Outdoor News

November 2014
Edited by V. Paul Reynolds

November.Dwindling daylight, frosty mornings, acorns bouncing on the camp's tin roof, clear vistas across the hard wood ridges. It doesn't get any better than this. Rifle season for deer is upon us. Thousands of hunters from Maine and away will take to the woods in search of their prize - a whitetailed deer.

Our senses, overloaded as November approaches, tell us that this is the time to fill the freezer and prepare for winter. Though the law book dictates when we can hunt, without it we would still know. Following the path laid before us, we will continue the tradition, providing food for our families and solace for our souls.

CAPTION FOR PHOTO ABOVE: 2014 Maine Warden Service Graduates (Article Below)

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 - Fall Hunting Season Dates

Bow Season:
(1) Expanded Archery Season for deer: Sept. 6- Dec. 13 (In designated zones only). Special license required
(2) Regular archery season for deer: Oct. 2-Oct. 31( Bow license required).

Firearms for deer:
(1) Nov. 3-Nov. 29
(2) Maine residents only day: Nov. 1
(3) Statewide muzzleloader season: Dec.1-Dec. 6
(4) Extended muzzleloader season: Dec. 8- Dec. 13 in WMDs 12,13,15,16,17,18,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,,29

Moose Season:
(1) WMDs (Wildlife Management Districts) 1-6,11,19: Sept. 22- Sept. 27
(2) WMDs 1-14, 17-19 27,28, Oct. 13-Oct. 18
(3) WMDs 1-5,7,8, 19 Nov. 3 -- Nov. 8
(4) WMDs 15,16,22, 23,25,26 Nov. 3- Nov. 29
(5) Maine Residents Only Day WMDS 15,16,22,23,25,26 Nov. 1

Bear: General Season: Aug. 26-Nov. 30.

Grouse: Oct. 1-Dec. 31.

Woodcock: Oct. 1-Nov. 14 (Daily limit 3; possession limit 6).

Ducks: North, Sept. 29 -Dec.6; South, Oct. 1- Oct. 18; Coastal Zone, Oct. 1- Oct. 18. (Complete breakdowns of the goose and sea duck seasons are available at www.mefishwildlife. com).

Sea Ducks: Oct. 1- Jan. 31.

Goose: North, Oct. 1- Dec. 9; South, Oct. 1- Oct. 18; Coastal, Oct. 1- Oct. 18.

Early Goose: Sept. 1- Sept. 25.

Fall Wild Turkey: Oct. 2- Oct. 31
The following Wildlife Management Districts are open during the fall wild turkey hunting season with a two (2) of either sex, wild turkey bag limit: WMD's 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 28.
The following Wildlife Management Districts are open during the fall wild turkey hunting season with a one (1) of either sex, wild turkey bag limit: WMD's 12, 13, 18, 26, and 29.
The following Wildlife Management Districts are closed during the fall wild turkey hunting season: WMD's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 19, and 27.

As October nears, upland bird hunters start asking each other, "How does it look for birds this fall?" I put the question to Maine's upland bird biologist Brad Allen, himself an avid gundog man in his free time. Here's how Brad sees the bird season shaping up, grousewise.

"Observations from IFW colleagues indicate that partridge wintered well, particularly in central and southern Maine but perhaps not so well north of Moosehead Lake. Spring drumming surveys were initiated in central Maine this year and males were heard drumming along each route. Basically we haven’t been doing this long enough to know what average is. One bright spot was that grouse hatching and brood rearing conditions during the month of June were nearly ideal and production may be above average. Northern Maine grouse numbers have been rated “very good” the last three years but now are likely in a natural decline. Biologists with boots on the ground have not reported an abundant number of grouse broods and chicks so far this year. 2013 Prediction: Good up north in the big woods but fair in the rest of the state. Result: As predicted. 2014 Prediction: Average statewide but improved in eastern Maine."

Maine - IFW Fishing Report

Region A – Sebago Lakes Region In southern Maine, there is no shortage of late season fishing opportunities. It used to be if you wanted to fish late in the season, you would fish the tidewater areas of the Mousam and the Ogunquit, but now anglers have a variety of choices.

“We have made a concerted effort to identify and target fall fishing waters,” said IFW Fisheries Biologist Francis Brautigam, “for over three years, we have been stocking the Upper Mousam below the outlet of Mousam Lake, the Lower Royal below the dams in Yarmouth, and expanded opportunities on the Presumpscot for the entire year, not just the upper area. And all these rivers have very good access.”

Many of these waters receive stocked trout not in only in the spring, but a fall stocking as well. Waters that see a higher number of anglers are stocked periodically through the fall right into December.

