Fishing article on the hook

A petition warrant article asking to ban adults from fishing at Milford’s Railroad Pond is opening a real can of worms.

Voters will be able to discuss – and potentially amend – the article at the town deliberative session next Saturday, Feb. 7, at 9 a.m. in Town Hall.

If the article is passed unchanged, adults would be banned from fishing at the pond. The article doesn’t say who would be considered an adult.

It’s also unclear whether or not the article would be enforceable if it’s passed.

The main purpose of the warrant article was to prevent adults from taking stocked trout out of the pond before the annual McBriarty Memorial Fishing Derby, said the lead petitioner John Philbrick.

Originally, Philbrick wanted to ban adults from fishing at the pond “24 hours per day, seven days a week and 365 days per year.”

Railroad Pond is an easy and safe place for children to get to, said Philbrick, adding adults can go anywhere to fish. Railroad Pond is near the center of town, bordered by South and Union streets and the railroad tracks.

However, Philbrick said that after talking to some anglers, he’d be open to changing the warrant article. Philbrick said he wouldn’t mind if residents amended the article to ban adults from fishing at the pond a week before and a week after the derby, which is held in the spring.

Selectmen’s chairman Gary Daniels said the petition may not be enforceable because he believes the pond is actually state property, not town property.

However, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game Lt. Bob Bryant, ponds less than 10 acres – such as Railroad Pond – are subject to rules set by abutting landowners.

Police Chief Fred Douglas said it’s not clear to him whether the warrant article is legal, but if it is, his department will enforce it.