As an outdoorsman, I am foremost a trout fishermen. Although not a purist who always practices catch and release, my angling addiction is shamelessly one-dimensional. A fly rod. Remote trout ponds. Small dry flies on the top. Yep. For me, seducing a small wild brook trout into striking a delicate dry fly on the surface is as good as it ever gets.

A few years ago my sons and I shared a special morning in early June. After hiking more than four miles with our float tubes, rods and waders, we found “our” pond. I revisit that trip every spring in my fishing daydreams. Coming to the shore of a remote pond before sunup when the fish are still feeding on surface insects is a heart thumper. And having the pond to ourselves — just us and the fish — well, that makes the day!

Before the warming June sun drove the trout down, we had a ball hooking and releasing most of our catch of small brookies. That night, back at camp we rested our sore feet, ate a trout apiece and compared notes about what worked on the water and what didn’t.

We must make that trip again. That pond was and is today, thankfully, a special place.

If you have fished one of Maine’s remote trout ponds in early June, when the hatch is on, you can identify. In fact, most of Maine’s remaining trout ponds, that can still be called “remote,” are all special places.

According to Paul Johnson, the former state fisheries biologist in Greenville, there are exactly 176 designated remote ponds in the state’s unorganized territories. These ponds are protected under LURC regulations. A pond that is only accessible to within a half mile with a two-wheel drive vehicle is considered remote.

Paul writes: “Therefore, although these ponds have been zoned for 25 years, they remain one of Maine’s best kept secrets. When fishing on a remote pond few fishermen are even aware of its formal zoning status, and the provision in the LURC standards, which prohibits motorized vehicle access. Until recently, this has not been a problem. Now, however, ATV’s are much more commonly used by fishermen than they were when remote ponds were first zoned.”

And herein lies the rub.

Although techically protected by LURC regulations, the remote character of these remaining “remote ponds” is being jeopardized by a few thoughtless slobs who call themselves sportsmen. I know of such a pond in Piscataquis County. Access is difficult. There was a day when this inaccessibility served as a built-in safeguard for this pond, keeping down fishing pressure and discouraging slob sportsmen from making the trip. No more. ATVs and half-ton four-wheel drives have torn up the old walking path to this pond. Overnight campers and anglers have left one shoreline littered with cans, bottles and food wrappers.

This past fall, contract loggers who ironically were cutting timber on Maine Public Lands obliterated the old pond’s walking path. Thanks to new cutting roads, this once-remote pond will be even more ATV accessible when the mud congeals and the skidder scars heal.

These remote ponds are a precious natural resource, not only to Maine, but to North America. Many of them provide habitat for native brook trout with lineage as pure as mountain spring water. According to Johnson, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is undertaking an effort to foster a greater appreciation for these remote trout ponds.

Hopefully, this informational effort will be supplemented by aggressive enforcement: the use of motorized vehicles to access many of these remote ponds is illegal.

As sportsmen, let’s make sure that we and our various organizations help out with this rededicated effort to preserve and protect Maine’s remote ponds.

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WQVM 101.3) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e-mail address is [email protected]


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