Outdoor News

May 2018
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.

At press time, spring is looking elusive. But 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.

The Fisheries Division of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was recognized nationally today for their work in restoring Arctic charr to Big Reed Pond. From left to right, Peter Bourque (retired MDIFW fisheries director), Gary Picard (Mountain Springs Trout Farm), Joe Larscheid (American Fisheries Society), Frank Frost (MDIFW fisheries biologist), Tom Abello (The Nature Conservancy), Joe Overlock (MDIFW fishery management supervisor) and Francis Brautigam (MDIFW fisheries director) attended the award ceremony.

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: info@sportingjournal.com

Maine Game Wardens Honored

The Maine Warden Service celebrated its 138th Anniversary this spring at the Winslow VFW. Included in the celebration was the annual awards banquet that gives special recognition to game wardens for their performance in 2017 and includes the recipient of the Maine Game Warden of the Year Award. Also highlighted are those who assist the Maine Warden Service during the course of their mission, the Legendary Game Warden of the Year, Game Warden Supervisor of the Year, and the Colonel's Award.

The following were recipients of this year's annual awards.

2017 Maine Game Warden of the Year:

Game Warden Eric Blanchard (Wells)

Game Warden Eric Blanchard began his game warden career in 1999 and has consistently demonstrated an ability to balance specialty team assignments, unusually high calls for service to the public while successfully enforcing hunting, fishing, trapping, recreational vehicle laws, engaging in search and rescue operations, training as well as public speaking and educational events.

Game Warden Eric Blanchard balances his career with strong family values and lives with his wife, daughter and bird hunting dog at their home in Wells. This balance and focus can only be accomplished by a person who is extremely organized and continuously strives for excellence. For these reasons, Game Warden Eric Blanchard was awarded the 2017 Game Warden of the Year.

2017 Supervisor of the Year:

Sergeant Jason Luce (Sebago)

Warden Sergeant Jason Luce began his career as a game warden in 1999 and has distinguished himself as a supervisor, as a warden and as a friend. His desire to move the agency in the right direction along with his strong attributes of professionalism, job knowledge and leadership certainly make Sergeant Jason Luce deserving of recognition as Supervisor of the Year.

2017 Legendary Game Warden Award:

Retired (1956-1985) Game Warden Supervisor John Crabtree (Warren)

Retired Lt. John Crabtree began his career with the Maine Warden Service in 1956 starting out as a deputy game warden. In June of 1963 John became employed full time to the Warden Service. John Crabtree was promoted to inspector, now called sergeant, in 1970. In 1976 John Crabtree left Aroostook County to work out of Augusta. In 1981 Crabtree was promoted to Division B (Sidney) Lieutenant. Lt. Crabtree retired in 1985 after being credited with 25 years of service.

In 1987 Crabtree was selected to serve on the Commissioner’s Advisory Council. He termed out after serving two 2-year terms. Crabtree was appointed to the Commissioner’s Advisory Board for the Licensing of Guides in 2003 and is still a member of the board, and an examiner. Crabtree is on the board of directors of the newly created Maine Warden Service Foundation.

At age 82, John is truly a remarkable individual. His zeal and continued service to the Department and State remain unabated. It is a great pleasure that we award Retired Game Warden Lieutenant John Crabtree the 2018 Legendary Game Warden Award.

2017 K9 Search and Rescue of the Year Award:

Game Warden Kevin Pelkey & K9 Badger (Corinth) - K9 Badger/Posthumously 2010-2018

Recognized for a July 24, 2017 search for saving the life of a missing 14-year-old boy in T6 R13, west of Chamberlain Lake and the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. Sadly, K9 Badger died this year on February 1 at the age of seven from illness.

Game Warden Dave Chabot & K9 Ruby (Greene)

Recognized for their evidence search efforts regarding a case in the town of Paris On November 8, 2017. Corporal Chabot and K9 Ruby located critical evidence at the scene of a shooting too close to a dwelling incident that involved an elderly assisted-living apartment building. Charges were filed to the responsible party because of their evidence detection.

2017 Meritorious Service Award:

Game Warden Alan Dudley (Easton)

Recognized for risking his own life by jumping into the icy spring waters of the Aroostook River to attempt to save the life of a young boy on June 10, 2017.

