Piscataquis anglers cautioned to be on lookout for stocked Atlantic salmon smolts

Each year anglers flock to the Piscataquis River to take advantage of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s ambitious fish-stocking efforts near Guilford and Dover-Foxcroft.

Anglers should be aware, however, that the DIF&W is not the only agency stocking fishing fish in the Piscataquis: The Maine Department of Marine Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are teaming up this year to again stock Atlantic salmon smolts in East Dover.

When I caught wind of a similar salmon-stocking effort a year ago, I learned that some anglers were apparently confused, and thought that they were catching (and keeping) the stocked brook trout that they’d become accustomed to catching in the river each spring.

They weren’t.

The DMR message to anglers this year: Be sure that the fish you keep are actually brook trout, and release all Atlantic salmon smolts at once.

Here’s the press release that the DMR sent out on Tuesday:

 The Department of Marine Resources and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have announced the spring 2013 stocking schedule for Atlantic salmon smolts.

Over a half a million (553,000) of the six-inch long smolts produced at the USFWS Green Lake National Fish Hatchery in Ellsworth will be stocked in the Penobscot watershed this year.  Included in that total are 125,000 smolts that will be stocked in the Piscataquis River in East Dover from April 15-17.  Smolt stocking is one of the primary tools biologists use for restoring depleted populations of Atlantic salmon.

Nearly all smolts stocked in Maine will immediately swim downriver to the sea and migrate northward to Atlantic Canada and Greenland where live for one to two years before returning to Maine to spawn.  A few smolts that are not quite ready to migrate may linger near the stocking site for a few weeks.

Anglers are reminded that Atlantic salmon of all life stages in Maine are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act and all landlocked salmon captured in the Penobscot River and its tributaries that are less than 14” or greater than 25” in length must be released alive and unharmed. For more information, anglers are reminded to consult the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife regulation booklet for special exceptions.

For questions or more information contact Maine Department of Marine Resources Biologist Oliver Cox at 941-4487

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John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.