“With the Mousam, Royal, and Presumpscot, we pretty much have covered the region,” said Brautigam.

Biologists have been busy working with dam owners on the Presumpscot to improve access and fishing. Through the dam relicensing procedure, there are now minimum river flows and improved parking and access.

“At Mallison and Dundee, there are now footbridges that get you to the bypass channel which you couldn’t get to before,” said Brautigam.

If you want to fish area lakes and ponds, you may want to wait until early October. The department is now stocking larger fish in the fall, which seem to survive better in lakes with bass and pickerel.

Anglers who like to fish for landlocked salmon ought to look for areas with current. On Thompson Lake, the set of culverts near the heath is always a popular option. Shore angles may want to try Crystal Lake for rainbows off the town beach.

Whenever fishing, anglers are reminded to check their law book for regulations. Come October 1, many of these stocked waters are restricted to artificial lures only, and all trout and salmon must be released at once.

Region B – Central and Midcoast Area

Anglers who want to spend a productive day fishing ought to try a canoe trip down the Sebasticook River.

“The Sebasticook has been superb. Anglers are catching multiple bass in excess of 20 inches,” said IFW fisheries biologist Jason Seiders, who added the Burnham section has been excellent. “Surface lures work well, as well as anything that imitates a juvenile alewife.”

Further north on the Kennebec River, catches continue to be outstanding. Anglers are having a lot of success in the Bingham section, particularly bouncing nymphs off the bottom throughout the day.

A little lower on the Kennebec, there’s still browns to be caught in the Shawmut area, and the stocking truck will be delivering more brown trout to the Shawmut reach soon, once water temps cool.

Region C -- Downeast

Anglers are still boating a good number of togue and salmon in the region, as the water is still stratified with a defined thermocline in many of the region’s lakes.

“There’s still some very good fishing to be had,” says IFW fisheries biologist Greg Burr. “It’s a beautiful time of year to be out on the water. Temperatures are getting cooler and there’s not as much boating activity.”

Along with salmon and togue, some anglers are still catching a good number of white perch. Anglers can find them in deeper water, schooled up. With surface water temps still in the low 70s, bass anglers are still recording good numbers of catches.

Of course if it’s fall salmon fishing you are thinking, most anglers think of Grand Lake Stream. As the water temps begin to cool down, salmon start moving into the river, setting the stage for some fantastic fly fishing.

“October can be fantastic in this region, I highly recommend getting out and fishing this time of year,” said Burr.

Region D – Rangeley Lakes

There is a myriad of fall fishing opportunities in the Rangeley region, particularly if you enjoy fishing in rivers. The Kennebago, Magalloway, and the Rapid are all very well known for their fall trout and salmon fishing.

“The cold mornings are cooling down the rivers, and fish are starting to move around, thinking about spawning,” said IFW Fisheries Biologist Dave Howatt. “It’s a great time to be on these rivers.”

And if you don’t feel like wading, don’t forget about the lakes and ponds.

“Lake fishing often gets overlooked this time of year, but lakes and ponds can be very good. Fish are starting to stage in front of the rivers, and you can find quite a few in the deeper pockets close to the rivers,” said Howatt, who added this time of year, you are likely to only see a few boats instead of the dozens you might encounter early in the year.

While many waters will shut down on October 1, there still are waters open to fishing such as Beal, Little Jim and Quimby Ponds, all which have good access. Remember to check your law book before venturing out, as many regulations change after October 1.

Region E – Moosehead Region

In the Moosehead Lake Region, it’s prime time for fishing.

“They just dropped the flow at the East Outlet this week after a week of high flows, so that should draw plenty of salmon into the river,” said IFW fisheries biologist Tim Obrey. “This is one of our best river fisheries in the spring and fall, and now is a good time to try it.”

On the other side of the lake, the gates on the Roach River are open and it is flowing at 200 cfs, which is normal for this time of year, with another bump in flows expected September 15. How big a bump depends on how much water is in First Roach. Look for brook trout to head into the river first, followed by a charge of salmon. Next week should be fantastic.

If you are looking for a bit of an adventure, head out to the West Branch of the Penobscot below Seboomook. Currently, flows are running around 750 cfs which is a good flow to fish the area know as the “Foxhole.” Chesuncook salmon travel to this section of the river in September.

“It is a unique fishing experience. Many anglers will canoe down the river several miles and stay in the maintained campsites,” said Obrey. “There’s nothing like waking up on the fog covered Penobscot River and slipping your canoe out into a salmon pool before breakfast. If you enjoy fly-fishing for salmon, you need to make this trip.”

