Old News Archive

May 1, 2006 Fishing Report

May 01, 2006 - TRC

Region A - Southwestern Maine

The 2006 winter ice fishing season was characterized by poor ice conditions, which resulted in lower angler use and harvest throughout the Sebago Lakes Region. Consequently, ice was out on most waters by April 1st and the regional fisheries staff predicted a good start to the spring season.

Anecdotal reports from anglers and wardens suggest anglers have had some excellent fishing in the Region during the month of April, particularly on salmon and lake trout waters. Auburn Lake was bustling with anglers on opening day and game warden Dave Chabot reported seeing good catches of salmon and lake trout, and the fishery will continue to produce some excellent fish throughout the season.

Thompson Lake typically produces better later in the season (May); however, anglers have reported some fantastic salmon and togue fishing trips in April. Most of the salmon and lakers from Thompson run in the 2-3 pound class, but anglers indicate that catches of 8-10 fish a trip are not uncommon. Our regional fishery biologist, Francis Brautigam, took his daughter to Thompson two weeks ago and the boated about 8 fish and lost almost as many for an exciting action packed morning.

The smelt run at Sebago was well underway during the last week of April, and anglers were reporting some good fishing to our seasonal survey clerk, Greg Massey. While the action may be a little slower at Sebago, the size quality of the fish is up with anglers reporting salmon in the 3-5 pound range. Although most lakers will also be in the 3-5 pound range, Greg measured a whooper a few weeks ago that was 37 inches long and weighed about 17 pounds! Increased growth of salmon and lake trout, as well as, hydroacoustics data indicates that Sebago's smelt population is finally showing some substantial improvement, and we will respond by increasing the stocking rate of salmon as appropriate. This year the lake is scheduled to receive twice as many salmon.

On a less positive note, after not hearing of a single pike being caught out of Sebago for over a year...we suddenly saw three in the month of April alone. One of the three was only 17 inches long, which suggests pike may have spawned in the lake and will likely establish a population that will alter the ecological balance of the lake forever and seriously jeopardize the potential recovery of the landlocked salmon fishery.

Why Sebago...? This was a senseless and selfish act by one or two people that will negatively change the history of the lake's fisheries for all present and future anglers. These acts of illegal introductions continue at an alarmingly maniacal pace, and even remote waters in northern Maine are no longer exempt. One thing is certain, if this trend continues Maine's coldwater fisheries will be very different 20-30 years from now, and based on what we have witnessed in southern and central Maine far worse off than before these introductions occurred.

This spring's lack of significant snow melt and rain has created some unusually low spring water conditions for stream fishing, which has resulted in some good early season trout fishing. Water conditions have also allowed our hatchery system to get a jump start on the season, and hatchery personnel have been busy since early April stocking 8-12 inch brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, salmon, and splake into Region A waters. Stream fishing is likely to improve significantly in May as more and more streams get stocked and the water warms up a few more degrees. However, we drastically need rain and cooler temperatures throughout the spring to keep the stream fishing good into early summer; otherwise, it may be a short season for stream fishing. We'll have to wait see what mother nature brings? In the mean time get out there and wet a line...trout and salmon season has finally arrived !

Jim Pellerin, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

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Region B - Central Maine

Things have been pretty busy around the region lately. With all the pleasant weather we've been experiencing lately, everyone seems to have caught the outdoors 'bug'. Travels around the area show that anglers are no exception. It seems that there are signs of fishing activity at not only the more popular waters, but at many of the smaller ponds, streams and brooks too.

The warmer than usual spring has allowed hatchery personnel and fisheries biologists the opportunity to plant fish earlier this year than in many others. As a result, most of the initial brook trout stockings are complete in the mid-coastal area. And, since we've been having warm breezy days and fairly cool nights, many lakes and ponds are remaining well mixed in terms of water temperatures. This translates into a situation where the water is relatively the same temperature at the surface as it is in deeper water. This situation allows fish that would normally have specific temperature preferences to move and forage over a greater area. And with increasing biological activity, such as insect emergence, and spring spawning runs of many 'bait fish' species, our game fish are busy feeding. For the angler, activity by the fish means lots of great fishing opportunity.

Reports from anglers around the region indicate that the fishing is certainly picking up in action. We recently had two fishermen show up at the Augusta headquarters with a 6.25-pound brook trout from a local pond! These guys fish that pond often and told tales of catching 16 to 20 inch brookies. I've also had several calls from angler reporting limit catches of nice fat brook trout over 12 inches in length from area waters. I've been sworn to secrecy as to the whereabouts of the water bodies, but let this information serve to indicate that the fish are certainly out there.

