A friend who likes to fish a western Maine lake recently told me that the lake has more than two dozen loons and the loons are chasing anglers around the lake, grabbing their brook trout after they are hooked.
The lake is only about a mile long so it seems very unusual to have that many loons there.
My friend asked if there is anything they could do about this and I checked with the Fish and Wildlife Department and learned that there really is nothing we can do. They have never captured and moved loons.
Why would so many be there? I asked DIFW’s Danielle D’Auria, and this is her response:
I had heard reports of quite a few flooded, failed nests early in the season, which could result in more adults being free to roam rather than stay on territory. The best advice I can give to anglers is to reel in and wait for the loons to give up, and/or move to a new spot where the loons are not a problem. We definitely don’t want the loons to be successful at grabbing hooked fish, for this may reinforce in their minds it is a good way to forage (plus the hook and attached tackle/line won’t be good for them either). – Danielle
The call from my friend reminded me of an evening when my dad and I were fishing Nesowadahunk Lake on the edge of Baxter Park where I have a camp. Dad hooked a brook trout and a loon swam up and grabbed the trout.
Dad yanked the trout of the loon’s mouth and got it into the boat. The loon went into a rage, swimming around our boat, flapping his wings and screeching. Dad unhooked the trout and released it back into the lake.
The loon dashed over and grabbed the trout. He did not say thank you.
The anglers on my friend’s lake are worried about all those loons eating most of the lake’s trout and salmon. I think that is a legitimate concern. Loons do eat a lot of fish. So you can imagine a lake with two dozen loons causing a quick diminishment of the fisheries.
Apparently it is something we just have to put up with.