Old News Archive

June 19, 2006 - Fishing Report

June 19, 2006 - TRC

Region A- Southwestern Maine

Greg Massey, our angler survey clerk for Sebago Lake, continues to report very good fishing for togue and salmon on Maine's second largest lake. Although the bulk of the reported catch consists of plump 3 to 5 pound lake trout, the salmon fishing has been consistently productive for fish of similar size. Over the balmy weekend one angler reported catching 9 togue, four of which exceeded 23 inches long. Several larger togue were also caught including an 8 pounder. Another boat released 6 legal salmon between 16 and 22 inches long. Mona, an avid angler and part of Sebago's renowned togue fleet, reported last week of losing two togue at the side of her boat that she considered to be in the 20 pound class...and unlike many less serious anglers, she knows what a 20 pound togue looks like.

Continued good fishing reports reflect long awaited improvements in Sebago's fisheries and the future looks very promising as the togue and salmon bulk up and salmon numbers increase. An incremental, but conservative approach to salmon stocking will encourage the maintenance of a healthy smelt population, which is necessary to support the developing quality salmon fishery. Since Sebago has also been designated by the Department and SAM as a "Classic Salmon" water, the expected increased production of salmon 5 pounds and larger under this initiative will require that excellent growth rates be maintained for salmon, and this management goal can not be attained a high stocking rates that some are advocating. Also, under this large fish management initiative, it is unlikely stocking levels will resume to those experienced in the late 1980's, just prior to the smelt population crashing. The presence of a well established and competing togue population will always be a significant factor to contend with in striving to develop and maintain a quality salmon fishery. The presence of northern pike and illegal introductions of other species within the drainage will also undoubtedly influence future management.

This past spring the salmon stocking was doubled from 1000 to 2000 salmon. Additional stocking increases will be considered for 2007, based on the results of data collected during the 2006 field season. Our long term plans include incremental increases to salmon stocking rates until such time that increased stocking is expected to reduce the salmon growth rate and compromises attainment of size quality objectives. Stocking rates may also be adjusted down to reflect periodic declines in smelt abundance. The annual collection of hydroaccoutic smelt abundance data will provide valuable information to base future stocking decisions.

Francis Brautigam, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region B - Central Maine

Kennebec River anglers have been quite disappointed the last few weeks due to the high water. Most of my evenings for are spent anchored on the Shawmut tail-water in a rustic 14 ft fiberglass canoe that would not take a heavy foot to the floor. Seems that I am constantly searching for those sipping trout along the edges of eddies on the outskirts of the boils created by the high flows. I have not seen a soul in the evening hours on the Shawmut stretch for the last two weeks. Occasionally, I’ll see an angler walk down to the river’s bank to look at the flow, but there is no fishing activity to speak of. However, for the past two weeks, I have watched and caught feeding trout during these high flows. Catching the trout is by no means easy. It is a cat and mouse affair, waiting to cast a fly into a distinct boil line that is thickened with river foam and emerging caddis flies. The trout rise only for a very brief moment in these foam lines, coming up but one or two times, then disappearing to await another feeding opportunity.

Last week’s rains brought the Kennebec to its knees. I was not willing to risk a swim for a fish at those flows. The feeding trout were very difficult to distinguish among all of the waves and floating debris. The water was backed up so far into the woods, that it was covering all of the foot trails that lead to the river’s traditional access points. These foot trails were the only reasonable place one could cast a lure or jig and not hook the lush green growth along the sides of the trails. Smallmouth Bass waited patiently in these corridors, to ambush their prey. Fishing them required some pretty accurate casting and retrieving. I learned very quickly that when you do hook a fish, you direct them right back in the middle of the footpaths, or you end up with a clump of ferns at the bend of the hook.

The Kennebec is now healing from yet another wash, and based on the temperatures and water flows, we should all soon be able to get out there and enjoy what this wonderful river has to offer safely.

Scott Davis, Fisheries Biologist Specialist

Region C - Downeast

Fishing regulations are an important part of managing Maine’s fisheries because they limit the number and size of fish that anglers are allowed to keep. In doing this, fishing regulations also dictate which size fish must be returned to the water to create a higher quality fishery where possible.

