Fish stocking under way


GRAY – For the first time in two years, fish stocking began last month in some southern Maine waters due to low water flows and a lack of significant rain, state fisheries biologists Jim Pellerin and Francis Brautigam said.

In both the Western Mountains and Southern Maine regions, fish stocking pretty much follows that of last year’s amounts, with a few exceptions.

Water temperatures and bass are dictating what fish go where, and when, in Southern Maine, Pellerin said Tuesday afternoon.

From April into June, stocking moves northward following the normal progression of ice melt and thawing waterways.

This year also marks a first with the potential suspended stocking of 10-inch to 12-inch yearling brook trout in bass waters.

Pellerin said a study conducted last year on Thomas Pond in Casco and Raymond, and Trickey Pond in Naples, revealed that 16-inch-long and larger largemouth bass were gobbling up the footlong brookies.

“We suspected it was going on, so this was very enlightening, but very disappointing,” he said.

Ninety percent of the 800 brookies stocked last spring, which cost the department $3 a fish, became bass food. A creel study only revealed one brook trout caught.

“It was a real eye-opener. We’ll probably be altering some of our brook trout stocking because of this,” Pellerin said of the Thomas Pond study.

Panther Pond in Raymond was to be stocked with yearling brook trout and salmon in early to mid-May, but because of a robust bass population, the brookie delivery may be canceled, Pellerin said.

In Western Maine, a planned booster shot of 1,700 yearling brown trout into the Androscoggin River between Bethel and Gilead on Thursday, April 20, was to include 1,700 rainbow trout, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife public relations representative Bill Pierce said Tuesday. But, the water temperature is too cold, and biologists haven’t yet given up on spring’s traditional heavy rains.

The yearling rainbows, which are 10 to 12 inches long, are expected to be added sometime next month when water temperatures rise. Pellerin said rainbow trout tend to migrate downstream in colder water.

“If it’s too cold, and we get a bunch of rain, they’re going over Rumford Falls. We want a better survival rate,” Pierce added.

That’s why the float-stocking method is to be used. The fish are put into inflated inner tube float pens which are attached to canoes and drift boats.

As the boaters head downstream, the fish are released into likely hiding places and feeding habitats to protect them from natural predators and wily anglers.

Starting at 10 a.m., the Mollyockett Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are to conduct the joint float-stocking program from the Gilead boat launch.

The brown trout are the new Embden Fish Hatchery’s first stock to be released into Maine waters, whereas the rainbows, which supplement wild stocks of the same fish, are coming from the Casco Fish Hatchery.

In addition to the spring browns and rainbows, fisheries biologist Dave Boucher in Strong stated Tuesday in an e-mail that a new program begins this fall to put 12- to 15-inch-long brook trout and brown trout in the Androscoggin River from Gilead to Rumford, the Sandy River from Phillips to Starks, and the Kennebec River from Solon to Madison.

These fish are to be stocked in September and/or October to enhance fall fishing opportunities.

“Beginning in 2007, when our refurbished Embden Rearing Station becomes fully operational, this program will be significantly expanded to include many lakes and ponds for ice fisherman,” Boucher stated.

The station is to also shift most splake stocking from spring to fall, using larger fish between 12 to 15 inches.

“This should improve ice fishing opportunities, as these fish will be immediately available to winter anglers,” Boucher added.

In other fishing news, the Mollyockett chapter is to hold its monthly meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, at Gould Academy in Bethel.

The featured speakers, Gould teacher John White and his son, Nate, who are Maine guides, are to talk about fishing in the Androscoggin River, an emerging angling destination.

For more information, call chapter President Dick Walthers at 743-7461.