GILEAD – The Mollyocket Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will conduct a joint float stocking program on the Upper Androscoggin River from Gilead to Bethel on Wednesday, May 4. The chapter will supply 600 yearling brown trout for volunteers to release.

Float stocking is a method of fish stocking whereby the fish are loaded into floating pens attached to canoes and drift boats. The fish are floated downstream and released into likely hiding places and feeding habitats.

With traditional stocking methods of dumping directly into one location, brown and brook trout may not migrate up or down stream from the original stocking location for weeks.

The fish are vulnerable to natural predators as well as wily fishermen. Programs in Missouri, Arkansas and New York have resulted in lower initial mortality, longer duration fisheries and higher holdover. Although a common practice on smaller New England rivers, the first float stocking in Maine was held last spring on the Middle Kennebec. The pilot program was a collaborative effort of Somerset TU and MDIF&W.

Fifty years ago the Androscoggin River from Berlin, N.H., to its confluence with the Kennebec was one of the top 10 most polluted rivers in the United States. Today, thanks to environmental cleanup by federal, state and municipal agencies, the Upper Androscoggin River is an emerging angling destination.

The cleanup has allowed the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to implement an aggressive recovery program. Brown trout are liberally stocked. To supplement recovering wild stocks of rainbow trout, the department continues to stock rainbows.

The Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce offers a brochure about angling on the Upper Androscoggin. The brochure has a map with access points, fishing regulations, water level information and a list of guide services and accommodations that serve an early breakfast. Contact the Bethel Area Chamber at 800-442-5826 or online at www.bethelmaine.com.


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