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Lower Magalloway River, Wilson's Mills, Maine

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These pics are from late July.

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I only had one evening to fish there. My first fish was my biggest- unfortunately, it was a 15" smallmouth bass, which are most unwelcome in the native brook trout streams of the Rangeley region. I would have kept the bass to eat, but I wasn't equipped to clean or store the fish for the long ride home. So I finished him off with a quick neck snap, and left him on the bank. The bass took a #16 soft hackle. But he no doubt would have preferred as large a brook trout as he could stuff in his mouth.

I didn't get any trophy brookies, but the ones I caught were all between 7" and 10", nice and chunky, and I got seven of them in less than two hours, four of them on little cream caddis dry flies. Only had to cover about 150 yards of water to get them.

a representative example- all of the others were too frisky to hold still

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Sunset on the Magalloway. Unretouched.

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Posted on: 2013/8/23 16:40

Edited by barbless on 2013/8/23 17:06:24


Re: Lower Magalloway River, Wilson's Mills, Maine

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Ah, Maine!

Posted on: 2013/8/23 20:58


Re: Lower Magalloway River, Wilson's Mills, Maine

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Yeah, I've also noticed how brookies - especially wild ones - often don't like to hold still while you remove the hook.

Anyway, sure looks like a nice place that was worth spending some time at.
I'll be in that area next month - we're staying in Errol, NH. I plan on fishing the rapid river. But If things don't pan out well there, I may give the maggaloway a try

Posted on: 2013/8/24 8:01


Re: Lower Magalloway River, Wilson's Mills, Maine

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Love the Maine brookies, sunset on a stick. The sunsets this year were out of control, I wanted to head to New Hampshire this weekend but work got in the way. I usually fish the Upper Andro in the fall after the temps cool off. Nice

Posted on: 2013/8/24 8:09


Re: Lower Magalloway River, Wilson's Mills, Maine

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I fish the Mag below Azicohos quite a bit. Beautiful stream, some BIG brookies in a nice setting, but did you seriously kill a 15" smallie & toss it on the bank? Like that's gonna make a difference. That makes as much sense as tossing a 20" rainbow on the bank at Big Spring or the Delaware.

That train left the station the day someone dumped smallies in Umbagog.

The water warms up too much a mile or two below the dam for many trout & salmon. There you'll only find chubs, perch & smallies. Why not embrace it for what it is, a short stretch of trout water that holds warmer water species downstream?

Posted on: 2013/8/26 22:42


Re: Lower Magalloway River, Wilson's Mills, Maine

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Dear Tim,

+1

Killing the smallmouth didn't make sense to me either?

Regards,

Tim Murphy

Posted on: 2013/8/26 22:46
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Re: Lower Magalloway River, Wilson's Mills, Maine

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There's nothing like opening an ethics discussion to give me the opportunity to discourse at length:

I felt bad about not being prepared with a cleaning knife, a cooler, or ice, in order to clean the fish and store it for the 2+ hour drive back to the place where I was staying.

I have no remorse about killing the fish instead of returning it to the water.

From the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, 2003:

Quote:
"...Both clerk and voluntary surveys suggest that numbers of smallmouth bass are increasing in the Magalloway River. Smallmouths are presumed to be colonizing the river from an unauthorized introduction made in Umbagog Lake. If bass become abundant in the river they are expected to negatively impact salmonid production."


http://http://www.maine.gov/ifw/fishi ... /2003/magallowayriver.htm

Maine IF&W has not thus far adopted the policy of the National Park Service for some of the streams in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park, like the Rose River- mandating that the invasive species (brown trout, in that case) be kept or killed. But they have lifted all of the size and bag limits on smallmouth bass caught in Rangeley waters like the Magalloway and the Rapid River. And they don't equivocate about the threat to the thriving of native brook trout that's posed by the bass- which is at least as great a threat as the presence of brown trout in the Rose River in Virginia. More so, in all probability.

Sections of the Rose River have been electro-shocked to cull the brown trout population in that stream. According to the reports, that mass extirpation tactic has apparently been quite effective. The NPS is still requiring individual anglers to kill all of the brown trout they catch in the stream or its tributaries.

