Open Water Fishing Preview.March 26, 2008 - TRCRegion A – Southwestern MaineSlightly moderating temperatures, longer day length, and a greater incidence of “liquid” precipitation suggest spring is on the way; however, I only need to glance out my office window at the heavy snow pack to realize that fishing opportunities will likely be limited on April 1st, the traditional start to the 2008 open water fishing season. Another mixed precipitation event over the weekend is yet another reminder that winter is not over.The 2007-2008 hard water fishing season got off to an unusually early start due to early ice formation, and some smaller waters supported fishing by mid December. The early arrival of winter brought with it the anticipation that perhaps spring would arrive early, but instead Mother Nature seems content on advancing a marathon winter. Interestingly the 2007 and 2008 winters were quite different, yet like last year, the “Big Bay” on Sebago Lake set up with ice to provide only a few weeks of ice fishing, just in time for spring thaw.As the weather transitions from winter to spring, we remain hopeful that a slow and steady melting of the thick snow pack and less precipitation will maintain fishable flows in area streams and rivers to support early angling opportunities. Wishful thinking I know. Flowing waters usually offer anglers the earliest open water fishing prospects to Kristen the traditional start to the new season, and that will likely be the case this year. Cumberland, Androscoggin and York Counties are the focus of early spring stockings, with streams and very small ponds first to be stocked. The Presumpscot River (Windham), Pleasant River (Windham), Collyer Brook (Gray), Little River (Gorham), Mill Brook (Westbrook), Ogunquit River (Wells), Merriland River (Wells), Great Works River (Berwick), and the Mousam River (Sanford) are generally 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 some 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 (12-14 inches long) and offer a good opportunity in the spring to catch larger hold-over brook and 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 and brook), Saco River-Bonney Eagle Bypass (browns), Saco River, below Hiram Dam (browns), and Pleasant River-special management section in Windham (browns). A number of lake inlet streams also can provide some great early season fishing for larger fish, 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. Some trout commonly drop out of stocked lakes, most of which do not have fishways, and as a result some nice trout may be taken during early spring at the base of outlet dams.Boat fishermen will likely have fewer opportunities on April first this year. 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 the Songo River in Casco where a small boat can be floated in Sebago Lake (salmon and togue) if the State Park is open and accessible by vehicle, 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, Thompson, South, Bryant, South, and Trickey will offer some of the best prospects for larger salmon. Thompson's smelt population has rebounded since 2006 and we captured some nice salmon there last fall and anticipate good fishing there in 2008. Sebago was hot for large salmon in 2007 and more of the same is expected in 2008. Smaller waters like Trickey, South and Bryant will offer slower fishing for quality salmon. Other area salmon lakes like Panther Pond , Pleasant Lake, Moose Pond, Long Lake and Kezar Lake are expected to offer good fishing for salmon in the 2- to 4-pound size range.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), Pineland Pond (New Gloucester), Round Pond (Lyman), Barker Pond (Lyman), Keoka Lake (Waterford), Keewaydin Lake (Stoneham). Both Keoka and Keewaydin were stocked with 12-to 14-inch brookies at an elevated rate under the catchable trout study, and since winter use was relatively light, there should be some good fishing there for spring anglers.Some good trout fishing prospects for kids include Coffin P (Brunswick), Wilcox P (Biddeford), Steven's Brook (New Gloucester), Alden's P (Gorham), a special section of Leavitt B (Limerick), and Lower Hinkley P (S. Portland), which are all stocked with brook trout and managed exclusively for kids under the age of 16. Other good prospects for kids include Round P (Lyman) and Pineland Pond (New Gloucester), which are both well stocked with trout and can be fished by both adults and kids. There are some new opportunities in southern Maine that anglers might be interested in. The entire Mousam and Salmon Falls rivers will be open year round to open water fishing. These two new opportunities are in addition to existing year round fishing opportunities on the Saco, Androscoggin, Presumpscot, and the Royal (lower reach only), not to mention the tidewater fisheries on the Lower Mousam and Ogunquit rivers. Although not listed in the printed 2008 open water fishing law book, Sebago Lake will be open to fishing during the fall months (October through