Region F – Penobscot Region

If you are looking for a place to go brook trout fishing, now is a great time to be in the Penobscot/Katahdin region.

“Most of our better brook trout waters are in Baxter Park. A lot of those are wild populations like Sourdnahunk, Katahdin, Daicy and Lower Fowler,” said IFW fisheries biologist Nels Kramer. “Most of the ponds are fly fishing only, no live fish as bait, and the season ends on September 30. There are some significant large fish in these ponds.”

If you are looking for some late season fishing, try Abol, Billfish, Celia, Draper or Rocky Pond (T2R9). Outside the park, you should try Island Pond, Wapiti, Davis and Lunksoos which have an extended fall season.

If you’d rather fish the rivers, the East Branch of the Penobscot offers some great opportunities in the fall. There are wild brook trout and landlocks. The Mattawamkeag also offers some excellent fishing this time of year.

Of course, there really is no bad time for fish for smallmouth bass in the Penobscot, and late season, Lower Togue Pond in T2R9 offers excellent opportunities for splake. As always, check your lawbook before heading out on the water.

Region G – Aroostook Region

Cold weather has already hit much of the Aroostook region, with frost covering some fields earlier this week.

“Right now, the rivers and streams are at pretty low flows,” said IFW fisheries biologist Frank Frost. “As the fall rains start, fishing should pick up.”

This time of year, the uppper and lower sections of the Aroostook are productive, and the Fish River downstream of Eagle Lake is a popular spot for salmon. The rehabilitated portion of the Meduxnekeag River, where river habitat was improved, should also provide anglers with some great opportunities.

There are also several areas where the department stocks trout, check the law book for waters with extended fall fishing seasons into October and November, and those areas are likely stocked with trout in the fall. Waters to try should include Arnold Brook Lake in Presque Isle, Drews Lake in New Limerick, and Nickerson Lake

Maine - Moose Season

On Monday, September 22, over a thousand moose hunters will enter the woods, embarking on what many call the hunt of a lifetime.

While Monday marks the first day of moose season in northern and eastern Maine, the moose season is divided into four segments and continues throughout the fall during the weeks of October 13-18, November 3-8 and November 3-29 in southern Maine. In all, 3,095 permits were issued to hunt moose in Maine this year.

Regulated hunting seasons is how the department controls Maine’s moose population, estimated at approximately 65,000 to 70,000 animals. Maine's moose population is a valued resource, due to the high demands for both viewing and hunting.

The number of permits issued for each moose hunting district varies depending on moose population density in the district and publicly derived populations objectives, such as managing for recreational opportunity (hunting and viewing), road safety (reducing moose-vehicle collisions) or a combination of both.

"By adjusting the number and type of permits available to hunters, we can control the moose harvest and manage population growth," said Lee Kantar, IFW’s moose biologist. “In the northern part of the state, the goal is to reduce the moose population, and in other areas, stabilize or increase the population.”

Last year, with over 4,000 permits issued, 2,971 moose hunters were successful, translating to nearly three out of every four moose hunters getting a moose. The 72 percent success rate is in stark contrast to bear or deer hunting, where success rates range historically from 18 to 25 percent. Moose hunting in Maine continues to be extremely popular, with over 53,577 hunters applying to the moose lottery for a chance to hunt moose.

This year, the number of moose permits issued to hunters was decreased. The department issued 3,095 permits statewide, down from the 4,110 that were available last year.

“Based upon our research, we felt this was necessary,” said Kantar. “Decreasing the amount of permits will help lessen the impact of winter tick on the state’s moose population.”

In particular, the department decreased the number of antlerless only or cow permits that are available to hunters. Antlerless-only permits were decreased in wildlife management Districts 1-5, 7-9 and 12-13. This is the northern and northwestern part of Maine, including the northern portions of Oxford, Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis, Penobscot and Aroostook Counties.

Winter ticks have been documented in Maine since the 1930s. Periodically, there are peak years when the number of ticks increased substantially, and last year was a peak year. The number of moose permits were reduced to offset the impact of the high tick year.

All successful moose hunters are required to register their moose at an area tagging station. At these stations, IFW wildlife biologists collect data that provides insight into moose population health.

Biologists will measure antler beam width and diameter. A tooth is removed in order to determine the age of the moose. Ticks are counted on four different areas of the moose to compare numbers to years past. In later weeks, moose hunters who shoot a female moose are required to bring the ovaries, which are examined to determine reproductive success.

This biological data is combined with data from the ongoing moose radiocollar study, as well as the aerial moose population and composition surveys to give biologists a clearer picture of the health and status of Maine’s moose herd.