2017 Exemplary Service Awards:

Game Warden Tony Gray (Oxford)

Recognized for his fall 2017 investigative and enforcement efforts to include managing two hunting related shooting incidents as well as great work apprehending intentional violators for a variety of hunting related cases during the fall 2017 hunting seasons.

Game Warden James Gushee (Fort Kent)

Recognized for saving a man’s life on October 19th, 2017 in the town of Waterboro. The man was attempting to take his own life and the quick actions of Game Warden Gushee prevented this from occurring. The man is now doing well thanks to the actions of Game Warden James Gushee.

Game Warden Will Shuman (St. Albans)

Recognized for his excellent conservation law enforcement efforts in the Dexter patrol during 2017.

Game Warden Scott Martin (Patten)

Recognized for his efforts locating a runaway nine-year-old boy on March 10, 2017 near Millinocket during subzero temperatures. Game Warden Martin's diligence and tracking experience likely saved the boy's life and he is recognized for his efforts.

Game Warden Joseph Bailey (Milford)

Recognized for his thorough investigation of a very complex fatal ATV related crash that took place on May 27, 2017 in the town of Lowell.

Game Warden Corporal Dave Chabot (Greene)

Recognized for his commitment to his patrol area but also keeping his K-9 Ruby trained to a high standard and his willingness to help other game wardens and law enforcement agencies. His ability to be a team player, his quick thinking, training, and experience as a K-9 handler reflects upon the inherent quality, dedication, and support he provides to the Maine Warden Service.

Game Wardens Jonathan Parker (Milford), Jared Herrick (Harmony) and Will Shuman (St. Albans)

Recognized for their efforts regarding a complex smelt investigation in Dexter that included apprehending intentional violators of Maine's natural resources.

Game Warden Evan Franklin (Brunswick)

Recognized for his life-saving efforts for a missing 73-year-old woman in Wayne on July 14, 2017.

Game Warden Andrew Smart (Unity)

Recognized for a May 2017 fishing investigation in Unity that ultimately convicted an intentional violator of Maine's laws regarding native brook trout. This complaint generated from Maine Operation Game Thief.

Game Wardens Joey Lefebvre (Damariscotta), Mark Merrifield (Union) and

Doug Kulis (Georgetown)

Recognized for their efforts stemming from a tip from Maine Operation Game Thief on November 24, 2017 regarding the illegal killing of whitetail deer in the Jefferson area. A total of nine illegal deer were seized with violations that included exceeding the bag limit on deer, false registration of deer, failing to register deer, hunting deer after having killed one, illegal transportation of deer, and several other civil hunting infractions.

Game Warden Paul Mason (Sebec)

Recognized for his investigative efforts surrounding an illegal deer hunting case near the town of Brownville. The investigation ultimately charged four men with violations that included possession of firearm by felon, fraudulent purchasing a license, placing deer bait, hunting without a valid license and unsworn falsification.

Game Warden Jim Davis (East Millinocket)

Recognized for his investigative efforts regarding a 2017 closed season deer case in Molunkus.

Game Warden John Carter (Orrington)

Recognized for his extensive conservation law enforcement efforts in the Hancock County area for the year 2017.

Game Warden Bob Decker (Bowdoinham)

Recognized for his outstanding field performance and teamwork efforts put forward during a horse shooting investigation, which took place during the 2017 deer hunting season in the town of Bowdoinham.

Game Wardens Jeremy Judd (Mechanic Falls) and Neal Wykes (Naples)

Recognized for their professionalism and leadership efforts during a very complex May 27, 2017 investigation and search involving two boating related fatalities on the Saco River in Fryeburg.

Game Warden divers Tony Gray (Oxford), Bob Johansen (Millinocket), Rick Ouellette (Hermon), Kyle Hladik (New Vineyard), Jeremy Kemp (Sangerville), Dive Team Leader Corporal Mike Joy (South Berwick) and Sergeant Bruce Loring (Enfield)

Recognized for their outstanding work regarding an 11-day Dive Team recovery effort for three men who drowned on Square Lake in Aroostook County on June 13, 2017. All three men were recovered because of the dive team's tireless efforts and skill during poor weather and dangerous water conditions.

Retired Game Warden Pilot Gary Dumond (Eagle Lake)

Recognized for his November 2017 honor as last year's FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award and Pilot Dumond's continued loyal service to the Maine Warden Service. Dumond served with the Maine Warden Service from 1972 to 1992 as a game warden pilot. He has continued to fly with the Warden Service on an as-needed basis as a reserve pilot and instructor, more recently over the last year. Dumond flew helicopters in Vietnam prior to flying for the State of Maine. He has accumulated 21,000 hours of safe flying over his lifetime and has been responsible for saving many lives and locating many lost persons.

