Old News Archive

Open Water Fishing Preview - March 28, 2006

March 28, 2006 - TRC

March 28, 2006 Open Water Fishing Preview

*Region A- Southwestern Maine
The absence of a snow pack, and with no significant precipitation forecast over the next week should maintain the unusually low flows present in area streams and rivers for early season anglers. These conditions will provide excellent fishing conditions for the start of the open water season.
Streams and rivers usually offer the earliest open water fishing prospects, but this year is the exception. Mild winter weather conditions have created lots of open water on our most southern lakes and ponds, and at the time of this report (3/27) many ponds in York and Cumberland counties are ice free (or nearly so). In fact the ice left Kennebunk Pond (Lyman) several weeks ago, and Crystal Lake (Gray) lost most of its hard surface over this past weekend.

Typically early lake fishing opportunities are limited to shore fishermen, who target the melting edge water around lakes or at lake inlets and outlets. Popular and productive lake-side fisheries exist on Auburn Lake (salmon, togue, brook trout), at the Route 302 causeway between Long Lake
and Bay of Naples in Naples (browns, salmon), the "heath" at the southern end of Thompson Lake in Poland (salmon), the mouth the Songo River in Casco where a small boat can be floated in Sebago Lake (salmon & togue), the confluence of Sebago Lake and the Muddy River off Route 114 in Naples
(salmon), and the trestle bridge located in Standish, where the Sticky River flows into Sebago Lake. However, this year, boat fishermen should have no problem finding waters to fish on April first, including portions of our larger lakes like Sebago and Thompson.

Heavy precipitation and high flows have caused delays in stocking the last two 2 years, but weather related delays are not anticipated this year, with
stocking scheduled to begin April 7th. Cumberland, Androscoggin and York Counties are the focus of early regional stockings, with streams and small
ponds first to be stocked. The Presumpscot River (Windham), Pleasant River (Windham), Little River (Gorham), Mill Brook (Westbrook), Ogunquit River
(Wells), Merriland River (Wells), Great Works River (Berwick), and the Mousam River (Sanford) are some of the first streams stocked. Staff at Dry
Mills Hatchery, New Gloucester Hatchery, and Casco Hatchery will be assisted by volunteers from various fish and game clubs in York County. Stocking will move northward in keeping with the normal progression of ice melt and the thawing of our waterways. Anglers should check out the Department's web site (www.mefishwildlife.com) for last year's stocking report, which may vary some from year to year, but will provide a good indication of where and when the fish are stocked.

A number of flowing waters in southern Maine are stocked in the fall with larger size fall yearling trout and offer a good opportunity in the spring to catch larger hold-over brook & brown trout. These waters include, the Salmon Falls River below South Berwick Dam (browns), Mousam River below Route 1 in Kennebunk (browns), Ogunquit River below Route 1 (browns), Saco River below Skelton Dam in Dayton (browns+brook), Saco River - Bonney Eagle Bypass (browns), Saco River, below Hiram Dam (browns), and Pleasant River - special management section in Windham.

A number of lake inlet streams also can provide some great early season fishing for larger fish stocked in lakes, including Panther Run off Mill
Street in Raymond (salmon), Sebago Locks in Casco (salmon), and Pump Box Brook below Route 11 in Shapleigh (browns & brook trout). Some of the largest spring-caught trout are taken below dams at lake outlets. Trout commonly drop out of lakes and may be taken during early spring at the base of outlet dams.

Many regional lakes experienced reduced fishing pressure and harvest last winter, which should translate into some better open water angling
opportunities across the region. In fact many of our waters stocked with legal-size brook trout last fall experienced good fishing through the entire
winter fishing season and many of these stocked trout will be available during the early part of open water fishing season. These types of waters
are excellent prospects for early spring brook trout action. Otter Pond #2 (Standish), Worthley Pond (Poland), Littlefield Pond (Sanford), and Knight's
Pond (S Berwick) are expected to provide some good pond fishing at the start of the open water season.

