If all goes according to plan, Baxter State Park’s fabled brook trout waters will be stocked next fall with a different strain of brook trout ­ one more native to the area.

Let’s back up a minute. Over the years, Maine’s hatchery-­raised brook trout have traditionally been the progeny of wild trout of two different strains, either Kennebago trout from Western Maine or Nesowadnehunk trout from Nesowadnehunk Lake, which borders Baxter State Park.

According to Lisa Kane, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIF&W), the Nesowadnehunk strain was discontinued in favor of the Kennebago strain “for a variety of management reasons.” As a former MDIF&W employee during that period in the 1990s my recollection is that the Kennebago strain of hatchery­-raised brookies proved to have a higher survival rate in the hatchery environment. Additionally, according to Kane, Nesowadnehunk trout tend to be much later spawners than the Kennebago strain. This was another reason why MDIF&W favored the Kennebago strain.

Bottom line: Since about 2000, Maine fish hatcheries have been breeding brookies from either the Kennebago Strain or what is called the Maine Hatchery Strain.

Historically Nesowadnehunk Lake, which trout anglers fondly refer to as “the trout factory,” is all part of the Baxter Park watershed and many of the park waters drain into Nesowadnehunk Stream. According to Kane, “ there has always been interest from Baxter State Park to go back to utilizing their own “native strain” of brook trout for Park waters.

Regional Fisheries Biologist Nels Kramer has been working with Park officials on this project and it looks like Park waters will be receiving some Nesowadnehunk progeny this fall.

Kane writes,” a total of 317 brook trout were handled in MDIFW’s trapnets, and 14,100 eggs were fertilized and taken to Enfield Hatchery for rearing. These eggs will hatch out in late January/early February, and the fry grown until the fall of 2014, at which time 4500 will be stocked out as fall fingerlings throughout the Park, as well as other similar waters. An additional 1500 will be held in the hatchery over the winter to be stocked in the spring of 2015 throughout the Park as spring yearlings.”

Unless you are a serious student of Maine brook trout, the strain of trout you catch in Baxter waters may not mean an awful lot. But, over the long haul, these decisions made by fisheries managers and Park policymakers can leave an imprint, sometimes good and sometimes not so good.

Is this a good move?

This seems to make sense, and is in keeping with modern, scientific fisheries doctrine, which is to maintain the native quality of sport fisheries.

The author 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 (WVOM­FM 103.9, WQVM­FM 101.3) and former information of icer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e­mail address is [email protected] . He has two books “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook” and his latest, “Backtrack.” Online information is available at www.maineoutdoorpublications.com or by calling Diane at 207 745 0049.


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