Sixty seven pages of fishing rule changes are proposed

Bruce's big troutDIF&W is proposing sixty seven pages of fishing rule changes that, if adopted, will take effect in 2017.  All of the rule changes are available on the agency’s website, and public hearings on the proposals will be held in July and August.

The changes impact both ice and open water fishing, and some are designed to simplify the fishing law book. Commissioner Chandler Woodcock informed members of the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee that his agency would simplify the rule book for 2017, and simplify the rules the following year. That seemed backward to me, given that the rule book would be simpler if the rules were simpler.

The Department is also proposing modifications and additions of waters to the State Heritage Fish waters list. There’s been a bit of controversy lately about this. Maine Audubon has led an effort to survey remote ponds, to find out if they hold a viable population of our native brook trout. And in many cases, thankfully, the answer is yes. Yet DIF&W refuses to put many of those ponds on the Heritage List, with protective rules for those brookies, insisting that their own fisheries biologists must survey the ponds before they go on the list.

It seems to me the better strategy would be to list and protect those ponds, until the agency gets around to surveying them. In fact, they’ve done that with a few ponds, so their approach is not consistent.

Five public hearings are scheduled on all the rule changes, giving you a chance to weigh in. You can read through the rule change proposals here.

Public Hearings

July 26, 2016 @ 6:30 p.m. – Northeastland Hotel, Red Room 436 Main Street, Presque Isle

July 27, 2016 @ 6:30 pm – Stearns High School, Auditorium 199 State Street, Millinocket

July 28, 2016 @ 6:30 pm – Ramada, Breakfast Room 215 High Street, Rt. 1 & 3, Ellsworth

August 2, 2016 @ 6:30pm – University of Maine Farmington, Olson Student Center N. Dining Hall B, 111 South Street, Farmington

August 4, 2016 @ 6:30pm – Comfort Inn, Breakfast Room 199 Pleasant St, Brunswick

You can also submit written comments to the agency, directed to Becky Orff, Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, 284 State Street, #41 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333; . Your comments must be received by August 17.

The Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council and DIF&W’s Commissioner must agree on the rule changes before they are official, and that process will be conducted in the fall, in time for the changes to be incorporated into the 2017 rule book.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.