Old News Archive

March 20, 2007 - Open Water Fishing Preview

March 20, 2007 - TRC

Region A- Southwestern Maine
Last year around this time mild winter weather conditions had created lots of open water on our most southern lakes and ponds, and many ponds in York and Cumberland counties were ice free (or nearly so). In addition, early season flows in 2006 were unusually low, offering unusually good fishing conditions for early season stream fishing...But not this year. A strong nor'easter just passed at the time of this report, offering yet another reminder that winter is not over.

While the 2007 hard water fishing season got off to an unusually late start due to delayed ice formation, unusually cold late season weather suggests ice-out will not arrive early this spring. The "Big Bay" on Sebago Lake even set up with ice, just in time for spring thaw...As mother nature transitions from winter to spring, we remain hopeful that a limited snow pack and no significant precipitation forecast in the near future will maintain the seasonal flow conditions in area streams and rivers for early season anglers. These conditions, if they persist, will provide good stream fishing conditions for the start of the open water season.

Streams and rivers usually offer the earliest open water fishing prospects, and that appears to be the situation this year. Unlike last year, this year boat fishermen will likely have few opportunities on April first. Although, typically early lake fishing opportunities are limited to shore fishing, where shore anglers target the melting edge water around lakes or at lake inlets and outlets.

Popular and very 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 of 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. Sebago and Auburn Lake will offer some good prospects to catching salmon up to 8 pounds. Long Lake and Thompson will offer good early season fishing, but for smaller sized salmon, particularly on Thompson, where the smelt population experienced a sudden decline in 2006.

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. We will also try to keep anglers posted as to the progress of ongoing stocking in weekly fishing reports, which are also available online.

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, in large part due to unusually late ice-up. Furthermore, 5000 additional fall yearling brook trout (12 - 14 inches long) were stocked out last fall in regional lakes and ponds. Reduced fishing pressure and increased fall stocking should translate into some better early season open water angling opportunities. Ponds offering excellent prospects for early spring brook trout action include: Otter Pond #2 (Standish), Worthley Pond (Poland), Littlefield Pond (Sanford), and Knight's Pond (S Berwick), Round Pond (Lyman), Barker Pond (Lyman), Thomas Pond (Casco), Keoka Lake (Waterford), and Wilson Lake (Acton) .

Salmon are the fish of choice for many traditional early spring anglers who like to troll, and once area waters are clear of ice 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), Panther Pond (Raymond), and Sebago. Based on an angler survey conducted in 2006, the catch rates on Sebago were only slightly less than those recorded in the late 1980's, when the salmon fishery was considered to be at its peak. In 2006, we had several ardent Sebago anglers report some of the best salmon fishing they had ever experienced on Sebago, a testament to the gains that have been realized in rebuilding this once very popular fishery.

While fishing Sebago and its tributaries anglers are again reminded to kill any northern pike that are caught. 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

In Region B, the open water season for lakes and ponds will be delayed until Old Sol does his work on the ice crystals of our surface waters. The best bet to wet a line in the region will be the flowing water sites that traditionally attract anglers who have to get out, despite the possibility of freezing in waders surrounded by ice-cold water.

For a chance to catch salmon, brown trout, and possibly a brook trout, popular places to go are Belgrade Lakes Village and the Wings Mills Dam in the Belgrade Chain of Lakes. There may also be some sluggish pike and bass in the area. The outlet dam on Cobbossee Lake and other dam sites on Cobbossee Stream also attract many anglers. Cobbossee Stream is primarily a brown trout water, but an angler could be surprised and land a variety of species. The Kennebec River - if the flows are not too high - will attract many anglers to sections including Waterville, Winslow and Fairfield. All the dam sites should have open water providing fishing for brown trout, salmon and rainbows. Closer to the coast, the Sheepscot, St. George and Medomak Rivers have sites that will be yielding the elusive brownie. All of these rivers are capable of giving up a decent 20-inch fish if you can find the hidey hole where they over-wintered.

The only lakes and ponds that may provide some surface water action will be closer toward the coast. Biscay Pond is a popular site that usually has an area of open water near the outlet of Pemaquid Pond. It is accessible from the bridge near the pond. The shoreline of Chickawaukie Pond in Rockland is sometimes free of ice and may provide anglers the ability to fish from shore.

Remember, fishing while positioned on the ice is prohibited after March 31st. This rule, which was passed many years ago, prevents anglers from 'cleaning out' trout ponds by fishing through melt-holes.

Use caution this spring as the water will be quite chilly until the ice is gone and weather warms up.

