Outdoor News

May 2015
Edited by V. Paul Reynolds

May. The sweet of the year.

For the angler who likes to get after lake landlocks early, who loves to feel the bite of the wind on his face as his Grey Ghost Streamer fly trolls smartly through a brisk "salmon chop," the sweet of the year may be late April or early May. The trout angler, on the other hand, who waits patiently to match the hatch with a #14 Parachute Adams, may not taste the sweet of the year 'til late May or early June.

The challenge for all fishermen, of course, is the timing: being there and having a line in the water when the sweet of the year comes calling. This year the sweet of the year is showing all signs of a late arrival. The good news is that, following the big snowmelt, Maine’s sport fishery will benefit from plenty of cool, flowing water and good lake levels. The fish will be happy.

Over the years we have seen that, when it comes to spring in Maine, expect anything.

The sweet of the year may catch you by surprise, so get the spring chores done, and be ready to get after those fish!

Tight lines.

CAPTION FOR PHOTO ABOVE: Retiring Maine game Warden Reggie Hammond (left) receives a retirement gift from Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock.

Club News

If your club or outdoor organization has news or photos that warrant publication in the Northwoods Sporting Journal, send them to: Club News, NWSJ, P.O. Box 195, W. Enfield, ME 04493, or e-mail news to: paul@sportingjournal.com

Maine - Moose Permit Auction Raises Over $122,000

Over $122,000 was raised for youth conservation education scholarships in Maine through the 2015 Maine Moose Permit Auction. Ten hunters bid a total of over $122,000 in an auction for the opportunity to hunt moose in Maine during the 2015 season.

Proceeds from the auction fund partial scholarships that will help send over 600 Maine youngsters to the University of Maine 4-H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond and to Greenland Point Center in Princeton. These camps provide boys and girls ages 8 through 17 the opportunity to participate in a variety of outdoor and classroom activities. Students are taught by experienced instructors and counselors, as well as staff from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and other state and private conservation agencies.

“While the auction winners have the opportunity to partake in the hunt of a lifetime, their winning bids also ensure Maine children have the chance to learn outdoor skills that will give them a lifetime of appreciation of the Maine outdoors,” said Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The auction was created by the Legislature and begin in 1995. It allows the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to publicly auction ten moose permits each year. Applicants submit bids through a written bid process. Permits are awarded to the ten winning bidders each February. The average bid ranges between $11,000-$13,000. Funds from the auction are specifically directed to youth conservation education programs.

Conservation camp programs are designed to teach Maine boys and girls the importance of conservation, a respect for the environment and a working knowledge of a variety of outdoor skills. Subjects taught at camp include wildlife identification, fishing, boating safety, archery, firearms handling, hunter safety, forest conservation, map and compass work and much more.

For more information on Greenland Point Center and the 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Bryant Pond, please visit their websites at www.greenlandpoint.com and www.umaine.edu/bryantpond/

For more information on the Maine Moose Permit Auction or moose hunting in Maine, please visit our website at www.mefishwildlife.com

Maine - Warden Hammond Retires

Reggie Hammond started his career in the Maine Warden Service as a District Game Warden in the

Saco/Biddeford District in 1990. He then transferred to Rangeley in December of 1993, where he spent the rest ofhis career as the District Warden, and, along with his wife Janet, raised their two children, Luke and Allison. Wdn. Hammond’s work ethic and unwavering fight to protect Maine Fish and Game resources led him to the highlight of his career in 2007, when he was named Warden of the Year.

Since a young boy, all he ever wanted to be was a Maine district Game Warden. Wdn. Hammond never forgot that and maintained a high level of passion for the job throughout his career, and kept resource protection a priority.

Maine - Ellsworth Teen Wins Art Contest

A drawing by Kyle Lima of Ellsworth, won the Best of Show in the Maine competition of the 2015 Federal Junior Duck Stamp Design Contest. The judging was held at the University of Maine at Orono on March 27th. Kyle, a student at the Ellsworth High School entered a drawing of a Northern Pintail. His entry was chosen from the 473 received from fifteen schools and groups throughout Maine. The Maine Best of Show artwork will now compete in the national contest in April. His artwork will be included in an exhibit that will tour the United States for the coming year. The contest is organized each year by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It is part of a program that teaches students in grades K-12 about wetlands and waterfowl conservation. It is modeled after the Federal Duck Stamp Contest for adult artists. Students create original artwork showing North American ducks, geese or swans in their natural habitats. First, second, third and honorable mention awards are given out in four age categories.

The Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program was created in 1989. Today more than 30,000 students throughout the United States, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands participate in the Junior Duck Stamp Contest annually. The preparation and participation in the program itself is an educational experience in that the students are required to think about and understand the fundamental principles of anatomy and environmental sciences. It also provides an opportunity for students to express their knowledge of the beauty and diversity of wildlife artistically.

The first place national winning design is used to create the Federal Junior Duck Stamp. The Junior Duck Stamps cost $5 each and proceeds go to support environmental education by providing awards and scholarships for students, teachers, and schools.

Maine - Moosehead Lake Region Fishing Report

We pay close attention to the smelt population in Moosehead Lake. Smelt are the most important forage item for both togue and salmon. Each winter, we take hundreds of stomachs from fish we check on the ice and we examine the contents. Over the past 40 years, we’ve been able to develop an extensive archive of food habits data. It is easy to just say “this fish looks skinny” or “this fish is in good shape” but this cursory approach lends itself to drawing incorrect conclusions based on a few rough observations and impressions. Instead, we measure and record this information from large sample sizes and this allows us to get a good look at what is happening lake-wide over long periods of time.

Smelt are notorious for having up and down years, strong age groups and weak age groups, and when populations crash it can take years to correct. Moosehead Lake could be the poster child for this scenario. We had a serious decline in the early 1990s in our smelt abundance and we are still fighting to get out of that hole. We have made significant strides over the last 7 years by reducing the number of small togue in the lake that were suppressing the smelt population. The smelt responded positively and growth of salmon and togue improved steadily from 2008-2013 after implementing a no size or bag limit on togue less than 18 inches. However, Mother Nature threw us a curve ball in 2013. In most years, the number of young smelt in the stomachs has been around 50-75% of the sample. In 2013, it was just 19%. Despite all the efforts to boost the smelt population, something in the environment caused poor survival for this year class. We documented the decline in the amount of food in togue stomachs and the result was a decline in togue and salmon growth rates.

When we have a poor age group in a fish population, it is like throwing a rock in calm pond. The effects can ripple on, sometimes for years. When this poor age group matures and returns to spawn there may be few adults left to deposit/fertilize eggs, thus creating the likelihood for another weak age class, and so on. This winter we have not seen any older smelt in the stomachs. In fact, 100% of the smelt in the togue stomachs in 2015 have been smelt hatched this past spring. The good news is: The conditions this past spring must have been favorable for smelt survival. The volume of food is still lower than we would like, but growth rates for salmon and togue have shown signs of improvement this winter.

This spring we are planning some new projects on Moosehead Lake that will hopefully shed some light on the smelt year class failures/successes. In most cases, there is nothing we can do to prevent these naturally occurring events. But we can try to react and keep our predator numbers under control to maintain acceptable growth of our gamefish.

Submitted by: Tim Obrey, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Vermont Moose Applications Available

Vermont moose hunting permit applications are now available on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department’s website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com). Printed applications will be available from Vermont license agents in early May.

The 225 regular moose season permits to be issued this year represent a 21 percent decrease from the 285 permits issued last year. Hunters are expected to harvest close to 110 moose during the regular season hunt which starts October 17 and ends October 22.

An additional 40 permits are designated for the October 1-7 archery moose season when hunters are expected to take about 12 moose.

“We recommended a reduction in permits this year based on the biological data we have collected on Vermont’s moose and our calculated population estimates indicating moose densities are below management goals in some areas,” said biologist Cedric Alexander, Vermont’s moose project leader. “It’s the intent of this proposal to allow population growth in most regions while continuing to stabilize moose numbers elsewhere.”

Lottery applications are $10 for residents and $25 for nonresidents. The deadline to apply is June 10. Winners of the permit lottery will purchase resident hunting permits for $100 and nonresident hunting permits for $350. Hunters also will have the option to bid on five moose hunting permits in an auction to be announced later.

Alexander estimates Vermont has 2,400 moose statewide with the greatest concentration in the Northeast Kingdom.

NH Fishing Open

The snow might be hanging on in much of the state, but April 1 is the day New Hampshire anglers have been dreaming about through the long, cold winter -- the start of open-water fishing on the big lakes that the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department manages for landlocked salmon and lake trout.

New Hampshire has had a great winter in terms of snowpack and ice-making. The big lakes are sporting some serious ice, but fear not, the March sun will do its work on the snowpack and opening day will provide areas of open water for the salmon anglers.

It looks like we will experience a late April "ice out" in the central lakes region, with North Country lakes a good week and a half after that. With the deep snowpack, our tributary streams will benefit with increased flows, attracting spawning smelt, the prime forage fish for landlocked salmon. Fall netting (2013) revealed a strong, age-3 year-class of salmon in Sunapee and Winnipesaukee lakes, which will dominate the catch. There will also be some trophy-sized salmon available in Big Squam Lake," said N.H. Fish and Game Large Lakes Biologist Don Miller.

