The state has adopted a recreational fishing rule that will limit the use of live fish as bait in much of the northern management zone in order to protect wild trout waters, including tributaries and outlets of heritage ponds.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife’s Advisory Council approved the rule by a unanimous vote of 10-0 on Wednesday.

The new regulation would prohibit the use of live fish as bait in most of northern Maine’s lakes and ponds, which represent the majority of the wild brook trout waters in the Northeast. The use of live fish has been allowed in most of northern Maine for generations. In some waters, the practice will continue under a special regulation.

The fishing rule will take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Maine Director of Fisheries and Hatcheries Francis Brautigam said the new rule will better protect wild trout waters in northern Maine because if bait fish — like smelt — escape and breed, they can out-compete the wild trout for food, threatening the population.

The affected counties are in IFW’s North Region, which includes Aroostook, Penobscot north of routes 11 and 157, Piscataquis, Somerset, Franklin and Oxford north of the Androscoggin River.


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