Stream fishing has started to pick up too. On my own first outing, I went to one of my usual early spring brooks, a tributary to one of the Belgrade Lakes. In years past, this brook has been on and off, but more often 'on' than not. I have always considered it to be a 'warm up' spot, sort of a place to kick-off fishing season, get the casting arm back in shape. This year I tried a 'new' nymph that I had been considering for a while and had finally tied a few. It is sort of a combination bead-head, shorthaired wooly booger with biot horns and tails tied on a homemade number 16 circle hook. I'll admit right here that the first few were a bit of a pain to tie. In the end these things look like a salmon fly nymph (one of the stoneflies) curled up into a drifting posture. The bead and a slow sinking leader keep it down, but just off the bottom. The brook is pretty alder and shrub-lined, so it's strip and drift. As I worked my way downstream, I reeled in numerous 'brook-sized' brookies, the largest being around 7 inches. All of them were wild fish and full of fight. It made for a lot of fun especially on a 3-weight fly rod. Of course, the sun and temperatures in the high 50's did a lot to add to the day too!

The long and short of it is that the fish are out there. They are all over the place, in the big lakes and rivers and the small out of the way ponds and brooks. Good luck out there.

On May 18, the Department is sponsoring a public meeting on the effects of winter angling on pike in Long Pond and how to manage the illegally introduced fish there in the future. The meeting is at the Belgrade Center for All Seasons on Route 27 and will convene at 6:30 PM. Anyone who is interested in the subject but who can't make the meeting, can send their comments to me in writing at: 270 Lyons Road, Sidney, Maine 04330, or via email at Robert.vanriper@maine.gov.

Robert Van-Riper, Regional Fisheries Biologist

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Region C - Downeast

Spring has sprung and leaves are as big as a mouse's ear. This means its prime time for brook trout and salmon fishing. Successful reports are coming in fast & furious; so don't miss this window of opportunity, which will last until mid-June. Here are some suggested waters to help anglers on their way:

Stream fishing for brook trout: Old Stream - T 31 MD, New Stream - Wesley, Denny's River - Dennysville, West Branch Machias River - T 36 MD, Machias River - T 25 MD, Crooked River - T 30 MD, West Branch Narraguagus River - T 16 MD, Mopang Stream - T 24 MD, Pleasant River - T 18 MD, Middle Branch Union River - Aurora, West Branch Union River - Amherst, Fifth Lake Stream - T 41 MD.

Stocked brook trout streams: Clark Brook - Calais (stocked on April 21st with 150 trout), Middle River - Marshfield (stocked on April 27th with 150 trout), Grand Lake Stream - in the town of Grand Lake Stream (stocked on April 21st with 400 trout), Union River - Ellsworth below Route 1 A and off Infant Street (stocked on April 18thth with 300 trout), Orland River - Orland, below Alamoosook Lake Dam and Mast Hill Road (stocked on April 18th with 150 trout).

Children's only brook trout waters: Section of Middle River in Marshfield below Whitney Cross Road (stocked on April 27th with 150 trout will be stocked again at the end of May), North & South Meyers Pond - Columbia (stocked on April 20th with 250 & 100 trout), Fox Hole Pond - Deblois, (stocked on April 20th with 100 trout and will be stocked again in the beginning of June). Cobscook Bay State Park Pond - Edmunds (stocked on April 27th with 300 trout).

Landlocked salmon waters: West Grand Lake - Grand Lake Stream - Department clerks are finding anglers having steady action for salmon between 14 and 18 inches with some fish up to 20 inches. Cathance Lake - Cooper - anglers are having good action for salmon between 16 and 21 inches. Green Lake - Ellsworth - anglers are hooking-up often with salmon between 15 to 17 inches. Gardner Lake - East Machias - Trollers consistently catching landlocks between 16 and 18 inches.
Lower Patten Pond - Surry - anglers having good luck for salmon between 14 and 17 inches.

Spawning Largemouth Bass: Remember that big largemouth bass will soon be spawning in the weed beds. This year's early spring means that these bass will soon be in the pocket pools in the weeds. Don't miss this great early action. Just quietly motor and paddle up to edges of these openings in the weeds and flip a weedless plastic worm or fish imitation into these pools and reel the lure back slowly just under the surface. These lunker bass can't resist. Here are the waters to experience this thrill: Pocomoonshine Lake - Alexander, Mud Lakes - Alexander, Crawford Lake - Crawford, Rocky Lake - T 18 ED, Little Seavey Lake - Wesley, Hadley Lake - East Machias, Pierce Pond - Penobscot, Wight's Pond - Penobscot, Alamoosook Lake - Orland, Great Pond - Franklin, Toddy Pond - Orland, Lower Patten Pond - Surry.