2017 Maine Warden Association Merit Awards:

Paul Reynolds (Dayton)

Paul is an artist in the taxidermy world, an enormous supporter of Maine OGT, and an enormous supporter of the Maine Warden Service. He conducts himself professionally and has dedicated himself to the Maine Warden Service. Paul goes above the ordinary course of duty to support the Maine Warden Service in its mission. We would like to issue Paul a Merit Award for his meritorious conduct in his performance of outstanding service.

Scott Brown (Awarded posthumously - Morrill)

The Maine Warden Service Association would like to recognize Scott Brown of Morrill and his family with the 2017 MWSA Merit Award for his dedicated and loyal partnership with the Maine Warden Service and the promotion of our mission in conservation law enforcement. Scott lost an extremely courageous battle with cancer earlier this winter. His loss has been extremely difficult for his family, friends, and the community in which he lived and worked. The outpouring of support from the community during this tough time is a testament to the type of person that Scott was and the respect that he earned during his lifetime.

The MWSA Merit Award provides recognition to a civilian(s) for highly meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service. For the purpose of this award, conduct above the ordinary course of duty, when a civilian, because of individual or team initiative, courage and diligence, provides assistance with the goals and mission of the Maine Warden Service.

2017 Colonel Joel T. Wilkinson – Colonel's Award

Recipient: Chandler Woodcock (Commissioner, MDIFW - Farmington)

At this year's awards ceremony, Colonel Joel Wilkinson presented Commissioner Chandler Woodcock with the 2017 Colonel's Award and had these words to share. “The Commissioner demonstrates a love for family and a commitment to such that should be a model for all. He is a person who truly models the way of leadership through their actions and words, not words alone. The Commissioner appreciates the role, understands the impact and always treats all staff fairly and looks at the big picture. When the Commissioner chooses to leave state service, his replacement will have very large shoes to fill. It is a great pleasure to present the 2017 Colonel's Award to my boss and a true friend to fish and wildlife, Chandler E. Woodcock.”

Things are winding down but we've still got a few days and nights left to knock a few more deer killers. Hunting has been difficult the past week or so because I believe the coyotes are preying on deer readily. I've had reports of at least two deer found killed by coyotes and I can only imagine the amount not found. The snow conditions have favored the coyotes lately making baits go dead and crust has held houndsman at bay. The only good thing we can say is that there are 77 coyotes that I guarantee aren't killing deer right now. THANK YOU hunters this is how we make a difference in deer herds. Conditions are changing quickly now with the warmer temperatures hopefully tipping the scales back to favor the deer a bit more. Good Luck and Thanks for all your help.

Aaron Smith

Smith's General Store INC

Warden Chaplain Honored

The Maryann Hartman award is given annually to three distinguished Maine women who demonstrate the levels of attainment now possible to women. The award recognizes the diversity in interests, service, geographic location, and culture that best represents Maine. Strong leadership and role modeling in the nominee's work are also important.

Chaplain for the Maine Warden Service since 2001, we are honored Kate Braestrup was chosen as one of this year's recipients for the MaryAnn Hartman Award. This winter in Orono, Chaplain Kate Braestrup was presented with her award. Colonel Joel Wilkinson of the Maine Warden Service stated, “Kate is a tremendous human being first and foremost, with a valid understanding of her role in service to others. She does this from a centered place of genuine care for others. She is a tremendous resource to the State of Maine, the Maine Warden Service and the entire law enforcement community. We are so proud of her, and glad she is being recognized by the University for this award.

NH - Emergency Rule Restricts Berry Brook

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has issued an emergency rule establishing Berry Brook in Rye, NH, as a "catch and release-only" fishing water. The action is being taken because of concern regarding contaminants leaching into the water from the Coakley Landfill site. The presence of perfluorochemicals (PFCs) has been detected in Berry Brook.

The US Environmental Protection Agency under a Quality Assurance and Protection Plan with the Coakley Landfill Group is gathering information to determine any potential health risk associated with consuming fish (stocked or wild) that have been exposed to these contaminants.

The NH Fish and Game Department has been asked to continue to stock brown trout into Berry Brook while these investigations continue.

