Old News Archive

Fishing Report - September 5, 2007

September 05, 2007 - TRC

Region A- Southwestern Maine

Sustained low late summer stream flows have enabled regional staff to make good progress in completing planned electrofishing surveys to assess select brook trout and salmon index streams. Annual late summer stream sampling allows us to monitor trends in fish size quality and population size. One noteworthy observation on the Crooked River this year, is the cooler than normal water temperatures in both the upper and lower river reaches, and as a result we're capturing many more wild brook trout than we usually encounter. Late season fishing for brook trout in the Crooked River should be better than most years.

The Crooked River is the most significant salmon spawning tributary to Sebago Lake, and to date two of the four planned juvenile salmon productivity surveys in the drainage have been completed. Preliminary results indicate elevated levels of wild salmon production. Once all the surveys have been completed we will estimate total river production based on previously collected river habitat survey data to estimate wild salmon production and recruitment to Sebago Lake.

Over the last year, we have been trying to relocate a site on Trafton Pond (Hiram/Porter) to provide public access to this stocked 56 acre pond. Changes in landownership and willingness by private landowners to allow continued public use of their shorefront properties have eliminated traditional water access to Trafton. Furthermore, comments and complaints from anglers unable to access the pond to fish for stocked brook trout have resulted in our decision to suspend stocking until suitable pubic access can be provided. Department policy precludes stocking on waters that the general public can not access and utilize watercraft common to that water. This policy ensures that stocked hatchery fish will be available to fishermen who fund state stocking programs through the purchase of fishing licenses. Trafton Pond was stocked in the spring and the fall, providing a locally popular fishery, particularly during the winter months.

In past reports we have discussed ongoing regional efforts to contact private shorefront landowners who have allowed the public to access the water across their private lands (what we call traditional access). Our goal is to cultivate a working relationship with landowners to keep these traditional water access sites open to the public. The posting of special signage, and efforts to address property abuses will hopefully limit the future loss of public access and stocking programs. In recent years, Department stocking programs have been suspended due to lost public access on several other waters in southern Maine, including Swan Pond (Lyman), Allen Pond (Greene), Mine Pond (Porter), Raymond Pond (Raymond).

-Francis Brautigam, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region B - Central Maine

Hopefully, you read last week’s report in which Rick Jordan, the Department’s bass biologist, outlined and described bass tournaments in Maine. This article included information on not only the rules and regulations of bass fishing tournaments but also the appeal of this type of fishing to many anglers. This week I wanted to add how these bass derbies aid us in Central Maine to manage the bass fisheries.

Bass tournaments are a quick and easy way for us to gather a lot of information in a short time. Typically, we arrive at the lake at the end of the day to interview the anglers and measure and weigh bass and take a scale sample to age the fish. We often have interviewed 50- 100 anglers and taken biological data from 100 of each species of bass from each lake. We can collect all this data in just a couple of hours, whereas if we were to collect this information without bass derbies it would certainly be a few man-days of effort.

We noticed that bass fishing tournaments were increasing in popularity in the early 1980’s and decide we should collect information on these derbies to determine any effects they may have on the bass populations. We have now collected data on a handful of representative lakes in Central Maine nearly annually since the 1980’s. Information collected on these lakes through the years indicates overall a fairly stable and consistent bass fishery.

I urge people interested to attend a bass weigh-in to see not only the number and size of bass caught but also to talk with the anglers. These dedicated anglers love talking about bass and bass fishing and most will be glad to share many fish catching tips.

--Jim Lucas, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region C – Downeast

While everyone knows that man cannot live on the moon because of several unsuitable physical conditions, the task of determining which of Maine’s coldwater sportfish species can live in a particular lake or pond is not as easily known. This interesting determination is based largely on two physical conditions: water temperature and the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water. During this late-summer time of year, fisheries biologists are busy assessing whether these conditions are suitably met to ensure survival of trout and salmon in these waters.

