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 Post subject: post worth repeating.
PostPosted: March 22nd, 2018, 12:30 am 
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Last summer at camp a warden ticketed one of my guests for trolling on a fly fishing only body of water. The fisherman was in an unanchored moving craft. The warden timed the amount of time the fly was in the air, the amount of time the fly sat on the water after the casting motion was finished and before retrieval was initiated, and time spent retrieving the fly by the fisherman. The warden documented a pattern of periods of time during most casts and retrievals that the fly was allowed to remain on the water ,moving along with the moving craft or trolling.
At dusk the warden came walking into the camp yard , confronted the fisherman, and gave him a $100. fine for trolling on a fly fishing only water. The fisherman protested " the boat motor wasn't even running". The warden responded that the breeze that evening was enough to move the craft across the pond at a rate adequate to create a trolling situation.
I do not know how long the fly was allowed to skim across the ponds surface being pulled by the moving craft. I do know the warden documented many casts and drew the conclusion that, from observing the fisherman's casting and retrieving method over a period of time, the warden became convinced fisherman's intent was to troll for at least part of his casting sequence.
There have been threads on this board disputing what wardens consider trolling when it comes to fly fishing only waters and what methods they use to determine this infraction. This is one concrete example.
Some people will now start splitting hairs and this thread will get bombarded by people searching for every little legitimate circumstance that a fisherman may leave his or her fly on the water while their craft is moving. I think it is important to remember two key factors the warden took in to consideration, "pattern of behavior" and "intent".


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PostPosted: March 22nd, 2018, 5:26 am 
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Pattern of behavior” Prove you can be” and intent “Show you are a DICK”

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PostPosted: March 22nd, 2018, 6:24 am 
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Legitimate or not, it feels like someone wAs behind their quota that month.

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PostPosted: March 22nd, 2018, 6:53 am 
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My question would be what criteria are used to define the difference between a slow retrieve from a moving boat and trolling.

Here's the state's definition of "troll" from the fishing rules: Troll: To fish by trailing a line rigged to catch fish behind or in front of a watercraft being propelled by mechanical, wind or manual power (Title 12, §10001-67).

It seems clear to me that if your fly is dragging behind the boat, you are trolling. ( I don't know how a line can trail in front of a boat.)

Perhaps the grayest zone is the "Kennebago troll", in which the angler in a slow moving, powered or rowed boat, casts at 90 degrees from the direction of travel, then strips in a streamer. My belief has always been that it's trolling as soon the fly drops behind the boat. Other people have told me they believe it's not trolling as long as one continues to strip line. I have no idea how the warden service makes that call. A lot of "bank-banging" streamer fishing techniques from a drifting boat on a river raise the same question. Is a boat that is back-rowed to slow the rate of drift "propelled by manual power"?

The safest thing would be to only fish from an anchored boat, but I don't go that far.

More importantly, Hatch, what's the "spring conditions" report from your neck of the woods? Ice out and good roads by April 1? :lol:


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PostPosted: March 22nd, 2018, 9:41 am 
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Location: Norridgewock Maine
Seeing as I plan to do some pond fishing for the first time in a while this summer I will have to remember that. I have been very fortunate to have very positive experiences with the warden service. But my brother had one that really bothered me. Was charged with an unattended trap while ice fishing up north. My brother religiously checked his traps every 20 minutes ( the warden followed their group around for the whole week) He was ticketed for not checking one of his traps and letting it freeze into the ice. The warden told him" you checked your traps the most consistently of anyone in your group but left one in the ice so heres your ticket" it wasn't even my brothers trap. different make and model than his, had been frozen into the ice for a while. went to court. lost. My brother travels the country as a hunter and fisherman and does it right every time, follows the laws and prides himself on it. Whole incident really bothered him.


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PostPosted: March 22nd, 2018, 10:01 am 
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Kennebecster, You said your brother was given a ticket for not checking a trap that wasn't even his. Why didn't your brother have the member of the party who was responsible for the trap come forward and take responsibility? Even if it were a member of another party they couldn't have been that far away. It seems like a little investigative work would have turned up the actual owner. How was your brother associated with the trap in question and not someone else? If it were a trap that had been abandoned and in the ice for a long period of time I think that would have been obvious to all involved. If your brother had his full complement of traps set this orphaned trap would have put him over his limit but he wasn't ticketed for too many traps? Lots of unanswered questions here.


Last edited by hatch on March 22nd, 2018, 10:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: March 22nd, 2018, 10:06 am 
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Jeff Reardon wrote:

More importantly, Hatch, what's the "spring conditions" report from your neck of the woods? Ice out and good roads by April 1? :lol:



Anyone know if the East B Hill Road gate is open? :lol:

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PostPosted: March 23rd, 2018, 8:34 pm 
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Jeff Reardon asked "My question would be what criteria are used to define the difference between slow retrieve from a moving boat and trolling?"

