Old News Archive

Fishing Report - September 11, 2007

September 11, 2007 - TRC

Region A- Southwestern Maine

The openwater fishing season is coming to an end, but Maine's fall fishing opportunities can be fantastic for trout and salmon. There's nothing like catching a beautiful male brookie in the fall with colors that rival our foliage or a feisty landlocked salmon. The Sebago Region is blessed with some great fall fishing opportunities, most lakes and ponds are open to catch and release fishing until the end of November and a fair number of rivers are open to year round fishing! Be sure to consult your law book for further details.

Fall fishing can be very productive and successful. Trout and salmon become more active as surface temperatures begin to cool and they become concentrated in specific areas as the spawning season approaches. Anglers that target larger tributaries, dam outlets, and thoroughfares in October and November can have some great days of fishing. It is not uncommon for us to hear from anglers catching some beautiful mature landlocks, browns, and other salmonids on lakes like Thompson (Oxford), Auburn (Auburn), and Long Lake (Harrison). In addition, fall anglers also get the first crack at decent sized fall stocked fish (12-14"), which the hatcheries typically have out by the end of October. These fall stocked fish, as well as a few holdover trout have been producing a fantastic fall fishery at Crystal Lake in Gray. While this fishery has been in place for quite some time, anglers have had exceptional fishing off the Town beach in recent years. Some good fall river fishing opportunities include the Presumpscot River in Windham, the Pleasant River in Windham, the Royal River (Yarmouth), the Saco River (below most of the dams), and of course the tide water fisheries (the Mousam, Salmon Falls, and Ogunquit Rivers). The only bad thing about fall fishing is that it can compete with our time for other great fall activities like hunting.

Over the past couple of weeks the regional staff has been conducting quite a bit of stream electrofishing, and it appears to have been a great year for brook trout and salmon. The abundance of juvenile wild trout and salmon appears to be up, particularly on the Crooked River. We are quite pleased at the number of young-of-the-year and parr salmon observed at our four index sites on the Crooked River system, which is related to the recent improvements we have seen in the Sebago fishery, as well as favorable stream conditions this summer. For those that know the river, we expect the Crooked River will provide some decent fall fishing providing we get some rain to draw in the fish prior to the close of the season. Good luck !

-Jim Pellerin, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region B - Central Maine

Many anglers are interested in gaining what they can from the knowledge that Fishery biologists have of the waters they manage. We can provide information to virtually all anglers -- from those just starting out that who may know nothing about a local water, to the seasoned veteran, who knows every nook and cranny of his or her favorite lake. Even if we are stumped, we have a pretty good idea of whom we can contact to get the right answer to the inquiry.

Recently I had the opportunity to have Michael Witte, an Advisory Council member, accompany me on some routine habitat and fishery surveys of inland streams on the Pemaquid peninsula. He represents three of the coastal counties in this part of Maine. Mr. Witte and I traveled around Bremen and Bristol where he had first hand knowledge of the brooks and streams through assisting our Wildlife Division in their animal damage control program. Although I had been to some of the streams, Michael’s firsthand knowledge helped me complete the survey of the waters we visited. I was unaware that the Patriots Day storm this year had devastated some of the stream crossings in the area, so our field trip helped me put in perspective some of the analyses of road and stream intersects. Mike’s first hand knowledge was a definite asset.

It certainly is a benefit to be able to glean knowledge from someone like Mike, who is very knowledgeable about waterways in his area. As biologists, we do not have all the answers, and we rely on people like Mike to learn more about certain areas, and the knowledge we accumulate from local anglers can give us a much clearer picture of local areas.

Mike and I did not find any spectacular fishery habitat but later, on my own, I discovered four streams in Bristol that contained brook trout populations that will need special measures for maintenance of the habitat. Close to fifty stream and road crossings were surveyed. This work will help future management of the inland fisheries of the region.

As Bass Pro Jimmy Huston once said, “We all deserve the fruits of our collective knowledge and experience.” As an angler, you should always be learning, whether it is from a biologist, or a local source like Mike Witte.

Good luck fishing this fall.

--Bill Woodward, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region C – Downeast

About six months ago I was hired as the Downeast Region’s Fisheries Biologist Specialist. Prior to that I had worked seasonally for two years as a Contract Fisheries Aide. Before I began working for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, I knew very little about what a fisheries biologist really did. Sure, I knew the work involved fish and some aspect of biology, but I never really gave it more thought than that. However, once I was hired on for my first seasonal position, that all changed. At that time I was like a kid in a candy store, just trying to learn as much as I possibly could and to leach as much knowledge as I could from any source that was willing to share with me. The more I learned, the more I wanted to make this my career and by the end of my first summer working with Region C’s biologists I couldn’t get enough of it. I volunteered some time in the fall simply so I could gain experience. Eventually my hard work paid off, and I was extremely fortunate to receive a position working for the state I have lived in my entire life. All of the fisheries staff members in the Downeast Region are native to the state and we are very proud of what we do.

