Got a freezer full of fish from last week’s ice fishing trip? You may be breaking the law!

When did hunting and fishing stop being a good way to feed your family? On a facebook forum, a member discussed how he liked to trade his daily catch for Chinese food from one of his favorite restaurants. Many of us knew this was not a good thing to be posting publicly, because by saying he traded, he was in violation of the law.

You are allowed to give fish to people who do not have fishing licenses, however you must label those fish with your name, and the date that you caught the fish before you give it to them. And you are NOT allowed to barter or sell them.

Now comes the interesting part! While researching the laws pertaining to gift fish, I discovered that possession limits on fish have changed! You may not have more than 1 daily bag limit in your possession EVER, even if those fish are given to you by somebody else!


These trout were caught over a period of several days, and were frozen specifically for a “Mountain Man Weekend” where a group of buddies get together to spend Memorial Day weekend in the woods away from wives, kids, and bathrooms…Under current laws, this is a violation of the rules!

I can go to the supermarket, and buy all the farm raised, or imported wild caught fish I want. I can take them home and fill as many freezers as I want. But if I go out to a beaver pond, and I am in Penobscot County, for example, and I catch 2 brook trout a day for a week, and freeze them, I have violated Maine’s possession law for trout.

When did this happen? How did Maine fishermen allow it? With this insane law, I can give my fish away to anybody I want, every single day. I can feed my fish to my dogs, grind them into fertilizer, or even throw them away. But I better not even THINK about canning them, or freezing them for future use, unless I only plan to keep my daily bag limit!

If I am allowed to catch and keep 1 bass a day through the winter, and I want to freeze every bass I catch for a month to use in the summer, why cant I?  I bought my license.  I am certainly not planning to WASTE my fish.  I should be able to do whatever I want with a legally caught fish!  When I was a kid, hunting, and fishing was an affordable way to put food on the table, and I am sure it was the same for many families out there.

Slowly, all of the rules and regulations, as well as the fees and various permits are pushing the low-income Mainers right out of being able to subsistence hunt, and fish.

I haven’t checked hunting limits, but now I am wondering if small game possession limits have been changed as well?

I urge you all to contact the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, your local representatives, and Governor LePage and tell them you do not approve of this law. Tell them you want natural healthy food to be something you can count on, to put in your freezer, not something you must eat the day of your outing, or not be able to keep any more fish until you do. Tell them this law is wrong!

To see the Maine fishing laws, and catch limits visit the following links:

Doug Alley

About Doug Alley

I grew up in Bath, Maine in an upper lower class family with 3 step sisters, a step brother, and a little sister. After high school I spent 3 years serving in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. I've competed in, and won, demolition derbies. I've competed in, and never won, stock car races. I am the 47-year-old father of an 11-year-old boy who is pretty sure he is smarter than I ever was. We live on a little less than an acre of land in a 1973 mobile home in Stetson with my wife Jen, some cats, a few chickens, and rabbits, and a couple of goats. I hunt, fish, camp out, dabble in photography, gardening, and I cook in variable degrees of near success.