Spearfishing for Northern Pike Debated at Legislature

northern pike“I want to get the pike out of Sebago Lake. They are reproducing like you wouldn’t believe,” testified Representative Lester Ordway of Standish, who lives on the lake and said he has had to guard his little dog against Eagles, and is now worried about pike whenever the dog jumps into the lake.

“The salmon fishing is coming back big time,” reported Ordway, “but pike are going to be disastrous.”

Representative Jessica Fay of Raymond joined Ordway in testifying for the bill, noting that a pike “is a really scary looking fish.” She has a camp on the lake and saw a huge pike reeled in by an angler in a boat. She noted that landlocked salmon is the economic driver in that area. Pike were illegally introduced into Sebago in 2003.

Ordway’s bill, LD 190, would allow spearfishing for pike in Sebago Lake. It got a spirited debate during the IFW Committee’s work session.

Francis Brautigam, DIF&W’s Fisheries Division Director, was the southern Maine fisheries biologist who rebuilt Sebago’s landlocked salmon fishery, so I paid particular attention to his testimony against the bill.

“The impact of pike on salmon in Sebago has been negligible so far,” said Francis. “Pike have had a much greater impact on Long Pond in the Belgrades,” he noted.

“If I thought spear fishing would reduce the population, I’d support it,” he said. “But evidence indicates it would actually increase the number of pike.”

Ordway also expressed concern that pike would get up into the river and other tributaries, and Francis shared that concern. He said they’ve taken steps to prevent that from happening.

Ordway also reported that you can shoot pike with guns in Vermont. But even that failed to convince members of the IFW Committee that spearfishing would be a good idea, and they sent the bill off to the full legislature with a unanimous ought-not-to-pass recommendation.

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, georgesmithmaine.com, 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.