Salmon are the fish of choice for many traditional early spring anglers and with an early ice out in progress many salmon waters (or portion thereof)
will be open to trolling on April 1st and the rest will follow soon after. My picks for good salmon action include: Auburn Lake (Auburn), Trickey Pond
(Naples), South Pond (Greenwood), and Bryant Pond (Bryant Pond), Moose Pond (Bridgton), Thompson Lake (Otisfield), Crescent Lake (Raymond), Panther Pond (Raymond), and Sebago lake. The salmon fishing on Sebago is not expected to be fast, but will offer some quality salmon up to 8 pounds.

While fishing Sebago and its tributaries, anglers are again reminded to kill and keep any northern pike that are caught and report your catch to a fisheries biologist at the Gray Regional headquarters (657-2345). Northern Pike are very active and spawn during ice out, frequently traveling into inlets in search of spawning habitat.

-Francis Brautigam, Regional Fisheries Biologist


*Region B - Central Maine

If the warmer weather conditions continue at their present trend, we are going to see many lakes and ponds loose their winter coats just in time for
the first day of open water fishing season. This Saturday holds a great promise of having significantly more open water than most seasons past. For many anglers, the opening day is a tradition to just get out and wet a line.
In general, many anglers that do venture out to fish opening day are very seldom rewarded with any fish. If you are one of those anglers who always thought about wetting a line on opening day, this may be the year to give it a try.

With last fall's rains and this year's ice conditions, there will be many more fish susceptible to open water anglers. As is usual, last fall the department stocked fall yearling brook trout for the upcoming ice fishing season. The rain that we encountered during the fall could have played a major role on harvest and movement of those stocked fish. Some of the trout might have been attracted by the high flows and moved into the inlets or the outlets of the waters stocked.

The results from our winter creel census work showed low harvest rates for these fall yearling fish. This, in return, means more trout for the open
water anglers. I would suggest that you take a look at the fall yearling stocking report at
, to see the whole list of stocked waters. Then try some of the outlets of the
various waters that were stocked last fall with fall yearling brook trout. A few that come to mind would be Lake St. George (Liberty), Wassookeag Lake (Dexter), Long Pond (Belgrade) and Great Moose Pond (Hartland).

-Scott Davis, Fisheries Biologist Specialist


*Region C - Downeast
Exciting April fishing opportunities await anglers in the Downeast region. Many lakes and ponds will have recently experienced ice-out prior to opening
day that will produce immediate action for salmon and trout. The thin ice conditions that prevailed across the area through out the winter helped
reduce the ice fishing harvest and consequently more fish carried over to open water anglers. Here is the inside scoop on what anglers can expect for
early action.

Landlocked Salmon

Long Pond - Mount Desert Island - is one of my top picks for hot salmon trolling. This water, immediate to the coast will be wide open on April
1st. It experienced very little use this past winter and should hold some eager landlocks averaging between 17 and 20 inches.

Green Lake - Ellsworth - This deep cold lake stubbornly sealed over late in the season and experienced little winter use. Trollers should have good fishing for 15 to 17 inch salmon with a reasonable chance at a lunker togue.

Nashes Lake - Calais - This little known water is the sleeper for nice sized salmon. Anglers here should have good fishing for salmon between 17 to 22
inches.

Tunk Lake - T 10 SD - This water barely had safe ice on its main body leaving only a brave few to fish it this past winter. This translates into more big salmon at large. Although this lake usually takes a few weeks after opening day to heat up, it's worth anglers putting it on their list for early salmon trolling.

Jordan Pond - Seal Harbor - This relatively small but deep water was another pond that sealed over late and saw very little use this past winter. It
holds big salmon and is worth anglers giving it a try as they could have a good catch of silversides between 17 and 22 inches.

Cathance Lake - Cooper - After a sensational open water season last year, I predict this water will be just fair fishing this spring. Ice fishing was
good this past winter and between the last two seasons of use and harvest, and the low stocking rate, along with a poorer condition of salmon, fishing will likely not be as fast as 2005. But I do expect that there will be some good catches of salmon between 17 and 21 inches. This water's main body will be ice-free shortly before or after April 1st, but the landing cove's ice may keep anglers at bay for a few days longer before it melts away.

