SCARBOROUGH — Standing on the muddy shore of the Spurwink River as a steady mist fell Sunday morning, 6-year-old Bailey Dubois extended a fishing rod over her head. With two helping hands from her mother, the little girl let the line fly out over the water.

“That was fun,” said Bailey. “Mommy helped me, because I might hook somebody.”

Kenneth Stinchfield, left, of Parsonsfield; Dylan Dubois, of Freedom, N.H.; and Joshua Morse of Lovell fish the Spurwink River in Scarborough on Sunday during free fishing weekend in Maine, where those without fishing licenses can fish courtesy of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Bailey Dubois, 6, and brother Bryden stand behind the fishermen. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

The rain and cool temperatures didn’t dim the spirits of Bailey, her parents and brother, who were were taking advantage of Maine’s free fishing weekend. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife allowed people to try their hand at fishing Maine waters Saturday and Sunday without a license, which costs $25 a season for residents and $64 a season for nonresidents.  The department also hosts a free ice fishing weekend in February.

The department’s hope is that if people try fishing for free, they may buy a license and fish more often. In a statement announcing the event, the department touted fishing with a license as inexpensive family fun, less money than one would spend to see a movie. Not to mention, it’s a way to enjoy the outdoors.

“I think it’s great for people who haven’t tried it or haven’t done it a lot,” said Dylan Dubois, Bailey’s father. “I didn’t know about it until five or six years ago. Now we always go.”

Bailey’s mother, Ariana Stinchfield, said the family of four from Freedom, New Hampshire, enjoys fishing together and especially the free days. If they wanted to fish regularly in  Maine, where they have family,  they would need two nonresident licenses, which also are available for $11 for one day. (The kids don’t need licenses as fishing is always free in Maine for anyone under 16.)  The family also took advantage of New Hampshire’s free fishing day, which was held Saturday, Stinchfield said.

Bryden Dubois, 3, takes a close look at a striped bass caught by his Uncle Kenneth Stinchfield while sister Bailey, 6, looks on at left. Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

On Sunday morning Bailey and her family had arrived at their spot on the Spurwink River, near a pier just off Route 77, around 5:30 a.m. Bailey had her own rod, a small pink and white model, but at times she used her mother’s to get greater distance.

Bailey’s uncle and a family friend were fishing nearby, as were a couple of other fishermen. By around 11:30 a.m. the party had caught one fish. They’d also caught a few crabs, being watched over carefully by Bailey and her brother, 3-year-old Bryden. Bryden held a big net in his hand, ready for fish, crabs or whatever the river might be hiding. A great blue heron watched the family from various safe distances across the river.

This weekend in Maine, people had their pick of free fishing on some 6,000 lakes and ponds and more than 30,000 miles of rivers and streams.

More than 345,000 people were licensed to fish in Maine last year, and fishing contributes more than $370 million to the state economy, according to DIF&W. More than million fish are stocked in Maine waters by  the department each year.


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