Maine Audubon Partners on Brook Trout Survey
Birds and brook trout define my Maine and Ted Koffman’s Maine, too.
Wading down Nesowadnehunk Stream on the edge of Baxter Park one morning to reach a favorite pool full of colorful brook trout, I heard the familiar song of a Yellow Throated Warbler.
Since adding birding to my outdoor adventures, I always have binoculars strapped to my chest. But as I glanced to the right, looking for the warbler, the binoculars weren’t needed. The bird was in a low bush right on the edge of the stream.
Wading slowly toward the bush, I was astonished that the bird stayed put, moving from branch to branch, taking no interest in the approaching angler. For ten glorious minutes, I was blessed with a close-up look at a creature that defines my faith.
I’ve often said that only God could have produced anything as beautiful as a Maine brook trout. You can add warblers to that list.
Maine Audubon’s Executive Director Ted Koffman became a brook trout champion during his eight years in the Maine legislature, where I got to know and work with him when I served as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. Ted sponsored a Sportsman’s Alliance bill to expand recognition and protection for wild and native brook trout.
Thanks to legislators like Ted, in recent years Maine has stepped up protection of its native brookies, important when you understand that this state has 97 percent of all the remaining native brook trout in the United States.
Now, Maine Audubon is partnering with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Trout Unlimited to document wild brook trout populations in remote Maine ponds. And they need your help.
Volunteer anglers can choose one or more of the 187 wild trout ponds in western Maine that have never been stocked and therefore contain Maine’s native, wild trout. These are the waters that were protected in the legislation Koffman sponsored for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.
IF&W’s fisheries biologists will follow up the angler surveys with more formal surveys in future years. Volunteers will get maps, photos, data sheets, and instructions for how to survey each pond.
I loved the description of what they’re looking for in a volunteer: “Volunteers should be enthusiastic about fishing for brook trout, be comfortable in remote settings, and have a sense of adventure.”
Surveys can be done any time before September 30, although they prefer June and July. Audubon’s Emily Bastian, herself an avid angler, is coordinating the project, and you should contact her to volunteer, at 207-781-6180 X207 or email@example.com.
Some may wonder why Maine Audubon has taken an interest in brook trout. Ted wrote a wonderful column in 2007 for the Bangor Daily News about chestnuts and trout, noting, “The goal to restore the American chestnut tree to its rightful place in the forest may actually be less daunting than the prospect of restoring the Eastern brook trout range once it's degraded and invaded.”
You see, it’s all about habitat. That’s what unites birders and brook trout anglers. And that’s what makes me a member of Maine Audubon and a participant in this exciting project.