My guess would be the warden would observe the "slow retrieve" for a period of time and interpret what he believes to be the anglers intent. Does it take ten feet of craft movement to complete the "slow retrieval" of the cast or 100 yards of craft movement down the pond to accomplish the task? Is the angler retrieving the fly slowly or is he trying to disguise the fact that he is doing more trolling than retrieving?

I personally don't want to put myself in the position where I am at the mercy of a wardens interpretation of my action. It seems to me an overwhelming majority of sports who choose to fight a wardens interpretation in court end up not having a happy ending.

Perhaps a good rule of thumb is that if you find yourself questioning what a warden might think of your fishing strategy on a FFO pond, you have probably answered your own question. If a fisherman is questioning his own fishing strategy probably a warden will question it also.


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PostPosted: March 24th, 2018, 8:42 am 
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:D


Last edited by gauge on March 24th, 2018, 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: March 24th, 2018, 12:45 pm 
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Gauge wrote "I was once told by a Warden on a lake that if your line is making a wake or drag and no stripping involved I was in violation."

To avoid confusion it is important to clarify that in this thread we are discussing fly fishing tactics used on a body of water designated fly fishing only.

Gauge, the experience you relate is validating to my post. I stated that a warden once told me, concerning FFO bodies of water, "If the motion of your craft, whether being propelled by motor ,oar, paddle or wind, effects the motion of your fly, you are trolling."

In the past we have also discussed craft and, seemingly innocent, fly movement on the water while lighting a cigar, resting for a moment, repositioning ones craft on the pond, picking a black fly out of your eye, or scratching your butt. Here is where common sense, pattern of behavior and intent are involved. Wardens are not stupid. It is their job to observe and interpret the actions of sportsmen/women in the field. They have seen things and heard explanations and excuses from people in violation of the law that would boggle your mind.

If you're going to use the "scratching my butt" excuse while your craft and fly drift up and down the pond all evening you better have a note from your dermatologist. :shock:

This board has members who represent all levels of fly fishing experience. If one person learns something or has a fly fishing rule clarified I think the post is worthwhile.


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PostPosted: March 25th, 2018, 8:43 am 
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I agree it`s a worthwhile post, Hatch, and if you save someone $100, that`s a courteous service.
Is it worth a warden`s time to split these fine hairs? My opinion is no. Should the law be amended to include only motorized and/OR human propulsion? I think so. I don`t know anyone who thinks, "hey, it's a breezy day, let`s do some wind trolling!"
Much of fly fishing has to do with things you can control. We obsess over control issues. How many fly fishermen want to board their craft and troll "any way the wind blows?" Yes, I realize that once you`re trolling you`re no longer fly fishing. More hairs split.
A solution without a problem, IMO.
Lots of quality waters are insufficiently monitored by wardens, and I strongly believe it`s because of rules like this which require time and presence that could better be used to enforce more problematic infractions.

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PostPosted: March 25th, 2018, 10:26 am 
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Some clarity in interpretation would help if this rule is to be (1) effective in preventing trolling on water where that's not legal; (2) making it easy for wardens to penalize the offenders and ignore the innocent; (3) and provide some guidance to those of us who fly fish from unanchored boats so we know how to avoid that $100 ticket.

There are a variety of "standards" that those of us who have had conversations with wardens have heard.
--Ratio of boat movement to cast and/or stripping frequency. (Begs the question of what ratio.)
--Whether the line has dropped behind the boat and is being dragged. (By this standard the Kennebago troll would (mostly) illegal. One could perhaps cast and get 3-4 strips before needing to recast.)
--Whether your fly line makes a wake on the water. (My fly line frequently makes a wake on the water behind my canoe while I am paddling. I am holding the leader or fly in the canoe, and leaving that line trailing for a quick cast when I catch up to that cruising trout that just rose.)

Of course, Hatch is right that wardens hear all kinds of excuses for cases where I bet every one of us in this discussion would agree that "intent" to troll is quite clear. And once the warden service identifies one single standard, they'll be faced with the infinite creativity of those who like to exploit loop holes. (See for example, evolving definitions of "driving deer" and evolving hunting practices in reaction.)

Short of allowing human powered trolling on FFO waters--which I would not favor, at least on smaller ponds--I don't think there is a way to get absolute clarity. As others have mentioned, my experience with wardens has not been that they are looking for the "cheap pinch". I have had one experience--while hunting, not fishing--where I think a young warden in the field were inexperienced and unclear on a rule. We had a polite discussion about it, and an older warden who may have been his training officer told me I was fine. (The issue was whether a duck stamp needs to be attached to your license, or just on your person and signed.)

