Old News Archive

September 12, 2006 - Fishing Report

September 12, 2006 - TRC

Region A- Southwestern Maine

We haven't received too many recent fishing reports, in part because many opportunistic sportsmen and women are beginning to transition from fishing to hunting. However, for those anglers that persevere during the remainder of September and much of October, the fishing, particularly for salmon, can be very rewarding. In fact, some anglers report catching their largest salmon of the season during this time period. Good lake prospects for late season salmon action for large fish include Thompson, Sebago, and Auburn Lake. Speaking of salmon, I offer the remainder of this report to those folks who have not experienced salmon fishing with a downrigger, as I recall my recent introduction to this fishing method.

As someone who enjoys trolling for salmon, for many years my fishing equipment has been restricted to my 8 foot Fenwick fly fishing rod loaded with heavy sinking line and a 9 foot trolling rod and reel serviced with 18# lead core. Over the years, both types of equipment have caught plenty of salmon from ice out until early August...yes, you can catch salmon with a fly rod in August, as long as you fish very early and very late in the day (long leaders are also important when fishing closer to the surface). Since my fishing pursuits generally shift to salt water during the summer months, the traditional equipment I have owned for many years seemed to meet my salmon fishing needs. That was until I recently purchased my first downrigger, which was put to the test on Rangeley Lake a few weeks ago. While I caught some salmon on my traditional gear, the availability of a downrigger significantly increased my catch. During the week I vacationed on Rangeley, I fished 26 hours and caught 26 salmon and 6 brook trout...better than I expected for a late summer fishing trip! During those times when the salmon were running deeper than 30 feet my rigger produced many more fish, but when the salmon were 30 feet and above the lead core, seemed to work as well as it always has...particularly when equipped with a long mono or fluorocarbon leader and maneuvering the boat in a meandering fashion. But when the salmon held deeper than 30 feet, the downrigger was indispensable. Armed with a light weight spinning rod, the rigger allowed salmon to be brought to the surface quickly and with much more fighting action than the lead core, which generally took longer to crank in, and by the time the salmon reached the surface it was pooped and took much longer to revive, if at all. The salmon landed on the rigger-spinning rods were much more spry when released, with an anticipated higher survival rate. The second really big advantage to using the downrigger, particularly if fishing alone, particularly on windy days, is that the boat can be stopped to play a fish without worrying about the "other line", which remains fishing close to the rigger ball. In contrast, fishing into the wind with lead core is a bit of a challenge when fishing alone. When a hook-up occurs on one line, the other line commonly snags bottom if time isn't reeled in first before landing the fish on the other line...and when you have 10 colors out that's allot of cranking and time, and opportunity to lose your catch on your other line. Because rigger-caught fish can be handled and released so much quicker, and your "other line" remains fishing, more of the time spent on the water is spent productively fishing, rather than resetting and managing multiple lines. So, for those traditionalists out there, if you're thinking about upgrading you may want to add a downrigger to your Christmas list.....I only wish I hadn't waited this long....maybe I'm the only stubborn angler out there.

-Francis Brautigam, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region B - Central Maine

As the leaves are beginning their fall spectacle around these parts, angling for many species gains in action. Many of our cold-water species begin reproductive activity and move within and between bodies of water. These activities are brought on primarily due to changing air temperatures and the shortening of daylight. Both are cues for the fish that it is time to breed…..and for anglers in that as the fish move, they are increasingly susceptible to the hook. Although many of our waters in mid-coastal Maine offer limited nesting and juvenile habitat for cold water fishes, many fish still attempt to ‘go through the motions’ of breeding. At times they have some success, but many of our lakes, ponds and streams are sustained by stockings by the department.

Many of the counties located within the management auspices of Mid-coastal Maine Region have regulations in place that allow catch and release fishing for trout, togue, landlocked salmon and bass on lakes and ponds throughout the end of November. Some streams and rivers are open too. The counties mentioned here are Lincoln, Knox, Waldo, Kennebec, Sagadahoc, and parts of Somerset and Androscoggin. Be sure to check the regulations on any water before you fish there to check if it is open and if there are any special regulations there that are retained.

One great incentive to fish this fall is that quite often you’ll have a good chance that the lake, pond or stream will be ‘all yours’. Many of our summer visitors have left and those that come here for the turning of the leaves usually stay to the traveled ways. That is something that has always drawn me to fall fishing. To be out on one of our lakes or streams in the cool, crisp fall air is something I jump at the chance for. I look forward to it because it is a time of year when I look for those ‘unfound gems’. In my case, the ‘gems’ are small brooks and streams that I have either passed by previously or that ‘jump out’ as potentials. Usually, I have the place all to myself, although not always. If and when I do see another angler, it usually results in at least one of us gaining some insight on the water being visited. I have done this sort of thing for years. Some of the waters, admittedly not all, have become regular haunts. And, while finding a terrific angling water is a great reward, the search for one has provided some great memories over the years. Any way you look at it, it sure is a great time of year to be here in this beautiful state of ours. Get out there and start a search of your own !

