Old News Archive

Fishing Report - September 17, 2007

September 17, 2007 - TRC

Region A- Southwestern Maine

This morning’s light frost serves as a reminder of one of the many reasons why I will always live in Maine. Seasonal change here in northern New England keeps things fresh and new and ensures there is always something to do in the outdoors. In fact, if we narrow things down to our angling pursuits, there is always something to do outdoors and if we wish, it can almost always be as different as our seasons. Some folks actually divide their open water fishing season into as many as ten individual fishing seasons depending on their angling preferences and the best opportunities available at the time. For instance, your open water schedule could run a follows: early brook trout fishing, Sebago Lake salmon fishing at ice out, springtime smallmouth bass fishing, fly-fishing striped bass in rivers, bass and panfish in summer, off shore groundfish fishing, back to Sebago in the early fall for more salmon, and rainbow trout during the fall extended season. Those were just a fraction of the possibilities available in just one of our two major fishing seasons. The angling possibilities in this State are truly far above and beyond what most of us have for free time.

Recent sampling efforts at Lower Range Pond in Poland revealed yet another high quality angling opportunity. Our efforts resulted in the capture of good numbers of white perch averaging about 13 inches in length and about a pound in weight. No small perch were captured. Also found were a fair number of brown trout, the largest of which exceeded 5 pounds. The general law open water fishing season is quickly coming to a close but don’t forget the many opportunities available during the extended seasons through October and in some cases through November. Since we’re looking ahead, just consider the wide range of possibilities the ice fishing season can offer!

-Brian Lewis, Fisheries Biologist Specialist

Region B - Central Maine

The beautifully warm sunny days followed by progressively cooler nights we’ve experienced lately will result in increased opportunities for fishing for cold water fish species over the coming weeks. It is the perfect time to get out and enjoy some of the season’s best fishing for these species.

Over the past week, I’ve received several calls asking ‘why’ the fishing for trout and salmon seems to get ‘better’ in the fall. The answer is relatively simple – the water is cooling with the season, making it more of it much more to the liking of these species.

As the summer progresses, our lakes and ponds receive an increasing amount of sunlight. Most of that sunlight is received from a high sun-angle. The more shallow depths warm the most, of course. As a result, in many cases the water tends to form layers called thermal strata. Trout and salmon, being adapted to cooler water conditions, tend to gravitate to the layer that best suits their requirements for temperature and oxygen levels. Often the height of this layer is only one or two feet vertically. Many other species prefer the cool water layer too, so salmon and trout tend to forage there for the most part. They do move in and out of the preferred layer, but this is often of short duration.

With the approach of fall, the days shorten, average daily temperatures begin to drop, and the sun angle decreases. All of these factors play a role in a process called turnover.

The upper strata of the water begin to cool. Cooler water is slightly denser than the now warmer layers beneath and it slowly begins to break down the thermal layering effect.

The warming and cooling of the atmosphere creates winds that push the surface water in one direction until it ‘piles up’ on the downwind shore. Water stacks up until gravity pushes it back, creating a net reverse movement. The waves observed on the downwind shore on a windy day are akin to mixing water in the bathtub to get the right temperature.

Working together, these natural forces mix the water until temperatures, now cooler, are close to the same temperature. Since the water is cooler, it is more in line with the habitat requirements for trout. So the ‘better fishing’ suggested above is a result of fish being able to utilize a variety of depths to forage rather than concentrating in a relatively narrow layer of water.

General Law open water season runs through September 30, less than 2 weeks away. However many lakes and ponds, as well as several rivers and streams are open through parts of October through the end of the year. For example, lakes and ponds in Androscoggin, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Waldo counties are open through November 30 with all trout, salmon, togue and bass to be released alive at once. For rivers, the Kennebec River is open through December 31 from Weston Dam in Skowhegan to tidewater. Tackle restrictions apply in some sections. To find a complete listing of what is open for angling and the regulations for those waters, consult the 2007 Open Water Fishing Regulations booklet.

-Robert Van-Riper, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region C – Downeast

Surface water temperatures have cooled down to around 60 degrees and soon will be in the mid 50’s, which is perfect to summon trout and salmon back to the surface. As these fish feed on the surface and near shore, its spring fishing all over again, except that most anglers will have lakes and ponds all to themselves and also be able to enjoy the spectacular fall colors.

I recommend trolling brightly colored streamers and lures for landlocked salmon such as the Montreal, Barnes Special, Cathance Special, Marabou Muddler and the orange beaded Gray Ghost for flies and the chartreuse, orange and silver Rapalas in sizes 5 and 7 as well as the purple and silver and the rainbow colored Yozori Pin Minnow in the 3 inch size for lures.