More information about fishing in New Hampshire is available at www.fishnh.com/fishing

Searchers rescued a lost winter hiker in Newry back in March.. Thomas Dilger, 29, from Worcester, Massachusetts used his mobile phone to call for help, March 14, when he lost his way on the Grafton Loop Trail in Newry. Game wardens, several members from Mahoosuc Mountain Rescue and Newry Fire and Rescue began an effort to search for Dilger shortly after 3:00 p.m..

Dilger stated he was alone and had become lost near the side of Puzzle Mountain. Using coordinates from Dilger’s phone, searchers began to focus efforts on how best to access his location. Using snowmobiles initially to break trail in three feet of snow, the team of rescuers travelled nearly 1.5 miles to a point where snowmobiles could no longer be used. From that point, the team used snowshoes for several hours before locating Dilger. The team got Dilger back to safety at around 11:00 PM an eight-hour total effort. Dilger was slightly hypothermic but did not receive medical attention

NH - 2017 Trophy Fish Program Winners Announced

The winners of the 2017 New Hampshire Trophy Fish Program were recently announced by John Viar, Region 2 Fisheries Biologist and Trophy Fish Program Coordinator. Award certificates signed by NH Fish and Game's Executive Director and the Commission Chairman will soon be distributed to the winners of each species category. A list of all qualifying entries is posted on Fish and Game's website at www.fishnh.com/fishing/trophy.html.

Patrick Salisbury of Brookline, NH (age 15) 23.0-inch Largemouth Bass (winner; released category)

Anglers of all ages are out there enjoying fishing anyway. When they share their catch information on a Trophy Fish application and get a few bragging rights it adds to their experience. Meanwhile, we receive valuable data on fish populations not normally reported to us," Viar said. There are hundreds of waterbodies throughout the state; these anglers are extra eyes in the field. Its fun for them and useful information for us.”

In 2017, the kept and released categories yielded a total of 76 successful entries. One new state record was set, a 10.50-inch, 1-lb. 1.76-oz. pumpkinseed caught by Michael Steffen of Newmarket. Eighteen, or approximately 25% of entries, were from anglers under 16 years old. Lukas Tafe, an 11-year-old fly-fisherman from Manchester, caught and released a 17-inch black crappie out of Pawtuckaway Lake in Nottingham. Liam Chapman, a 14-year-old from Boscawen, caught and released a 26-inch chain pickerel from Lake Winnipesaukee in Moultonborough. Ten-year-old Zoe Groves of Conway led the category of released pumpkinseed, with her catch measuring 9.50-inches in length from Ossipee Lake in Effingham.

Each year the wide variety of entries or lack thereof creates a certain amount of intrigue, Viar offered. For example in 2017, ten qualifying entries were garnered in the “pumpkinseed released” category alone, but remarkably not one rainbow trout kept or released was submitted. In the released category, three two-way ties existed for top honors for brown trout (28 inches), brook trout (19 inches), and chain pickerel (26 inches). And while the total number of 76 qualifying entries submitted in 2017 was among the highest in recent years, not one saltwater entry was fielded

Seven species were represented in the kept category, and 12 species were submitted in the released category. Several species categories received only one or no entries at all. “Many anglers may not even realize the Trophy Fish Program exists, or that a particular species or size might qualify, so please help spread the word to fellow anglers interested in formal recognition of their outstanding catches, Viar advised.

Maine - Fisheries Division Receives National Award (Picture Above)

The Fisheries Division of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries received national attention today for their work restoring native Arctic charr to Big Reed Pond in northern Piscataquis county.

The American Fisheries Society presented the department and MDIFW fisheries biologist Frank Frost with their Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project award in recognition of the Arctic charr restoration project on Big Reed Pond.

Arctic charr are a unique resource occurring only in Maine within the continental United States. This success story, crafted with an array of partners, is worthy of this type of recognition, said IFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock.

The annual Sport Fish Restoration outstanding project award is given by the American Fisheries Society highlights the importance and effectiveness of the Sport Fish Restoration program and recognizes excellence in fisheries management, research and education.

Arctic charr became perilously close to disappearing from one of the last remaining ponds in Maine, but actions by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife restored the charr population. This was confirmed late last spring by IFW fisheries biologists who documented wild, naturally-reproducing Arctic charr at Big Reed Pond.

