The legislature’s IFW Committee unanimously endorsed a bill last week that will allow towns to stock fish in ponds in their areas.
The amended bill requires a pond to have hand carry access and some parking. Nobody on the committee mentioned it, but we do have a right to walk through any field or forest to access a lake or pond in Maine. We do not have the same right to access rivers, streams and brooks.
In order to stock a pond, the town would need the approval of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and they would only be able to stock species that have been stocked in that water in the past.
They would also have to buy the fish from a private hatchery. Maine currently has three of those.
There are 30 waters where the department stopped stocking fish because there was no public access and most of those are in Franklin and Washington counties.
I’ll be very surprised if a lot of towns step up to purchase fish for stocking a pond. Especially when you consider that in many places less than half of the stocked fish are ever caught.
It makes a lot more sense to me for a town to work to provide public access to a pond, and parking, so that the department can once again stock fish there.