April 27, 2015

Volunteers needed for Brook Trout Survey Project

AUGUSTA, Maine ? The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine Audubon (MA), and the Maine Council Trout Unlimited (METU) are seeking volunteer anglers to survey remote ponds and coastal streams for brook trout this fishing season. Information provided by volunteers will be used to identify previously-undocumented wild brook trout populations across the state.

To learn how you can volunteer, please visit http://maineaudubon.org/wildlife-habitat/brook-trout/.

?Identifying the ponds and coastal streams with wild brook trout will greatly assist IFW in planning our conservation and management strategies over the next several decades,? noted IFW fisheries biologist Merry Gallagher.

Maine has hundreds of remote ponds that have never been surveyed by fisheries biologists nor have any record of past stocking. The project?s focus on both remote ponds and coastal streams offers anglers a chance to explore new areas of the state.

?Volunteers should be enthusiastic about fishing for brook trout, be comfortable in remote settings and have a sense of adventure,? noted Jeff Reardon of Trout Unlimited.

Wild brook trout have declined significantly throughout their eastern range, and today Maine is home to 97% of the intact wild brook trout lake and pond habitat in the eastern United States. Brook trout require clean, cold water and habitat connectivity to survive. Wild brook trout are a nationally significant resource and Maine is considered the last stronghold of these fish.

The Maine Brook Trout Survey Project was launched by project partners and anglers in 2011. To date, 252 active volunteers have successfully surveyed 288 remote Maine ponds. Of those waters, 127 ponds were recommended to MDIFW for a formal survey after brook trout were caught or observed. Based on the fact that these ponds had never been formally surveyed by MDIFW and there are no records of any past stocking, these trout are likely previously unknown populations of native or wild brook trout.

Based on the success of the Pond Survey, the project expanded in 2014 to include coastal stream surveys from Kennebunkport to Cobscook Bay. Brook trout that live in coastal streams may spend part of their lives in saltwater and come back to freshwater to spawn. Currently, little is known about the distribution and life history of sea-run brook trout in Maine, so volunteers are needed to help identify watersheds containing this special and elusive fish.

Volunteer anglers are needed to survey 300+ ponds in northern Maine and coastal streams ranging from Kennebunk to Lubec. Surveys can be completed any time before September 30, 2015. The prime time for coastal stream surveys is mid-April through June, while pond fishing can be productive in both the spring and fall. Project partners will provide maps, data sheets and instructions on how to survey ponds and streams.

For more information about the Brook Trout Survey Project, please visit http://maineaudubon.org/wildlife-habitat/brook-trout/.