Old News Archive

Fishing Report - August 7, 2007

August 07, 2007 - TRC

Region A- Southwestern Maine

The summer doldrums are upon us, and fishing reports from local trout and salmon anglers have dwindled to a standstill. Our seasonal census clerk indicates that a few diehard anglers are still picking up some nice togue at Auburn Lake. Auburn Lake anglers have also reported an increase in catches of sublegal salmon as stocked fish from this spring are entering the fishery and becoming vulnerable to angling. The Sebago Lake togue fleet has been relatively quiet, but the lake continues to produce some decent sized togue in the 3-6 pound class for the deep trollers with an occasional fish in the double digits. Other good bets for togue fishing in the region include Kezar Lake (Lovell) and Thompson Lake (Oxford), but anglers need to be prepared to fish deeper water with lead core and/or down riggers.

Although many trout fisherman hang up their gear this time of year, there is still some good fishing to be had in the region for those anglers willing to target deeper water. We spoke with an angler on Lower Range Pond in Poland that picked up a decent 16 inch brown trout and numerous bass, while our own sampling yielded six browns in the 15-18 inch range and one 17 inch rainbow trout. To be successful, it is critical that anglers target the band of cold, oxygenated water that develops on most of our lakes and ponds this time of year. For example on Lower Range Pond, the water temperature was too warm for trout above 18 feet deep and the dissolved oxygen was too low below 27 feet deep. Fish too shallow or too deep for trout this time of year and you will mostly likely return home skunked! While anglers may not have all the water quality gear we have, you can expect the appropriate band to be somewhere in the 15 to 30 foot range on most trout waters from mid to late summer. In addition, your fish finder and the presence of fish can indirectly give you a clue as to the appropriate depth ranges to focus on. Last Friday we sampled a small brook trout pond in Oxford County, the number of trout sampled was relatively low; however, we caught one sizable brookie that was over 18 inches! A trophy brook trout for sure, particularly in the Sebago Lakes region.

Last week we had reports of 2 fish kills, one at Pineland Pond in New Gloucester and the other was on Sebago Lake in Raymond. At Pineland Pond a small number of uncaught stocked brook trout (a put-and-take fishery) were finally succumbing to excessive temperatures due to a lack of summer refugia (i.e. deeper cold, oxygenated water or springs). Several anglers from Sebago Lake reported a die-off of smelt in the Jordan Bay area. Smelt die-offs are not that uncommon this time of year during excessively hot weather patterns. When conditions are right, we suspect schools of juvenile smelt become accidentally caught-up in warm surface waters due to wave, wind, or currents during their nightly migration to the thermocline to feed. If you witness or suspect a fish kill, please report the event to your regional fisheries office for investigation.

-Jim Pellerin, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region B - Central Maine

Meteorologists will tell you that at this time of year we experience the highest average annual temperatures. Last week was a pretty good example of those temperatures, with a pretty good dose of humidity added to the mix. Despite the cross-breezes from two fans, this office got fairly toasty by mid-afternoon on most days. Luckily, our open water work plan called for an opportune ‘escape’ from the heat.

Fisheries biologists base management plans for water by collecting data on that water. Of the many methods of data collection available to us, one is the use of scuba.

Scuba, also known as ‘self contained underwater breathing apparatus’ and snorkeling have wide applications in aquatic biology. For one, a diver or snorkeler is working in the fishes’ environment. Many species are less wary of the larger, often neoprene clad ‘fish’ lumbering about. Some are drawn by curiosity to investigate this strange animal in their space.

Our goal last week was to evaluate the smallmouth bass population in Alford Lake in Hope. The work consisted of diving on specific areas of habitat preferred by smallmouths to get counts of certain age classes of fish.

After launching the boat at the rather challenging boat launch at the lake, we set up dive transects using GPS. We do this to be consistent in the areas evaluated and to be able to do follow-up dives. Once marking transects was complete, we set up a planer board. This allows a diver to be towed slowly behind a boat while counting fish of predetermined size classes and make habitat observations. The skills involved require a diver to be able to do a number of things simultaneously; hang on to the board, observe and count fish on both sides, make notes on the habitat, keep an eye forward to avoid snags and obstructions, and monitor depth and air consumption. The boat operator must maintain a slow, safe speed, keep the boat on course and record the diver’s observations on surfacing.

Getting in the water was a definite relief from the heat of the day. All of the transects were completed easily with numerous fish observed. Most were under 7-inches, but we did see some fish that were 15 inches and over. We will return next year to compare what we count in comparison to this year’s work.

