Anglers seem happy with proposed changes in fishing regulations

By Mike Lange
Staff Writer

    GREENVILLE — A long list of proposed changes to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s fishing rulebook drew a generally positive response at a public hearing in Greenville last week.

SP-FishHearing-DC-PO-31Observer photo/Mike Lange

    FISHING RULES HEARING — The town of Greenville hosted one of several public hearings last week on proposed changes in state fishing regulations. Pictured, from left, are Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock, Deputy Commissioner Andrea Erskine and IF&W Biologist Tim Obrey.

    The session was chaired by Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock who was assisted by Deputy Commissioner Andrea Erskine; Mike Brown, the department’s fisheries’ director; Tim Obrey, a regional fisheries’ biologist; and other department officials.
    Woodcock joked that a typo in the official notice of the hearing stated that written comments would be taken until Aug. 4, 2015. “It’s actually Aug. 4, 2014. Otherwise, it will be the longest public comment period in the history of the state,” he said.
    The commissioner also noted that the 46-page document under scrutiny was not as lengthy as it seemed, since each page was devoted to one proposed rule change.
    Brown outlined four areas which primarily dealt with bag limits and expansion of opportunities for disabled anglers.
    The daily bag limit for America eels would be reduced from 50 to 25 fish and the minimum size would be raised from six to nine inches, said Brown, in order to comply with federal regulations “up and down the Eastern Seaboard.”
    The three-tiered listing of bass with different sizes and bag limits effective April 1, July 1 and Oct. 1 would be changed to a uniform two-fish, minimum length of 10 inches and one exceeding 14 inches year-round. “It will simplify the law book and help protect the large bass,” Brown said.
    Another rule change would permit blind and disabled residents of any age to fish in S-9 — known as “youth fishing only” – waters, providing they follow the same bag and line limits.
    IF&W proposals affecting the Moosehead Lake region include extending the fall fishing season to Nov. 30 at Frost Pond in northern Piscataquis County; changing the opening date on the Fitzgerald (Mountain View) Pond outlet to the railroad bridge in Greenville Junction from May 1 to April 1; closing Big Wadleigh Pond to the taking of baitfish; and moving the opening of Upper Wilson and Lower Wilson ponds from May 1 to April 1.
    Travis Roy of the Maine Youth Fish and Game Association in Milford spoke in favor of a prospective change that would restrict use of the Penobscot County Conversation Association’s private pond in Brewer to youth under age 16. “They support our work and our youth education programs,” said Roy. “It’s a small pond and it’s hard to control access to it.”
    Ted Wolfertz of Monson said he liked the idea of allowing a small bag limit on some traditional catch-and-release waterways. “When you have young kids, it’s very difficult to take them to a catch-and-release pond,” he said. “So this is a very positive change.”

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