December) and anglers will be allowed to harvest togue during this period; however, salmon may not be taken. The regulation is intended to increase lake trout harvest opportunity and support ongoing efforts to reduce the lake trout population. Little Ossipee Lake will be stocked with rainbows this spring for the first time. In addition, Norway Lake (Norway), Stanley Pond (Porter) and Forrest Lake (Canton) were stocked with rainbows for the first time last fall. -- Francis Brautigam, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Sebago Lakes RegionRegion B – Sidney and Belgrade lakesBelieve it or not spring is on the way. With it will be the anticipated official first day of open water fishing. I say ‘official’ because a few of the larger rivers are open year round and on a warm sunny day many of you are out wetting a line. Will there be any open water to fish come April 1st? I don’t believe there will be too much, but I know many of you have your favorite spots. Popular opening day locations in Central Maine are Belgrade Stream at Wings Mills, Long Pond at the dam in the village of Belgrade Lakes, the Kennebec River, and Cobbossee Stream. Should the weather cooperate, I hope you take advantage. Even if the fishing is slow it will be nice just to be out after this long winter.Below are some thoughts and places to fish on the upcoming summer fishing season. Brook trout: During the last few years we’ve been stocking large size (12- to 14-inch) brook trout in many of the Region’s ice fishing waters with the primary intent of providing good fishing for the winter angler. This winter we’ve conducted surveys to determine the success of this program. We studied 8 waters and found that the majority of these stocked trout are not harvested during the winter! Therefore, anglers may want to try their luck on one of these fall -stocked ponds since these waters should have a number of ‘carry-over’ trout. Just look at last year’s stocking listed on the Department’s web site: (www.maine.gov/ifw/fishing/reports/stocking/index.htm), to find a pond near you that was stocked last fall. Rainbow trout: Last year the Department began a stocking program for rainbow trout on Nequasset Lake in Woolwich. Usually the first few stockings of a new species provide excellent fishing the first couple of years, so this might be a good place to start. Of course, in Central Maine it’s hard to beat the Kennebec River at Shawmut for rainbow trout. Salmon: Salmon fishing in central Maine are limited to just a handful of waters, with the best being Lake St George in Liberty. Fishing in the spring just after the smelt run is a great time to target salmon, these brightly colored fish average 18-20 inches in length. Another good bet is Swan Lake in Swanville. For the past few years the salmon experienced growth problems in Swan, but last fall’s trap netting indicated salmon growth is improving and there should be a fair number of good size fish to be caught.Lake trout: This is another species that is limited to just a few waters in the area. Maranacook Lake is perhaps the best chance to catch a togue. In the mid- to late-1990s the lake trout population in Maranacook Lake was characterized as lots of small, slow growing fish. But, with an increase in the daily bag limit and a decrease in the minimum length limit we believe the togue population has become more balanced. Although the fishing may be slower these days, the size quality of the fish is much improved.Brown trout: This species is very difficult for the average angler to catch with consistency. Experienced brown trout fishers seem to catch fish anywhere there’s a good population, while average anglers can’t catch browns in even the best waters. My advice for anyone interested in brown trout fishing is to tag along with someone who is good at catching browns. Waters to concentrate your efforts are Great Pond and Messalonskee Lake, both in the Belgrade area. Early in the season, the Kennebec River in Waterville and Sidney are good bets, as is Cobbossee Stream in West Gardiner. Many ponds in the area are stocked with brown trout. See the stocking report for the complete list. While these ponds don’t commonly produce large fish and may not provide the fastest fishing, most see the occasional 4- to 6-pound fish caught now and then.Bass: Bass are by far the most popular fish sought after in central Maine. Most lakes provide excellent opportunities to catch either a lot of average sized fish or a few very large fish. The most noteworthy lakes are Cobbossee Lake, Annabessacook Lake, and Androscoggin Lake. These waters provide a chance of catching a true trophy. Other waters where the fish don’t grow as large, but anglers can expect to catch 20-30 bass a day are Kennebec River, Givens Pond Whitefield, Branch Pond in Palermo, and for a ‘remote like’ experience try Penny Pond, a walk-in pond in the Summerhaven area of Sidney and Manchester. Remember to review the new summer fishing regulation booklet as there