West Grand Lake - Grand Lake Stream - The spring's salmon prospects for this region's biggest water looks good. Last fall's sampling showed that salmon are in excellent condition and together with the lake's winter use being down, equals more fat, active landlocks for the trolling fraternity. Anglers here can expect to catch sassy fish between 16 and 20 inches.

Big Lake - T 27 ED - This lake was the recipient of a flush of salmon for Grand Lake Stream this past fall and winter making salmon numbers good for
this spring's fishing. This is one of my top picks for April and May salmon trolling. Anglers here should expect very good action for landlocks between 17 and 19 inches.

The Narrows between Long & Lewy Lakes - Princeton - This is one of the best early salmon areas in the region especially following big flush years when Grand Lake Stream's salmon get pushed down in the drainage. This stretch of
water is best fished in the month of April.

Gardner Lake - East Machias - This is another one of my top picks for very good salmon action in April and May. Reports from this winter indicate that the salmon are in terrific condition and were eager to bite. This coupled with the little use that it experienced this past winter makes for winning a
combination for spring trollers.

Alligator Lake - T 34 MD - This water will be slow for spring fishermen because of the absence of the age three year class but the remaining 2's, 4's and 5 year old cohorts will make for some of the biggest salmon anglers will experience in the region. It's not unlikely that some lucky angler
will catch a 6-pound plus salmon here.

Grand Lake Stream - town of Grand Lake Stream - We predict slow opening day fishing in the dam pool for the usual kelt salmon. This is due to the past fall's and winter high water flows resulting from torrential rains. This pushed the weary post spawn salmon out of their wintering holding area and down into Big Lake and beyond. Consequently, April fishing in the stream will be slow but don't fear, because use in West Grand Lake this past winter was low and this, coupled with good growing salmon, translates into a good migration of bright fat salmon in May.

Brook Trout

Fox Pond - T 10 SD - This water will be stocked in mid-April with 9 to 11 inch trout that will produce good roadside fishing off Route 182. This water is also stocked with brown trout and anglers commonly catch a big brownie in amongst their brookies.

Lower Hadlock Pond - Northeast Harbor - This water is stocked heavy with large and small brookies in the fall as well as brown trout in the spring, so it should be prime for early trout action. This water has a waterside footpath all the way around it that provides many vistas and bank fishing opportunities.

Orland River - Orland - Between just below the Alamoosook Lake Dam and the Mast Hill Road, the Department will again stock this section of the Orland River that last spring provided popular brook trout fishing opportunities for newly stocked spring yearling trout ranging from 9 to 11 inches. This is a great place to take kids and bank fish or for an adult to fly fish and ply the waters with streamers and dry flies. This stretch will be stocked
in mid April.

Union River - Ellsworth - Below Route 1A and Leonard's Lake and off the mouth Branch Lake Stream, the Dept. will again stock 9 to 11 inch brookies in mid April for immediate fishing opportunities. This was first done by the Dept. last spring and was a big hit with local youngsters. This section of the Union River is best accessed off the Christian Ridge Road by Branch Lake Stream.

Long Pond - Great Pond Plt. - This one of the region's best trout waters for fish between 14 and 16 inches with occasional trout being caught over 20
inches. This pond is accessed off the GMO 27-00-0 road in the village of Great Pond.

Six Mile Lake - Marshfield - This water is another current two-story fishery with both brown trout and brook trout. This water was not open to ice fishing and was stocked with brookies last fall. These 9 to 11 inch trout are waiting your arrival and are usually eager to bite a worm or trolled spinner.

Middle River - Machias/Marshfield - The small little known river starts at First Mark's Lake Dam off Route 192 and drains into the Machias River 3
miles away. The Department stocks brook trout in three different locations along the river with the lower section below the Marshfield Road being
restricted to children's only fishing. This river will be stocked twice this spring, once in mid May and once in early June. This is a great area for moms and dads to spend the day; morning or evening, with children bank fishing for feisty newly stocked trout.

