Baitfish Don't Belong Near Wild Trout
This just in from a fish conservation activist in Maine:
While at deer camp this week I picked a copy
of the Northwoods Sporting Journal up off the table and began to read. This was the first time I have looked at the paper in years. Five or so pages in I remembered why I stopped reading the paper in the first place. After reading an editorial by Editor V. Paul Reynolds I promptly threw the paper in the trash and vowed never to open one again. As is often the case with this guy the piece was rife with misinformation, conspiracy theories, convenient omissions, science denial and a smattering of opinions stated as fact. As Maine struggles to crawl out of the dark ages in regard to the use of live bait on wild trout waters Mr. Reynolds does everything he can to make sure that they do not. After describing a long overdue proposed ban on live bait on the Allagash Reynolds states “If this doesn’t raise your eyebrows, it should.” The only reason this proposal should raise anyone’s eyebrows is that it is being debated at all. Anyone who cannot see the threat posed by using live bait over wild trout is not paying attention. Reynolds trashes Maine F&G management for being “hellbent on implementing this baitfish ban.” He goes on to praise the former F&G administration for saying “No way” to a similar proposal a few years ago. It seems to me that Reynolds has things backwards. He should be praising the new guys and he should have trashed the old regime. He goes on to quote a former Maine game warden who says there is no scientific data to support the F&G departments position. Say what? How many more waters does Maine need to lose to invasive fish before these guys get their heads out of the sand? And as a former game warden the guy who said this should know better. He then quotes a former biologist who says that perch or bass could end up in a bait bucket. But alas Reynolds is unable to make the connection between this and the near epidemic invasive fish problem in Maine. He goes on to defend opposition to the ban by saying that there are already thirteen species of baitfish in the waters targeted by the ban. How many more species of baitfish can these waters take? What happens if the 14th species is bass, pike, perch or muskies? Another of Reynolds contacts refers to the proposed ban as “indefensible.” Again how much more science and real world examples do these guys need to understand that invasive fish of any type hurt wild trout fisheries? They counter propose limiting ice fishermen to just two species of minnows already found in most of the lakes in question. What about species misidentification? What about disease introduction? The movement to oppose the live bait proposal is led by not one but two former Maine game wardens. Amazingly enough a former F&G employee from the biology arm is noted as having sided with the game wardens in regard to the two species compromise. How can anyone with a fisheries biology background not see the problems with this? When your fish and game department is a breeding ground for live bait apologists you are in big trouble. Alas Mr. Reynolds admits that Maine’s wild brook trout are worth protecting. Unfortunately he is not willing to do that which is needed to protect them. He even mentions a previous ruling that eliminated live bait from another group of wild brook trout waters. But when it comes to those that are being proposed today he doesn’t see that same ban as valid. Toward the end of his rant he plays the conspiracy card by challenging what the “real motives” behind the proposed ban are. He questions what is driving this “agenda”. He raises the suspicion on the part of the bait dealers and users that some group of “trout purists” is driving this in an attempt to stop all ice fishing. This is black helicopter stuff. Does this guy really believe this stuff or is he just trying to sell papers? I guess Reynolds doesn’t know that people can and do ice fish without the use live bait. This includes at least a couple of waters in Maine that are open to ice fishing but closed to live bait. Isn't Allagash Lake one of them? Reynolds ends by declaring victory over the purists due to the fact that the Allagash waters have been removed from the proposed list. That Reynolds sees this as a victory speaks volumes as to what kind of sportsman he is. Most rational thinking sportsmen would see this as a defeat. Mr. Reynolds seems to be getting most of his information from bait dealers and bait users. This is like asking Exxon if drilling is bad for the environment. Mr. Reynolds readers deserve better than this type of trash. The state of Maine deserves better. We sportsmen deserve better. It is truly unfortunate that Mr. Reynolds has a platform for spewing his anti resource conservation rhetoric. Unfortunately some who like Reynolds see this as some sort of left wing conspiracy rather than a sincere and rational attempt to save what is left of Maine's dwindling wild brook trout resources will rally to his cause. Fortunately this type of sportsman is a dying breed. Unfortunately they are taking the rest of us down with them on their way out. I long for the day when guys like Mr. Reynolds hang up their typewriters and make room for more rational voices who can speak intelligently for us sportsmen. Until then all we can do is call him out when he says something stupid. In Paul’s case that is apparently every time he opens his mouth or pounds on his keyboard.