are many changes this year. One major change is that most waters in central Maine will now be open to the end of the year. -- James Lucas, Fisheries Biologist, Sebago and Belgrade lakesRegion C -- DowneastThe arrival of spring migrant robins, woodcock, geese, and ducks signals that the long, snowy winter will give way to warmer days, spring rains, ice out, and spring open water fishing. So get your gear ready, everything from boots to boats, from fly lines to fly repellent, from smelts to streamers. Depending on the extremes of spring weather, some days you’ll need only a chamois shirt and baseball cap to be comfortable, while on other days you’ll need a complete line of winter clothing, from insulated boots to wool pants and snowmobile suits.Here are numerous suggestions on where to go if you intend to fish in Hancock or Washington County:Brook trout: Keene’s Lake, Calais. In addition to annual fall stockings of 6- to 8- inch trout and 150 fall yearling trout averaging 11 inches, Keene’s was stocked with forty 16” retired brood stock trout averaging 1.7 pounds. Goulding Lake, Robbinston. Expect good action on 6- to 11-inch trout with some larger individuals.Indian Lake, Whiting. In addition to annual fall stockings of 6- to 11-inch trout, Indian Lake was stocked with 35 16-inch retired brood stock trout. Action should be good. Keeley Lake, Northfield. This small pond is a good place to escape from the wind, as much of it is narrow with high banks. Catch rates can be good for both brook trout and splake. Brook trout stocked last fall ranged from 6- to 11-inch. Keeley is located about a mile from the closest paved road.Montegail Pond, T 19 MD. This pond is popular with anglers from Cherryfield to East Machias for its good catch rate on 6- to 11-inch trout plus an occasional larger fish.Rainbow Pond, T 10 SD. Located a mile west of Tunk Lake, this remote trout pond is difficult to reach. Because of its location, it is only lightly fished, yielding some nice trout.Anderson Pond, T 10 SD. Anderson Pond is a new stocking of 6- to 8-inch fall fingerling trout. It has been stocked in 2006 and 2007. This remote pond requires some determination to access, but could provide some surprises. We would appreciate angler reports (434-5925) from those who fish it to help us evaluate the success of this introductory stocking.Blunts Pond, Lamoine. Blunts Pond is a new stocking of 12- to 14-inch fall yearling brook trout. Anglers should try this easily accessible small pond.Jacob Buck Pond, Bucksport. Anglers who catch one of the 50 retired brood stock brook trout averaging over 2 pounds will be pleasantly surprised! Lower Hadlock Pond, Mt. Desert. In addition to annual fall stockings of 6- to 11-inch trout, Lower Hadlock was stocked with 25 retired brood stock trout that averaged 16”.Echo Lake, Mount Desert. Echo Lake is expected to provide good action for trout. Fishing is restricted to two lines and 2 trout. Trout must be 12 inches or larger, and no more than one can exceed 14 inches.Round Pond, Mount Desert. In addition to its regular stocking of legal-sized fall yearling brook trout averaging 11 inches, Round Pond was stocked with 25 retired brood stock brook trout averaging 2 or more pounds.Craig Pond, Orland. In addition to annual fall stockings of 6- to 11-inch trout, Craig Pond was stocked with 50 retired brood stock trout that averaged 16-plus inches. An additional 30 retired brood stock salmon will provide additional action.Landlocked salmon: Cathance Lake, Cooper and Plantation #14. Cathance is a perennial favorite amongst salmon anglers for larger fish with a chance to catch a wild trout. Nash’s Lake, Calais. In addition to its regular salmon fishery, 30 retired broodstock salmon from the Grand Lake Stream Hatchery were stocked here late last fall.Gardner Lake, East Machias. Salmon growth and catch rates have improved, and this is a worthwhile lake to fish.Schoodic Lake, Cherryfield. Located on the blueberry barrens, this lake is lightly fished so it could yield some surprise catches.Big Lake, T 27 ED. Big Lake is a popular ice-out salmon lake. Many spawned-out salmon drop into Big Lake from Grand Lake Stream, often providing fast action, plus the lake is stocked annually and contains its own resident salmon population. Tunk Lake, T 10 SD. Knowledgeable anglers know that Tunk has a 16- to 20-inch protected slot limit where no salmon may be harvested, so there is a chance for a real beauty when fish over 20 inches are caught. Catch rate is slow, but the lake also has a fast catch rate on togue. Tunk is a lightly developed and highly scenic lake with crystal-clear water. Spring fishing for salmon and togue extends into June, due to a large volume of deep water that is slow to warm up. Green Lake, Dedham and Ellsworth. Green Lake is always popular with anglers who want to fish for salmon with an additional option of a chunky togue.Long Pond, Mt. Desert Island. Fall trapnetting indicated that salmon growth has rebounded in response to