Have fun, be safe and wear your lifejacket !

Greg Burr, Fisheries Biologist

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Region D - Western Mountains

Stocking season always reminds me of haying season in the sense that there's a lot of hard work to be done in a very short period of time. I recently talked to Gene Arsenault, the manager of the "new and improved" Embden Rearing Station, and he provided me with a list of recent western Maine stockings. These fish are all spring yearlings, 8-10 inches long. Brook trout waters that have already been stocked this spring include the following: Aunt Hannah Brook, Dixfield; Carrabassett River; Dead River (North and South Branches); Embden Lake; Harvey Pond, Madrid; Mill Stream, Embden; and Norcross Pond, Chesterville. Among the brook trout waters to be stocked later this spring is a new addition: Muddy Brook, just downstream of Clearwater Lake in Industry.

Several brown trout waters have already been stocked this spring. They include the Androscoggin River (Gilead to Bethel); the Kennebec River (Madison to Skowhegan); and Webb River.

As the newly-expanded Embden Rearing Station continues to grow more fish, expect more stockings of spring yearling and even fall yearling brook trout. We will be stocking new waters as soon as this fall and will keep you posted.

The ice is out and fast fishing for salmon is underway on the big lakes. We will be intensively checking Rangeley and Aziscohos Lakes this spring and summer, so we'll report periodically on what our clerk is finding on those waters. We're also preparing for our summer field season and will be reporting on fish movements in the Rapid and Magalloway Rivers, fish and water quality sampling in a number of lakes and ponds, and stream survey and restoration projects. Like most people, we always look forward to getting outside in the spring.

Forrest Bonney, Regional Fisheries Biologist

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Region E - Moosehead Region

Moosehead Lake is ice free for the May 1st opener. Actually Moosehead Lake has been ice free since April 19, not the earliest on record but close. The earliest ice- out date on Moosehead Lake from my records that go back to the year 1848, was April 14, 1945. The latest on record was May 29, 1878. Ice out is determined when navigation is open from Greenville to Northeast Carry.

Fishing has been slow to start but some of the region's brook trout ponds are producing good fishing since shortly after ice-out. The next few weeks will produce some of the fastest fishing of the open water season. Many of the season's largest brook trout are caught along the shore as water temperatures begin to increase and trout move to deeper water. Even the most novice anglers can find fish that will take a hodgepodge of flies, lures and bait. Please check the law book to determine which gear is allowed on trout ponds you fish.

Annual spring stocking is in full swing. Sightings of the elusive hatchery trucks showing up in Dover-Foxcroft, Guilford, Greenville and Jackman are true. Legal- size brook trout are stocked in easily accessible waters through out the region to provide additional fishing opportunities. These waters are stocked on more than one occasion to insure fishing success longer into the season. Most of these waters would have no fishing opportunities without these stocking efforts.

LIST OF SPRING STOCKED BROOK TROUT WATERS
Fitzgerald Pond, Big Moose Twp.
Whetstone Pond, Blanchard Twp.
Hebron Lake, Monson
Shadow Pond, Greenville
Shirley Pond, Shirley
Gravel Pit Pond, Little Moose Twp. (Family Fishing Area)
Power Trout Pond, Little Moose Twp.
Spectacle Ponds, Monson
Doe Pond, Monson
Sawyer Pond, Greenville
Bennett Pond, Parkman
Prong Pond, Greenville
Big Wood, Jackman
Parlin Pond, Parlin Pond Twp.
West Outlet Kennebec River, Sapling
Piscataquis River, Dover-Foxcroft and Guilford

During the month of April the fisheries staff in the Moosehead Lake Region have been busy finishing up the analyses of data collected during last year's sampling season. We began work on evaluating the new experimental brook trout slot limit designed to allow harvest of smaller fish while protecting larger trout. We have also conducted smelt brook surveys on Moosehead Lake as well as other lakes in the region to confirm if smelts are using the brooks to spawn and to what degree. The annual deployment of Voluntary Survey Boxes and temperature data loggers on many of our popular sport fisheries is almost complete.

