June16, 2008 - Open Water Fishing ReportJune 16, 2008 - TRCRegion A – Southwestern MaineAnother reminder to the angling public: The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s Fisheries Division is planning two informational meetings on proposed regulation changes intended to consolidate the Ice Fishing and Open Water Fishing law books. The first meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, June 23 at the Gray Regional Office, 358 Shaker Road in Gray, and the second will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 25 at the Sidney Regional Office, 270 Lyons Road, in Sidney. Additional information regarding the specific proposals is available on the Departments web site www.mefishwildlife.com under the “News and Events” link. Fishing on the region’s largest lake – Sebago Lake -- continues to be productive for both salmon and togue, and angler use remains fairly high. Adult salmon are making a strong showing in the catch, but a higher proportion of sublegal salmon are being caught. Some outstanding catches of lake trout also are being reported to our census clerk, Bill Yeo. One boat recently caught 20 togue, and boats with 10 togue or more are not uncommon.Fishing for salmon on Sebago has been very good the last few years. Some experienced anglers report that the lake has recently produced some of the best salmon fishing, particularly in terms of overall size quality, in the last 40-60 years. In response to these significant improvements in the fishery, we have fielded some interesting theories about why the lake is now producing so many large salmon. In an effort to dispel these rumors I will briefly explain some of the management philosophy that has contributed to the development of this quality salmon fishery.First and foremost, an abundance of smelt is critical to optimizing salmon growth and survival to large size. Only where salmon growth is optimized can salmon of large size quality be produced in any numbers. As a Classic Salmon water, the management focus on Sebago is on improving salmon size quality, sometimes at the expense of higher salmon catch rates associated with higher salmon densities.In the past, the stocking of large numbers of hatchery salmon on top of existing wild production created competition between wild and stocked salmon for smelt and prevented optimal salmon growth. Additionally an abundance of wild lake trout heavily influences smelt abundance. Annually assessing wild salmon production in the Crooked River and significantly scaled back stocking of hatchery salmon has maintained lake salmon densities lower than in the past thus favoring salmon growth and survival as well as better fishing for larger salmon. We have also encouraged the harvest of lake trout through a variety of techniques, including liberalized regulations.Anglers interested in a more through discussion of stocking rates and other issues related to the management of salmon in Sebago are encouraged to read the Sebago Lake Salmon Management Plan, which is available on the Department’s web site.-- Francis Brautigam, Regional Fishery Biologist, GrayRegion B – Central MaineBass clubs began their derby season June 1, but for the Region B fishery staff the season always begins with the annual Father’s Day derby held on Androscoggin Lake. We’ve been collecting bass data during these derbies for over 20 years. These derbies provide an excellent opportunity for us to collect both angler information and bass data in a very short period of time. We need only be present for a couple of hours at the weigh-in to gather data on upwards of 100 anglers and collect biological data on 100 bass. We first began attending these derbies because of our concerns, and public concerns, that these large derbies would adversely effect the bass population. Although there are annual fluctuations, the bass fisheries remain fairly stable in the five waters we’ve routinely studied over the years.I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the bass clubs for their cooperation during our surveys.An informational meeting regarding fishing regulation changes for 2010 will be held at the Sidney Regional Office on Wednesday June 25 at 7 p.m.. The office is located at 270 Lyons Road just west of the 120 exit of the interstate. Details of these changes were reported last week in this column and with other various press releases. The proposed changes are intended to provide anglers with increased fishing opportunities and to simplify the regulation booklet while protecting fisheries resources. -- James Lucas, Fisheries Biologist, SidneyRegion C – DowneastFor the second summer in a row, the fisheries staff in the Jonesboro office has been putting forth a massive effort to survey as many brooks and streams as possible in our region. With many of these streams, we have no documented information about habitat, fish species present, or if any barriers to fish passage exist (perched culverts, dams, etc.) We are also interested in documenting which streams have brook trout populations. Last year our regional staff and our Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture crew surveyed over 215 streams in Washington and Hancock counties.The most valuable tool utilized by fisheries biologists when conducting stream surveys is electrofishing. In simple terms the electrofishing unit sends direct current (DC) electricity through the water, momentarily stunning any fish within range (a few feet around the electrode). The pulse rate at which this current travels can be set, and this pulsing causes any fish to rapidly swim toward the unit where they can be netted. The fish recover quickly, and after all necessary biological information is collected, they are released alive back into the water.For work in small streams the biologists employ a backpack unit electrofishing unit. The operator wears the unit on a pack frame on his/her back and is joined by a netter who is responsible for scooping up all of the fish that enter the electrical field. If we were to simply stand on the bank and look into the water, we would never see the majority of fish present. If we were to set nets or minnow traps it would