July 17, 2018

MDIFW Says Some Waters Have Too Many Fish

I was reading MDIFW’s fish biologist, Tim Obrey’s, article about readjusting fishing regulations to match management goals. He writes some interesting things. Here’s a sampling of some of his comments he made:

“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.”

“But now, things are much different.”

“…fewer people are fishing and those that do practice catch and release at a much higher rate…”

“The combination of a sharp decline in angler harvest and the very restrictive regulations created a perfect storm for salmon management.  The salmon began to stockpile because there was little harvest.”

“We attempted to alleviate the situation by liberalizing the salmon regulations, but with little success.”

“This situation is very similar to the problems we had at Moosehead Lake with an over-abundant lake trout population.  It took some serious regulation changes at Moosehead Lake to reverse the trend and we are looking at similar strategies for Chesuncook Lake.”

It seems that tactics employed at Moosehead Lake are being tried on Chesuncook Lake with no success yet. At the end of this article, an invitation is extended to fishermen to come to Chesuncook Lake and participate in a fishing derby designed to work at reducing the number of small salmon. Will it work?

Upon a bit of examination, I would have to say I have my doubts.

First of all, when something changes there has to be a reason. In this case, Mr. Obrey seems to believe it is because people just aren’t going there to fish. Why? Does the fishing suck? Is it cost prohibitive? Is there good access to the fishing resource? Are fishing licenses too expensive? Is there that much of a decline, if there is one, in overall purchases of fishing licenses? If all waters in Maine are not having these problems, then there must be enough anglers that current regulations are sufficient to manage the resource. Why these selected lakes?

I don’t have all these answers but I was pointed in the direction of one thing that might be a roadblock to Chesuncook Lake.

On a website called Great Northern Vacation, under Lodging, we can find a bit of information on the Chesuncook Lake House Cabins, a historic location for anglers, hunters and all sorts of outdoor explorers. But here’s what it says: We strongly recommend that you arrive by float plane, your boat or snowmobile.

A new road to Chesuncook!?? Unfortunately, the new road is in horrible condition, unkept and dangerous. Many guests have arrived unhappy with the high Northwoods gate fees ($40+ pp), flat tires, getting lost, (don’t depend on your Tom-tom) and it’s not a pleasant start to your stay here. Please consider getting here in the traditional fashion, don’t drive in. Your car and wallet will thank you. Your mechanic will not!”
So, the invitation is out to attend a fishing derby at Chesuncook Lake. Is the fact that access appears to be quite difficult, along with exorbitant gate fees, enough to not only deter participants from a fishing derby but do nothing to help cure the fisheries management problems?
Environmentalists should take notice, along with MDIFW biologists and wildlife managers. It appears you want your cake and to eat it as well. Environmentalists bitch and complain because logging roads being built destroy the “wilderness.” At the same time, wildlife biologists readily use too much access to hunting and fishing resources as an excuse for unsuccessfully reaching management goals. And now, we see where at least one lake in Northern Maine can’t properly (by MDIFW’s standards) manage the fishery because people can’t get to the lake in a reasonable fashion to fish.
So, what’s it going to be? Cave to the demands of environmentalists who want to end the logging industry, thus allowing access roads that belong to the logging companies to deteriorate to a point of impassability, resulting in wasted and destroyed wildlife resources, or find a balance somewhere where everyone benefits?
Share