Meanwhile, in Maine, the DIFW is using targeted dam releases on the Rapid River to destroy as many smallmouth bass nests as they can during bass spawning season. Electroshocking a river as large as the Rapid- or the Magalloway, for that matter- in order to control invasive species is out of the question, of course. That's especially true when the species are fairly prolific, as with smallmouth bass. But I have no doubt that if the DIFW thought it would work, they'd do it.

I'm merely following the ineluctable logic of the studies of the fishery.

I don't hate smallmouth bass. I catch and release them all the time. They're an outstanding gamefish. I also realize that they're "invasive" in most of the rivers and lakes east of the Alleghenies. But all habitats are not neutral ground, and all fish species do not compete on an impartial playing field. Top-quality native coldwater fish habitats such as the Magalloway River are vestigial in the USA. Practically non-existent, especially for brook trout. I support any reasonable measure that helps tip the balance in favor of the already beleaguered brook trout population. Including catch and kill of invasive species that threaten that population. Be it mandatory or optional, as in the case of the bass that I left on the bank.

The muskellunge is a terrific gamefish, too. But you can bet that if I caught one in the St. John River, where some selfish quack 'bucket biologist' planted them only a few years ago, I'd have the same lack of compunction about taking them out of the water and leaving them out. The exact same policy goes for the invasive northern pike in Sebago Lake.

Wouldn't you know- now there's a problem with largemouth bass, competing with the smallmouth bass in Grand Lake Stream in Washington County, Maine

http://quoddytides.com/large_mouth_bass1-11-13.html

Quote:
The introduction of invasive fish species "is at epidemic levels" in the Downeast region, with people frequently moving them into new bodies of water, according to Greg Burr, regional fisheries biologist for the Downeast area for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Since 2006, approximately 80 new fish introductions have been documented by fisheries biologists in the state.
The introduction of invasive fish endangers native fish populations and "changes the ecosystem forever," says Burr. "It's irreversible." The biologist notes that the state is working to protect native brook trout populations and trying to restore Atlantic salmon runs, but the addition of largemouth bass in trout waters will change the ecosystem to bass waters, with the wild brook trout eliminated. The largemouth bass even can affect areas where the state is stocking trout. "Largemouth bass are a very adaptable fish and are predatory on native species. They can eliminate them. It's changing what we know to be our state."
"Largemouth bass have the potential to outcompete, both for food and space, smallmouth bass, which are a very important sport fish in the St. Croix," Burr points out. Fishing guides make much of their living from the smallmouth bass fishery, and lodges and sporting camps depend on sport fishermen coming to the area to fish for them. "Smallmouth bass are a great fighting fish, and the area is known for them. It's what anglers want."
Smallmouth bass, though, are also an invasive species, having been introduced into the watershed in 1878, Burr notes, and he says the state does not want those fish introduced into new bodies of water in Maine either...


To sum up: I think that the bewilderment (and possibly ire) being directed at my action is misplaced.

The original rationale for C&R was that the more a given fish species gets removed from a habitat, the more the population of that species declines. Yet the implicit argument being made is that in this case, for anglers to keep their catch of smallmouth bass would have no effect on that population:

Quote:
"... did you seriously kill a 15" smallie & toss it on the bank? Like that's gonna make a difference.

That train left the station the day someone dumped smallies in Umbagog..."


TimB, do you have any evidence other than your personal intuition to back up your claim that my removing a prime-spawning age, 15"-and-still-growing smallmouth bass from a prime lie in the <3 miles of prime coldwater habitat of the lower Magalloway River makes zero difference to the brook trout population there? Maybe you should let the fisheries biologists know about it.

Posted on: 2013/8/27 3:08

Edited by barbless on 2013/8/27 3:23:25
Edited by barbless on 2013/8/27 3:54:16


Re: Lower Magalloway River, Wilson's Mills, Maine
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Hey Barbless,

I absolutely LOVE smallmouths! But after reading the above, I believe you did the right thing. Thanks for the info.

Tom

Posted on: 2013/8/27 5:49


Re: Lower Magalloway River, Wilson's Mills, Maine

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Beautiful river and beautiful fish. Would love to fish that one.

