Gift fish can put angler over the limit

Anglers who possess their limit of fish may not accept additional fish as gifts. And anglers who give fish to others must label each and every fish with the anglers name plus the year, month, and day the fish was caught. People who accept such fish may only possess them in their homes – nowhere else.

I’ll bet you didn’t know all of this. I certainly didn’t. When John Rice of Castle Island Camps in Belgrade Lakes posted information about this from a conversation he’d had with a local game warden, I thought some of that information was wrong. So I hauled out my Open Water & Ice Fishing rulebook, but couldn’t find anything about this. I was pretty sure the legislation added the labeling requirement last session, so I emailed Lt. Shon Theriault of the Maine Warden Service with my questions.

Shon responded with a copy of the applicable statutes. With my thanks to Shon for his prompt response, here is our exchange.

Me: Hi Shon. A question has come up from one of my readers about gifting of fish. I remember DIF&W proposed a labeling law, but I am unsure if it was enacted. If it was, what are the requirements? If not, how do we gift fish? And do gift fish count as part of a person’s possession limit? Thanks!

Shon: I believe page 10 in the current law book provides the answers your questions.  I attached the text below.

Possessing Gift Fish: A person who does not possess a valid fishing license issued under chapter 913 or this chapter may not possess a fish or any part of a fish given to that person except a person may possess in that person’s domicile a gift fish that was lawfully caught and is plainly labeled with the name of the person who gave the fish and the year, month and day the fish was caught by that person. This section does not apply to baitfish.

Possession Limit (All Fish): A person shall not possess at any time more fish than may lawfully be taken in one day.

Me: Thanks Shon. But this does not clarify the status of an angler who accepts gift fish. If I have all the brook trout I can legally possess in my freezer, all caught by me, and my Dad wants to give me another brook trout, properly labeled, can I accept it? And can a nonangler possess an unlimited number of gift fish?

Shon: No. That’s why I sent you the possession section as well. Its states it clearly and covers all situations. One daily bag limit is what everyone can possess regardless of where they are.

Possession Limit (All Fish): A person shall not possess at any time more fish than may lawfully be taken in one day.

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.