Maine - Reward for Missing Hiker

September 24, 2014: The family of missing Appalachian Trail hiker Geraldine “Gerry” Largay announced recently that it has increased its reward for locating her to $25,000, up from $15,000.

Largay, who goes by the trail name “Inchworm,” was last seen on the early morning of July 22, 2013, at Poplar Lean-to in Maine after spending the night with other hikers. She was planning on hiking that day to Spaulding Lean-to approximately 8 miles to the north, but never arrived there. The next day, July 23, she had planned to continue hiking north from Spaulding Lean-to, which is located in Mount Abram Township, to meet her husband, who was waiting for her at the Route 27 crossing. The AT crosses Route 27 in Wyman Township, which is located between the towns of Carrabasset and Stratton.

As recently as Sept. 14, 2014, Maine game wardens and searchers from the Maine Association of Search and Rescue (MASAR) returned to Redington TWP in Franklin County to continue the search for Largay, of Brentwood, Tenn. These most recent search efforts concentrated on areas east of Oberton Stream and west of Mount Abram Trail that had not had documented ground search efforts prior. Searchers are equipped with GPS trackers after receiving assignments, and wardens are then able to document where searching has occurred. This assists wardens greatly in tracking search efforts and aids in determining future search strategies.

This was one of several searches that took place this summer for Largay and was not prompted by any particular piece of information. Maine game wardens are continuing to search possible areas where Largay may be located that have not previously had ground search resources. There have been no clues found that can be attributed to Largay in any of the searches that have taken place.

The Largay family has expressed gratitude to all the searchers and investigators who have taken the time to help find Gerry. The family is still in contact with Maine Warden Service investigators and is updated routinely about searches and any investigative leads regarding her disappearance.

The family decided this week to increase the $15,000 reward amount to $25,000. The reward will be for anyone who can provide information to investigators that locates Geraldine Largay.

Anyone who has any information that can lead to the location of Largay or has information about other hikers or persons in the area of Poplar Lean-to or the Oberton Stream area on the Appalachian Trail last year on July 22, 2013, is asked to please share the information with the Maine Warden Service by calling (207) 624-7076.

Vermont - Fishing Opportunities

Despite dropping temperatures and shorter days, the fall season brings out some of the year’s hottest fishing action on lakes, ponds, rivers and streams throughout Vermont and the state’s Fish & Wildlife Department is urging anglers to take advantage of these prime angling opportunities.

“As water temperatures cool off, many different fish species begin to feed heavily,” said Shawn Good, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “From warm water species such as largemouth and smallmouth bass, northern pike, perch, and walleye, to cold water species like trout and salmon, fish feeding activity really picks up across the board and creates exceptional fishing conditions for anglers.”

While the hot temperatures of summer can sometimes make fishing slow, the autumn months represent a transition time where fish generally become more active and easier to catch. This increase in feeding activity can be attributed to fish boosting their reserves of essential nutrients in order to sustain themselves during the winter when their metabolism slows and they feed less.

Fishing pressure on Vermont waters also decreases significantly as the seasons change, so there is less competition from other anglers.

“Fall is one of the absolute best times to be on the water in Vermont – regardless of what species you want to target or where you want to fish,” said Good. “Some of the best days I’ve ever had on the water have come late in the fall when many other anglers have already put their rods away for the winter. It’s an amazing time of year to be on the water, and you’ll likely have your favorite fishing holes all to yourself.”

One enhanced fall angling opportunity is bass fishing, whether it be on world-renowned Lake Champlain, the diverse Connecticut River or one of Vermont’s many smaller lakes and ponds.

Professional tournament angler Dave Wolak of North Carolina, who has numerous victories and top finishes in Bassmaster and FLW Outdoors competitions on Lake Champlain, relishes fall bass fishing in Vermont.

"The fall makes the great bass fisheries of Vermont even greater,” said Wolak. “Not only do cooling air temperatures make for comfortable fishing weather and less boat traffic for fishermen, but the bass also know to take advantage of cooling water temperatures by feeding shallow in preparation for winter. More and bigger bass in shallow usually means more bass action on the water.”

“I've been coming to Vermont in the fall for decades and have always enjoyed the fall bass fishing because Vermont is one of those unique states in which the bass fisheries possess near equally abundant smallmouth and largemouth populations,” said Wolak. “You can always bounce between different fishing strategies for the two bass species during other seasons, but I've found these healthy bass populations mix together more often in the fall when temperatures cool. This effect makes fall bass fishing in Vermont even more fun."

Other hot fall fishing action typically includes walleye fishing on the Connecticut River, landlocked salmon fishing on the Clyde River, and trout and salmon fishing on Lake Champlain, among various other opportunities.

