June 5th, 2000

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Maine Success

By Bob Mowdy (aka Fishing4H)

Ron Howard, Director of the 4-H National Sportfishing Program was in Massachusetts for the regional training like they held on Puget Sound last Spring. I was supposed to teach, but My Baby was graduating from University of Maine that weekend, so I got my priorities straight and stayed home. (Jenny - Magna Cum Laude, Ken her husband-Summa Cum Laude and Outstanding graduate of 2000, College of Education) Not that I'm proud or anything.

Anyway, after the training, Ron and his wife Suzy came up for a few days to unwind before driving back to Texas A & M. Of course we went fishing, need you ask?

First day, Ron and I caught and released 16 native brook trout in Baxter State Park, (took five for shipping to Texas) and on Saturday, we went to the Moose River to troll Gray Ghosts for landlocked salmon. Neither Ron nor I think trolling is the best fishing out there, but to visit Maine and not take a landlocked salmon . . . Unthinkable! While we were nearly catatonic from the chill wind and drone of the outboard, we began to notice the swallows stopping to pick something off the water. Occasional anglers would hook up, but nothing spectacular. Then we saw them, Hendricksons! They popped up and tried to fly, but it was just too cold, so they drifted down the Moose River in tight ranks while the salmon and trout rolled thru them like my black lab on a smelly prize. I felt like a case of buck fever. Fish rolling everywhere, and some you could touch from the boat. There were the Hendricksons, two inches apart across the whole river. The frenzy lasted about an hour, and anyone who could anchor, and who had dries with them took fish. I fought the current in our rental boat with no anchor, and yes, we did send one beautiful landlocked salmon to Texas in a block of ice.

You should know, I am a proponent of catch and release, and I teach my kids to release most of their fish. [ed note: Bob has been involved with the 4H Fishing program for a number of years, see WHO NEEDS IT? - I DO] Maine has a heritage of subsistence fishing, and adding meat to the table, and it is hard to break the mold.

Personally, I keep a fish or two a year. The six we kept this week were for a special event, and for Very Special folks who don't get native brook trout at all where they live. The brook trout pond where they were taken is carefully managed by our DIF&W as well as by the park authority. Limits on fishermen per day, and small bag limits seem to be doing the job, since there us almost always good fishing, and trout in all size ranges. A three pounder was taken last week in a neighboring pond in the same park. And, yes some of those we caught were less than five inches, but we caught all sizes thru 16 1/2" and released them with care.

I've experienced the results of overfishing, and I've seen what pollution can do to a fishery, and I hope and pray that current trends will not continue, as people illegally plant crappie and bass to some of Maine's fabled trout and salmon waters. Our $10,000.00 fine doesn't seem to be enough. We're considering "shoot first and ask questions later . . ."

I really DO think I could have rubbed the belly of a salmon or two that were engrossed in that hatch.

And, I walked near the pond at work today, and there are two trout who will live in peace while I work there. ~ Bob Mowdy (aka Fishing4H)

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