I'd like a little more clarity, but I generally trust the Warden Service's discretion. Like Maineangler, I hope they use that discretion in both whether to write that ticket, and in how much time they spend with a stop watch watching anglers in drifting boats on FFO water vs. how much they spend on violations that have more impact on the resource. At the end of the day, the guy 10 trout over his limit or dumping his bait pail into an ice hole is a lot more of threat than me scratching my butt on a windy day.

Fortunately, if that ever comes up, I've had psoriasis since I was 15 and carry my doctor's note with me at all times. :D


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PostPosted: March 25th, 2018, 10:35 am 
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Maineangler wrote "Should the law be amended to include only motorized and/or human propulsion. I think so." With this statement you seem to agree that trolling a fly gives the fisherman an advantage over casting and retrieving a fly as is currently required by law on FFO waters. Several people who have joined this thread other times when I have posted it did not agree. To those people all I can say is you are misinformed. Trolling a fly gives the fisherman a tremendous advantage over the customary casting and retrieving. If you don't buy into this fact then I can understand why someone would think not being allowed to troll FFO waters is an unnecessary and wasteful rule.

Maineangler wrote " I don't know anyone who thinks "hey it's a breezey day, Let's do some wind trolling". I have spent the last 40+ years working and observing on the shores of a Maine FFO pond and believe me there are those who think exactly that! Many days I have seen a breeze that propels a craft at the same rate that it could be rowed or paddled. For this reason I feel that dragging a fly behind a moving craft, regardless of how that movement is being caused, should be considered trolling.

Maineangler wrote"Is it worth a wardens time to split these fine hairs". With my belief that trolling creates a major fish catching advantage over casting and retrieving, the rule is far from a "split hair". There are many small FFO ponds in my area , including my pond, that would not be the healthy fisheries that they now are if trolling had been allowed on them for the past 100 years. It's pretty easy to do damage to the fish population on a small pond. In my area there are so many FFO waters it is a large part of the local wardens responsibility in the summer to monitor the activity on these waters. I believe this attention is essential to the health of these fisheries. I can't think of anything more important for them to be doing.

Maineangler it appears we agree on some points and disagree on others. That's fine. I think we both agree on the fact that the laws, as currently written, should be understood and followed.


Last edited by hatch on March 25th, 2018, 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: March 25th, 2018, 11:31 am 
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Jeff Reardon wrote "Some clarity in interpretation (of the FFO rules) would help". I agree, but until there is some clarity we are at the mercy of the wardens interpretation of our actions. For this reason I think it is smart to not break or even bend the rules. Give them nothing they can question. " If the motion of your craft effects the motion of your fly you're trolling" Now how far can a fisherman bend this rule before he crosses the line? I don't want to be at the mercy of a warden to make this decision for me so I'm not even going to bend this rule.

Jeff Reardon wrote "My fly line frequently makes a wake on the water behind my canoe while paddling and I am holding the leader or fly in the canoe". I think this "fly line making a wake" sentence in this thread was written assuming the fly was in the water at the end of the line making the wake. If your fly is in your hook keeper while your craft is moving it is tough to gain a fish catching advantage unless you plan to lasso the trout with your dragging line.

Jeff Reardon wrote " I hope they use that discretion in both whether to write that ticket, and how much time they spend with a stop watch watching anglers in drifting boats on FFO waters vs. how much time they spend on violations that have more impact on the resource."

As I have stated previously, due to the fish catching advantage trolling has over casting and retrieving, it is my opinion trolling on a ffo water has a significant impact on that resource and deserves all the attention it can get.

Jeff, You mention the use of the "Kennebago troll" on ffo waters and wonder what a wardens interpretation of this fishing strategy might be. Perhaps the use of the word "troll" in the title might be a hint. :shock:


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PostPosted: March 25th, 2018, 11:54 am 
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As a guy that seldom fishes ponds......not to mention ffo ponds......I find this discussion fascinating.

It seems.......from a guy that has (essentially) no dog in this fight......that the only way to make absolutely certain to not get ticketed by a warden for “trolling” (rolling eyes here) is to have not one......but two anchors on your boat, canoe, or float tube.

I believe I even remember reading on last years thread on this topic that a warden can ticket an angler for “ trolling” ( Hint: come freaking on now) if you’re anchored by only one anchor.....and the wind causes the boat to swing around while your fly is in the water. If that ever happened to me you can get your sweet a## that I’d fight that ticket as far as I could. Any Warden that would ever give an angler a ticket for that would be a jerk......pure and simple.

I truly think that 99+% of us know “trolling” when we see it, and when we don’t.

Dave M

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