So, then just what does a fisheries biologist do? The short and sweet answer I often use is that one of our responsibilities is to provide, and ensure, that a wide variety of fishing opportunities exist for many years to come. We are fisheries managers and that management involves working with fish and with people. We have a wide variety of tools available to us to manage fish populations. One way is by regulations. We are responsible for creating the fishing regulations on each water. It is the Maine Warden Service who then enforces these regulations. If a population needs to be protected we may impose more restrictive regulations or if we want to promote more harvest we may apply more liberal regulations.

Another tool on our “management tool belt” is the ability to stock fish. The state of Maine fish hatcheries raise the fish and do an amazing job at providing large numbers of healthy fish to stock. Fisheries biologists decide how many fish to stock, what species, and how often the stocking should occur.

As managers, a major part of our job is to monitor survival and growth of our fish populations around the region. This is a time-consuming job because we stock about 110 of our 310 surveyed lakes and ponds, plus we have special management on many of our 90 bass waters.

We have several methods of achieving this goal, such as: electrofishing, various types of netting, angler creel surveys, water quality analysis, hydroacoustic surveys, anglers keeping records of their fishing trips, and more. All of these methods would be futile without one vitally important tool, experience. In the Downeast Region alone, we collectively have over 50 years of fisheries experience. It takes experience to interpret all of the data and set the appropriate regulations and stocking numbers. It is our goal to provide consistent and reliable fishing opportunities that people can count on for years to come.

Another aspect of our job is management that involves access. We are responsible for providing and ensuring public access to the region’s waters so that anglers and boaters have the ability to utilize them for fishing, boating, canoeing, and kayaking. We are constantly working with landowners around lakes and ponds so that our waters do not become “privatized” by camp owners. Greg Burr has worked extremely hard in our region to ensure that public access is secured. And once again it takes a great deal of experience to do the work Greg does.

We also work closely with members of the public in order to obtain information about fish populations. There are three staff members in this region to cover an area that is 80% the size of the state of Connecticut, a state that employs about 25 fisheries biologists and technicians. If our two-county fisheries region were staffed at the same rate as Connecticut, the Downeast Regional Office would have 20 people! So the information that anglers provide while they are out fishing is vitally important for us to manage fish populations the best we can.

For me this is a dream job. I am fortunate to be able to work in the state I grew up in, doing work that it is important to me as well as to many other people in the state. Everyday I learn more and more about the region, its fisheries, and its people and I couldn’t ask for a better job.

-Joe Overlock, Fisheries Biologist Specialist

Region D - Western Mountains

With the water cooling down and higher flows, many anglers are heading for rivers that flow into the large lakes. Most serious anglers know that the place to be a few days after a heavy rain event is were the brook trout and salmon will be running for fall spawning season. These rushes of water trigger the fish’s instinct to move to their pre-spawning holding areas. At this time large fish from the lakes are catchable by anglers wading or standing along the shoreline.

Anglers might also try their favorite trout pond again too. Often anglers fish a pond regularly in the spring, but then forget about it after the water warms up. However, water temperatures have begun to cool, so the trout are now on the move and feeding more aggressively. A few ponds to try would be Beal Pond in Madrid, Quimby Pond in Rangeley, or Rowe Pond in Pleasant Ridge Plt. All three of these waters are annually stocked with brook trout.

Anglers interested in bass fishing don’t have to give up quite yet. Although these fish become a little less active and more difficult to catch as the warm summer days end, they will take bait or lures if presented to them properly. Try fishing a little deeper than you normally would in lakes and ponds. The fish in rivers are more likely to be in their same old haunts, even moving into very shallow water on bright sunny days. For anglers in the northwestern part of the state I would recommend fishing the Androscoggin River in the Jay or Canton area. There are some very large smallmouths in this stretch of water.

-Dave Howatt, Fisheries Biologist Specialist

Region E - Moosehead Region

The East Outlet is a perhaps one of the most popular river fisheries in the State. The river averages about 200 feet across and is nearly 3 miles long as it drops 75 feet from the dam on Moosehead Lake to the “Last Drop” on Indian Pond. The habitat is primarily rocky/boulder riffle with many pools and pockets. It is ideal salmon and trout water. There is, however, a shortage of salmonid spawning habitat in the river. Surveys indicate that less than 0.5% of the total area in the river contains gravel that would be suitable for successful spawning.

