Proposed changes to state fishing rules affect some Aroostook waters

3 weeks ago

The public will be able to weigh in on proposed changes to fishing rules for some of Maine’s lakes and ponds during a hearing in July.

The rule changes will name new State Heritage Fish Waters, alter special designations, expand fishing opportunities, encourage healthy fish populations, correct errors and make clarifications.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, which manages the state’s inland waters and fisheries, proposes 23 changes. The public may comment on the proposals until July 25. The changes will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2025.

The public hearing will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, July 15, at MDIF&W, 353 Water St., third floor conference room, in Augusta. 

Lakes and ponds that will be named State Heritage Fish Waters are Aziscohos Lake, including Sunday Pond and tributaries in Oxford County; Thomas Lake and Upper Hudson Pond and outlet in Aroostook; and Upper South Branch Pond in Piscataquis. Thomas Lake has never been stocked with trout. The other three have not been stocked for 25 years or more, qualifying them for this designation.

In special designations, landlocked salmon have begun to infiltrate Crawford Pond in Piscataquis County, which is a State Heritage Fish Water. It has populations of wild brook and lake trout. The rule change would add no size or bag limit on salmon.

Kingsbury and Mayfield ponds in Piscataquis and Somerset counties have had fishing restrictions based on the splake being stock there. The state no longer stocks splake, but will stock trout instead. The rule of a two-fish limit will be added to the ponds.

Snowshoe Lake in northern Penobscot County has a small whitefish population the state wants to protect. The new rule would make live bait illegal in the lake to prevent rainbow smelt from getting into that water. The state says the smelt have a negative impact on the whitefish.

The state would remove the restriction on taking smelts within 100 feet of the mouth of any tributary to the lake and add that all whitefish must be released alive in South Pond in southern Oxford County.

Little Wilson Hill Pond in Somerset County, which is a State Heritage Fish Water, has shown decline in its brook trout population. The rule change would require all trout, salmon and togue to be released alive at once.

Baker Pond, a State Heritage water, in Somerset County has an overabundance of brook trout and a decline in salmon. The rule change would increase the harvest of trout and change the salmon bag limit to one.

Little Concord Pond in southern Oxford County, which was chemically reclaimed in 2011, has too many brook trout so the fish are not growing in size properly. The rule change would increase the number of smaller trout that fishermen can keep. The pond also would be designated artificial lure only, rather than fly fishing only to expand the number of anglers who might fish there.

Dixon Pond in Somerset County would go from general law of five to a two-fish bag limit, with only one exceeding 12 inches to decrease the number of brook trout taken. It used to be more difficult to get to the pond, but better access has increased pressure on that fishery. Dixon is a State Heritage pond.

The state proposes removing the size and bag limits on togue taken from Swan Lake in Waldo County to improve the condition of that population.

Under expanded fishing opportunities, Beaver Tail Pond in Aroostook County would be opened to ice fishing, making it legal to fish there year-round. It has traditionally been closed to ice fishing.

Big Pond on Swan Island in Sagadahoc County has been stocked with brook trout for kids-only fishing. The rule change would open fishing to everyone, eliminate the trout stocking program and give people access to the abundant bass in the pond.

Brown trout regulations on Long Pond in Hancock County would be removed. The water would revert to general law and would be open to ice fishing.

Six Mile Lake in Washington County would revert to general law fishing regulations, removing all other restrictions and opening the lake up to ice fishing.

Under errors and clarifications, it would be made clear that lake regulations also apply to the impounded portion of the outlet, all the way to the dam on Androscoggin Lake in Kennebec County.

The language “Daily bag limit on togue: 6 fish; no minimum length limit; only 1 may exceed 23 inches” would be added to rules for Fish Pond in Somerset County, putting it in sync with Spencer Lake. The two are joined by a thoroughfare.

The state wants to make a clear delineation between Flagstaff Lake in Franklin and Somerset counties and two tributaries, which are South Branch of Dead River and North Branch of Dead River. To do that, it will add “Dead River, South Branch to the confluence with Reed Brook and Dead River” and “North Branch to the Flagstaff Road Crossing” to the name of the lake.

Long Pond in south Oxford County was listed as allowing open water fishing May 15 and closed to open water fishing from Dec. 1 to May 14. It will change to closed from Dec. 1 to March 31.

There is a Lurvey Brook and a Lurvey Spring Brook in Southwest Harbor in Hancock County, but both are listed by the same name in the fishing laws. The rules would add the word “spring” to one of the brook’s names. Both are closed to all fishing.