The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will hold fishing regulation hearings on its 2006 proposals from July 10-13. Eastern Maine proposals will be considered at a public hearing on July 12, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Penobscot County Conservation Association, located on the Penobscot River just west off North Maine Street (Route 9). The angling public is invited and urged to attend and present testimony either for or against the regulation proposals. Department Fisheries biologists will explain the rationale for each proposal.

Here is a brief synopsis of what will be considered from the Downeast Region, including most of Hancock and Washington Counties, along with part of Penobscot County.

Hancock County:
Anderson Pond (T 10 SD) – daily bag limit on trout: 2 fish
Branch Lake (Ellsworth) – all brown trout must be released alive (catch and release)
Echo Lake (Mount Desert) – extend fall fishing season by 11 days (will be open to fishing by artificial lures during month of October. All fish must be released.). Also, return to allowing fishing in open water season with 2 lines.
Upper Hadlock Pond (Mount Desert): delete special regulation that has permitted children under 13 years of age to fish under S-4 regulation.
Heart Pond (Orland): Return to allowing fishing with 2 lines. Daily bag limit on trout = 1 fish with minimum length of 18 inches
Jacob Buck Pond (Bucksport): Daily bag limit on trout = 1 fish with minimum length of 14 inches.
King Pond and tributaries (Great Pond Plantation): Daily bag limit on trout = 1 fish with a minimum length of 18 inches.
Lily Pond (Deer Isle): return to general law bag limit on trout, allowing 5 per day.
Long Pond (Aurora): Daily bag limit on trout, 1 fish with minimum length of 14”.
Lower Patten Pond (Surry): all brown trout must be released alive (catch and release)
Phillips Lake (Dedham): all brown trout must be released alive (catch and release)
Rift Pond and tributaries (Great Pond Plt.): Daily bag limit on trout = 1 fish with a minimum length of 18 inches.
Second Pond (Dedham): Replace 5 trout limit with 2 trout bag limit

Penobscot County:
Fitts Pond (Clifton): minimum length on all trout: 18 inches

Washington County:
Big Lake (Twp 21, Twp 27 ED): Open to fishing by artificial lures during month of October. All fish must be released.
Crooked River and tributaries (T 30 MD): delete 8 inch minimum length on trout. Adopt a 2 trout daily bag limit.
Old Stream and tributaries from Route 9 down to the Guptill Road (Wesley, T 31 MD, T 25 MD): delete 10-inch minimum length on trout.
Rocky and Sunken Lakes (Whiting and Marion): Daily bag limit on trout = 1 fish with minimum length of 14 inches.
Second and Third Old Stream Lakes (T 37 MD): Daily bag limit on trout = 1 fish with a minimum length of 18 inches.

Finally, smallmouth bass have been reported and confirmed as a new species introduction in Jacob Buck Pond in Bucksport. Based on reports of two individuals catching bass along the shoreline in recent weeks, the Department responded quickly as part of our Illegal Introduction Response Plan with Research Biologist Joe Dembeck and assistant Jason Seiders. They electrofished nearly all the shoreline habitat last Thursday night with Region C fisheries assistants Jessie Kuester and Joe Overlock, ending about midnight, but caught no bass. However, Fisheries Biologist Greg Burr stopped there Friday and caught a 15”nesting bass. Anglers are urged to kill any bass they catch at Jacob Buck, and to report the catch to biologists at 434-5925 at the Downeast Regional Headquarters.

Rick Jordan, Acting Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region D - Western Mountains

This week we'll be busy chasing smallmouth bass on the Rapid River. As you may recall, we're trying to evaluate the use of "flow pulsing" as a means of stressing bass during certain periods of their spawning season. Extraordinarily high flows during the last few weeks prevented us from getting started, but things have settled down and we're ready to go. Our first task will be to identify several bass nests that will serve as test subjects. We'll keep careful watch over the development of bass eggs and early fry, then try to schedule some flow pulses to coincide with the time fry begin to rise from the nest. If possible, we'll schedule the pulse flows for the overnight hours and during weekdays to minimize impacts to your fishing. If you happen to see a bass nest that's marked in any way, such as with a painted stone or flagging on nearby trees, please, please do not disturb it until we've completed the project!

