AUGUSTA — Five Hancock County residents were among 14 Mainers winning the right to apply for a highly coveted 2022 fishing license to harvest elvers, which fetched more than $1,800 per pound last year, as part of the Maine’s annual elver lottery.
Their names were drawn from a group of 2,600 Mainers vying for the chance to dip or set nets for the translucent young eels during this year’s season that opens at noon Tuesday, March 22, and closes Tuesday, June 7.
Hailing from Hancock County, Philip Carroll of Hancock, Curtis Gott of Trenton, Mary Havener of Ellsworth, Joy Macgregor of Gouldsboro and Mark Piper of Hancock may now apply for a license to use a dip net or set a fyke net to trap the elvers that swim in from the sea and travel on an incoming tide up rivers, streams and brooks. The colorless, transparent fish make the journey after dark, preferably on moonless nights when eagles and other predators can’t spot them.
From Washington County, the lottery winners included Lydia Alley of Jonesport, Christina Dame of Addison, Chase Kennedy of Milbridge, Dana Maker of Lubec, Belinda Mcdonald of Jonesport, Mark Patryn of Machias and Peter Ricker of Perry. Robert Hodgkins of West Rockport was the only other Mainer randomly chosen to apply in the lottery, which was instituted by the Maine Legislature in 2017. Applicants must be Maine residents and at least 15 years old. The total number of state elver license holders remains capped at 425.
This year’s winners have 30 days to apply for a license. Each newly licensed elver harvester will be entitled to trap at least 4 pounds of elvers. Their individual fish quotas are determined by the quotas associated with the 13 licenses that were not renewed in 2020 and 2021.
Maine and South Carolina are the only states where it is legal to fish for elvers in the United States. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which manages fisheries along the Atlantic Coast, set the overall 2022 elver catch at 9,688 pounds. Last year’s catch fetched $16 million in landed value compared to more than $10 million in 2020.