I would say we all would like to not have to catch hatchery fish. Unfortunately the great majority of trout, even in Maine, are mass produced factory fish. Uncountable streams do have self supporting brookie and landlocked salmon populations but nearly all at one place or another are stocked.
Many of the same factors that have caused us to become stocked fish whores, fishing pressure, the introduction of exotics-browns, rainbows, relocated LL salmon and now though not DIF&W sanctioned pike and I hear walleyes-were misguided policies of the states hatchery commissions in the first place.
Rangely Lake used to be, up until early in the 1900's, a fabulous giant brook trout water. The brookies were the top of the food chain and their main fodder was the now virtually extinct, except for a couple of very remote ponds in Aroostook Cty., blue back trout. The powers that be felt that having LL's in only their ONLY truely native lake, Sebago, was unacceptable. By deciding to truck LL's into Rangley, and many other lakes and rivers, along with their favorite food, the smelt, they ruined a perfect fishery. The smelt out competed the blue back for food and spawning beds in turn effecting the brookie's place in the pecking order. There are still some good brookies there but most are hold over stockers. The salmon fishing is great and both do have some success in self sustaining their numbers-but at what cost?
Today in Maine any water that has good spawning success rates has very strict season, tackle and bag limits to help improve the natural wild populations. As an example, the Kennebec River is second only to the Chessepeak Bay estuary for striped bass spawning habitat. The river from a line across the mouth to the first impoundment in Waterville is closed to bait AND the taking of ANY stripers until July 1st. Which is just about the same day the alewives move out of or have been transported above the dams to spawn. From then until October single hook lures or flies or bait can be used however, For the entire coast of Maine and the estuaries a slot limit of one fish between 20" and 26" or over 40" may be kept. We are trying, starting in '73 with the clean water act, by our own senator Ed Muskie, and with better science and understanding of the fish themselves and of the shortsightedness of many of the policies that brought us to this point I think things have the potential to get better. This horse can be flogged for ever-the solution begins when we each tackle little things that concern and effect us most closesly and do something.
We can rail about the policies and mistakes or get active in our local chapters of TU and CCA and try our best to protect whats left and fix whats wrong.
I just have to, as I suspect most of us do, feel fortunate that most of our water and woods here are free and open. When things in the east start getting like the cattle rancher/ fisherman conflicts of the west or worse pay for sport beats like in the UK-then we're really in trouble.
Take your rod, go to a favorite pool, with any luck you'll be alone, and cast your fly upon the water. Regardless of the underlying currents it is still the best salve for my soul in these uncertain or any other times.
Last edited by Chris; 11-22-2001 at 09:58 AM.