Maine’s Kennebec River Protected from Bait Fishing

Capt. Dave Pecci an Orvis-Endorsed Guide and member of the ASMFC Striped Bass Advisory Panel and the Maine Marine Resources Advisory Council, sent along this news.

The Maine Dept. of Marine Resources rejects effort to open the Kennebec River to bait fishing for striped bass during May and June.

In a fact-finding document released Friday, April 21st, Maine DMR stated: The proposed regulation is not consistent with the previous conservation efforts adopted by DMR to address the decline of striped bass.” 23 pages of public comments showed that a majority of anglers opposed the change that would allow bait fishing with circle hooks and a sizable boundary reduction. The effort to liberalize the existing regulation was initiated by a group of charter boat operators in Boothbay Harbor and The Recreational Fishing Alliance. Proponents stated that circle hooks have a very low catch and release mortality when compared to J hooks and it was discriminatory to exclude that particular gear type from the regulations. DMR responded by stating: “Increased fishing effort on native and migratory striped bass population will occur if the proposed rule changes are adopted. This increased effort would be the result of participation in the fishery by individuals fishing from shore, boats, guides operating in formerly closed portions of the spawning area and latent effort that would become active once the rule changes occurred.”

The Kennebec has the coast’s most northern native reproducing population of Atlantic striped bass. The special Kennebec regulations limit angling to catch and release with flies and artificial lures during the months of May and June to protect spawning fish.

Many anglers would like to see the native Kennebec striper stocks bolstered. The Dept. of Marine Resources has developed a research plan as the first step in such an effort however, research funding is nonexistent. Ironically there could be private funding available for a restoration program if the supporting research could be done.

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