Arctic charr are found in only 14 waters in Maine. They prefer deep, cold lakes that lie at high elevation and have few other competing species. An illegal introduction of rainbow smelt at Big Reed Pond upset that delicate balance and threatened the charr population. While native to the state, smelt are invasive to many waters where they do not occur naturally and if illegally introduced can wreak havoc on the natural ecosystem.

Knowing extraordinary measures were needed to protect the charr, beginning in 2007, IFW fisheries biologists began an intensive effort to capture some of the remaining live charr. For the next four years, biologists used nets to capture and transfer 14 charr from Big Reed Pond to the Mountain Springs Trout Farm in Frenchville, Maine. These fourteen charr became the breeding stock utilized to restore the genetic population unique to Big Reed Pond.

However, before Big Reed could be restocked with native charr fingerlings, the smelt had to be removed.

IFW staff, along with a group of partners, reclaimed the pond with rotenone in October 2010, eliminating the competing smelt population. Rotenone is a plant-based product that affects the ability of fish to use oxygen in the water and it breaks down rapidly in the environment. Reclamation is a long-time fishery management practice employed around the country that is used sparingly in Maine, and only in waters that meet specific criteria. Maine IFW uses this tool to restore native brook trout and charr populations, and to eradicate invasive threats. The Department places a priority on the conservation and protection of native and wild fisheries.

Arctic Charr, bred from the remaining 14 charr that were transferred to Mountain Springs Trout Farm, were first stocked in Big Reed starting in June 2011 and continued through June 2013. In June of 2017, IFW biologists confirmed that charr are indeed spawning, identifying three different age classes through the magnified examination of captured charr fish scales, which confirmed three successful spawning seasons in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife partnered with The Nature Conservancy, The Bradford Camps, Mountain Springs Trout Farm, and The University of Maine to complete the project. The Presque Isle High School Aquaculture Facility and the Maine Army Aviation Support facility in Bangor provided significant volunteer assistance. The Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund provided financial support in three separate grants to help support the hatchery efforts. US Fish and Wildlife Service Sportfish Restoration Funds were critical to this restoration project, as well as most other freshwater fisheries management and conservation efforts by the MDIFW.

This project had an amazing array of partners. Without the support of each of them, successful restoration of charr at Big Reed would not have been possible, said Frost.

Big Reed Pond has a surface area of 90 acres, maximum water depth of 53 feet, and mean depth of 21 feet, making it one of the shallowest and smallest Arctic charr waters in Maine. Big Reed Pond is located in northern Piscataquis County, about three miles north of the Pinkham Road. The Pond is surrounded by property owned by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) much of which has never been harvested for timber products and is classified by TNC as an ecological forest reserve. Nearly the entire watershed of Big Reed Pond lies within this property that totals 4,583 acres. Access to the Pond is either by floatplane or a hiking trail in excess of 1 mile.

Arctic charr are closely related to Maine’s well-known brook trout and lake trout. Maine’s charr are members of a geographically isolated group that occur in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick as well as the Northeast U.S. There are 325 populations in this so-called Acadian group of Arctic charr and together they are recognized as a distinct sub species Salvelinus alpinus oquassa. Fourteen populations reside in Maine.

Lance Wheaton Named Legendary Maine Guide

Lance Wheaton of Forest City was honored on April 7, 2018 in front of 200 of his peers with this year's Wiggie Robinson Legendary Maine Guide Award by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The criteria for this prestigious award is; actively guiding for 10 of the last 20 years, a law-abiding citizen, active in community service, and active on boards or committees that promote the importance of Maine's outdoor interest. This award is given annually at the Maine Professional Guides Banquet each spring.

Steve Whitman of Princeton, Maine nominated Lance saying that he has been a full time guide for more than fifty-five years, has served on the Governor's Advisory Council, is a life time member of the Maine Guide's Association, has been cited by the Maine Warden Service for his help with search and rescue, is one of the original Directors of the Woodie Wheaton Land Trust, has spent hundreds of hours preparing for and attending public hearings concerning environmental laws, and has built nearly 100 guide canoes during his lifetime.

"I met Lance Wheaton 35 years ago as a new game warden stationed in Danforth, he is the personal definition of what a Maine Guide should be, to be recognized by your peers as legendary is the highest honor", said Deputy Commissioner, Timothy Peabody.

Commissioner Chandler Woodcock commented, "Lance is an exceptional recipient of the Wiggie Robinson award.Ê He has committed his life to Maine's outdoors."

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