GILEAD — Of an anticipated 2,000 brown and rainbow trout to be released in the Androscoggin River next week, about 300 will be float-stocked into place from Gilead to Bethel.
Yearling and older brown trout and larger rainbows will be supplied on Wednesday, May 25, by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife's Casco Hatchery to members of the Upper Andro Anglers Alliance, alliance spokeswoman Wende Gray said Tuesday by email.
The alliance, assisted by Inland Fisheries Commissioner Chandler Woodcock, will leave in three drift boats from the Gilead boat launch at 10 a.m. and float downstream a mile or two, strategically placing fish in the river.
Float-stocking is a method in which fish are loaded into floating pens attached to canoes and drift boats, Gray said.
The fish are floated downstream and released into likely hiding places and feeding habitats by volunteers using heavy plastic buckets to help decrease stress on fish and prevent mortality, she said.
Dumping brown and brook trout directly into one location means they may not migrate up or down stream from the original stocking location for weeks. This leaves them extremely vulnerable to natural predators and anglers.
Gray said that float-stocking programs in Missouri, Arkansas and New York have led to lower initial mortality, longer-duration fisheries and higher holdover.
A common practice on smaller New England rivers, float-stocking is relatively new to the upper Androscoggin River, an emerging angling destination, she said.
Brown trout are liberally stocked in the Androscoggin. Rainbows are continually stocked to supplement recovering wild stocks of rainbow trout.