Maine anglers don’t care if they catch a big fish, or even a lot of fish.

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 Most Maine anglers don’t care if they catch a big fish, or even a lot of fish. According to a survey by Mark Duda of Responsive Management, 31% of Maine anglers fish primarily to spend time with family and friends. Another 31 percent fish for relaxation (that is not a fish species). Only 1 percent is out there trying to catch large fish. And 9 percent fish to be close to nature.

This reminded me of this statement, written by John Buchan:

The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”

Apparently, we’re not all hoping for the same thing!

Survey finds Maine anglers very happy. Are you?

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 Good news! You are very happy with your fishing experiences in Maine. You think the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife does a superb job of managing fisheries. You have no problem understanding the fishing rules. And many of you don’t even care if you catch a fish – it’s all about the outdoor experience.

Unbelievable, you say? Well, those were some of the surprising survey results presented by Mark Duda of Responsive Management to DIF&W’s Fisheries Steering Committee, the group that is working with the agency to create new management plans for all fish species.

Steering Committee members were very skeptical of the survey results. “I think this satisfaction level is unbelievable,” said Committee member Fern Bosse, representing the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. “Where are all those people who think the agency is doing great? I don’t see them.”

Don’t drive by Bath!

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                A great get-a-way awaits you in Bath. That’s right, Bath. Perhaps you’ve driven by the city many times on Route 1 and never stopped. What a pity. With a vibrant downtown, great restaurants, one of our favorite inns, and the fascinating Maritime Museum  – well, we just love this place.

                And love it we did, for two days at the end of February, staying at the Inn at Bath where owner Elizabeth Knowlton knows how to pamper her guests, including providing ceramic cups, heated on a tray, for your early morning coffee. This was our second stay here and Elizabeth greeted us like long lost friends, which we now are.

Legislature debating DIF&W’s marketing and communications needs

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 On March 2, I posted a column about communications and marketing at Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. You should read that column before you read this one.

After the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee heard the recommendations from national experts Mark Duda and Jodi Valenta that would improve communications and marketing at DIF&W, committee members bore in to try to figure out what could and should be done. Representative Patrick Corey asked two good questions: Where do we start? How do we scale this into priorities? 

Duda suggested that the agency start with the look of their information and website. Valenta suggested starting with the top recommendations (rather than the bottom, including funding). Organize the staff to achieve this goal, for example, as recommended. A lot of the recommendations focused on getting earned media rather than paid media. Work with the media to get these messages out, she said – that will help start the process.

If you can’t kill ‘em, what can you do about problem critters?

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 If you’ve got a wild animal that is destroying your property or threatening your pets, and you are not a killer, here’s some advice for how you can get rid of that critter. This is the final column in a four-part series titled What can I shoot and when can I shoot it? 

The third column is the most important, spelling out what you can shoot and when you can shoot it. I will include that column at the end of this one in case you missed this important information. Essentially, you can’t shoot anything without a hunting license, with this exception: “a person may lawfully kill, or cause to be killed, any wild animal or wild turkey, night or day, found in the act of attacking, worrying or wounding that person's domestic animals or domestic birds or destroying that person's property.” Any animals killed under this statute must be reported within 12 hours to the Maine Warden Service.

Will the legislature improve DIF&W’s communications and marketing? Probably not!

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 Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife must improve its communications with sportsmen, landowners, and the general public, and reinstate its marketing program. Luckily, they’ve been handed a road map to achieve those goals. And the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife spent an afternoon recently hearing about that road map.

Bonnie Holding, DIF&W Director of Information and Education, started the briefing with an accounting of what the agency is doing currently to communicate with their customers and the general public, and explaining that they had contracted with Mark Duda and Responsive Management, “to develop a plan that will raise overall awareness of Maine’s residents of MDIFW’s mission, programs and projects and measurably increase support of and participation in these programs. The overall plan will include marketing, communications, and public relations.”

Loon Lodge offers an historic, beautiful, and tasty get-a-way

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                "Sometimes you just need to get away," says a quote on Loon Lodge’s website. And this is certainly the place to do that.

                Ariale’s friendly greeting when we arrived got us off to a great start, and as she gave us a tour, I was transported back in time. Enormous round logs are support beams and brace the ceiling in the Great Room, anchored by a huge fireplace with a stone chimney. The "Old Hickory" couches and chairs have log frames with deep cushioned seats. George and I spent a lot of time in this room that emits a feeling of an era gone by, rustic but at the same time elegant. Large windows open to a deck that affords a stunning view of Rangeley Lake.

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