New Hampshire Fish and Game manages 14 lakes for landlocked salmon: Big Dan Hole Pond, First and Second Connecticut Lakes, Conway Lake, Lake Francis, Merrymeeting Lake, Newfound Lake, Ossipee Lake, Big and Little Squam Lakes, Sunapee Lake, Lake Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam Lake. Pleasant Lake in New London also is managed for landlocked salmon, but is classified as a trout pond, with a 2014 opening date of April 26.

Anglers should check out the Winnipesaukee River, which flows through the Weirs channel into Paugus Bay, and through the Lakeport Dam/Lake Opechee area. "Drop-down" salmon (and rainbow trout) are found throughout these river reaches. Other traditional areas include the Winnipesaukee River through Laconia to Dixon Point at Lake Winnisquam, and Lochmere Dam at Silver Lake. There is often a sizable piece of open water in Lake Winnisquam where the river drains into the lake. This water can be easily accessed by the N.H. Fish and Game boat access ramp, just upstream in Laconia.

The Newfound River in Bristol offers great fly-fishing-only water that can often produce drop-down rainbows and salmon. Additionally, several popular Winnipesaukee shore fishing locations exist at the Merrymeeting River (fly-fishing-only, barbless, catch and release), and the mouth of the Merrymeeting River as it enters Alton Bay, downstream of the famous stone arch bridge.

Other good sites to visit include the Long Island Bridge in Moultonborough, Governors Island Bridge in Gilford, Smith River inlet at Wolfeboro Bay, and Meredith and Center Harbor town docks. At these locations, everything from smelt, shiners and worms under a slip bobber to small jigs will take salmon, as well as rainbow trout.

This time of year, salmon are successfully caught by trolling with everything from spoons (such as DB Smelt, Sutton, Mooselook, Top Gun, and Smelt Gun) to traditional streamer flies (for example, Maynard's Marvel, Pumpkinhead, Mickey Finn, Joe's Smelt, and the countless Grey Ghost variations), and an early season favorite, live smelt or shiners. Most early season fish are caught from the surface to about 15 feet down, with everything from planer board set-ups to the simplest of monofilament flat lines 50-150 feet behind the boat. When the wind kicks in, drifting live smelt or shiners in the waves can be highly effective. Only single hooks for bait while trolling are allowed on certain salmon/lake trout lakes, including Squam, Newfound, Sunapee, Winnipesaukee and Winnisquam lakes (See the N.H. Freshwater Fishing Digest for a complete list).

To ensure the future of high-quality landlocked salmon fisheries, anglers must take extra care when releasing salmon, as the percentage of hook-wounded fish continues to be a problem. Hook wounded/scarred fish are significantly shorter and poorer in body condition than non-hook-wounded counterparts of the same age. Using rubber nets and proper release techniques (for example, don't "shake" fish off the hook), and releasing lightly hooked healthy salmon, while choosing to harvest previously hook-wounded fish, are ways to minimize the negative effects of hook wounding, thereby increasing the number of trophy salmon available in the future.

N.H. fishing licenses can be purchased online at http://www.fishnh.com, or from any Fish and Game license agent. Annual resident fishing licenses are $35. Resident one-day licenses are just $10. Annual nonresident fishing licenses are $53. One-, three- and seven-day nonresident licenses are also available.

A Weekend with Carrie Stevens

A Weekend with Carrie Stevens, on June 26-28, 2015, is an opportunity to celebrate Carrie Stevens, and her contributions to the world of fly tying and fly fishing. This will be a chance to see the largest collection of authentic Carrie Stevens streamer flies, tied by her, ever assembled in one place ………the Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum in Rangeley’s village of Oquossoc Maine.

Visitors to the museum will be able to view over 200 Carrie Stevens flies, enjoy fly tying demonstrations by some of the most well respected tiers of Carrie’s streamer patterns, obtain instruction in the Stevens Method and see how her tying technique evolved over her 30 year career. Also on display will be 10 years of correspondence from Carrie to Joseph Bates. It describes how she got into the fly tying business, her favorite patterns, the origination of streamer flies, her mentor Shang Wheeler, and many other insights into this amazing woman who did so much to popularize streamer fly fishing and the Rangeley region.

If you think you may have an authentic Carrie Stevens fly, this will be an opportunity to hopefully have it authenticated by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard. We invite collectors of Carrie Stevens flies to bring their collections of her flies for display during the weekend. This will also be a chance for the public and collectors to swap, buy or sell her original flies. The museum is interested in expanding its collection of different patterns by exchanging duplicates from its collection for patterns it does not currently have.