North Myers Pond - Columbia - This is a terrific children's only water that is stocked early in the spring and provides great bank fishing for kids.

Brown Trout

Walker Pond - Sedgwick - This water will be hot for good size browns caught trolling along the drop-offs in April and May. This water produced a 10
pounder last winter but was fished very little because of poor ice conditions.

King Pond - Great Pond Plt. - This is a terrific remote brown trout water that produces nice sized browns for early trollers. Remember to troll tight
to the shore with the tip of your rod almost touching the over hanging branches.

Rocky Lake - Whiting - This is a little known lake and is a sleeper for browns in the spring. Rocky Lake has a new dam that has raised the water
level, making it better for navigation into the main lake and better for shoreline trolling for browns. The Department has just purchased the launch
site next to the dam and trailered boats can now be launched because of the new water level. This lake can be reached by traveling to the end of Hall's
Mills Road.

Pennamaquan Lake - Charlotte - This lake is producing big browns and is ripe for early shoreline trolling. This lake will be ice-free come April 1st.
The Department just purchased a trailerable boat launch off the Porter Landing Road and anglers are encouraged to use it.

I hope this information is helpful to kick-off a successful fishing season.
Have fun and be safe, and remember to wear a life jacket around our cold spring waters.

-Greg Burr, Fisheries Biologist Specialist


*Region D - Western Mountains
What's bad for ice fishing is good for open water fishing. I don't believe I've ever seen conditions so favorable for open water fishing this time of year. Rivers are free of ice or partially so, and water levels are low. With continued mild weather predicted, the only problem may be an early crop
of black flies. We have a number of waters scheduled to receive stockings of spring yearling brook trout, but that won't happen by opening day. In the meantime, here are some opportunities for wild fish and holdover stocked fish. The main stems of the big rivers (the Androscoggin and the Kennebec) are excellent bets for brown trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout. The Sandy River and the lower Carrabassett Rivers are mostly free of ice and, as I mentioned, water levels are low and fishable. Even smaller brooks, which are usually flowing over their banks this time of year, should yield some wild trout. The ice is still in most of our lakes, but it is black and unsafe. We predict that it will be going out at least a couple of weeks
early this year, including the big lakes in the Rangeley area.

We have begun our spring fieldwork already. Dave Boucher and Dave Howatt set nets in Norcross Pond, Chesterville, to determine whether pike -which were illegally stocked upstream in Mosher Pond - have moved to the next pond downstream. This illegal introduction threatens our wild fisheries
throughout the Sandy River drainage as these predators will, over time, move for miles. Responding to illegal fish introductions is taking up more and more of our time as we combat the spread of pike and bass.

-Forrest Bonney, Regional Fisheries Biologist


*Region E - Moosehead Region
Well, no one can complain about a long, cold winter this year. April is coming and that means it's time to put away the ice auger and snowmobile and pick up the rod and reel. Time to pack away the woolies and get out the hip boots. Maine has some truly exceptional fishing if you know where to go and how to do it. The Greenville area is a favorite destination for anglers. Within a short drive from downtown, you can have your pick of fishing opportunities, including: trophy wild brook trout fishing on small ponds, river fishing for salmon and brook trout, big lake fishing for trout, salmon, and togue, brook fishing for pan-sized brookies, remote hike-in ponds either wild or stocked brook trout, easy access family fishing ponds stocked with trout, and several quality bass waters. Anglers should check the law book this spring. There have been many changes due to the consolidation of trout regulations; most notably waters that previously had a 1 trout bag limit with a 12 in minimum length limit have been changed to a 1 fish bag with a 14 inch minimum length limit. This includes Moosehead Lake, Chamberlain Lake, and Big Benson Pond. So please review your 2006 open water lawbook before heading out.

