Float Stocking the Upper Androscoggin River
January 23, 2008
By Tom Remington
Story Introduction and all Photographs by Milt Inman
(a special thanks to Milt for an outstanding job of capturing the story with picture)
April 20, 2006
People are gathered here in Gilead, Maine on the banks of the beautiful Androscoggin River, that just a few short years ago was on the list of the ten most polluted rivers in the U. S. Now it is one of the finest and most scenic clear water rivers in the country.
With the combined efforts of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Fish Hatcheries Division, Retired Game Wardens, Trout Unlimited, Guides and members of other interested groups, make this new method of stocking fish work.
Boats launched with truck inner tubes tagging behind that had large nets lashed to the inside of the tube. Then the white squares made of P.V.C pipes that are weighted are placed in the bottom of the net to make a safe haven to transport the trout on the trip downstream. They will be released at the mouths of smaller streams all the way down to West Bethel – about five miles to the takeout spot for the boaters.
The Fish and Game Department tank truck brings the fish from the hatchery to the boat-launching place where the fish are carried in buckets to the waiting nets in the tubes. As soon as the first two nets are filled, the boat heads down stream and another boat is moved into the loading spot and the nets filled with trout.
This is repeated until all 3,400 fish are on their way to a new home to grow big and feisty in the beautiful Androscoggin River in the state of Maine.
Float stocking is a new technique used to stock fish in rivers and large streams. Traditionally stocking is done by picking an access point accessible by tank trucks and dumping a load of home grown fish at that site. Studies have shown that stocked fish generally do not wander too far away from the spot where they are introduced. There are, of course exceptions.
We have fishermen known as truck chasers, who seem to have a sense of when and where a stock truck is and will be there ready to cast the first line. While the method of stocking fish in one location has worked for years, this new method spreads the fish out to several good fish habitat along the river. The old way, it doesn’t take but a couple of weeks and the vast majority of stocked fish have been caught. The new method should afford the pen-raised trout a longer opportunity to acclimate to their surroundings and make the work of the fishermen more in tune with normal fishing of native fish.
The date was April 20, 2006, a bright and glorious day. As you will see in the photos, it brought out a lot of volunteers. The tank truck from the hatchery arrived right on time at 10:00 a.m.
Before the truck had even arrived, the masses of volunteers had gathered with boats, inner tubes, nets and any other gear they could think to bring along.
The groups prepare their gear. The picture to the right shows Jeff Parsons, owner of Bethel Outdoor Adventures (middle of boat) along with retired Maine Game Warden Donald Gray, in the bow of the boat, getting the tubes and nets ready.
The method is simple really but yet reeks of Yankee ingenuity. A simple tire inner tube is used and fish netting is slung and suspended below the tube. Placed in the bottom, is a square made up of weighted pvc plastic pipe (shown in other photos) to help in keeping the netting down and apart. This makes it less difficult in fighting with the net to get the fish in and out. It makes for a pretty cozy little cockpit for the ride down the river.
Getting the fish from the tank truck to the tube nets is certainly not hi-tech.
As you can see in the photo to the left, a television cameraman perched up on the back, is ready to shoot some footage. A member of the Fisheries staff reaches down for a good ole five-gallon plastic pail. He fills the bucket and the volunteers line up for a bucket brigade to the waiting float tubes.
At the other end of the brigade, a bucketful of fish is ready to be placed into a tube net.
The nets are ready and to the left you see a volunteer dispatching a hefty pail of brown trout into a float tube.
First boat has its nets full of brown trout and is ready to head out. All the boats are lining up ready to fill their float tubes. Once filled, they are instructed to head downstream and find what would be deemed, “a wicked good place to fish” and deposit a few trout there and move on to the next spot.
This is the proud owner of a custom made boat. If I have my information correct, this boat belongs to Scott Stone, a member of the local chapter of Trout Unlimited.
As one official said during the event, these are perhaps the most photographed fish in the country. There were television crews here taking footage, newspaper and magazine reporters, freelance outdoor writers and of course, Maine Fishing Today.
Above is our very own Chief Photographer for Maine Hunting Today, Maine Fishing Today and all of our global sites under U.S. Hunting Today. With his arm around Milt (on the right) is Maine’s most famous outdoor reporter from WCSH-TV Bill Green. Milt and Bill have known each other for about 4 years now, since Bill visited Milt’s hunting camp in Albany and did a story of Milt and long-time friend and hunting partner, Vance Bacon.
Here in this picture, Bill Green is taking over and getting an interview with the Captain of this boat. In the front is Bill’s long-time cameraman.
I believe the boat belongs to Maine Guide and one of the organizers of this event, Rocky Freda.
Other television crews were at work trying to get a good story and that one or two exceptional shots.
I want to once again thank a few people. I first want to thank Wende Gray of Gray Marketing in Bethel, for the heads-up about the story and an invitation to attend. I of course can’t thank Milt Inman enough for getting out and taking the pictures and getting them to me immediately.