The weekend begins at 7pm Friday evening at the museum with a gathering of Carrie’s friends and admirers to meet and view a video of the Rangeley Historical Society’s first Carrie Stevens program in 1993 and a video of Archer Poor’s recollections of Carrie.

On Saturday June 27 and Sunday the 28th the museum will display its entire collection of Carrie Stevens flies including many unidentified patterns, examples of her sister Elizabeth Duley’s flies and those tied by Wendall Folkins. Also available for viewing is an exhibit of Austin Hogan’s analysis of Carrie’s work. The Hilyards will be available to sign copies of their book “Carrie Stevens Maker of Rangeley Favorite Trout and Salmon Flies.”

The general public is invited to submit, for exhibition, flies they have tied using Carrie Stevens streamer patterns. Museum visitors will have a chance to vote on their favorites. The winning flies will be exhibited at OSHM for the next season.

A competition for a new pattern “OSHM Special” will also be held during the weekend. All tiers are invited to submit their entries that will be judged by a jury of fly tiers. The winning fly pattern will be available exclusively at OSHM.

If you do not yet own an authentic Carrie Stevens fly there will be a chance win one by purchasing a raffle ticket during the weekend. In addition, arrangements are being made for a party boat tour aboard “The Grey Ghost” with Capt. Kevin Sinnett for a visit to Upper Dam to see the location of Carrie’s Camp Midway and the famous Upper Dam Pool where she caught her 6 pound 13 ounce brook trout. Reservations are requested for the field trip.

Featured Tiers for the Carrie Stevens Weekend are: Don Bastian
Peggy Brenner
Chris Del Plato
Selene Dumaine
Leslie Hilyard
Sam Kenney
Ted Patlen
Peter Simonson

For more information on these weekend events please contact Don Palmer 305 289-5708 or Bill Pierce 207 491-4771 or by email: wapierce1@gmail.com

NH Deer Killed by Winter Feeding

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department today reported that twelve deer were discovered dead in South Hampton, N.H., on March 20, 2015, most likely the victims of well-intentioned, but tragically fatal, supplemental feeding by local residents.

N.H. Fish and Game Biologists and a Conservation Officer had responded to a report of six dead deer in a wooded suburban area in South Hampton. Upon locating the deer, Fish and Game staff searched the surrounding area and found another six deceased deer, bringing the total to twelve. Biologists conducted field necropsies on eight of the animals, which indicated that they had died from complications caused by winter feeding. The deer were found within roughly 300 feet of one another and all exhibited the same symptoms.

Two deer were brought to the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for further analysis. Following a more detailed examination, the UNH Veterinary Diagnostic Lab concluded that evidence in the two deer examined was consistent with death due to enterotoxemia; a condition caused by a rapid change in diet often associated with winter feeding. Results from microscopic analysis are expected to help to further confirm this diagnosis.

This unfortunate incident highlights one of the many reasons New Hampshire Fish and Game urges the public not to feed deer. Because deer are ruminants, they process food differently than other animals. They depend on microorganisms in their rumen (stomach) to aid in digestion. As a deer's diet naturally and gradually changes with the seasons, so do the microorganisms which are required to help digest those foods. This gradual change in microorganisms can take several weeks. A rapid transition from a high fiber diet of natural woody browse to human-provided foods high in carbohydrates can cause a rapid change in stomach chemistry, disrupting the microorganisms present. This can reduce the deer's ability to properly digest food and/or release toxins which are absorbed into the deer's system, and, in severe cases, can cause death. Many of the most common supplemental foods people provide deer with in winter are high in carbohydrates and introduced rapidly and in large quantities, which creates a risk to deer. These conditions have been well documented in wild deer fed supplements throughout their range.

Of the eight deer that were necropsied in the field, all were in relatively good physical condition for the time of year, had no obvious signs of trauma or of having been killed by predators, had some form of supplemental food in their stomach, and had evidence of bloody diarrhea, suggesting they all had died from complications due to feeding. Of those deer that were aged and sexed, two were adult bucks (one estimated at 5½ years old), three were adult does, and five were fawns. Two of the adult does were pregnant, one with twins.

An adult doe found dead in Dover this past February is also believed to have died from supplemental feeding. A field necropsy of that deer indicated the likely cause of death was lactic acidosis, another condition related to feeding. That deer was also pregnant with twins.

"Aside from death directly associated with feeding itself, there are several other negative consequences associated with winter feeding of deer," said Fish and Game Deer Biologist Dan Bergeron. "These can include an increased likelihood of vehicle collisions, over-browsing of local vegetation and ornamental plants, increased risk of predation, and an increased risk of disease transmission, which is why the Department strongly discourages the practice."

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