Maine Brook Trout Pond Survey

I thought I would do my part to help the Maine Brook Trout Project by posting this monthly report.

Brook Trout Pond Survey Enters 3rd Year – Written by Emily Bastian (Maine Audubon), Merry Gallagher (Inland Fisheries and Wildlife) and Jeff Reardon (Trout Unlimited).
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (IFW), Maine Audubon (MA) and Trout Unlimited (TU) are again seeking volunteer anglers to survey remote ponds in Maine for brook trout. This will be the third year anglers can help state biologists gather data on ponds in northern, western, and eastern Maine potentially inhabited by wild brook trout.
“The success of this project is entirely dependent on the data collected by volunteer anglers,” said Jeff Reardon of Trout Unlimited. The project’s focus on remote ponds offers anglers a chance to explore new places while advancing trout conservation efforts. None of these ponds have been formally surveyed by fisheries biologists, and there are no records of past stocking, so any brook trout found in them are presumably native, wild fish. The information collected by volunteer anglers will be used to inform future fisheries management decisions.
“The goal of the Brook Trout Pond Survey is to recruit volunteers to identify previously undocumented
wild brook trout populations in remote Maine ponds. Maine brook trout are a special resource, and we need to know where they are before we can protect and manage them appropriately,” said Merry Gallagher of IFW.
2011 and 2012 SURVEY RESULTS
During the 2011 and 2012 seasons, 147 anglers contributed more than 3,000 hours of volunteer time to the project.
Volunteers came from all corners of Maine, and also New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont. “Dedicated volunteers included avid fly fishermen, spin and bait anglers (where permitted), fly tiers, and recreational kayakers who enjoy wetting a line from time to time. It’s also been really exciting to see families and young people getting involved in this project. Most importantly, everyone who has participated in this project is passionate about protecting Maine’s wild and native brook trout, a significant ecological and economic resource for the state,” said Emily Bastian, a Maine Audubon employee who serves as Volunteer Coordinator for the project.
Volunteers have surveyed 161 ponds out of more than 400 identified by MDIFW. Volunteers confirmed brook trout presence—by catching them–in 35 of the surveyed ponds. Another 45 ponds are suspected of containing brook trout based on observations made by volunteers who did not catch trout. In 2012, a two-man net survey crew contracted by DIFW, with funding from TU and MA, completed follow-up surveys in 33 ponds. Brook trout were confirmed present in 24 of them and MDIFW will make appropriate management recommendations.
PLANS FOR 2013
More than 300 ponds remain available for survey. Project Coordinator Emily Bastian is eagerly seeking volunteers for these ponds—many of them in remote parts of the state. “Enthusiasm is running high for the project this year,” says Bastian. The project’s ultimate success for 2013 will depend on renewed participation from past volunteers and also the recruitment of new volunteers. “This is a very exciting way for people who are passionate about wild trout conservation to be part of something very special. This is our chance to make a signifi cant contribution to the conservation of native brook trout.”
Volunteers should be enthusiastic about fi shing for brook trout, be comfortable in remote settings, and have a sense of adventure. Surveys can be completed any time before September 30, 2013. Additional information, maps, data sheets, and instructions on how to survey each pond are available at the project website: www.tumaine.org/brooktrout.htm. To sign up to volunteer, contact Emily Bastian at (207) 781-6180 x207 or ebastian@maineaudubon.org

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