Best lakes for salmon this fall are: West Grand Lake – Grand Lake Stream, Cathance Lake - Cooper, Pocumcus Lake – T 6 ND, Phillips Lake - Dedham, Gardner’s Lake – East Machias and Long Pond – Mount Desert.

Don’t forget to fish Grand Lake Stream, which is opened to fly fishing only catch and release to October 20th. This stream is fantastic landlocked salmon fishing as the fish move into the stream to spawn from West Grand and Big Lakes. Currently the West Grand Dam is running plenty of water to bring salmon into the stream and with the water cooling down the fishing is going to get good fast. Don’t miss it! Brightly colored streamers work the best or olive and yellow bead-head nymphs if you prefer.

For brook trout in the lakes and ponds the same brightly colored arsenal as above works very well.

Best brook trout waters to try are: Upper Hadlock Pond – Northeast Harbor, Lower Hadlock Pond – Northeast Harbor, Echo Lake – Southwest Harbor, Billings Pond – Blue Hill, Little Tunk Pond – Sullivan, Narraguagus Lake – T 9 SD, Long Pond – Great Pond Plt., Rift Pond – Great Pond Plt., Alligator Lake – T 34 MD, West Pike Brook Pond – T 18 MD, Vining Lake – Cooper, Shattack Lake – Calais, Pork Barrel Lake – T 6 R1 and Monroe Lake – T 43 MD.

Also don’t forget to try these lures and flies for fall splake, as I have found they work great this time of year as the splake return to the surface to feed in the cool surface waters.

Best splake waters to try are: Peaked Mtn. Pond – Centerville, Lower Springy Pond – Otis, Second Old Stream Lake – T 37 MD, Hosea Pug Lake – T 26 ED, Mopang Lake – T 29 MD, Hearts Pond – Orland, Jacob-Buck Pond – Bucksport and Fitts Pond – Clifton.

We also want to make anglers aware that region C biologists are proposing two new stockings for this fall.

The first is Lower Patten Pond in Surry, where many years of low water conditions in the tributaries and recent illegal introductions of both smallmouth and largemouth bass have taken a toll on a wild brown trout population that was started by the Department in the 40’s and 50’s. Our proposal is to stock 200 fall yearling 10 to 12 inch brown trout annually to augment the wild population and provide a more constant fishery for anglers in both the open water and ice fishing seasons. These browns will likely live to older ages and large sizes, making some trophy brown trout catches possible again.

The second proposal is stock Blunts Pond in Lamoine for the first time ever with 125 fall yearling 11 to 13 inch brook trout. This small kettle-hole pond (no inlet or outlet) is a wonderfully clear spring fed pond with great public access. This first time ever stocking of any species would provide terrific fishing opportunity in the late fall and winter seasons in an area that has little fishing possibilities.

Please think about these two new stockings and feel free to e-mail or call us if you have any comments or questions (207) 434-5925.

Enjoy Maine’s fall fishing opportunities, as this is a great time of year to be out and about!

-Greg Burr, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region D - Western Mountains

With the appearance of red and golden leaves and threats of frost comes a drop in water temperatures, which has already sent trout and salmon on their way towards the spawning grounds. Although they won't be dropping their eggs until October, they make prespawning runs triggered by shorter days and colder water temperatures. If that doesn't do it, a good flush of water from a rainstorm will. And so it is that we have reports of nice trout being caught in the Rapid, Magalloway, and Kennebago rivers; presumably others as well. There's also good fishing in lakes and ponds the last week of September.

We've pretty much completed our summer work of sampling lakes and streams. Dave Boucher and several fishery consultants have been working on the bass problem on the Rapid River and on the Dead Cambridge River as of late. We completed several stream restoration projects in western Maine this summer, including an experimental technique called "chop and drop", in which tree stems are added to stream channels to slow the rate of runoff and to trap organic nutrients.

With the help of volunteers, we recently completed the annual monitoring of our stream restoration projects. It is in that regard that we sadly note the passing of a longtime and enthusiastic stream volunteer from Rangeley. Patty Silvia helped survey the Magalloway River, South Bog Stream, Bemis Stream, Cupsuptic River, South Branch of the Dead River, and Allagash Stream. She also helped every year with the monitoring of stream restoration work on the Cupsuptic River, South Bog Stream, and the Sandy River. Anyone who knew Patty also knew how much she enjoyed the outdoors and how much fun she was to have around. Our condolences to her family.

