The commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife has opened the fishing season on rivers, streams and brooks early. This went into effect on Friday, March 20.
The department is to be congratulated on this thoughtful move. It has allowed Mainers who, being pent up in their homes with no place to go, to get out away from others and go fishing.
This idea of having the opening day on April 1 is purely based upon tradition rather than any biological reason. Fisheries managers whom I have spoken with over the years always tell me the same thing; “it’s tradition.”
To that end I will continue arguing for a push-back on the opening day. We Maine anglers deserve that much.
Besides that, the opening-day tradition has long fallen by the wayside. The number of serious stream anglers has decreased considerably over the last few decades. This is directly attributable to people having more disposable income. Whereas once, few people owned boats and at that, these were smallish watercraft, in the 12- to 14-foot range, today most serious anglers own larger boats.
And people with larger boats seek larger fish, which explains the current lack of participation for brook and stream fishing. Those of a certain age may well recall when, during April school vacation week, every stream crossing would have two or three bicycles leaning against the bridge. Children loved to fish and when given the opportunity, took to the brooks and streams in droves. I recall purposely avoiding the places where the children liked to fish, figuring that I can get out any time, but the youngsters are bound to remain in school. My feeling was just to let them have their fun, with no competition from me.
Today, though, children are more, “sophisticated.” Indoor entertainment, mostly computer-based activities, have largely supplanted the urge to get outdoors and go fishing. It’s a sad commentary, and one that will probably never change. As for older children, me for example, walking along a bubbling brook, probing each riffle and undercut bank for hidden trout, still has its appeal. To that end, I went out last Friday and caught my limit of native brook trout. These I took home and lovingly cared for. Then I had them for supper, no cornmeal, no flour, just a bit of salt. The flesh of these speckled jewels is the most delicate of any fish. You cannot buy such as this from the grocery store. Instead, you must get out and catch them yourself.
So thank you Fish & Wildlife commissioner Camuso. She and Governor Mills have done a kind and good thing for anxious Mainers. The department has also moved to allow those without fishing licenses to go afield until the end of April, another thoughtful move in this time of worry and strife.
Stay safe and healthy. And if the desire animates you, get out and catch some trout from our countless brooks and streams. Good luck.
An avid writer and naturalist, Tom writes four regular columns and a multitude of features. He wrote a long running award winning column "Waldo County Outdoors" and a garden column for Courier Publications