Legislature lets fall fishing get away

Fall fishing opportunities, available throughout southern Maine, will continue to be unavailable in the northern half of the state. My bill to extend fall fishing opportunities by one month was hooked and released yesterday by the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee.

This bill would have expanded the opportunities to fish in the fall by authorizing October fishing in areas where that is now prohibited, with strict catch-and-release rules that match the rules for September fishing in these areas.

The bill drew strong opposition from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and others, including retired DIF&W fisheries biologist Paul Johnson. While Don Kleiner of the Maine Professional Guides Association testified in favor of the bill, most of his testimony was negative, as he expressed concern for the resource. “This will impact our gems,” he said.

Johnson’s testimony included a clever reference to the gospel. “From the Book of Ecclesiastes,” he said, ‘To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.’ I would add to Solomon’s citations that there is a time to fish, and a time to leave fish alone,” said Paul. Yes, even the bible was used against me!

Quite a few years ago, when I was at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, we successfully championed fall fishing in Maine. The Fish and Wildlife Department opposed it, and Paul Johnson even said we’d get fall fishing for wild trout over his dead body. I was delighted to note, after fall fishing was established, that he was still alive! And I have to say that Paul, in his 35 year career at DIF&W, did a wonderful job. It was really good to see him yesterday.

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