-Bill Woodward, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region C – Downeast

When the ice goes out of Downeast lakes and ponds in April, anglers will be ready and eager to fool hungry fish with their arsenal of streamer flies, hardware, and favored baits from worms to smelts. Anglers will tie on some new lures with the hope of finding a new secret bait, while others will be the tried and true lures that have proven faithful in yielding hook-ups on Maine waters.

What will the fishing be like in eastern Maine and where will the hotspots be found ? Here’s a preview of what to expect in Hancock and Washington Counties.

The big news is that there are still lots of fish left over from the winter season. Here’s why. The ice fishing season effectively started after the third week of January because temperatures did not cool sufficiently to make safe ice until then on most lakes. Then the days saw more than 30 consecutive days of cooler-than-normal temperatures with lots of wind. Numerous weekend storms kept anglers home and produced slush problems on the lakes, then the snow and heavy rains of St. Patrick’s Day week-end effectively ended the season for most anglers. The reduced winter harvest will translate to better catches in April and May, so get that boat and motor registered and ready.

Brook trout
Stocking programs have been increased in many lakes and ponds, under the management plans of Regional Fisheries Biologist Rick Jordan, assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist Greg Burr, and newly hired Fisheries Biologist Joe Overlock. The goal is to stock many trout ponds at levels that will create noticeably faster fishing and attract new anglers of all ages to the sport.

Here are some brook trout hotspots, by county, and there are many more stockings, available at www.mefishwildlife.com :

Hancock County: Craig Pond in Orland, Fox Pond along Rt. 182 in T 10 SD, Lower and Upper Hadlock Ponds in Mt. Desert, Bubble Pond in Bar Harbor, Lily Pond in Deer Isle, Second Pond in Dedham, Simmons Pond in Hancock, and Witch-hole Pond in Bar Harbor. Anderson Pond in T 10 SD is a new addition to the stocking list; it is a walk-in pond in a remote and scenic setting.

Brook trout are stocked sometime in May into the following flowing waters: Union River at and below Rt. 1A in Ellsworth Falls, Orland River below the Alamoosook Lake Dam, and the outlet of Long Pond in Bucksport in the vicinity of Rt. 46 and on town of Bucksport land below the pond.

Washington County: Goulding Lake in Robbinston, Indian Lake in Whiting, Lily Lake in Trescott, Keene’s Lake in Calais, Monroe Lake in T 43 MD, West Monroe Pond in T 43 MD, Montegail Pond in T 19 MD, East and West Pike Brook Ponds in T 18 MD, Salmon Pond in T 30 MD, Shattuck Lake in Calais, Simpson Pond in Roque Bluffs, and Six-mile Lake in Marshfield.

The following ponds are stocked with brook trout and are regulated for kids only: Foxhole Pond in Deblois, the pond at the Cobscook State Park Headquarters in Edmunds (spring stocking – you may call us at 434-5925 to find out whether it is been stocked before your kids fish there.), North and South Meyers Ponds in Columbia. Brook trout are stocked in the Middle River in Marshfield and much of this river is restricted to fishing by kids only.

Landlocked Salmon
The following lakes should provide some fun action for landlocked salmon this spring:

Penobscot County: Brewer Lake

Hancock County: Phillips Lake in Dedham, Molasses Pond in Eastbrook, Donnell Pond in the Franklin-Twp 9 SD area, Eagle Lake in Bar Harbor, Green Lake in Dedham and Ellsworth, Beech Hill Pond in Otis. Also, both Tunk Lake in T 10 SD and Alligator Lake in T 28 MD produce some salmon from 3-5 lbs, but consult your regulation booklet because all salmon from 16-20 inches must be released.

Washington County: West Grand Lake in the village of Grand Lake Stream, Big Lake in T 27 ED, Cathance Lake in Cooper, Schoodic Lake in Cherryfield, and Gardner Lake in East Machias.

Penobscot County: Fitts Pond in Eddington
Hancock County: Jacob Buck Pond in Bucksport, Heart Pond in Orland, Lower Springy Pond in Otis

Washington County: Second Lake Old Stream, Hosea Pug Lake in T 26 ED, Pleasant River Lake in Beddington, Keeley Lake in Marshfield

Lake Trout
Hancock County: Branch Lake in Ellsworth, Beech Hill Pond in Otis, Toddy Pond, Jordan Pond in Mount Desert, Green Lake in Ellsworth, Hopkins Pond in Mariaville, Tunk Lake in T 10 SD

Washington County: West Grand Lake in Grand Lake Stream, West Musquash Lake in Talmadge

Hancock County: Beech Hill Pond in Otis, Green Lake in Ellsworth, Branch Lake in Ellsworth, Georges Pond in Franklin, Lower Patten Pond in Surry, Toddy Pond in Orland

Washington County: Big Lake in T 27 ED, Woodland Flowage in Baileyville, Meddybemps Lake in Meddybemps, Pocomoonshine Lake in Alexander, Crawford Lake in Crawford, West Grand Lake in Grand Lake Stream, Gardner Lake in East Machias, Schoodic Lake in Cherryfield, Pleasant Lake in Alexander, Nash’s Lake in Calais.