Late summer is the time when water quality conditions are at their “worst” because water temperatures in deeper water have reached their warmest levels and dissolved oxygen levels have reached their lowest levels. So if temperature and dissolved oxygen levels are suitable for trout and survival now, these fish should be able to survive year-round. To assess these levels, biologists use an electronic thermometer/dissolved oxygen meter while anchored in the lake’s deepest water.

If the electronic thermometer shows temperatures between 50-60º F, the temperature requirements for trout and salmon will be met, although lake trout commonly utilize water in the 45-50º F range. But, suitable water temperature is only ½ of the physical need consideration; even if cool temperatures exist in the deep water, trout and salmon can only live there if suitable amounts of oxygen (more than 5 parts per million) exist in the water.

So, if biologists find 55º F water and only 4 parts per million of dissolved oxygen, we would not expect trout and salmon to survive. But if we found 6 parts per million of dissolved oxygen, we would not expect any limitations from water quality on survival.

Every lake must be assessed individually; there is no formula for guessing and predicting. We have found excellent water quality even at heavily developed lakes with hundreds of camps, like Beech Hill Pond in Otis and Green Lake in Ellsworth. On the other hand, we have found problems with low dissolved oxygen levels at practically undeveloped lakes and ponds like Fox Pond in Twp 10 SD and Bog Lake in Northfield.

Aside from water quality, other factors such as forage species and competition from other gamefish species play a very important role in determining fish survival and growth rates in each water and determine what species of fish will be stocked.

September is a prime time for white perch fishing. Anglers who locate schools of this delicious sport fish have fast fishing and ensure many meals of fried perch fillets or fish chowder. If you’re looking for perch, try Grand Falls Flowage (Princeton), Big Lake (T 27 ED), Pocomoonshine Lake (Alexander), Third Machias Lake (T 42 & 43 MD), Chain Lakes (T 26 ED), Georges Pond (Franklin), Abrams Pond (Eastbrook), Lower Patten Pond (Surry), or Green Lake (Dedham and Ellsworth).

-Rick Jordan, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region D - Western Mountains

Landlocked salmon, a Maine native, are the most sought-after coldwater sportfish in the state, with the exception of brook trout. Want to know more about this magnificent fish ? Read on...

§ Landlocked salmon are a freshwater form of the sea-run Atlantic salmon.

§ Prior to 1868, landlocked salmon populations occurred in only four river basins in Maine: the St. Croix, including West Grand Lake in Washington County; the Union, including Green Lake in Hancock County; the Penobscot, including Sebec Lake in Piscataquis County; and the Presumpscot, including Sebago Lake in Cumberland County.

§ Today, landlocked salmon provide the primary fishery in 176 lakes comprising nearly 500,000 acres. They are present and provide incidental fisheries in an additional 127 waters comprising about 160,000 acres. Maine supports one of the largest sport fisheries for this species in the world.

§ Landlocked salmon also provide good fisheries in 44 rivers and streams totaling about 290 miles.

§ Hatchery stockings maintain fisheries in 127 lakes. These lakes do not have sufficient spawning and nursery areas to produce wild salmon. Without regular stockings, salmon in these lakes would disappear entirely, or their numbers would be very, very low.

§ Natural reproduction supports salmon fisheries in 49 lakes. These are lakes that have sufficient spawning and nursery habitat to produce enough salmon to support good fisheries. Most of these waters are located in western and northern Maine.

§ Salmon spawn in lake outlets or inlets during the period from mid-October to late November. Eggs are buried in gravel from 4 to 12 inches deep and remain there until hatching early the following spring.

§ Young salmon spend from 1 to 4 years in a stream environment prior to migrating to a lake.

§ In wild salmon populations, most males spawn first at ages 3 and 4, although a few spawn at ages 1 and 2. Females usually spawn first at ages 4 and 5.

§ Landlocked salmon may be repeat spawners, but most fish observed on spawning runs are spawning for the first time. Salmon may spawn in consecutive or alternate years, some may spawn in consecutive years then skip a year, and some may skip 2 or 3 years between spawnings.

§ Rainbow smelts are the favorite food of salmon in Maine lakes. Without adequate numbers of smelts, salmon growth and body condition will be poor, markedly reducing their value as a sportfish. Maintaining adequate numbers of smelts for forage is the most important element of salmon management in Maine.

