June 23, 2008 - Open Water Fishing Report
June 23, 2008 - TRC
The Fish Report is written by Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists. Starting this week, the report will begin an alternating weekly schedule throughout the summer. For more fishing information, visit www.maine.gov/ifw.
Region A – Southwestern Maine
This past Sunday I had a ton of chores to do around the house. So I went fishing.
My wife and I loaded some poles and warm water fishing gear into the boat and headed to Worthley Pond in Poland. The choice of pond was perfect for my circumstances. My wife prefers catching to fishing and the large number of smaller-sized largemouth bass at Worthley Pond offers great action for even the most novice of angler. The mostly undeveloped shoreline and light angler use adds a remote atmosphere and provides plenty of opportunity to fish over bass that have not been heavily fished.
We only spent a couple hours on the water and caught a half-dozen bass but we had a great time. Fishing for warm-water fish is a great way to introduce novice anglers to the sport of fishing.
Our seasonal creel census clerk Bill Yeo has been collecting some very interesting information from anglers on Sebago Lake. A glance at his data from this past Saturday reveals some very interesting numbers. Bill spoke with 35 parties of anglers on Saturday. These parties reported catching nine legal salmon, four of which were confirmed native fish. Also reported were 46 togue, only one of which was sublegal. One successful party reported catching 14 togue and one salmon in about four hours.
Since anglers are interviewed while fishing the aforementioned reported catch only reflects what was caught up to the time of the interview. Also, this information reflects anglers that have been fishing for several hours as well as those fishing only for a half- hour. Therefore, the actual total catch for the day was likely much higher than that reported to the clerk. The data also suggests parties that caught fish usually caught more than one, supporting the age-old adage that 10 percent of the anglers catch 90 percent of the fish. Whatever else the numbers have to indicate, they do indicate that there is some good fishing to be had on Sebago Lake.
-- Brian Lewis, Fisheries Biologist Specialist, Gray
Region B – Central Maine
With the cost of gas these days many anglers may be keeping their fishing expeditions down to a more local approach. With that in mind, anglers should consider some of the great smaller bass waters in your county that are accessible by canoe or kayak. You just may be surprised just how productive some of these smaller bodies of water can be.
There are quite a few ponds in Region B that have been classified as quality-size largemouth or smallmouth fishing.
The ponds with quality-size largemouth bass are Deer Meadow Pond in Jefferson, Grassy Pond in Rockport, Moose Pond in Mt. Vernon, and Nehumkeag Pond in Pittston. For quality-size smallmouth bass, go to Moose Hill Pond in Livermore. Nequasset Lake in Woolwich has both quality-size largemouth and smallmouth bass.
On average one could expect the opportunity to catch three or more bass in a day’s fishing on “quality-size bass waters.” Some of the fish could run between 12 and 18 inches in length. Of course on some days the fishing will prove to be much slower than this and the fish may be a little smaller. On some occasions the fishing may even be better than expected. But then, I guess that’s why the sport is called “fishing” and not “catching” !
-- Scott Davis, Fisheries Biology Specialist, Sidney
Region C -- Downeast
Of all Maine’s sport fish, the smallmouth bass rank high in anglers’ minds as the hard-fighting, cooperative, abundant fish species that represents the way fishing should be. While different groups of anglers are always shopping and buying those “new” lures that might catch more fish, there is a big difference between the amount of fishing tackle taken in the boat by landlocked salmon anglers when compared to bass anglers.
For instance, when I fish for landlocked salmon, everything I use fits in one large tackle box. But when I fish for bass, I always take at least four tackle boxes, and one of them is huge! After all, there are topwater lures, crankbaits, stickbaits, and several styles of spinners. Multiply each of those by the various color patterns we possess for each lure type (natural, fire tiger, chartreuse, blaze orange) and you can quickly see why one tackle box must be almost as large as a cooler! The other tackle boxes house jig heads, hooks, and a wide variety of soft plastic lures.
Because of the high importance of smallmouth bass to Maine’s anglers, fisheries biologists in eastern Maine have intensively studied populations in approximately 35 waters over the last 22 years, beginning with the high priority fisheries. Sampling methods have included SCUBA, electrofishing, trapnetting, and angling. We have collected information on lengths, weights, fishing effort, and ages of bass, permitting us to learn about the quality of bass populations from these 35 waters from more than 8,000 individual bass. There’s no guesswork involved in this kind of information.
Our staff biologists are finishing this spring’s sampling at Holbrook Pond and Graham Lake this week with the Department’s electrofishing boat.
Because bass anglers are always interested in the quality of bass fishing in their region, the purpose of this fishing report is to share a summary of the quality of numerous bass fisheries, based on our findings. Studies in Maine have shown that catch and release angling for bass occurs in 97 percent of Maine’s open water fishing trips. This important angler ethic is a primary reason for the excellence of Maine’s bass fishing.
