George Smith's blog

Rafting, Fishing, and More at Northern Outdoors

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The Forks
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The Kennebec river that flows through Skowhegan, Waterville, Augusta, and Gardiner starts its journey just north of the Forks where it passes through an amazing gorge. You really must see it.

The journey to the Forks from anywhere in central Maine will take you no more than 1 ½ hours on a scenic highway and deliver you to Northern Outdoors, Maine’s first rafting company and now a sprawling resort of log buildings with all the amenities and luxuries you seek in a vacation.

In a two-day one-night adventure a few weeks ago, we spent a half day fishing, a whole day rafting, enjoyed delicious meals and a very nice cabin, toured a brewery, got to know some great people, and learned a lot about this interesting region of Maine.

New Maine Hunting Law Book Coming Soon

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A new book of Maine hunting laws and rules should be available before most of the fall hunting seasons kick off on October 1. That will be particularly timely because the new laws enacted in this year’s legislative session take effect on September 28.

Andrea Erskine, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, has completed her work in pulling the book together. This is one of her former duties that followed her into her new position at the department.

DIF&W’s Director of Information and Education Edie Smith is now proof reading the entire book. You should look for it sometime in September at town offices and anywhere hunting licenses are sold

Deer Plan and Other Reports Now Available

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Sandy Ritchie's latest informative progress report on DIF&W's Maine Game Plan for Deer is available now.

The department will also email to you an excellent weekly news report.

My column on wind in the wilderness - and the impact of wind towers on visiting anglers - was printed in the Kennebec Journal and Waterrville Morning Sentinel last week.

This week's KJ and Sentinel column is about Senator Dave Trahan's amazing legislative session and new job at the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine.

And you can see a clip from an amazing new video showing a NextEra staffer banding a Maine Bald Eagle.

Dave Trahan a Great Choice for the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine

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Senator David Trahan (R-Waldoboro) has agreed to take the job of executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.

Interim SAM director Matt Dunlap will continue in the job until September, when Trahan is anticipating he’ll take over. Dave had what he described as an excellent meeting with the SAM Board yesterday.

“Dave is a very capable, very experienced individual,” SAM President Jim Gorman told me, “and he comes very highly recommended. I’m anticipating that he’ll be able to get lots more sportsmen involved in SAM.”

I can only hope that Jim is correct. Since I left the position last fall, SAM has offered the job to four people and hired three of them. No need to review the matter, but we were all fortunate that Matt Dunlap was available to step in, fix some problems, and get SAM to a position where they could attract an outstanding leader like Dave Trahan.

A Morning on the Kennebec River

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In this photo, I am demonstrating my special catch-photo-and-release technique on a nice landlocked salmon. Notice the deep level of concentration as I coax the fish back into the river.

Linda and I enjoyed the last couple of days at Northern Outdoors in the Forks, highlighted by a rafting trip one day and a half-day of fishing with guide Chris Russell on the Kennebec River.

We fished downriver from the Forks, a gorgeous stretch thick with scenery but thin in fish. We had a great time with Chris, caught three species of fish, and introduced Linda to drift boat fishing. She loved it.

She also loved Chris’s 3 wt. Sage Flight rod and Ross Evolution Reel with sharkskin line. That may cost me a lot of money.

Hunters Losing Interest in Maine Moose

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Hunters are losing interest in Maine’s moose hunt. Since lottery applications peaked in 1984 at 94,532, applications from residents have declined 50 percent and from nonresidents 33 percent.

The number of applications in the last two years was the lowest in the 29 years of the state’s modern moose hunt. A total of 49,887 people entered the 2011 lottery, an increase of just 158 over last year. 36,527 of the 2011 applicants were residents and 13,360 were nonresidents.

The only good news in the 2011 lottery was a slight up tick in nonresident applications from 12,717 in 2010 to 13,360 this year.

This is important because DIF&W gets about half of it’s moose revenue from nonresidents even though they get only 10 percent of the permits.

Resident applications continued their long and steady decline this year, going from 37,012 in 2010 to 36,527 this year.

DIF&W Constitutional Amendment Wrap-up

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While we suffered the astonishing, destructive, and devastating end to our effort on behalf of a Constitutional amendment giving Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife a small percentage of the sales tax, the controversy continues.

I am anxiously awaiting news about what the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine intends to do in reaction to the broken promises of those five Senators who switched their yes votes to no and left us 2 votes short of the necessary two-thirds on the very last legislative vote (see my June 28 blog post on this).

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