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Harvesting Fish

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One Method Toward Improving a Water’s Fishery

Catch and Release angling is widely practiced by Maine anglers, especially with freshwater sport-fish species such as trout, salmon, and bass. By releasing fish anglers hope that over time they will grow to larger sizes and be available for future anglers. This practice does produce the intended results in many waters, but that is not always the case. In the Maine Fishing Lawbook a number of regulations are designed to improve the quality of fisheries by providing liberal harvest opportunities. These regulations can be separated into two broad categories: 1) Allowing liberal bag limits for trout, salmon and togue, and 2) Allowing no minimum length limits and unlimited bag limits for non-native and illegally introduced fish species. What are the intended consequences of these regulation categories?

In the first category are regulations like S-20, S-24, S-27, and the liberal togue regulations on Moosehead Lake and several other waters. The intent is to remove juvenile fish prior to their first spawning (especially females) in an attempt to reduce the number of young fish that compete for forage. Decreasing competitors for food resources allows the surviving fish to grow larger in length and weight. This management technique works especially well on small productive wild brook trout ponds.

In the second category are regulations like S-13, and no size limits with unlimited bag limits on non-native species such as northern pike, muskellunge, and black crappie. By allowing unrestricted harvest of these species fisheries biologists are attempting to slow the growth of these populations and decrease their direct and indirect impacts on native or naturalized fish species. This may also reduce their potential to move upstream or downstream into new waters.

Maine’s Fisheries Biologists ask anglers to view these liberal harvest regulations as opportunities to assist fishery management efforts to grow larger fish, or to protect certain vulnerable fish populations.


Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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