If you are a fly fisherman whose passion is casting a line over landlocked salmon across moving water, Grand Lake Stream (GLS) is the next thing to paradise. And, since 1875, the state fish hatchery on the stream has been part of the GLS scene, and the source of salmon that populate the stream and the adjoining West Grand Lake.
Over the years, the GLS hatchery has produced annually 80,000 catchable brook trout and landlocked salmon. In fact, according to Lisa Kane, a spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the GLS hatchery is the source of 75 percent of the landlocked salmon stocked statewide in Maine waters. In November, the state trap nets spawning wild salmon in the lake to take eggs that are then incubated and grown in the hatchery.
In the past few years, a number of structural upgrades have been made at the hatchery. Suddenly, in the summer of 2016, disaster struck! With the surface temperature of the water on the lake hovering near 80 degrees, the hatchery lost 30,000 brook trout fingerlings. The salmon fared better, but some were lost due to the unsuitably warm water being taken from the lake by the hatchery intake pipe.
The solution, if this crisis was to be avoided in the future, was to rebuild the intake pipe and extend it two miles into colder water at 52 feet. Four million dollars, from a variety of sources, was allocated for the pipe repair project. It was a major undertaking that involved moving fish to other locations. Additionally, there were some unhappy anglers as the construction project muddied the stream and made fishing next to impossible.
But all is well that ends well.
Kane writes, “Construction of the pipeline began this August and was essentially completed by the end of November. Final grading, seeding and landscaping at the lake shore where the pipe connects with the hatchery line will occur as soon as weather permits in spring 2019. New valves on the shoreline allow for water temperatures to be blended from “shallow” and “deep” as lake water is gravity fed to a new head box. Other improvements included the replacement of the antiquated UV water treatment system with the latest available modern UV equipment.”
It is good to know that, come spring, that Grand Lake Stream will be back to normal. The hatchery will be humming along with colder, more reliable incubation water for our future game fish and open day anglers will only have to worry about flow levels and a pool that’s not taken.
By the way, if you have a Maine sportsman’s license plate on your vehicle, take a bow. Your dollars for that plate helped underwrite the cost of the hatchery repair project.