Sports

Chesuncook Lake Salmon Derby Memorial Day Weekend

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CHESUNCOOK — All you salmon slayers, save the date. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is partnering with Natural Resource Education Center at Moosehead (NREC) to organize the first Chesuncook Lake Salmon Derby on Memorial Weekend this year.

NREC is the same educational nonprofit that organizes the annual Moosehead Lake Togue Derby with Ricky Craven in January. The purpose of the salmon derby is to improve the salmon fishery at Chesuncook Lake. The state of affairs at Chesuncook Lake is very similar to the situation we observed on Moosehead Lake several years ago … too many wild fish.

In the case of Moosehead Lake, it was too many small wild togue. We cooperated with NREC and the chamber of commerce to develop an ice fishing derby to help draw anglers to the lake and remove some of the excess fish which would improve growth conditions for the remaining salmon, togue, and brook trout. At Chesuncook Lake, we have too many small wild salmon. This is a direct result of declining angler use and harvest on Maine’s third largest lake. This year we liberalized the salmon regulations to allow anglers to harvest more smaller fish. The regulations include a no size or bag limit on salmon under 16 inches and a bag limit of just one salmon greater than 16 inches.

We estimate a removal of 2,000 to 3,000 salmon per year will be necessary for several years to help restore the quality salmon fishery. In 2017, we estimated just a few hundred salmon were removed. There is some good news from this winter. Although angler use is still low at Chesuncook, the anglers that made the trip were definitely taking advantage of the new regulations and the fish were cooperating. This should help, but we need more harvest. So, if you like to eat salmon or just want to help restore this great fishery, then make your arrangements soon.

The derby will be held on Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27 on Chesuncook, Caribou, and Ripogenus lakes. A $500 check will be given to the angler harvesting the biggest salmon. You are only allowed to bring in one salmon over 16 inches for the entire derby weekend. Another $500 check will be drawn from the fish pool. Anglers will be given one entry into the fish pool for each salmon under 16 inches that they bring into the weigh station. So, bring them all in!

You can get all the details on the Chesuncook Lake Salmon Derby on the NRECmoosehead Facebook page or from the NREC website at www.NRECmoosehead.org.

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