two stockings of smelt eggs by biologists. Anglers should be pleased with the improvement in growth.Eagle Lake, Bar Harbor. We expect a steady spring fishery for average-sized salmon at Eagle Lake.Craig Pond, Orland. Thirty retired broodstock salmon from the Grand Lake Stream Hatchery were stocked here late in the fall and will provide action for larger salmon.Brewer Lake, Orrington. Salmon growth has improved following transfer of smelt eggs in recent years. Some larger salmon will be caught here from a late fall stocking of thirty retired broodstock salmon from the Grand Lake Stream Hatchery.West Grand, Grand Lake Stream Plantation. West Grand is our lake with the latest annual ice-out. As shown in the ice fishing catches, we expect good action for salmon due to increased stockings during each of the past three years. West Grand is one of Maine’s four original homes of landlocked salmon, so it has a rich history of valuable fishing.Lake trout (togue): Beech Hill Pond, Otis. Anglers have a chance at fairly fast action when they fish for togue at Beech Hill. Size and bag limits have been liberalized here to permit a higher harvest rate. Green Lake, Dedham and Ellsworth. Green Lake is one of eastern Maine’s most popular fisheries for fat, chunky togue of above-average size. Anglers should note that the minimum length on togue at Green Lake has been changed to 23 inches to create a higher quality fishery in this lake that has demonstrated the potential to grow fat, large togue.Toddy Pond, Orland. Anglers have a chance at fairly fast action.Tunk Lake, T 10- SD. Tunk has a very abundant population of stunted togue, and anglers are strongly encouraged to harvest their limit, made possible with liberalized regulations.West Grand, Grand Lake Stream Plantation. Biologists weighed, measured, and examined numerous togue at West Grand during the past year. Fish condition (fatness) has declined, so anglers are encouraged to harvest togue here in an attempt to reduce the population and improve fish condition. Anglers enjoy a good catch rate for many 18- to 22-inc togue at West Grand, with the chance for an occasional larger fish.Brown trout: Round Pond, Charlotte. Brown trout grow very well here by feeding heavily on abundant juvenile yellow perch. Pennamaquan Lake, Charlotte. Located just downstream of Round Pond, brown trout grow very well here also by feeding heavily on abundant juvenile yellow perch. Jones Pond, Gouldsboro. This pond is popular with coastal anglers for its variety of fish species. Flanders Pond, Sullivan. This pond is also popular with coastal anglers for its variety of fish species. Lower Hadlock Pond, Mt. Desert. Biologists expect an improvement in this brown trout fishery based on a return to stocking fall yearling brown trout instead of spring yearlings, which had not produced acceptable catches. Spring River Lake, T 10 SD. Spring River Lake is one of eastern Maine’s best producers of larger brown trout. Walker Pond, Brooksville. Walker Pond has yielded the largest brown trout (>11 pounds) in the Hancock-Washington County region. Stocking has been suspended recently due to loss of public access, but for anglers who can find a way to access the lake, there are still some large fish. We are confident that the cooperative work of the Department along with townspeople and town officials from both Sedgwick and Brooksville will be successful in providing future public access so stocking can resume at this important lake. Upper Lead Mountain Pond, T 28 MD. Brown trout have performed better here than salmon, which were previously stocked, because brown trout feed on a wider variety of forage species than was used by salmon.Splake: Jacob Buck Pond, Bucksport. Located close to the population center of Bucksport, this easily accessible pond has been a consistent producer of attractive 12- to 18-inch splake, along with a variety of other species in the catch. Fitts Pond. Clifton. This small pond produces some very attractive splake in most years. Lower Springy Pond, Otis. Splake feed heavily on smelts and juvenile white perch here, producing some above-average sized splake. In addition, 35 retired brook trout broodstock averaging 16-plus inches were stocked late in the fall. Mopang Lake, T 29 MD. This highly picturesque lake is one of our best large splake producers, along with yielding some average-sized salmon. Pleasant River Lake, Beddington. Located just south of Mopang Lake, Pleasant River Lake has been a consistent producer of attractive splake, along with occasional salmon. Thirty retired broodstock salmon from the Grand Lake Stream Hatchery were stocked here late last fall. Second Lake Old Stream, T 37 MD. Located far from paved roads, Second Lake is one of our best producers of splake. Keeley Lake, Marshfield. Keeley has not produced large splake, but its action is consistent for a small lake.Chain pickerel: Great Pond, Great Pond Twp.: Eddington Pond, Eddington: Spectacle Pond, Osborn: Seal Cove Pond, Tremont: Upper