel shot and found it to be very effective, while others strongly objected to the proposed ban.

I love the photo of a truckload of turkeys shot in New York by John Costa,  Steve Brettell, Jim Westcott, and Pat Keliher (our current Marine Resources Commissioner).

Given that this was July, there’s a whole section on bear hunting “designed to help you successfully hunt the trophy of a lifetime.”

There was a full-page ad for the sixth annual $60,000 New England Bluefish Open in Bath. Judging by my photo on the cover page, I guess I should’ve entered the tournament!

At that time I was writing the Winthrop Belgrade Lakes regional column, which included a photo of a friend with a whole stringer of huge bass he caught in a pond near my house. I also reported on fisheries biologist Denny McNeish’s old regulations to preserve our spectacular bass fishery. I quoted Denny as saying, “we can act before this bass fishery goes to hell. This is a good proposal which will do the job.” Essentially his proposal protected large fish and lowered the bag limit.

Bill Fling reported that fishing on Moosehead Lake for the second winter in a row was extremely slow, and he had spent seven hours trolling the Moose River area and caught only one togue.

I enjoyed the column of Val Marquez on hunting woodchucks which he said “provides summertime excitement and improves your hunting skills.” Val actually used a bow to kill woodchucks.

Edie Cronk wrote the recipe section in a column called Edye’s Cookhouse. I always enjoyed Edie’s columns, as well as working with her when she was president of SAM. In the bow hunting column, Clarence Greenleaf tried to convince us that groundhogs taste similar to Lamb. Not sure how successful he was in getting us to eat groundhogs!

There was a column lamenting the dramatic decrease in the duck harvest over the previous decade. Even the ads are interesting, but sadly, many of those businesses are long gone, as are those huge bluefish that I used to enjoy catching.

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 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.