Posted on: 2013/8/27 6:18
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Re: Lower Magalloway River, Wilson's Mills, Maine

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Bewilderment? Yes. Ire? No. I have no problem with you killing & eating the fish. Eat all the Magalloway smallies you want. Throwing them on the bank might make you feel better but it won't have any significant effect on the balance of fish populations.

A big part of he problem in Maine is the habitat created by the dams. You have a large deep lake & dam with cold water release feeding the Magalloway below Aziscohos. Great cold water fishery. A few miles downstream Umbagog is a huge, shallow body of water with habitat that's conducive to smallie reproduction and growth. Unless/until the dams in Errol are removed, that situation won't change.

I fish Maine every year specifically for wild brook trout and agree that the "non-native" species are a big problem there and everywhere else for that matter. I won't call them an "invasive" species since they were introduced by us and the environment we created allows them to flourish.

All the efforts to keep the smallie population down on the Rapid haven't worked. (For those that don't know, both the Magalloway and the Rapid dump into Umbagog and both are effected by the unauthorized introduction of smallmouth bass in Umbagog). Flushing the dams to wipe out the smallie spawn & the killing of smallies by anglers hasn't stopped the upstream movement into prime brookie water. Again, that's sad, but Umbabgog is just too good a smallmouth nursery. I caught a few smallies above Pond in the River on the Rapid this summer. Sad, but that's reality. Released them. Would've taken them back to camp to eat, but like you, wasn't prepared to schlepp them out.

So where do you draw the line on tossing non-native species on the bank? Smallies on the Magalloway? Muskies on the St. John? Browns in the Rose? Largemouth in Grand Lake Stream? Rainbows in Big Spring? I could go on, but you get the idea.

As the fisheries biologist said above, "It's irreversible" Tossing the fish on the bank is nothing more than a symbolic and futile gesture...


Posted on: 2013/8/27 9:50


Re: Lower Magalloway River, Wilson's Mills, Maine

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Quote:

TimB wrote:
So where do you draw the line on tossing non-native species on the bank? Smallies on the Magalloway? Muskies on the St. John? Browns in the Rose? Largemouth in Grand Lake Stream? Rainbows in Big Spring? I could go on, but you get the idea.


I agree. I think as anglers we're fooling ourselves into thinking that "banking a fish" or harvesting it really has much of an impact once a population is established. The only time I would consider killing a fish or removing it from the system would be under direction of the PFBC, such as their directive for removal of snakeheads. I understand that some species (actually many) are non-native to the waters in which they reside (i.e., rainbow trout, brown trout, etc.), but really don't feel it is my place to play "god" and remove them from the system.


Posted on: 2013/8/27 10:39


Re: Lower Magalloway River, Wilson's Mills, Maine

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First off, I'm glad we're having a civil difference of opinion here. I've seen so many threads related to the ethics of C&R on this forum get sort of nasty.

It's a fact that the Maine fisheries biologist said

Quote:
The introduction of invasive fish endangers native fish populations and "changes the ecosystem forever," says Burr. "It's irreversible."


That's a generally agreed fact, at this point in time. Except in the smallest size and most isolated ponds and rivers, the impossibility of completely eradicating an invasive fish species is conceded.

But the fisheries biologist also said

Quote:
the largemouth bass can't be eliminated from a watershed once they are introduced. "We just try to suppress them." He predicts they will spread into much of the lower St. Croix watershed and could move into Spednic Lake and possibly West Grand Lake.
The department is encouraging fishermen to catch and kill the fish, with new regulations having taken effect in time for the ice fishing season...


So while fisheries biologists admit that it isn't possible to completely remove an unwanted invasive fish population from a local ecosystem, they do see some value in seeking to hold their numbers down.

