Guide Jay Robinson of Woodville tosses a fly rod tube into his canoe before heading out on a remote trout pond for an evening of fishing. Credit: John Holyoke

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The state on Friday kicked off the open-water fishing season early and waived the requirement that an angler must have a recreational license.

The order is effective immediately and will run through April 30, according to Mark Latti, spokesman for Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. All waters that were slated to open April 1 are now legal to fish.

The idea is to make it easier for Mainers to get outside and enjoy the outdoors during the COVID-19 outbreak, while following social distancing precautions as recommended by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, officials said.

“During these times, getting outside and enjoying the outdoors is a wonderful way to recharge, while maintaining social distancing practices,” said Judy Camuso, Commissioner of MDIFW. “Waiving the requirements for a license will give people more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.”

This change does not apply to those who have had their recreational license suspended or revoked. It also does not apply to activities that require a commercial freshwater fishing license or permit, nor does it open waters that are currently closed to ice fishing. Anglers can continue to ice fish where it’s currently allowed, and safe.

All tackle, length and bag limits and special regulations are still in effect.

“As an avid angler, I know there’s nothing better for the heart and soul than a little fishing,” Mills said.