take a number of days to obtain fish and we would miss many fish. Electrofishing provides a highly productive method to sample a section of a couple hundred feet, through various habitat types, in a short amount of time. We can generally sample each stream site in two hours, including collecting length and weight data from any fish we catch, performing culvert assessments, and conducting water quality analysis.People may question why we need to invest time and energy into surveying small, overgrown, essentially “un-fishable” streams. Well, in most cases these streams are literally tiny natural brook trout hatcheries. They are important because they contain spawning habitat, riffle areas for juveniles, and cold-water refuge areas. Many of these streams are tributaries furnishing trout to larger rivers or streams, or even dump directly into the ocean and may be sites where sea-run brook trout contribute to the resident population in the stream.Along with the regional staff, a two-person crew, consisting of Amy Preble and Josh Kuester, has been surveying multiple streams every day. Their number one priority is to survey and assess as many brooks and streams as possible. This work is made possible thanks to a large-scale effort, headed in Maine by Merry Gallagher of our Bangor office, to document the occurrence of brook trout known as the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture Project. By summer’s end we hope to have new survey information for at least 150 brooks, rivers, and streams in the region. Based on past sampling, we expect to see that wild brook trout occur in a very high percentage of these streams, verifying Maine as the last stronghold for brook trout on the east coast.-- Joe Overlock, Fisheries Biologist Specialist, JonesboroRegion D – Western MountainsThe Androscoggin River was, until fairly recently, so polluted that it was a place to avoid, rather than a destination for recreation. With dramatic improvements in water quality and public access, the river has rapidly transformed into a major recreational attraction, and anglers, kayakers, canoers, duck and goose hunters, bird watchers, and fiddleheaders are utilizing the river more than ever before. The Androscoggin from the New Hampshire border to Livermore Falls -- the reach that we in Region D manage -- offers a tremendous variety of high-quality fishing opportunities. The upper-most reaches are managed primarily for wild rainbow trout and stocked brown trout. We supplement the rainbow fishery with hatchery stocks, and hatchery brook trout are occasionally added for early-season anglers.Late-season anglers can now take advantage of a new fall yearling stocking program. These browns, brookies, and salmon are in the 12- to 15-inch range when stocked in October, and we have evidence that some overwinter successfully and provide some great spring action. Smallmouth bass are also present in this part of the river, and their size quality is generally good.Below Rumford, the primary fishery is for smallmouth bass. Bass in this river, which includes the impoundments formed by dams in Jay and Livermore Falls, are abundant and grow to trophy size. We also stock brown trout and rainbow trout below Rumford. As the summer progresses, seek these fish out near the mouths of tributaries (including the Swift River) and small spring seeps.With the renewed public interest and use of the Androscoggin, we’ve developed a variety of new monitoring projects to help us manage these important new fisheries. Beginning in 1995, we’ve sampled smallmouth bass from all sections of the river above Jay; that work continues this spring in the river below Rumford. We’ve also worked to collect rainbows and browns above Bethel to determine growth rates and relative contributions of hatchery stocks, and we've successfully identified rainbow trout spawning and nursery habitats. Finally, we monitor the fishery annually through an extensive network of voluntary anglers and streamside card surveys.We’ve recently increased the stocking rates of both rainbows and browns in the Gilead/Bethel area. Because our management objectives for the upper Androscoggin are focused on maintaining high size quality, we need to be assured that the increased stocking rates, combined with the highly restrictive regulations imposed in 2003, are not compromising fish quality. To that end, we’ll spend lots of effort this week updating our growth information by electrofishing the river from the New Hampshire to Rumford Point.-- David Boucher, Fisheries Biologist, StrongRegion E – Moosehead LakeEach spring the Greenville staff tries to attend some of the local kids fishing events that are put on in the surrounding communities. For the second consecutive year, members of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Dover-Foxcroft Kiwanis, and volunteers for the second year held a Youth Fishing Day on May 30 at Kiwanis Park Pond in Dover-Foxcroft. Approximately 60 fourth grade students from the Morton Avenue Elementary School attended the one-day event. The class was broken into 4 groups of approximately 15 students. Wardens Dan Carroll and Jeremy Kemp provided a short demonstration on boating safety and the proper use of life jackets by getting several of the students involved. Students then had the opportunity to fish for about an hour.The fish cooperated and most students were successful in catching a trout or two, and a few even practiced some catch and release. Before the fishing started, the kids were asked if there was anyone that had never fished before. There were a few students that had never fished before and this was their first time out. I’m happy to say that many of these kids caught their first fish. Several volunteers were on hand to assist in baiting hooks, untangling lines, cleaning fish, and provide valuable support to these young anglers. The weather was great, the kids went away with some valuable life jacket safety information, and they caught and handled some nice brook trout as well. All provided the makings for a successful event. A special thank-you goes out to Jim Ellis and his crew for once again providing a great outing for the kids