-Forrest Bonney, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region E - Moosehead Region

Fall fishing is well underway and we have had good reports from most of our major river fisheries in the region. We were able to crack the gate at First Roach a few more inches last Friday, which means the flow has increased from around 160 to 240 cfs. That should translate into some excellent trout and salmon fishing for the next two weeks. The weather forecast is perfect for the rest of the week, so get out and enjoy the best time of the year to fish.

This will be the last weekly fishing report until sometime in December. We have had a great fishing year in the Moosehead Lake Region. The winter got off to a slow start with the poor ice conditions but the fishing was very good for the remainder of the season. We checked some very handsome fish on Chamberlain Lake. We spent quite a bit of time on our brook trout telemetry study on the Chamberlain system last winter and this spring. The Natural Resource Education Center in Greenville will be sponsoring a presentation in Greenville and possibly the Bangor area this winter to discuss the results. The Greenville meeting will be the evening of Dec 7th.

There were numerous reports of big brookies from Moosehead Lake this summer. The salmon fishing was also pretty good by most accounts. The river fisheries, in particular the East Outlet, were very good this summer according to anglers. Lake trout still appear to be abundant but we should thin them down in the near future with the new regulations starting in January. The hatches on the trout ponds were a little sporadic. We did hear the hex hatch was slow to get started, probably from the cool spring, but it did extend late into the summer on some ponds. You shoulda’ been there! September can be hit or miss with trout ponds. There are good midge hatches this time of year and streamers can be effective at catching pre-spawn trout some days, but other days the fish seem to be sulking and can’t be coaxed to the rod. October can offer some great pond fishing as hatchery trout and salmon become aggressive and take streamers and lures quite well. Many of our best hatchery waters are open during the extended season, but few anglers take advantage of the extra month. I suspect most have put away the rod and picked up the shotgun.

Thanks for taking the time to read our reports and please visit our web page at http://www.maine.gov/ifw/fishing/reports/weekly_biologist/photos_regione/index.htm

to view some of the photos from the Moosehead Lake Region in 2007.

-Tim Obrey, Regional Fisheries Biologist

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 East Grand 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.

Don't put the fish poles away yet. There are two categories of waters open during the extended 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. Some good Penobscot Regional waters are West Lake, Pleasant Lake, Deering Lake, Millinocket Lake, Millinocket Stream (in T1 R8 andT3 IP, from Millinocket Lake Dam downstream to the town line) 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 are productive through the fall season. Some Region F waters in this category are Seboeis Lake, South Branch Pond, Saponac Pond and the Penobscot River from Medway to the Veazie Dam.

Please consult the 2007 Open Water Fishing Law Book for complete regulations on all Maine waters, or direct your browser to http://www.maine.gov/ifw/laws_rules/fishing/index.htm

-Nels Kramer, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region G – Aroostook County

With fall fast approaching, staff in the Fish River Lakes region will be setting trap nets in Long Lake to sample landlocked salmon and brook trout. These nets are designed to capture fish that are traveling the shoreline as the water cools. Trap nets are not effective in the summer because the shallow water is too warm for salmonids to be present.

The nets are designed to capture fish alive and act much as a herring weir on the coast. A lead that consists of a fine mesh net 50-100 feet in length is stretched from shore and tied to a net that somewhat resembles a minnow trap. That is it has a funnel that the fish swim through guided by a set of "wings" into the holding box of the net that is generally 4 ft x 4 ft or larger. All fish captured stay in the holding box until fisheries personnel arrive to process the fish.

Processing consists of netting the fish and separating the game fish from non-game species. Game fish are held in a tub of water and anesthetized with a sedative to prevent injury. One anesthetized, the salmon will be checked for missing fins indicating year of stocking, measured, weighed and released into another tub of water to recover from the sedative. Brook trout will also be checked for missing fins because although the sport fishery in Long Lake is from wild fish, an occasional hatchery trout will migrate into the lake from another water. The trout will be measured, weighed and a scale sample removed from female and immature fish prior to being put in the recovery tub. This scale sample will be examined under a microscope at a later date for age determination. Scale samples are also taken from female and immature wild salmon. Changes in the external physical character of sexually mature male brook trout and salmon make it difficult to collect a scale sample from these fish. Prior to release into the lake, a piece of the tail is clipped to identify the fish as having been processed should it be recaptured again at a later date.

Trap net data allow biologists to follow age and growth of stocked fish in those waters annually stocked with salmonids. These data in conjunction with any creel survey information can be used to make necessary adjustments in stocking programs. Data from waters with wild salmonid fisheries can assist in evaluating the effectiveness of regulations in maintaining suitable growth rate and abundance of these wild populations.

-Dave Basley, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Submitted by Mark Latti, IFW

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