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Outdoor news

Fishing license requirement suspended for inland waters

No license required through April 30 — so get out and whet line
By Staff | Mar 20, 2020

Augusta — Maine Governor Janet Mills on Friday, March 20 directed Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Judy Camuso to open all inland waters for fishing and to waive the requirement that anglers need a recreational fishing license to fish the inland waters of the state.

The order, effectively immediately, will run through Thursday, April 30 and is intended to encourage Maine people to enjoy the outdoors as they confront the challenges associated with COVID-19 or coronavirus.

The governor, in a press release, said she is considering additional measures to make teh Pine Tree State's "great outdoors more accessible to Maine people." She continues to urge those who go out to employ appropriate physical distancing measures recommended by the U.S. CDC.

“As an avid angler, I know there’s nothing better for the heart and soul than a little fishing,” said Mills. “As we continue to navigate this challenging time together, I hope this order will motivate Maine people to do what we have done for generations: take to our lakes, rivers, and streams to cast a line. The great outdoors is still open. Please enjoy it safely.”

Maine has more than 6,000 lakes and ponds and more than 32,000 miles of rivers and streams. With many people home and without many of their normal structured activities, this is a great time to get outside and enjoy Maine’s inland waters.

“During these times, getting outside and enjoying the outdoors is a wonderful way to recharge, while maintaining social distancing practices,” said Camuso. “Waiving the requirements for a license will give people more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.”

Effective immediately, any person — except those whose license has been suspended or revoked — may fish without a license through April 30. This change does not apply to activities which require a commercial freshwater fishing license or permit.

Also effective immediately, all inland waters that traditionally open to open water fishing on April 1 now will be open to open water fishing. This change does not open any body of water to ice fishing that currently is closed to ice fishing. All other tackle, length and bag limits and special regulations still apply.

Before heading out, make sure one lets someone know where that person is going and when the person expects to return. If a person is accessing a waterway from private land, treat the land as if it were your own, and leave no trace that you were there, the governor's release states.

If one is headed out onto frozen water to ice fish, continue to use extreme caution. Use a chisel or auger to test ice thickness in several places. Remember that ice conditions can vary greatly this time of year. Ice that forms over flowing water and currents, especially near springs, streams, bridges and culverts, can be particularly dangerous.

If one is fishing from a boat, the Maine Warden Service urges boaters to wear their lifejackets. Prolonged immersion in cold water can kill, and wearing a life jacket can greatly increase survival chances if one is in the water unexpectedly.

In conjunction with MDIFW temporarily waiving the requirement that anglers need a recreational fishing license to fish the inland waters of Maine, the department of Marine resources also waived the requirement that saltwater anglers must join the state’s saltwater registry, effective immediately through April 30.

For more information on the rules and regulations on a favorite water, visit https://www.maine.gov/ifw/fishing-boating/index.html.

Anglers also have a new tool that makes it quick and easy to find out the fishing regulations on any of Maine’s inland waters. Maine’s Fishing Laws Online Angling Tool (FLOAT), is an online map-based tool that can be accessed from a computer or smartphone, giving one access to fishing regulations for all favorite fishing waters.

Wondering where to go? Check the improved Maine fishing guide at https://www.maine.gov/ifw/fishing-boating/fishing/fishing-resources/maine-fishing-guide/index.html. This statewide guide features the top fishing destinations in the state, broken down by species, tips on how to catch various species, and even provides advice on how to fish with children.

One can even use the department’s Google Earth data layers on your desktop to select your next fishing destination.

If one would like to purchase a license now, or after April 30, one can go online at mefishwildlife.com and get a license. There are license options for a day, week, 15 days or a season. The cost for a day of fishing is less than one would pay to go to the movies. And children younger than 16 always fish free.

Last year, more than 345,000 people were licensed to fish in Maine and fishing contributes over $370 million to Maine’s economy. Money from license sales helps protect Maine’s waters, it enhances Maine’s fisheries and provides water access on many of Maine’s lakes and rivers.

The department stocks more than 1 million fish each year and manages more than 20 species of freshwater game fish. Wondering where the organization stocked fish lately? Go online at https://www.maine.gov/ifw/fishing-boating/fishing/fishing-resources/fish-stocking-report.html.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.

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