In the Moosehead Lake Region, we currently have 79 active voluntary record keepers collecting summer fishing information. The information collected by these individuals influences our management, including stocking and regulations on waters fished by our record keepers. If it were not for these individuals, we would have limited information on many of our waters. The Moosehead Lake Region has a more land area than both the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined. Three Fisheries Biologists are responsible for the management of 1,200 lakes and ponds as well as 4,125 miles of river and stream habitat. So given the vast amount of water in the Moosehead Lake Region, it is impossible for Fisheries Biologists in the field to amass an adequate amount of information to monitor the results of management, stocking, and regulations without the help of our highly respected voluntary record book keepers. If you or if you know of other anglers who might be interested in maintaining a voluntary fishing record book, please contact either Stephen Seeback Stephen.Seeback@maine.gov, Tim Obrey Tim.Obrey@maine.gov, or Jeff Bagley Jeff.Bagley@maine.gov at PO Box 551, Greenville, Maine 04441 or by phone at 695-3736.

Another way to provide fishing data to the department's biologists is to become a member of TripTracks at www.triptracks.com. The TripTracks Fishing Logbook offers a real-time online fishing logbook. You can record data about your past fishing trips and enter details and photos of each of the fish you've caught. It's easy to recall and enter your fishing trips from any location with a computer and an internet connection. The information in your logbook is private to only you, other anglers will not have access to your logbook details. You can register for free at www.triptracks.com.

Stephen Seeback, Fisheries Biologist Specialist

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Region F - Penobscot Region

Ice out in Region F was about three weeks early this year. Cold Stream Pond has an average ice out date, from records dating back to 1950, of April 25. On April 2 the lake was clear of ice, which is the earliest date during which records were kept. The previous earliest date on record was April 5 and that occurred in 1981. Below normal rainfall combined with lack of a snow pack to produce runoff during snowmelt has combined to produce some very low stream flows and lake water levels. The current flow in the Penobscot River is about 10,000 cfs, the normal flow for this time of year is around 36,000 cfs, and the 102 year record low flow is 11,000 cfs. All the major rivers in the region with USGS gauging stations are reporting flows of 70 to 80 percent below normal. Water flow in the West Branch of the Penobscot, controlled by outflow from Ripogenous Dam, is presently about 2200 cfs but the water level in the impoundment above the dam is about 2 feet below normal. Wardens report that fishing has been good for salmon and brook trout in this section of the river. The fish are in good condition with salmon reported up to 22 inches being caught.

Elsewhere, low water flows and cool water temperatures have made brook and stream fishing very slow. Wardens report that many brook and stream fishermen have been checked but they have had few fish to show for their efforts. However, if the age old saying that stream fishing will not be good until the black flies start biting has any truth to it then fishing should improve soon because the black flies have started to appear in the Lincoln area.

There have been reports of good salmon, trout, and togue fishing on lakes and ponds in most of the region. Baxter State Park reports that the roads are only open for a short distance into the park and it will be a few days until access to park trout ponds will be possible. Earlier in the season, lake fishing was very good near the surface during the smelt runs in area lakes. Most of the smelt runs are over and even though surface waters are still quite cool, the salmon and togue have moved into deeper waters during daylight hours. Surface fishing for these species improves on cloudy days or in early morning/ late evening fishing.

Togue anglers on Cold Stream Pond have had very good success fishing on the bottom in 60 to 70 feet of water during the day. The only reports of successful bass fishing are coming from the southern areas of the region including the Penobscot River in the Old Town area. There have not been any reports of white perch spawning runs starting in the Region.

Mike Smith, Regional Fisheries Biologist

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Region G - Aroostook County

Ice out is about one week early in the region this year. By this weekend, ice out may be complete even in the Deboullie township. The small ponds in eastern Aroostook County have been producing many limits of trout that were stocked last fall. Some of the retired brood fish that were put in a few of these waters have given anglers a surprise this spring. This weekend was the first that many of the larger lakes were free of ice for trolling. Unfortunately, reports suggest that fishing was slow but for most anglers, particularly those that don't like taking fish through round holes in the ice, it was an eagerly awaited outing regardless of whether the fish cooperated.

Due to the lack of snow and dry spring conditions, water flow is rapidly dropping in rivers, brooks and streams. The level for catching trout may be reached before the water can warm up and get the fish actively feeding. We have heard that the St. John River in Fort Kent has been giving up good numbers of muskellunge early in the season. For those that are inclined to catch this fish, a public landing is available to the St. John River off South Main Street.

Those camping out should be aware of the high fire danger until we get a substantial rainfall. Please be careful not to leave unattended campfires and crush all smokes. To those traveling on private land to reach fishing destinations, please be thoughtful not to rut up roads and trails with four wheel drive vehicles or ATVs. Show appreciation and respect to those landowners offering public access on private land by treating it as if it were your own.

Dave Basley, Regional Fisheries Biologist


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