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PostPosted: December 7th, 2010, 8:14 pm 
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Q: Have fly fished the North Branch of the Dead River from the foot of the Chain of Ponds to Eustis for over 50 years & have wondered if changing it to C & R would have a positive effect. Realize some sections are close to Rt #27 & might be hard to enforce new regulations but would support a change & wonder what the F & G folks think of the idea. Will sign off with the nickname my fellow fly fishermen have given, "Dean of The Dead"

A: Catch-and-release regulations can enhance wild brook trout fisheries in certain situations. MDIFW’s experience, and that of other states’ fisheries agencies, indicates that brook trout respond best to “no-kill” rules in waters that exhibit the following characteristics:

1) Moderate or high levels of productivity and suitable habitat for all life stages of trout, such that the fish exhibit good growth rates and low natural mortality. Productive trout streams are relatively nutrient-rich, have suitable temperature and flow regimes, and support high insect abundance.
2) In the case of ponds, those with low levels of natural reproduction are generally the most suitable for catch-and-release management. Ponds with high population densities often experience stunting when catch-and-release or 1-fish /18” regulations are implemented. MDIFW studies show that ponds with trout densities less than 10 fish/acre are best suited for trophy management using catch-and-release or similar regulations.
3) Lifespan of the fish, which is partly determined by factors listed above, should be long enough to respond to reduced mortality from anglers after catch-and-release is imposed.
4) Heavy fishing pressure and high angling mortality, prior to imposition of catch-and-release, should be the primary factors controlling trout population abundance and size quality. Related to this, the water should have good public access and be highly fishable with flies or artificial lures.
5) The catch-and-release rule, if applied, should have broad public support and there must be good compliance from anglers.

The North Branch of the Dead River does not meet most of these criteria. Like most small rivers in the western Maine mountains, nutrient levels are very low and the growing season for trout is comparatively short. This means trout grow very slowly (three-year old wild trout in the North Branch rarely exceed 7-9 inches long), and natural mortality is likely substantial (trout older than age four are rare). Also, despite good roadside access along much of its course, we have no clear evidence that the North Branch is either fished excessively or that angler harvest is high. Therefore, we would not expect catch-and-release to dramatically improve this fishery.


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PostPosted: December 7th, 2010, 8:28 pm 
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to improve fishing opportunity and increase bang for the hatchery buck, sounds like a great river for delayed harvest rules.....


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PostPosted: December 8th, 2010, 1:46 am 
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[quote="tim_s"]to improve fishing opportunity and increase bang for the hatchery buck, sounds like a great river for delayed harvest rules.....[/quote]

There's really not a lot of stocking done, but perhaps the fishing could be extended it they weren't all wacked shortly after the truck leaves. It's nice to see the question answered, as I posed a similar question to Forrest Bonney several years ago, and he never really answered it.

I don't know what's changed in that river, but my father doesn't seem to be the only one that claims a half century ago it wasn't unusual to catch a 15" fish there. I certainly haven't seen that in the 30 years or so that I've fished it.


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PostPosted: December 8th, 2010, 10:13 am 
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Rory:

You might want to think about whether fish passage may have been compromised between "the good old days" and when the large fish disappeared. With a very few exceptions (West Branch below Rip) most of the river reaches I know that grow large brook trout in Maine allow access to a lake or pond with suitable cold water and forage, and there are seasonal movements of fish between the lake and the river for spawning and feeding.

I don't know anything about the dam(s) around Chain of Ponds, and whether they have (or had in the past) working fishways, but that might be worth looking at.

Another possible change is the fish community in Chain of Ponds. If fish do move back and forth between the river and the lake, a change in the fish community might have changed conditions in the lake for the trout.

I have no local knowledge--just speculating on some factors that might be worth looking at.


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PostPosted: December 8th, 2010, 1:13 pm 
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There is a dam at the outlet of COP that up until recently did not have fish passage- other than for those fish capable of leaping tall buildings when the tailwater was sufficiently high. A fishway was recently built at the COP outlet dam, however I believe the design isn't efficient for passing large bodies fish- particularly with respect to the inlet structure trash rack which regularly clogs with debris. I'm not sure when the dam was built/rebuilt to the existing configuration (prior to the recent fishway installation) but I'm willing to bet it had an effect on the downstream fishery. I'm curious if Rory has any knowledge as to whether the dam configuration (e.g., height, removal of a prior fishway during a reconstruction) was changed between when his father seems to remember larger fish in the system and now?

I agree that fish community shifts may be another factor as well.


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PostPosted: December 8th, 2010, 7:57 pm 
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Interesting speculation on whether the larger fish of yesteryear were lake run. I doubt it, as the sections my father fished were well downstream of Chain of Ponds. Of course, when he first started going there, there was no Flagstaff Lake, and I'm not sure about the Eustis dam. There certainly were some destructive logging practices in the '40s and '50s, and I have to wonder if the sand accumulation so typical along the river isn't partially a result of all that. The biologist's answer in this thread seems to indicate much slower growth than that required to produce any decent numbers of larger fish, so I wonder if growth rates weren't better when the watershed was more pristine, or perhaps they were simply stocking larger fish back then. It's shocking to see how many fish were stocked in "the good old days" in some of the waters that are primarily wild now.


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PostPosted: December 14th, 2010, 4:04 pm 
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could be lack of coldwater refuge from poor culverts, or other degradation to feeder streams....lots of things have probably changed

to my previous point, i should craft a question around delayed harvest - seems like lots of other states use this one a lot more - stocking put & take streams in the fall/spring with no or limited harvest rules that are then liberalized as july & august approach - gets a lot more bang for the hatchery buck; maximizes fishery opportunity while still allowing harvest.....many seem to coordinate gear restrictions with the stricter regs, then liberalize as the bag is increased......pretty interesting idea that i have never seen gain any traction in maine; with the increased attention to reducing cost/maximizing benefits for expenditures AND the increased focus on improving fisheries from a tourist standpoint, once we accept the idea that we do in fact managed some fisheries for put & take opportunity (as much as we may like the idea of habitat & wild fish), it seems like delayed harvest is a good option to consider

i have been told of very good holdovers as a result, too - even in waters that 'don't allow for holdover & growth'

guess in my rambling i just crafted a new 'ask if&w' question....


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PostPosted: March 28th, 2014, 12:27 pm 
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Bass or worse...in Flagstaff?


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PostPosted: April 25th, 2014, 11:15 pm 
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So ...... last fall I ran into an old friend who has a camp at Sarampus Falls. We were fishing some pools that in years past held good numbers of pre-spawn salmon and brookies. He had noted that one particular pool used to hold at least a dozen fresh fish each morning, but for the last several years just one or two. He noted that he has seen this decline since the installation of 5 windmills on the hilltop overlooking said pool. His hypothesis is the windmills are producing vibrations transmitted through the granite into the water which are causing the fish enough disruption to their senses that they won't hold there. Something to ponder. .....

The dam at COP was rebuilt about 10 years ago with no change in height or design, to my knowledge. The "fishway" is pretty much a joke. Too small and as Hunter said, prone to clogging with debris.

If fish do hold over in the chain.... they don't stand much of a chance due to it being the only water up there open to ice fishing. Perhaps stricter regs during the winter are in order? As to the NB Dead not being fished hard..... 12 people in a 1/2 mile stretch of small river.... not hard hit in my book.... sheeyuh....right.

Just my observations. Love to hear more from the bios and others here....


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