We have compiled a summary of information about the catch rate for smallmouth bass at each water, measured during the spawning season, and the percentage of bass larger than 12 inches and 14 inches. By looking at the catch rate along with the sizes of bass, anglers will gain a perspective of the fishing quality in these waters. Because several lakes have been sampled multiple times, the information represents averages over the years. To view the chart, visit www.maine.gov/ifw and click on fishing.
Some of Maine’s best bass fishing occurs from late June through the end of August. Try top-water fishing on calm hot summer mornings when the dragonflies are flitting over the lily pads. Troll Rapalas and Rebels around offshore boulder shoals on windy days. And fish from twilight into total darkness with surface lures when the only sensations you experience are the glug-glug-glug of your Jitterbug as you reel it three feet, then wait to hear the explosive splash of a large bass grabbing it from the lake surface in the dark.
-- Rick Jordan, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Jonesboro
Region D – Western Maine
Summer fishing conditions are upon us. Warming water temperatures in lakes and ponds are forcing coldwater fish species to seek thermal refuge. It’s easy for fish to find these conditions in most large lakes by just going deeper. That’s also what anglers have to do to target trout and salmon. Trolling slow using a downrigger or lead-core fishing line is what it takes to get down into the 40- to 60-foot water where the fish are suspended.
If fishing for brook trout or salmon, the Rangeley area is hard to beat. All the larger lakes contain trout and salmon and have good public access. Togue anglers can go to Clearwater Pond in Industry, Embden Pond in Embden, Jim Pond in Jim Pond Township, or Spring Lake in T3 R4 BKP WKR to find some good action.
Togue anglers looking for a quieter atmosphere might try carrying a small boat or canoe into Lincoln Pond in Parkertown Township. or West Carry Pond in Carrying Place Town Township. All these ponds are deep and contain large lake trout and a few good brookies too. A sewed-on sucker or a streamer fly and dodger are a couple of good techniques to try using.
Last week, the sampling of Androscoggin River smallmouth bass was completed in the 14-mile reach between Rumford and the head of the Riley impoundment in Canton. We fell four bass shy of the hundred fish goal, but are considering that good due to the high water conditions during the sampling period. The bass ranged from 7 to 18½ inches long with over a third of the fish being greater than 15 inches. Also caught were a few brown trout and rainbow trout, as well as many large chubs.
This week we will begin sampling Wesserunsett Lake in Madison and Wilson Pond in Wilton. For these waters we will be using an electrofishing boat. This boat is very effective at collecting fish, but also very noisy, as the power source is an on-board generator. People around these waters should expect to hear this activity, especially since much of this work is done at night.
Although largemouth bass are not common in northwestern Maine, there are a few ponds that have good populations. Norcross, Sand, and Crowell Ponds in Chesterville and Wesserunsett Lake are all excellent places to cast a popper into a weed bed or work a rubber worm along a drop-off. Anglers can catch bass up to five pounds, although the average size fish will be much smaller. Pickerel, perch, and sunfish can also be caught at the same time.
-- David Howatt, Fisheries Biologist Specialist, Strong
Region E – Moosehead Lake
We are once again experiencing a wet and rainy month of June, which has kept river flows high and the chance of thunderstorms has been a reoccurring evening event. Due to these wet conditions mayfly and caddis hatches have been off schedule in many of the ponds and rivers I fish in the region.
Water temperatures are still relatively cool for this time of year. Hopefully, the warmer, sunnier weather predicted for this coming week will help warm things up and the insect hatches will pick up in time for those anglers looking to take advantage of the last superlative insect hatch of the season, the “Green Drake Hatch”.
The Fourth of July is when we begin to see green drake hatches start up in the Moosehead Lake Region. Since many of these ponds are not on the same insect hatching schedule anglers should do a little scouting to ensure they can experience a full blown “Green Drake Hatch.” By checking a pond that you know has a green drake hatch during the day, you can tell if the hatch has begun and see to what extent the hatch has progressed due to the presence or absence of green drake casings floating on the surface of the water. In most cases, green drakes do not begin to come off the water until after dark, so if you did your homework and you have a flashlight, sit back, and be patient.
On June 21-22, the Moosehead Lake Fisheries Coalition and Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce hosted a Moosehead Lake Open Water Togue Fishing Derby. Derby organizers report that the event was a fun and enjoyable weekend of fishing. Cash prizes were awarded to the three largest lake trout and smallest lake trout entered, along with a chance at numerous raffle prizes for each lake trout entered.
Eighty-four tickets were sold during the two-day event. Anglers registered 231 lake trout between 7 and 26 inches. Cash prizes for the three largest and smallest lake trout went to the following anglers: First place- Don Brodeur, 26.25 inches at 6.39 pounds; second place- Mitchell Guerette, 23 inches at 3.12 pounds; third place- Malcolm Batchblder, 21 inches at 3.04 pounds. The smallest lake trout honors went to Walt Guerette for his 7-inch “wall hanger”. John Myatt won the Old Town Predator canoe. Congratulations to all the winners and the anglers that made this event a success.