Essentially, we were doing a scientifically oriented form of an activity called ‘fish watching’. Use of scuba requires training, equipment, and in the case of Alford Lake, experience with a specialized technique. Fish watching need not require such elaborate equipment as an entire scuba setup, and can be as simple as sneakers and a bathing suit. One can observe fish by just wading in places shallow enough to do so. Sunglasses with polarized lenses help cut glare off the water. Snorkeling can easily be undertaken by a variety of inquisitive individuals. Remember to be aware of your surroundings and be safety conscious. Remember, this is fun, keep it in your ‘comfort zone’.

With the warm temperatures we’ve been experiencing, fish watching is a wonderful diversion that can both keep you cool while providing some very interesting insights into the world of fish and other aquatic organisms.

--Robert Van-Riper, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region C – Downeast

Fishery management biologists in the state’s seven different regions are responsible for overseeing and responding to many tasks and situations within their effort to protect fish populations, protect and enhance fishing opportunities, and to ensure public access to Maine waters. As biologists work with the many different groups and people, to meet these endeavors on the hundreds of lakes and ponds and thousands of miles of streams and rivers in their regions, many challenges come across their paths on a day to day basis that most of the public are not aware of.

This is no different in the Downeast management region of Hancock & Washington counties, when our human population grows there are many more interested people in the in the environment and many projects good and bad that effect fish populations, fishing opportunity and public access. In that vein, below is bulleted list of issues that biologists are dealing with in the Downeast region. I think our readers will find them interesting.

o Downeast & Quoody Liquefied Natural Gas Pipelines – crossing hundreds of streams in Washington County.
o Fish blockages on the Grand Falls and Woodland Dam fishways.
o Illegal dam structure built on the outlet of Upper Lead Mountain Pond in Beddington.
o Illegal boat launch built on Alligator Lake in T 34 MD.
o Purchase of public access to Billings Pond in Blue Hill.
o The construction of a public access blocked at Branch Lake in Ellsworth, leading to the stoppage of a 100+ year old state-stocking program.
o Purchasing of the public access site at Mopang Lake in T 29 MD.
o The construction of a public access site at Bog Lake in Northfield.
o Screening illegally introduced largemouth bass from entering Billings Pond in Blue Hill.
o Working with the towns of Brooksville and Sedgwick to construct public access to Walkers Pond and restore stocking of trout and the premier trout fishery.
o Working to prevent the spread of illegal introductions of bass that have recently been introduced into Brewer Lake and Fields Pond in Brewer, Graham Lake in Ellsworth, Davis and Holbrook Ponds in Eddington.
o Dealing with the possible dam removal at Lower Sabao Lake.
o Purchasing public access to Hopkins Pond in Mariaville to ensure fish stocking and fishing for the future.
o Helping to find the best flow regime for Grand Lake Stream that will also ensure good fishing, good salmon production and healthy spawning of fishes in West Grand Lake.
o Inventorying hundreds brook trout streams to help guide projects that come in contact with these waters in the future.
o Monitor water quality in the lakes and ponds of the region.
o Write fishing rules and regulations that govern safe fish harvest in the lakes, ponds, brooks, streams and rivers.
o Help land and forest managers protect brooks and streams with detailed plans.
o Oversee culvert placement and permits

These issues are just the tip of the iceberg that management biologists in region C are dealing with every day. It’s a multi-tasking job that needs to be done with the goals and objectives of protecting the quality of life and social and economic benefits people expect here in the state of Maine from their natural resources.

Have fun with your fishing ! We work hard to keep and make those opportunities for you !

-Greg Burr, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region D - Western Mountains

Finding cold water fish is a challenge this time of year. Cold water fish move out of the warmer surface waters to deeper sections of lakes, or to springs, or to cooler brooks. For warm water fish, of course, it's a different story, and I've recently spotted a number of anchored bass boats, lures flying in all directions, in the southern part of our region. When an out-of-state visitor called last week looking for bass fishing areas to try, I steered him to the middle Androscoggin - between Dixfield and Jay - where there are now several new launch sites (shown in the DeLorme Atlas) and lots of large small mouths.

Back to the cold water fish, which dominate the northern part of our region: smaller, well-shaded brooks and streams, fed by groundwater, tend to stay cool even in August, and that's where the brook trout are. Our electrofishing crew, Ethan Tracey and Troy Thompson, have been finding brook trout in most of the brooks they've been sampling, though Ethan mentioned yesterday that some of the smaller brooks have low flows. The flow situation can change daily, though, when thunder storms come through and dump a load of water.

