Removing Coldwater Brook Pond from the State Heritage Fish List: A Bad Idea and a Bad Precedent
Coldwater Pond is a rare wild native brook trout pond in southern Maine. It is a “Principal Fishery” for brook trout with a unique set of regulations that includes being closed to ice fishing and the collection of baitfish, a short season that mimics northern wild trout waters (April 1 - September 30), an artificial lures only restriction, and an “Experimental” length limit of 6-12” with none over. Clearly someone thought this was a resource worth protecting.
Coldwater Pond was last stocked in 1967, or over 50 years ago. The brook trout fishery has persevered without the aid of stocking for a half a century, and in an area where life for wild brook trout is not easy. It is one of only roughly thirty Principal Fisheries for brook trout in Region A, and one of only four SHF waters. It deserves formal and binding protection from the use of live bait and stocking.
Unfortunately, Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife has proposed removing Coldwater Brook Pond from the State Heritage Fish list. Their reason is that the water level has dropped and it is no longer a pond, a position that NFC and others do not agree with -- click here to read the Maine chapter of NFC testimony.
At the public hearing to discuss the proposal, several people spoke up against it and no one other than MDIFW supported it.
Here is what Maine Audubon had to say:
Here is what Maine TU had to say:
Here is what Sportsman's Alliance of Maine had to say:
And this comes from an individual:
While we do not know what the final decision will be, it is clear that the tide is against MDIFW on this one. Coldwater Brook Pond was pond when it was so named, it was a pond when the state issued it a MIDAS code, it was a pond when it was granted State Heritage Fish designation, and it is a pond today.
Rather than removing waters from the State Heritage Fish List, MDIFW should focus on adding waters. Wild native brook trout lakes and ponds are found primarily in Maine. To provide them with legal protection from stocking and live fish as bait is good management. To refuse to do so is not.
A few years ago the WIld Trout Working Group which none of us were part of, agreed to a compromise with MDIFW to change removing waters from the State Heritage Fish list from a Major Substantive Rule to a Routine Technical Rule. This allows for the removal of Coldwater Brook Pond without legislative approval which was required under the original law. NFC believes this was a mistake and if we lose Coldwater Brook Pond it will prove it was.