Commissioner Danny Martin and Deputy Commissioner Paul Jacques recently honored several individuals who have provided outstanding assistance on a variety of fishery projects in western Maine. Presented with the Commissioner's Print were Don Palmer, Jeff Reardon, Greg Ponte, Steve Kasprzak, and Frank and Ruth Braley. Don Palmer leads the Rangeley Guides and Sportsmans' Association and has been deeply involved in most of our fishery projects in the Rangeley area. He spearheaded fund-raising efforts for stream restoration projects on South Bog Stream, as well as for a variety of important projects on the Rapid River. Don is a past member of the Department's Advisory Council, and he recently served on the Coldwater Working Group, a committee of public members that assisted us in updating our strategic fishery management plans.

Jeff Reardon, New England Conservation Director, and Greg Ponte, past State Council Chairman, accepted a Commissioner's print on behalf of Trout Unlimited. Both have provided outstanding leadership by firmly committing TU's support of our brook trout projects on the Rapid and Magalloway Rivers, among others. TU members have committed thousands of dollars and countless volunteer-hours toward preserving Maine's unique brook trout resources. We value the good relationship we have with TU in Maine and throughout New England.

Steve Kasprzak is an avid angler with tremendous knowledge of fishing the Magalloway River and other fabled western Maine fisheries. Steve has helped our field staff on a number of stream projects, including locating spawning concentrations of brook trout in the Magalloway and Cupsuptic Rivers, and assisting us during our recent radio-tagging project on the Magalloway. Steve also made very generous financial contributions toward the printing costs of two new Department fishery publications: The Maine Landlocked Salmon: Life History, Ecology, and Management, recently published, and an upcoming book by Forrest Bonney on Maine's brook trout.

Frank and Ruth Braley have helped us complete several important projects at Spring Lake in Somerset County. These included assistance with smelt egg transfers, maintenance of smelt passage in the principal spawning tributary, fish stocking, and upgrades to the lake's boat launch. Most recently, the Braleys lead an effort to correct a serious erosion problem on an old road associated with the smelt spawning brook. Frank also served on the Coldwater Working Group during our recent species plan updates. Frank and Ruth are deeply committed to Spring Lake, its habitat, and the excellent fisheries it is now providing.

Dan Tarkinson of Fly Fishing in Maine notified us that anglers fishing the upper Androscoggin River can now use TripTracks to log the portion of their trips occurring in New Hampshire. For example, on a float trip from Shelburne in New Hampshire to West Bethel in Maine, separate entries can be made for each state. This new feature will be of great value to both Maine and New Hampshire biologists.

Dave Boucher, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region E - Moosehead Region

The past week was marked by warmer conditions causing regional waters to warm slightly, especially the smaller trout ponds and bring flows in our rivers and streams to more seasonal conditions. Flow in the Roach River is running at 160 cfs, and the East Outlet of the Kennebec River has been ratcheted back to 2,125 cfs making each of these waters much more fishable than earlier last week.

Before the jump in flows at the East Outlet and the Moose River below the Brassua Hydro Facility, these areas had been receiving a considerable amount of angler use. Information obtained from volunteer angler survey cards from these areas indicates that fishing has been quite good as well. The Moose River has been producing nice landlocked salmon. Information from the East Outlet indicates that salmon fishing has been very good and at the West Outlet, brook trout and a few salmon have been caught recently. For you warmwater anglers, we’ve received reports of some good bass fishing at Prong Pond, Indian Pond, and Branns Mills Pond.

This past week Steve Seeback and myself sampled a brook trout pond to evaluate the performance of our three brook trout strains, and a reduction in the stocking rate. When we sample trout from these stocked ponds we evaluate growth, condition, and holdover success of fish from one year to the next. As a result of this sampling we collected three-year classes of trout and one fish up to 17 inches long.