Best wishes to all eastern Maine anglers for the 2007 open water season! Remember to wear your life jacket, introduce someone new to fishing this year, and enjoy all the sights and memories that accompany the fishing trip. Remember, there really is more to a day spent fishing than just the fishing! Chances are that the memories of a shore lunch with boiled potatoes and onions plus a broiled steak over the campfire will far outlast how many fish you caught that day. Other special memories you may see are a cow moose with a calf wading along the lake shore, a loon with 2 chicks, an eagle perched high in a tree on your favorite point, or the smile of a youngster who has just caught his first fish!

-Rick Jordan, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region D - Western Mountains

It's 14 degrees with a stiff breeze outside my office this morning. It sure doesn't feel like it's time for spring fishing, but the calendar says it's almost here, so here's a brief preview of what's happening in the western Maine. Expect April 1 to be similar to most opening days (excepting last year!) - the water will be very cold and there will still be lots of ice. Best bets, as usual, are the main stems of the Kennebec and Androscoggin Rivers. The Kennebec below Wyman Dam is always an early season favorite for large rainbow trout, and the Androscoggin River below Gilead and Rumford may hold some large brookies and browns from last fall's stocking. Big fall yearling brook trout and brown trout were also stocked in the Kennebec below Solon and Madison, and in the Sandy River below Phillips. If these fish held through last fall and winter, it should be fun.

The Rapid River is usually good in early April if you want to trudge in to the inlet to Pond in the River or to the remnants of Lower Dam. Another popular opening day spot is the Dead River below Long Falls - expect a good crowd of eager anglers seeking nice-sized rainbows, salmon, and brook trout.

A number of waters are scheduled to receive stockings of spring yearling brook trout, but that won't happen by opening day. The recent rebuild of our Embden Rearing Station is allowing us to greatly expand the "catchable trout" program. These fish are stocked to provide immediate fishing opportunities, mostly near population centers. New waters to receive spring/early summer brookies include Wilson Stream, Temple Stream, Webb River, Sunday River, the Kennebec River below Solon, the Androscoggin River in Bethel, the Sandy River below Phillips, Muddy Brook in Industry, and Haley Stream in Rangeley.

Several new fishing regulations are in effect for the 2007 season. Among the more significant changes:

* There's a new catch-and-release section on the Androscoggin River between the New Hampshire border and the bridge crossing in Gilead.
* The Sandy River from Sandy River Ponds to the Rt. 142 bridge in Phillips is now restricted to ALO, and special brown trout rules on the Sandy between Phillips and Strong have been rescinded.
* Kilgore Pond in Pierce Pond TWP is now fishable with artificial lures (formerly fly-fishing only) to allow anglers to better target pickerel, which have greatly increased in abundance to the detriment of brook trout.
* Richardson Lake and its tributaries are now completely off limits to the taking of smelts, including by spring dipping. This closure is part of a multi-pronged effort to rebuild the lake's smelt population. We also eliminated a popular togue stocking program, and we suspended salmon stocking in 2006 to help smelts rebound. Salmon will be stocked in 2007, but at a reduced rate until we see positive signs that smelts are recovering.
* If you're fishing for trout in Franklin County, there's now a 2-trout daily bag limit on waters unless otherwise noted in the rulebook. Several waters in Somerset and Oxford Counties also have 2-trout limits this year, so be sure to check the listing before heading out. The more conservative bag limits are designed to better distribute the catch of brook trout among fishermen, particularly on those waters receiving stockings of catchable trout.

-Dave Boucher, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region E - Moosehead Region

As the ice fishing season winds down anglers are taking advantage of the final two weeks of the season on their favorite lake and ponds in the Moosehead Lake Region. Soon it will be time to put away the augers and ice traps and take out the spinning and fly fishing gear. Although many of the lakes and ponds in the Moosehead Lake Region are still covered in ice and snow until the end of April the best chance to wet a line on opening day is to visit some of the regions rivers and streams. The East Outlet and West Outlet of the Kennebec, West Branch of the Penobscot River, Piscataquis River, and the Moose River are a few of the rivers to check out.

