All it takes is one guy with one question to change the world, or at least start a fishing season.

That’s what sparked the early opening of the open-water season two weeks ago, when Gov. John Baldacci signed emergency legislation that declared it open March 25.

A couple of forces led to the season opening before the traditional April 1 start, said Sen. Bruce Bryant, D-Dixfield, who proposed the legislation that led to spring fishing getting a jump-start.

But chiefly, Bryant said, what prompted him and his colleagues in Augusta to open the season on March 25 was one guy asking one question.

“One guy I work with asked, ‘Why can’t we fish if the water is open, especially if it is a (stocked body of water) anyway?’ And I said, ‘Because the rules say you can’t fish until April 1.’ And he said, ‘How come? What’s the problem with doing it now?…’ And I ran out of reasons why you couldn’t fish until April,” said Bryant, a boiler operator at NewPage Paper Mill.

Other factors in the decision were the 60-degree days in southern Maine, Bryant said, and the fact the fishing seasons in southern and eastern Maine were about to change to a year-round, free-for-all format anyway. The new fishing regulations that went into effect April 1 allow for year-round fishing on virtually all lakes and ponds in the southern half of the state.


Bryant, who chairs the Legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee that initiated the emergency bill, likes his committee’s get-it-done approach.

“We didn’t see it coming until the weather changed,” Bryant said. “Mother Nature told us to do this. It’s not something you can really plan.”

Certainly a nice idea.

But since all that warm weather quickly turned cold and rainy on March 26, it seems Mother Nature’s response was: maybe not.

Even anglers as they picked up their rods and headed out into the cold were perplexed at the reasoning here.

On the Fly Fishing in Maine Web site (, where fishing fans discuss, debate and comment on Maine’s heralded trout and salmon waters, people were baffled.


“Fishermen were mostly mystified at the process. Fishermen were sort of befuddled. It seemed odd to spend time on emergency legislation (on this),” said Dan Tarkinson, creator of the Web forum that has won national conservation awards.

Even Tarkinson, who makes his livelihood off the excitement generated around fishing, wondered if it should be at the top of the list in the State House at this time, given the state’s needs regarding the recession, education, health care and unemployment.

“Really, is it worth seven extra days when the lawbook is going into effect anyway? It seems silly,” Tarkinson said.

Moreover, many didn’t get all of those seven days anyway, because no notice was given.

The emergency law was done in such a hurry few fishermen knew of it and were able to get out the following Friday. Even regional biologists with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife didn’t know.

“I had Thursday off. I come back on Friday and everyone is going, ‘Hey, they opened up fishing season.’ Well, that was news to me,” said head fisheries biologist Robert Van-Riper in Sidney, which is right next to Augusta.


“It was kind of surprising. It was done at a higher level than us.”

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:


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