The East Outlet dam; which is owned and operated by Kennebec Water Power (KWP), was relicensed in the 1990’s. Paul Johnson, the Regional Fisheries Biologist, led the negotiations for the IF&W. The resulting new license had many benefits for the fish and the fishermen, including higher minimum flows. Paul also identified 2 areas in the river that could be modified to increase the amount of spawning and fry habitat in the river. KWP was very supportive of the proposed project and funded the work. A channel about 25 feet wide and 250 feet long was created just below the Beach Pool. This channel alone effectively doubled the amount of spawning habitat in the river. Another channel averaging nearly 30 feet by 520 feet was also improved. This area provides great fry and some spawning habitat. The project was completed just one year after the license became final.

We have been back to these sections since the work was finished and have observed many salmon using the spawning areas and we have also electrofished young salmon utilizing the improved nursery habitat.

Another method we use to evaluate the production of wild salmon in the East Outlet is the fishway in the dam. IFW staff has operated the trap in the fishway during 14 years in the period of 1974 to present, so we have good baseline data to use for comparison.

Tending the fishway is one of the more interesting projects we have in this region. While we are mainly interested in enumerating the small (less than 12 inches) salmon moving from the river to the lake, you just never know what the catch will be for any given day. Just as an example, this year the last day of tending was July 30. We anticipated a light catch of perhaps 50-75 fish based on previous tends and the warm weather. But as we dropped the water level in the trap, we were greeted by 315 brook trout in addition to over 100 salmon. How many people out there can say they caught over 300 brookies in one morning?

Staff from IFW, assisted by Mike Moon, the dam operator for KWP, tended the fishway trap this summer. We are very grateful for the help from Mike and KWP. They have made many improvements to our operation over the past years. We operated the trap during the peak period of salmon movement; which is generally from mid June to the end of July. Salmon don’t start moving upstream until the water warms to about 60 F and by August, the water warms to a level where it becomes difficult to handle the fish and their movement tends to decline as well.

This year’s catch of young wild salmon was the 2nd best since 1974. In fact, we handled over 1500 salmon in 2007. We categorize these young fish into size groups: less than 8 inches, 8 to 12 inches, and greater than 12 inches. We saw improvements across all categories. The overall catch rate for young wild salmon was just shy of the record set in 2001. In fact, there has been a general trend toward an increasing number of young salmon produced in the river since the habitat improvement project was completed. Salmon less than 12 inches far outnumber the larger size category by nearly 4:1. The largest salmon sampled was 22 inches. Many, if not most, of the legal salmon appear to be of hatchery origin. We do take other species in the trap as well, including: brook trout, lake trout, round whitefish, longnose suckers, white suckers, and various minnows. The salmon, brook trout, and lake trout are measured and a temporary fin clip is applied. All fish are then released into the lake where they will continue to grow and contribute to the lake and associated river fisheries. Check out some photos of this year’s East Outlet fishway operation at:


-Tim Obrey, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region F, Penobscot Region

On Monday, with the help of our fin clipping crew, staff from other hatcheries and regional fisheries offices and our research office, we will begin the annual fall fish marking at Cobb Fish Hatchery in Enfield. This crew will mark more than 90,735 Brook Trout and 20,350 Splake. In a week’s time, 111,085 fish will be netted out of the raceways, loaded onto a truck and transported to a holding pool. Then the fish are netted out, placed in a trough with an anesthetic, and then the anesthetized fish are then are netted and placed in a trough to be clipped. After this, they are sent through a pipeline back to the pool were they started. In most cases, the fish go through this complete process in about 15 min. It is quite a process to see. If your happen to be in the Enfield area this week stop by.

After this week of fin clipping, the hatchery staff here at Cobb Hatchery will begin the task of stocking more than 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. It is truly an amazing feat that they can stock over 145,000 fish in less than two months. The start of fish marking signifies to us here in the office that summer is over and fall is here. Lets hope for some great fall weather with plenty of rain to bring the flows up in the streams and rivers as well at the water levels up in the lakes and ponds. Get out and enjoy the great fall weather. The trees will be turning soon.