Annual spring stocking of legal- size brook trout are stocked in easily assessable waters throughout the region to create “instant fishing”. These waters are stocked on more than one occasion to ensure fishing success longer into the season. Some of these waters would have no fishing opportunities without these stocking efforts. These waters will be accessible once they are ice free.

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
Pingree Pond, Parkman
Please review the 2007 Open Water Fishing Regulation Book to get the regulations on these bodies of water.

During the month of April the fisheries staff in the Moosehead Lake Region will be busy finishing up analyses of data collected last summer and during this winters creel census surveys on Moosehead Lake and Chamberlain Lake. We will be getting our trapnetting gear ready to begin work on evaluating the Departments new experimental brook trout slot limit designed to allow harvest of smaller fish while protecting larger trout. This regulation requires all trout less than 6 inches and longer than 12 inches be released alive at once. We have five ponds in the Moosehead Lake region that have this regulation (Big Berry Pd, Johnson Mountain Twp.; Rum and Secret Pds, Greenville; Yoke and Little Pleasant Pds, TAR11 Wels). Data collected from the population characteristics of these waters will be ongoing for a number of years to see if over time we are indeed increasing the number of larger brook. We are planning to evaluate Rum and Secret with trap nets this spring at ice out.

We also plane to conduct smelt brook surveys on Moosehead Lake as well as other lakes in the region. These sight investigations will help us determine to what degree the smelts are using these brooks to spawn. We will also be mailing out our personal fishing record books to record keepers and begin deploying Voluntary Survey Boxes and temperature data loggers on many of our popular sport fisheries.

-Stephen Seeback, Fisheries Biologist Specialist

Region F, Penobscot Region

It will probably be mid-April before the ice goes out of the brooks and streams and late April before ice starts going out of lakes and ponds in Region F. There is still a lot of ice on most waters and a deep snow pack. If normal runoff conditions occur, there will be a lot of water. The West Branch of the Penobscot should be at least partially open on April 1 but low flows from McKay station will affect fishing opportunity in waters free of ice and deep snow will affect travel to the river. Salmon fishing has been slow the last few years and is still being affected by the status of the smelt population in Chesuncook Lake. When good fishing conditions do occur there should be a lot of good fishing opportunity. Winter fishing pressure was not high on salmon and trout waters which should result in good fishing action for those species.

Due to the low use this winter by anglers and the good water flows over the past summer, this springs fishing should be very good in the Penobscot Region. Get your rods and boats ready.

Think spring and warmer weather

- Brian Campbell, Fisheries Biologist Specialist

Region G – Aroostook County

Although many parts of the state will have lakes free of ice come April 1, winter is still very much evident in northern Maine. Usual early fishing spots in this region include the small trout ponds in eastern Aroostook County, in particular many that were stocked with fall fingerlings last year such as Daigle Pond, Echo Lake, Hanson Brook Lake, Arnold Brook Lake, Timoney Lake and Carry Lake. Soldier Pond in Wallagrass is usually open for fishing on April 1 as are stretches of the Meduxnekeag River, Prestile Stream and various other small brooks in eastern Aroostook County.

Retired brook trout brood fish were released last fall in Conroy Lake, Echo Lake, Durepo Lake, Monson Pond, and Mud Pond in Linneus. These trout should be looking to bite as the ice recedes from these ponds.

Eagle Lake in the Fish River Chain is usually a sure bet for ice out landlocked salmon, togue and brook trout fishing. Square Lake has been excellent fishing for trout this winter and these fish should provide an attractive spring fishery at ice out. In the backcountry, access on the private gravel land management roads can be tricky with mud season. The Allagash River below Churchill Dam and fishway is usually a popular destination.

We would take this opportunity to advise anglers that Mud Brook in T17R3 WELS, Aroostook County, a tributary to Long Lake, is open to the taking of smelts with a dip net this spring. The legislature passed this law in 2006 but it was inadvertently left out of the 2007 Open Water Law Book.

As we do every year, we would suggest that anglers take the time to read the 2007 law book before going fishing this spring. Also, remember that the water is very cold so please wear your PFD when out on the water.

-Dave Basley, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Submitted by : Mark Latti, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
pager 818-9617
fax 207-287-6395
284 State Street
41 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

For More Outdoor Information, and Sporting Licenses 24 Hours A Day, 7 Days A Week, Please Visit www.mefishwildlife.com

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