-Robert Van-Riper, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region C - Downeast

September’s cool, crisp days are cooling the surface waters of eastern Maine’s lakes, rivers, and streams. Many anglers hope for a return of surface activity for trout and salmon before the month and general law fishing ends. This year, general law fishing ends on October 1, rather than on September 30, due to a law that extends the season for 1 day when September 30 falls on a Saturday. Maine also has many waters with extended fishing seasons lasting either through the end of October (listed as S-23 in the lawbook) or through the end of November (S-24 in the lawbook).

For those hoping for some fall landlocked salmon activity, try fishing at West Grand Lake in Grand Lake Stream, Grand Lake Stream, Cathance Lake, Long Pond on Mt. Desert Island, and Brewer Lake in Orrington. For late season brook trout fishing, try Simmons Pond in Hancock, Six-mile Lake in Marshfield, or Echo Lake on Mt. Desert Island.

Region C biologists have proposed some new stockings for the year ahead. These are currently going through both public and Fisheries Division review. Micmac Pond in Deblois is proposed for regular stockings of fall fingerling brook trout. Three brown trout stockings are proposed: Long Lake in Marion, Silver Lake in Bucksport, and Toddy Pond in Orland. Both Long Lake and Toddy Pond had been stocked with splake, but those programs have been terminated due to failure to achieve objectives. Toddy Pond had been stocked with brown trout in 1997, and a change to brown trout management there will permit stocking to be based on all of the lake’s habitat, rather than just the 500 acres of deep, cold water that had been used for salmon and splake management. Salmon will still be stocked periodically at Toddy, but annual stockings are not possible due to frequent low populations of smelts that are necessary for good growth of landlocks. Finally, Hopkins Pond in Mariaville is slated to receive landlocked salmon beginning next spring in a move to create a new salmon lake near the population centers of Bangor-Brewer and Ellsworth. If you wish to comment on these proposals, please either email Richard.Jordan@maine.gov or mail letters to Fisheries Division, P.O. Box 220, Jonesboro, ME 04648-0220.

Fisheries biologists recently conducted a hydroacoustic (high technology sonar) and midwater trawling survey of smelts at 897-acre Long Pond on Mt. Desert Island to assess the abundance of this important forage species for landlocked salmon. Although final data analysis will not be complete until December, initial information showed very few fish targets on this highly sensitive sonar. In addition, three midwater trawling tows yielded only 2 smelts compared to similar length tows in other Maine lakes that have yielded from several hundred to more than 4,000 smelts. Biologists had been aware of a reduction in the smelt population and transferred numerous smelt eggs to Long Pond this past spring. Because Long Pond’s smelts grow more slowly during their first year than many other Maine smelts, we hope that a recovery of young-of-the-year smelts has begun, and they may have been too small to be retained by the mesh of our trawl net.

-Rick Jordan, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region D - Western Mountains

Time to rev up for fall fishing, if you haven't done so already. Water temperatures are dropping and flows have been higher than normal throughout the summer, inspiring runs of trout and salmon into the Kennebago River, Rangeley River, Rapid River, and any number of streams. Anglers will also be hitting the big rivers - the Kennebec and the Androscoggin - primarily for brown trout and rainbow trout, but also for brook trout and salmon. Fishing is picking up in lakes as well. There's a good fall trolling fishery in all of the Rangeley chain of lakes. Brook trout in particular "color up" to rival the turning leaves and are beautiful this time of year.

The summer's slate of stream restoration projects have been completed. Thanks to grants from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Fish America Foundation, Trout Unlimited, and the Davis Foundation, we were able to restore another section of South Bog Stream in Rangeley Plantation and a section of the Sandy River in Sandy River Plantation. These reaches now have nice deep pools where none existed a month ago. Special thanks to Ron Taylor and Bob Brann of the Fish and Wildlife Department's Engineering Division, who found time from their statewide obligations to do the excavation work on the Sandy River, thus saving a substantial amount of money.

After a break to attend the annual American Fisheries Society meeting in Lake Placid, New York, we'll be shifting gears from stream restoration, gillnetting, and electrofishing to fall trapnetting. We plan to sample a number of trout ponds this fall to evaluate the effect of new regulations, and will evaluate the salmon populations at Rangeley Lake and the Richardson Lakes.

