Fishing for Science with SRBTC

FIRST_MAINE_SALTER_640_2014The Sea Run Brook Trout Coalition, partnering with with Maine Audubon and Maine Trout Unlimited – with lodging and local support from the Downeast Salmon Federation – will be running our Fishing for Science program for Spring 2016 to catch and study sea-run brook trout in coastal access streams of Maine.

Maine Audubon and TU Maine, building on their successful five year Volunteer Brook Trout Survey to identify populations of wild brook trout in remote ponds, began extending their program into coastal access streams in 2014 to gather data on wild brook trout in Maine’s coastal rivers and streams. That same year, SRBTC partnered with Maine’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and University of Maine, Orono to begin research to more fully understand brook trout behavior in coastal access streams. SRBTC volunteers collected samples needed by research scientists at UMaine to more fully understand how much time these unique fish spend in salt water.

After analyzing fish collected by volunteers in 2014 and 2015, scientists report interesting preliminary findings, but most importantly they report that they need more fish to complete their work. 2016 marks the first year where SRBTC will be collaborating with Maine TU and Maine Audubon as we all share similar goals of researching, identifying and mapping where sea-run brookies do and do not exist in the streams and brooks of coastal Maine.

At a scientific level, samples from our Fishing for Science program are collected following specific protocols. Trout in highly specific areas are frozen and later dissected in the lab to remove the otolith which when split and polished act very much like looking at the growth rings in a tree. The otolith records microchemical data over time of when the fish went to sea, how long it was there, when it switched back to fresh water and when it might have gone back and forth. As more fish are analyzed, a fuller picture begins to emerge which can be used to help restore populations of sea-run trout. Yet, if the program doesn’t collect enough fish, statistical analysis cannot be performed and the data is insufficient to draw useful conclusions. Ultimately, this data will be used to figure out a much more optimal and simple method to determine anadromy from living fish, as well as to support the conservation of this unique life history.

As of 2016, SRBTC learned from UMaine that they “need more fish – specifically unambiguous salters” to more fully understand brook trout anadromy. Trout samples captured for this study must be handled within a specific protocol that will be provided to participating fishermen. Fish caught and released outside of this program can also be useful to mapping and surveying objectives, however only fish captured by trained fishermen working within specific program protocols can be submitted to the lab for analysis. Fishermen interested in fishing for sea-run brookies to support this research are invited to fish with us on two five-day trips this coming spring on various dates in May and possibly June.

Please contact us for details.

We will be specifically focusing on specific coastal access streams of Downeast Maine. Camp style lodging, meals, maps, stream names and fishing guidelines and protocols will be provided, however this program is limited to advanced participants as small teams will be fishing independently to sample several hundred named and unnamed streams in the area. A donation is suggested to help cover minimal costs. Past participants suggested donations have been under $ 100.00 but any donation is welcome.

This program is currently sponsored by several non-profits; any one of them would be very pleased to accept your donation to help cover costs or to continue this work. All participants will receive basic scientific training and will be required to follow maps, locate access points and bushwhack as necessary to get into these streams. We’ll be working in Townships and interaction with friendly and not-so-friendly landowners and teams will be required to seek landowner for access where appropriate.

More detailed information can be found here as it becomes available: >Fishing for Science Planning Page

If you are interested in participating in or supporting this unique opportunity to fish for sea-run brook trout in Downeast Maine, please fill out this >volunteer sign-up form and we’ll get you set up.

Space will be limited, so please make sure you sign up early.

If you are interested in participating but cannot fit in with this specific schedule, please feel free to reach out to us as we can always put committed fishermen to work supporting other sampling efforts. If you would like to support this specific project, but are unable to attend, we are always in need of additional financial support to continue this work.

If you are interested in donating to support this program, please reach out to SRBTC via the form above or directly. Of course, people interested in learning more about sea run brook trout and getting involved in the Sea Run Brook Trout Coalition are welcome to join our organization or buy a Salter print to support our organization.

Our thanks go out to the original volunteer fishermen and fisherwomen supplied by local Maine TU Chapters on this first trip in May 2014 pictured below. We can’t do what we do without your help. We hope to see you all again soon!

Special thanks goes out to Dwayne Shaw of the Downeast Salmon Federation for helping to set this up, giving access to local guides, lodging and additional support. There’s no way we could have done any of this without Dwayne Shaw.