As mentioned in an earlier report Greenville Staff spent the week of June 5th at Misery Pond looking for evidence of a reported illegal introduction of smallmouth bass. When water temperatures were optimum for bass movements. We netted the same sites as in the past for five days. We also visually surveyed the immediate shoreline looking for evidence of nest building. No bass were captured in the trapnets and none were observed along the shoreline. This is the third year that we have searched for bass at Misery Pond and the results have been consistent with no bass collected or observed. This is certainly encouraging. We are planning one day of snorkeling and/or SCUBA work this week to search for nests. We would encourage anyone fishing Misery Pond, should they catch a bass, to kill and report it to our fisheries staff at 695-3756.

Jeff Bagley, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region F, Penobscot Region
Baxter State Park, over 202,000 acres in size, lies entirely within Region F. The park is noted for its mountainous terrain and numerous small lakes and ponds within its boundaries. Elevations range from about 600’ at Togue Pond to 5,271’ at the top of Mt. Katahdin, only 5½ miles away.

There are over 140 waters listed in the state lake inventory, however only 51 waters are ponds over 10 acres in size. Brook trout are the most common species of fish found in Park waters. Brook trout are present in 46 of the 53 surveyed waters and with the exception of possible fishless ponds trout are probably present in most of the unsurveyed waters. Waters that do not contain brook trout either do not have any natural means for brook trout to gain access to these waters or do not maintain adequate habitat for trout through the winter months. Brook trout are stocked in 7 Park waters and 5 of these would not have trout if they were not stocked. Blueback char are present in 1 water, Wassataquoik Lake; landlocked salmon are present in 3 waters where they were formerly stocked and have maintained small wild populations in these waters since stocking was discontinued. Lake trout are present in 2 waters, Matagamon Lake where the population is maintained by stocking and Webster Lake where the population is self-sustaining. Lake trout were native to Matagamon Lake and it is possible that natural reproduction could resume with changes in lake water level management and if so the population could become self-sustaining through natural reproduction. Splake, a lake trout - brook trout hybrid, are stocked in Lower Togue Pond.

This is the time of year when brook trout fishing is at its best in the Park. Trout become very active when the insect hatches, especially the green drake hatches, begin to occur. No live fish are allowed as bait in any park waters with the exception of the Togue Ponds. Several waters are restricted to fly fishing only while artificial lures and other bait may be used in the majority of waters. In many waters the conditions for trout survival are so good that these ponds have large populations of small fish. Be sure to check the fishing lawbook to determine the regulations on any particular water. Now is the time to fish the numerous ponds in Baxter State Park.

Mike Smith, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region G - Aroostook County

Visitors to central Aroostook County seeking a quality recreational experience should consider a trip on the Aroostook River. Public launches to the Aroostook River are available in Fort Fairfield, Caribou (both above and below the WPS dam), Presque Isle, Washburn, Ashland, and Masardis. A new public launch is going to be developed this summer in the town of Oxbow, but presently a traditional access is available at the end of the Oxbow Road. These launches are about evenly spaced out to allow an easy day trip between each access. There are no waterfalls to contend with and the only obstructions are the remnants of the old Sheridan Dam below Ashland and the WPS Dam in Caribou.

Kayaks are becoming more prevalent as the preferred watercraft for recreationists, whereas canoes are still preferred by anglers. The kayaks are beneficial in lower water as they are more maneuverable and draw less water. There are some rental businesses that can provide watercraft for visitors that do not have their own equipment. Local sporting goods stores, local newspapers and Chamber of Commerce are all excellent sources of information to track down rental business.

As the water level drops in the river and tributary streams, conditions should be prime for trout fishing. Trout should be moving into the riffle areas of the river to feed until the water temperatures become too warm. As the main river warms, anglers should target the mouths of cold tributaries. Visitors should refer to the open water law book as the fishing regulations will change on the river from its headwaters to the Maine/New Brunswick border.

Dave Basley, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Submitted by Mark Latti, IFW

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