Patten Pond, Orland: Fields Pond, Orrington: Lower and Middle Lead Mountain Ponds, T 28 MD; Rocky Pond, T 22 MD; Scammon Pond, Eastbrook; Beddington Lake, Beddington; Patrick Lake, Marion; Rocky Lake, Whiting; Hadley Lake, East Machias.White perch: Bog Lake, Northfield; First, Second, and Third Chain Lakes, T 26 ED; Boyden Lake, Perry; Second Gardner Lake, Marion; Georges Pond, Franklin; Clifford Lake, T 26 ED: Jones Pond, Gouldsboro; Graham Lake, Waltham; Brewer Lake, Orrington; Alamoosook Lake, Orland; Pierce Pond, Penobscot.Many of the lakes discussed above have special fishing regulations. Be sure to consult your open fishing lawbook for applicable regulations on the lake you plan to fish. Also, note on the front cover of the lawbook that it covers a two-year period until March 31, 2010. This change will permit some cost-savings to the Department.-- Rick Jordan, Regional Fisheries Biologist, JonesboroRegion D –Western MountainsIce fishing season is winding down and it’s time to plan for spring fishing trips. My prediction is for early ice-outs. Although there is still plenty of ice, the quality is poor. The cold weather in late December created a good layer of hard ice, but the heavy snowstorms of January and February added a relatively soft upper portion of white/slush ice. I expect this upper layer to go fast with the arrival of warm, sunny spring days. One of the premier spring fisheries in the state is Rangeley Lake, with ice-out usually in late April or early May. This year anglers can again expect great action, but the size quality may be diminished. The lake is currently experiencing a forage base problem; the smelt population is down and the wild salmon numbers are up. Our sampling last fall resulted in 181 individual salmon handled, ranging in age from one to seven years. They averaged 16 inches in length and 1.4 pounds, with the largest being 23¼-inch long and weighing 3.9 pounds. The average condition was the poorest we’ve seen since 1988. The bottom line is that there are too many mouths and not enough food. A large number of wild four year-old salmon are moving through the system now and things should begin to improve as these fish are harvested. We are encouraging anglers to keep their one salmon daily bag limit this year. An increased salmon harvest on nearby Mooselookmeguntic Lake has resulted in improved growth.River fishing is another good spring angling activity. A few moving waters successfully fished in April are the Androscoggin, Kennebec, Sandy, Carrabassett, Dead, Rapid, and Magalloway Rivers. Our records show that large fish caught in April include a 22-inch brook trout, a 25½-inch brown trout, a 22-inch salmon, and a 21-inch rainbow trout. The bad news is that the fish are generally very sluggish this time of year. Voluntary angler data from the list of rivers above shows 215 legal salmonids caught in 1,106 hours of April fishing. That’s over five hours of angling per legal fish, so be patient and the early spring season can reward your efforts. After the spring floods and ice-outs the Hatchery Division’s stocking trucks will begin to transport fish. Fifty-eight waters in western Maine are scheduled to receive almost 90,000 spring yearling trout and salmon. The breakdown is 48,400 brook trout, 27,600 brown trout, 7,850 salmon, and 4,850 rainbow trout.Here’s a short list of few specific waters that will be receiving some of these fish: Chain of Pond, Chain of Ponds Twp., 3,500 brook trout; Clearwater Pond, Industry, 3,000 brook trout; Porter Lake, New Vineyard/Strong, 1,000 brook trout; Wilson Pond, Wilton, 1,500 brook trout; Embden Pond, Embden, 3,000 brook trout; Moxie Lake, The Forks Plt., 3,000 brook trout; Sandy River, Franklin County, 3,000 brook trout and 5,000 brown trout; Androscoggin River, Gilead to Rumford,13,600 brown trout; and Kennebec River, Solon to Skowhegan,10,000 brown trout.These fish are usually between 6 and 12 inches in length. A complete list of last year’s stocking can be found on the Department’s website, www.maine.gov/ifw.-- Dave Howatt, Fishery Specialist, Rangeley RegionRegion E – Moosehead LakeAs the sun gets higher in the sky and the snow banks recede, we can start to look forward to the open-water fishing season. This is a good time to get out those rods and strip off the old monofilament line and replace it with fresh line. I also pull out all my fly-fishing lines and straighten them out and replace all the leader material. It is a hard lesson to learn in the heat of battle that a small kink in a leader significantly weakens the line. It is difficult to predict when we will be able to make our first cast, but typically the last week of April will provide a few open holes around inlet streams and rivers. Smelts will begin to congregate in these locations and anglers that work these spots in the early morning and late evening can be rewarded with some of the biggest fish of the season.On a related note, there was a typographical error in the open water law book