§ Hatchery salmon generally provide fisheries for larger fish than do wild salmon because the number of smelt predators can be strictly controlled.

§ From 1996 to 2000, Maine open-water anglers voluntarily released over 60% of their catch of legal salmon; ice anglers released about 25% of their legal salmon catch.

§ From 1996 to 2000, the average size of salmon harvested from all Maine lakes was 17.4 inches and 1.7 pounds - the largest since Department fishery biologists began conducting scientific creel surveys in the 1950’s.

For even more information, see the fishing section of our website (www.mefishwildlife.com).

-Dave Boucher, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region E - Moosehead Region

The fall fishing season is upon us. This is the time of year when anglers can experience some of the best fishing of the year. As water temperatures cool and the days get shorter, trout and salmon will begin to ascend the rivers and streams of the region in their pre-spawning ritual. Many of the best river fisheries are in fact highly managed or manipulated to improve the fishing. Mother Nature does not always provide adequate rain this time of year to make river and stream fishing productive. Just look at some of the small streams in your neighborhood this week and you’ll understand that fishing would be tough on most rivers if there were no additional flow from storage or hydroelectric dams. Many of the dams in this region have water management plans as part of their licensing requirements. We also have very good working relationships with companies like Florida Power and Light Energy, Kennebec Water Power, Brookfield Power, and Ridgewood Renewable Power. These companies work hard to assist us in managing the resource for the anglers of Maine.

In the Moosehead Lake Region, there are several big rivers that we manage for fall fishing flows. The dam at First Roach Pond controls the flow into the Roach River. The dam is owned and operated by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The crew here in Greenville is responsible for the day-to-day operation. Our water management plan includes filling the pond to 7.5 feet in early spring. We then try to maintain a full pond elevation throughout the summer while providing optimum flows in the river for the young wild salmon and trout that call the river home. We begin the fall release around Labor Day. This generally increases the flow from around 80 cfs to 150-250 cfs. The fall release is adjusted each year depending on available water. In years when there is ample water, we try to increase the flow early in September then give another “bump” in late September. We typically see an increase in fish movement with each increase in flow. This maximizes fishing opportunity. In years when water is low, we start the fall release just after Labor Day at a rate that will ensure there is adequate water for the month of September. This year we have about 1 foot less of storage in First Roach Pond due to low rainfall. Therefore, anglers can expect to see about 180 cfs on September 4th. We will plan to maintain that flow unless we get additional rain.

The East Outlet, Moose River, and the West Branch of the Penobscot are also managed to maximize fishing opportunities in the fall. Water is in shorter supply at Seboomook Lake just like First Roach Pond. While we like flows in the Foxhole to be around 900 –1000 cfs, we will see flows around 800 cfs to start September. We consider 500 cfs as the minimum for boat traffic on this section, so 800 cfs is still a good flow for boating and fishing, but let’s hope for a little more rain this month. Anglers can expect an increase from 1200 cfs to 2000 cfs at the East Outlet on September 4th. This is an ideal flow for drift boats on this awesome section of river. The fishing has been superb on the East Outlet this summer and we expect it to continue this fall. The flow at the Brassua Dam station will increase from around 500 cfs to a range of 800-1200 cfs in September.

On a related note, we want to let anglers know that we have removed the proposal to change the fishing regulation on the Moose River. There was considerable discussion and public input regarding the Moose River proposal. We discussed this proposal with the Moosehead Lake Focus Group, at a public forum in Rockwood, and at the formal regulations hearing in Greenville. We also handled a few phone calls and emails too. There were good points for and against the proposal, which would have returned the section of the Moose River below Brassua Dam back to the old ALO regulation. After listening (some say we don’t, but we really do!) to each side, we decided to pull the proposal for this year. This will give us more time to review the existing law and determine if the Warden Service can clarify the definition of a fly or perhaps we could consider something else next year if there continues to be a problem. There was no biological issue on the Moose River but instead it was a social/enforcement issue regarding the current law, which allows the casting and trolling of flies only. We want to thank all those that contributed to a very positive discussion.