No one is under any illusion that high water dam releases in springtime will eliminate the invasive smallmouth bass from the Rapid River. But the evidence from similar programs does show that the impact is significant. From a recent report on the Green River in Utah/Colorado:

Quote:
"...Combined with higher base flows, nonnative fish management efforts have reduced the number of smallmouth bass in the same reaches of the Green River from 60 adult fish per mile in 2004 to about 20 per mile in 2009..."


http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/pressrel/10-29.htm

For most fish species, populations can rebuild from a handful of individuals. That's axiomatic. That's why the smallmouth population isn't likely to disappear in the Green River (or the Rapid River, or the Magalloway River) any time soon. But there's a huge difference between 60 piscivorous predator invasives per mile and 20 piscivorous predator invasives per mile.

Also, at least in the case of invasive bass introduced into traditional coldwater fish habitats in Maine, the fisheries biologists have concluded that anglers can play a role in assisting that process, by not returning them to the water.

When it comes to attempts at controlling newly introduced populations of invasive fish, there isn't just one blanket rule that applies to all species and all ecosystems. I think that the evidence indicates that a species like bass are more vulnerable to population reduction efforts than more prolific species. (By contrast: attempts to angle the carp out of, say, the Potomac River basin, I seriously doubt that would have an impact.)

But smallmouth bass have some specific nesting requirements, a moderate brood size (females lay between 2000-7000 eggs per lb. of body weight), fairly late spawning maturity (3 years, 9" for males, 3-4 years, 11"-13" for females), and low survival rate to adulthood (like most fish). Also, the primary item in the diet of bass is other fish, once they reach the size of 10" or more. In a habitat like the Rangeley ecosystem, one bass can eat a lot of trout in a year.

While I haven't read of any estimates of the bass population per stream mile in the Magalloway, if it's similar to the above-quoted situation on the Green River out west, the removal of one single 15" smallmouth reduces the population of predaceous, mature spawning age invasive bass in the river by around 2%, at minimum. So I think that angler catch-and-kill does have the potential impact to limit the population of bass and advantage the native brook trout, in this particular case. I agree with the fisheries biologists about that. Otherwise, I wouldn't do it.

Bringing up, say, the case of exotic invasive rainbow trout in Big Spring is irrelevant, for the practical purposes of this discussion. Different species, different impact, different habitat, different history of human interventions, different proposed control measures, different outcome possibilities.

Posted on: 2013/8/27 14:14

Edited by barbless on 2013/8/27 14:38:27
Edited by barbless on 2013/8/27 14:40:00
Edited by barbless on 2013/8/27 14:56:35
Edited by barbless on 2013/8/27 14:57:35


Re: Lower Magalloway River, Wilson's Mills, Maine

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Quote:
I understand that some species (actually many) are non-native to the waters in which they reside (i.e., rainbow trout, brown trout, etc.), but really don't feel it is my place to play "god" and remove them from the system.


I don't view myself as "playing God" by culling an unwanted invasive fish in accordance with the science-based conclusions of fisheries biology.

For that matter, I don't view quack bucket biologists who spread invasive exotic species hither and yon as "playing God", either.

We're both playing the role of stewards of the natural world. I think I'm doing it responsibly. I think the invasive species dumpers are doing it irresponsibly.

It's unfortunate that my efforts to rebalance the situation don't have the power to undo unwanted species introductions, in and of themselves. But whenever the possibility exists that my actions might help tip the scales back some- especially in critical habitats like the Rangeley coldwater ecosystems- I'm up for playing a part in doing it.

Posted on: 2013/8/27 14:32


Re: Lower Magalloway River, Wilson's Mills, Maine

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I think you've convinced me that I can actually tip the scales in favor of native species by tossing the evil invasives on the bank. Yes it may be more logical and healthy to just harvest and eat more of them, but tossing them sounds like great fun and I won't have to or carry a creel or clean them. With all the non-native fish in just about every fishable waterway I know, I'll tossing more fish than the fishmonger guys at Pike Place Market!

Sarcasm? yes. But that's about all I got left to say on this subject. Harvest all the fish you want to eat, I have no problem with that. But killing/tossing ANY fish on the bank in the context of recreational fishing just seems silly and pointless to me.

Posted on: 2013/8/27 16:48


Re: Lower Magalloway River, Wilson's Mills, Maine

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Barbless, thanks for the insight. I think you have valid points for your actions.

Posted on: 2013/8/27 17:26
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