LINCOLN PLANTATION – A proposal to reinstate children-only fishing on a quarter-mile stretch of the Magalloway River has opened a can of worms with fly-fishing enthusiasts bent on preserving what they call a prime wild brook trout stream.

Like the rest of the river, the 1,300-foot stretch from Bennett’s Covered Bridge in Lincoln Plantation to red posts about a quarter-mile upstream is fly-fishing only.

At the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s Advisory Council meeting at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, state fish and game Commissioner Roland Martin will revisit the proposal in the IF&W upstairs conference room at 284 State St. in Augusta.

At the council’s October meeting in Rangeley, Martin tabled discussion to Thursday’s meeting. There, members are expected to decide the issue or reach a compromise.

A petition in the mid-1990s changed the stretch of river to fishing by children only, state fisheries division Director John Boland said on Tuesday from Augusta.

Two years ago, the department streamlined its youth-only fishing regulations into one set of rules.

In the process, IF&W officials allowed the section, which is adjacent to the Aziscohos Valley Camping Area in Wilsons Mills, to revert back to fly-fishing only.

Last winter, the Norway-Paris Fish and Game Club in Norway collected 150 signatures and petitioned IF&W to change it back to child-only fishing, using artificial lures or worms, according to club vice president Fern Bosse of Poland Spring.

That goes against the Rangeley region’s longstanding tradition of fly fishing, according to Don Palmer, president of the Rangeley Region Guides and Sportsmen’s Association.

Some association members don’t think the change would harm the area much, but others believe the Magalloway’s wild brook trout population should be preserved.

“That’s, I think, one of the underlying issues here, that the Rapid River and the Magalloway River are two of the premier wild brook trout streams in the country and certainly in the state,” Palmer said by phone on Tuesday while vacationing in the Florida Keys.

“And when I say wild, I mean that they’ve never been stocked. So, these fish go back, genetically, eons. In fact, everybody that I’ve talked to on the issue, they’re all in favor of providing a place for kids to fish. That’s not the issue. The issue is that for a lot of fly fishermen, this is not the place to do it,” Palmer said.

Bosse disagreed.

“The chances of a kid catching one of the trophy brook trout are slim to none,” Bosse said, citing a recent study that tracked trout movement. Trophy brookies in the area weigh 4 and 5 pounds.

“There’s no biological reason not to do this. The trout, yes, they move back and forth there, but they go past there upstream when the kids get out of school and they don’t drop back down until the kids go back to school.”

“That stretch of water also is not the type of water to fish for trout and salmon. The state did surveys there and didn’t see anybody fishing that stretch of water because it’s bass and chubb water. Nobody fishes it,” Bosse said.

That’s why he and Boland said they are boggled by opposition to the proposal from fly-fishermen.

“It’s just baffling what this thing is creating, and there’s an awful lot of misinformation out there. If the biologists say we can do this without jeopardizing our brook trout fishery, why aren’t we?” Bosse asked.

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