Despite the mild winter there will be very little open water in the Moosehead Lake Region on April 1st. The lakes and ponds will still be iced in but anglers can cast a line in several rivers in the Region. Flows should be favorable since there has been little runoff this spring. The East Outlet, Moose River, and Roach River are all open on April 1st. Anglers should remember that these rivers have a catch and release regulation until May 1. We are optimistic that the salmon fishing will be good on these rivers this coming summer. Growth and survival have improved and the poor ice fishing conditions kept winter use and harvest to a minimum, which could create a windfall for summer anglers.

The Piscataquis River is open year-round and anglers will find it fishable. There is also a traditional early season salmon fishery on the West Branch of the Penobscot River. Salmon anglers fish the deadwaters for overwintering salmon. Success can vary depending on flows, but many anglers just like to get out and put a line in the water. There are different regulations along the West Branch so know where you are fishing and know the regulations on the section of river you plan to fish.

If the mild weather continues then you can expect an early ice-out on the lakes and ponds in the Moosehead Lake Region. Smaller waters usually have enough open water by the last week of April and larger lakes soon after. The cool, wet summer of 2005 should have helped trout populations in many smaller ponds that normally get stressed during the warm summer months. We should expect better than average survival and growth in these waters. Ice fishing pressure was down everywhere this winter due to poor ice and travel conditions. This is both good and bad for fisheries management. The good news is lighter winter use and harvest means more fish for the summer anglers. The bad news is that several waters actually benefit from winter harvest. For example, at Moosehead Lake the majority of the lake trout harvest occurs in the winter and we need to remove a large number of the smaller fish to encourage better growth for the other gamefish, especially salmon. Although we haven't crunched the numbers yet, it is unlikely that we met our winter goal for the harvest of lake trout in the 14-18 in range.

The Fisheries staff in the Moosehead Lake Region is anxiously awaiting ice out. We have a busy and exciting spring field season ahead of us. As soon as the ice goes out we will trapnet two of our trout ponds that have the new experimental trout slot limit. We will also monitor smelt runs on several of our lakes. In May we will be cooperating with Brookfield Power Company and Florida Power and Light on a radio-telemetry study that is designed to create/improve fishing in a few rivers in the Region. We will also continue to monitor the movement of wild lake trout and brook trout implanted with radio tags last fall on Moosehead Lake. We will be heading back to Misery Pond in late May - early June to follow-up on the report of an illegal bass introduction into this trout pond in 2004. Last year we did not find any evidence of bass and the trapnetting effort also enabled us to remove large quantities of competing species in this wild trout pond. Our fingers are crossed that the report was false since bass in this water could eventually spread to the Moose River drainage above Brassua Lake and into the Jackman area.

-Tim Obrey, Regional Fisheries Biologist.


*Region F, Penobscot Region
Although open water season begins on April 1, fishing opportunity will be limited in Region F for the first few weeks of the season. The ice is out on most rivers and streams in the southern part of the region, and flows are nearly normal in larger rivers and streams, but the smaller streams and brooks have very low water levels. The normal flow for the
Penobscot River in Enfield is about 15,000 cfs and the present flow is at 10,800 cfs. Also, river flows will continue to decline unless some significant rainfall occurs in the next few weeks. Conditions for the salmon fishery in the West Branch of the Penobscot should be quite good early, the current flow is about 3500 cfs, in the season but again unless there is significant rainfall, dam gates will be lowered and flows in the West Branch will be reduced to conserve water. Water temperatures are still quite low so although fishing access to smaller brooks and streams will be good, low temperatures will contribute to slower fishing activity.

Suggestions for some great early bass fishing would be the Penobscot and Piscataquis Rivers. The Penobscot has been free of ice off and on all winter and has been mostly free of ice for 2 weeks. This past weekend the remaining ice in the Piscataquis around Howland went out. The anxious bass angler should be able to catch a few on April 1st.