for 2008. Kingsbury Pond is a favorite smelting location in this region and while the tributaries are closed to dipping, the pond itself is open from noon to midnight only. The lawbook should read “Pond is closed to taking of smelts from midnight to noon.” Many of our rivers will be open for business long before the lakes and ponds. The upper section of the East Outlet, from the dam down to the Beach Pool, is open all year. The rest of the river opens April 1. This can be a great location to fish since operators of the dam are typically trying to fill Moosehead Lake during the spring runoff. So, while many streams and rivers are flowing bank-full, there may be a reduced and very fishable flow in the East Outlet. The Moose River is also a good bet. Flows can be similar to the East Outlet and the presence of smelts from Moosehead Lake and Brassua Lake will draw the salmon, brook trout, and lake trout into the river.Of course, the West Branch of the Penobscot is a traditional gathering spot on opening day for die-hard anglers. Some anglers will ice fish in the Chesuncook/Chamberlain area on March 31 then stop at the river on their way home on April 1. It can be difficult launching a boat over the shell-ice, but that’s just part of the adventure. Success varies each year and we have had some very promising reports that indicate fish size may be increasing on the West Branch. This has to be one of the most picturesque locations to cast a line anytime of year with Mount Katahdin standing tall in the distance over this large rugged river.We have more than 350 principal fisheries in lakes and ponds for brook trout and around 30 for both landlocked salmon and lake trout in this region. While there are just 11 bass waters, some of them offer very high quality fishing. All of these waters, combined with more than 4,000 miles of rivers and streams, offer anglers a plethora of opportunities in the Moosehead Lake Region in the spring, summer, and fall. -- Tim Obrey, Regional Fisheries Biologist, GreenvilleRegion F – Penobscot Valley RegionWith the first day of open water fishing fast approaching, a quick look out the window suggests there’s a good chance that most of the waters in Region F will be pretty well “socked in” with ice for most of the month of April. One spot that affords die-hard anglers the opportunity to wet a line in early April is the West Branch of Penobscot River, particularly the Nesowadnehunk Deadwater in . The West Branch has a healthy population of wild landlocked salmon and anglers catch the occasional brook trout as well. The “Soudy” Deadwater, as it is know locally, can be accessed at the gravel pit boat launches at the north end of the deadwater along side the Golden Road in T2 R10 WELS. Typically the boat access is limited to car top boats and canoes in the early spring, or small trailored boats that can be easily slid across the snow and ice. The current regulation for this section of the West Branch allows for one salmon 18 inches or greater in length, and is general law for brook trout (5 fish, 6 inches). This stretch of river is artificial lures only, with either a single pointed hook or a single treble hook allowed. Remember to check you law books.Another early season stream worth a try, that is actually now open year around, is Millinocket Stream downstream of Millinocket Lake. The stream was stocked by the department last fall with nearly 300 fall yearling brook trout. Considering the good ‘ole fashion winter that we’ve had, it’s a good bet that not many folks have taken advantage of this year-around open water opportunity, so there’s a good chance to catch some holdover trout stocked last fall. As April moves into May, many of the area trout streams and smaller ponds will loose their ice and provide some good action for pan sized (or bigger) trout. Typically anytime after Mother’s Day is a good bet for trout streams in the Penobscot Region. Also around the first of May, the cold water lakes in Region F should be mostly ice free as well, and anglers will be flocking to favorite early season waters to drag their offerings of sewn smelt and streamer flies, along with a myriad of other bait fish imitations and spoons. Traditional Region F landlocked salmon waters that provide good spring fishing include the Jo-Mary’s (Upper, Middle, and Lower), Millinocket Lake, and the Pemadumcook Chain of lakes all just northwest of the town of Millinocket. Pleasant Lake in Island Falls, East Grand Lake near Danforth, and Deering Lake in Weston have the reputation of producing good sized salmon. East Musquash Lake, Pleasant Lake (in Kossuth), Junior Lake and Lower and Upper Sysladobsis (Dobsie) Lakes can all be accessed off Route 6 running east from Lincoln to Topsfield. West, Duck, and Spring lakes east of the town of Burlington are known to provide fast action, especially just after ice out. We continue to encourage anglers to take advantage of the three fish 12 inch regulation for salmon at Scraggly Lake in T7 R8 