-Tim Obrey, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region F, Penobscot Region

How do we keep track of more than 1,000,000 brook trout, lake trout, landlocked salmon, brown trout, and splake after they are stocked ? By applying an individual fin clip to a percentage of the fish stocked in Maine each year, that's how. During the week of September 10, over 120,000 fish will be marked at Cobb Fish Hatchery in Enfield by a very dedicated group of fin clippers from the Enfield and Lincoln area. This is the largest effort statewide to mark fish for later identification. An experienced fin clipper can mark approximately 400 fish per hour, so you can see that it takes a while to clip 120,000+ fish. Similar marking programs take place at all Maine State Hatcheries during the spring and fall each year.

Why do we clip all of those fish? We have a 4-year (11 year rotation for lake trout) fin clip schedule set up for all of the species of fish that we stock Maine, so that each year a different clip is applied. By looking at a marked fish from any lake, pond or stream in Maine that we stock, we can immediately determine what year that fish was stocked. Otherwise, we would have to take a scale or otolith sample of that fish and analyze the data at a later date. Although it takes a long time to mark 120,000 fish, it is a real time saver later in the process of evaluating our hatchery programs.

Based upon this age and growth information, decisions about numbers of fish stocked, length limits, bag limits, gear restrictions and access issues are more effectively made. This is very important information that will provide us a great deal of insight as to the success of any of our stocking programs and management initiatives.

We also have about 100 anglers in our region that keep a voluntary angler diary on their fishing activities throughout the year. These anglers keep track of all of their fishing activities, and the presence of fin clip allows these folks to add that additional information to their record books. It also provides information to the angler about the age of their catch, making the collection of fishery information more meaningful to our volunteers.

Anglers wishing to participate in the Volunteer Angler Program should contact the fisheries office closest to where they fish or reside for further information. Also, anglers wishing to participate in the online version can go to http://www.triptracks.com/ for more information.

The week after fish marking marks the start of the fall stocking season. Hatchery personnel from Cobb Fish Hatchery in Enfield will, in the next month or so, stock 116,260 fall fingerling brook trout; 4,950 fall fingerling splake; 17,900 fall yearling brook trout; 1,600 fall yearling splake and 5,000 adult brook trout ! Truly an amazing feat that they can stock over 145,000 fish in such a short time !

Steve Wilson retired from state service last week and will be missed by all who had the opportunity to work with him. Steve was a very dedicated professional who was the Superintendent of Hatcheries for the last 16 years of his 30+ year career with the Department. Steve was instrumental in bringing some needed upgrades and repairs to all hatchery facilities, and directed the modernization of the Fish Cultural Stations across Maine as a result of the Hatchery Bond. Anyone who has fished in the State of Maine owes Steve a debt of gratitude for all he has done for coldwater fishing in Maine !

-Nels Kramer, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region G – Aroostook County

With the first of September comes that nip in the air that reminds you that fall is right around the corner. As the surface water cools and we get a little rain to increase streamflow, the last month of river/stream fishing is eagerly anticipated by many anglers. The lower Aroostook River is an excellent destination to try for fall brook trout. There are several points to access the river below Caribou Dam, one of which is immediately below the dam off the Lower Lyndon Road. There is a fishway in this dam, which precludes fishing within 150 feet of the fishway. Other access sites in downtown Caribou are at the mouth of Caribou Stream adjacent the boat launch and the mouth of Otter Brook. The mouth of the Little Madawaska River can be accessed off the Grimes Road. The Maine Department of Transportation has created a parking area and access to the mouth of Gray Brook off the North Caribou Road and it is only a short distance beyond that to Ansden Brook, another cold tributary to the Aroostook River. In the event that you are parking and accessing the river near a dwelling, please have the courtesy to seek landowner permission before crossing private land. Regulations in effect for this stretch of river are now artificial lures only with a daily limit of 1 brook trout or togue. Minimum length limit on brook trout is 10 inches. All salmon caught must be immediately released alive.

-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.