-Forrest Bonney, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region E - Moosehead Region

With temperatures slowly beginning to plummet and a substantial decrease in daylight, ponds and rivers across the region should begin to see an increase in fish activity. September is the time of year when fisheries biologists gear up to begin the fall trapnetting season to evaluate lake trout, brook trout, and landlocked salmon in the Moosehead Lake region. This fall in addition to our annual assessment of Moosehead Lake we will be obtaining samples from Chamberlain Lake, Little Moxie Pond, and Rum Pond. Information collected during these sampling events will help regional staff

determine parameters on lake trout, landlocked salmon, and brook trout populations, estimate the size and standing crop of adult brook trout, and look to see if current regulations are effectively maintaining healthy populations.

Reports from the Moose River, Roach River, and the East Outlet of the Kennebec are very encouraging. Anglers are reporting catching some nice salmon up to 18- 20 inches as well as brook trout in the 16 –18 inch range. Fish are being taken on a variety of streamer and nymph patterns.

Flows in the rivers are on the rise. The flow at the East Outlet is currently at 2,400 cfs and will remain at this flow until mid- October when salmon begin there annual spawning ritual. The Roach River will be in the 150 – 170 cfs range for the rest of the week and anglers can expect another bump of water on September 18th.

FPL Energy and Kennebec Water Power Co. have a flow hotline for flow levels on the Kennebec and Androscoggin Rivers at 1-800-557-3569. If you are headed to the West Branch of the Penobscot River call the Brookfield Power river flow hotline at 1-888-323-4341. Also, those of you who have access to the internet can get flow information for several rivers from Fly Fishing in Maine at www.flyfishingmaine.com .

-Stephen Seeback, Fisheries Biologist Specialist

Region F, Penobscot Region

Although another general law open water fishing season is drawing to a close, there still is time to enjoy the remainder of a productive season and get ready for some fall action on selected waters. With surface waters cooling down, salmon, trout, and togue are coming to the surface and providing some good top-water action.

Anglers have reported good action for salmon on Duck Lake, Pleasant Pond and Cold Stream Pond. Both salmon and splake have been very active in Seboeis Lake. Baxter State Park waters are very productive for brook trout during this part of the season. Once October 1 arrives don't put the fish poles away. There are two categories of waters open during the fall season. First are waters with a special S-23 designation. These waters are open to fishing from October 1 - October 31 using artificial lures only and all fish caught must be released alive at once. This regulation generally applies to coldwater lakes that are stocked with salmon or trout and allows an angler to fish for these species through October although all fish must be released.

Some good Region F waters are West Lake, PLeasant Lake, Deering Lake, Millinocket Lake, and the Pemadumcook Chain of Lakes. The other category is S-24 in which the waters are open from October 1 - November 30. In these waters all trout, salmon togue and bass must be released alive but an angler may keep perch and pickerel. These are generally warmwater lakes and ponds that have good perch and pickerel populations that remain productive through the fall season. Some Region F waters in this category are Seboeis Lake, South Branch Pond, and Saponac Pond.

Fish marking at the Enfield hatchery is in progress and fall stocking is about to begin. This year about 20,000 fall fingerling brook trout, 5,000 fall yearling brook trout and 2,000 fall yearling landlocked salmon will be stocked in Region F. Fall trapnetting to sample fish populations is about to begin. Trapnetting for coldwater species works better during the fall and allows more detailed information on the fish population to be collected. Some of the waters scheduled for trapnetting this fall are East Grand Lake for salmon and brook trout, Millinocket Lake, West Lake, and Lower Sysladobsis Lake for salmon, Cold Stream Pond for salmon and togue, and Nicatous Lake for brown trout.

-Michael R. Smith, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region G - Aroostook County

During the next eight weeks, fishery biologists from the Ashland office will be sampling brook trout and salmon populations using trap nets throughout the region. These large nets capture fish as they are traveling the shoreline. Now that water temperatures have cooled, fish are much more active traveling shallower areas. Trap nets have a lead that stretches from shore to the large net that holds the fish alive. Fish are captured by being directed into the trap by the lead and wings attached to the trap net. The large net has a series of funnels much like the entrance to a minnow trap that makes it difficult for the fish to escape once inside the large net. The fish will remain alive in the net until released by biologists.

Prior to release, the fish will be anesthetized using a mixture of clove oil and alcohol, and then measured and weighed. Fin clips will be identified on stocked fish to determine the year they were stocked, and if there is no identifying fin clip, scales will be taken on wild fish to determine age. A piece of the tail fin will be removed for future identification should we capture the same fish more than once. These traps are marked by white or red floats set in a triangular fashion 60-100 feet from shore. We would ask the public to please not disturb these trap nets by keeping a safe distance away while fishing or boating. Lakes targeted for trap netting include: Big Eagle Lake in the Allagash Waterway, Long Lake in the Fish River Chain of Lakes and Clear Lake.

-Dave Basley, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Submitted by Mark Latti, DIFW

Division of Public Information and Education 207-287-8000
284 State Street, State House Station #41, Augusta, ME 04333

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