As we move further into August, we can expect more rains, which induce salmon and trout to move into streams in preparation for spawning, which is in fact several months away - the Kennebago River is a good example of the "prespawning run" phenomenon. A number of rivers benefit from coldwater releases from dams - the lower Magalloway from the Aziscohos dam, and the Kennebec from Harris and Wyman dams; these tailraces are great places to fish even during the dog days of summer.

-Forrest Bonney, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region E - Moosehead Region

The fishing is still very good on the big lake. Anglers are reporting catching good numbers of lake trout and the salmon fishing has been very good all summer with many fish in the 16-18” range. It seems each week we get a report to the office or see a photo in the Moosehead Messenger of a 4+ lb brook trout. The hot flat summer days are perfect for slow trolling for lake trout with bait so get out and enjoy it because summer will be gone before you know it.

Plum Creek’s proposal for development in the Moosehead Lake Region has been a hot topic for discussion this summer. Development of this scale is unprecedented in the unorganized territories of this State and it can have both positive and negative impacts on the region. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will be formulating comments over the course of the summer in preparation for LURC hearings in the fall. From a fisheries perspective, we will first look at any impacts the plan may have on habitat. Access is also a very important issue for our Department and the sportsmen we represent. We want to be sure there is adequate value in the conservation easements to offset the proposed development. Value will be evaluated in the form of protection from development as well as protection from the loss of traditional access. Sportsmen know the trends regarding access are not good for the hunter and angler. We have lost access in recent years, some from the pressures of development (sprawl) but also from the creation of “Kingdom Lots”, which protect the habitat but shut out the traditional users. We have seen large tracts of land and water gated off as a result. We will also review the impacts from the anticipated increase in visitors to the region. The recreational impact study for the proposal indicates a substantial increase in visitors to the area. It is likely that all waters in the region, not just those with new development, will witness an increase in fishing pressure. Certainly there are some waters that would benefit from more fishing pressure, while others could suffer. To successfully manage increases in recreational use it will be important to have transparency and opportunities for input from the many competing stakeholders.

-Tim Obrey, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region F, Penobscot Region

After almost two weeks of hot, humid weather with no rain, water temperatures across the region have soared ! Continued conditions will take its toll on all species of cold water fish. Flows in the East Branch of the Penobscot River was running around 600 cfs, roughly 200 cfs below normal. Hopefully conditions will improve soon.

Regional staff will be heading to Baxter State Park this week to do some new surveys on a number of small ponds in the southern portion of the Park. Grassy Pond, Mink Pond, Rum Pond, Tea Pond and Deer Pond will all be examined. We will also be doing some re-surveys on Foss and Knowlton Pond, Lost Pond, Daicey Pond, Kidney Pond and Draper Pond to check for any changes in the species composition, water quality and brook trout populations.

-Nels Kramer, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region G – Aroostook County

Fishery Division staff from the Ashland and Enfield office will be holding a public meeting on Monday, August 20 at the Meduxnekeag Ramblers snowmobile clubhouse on Carry Lake off the Wiley Road in Littleton. The meeting will start at 6:30 pm. Fishery management issues in the greater southern Aroostook area will be discussed as well as entertaining questions from the audience.

All roads lead to Fort Kent this weekend as the community hosts the annual fishing derby targeting muskellunge. Muskellunge have become established in the St. John River drainage as the result of the stocking of this species by Quebec biologists in Lac Frontier, a headwater of the Northwest Branch of the St. John River. In addition to the St. John River, the species provides a sport fishery in Baker Lake in Somerset County and Glazier Lake in Aroostook County. The state record muskellunge was caught in Glazier Lake by Jeff Albert at a length of 46 inches and 31.02 pounds.

In addition to participating in the derby, anglers can visit the Maine Winter Sports Center that has hosted world class biathlon championships. Numerous other activities and events, as well as more detailed information on the derby can be found at www.fortkent-muskie.com. The people of the St. John Valley are well known for their hospitality and I'm sure this weekend will be a great time for all visitors.

-Dave Basley, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Submitted by Mark Latti, DIFW

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

To Record Information About Your Fishing Trip And Help Manage Maine’s Freshwater Fisheries, Please Visit Our Online Fishing Logbook At www.triptracks.com.

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