-Brian Campbell, Fisheries Biologist Specialist

Region G – Aroostook County

We routinely receive questions on the presence of muskellunge in the St. John River drainage. This week’s fishing report affords the opportunity to view the history of muskellunge in this river system.

o Muskellunge were introduced into Lac Frontier, a 260 acre headwater lake of the NW Branch of the St. John River, by Quebec fishery personnel in 1970.
o It was assumed that the muskellunge were sedentary and territorial, bred in the lake and did not migrate; therefore they would not endanger the St. John River system in Maine.
o MDIFW authorities were not consulted prior to the stocking and only found out as the result of information passed on to the Commissioner by District Warden Dan Glidden at Daquaam.
o Lac Frontier stocking schedule:
1970. 3000 @ 3-6 inches
1971. 1000 @ 5-6 inches
1972. 1000 @ 3-4 inches
1973. 1000 @ 6-8 inches
1974. 250 @ 6-8 inches

*Discontinued after 1979 due to self-sustaining population.
o In 1973, District Warden Rod Sirois received report of a pike being caught in the St. John River but the fish was not observed.
o In spring 1984, MDIFW biologists confirmed two muskellunge from the St. John River.
1 @ 25 inches from 7 Islands, 40 miles below Lac Frontier.
1 @ 25 inches from the NW Branch, 3.5 miles below Lac Frontier.
An additional 4-5 fish were reported but not confirmed.

· In late summer 1984, MDIFW biologists captured muskellunge using a large seine in the NW Branch. Six young of the year @ 6 inches and one yearling at 14 inches are captured.

1 In 1985, no muskellunge were captured with the seine in the 7 Islands area of the St. John.
2 In 1986, biologists used a seine to capture 9 young of the year at Turner Deadwater on the Baker Branch and 1 young of the year at Baker Lake, 45 miles from Lac Frontier. Anglers begin catching musky in Baker Lake in 1987.

3 In June 1988, New Brunswick Dept. of Natural Resources personnel reported the first capture of a muskellunge in the Mactaquac Fishway trap just upstream from Fredericton. (400+ miles from Lac Frontier) The fish was 28 inches @ 6 lb 12 oz. From 1998-2000, 97 muskellunge were captured in the trap and in 2001, 41 were captured through mid-July. Presently they inhabit the river below Fredericton.

4 First reported taken by anglers fishing Glazier Lake in January 1992, confirmed by District Warden Chuck Richard. New state record in 2004: 43.9 inches @ 27 lb.

5 1998 to present, muskellunge are routinely caught and actively sought by anglers at Glazier Lake, the St. Francis River and St. John River.

6 In May 2001, fishery personnel captured 2 muskellunge in the St, John River near the mouth of the Fish River using an electrofishing boat. These fish are males that have spawned and have lengths of 26.7 and 33.5 inches.

7 In June 2002, the Fish River from the lower falls to the railroad trestle (3.25 miles) was sampled using the electrofishing boat – no muskellunge are taken. Also an area around Soldier Pond was sampled with no muskellunge captured.

8 Muskellunge have been caught in the Allagash River below Allagash Falls.
9 Muskellunge have been observed and unconfirmed angler catches have been reported below the lower Fish River Falls.

10 No muskellunge have yet to be reported in the fish trap at Tinker Falls on the Aroostook River in New Brunswick.

11 Planning for Maine’s Fisheries 2002-2017 involved a public working group process with public representatives. Management for exotic species should be to control further spread beyond affected waters and …seek to minimize impact…on the fisheries of the target waters.

12 Present Regulations in the open water season and ice fishing season are no size and bag limit. Commencing 2004, there will be an extended fall fishing season from Oct. 1-31, artificial lures only, open to the taking of muskellunge on the following waters: the main stem to the confluence of the St, Francis River, Northwest Branch, Southwest Branch, Daquaam River and Baker Branch.

13 Management problems associated with the presence of muskellunge in the St. John River include:

· Impacts on brook trout and other coldwater species.

1 Natural movement of muskellunge to other tributaries of the St. John.
2 Illegal introductions to other waters/drainages.
3 Lack of information on the tendencies of movement in a river system.
4 Lack of information on the biology of muskellunge in Maine waters.
5 Public interest to manage for quality fisheries.

· In 2004, MDIFW conducted a winter creel survey at Beau and Glazier Lakes. Few anglers and no muskellunge observed at Beau Lake. Angler use at Glazier Lake estimated at about 900 anglers. 21% successful at catching a muskellunge, 7% a togue and 2% a salmon. Legal togue and musky were caught at almost the same rate but numerous sublegal togue (16-17 inches) from a Maine stocking in 2001 were reported. Musky averaged 32.6 inches/10.1 lb (range 24-43 inches). Togue averaged 19.1 inches/2.3 lb. For the season, 89 musky and 35 legal togue were estimated to have been harvested.

1 In September 2006, the Fish River below the falls in Fort Kent and an upstream section between the falls and Soldier Pond was sampled using an electrofishing raft. No muskellunge were captured.

2 Jeff Albert of Madawaska caught the state record muskellunge at Glazier Lake on March 24, 2007. The fish measured 46 inches and weighed 31.02 pounds.

-Dave Basley, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Submitted by : Mark Latti, DIFW

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