in the Dover-Foxcroft area.I also was involved in another kids’ event a day earlier. I have had the opportunity to be the Den Leader for my son’s Cub Scout Den for the past two years. Earlier this spring I contacted Gene Arsenault and Kevin Sousa at the Ela Fish Rearing Station in Embden and asked them if they would mind giving a tour of their facility to a group of young Scouts. As I expected, they were more than agreeable. On May 29, a caravan of four vehicles left Abbott at 9 a.m. and we made our way to Embden. Our group arrived at the facility around 10 a.m. and was welcomed by Kevin Sousa. Shortly thereafter our tour was underway. The scouts and parents alike were very interested in this facility. The boys were amazed at the numbers of fish that were in the tanks.A couple of years ago many of the boys had the opportunity to assist us in stocking Drummond Pond in Abbott. This helped the Scouts understand where the fish come from and how they grow before being stocked into some of their favorite ponds and streams. I would like to thank Gene and Kevin for allowing the Wolf Den of Pack 61 to come and tour the Embden facility. Kevin did a great job at answering questions posed by the scouts in a way that they were able to understand. This can often be a challenge. The scouts and their parents really enjoyed this experience. -- Jeff Bagley, Fisheries Biologist, GreenvilleRegion F – Penobscot ValleyThe Penobscot River is starting to produce some bass fishing in spite of the up and down water levels. Anglers are reporting some decent fishing in all the usual places along the river from Old Town to Medway. Angling action on the river should pick up as the water levels continue to drop and temperatures start to climb. Smallmouth bass spawning activities have been interrupted more than once this year but should start to stabilize soon in the river.Largemouth bass have been rumored to be in Mattanawcook Lake in Lincoln for a couple of years. On Friday we were able to document that fact. And so it goes -- another illegal introduction in the Penobscot Drainage. Largemouth bass could not have come up from the river as there is no fishway on the outlet dam at Mattanawcook. Someone must have brought them purposely to the lake to stock. Not until anglers are willing to come forward to report these illegal stockings will this ever stop.The illegal introduction of any fish into any Maine water is a Class E crime, punishable by fines up to $10,000. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is offering a minimum reward of $2,000 for information leading to the apprehension of persons responsible for the illegal introduction of fish. Call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-253-7887.I would like to make all anglers aware of a change in the general law bass regulations in effect for the first time this year. In the past anglers were required to use artificial lures only when fishing for bass until June 20, with a one bass bag limit and a 12-inch length limit. Now, anglers must use artificial lures until June 30 with a one bass bag and a 10-inch length limit. Specials still apply on certain waters as before. Please check your 2008 Open Water Fishing Regulations Booklet, or online at: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/laws_rules/fishing/openwaterlaws.htm Lakes and ponds in and around the Baxter State Park area are starting to produce some decent fishing for both brook trout and landlocked salmon. All of the usual spots in the park are seeing increased traffic as the trails dry out and washouts are repaired. Anglers are reporting good trout fishing at Celia Pond, Kidney Pond, Daicey Pond, Round Pond, Rocky Pond, Draper Pond, The Fowlers, Billfish Pond, Frost Pond, High Pond and Long Pond. Salmon anglers are hooking up at Matagamon Lake and Scraggly Lake to the north, while to the south Millinocket Lake and Pemadumcook Lake are producing some excellent catches of salmon and togue. Matagamon has also been providing some fast action for both brook trout and togue in addition to the fine salmon fishing.-- Nels Kramer, Fisheries Biologist, West EnfieldRegion G – Aroostook CountyIF&W’s Fisheries Division’s Lakes Research group that works out of our Bangor office recently brought its new electrofishing raft to Aroostook County to sample small ponds and rivers. This new tool worked very efficiently and will be a great tool for sampling fish populations in the future. Thanks to Joe Dembeck and Jason Seiders for building the new craft and coming north to train Region G staff on its use.We focused our efforts on a few waters where smallmouth bass have been reported or where we suspect they have invaded new waters. Smallmouth bass are not native to waters in Aroostook County, but with a large population having been established in the St. John River, bass now have access to a few drainages where they did not historically exist. The Meduxnekeag River drainage is one watershed where we have documented the spread of bass in recent years and are concerned with the invasion of muskellunge as well. Bass were being reported from a stretch of river in the town of Littleton during the 1980s; these reports became more frequent in the late 1990s and Nickerson Lake, New Limerick and Linneus, was documented to have bass in 2002.We were able to sample the River in Littleton last week and sampled several bass but no muskellunge. The river temperature had warmed to the point that trout are now seeking out cooler tributaries. We were able to sample a number of brook trout very quickly with the raft. The Meduxnekeag River supports a good fishery for wild brook and brown trout and we will continue to monitor this fishery and the impact of non-native sport fish that become established there. -- Frank Frost, Fisheries Biologist, AshlandSubmitted by : Deborah Turcotte, SpokespersonMaine Department of Inland Fisheries and WildlifeSHS 41284 State St.Augusta, ME 04333W: (207) 287-6008C: (207) 592-1164IF&W: We are stewards of Maine's fish and wildlife, protecting and preserving Maine's natural resources, quality of place and economic future.NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.