Probably the folks at the big-box store who put up a sign encouraging customers to buy goldfish for their outdoor ponds didn’t know this was illegal. At least that’s what state biologist Bob Van Riper surmises.

But the sign that was taken down when a game warden explained the law shows folks don’t know. Goldfish, koi and other tropical fish are not allowed to be dumped in a backyard pond or any pond. It’s illegal. In fact, a week ago Van Riper chased down a half-dozen ponds filled with goldfish.


Good-sized togue have been caught in Sebago Lake, according to biologist Francis Brautigam with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

And in the Saco River, nice sea-run browns have been caught as far up as the Skelton Dam in Hollis, he said.


Two weeks ago, state biologists electrofished several ponds with goldfish to try to kill off as many as possible to allow the native aquatic species to thrive. It’s time consuming. But the alternative is reclaiming the fishery with poison, which is costly.

“It’s a constant issue with us. The regional biologists’ philosophy is they have to have a good reason to kill an aquatic community. Nothing gets out alive when we do. We have to think carefully about that,” Van Riper said of the expensive decision to reclaim a fishery.


Water temperatures are still cool enough in Down East ponds that the salmon are being caught near the top, reported IFW biologist Greg Bur.

Meanwhile, brook trout are being caught in many streams where the fish have not yet retreated to spring holes, Bur said.

“Pretty much anything you want to go fish for is biting and the water temperatures have cooled off enough,” Bur said.


The Sandy River from Phillips to New Sharon is providing good action for stocked brookies and browns, with some fish reported up to 15 to 17 inches, reported IFW biologist Dave Boucher.

Fishing in the Rangeley lakes is holding up well, especially at Aziscohos and Mooselookmeguntic lakes.

“We remind anglers that both these lakes have liberalized harvest rules for salmon (three fish per day, 12-inch minimum length, only one may be over 16 inches),” Boucher said.

White perch fishing has been hot in the southern part of the region, he noted.


Fisheries staff recently spent time at Big Wadleigh Pond in Township 8 Range 15 WELS putting radio telemetry transmitters into 10 mature arctic char.

The tags were purchased by the department and the Natural Resource Education Center at Moosehead Lake.

Biologists hope to remove eggs and brood fish this fall, and if necessary, chemically reclaim the pond the following fall, said IFW biologist Tim Obrey.

The effort is similar to the intensive work at Big Reed Pond, where char and brook trout were nearly wiped out after an illegal introduction of smelt.

A donation has been given by Clayton Lakes Woodlands Holdings, but Obrey said other grant money will be needed for the $75,000 to $100,000 project.

At stake is the loss of one of the remaining 12 native char waters in the lower 48 states.


A kids pond in Lincoln was dedicated a few weeks ago, providing a fishing hole just for young anglers. There were 300 brook trout stocked and junior high students from Mattanawcook Academy pledged to adopt the pond and keep it clean.

Elsewhere, a large togue was taken out of Cold Stream Pond, weighing 17.5-pounds, and the small trout ponds in “the park,” meaning Baxter, are fishing well, said IFW biologist Nels Kramer.


The water is still high in the Aroostook River but as it drops, the river below Caribou dam will offer great fishing, reports biologist David Basley.

Normally this time of year, the water is low and trout are hiding in spring holes, but the opposite is true because of spring rain, Basley said.

Around next weekend, Basley said, the pond fishing should be great, and the canoeing more fun in the high water.

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

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