WELS, northwest of Patten. The wild salmon population at Scraggly has done extremely well in recent years, unfortunately this means there are far too many mouths to feed in the lake, and size quality of fish has suffered because of it. The liberalized size and bag limits are intended to reduce this overpopulation and improve salmon growth.Those in search of larger than average salmon might want to give Schoodic Lake or Cold Stream Pond a try. These waters are currently stocked with low numbers of salmon, a management strategy that is producing some top quality fish as evident by this past winter’s ice fishing results, with several salmon from both lakes topping five pounds! While the fishing may be slow, you just might catch a fish of lifetime. Both lakes have healthy populations of wild lake trout and in addition are stocked with brook trout, affording additional opportunity during a day of fishing.Other lake trout waters in Region F worth a try this spring and summer include Millinocket, Ambajesus, Pemadumcook, Lower Jo-Mary, and 1st and 3rd Debsconeag Lakes. Matagamon Lake in the northern part of Region F near the north entrance to Baxter State Park has a new regulation in place for 2008, allowing anglers to keep a total of three togue daily from 14-18 inches in length, only one of which may be over 18 inches. Anglers should keep these smaller togue when they catch them, as we are trying to thin some of the stockpiled smaller fish from the lake and hope to see an improvement in growth of togue and wild salmon populations. The brook trout regulation at Matagamon has been changed in recent years to two trout 10 inches, only one over 12 inches.Finally, the fishing in the numerous warm water lakes across Region F generally doesn’t pick up until late spring and early summer. White perch will be spawning near the end of May and can provide for some fast action at places such as Dolby Flowage, Pushaw Lake, and Saponac Lake. Likewise, smallmouth bass fishing is at its’ best in lakes and ponds during the month of June. The Penobscot River, regarded as one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries in the Northeast, provides fast action lasting from mid-May throughout the entire summer and into the fall. -- Richard Dill, Regional Fishery Biologist, EnfieldRegion G – Aroostook CountyWith snowbanks so high that I have difficulty seeing traffic go up Station Hill in Ashland, peering into our crystal ball we will predict that ice out will occur as normal, that being late April in southern Aroostook County and May 8-15 in the remainder of the region. As usual travel in the North Maine Woods area will be subject to the effects of mud season – culvert washouts, frost heaves and unplowed roads that may be full of snow hampering travel to some ponds. The usual ponds were stocked with fingerling brook trout in fall 2007 and should reward anglers with ice out fishing. These include Deep and Carry lakes in Littleton, Echo Lake and Hanson Brook Lake in Presque Isle and Daigle Pond in New Canada. Spring yearling brook trout will also be stocked in the same waters: Mud Pond and Logan Lake in the Houlton area, Arnold Brook Lake and Monson Pond in central Aroostook, Island Pond and Upper Elbow Pond in the back country.Improved catches of salmon and smelts in Square Lake this winter should cause optimism for those anglers that have longed for the fast ice out fishing for which the lake was well known. Increased smelt abundance has improved the growth of these salmon. Brook trout fishing in Square Lake has produce nice catches of 14-16 inch fish. As has been the case in past years, anglers will flock to Long Lake looking for the trophy salmon. Mud Brook will be open to smelt dipping again in 2008.By all reports, trout fishing in the larger streams and rivers was excellent last year and should continue into 2008. The Aroostook River between Caribou and Fort Fairfield, under special regulation, is now known for excellent catches of trout 12-16 inches. The Presque Isle Stream, Prestile Stream, Fish River and Allagash should all offer some decent brook trout as the water drops and warms in late May and early June. The 2008 Open Water lawbook has been printed and is now available to the public. We would recommend taking the opportunity to read this pamphlet while anglers wait for the snowbanks to recede and the ice to leave their favorite waters. Finally, the Presque Isle Fish and Game Club’s Sportsman Show is scheduled for April 5-6 at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. This may be the first sign of spring in the County and should offer the public a great opportunity to get ready for the upcoming fishing, boating and camping season.-- David Basley, Regional Fisheries Biologist, AshlandSubmitted by : Deborah Turcotte, Acting Public Relations RepresentativeMaine Department of Inland Fisheries and WildlifeSHS 41284 State St.Augusta, ME 04333W: (207) 287-6008, C: (207) 592-1164NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.