One of the great things about late fall fishing is that there’s no need to get an early start. Hitting the water at 6 or 7 a.m. for the early-morning bite isn’t necessary.

“Sleep in and wait until the sun’s well up and the surface water temperature has inched upwards a few degrees,” said Good. “With water temperatures hovering in the 40s and low 50s, fish like bass and pike need a couple of extra hours to warm up and begin to feed. You can be on the water by 10 a.m. and off by 3 p.m. These are short days, but possibly some of the most productive of the year.”

To purchase a Vermont fishing license or to find out more about fishing opportunities in Vermont, visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

Maine - Bear Biologists Discuss Strategies

Burgeoning black bear populations throughout the northeast were among the major topics discussed at the annual Northeast Black Bear Technical Committee meeting in Virginia. Maine bear biologists Randy Cross and Jennifer Vashon joined bear biologists from 16 states and six Canadian provinces for the annual conference, which was held August 27 and 28 in Front Royal, Virginia.

“Nearly all the northeast states are increasing hunting opportunities to try and control black bear numbers,” said Vashon. “New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia all recently increased the length of their black bear hunting seasons. Connecticut is considering enacting a bear hunt, and Maryland has been increasing the number of bear permits available.”

The two-day meeting focused on issues surrounding bear managers in the northeast. Among the topics discussed over the two days included reports from subcommittees:

• Bear population management strategies, including population estimates, modeling techniques and harvest strategies. • Effectiveness of focused hunting in in urban and suburban areas to reduce conflicts between bears and people. • Developing a standard message for how to react in a bear-human encounter. • Standardized protocols for responding to bear attacks and the recent bear attack training received by the Southeast Black Bear Technical Committee. • Summarizing data on care and rehabilitation of orphaned cubs. • Ongoing predator prey/prey research about black bear and deer.

“The first day involves status reports from each state and province, where bear managers highlight what is happening in their state, and then we hear from our working groups that are tasked with researching certain topics,” said Cross. Vashon noted that one of the more interesting topics for the working groups was the discussion concerning aversive conditioning of nuisance black bears, where bears are hazed or harassed in hopes that nuisance bear behavior won’t be repeated. “What the group found was that there was no silver bullet or one tool that was effective, and that aversive conditioning is an effective short-term solution, especially when addressing an immediate public safety issue or when property damage is severe,” said Vashon. That was the result of studies in three different states where biologists radio-collared nuisance bears and subjected them to aversive conditioning after a nuisance bear complaint.

“Dealing with increasing nuisance conflicts is a priority for most eastern states,” said Vashon. “The committee is currently evaluating if increasing hunting opportunity around urban areas can alleviate conflicts. Initial findings indicate that increased hunting around urban areas is effective at removing bears that cause problems in backyards.”

One part that is particularly helpful to bear managers is feedback from the committee.

“These people know their subject and can give you feedback. It helps improve your program based upon the shared knowledge within the committee,” said Vashon.

The Northeast Black Bear Technical Committee first met in Maine in 2002 and has met every year since then. Vashon, Maine’s lead bear biologist, was the chair of the committee from 2007-2010. As chair, Vashon was instrumental in bringing the Eastern Black Bear Workshop to Maine in 2013.

Maine - Warden Service Graduates (Pictured Above)

On August 22, the Maine Warden Service graduated seven new game wardens at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro. The new wardens recently completed an extensive 12-week advanced academy specifically for Maine’s game wardens. The Advanced Warden Academy followed the 18-week Basic Law Enforcement Training Program (BLETP) required of all full-time Maine police officers. The past 12 weeks prepared the new wardens by utilizing classroom and scenario based training components.

Critical aspects of game warden work to include search and rescue, recreational vehicle crash investigation, water survival, physical fitness, public relations, and bureau policies and procedures are among the many topics of training covered. Speaking before today’s class was Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock, Warden Service Colonel Joel Wilkinson, Chaplain Kate Braestrup, Warden Service Captain Shon Theriault, class speaker Game Warden Kyle Hladik, and guest speaker retired Game Warden Lieutenant Doug Tibbetts.

Today’s graduates from left to right: (District assignment)

(Attached photo courtesy of the Maine Warden Service - Mark Latti photo)

Game Warden Chad Robertson (Skowhegan)
Game Warden Kyle Hladik (Chamberlain)
Game Warden Joshua Beal (Houlton)
Game Warden Cody Lounder (Biddeford)
Game Warden Joseph Bailey (Passadumkeag)
Game Warden Joshua Polland (Jackman)
Game Warden Pilot Jeffrey Beach (southern Maine)

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