Downeast hatchery suffers “trout crash”



Plagued by low water at West Grand Lake and rising lake water temperatures of the intake water at the Grand Lake Stream fish hatchery, the state wound up losing an estimated 20,000 brook trout fry at the hatchery over the past few weeks.

According to Todd Langevin, superintendent of hatcheries in Augusta, the loss, while significant, should “not impact the state’s overall stocking program.” Langevin says that in the state’s annual stocking plans there are built in buffers for such sudden losses.

The fish that were lost were close to fingerling size and would have been stocked late this fall. Although this was the largest “trout crash” in recent years at the Downeast hatchery, some hatchery trout were lost in 2008 and 2012 due to excessively warm lake water being taken from the West Grand Lake intake source.

Langevin says there have been no other significant water temperature issues at the state’s other trout hatcheries.

When asked if there was a plan in the works to mitigate the water temperature issue, the hatcheries director indicated that there was a plan on the drawing boards to extend the lake intake pipe into deeper water in search of more suitable water temperatures. Projected cost for extending the intake pipe to deeper water is about a million dollars. The state’s annual budget for its stocking and hatchery program is in excess of three million dollars.

Estimated cost of this fall’s trout fry loss is in the neighborhood of $8,000.

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The man who works on my always-in-the-shop outboard motor never stops grumbling about how ethanol gasoline raises havoc with small engines. Another man I know, who is more engine savvy than I, had been purchasing ethanol-free aviation gas at a small airport. He paid more, but was willing to pony up some extra cash to keep his engines running trouble free. The state purportedly has put a stop to that.

My outboard man tipped me off to where I could buy ethanol-free gas for my outboard. After some searching, I found the energy company that sells ethanol-free gas. The woman at the counter said that she would sell me the ethanol-free gas, but first it would be necessary for me to fill out and sign a form, which was a waiver absolving the seller of any “liability.” My jaw dropped. “This is a joke, right?” I queried. The waiver ordered me to swear that I would not burn the ethanol-free gas in any “vehicle.”

“This is dumb!” said I. “Tell us about it,” she said with a smile. As it turned out the traditional gas was priced almost double the going pump price for the corn-fed fuel. (Because of Maine law the energy dealer can only obtain ethanol-free gas by bringing it down from Canada). I shook my head and walked out. A few days later, right on cue, I took my rough-running outboard back to the shop.

In the Florida Keys you can buy ethanol-free gas right at the pump, for a few cents more. Most boaters patronize these gas stations regularly.

Sometimes I think that Maine, when it comes to state government and its unrelenting nannying of its citizenry, is just plain out to lunch. I can remember when life in Maine was a lot less complicated.

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal.

V. Paul Reynolds

Columnist at Ellsworth American
The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. His email address is [email protected]

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