It appears that generally, ice out will be about two weeks early in Region F. Some of our Bass waters that we would expect to be free of ice in the next couple of weeks are Pushaw Pond (Old Town), Stump Pond (Lincoln), Dolby Pond Millinocket, South Branch Lake (Seboeis). As the water temperatures increase, pickerel and white perch catches will increase. Pickerel and Northern Pike (found in Pushaw lake) will be spawning in the
shallow weedy coves. These fish are especially aggressive hungry soon after spawning this can give the early open water angler lots of excitement.

Region F is expecting some great spring fishing for Brook Trout, Lake Trout, Splake, and Salmon. This past winter we observed that fishing pressure thought the region was well below normal. Poor ice conditions for most of the winter and extreme changes in the weather were the major
contributors to this. With this in mind, fish that we expected to be harvested still remain. These fish will be providing the spring angler with lots of opportunities. For the early spring angler might we suggest several waters: Seboeis (T4R9 NWP) - this water should produce some great Splake and salmon fishing. East Musquash (Topsfield) - Should produce some nice Lake Trout and Salmon. Silver Lake (Lee), Trout Pond (Lowell), Little Round Pond
(Lincoln), Jerry Pond (Millinocket) -- should still have some of the fall stocked Brook trout hanging around waiting for a fly. We expect these waters
to be ice free or at least have enough open water to fish next week. Most of our regions waters should be open buy mid April depending on the weather.

The smelt runs should be going full steam in about 2 weeks. So get your fishing gear ready and you can leave you bug repellent home at least for a
couple of weeks.

-Mike Smith, Regional Fisheries Biologist and Brian Campbell, Fisheries
Biologist Specialist


*Region G - Aroostook County
Ice conditions at the present time suggest that we may have an early ice out in northern Maine. A recent trip to St. Froid Lake had much water and corn ice on the surface by the time we left at 2:00 p.m. Although there was still about 30 inches of ice, the auger went through it like a hot knife
through butter except for the last 8-10 inches, which is about all of the blue ice that we got in early winter. A lot depends on what we get for
weather, but normal spring conditions may result in open water anglers enjoying their sport a few days early.

During the winter, regions were asked to develop suggestions for various fishing opportunities in their management region. This information can be
viewed on the Department web site under Fishing Opportunities in the Fishing section. This is an excellent internet site to visit for places to fish in
this management region.

Anglers fishing in the Fish River Lakes Region should be aware of several regulation changes that are in effect for 2006. Most of the lakes that had a
daily bag limit of 2 trout with a minimum length limit of 8 inches now have a minimum length limit of 6 inches. On most of the waters in T15R9 WELS,
Aroostook County and the Pelletier Brook Lakes, the minimum length limit on trout is now 6 inches - the special slot limit has been discontinued.
Exceptions to this regulation are Crater Pond, South Little Black Pond and Big Black Pond (plus tributaries and outlet). These ponds have a 1 trout
limit with an 18-inch minimum length limit. This regulation will apply to blueback trout in Big Black as well as brook trout. Stink Pond will be open
to catch and release.

Upper Hudson Pond & outlet in T11R10 WELS, Aroostook County now has a daily bag limit of 2 trout; minimum length limit 10 inches, only 1 may exceed 12 inches. We are seeking to improve the growth and size of trout in this fly fishing only water. Rockabema Lake in Moro Plt. and First and Second Wallagrass Lakes in Wallagrass Plt., all in Aroostook County, have a daily bag limit of 3 salmon; minimum length limit: 12 inches.

The togue fishery in Eagle Lake in the Fish River Chain will continue to have a 5 fish daily bag limit with a minimum length limit of 14 inches. Many anglers took advantage of this regulation this winter and we are encouraging open water anglers to do the same. A large population of wild togue is competing with numerous wild salmon for smelts. We are seeking to remove a great proportion of the togue to improve the smelt population while enhancing salmon growth.

A number of brook trout lakes and ponds have been changed to No Live Fish As Bait in an attempt to prevent introduction of additonal fish species. As
with the start of any fishing season, we would encourage anglers to obtain a copy of the new law book prior to going fishing. There is ample time to
become familiar with any regulation changes before ice out.

-Dave Basley, Regional Fisheries Biologist


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NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.