-- Stephen Seeback, Fisheries Biology Specialist, Greenville
Region F -- Penobscot
This past week we received several reports of very good fishing from around the region. The warm water lakes such as East Branch Lake in Seboeis Plt, Mattawamkeag Lake in Island Falls, Baskahegan Lake in Brookton, Mattanawcook Lake in Lincoln and Eskutassis Lake in Burlington are producing nice catches of white perch, smallmouth bass and pickerel. The bass fishing in the Penobscot River is excellent from Millinocket to Bangor.
Reports from our coldwater lakes and ponds are equally as good. Upper Cold Stream Pond in Lincoln is producing some nice brook trout as well as good catches of white perch. Anglers on Cold Stream Pond are reporting lots of action last week, but things started to slow down towards the weekend. The fish they reported were not lunkers but legal, fat and sassy.
The green drake mayflies have started to hatch at Nicatous Lake in T3 ND. A couple that tented out at one of the conservation camp sites reported a few drakes hatching. The fly-fishing for white perch in the evening was GREAT using a large white wolf. They also caught and released 2 brown trout between 12 and 15 inches. The smallmouth bass fishing was slow but they were taking poppers off the surface.
With the start of the drake hatch many of the ponds in Baxter will come alive with trout feeding at around dark. This is the time of year many fly anglers look forward to as they set tying flies during the long winter months. I recommend that you should waste no time getting out and enjoying the Maine Summer. It is far too short.
Not only are the mayflies hatching, but hoards of midges joined their buddies the black flies and mosquitoes. If you are planning to venture outdoors make sure you have plenty of bug repellent.
-- Brian Campbell, Fisheries Biologist Specialist, West Enfield
Region G – Aroostook County
For a number of anglers and many special interest groups seeking to improve the fishing in Maine ponds for trophy-size trout, the overwhelming request to fishery managers is for more catch and release fishing. During former Commissioner Owens’ program to establish Blue Ribbon Trout Waters, input from anglers at public meetings in this region favored establishing a one trout daily bag limit and a minimum length limit of 18 inches. The intent was that most of the fishing would be catch and release but should a trophy trout be caught (the public considered an 18-inch trout as being a trophy), they would like the opportunity to keep it.
Subsequently, 1 fish daily bag limits and higher length limits have been established on several ponds in this region. Other fishery regions have established similar regulations and may have several catch and release ponds. New regulations are being evaluated in other ponds for their ability to increase the number of larger trout. The one common denominator in all of these regulations is that a number of trout are generally caught and released by anglers in a day of fishing. The idea being that the fish will survive to grow larger and to be available for other anglers to catch. But in the world of fisheries management things aren’t always as straightforward as they seem.
Consider the common loon, a very attractive bird that is often found on the lakes and ponds in Maine. The cry of the loon is a sound that thrills campers on the lakeshores in the late evening and early morning. It is common knowledge that loons eat fish. What may not be common knowledge is that in some of these trout ponds around the state in which fishery managers have established catch and release or trophy trout pond regulations, loons have acquired a learned behavior that has overcome their wariness toward humans. Devices that have been used to deter loons from this behavior have been ineffective once the behavior has been acquired.
Loons on these ponds have associated the splash of a trout being caught and played with an easy meal. They keep their distance while anglers are fishing but upon hearing the sound of splashing water, they swim near to the canoe and wait for the trout to be released, grabbing it almost immediately upon its release. To those who would argue that a loon is a wild bird and remain skeptical that loons would be capable of such brazen behavior, I would offer the following excerpt received from angler Ryan Burton who shared with us his experience on a pond in northern Maine:
“The trout must be taking a beating from loons. They were following me around like seagulls waiting for scraps from a lobster boat. In two hours I caught eight nice fish between 14 and 16 inches but decided to stop fishing because I was afraid every weakened fish I released was becoming loon food.
“I had a crazy experience. The last fish I hooked, I grabbed my camera to try to get a picture of it in the water. As soon as it was right next to the canoe I went to snap the picture and the water erupted soaking me and camera both. It took a second to realize that the fish had just got hammered by a loon! I don’t even remember snapping the picture, but somehow it sort of came out OK. I’ve never seen anything like it! For a second or two I was fighting with a 14-inch trout and a loon on my fly rod with about six feet of 6-pound leader out! The loon came off without breaking the line and the trout was pretty beat, but I had to let it go (too short for this pond). Soon after, that loon torpedoed from under the canoe and the brookie disappeared. It was crazy !
The fishing was great, but I wish the loons would relocate! It seems they are eating all of next year’s 18 inchers.”
Still have the opinion that all fishermen lie or maybe stretch the truth ? See the photo on our Web site, www.maine.gof/ifw and click on fishing.
So I think you now can understand our dilemma, as one charged to improve the sport fishery for larger brook trout, how do we manage around this conundrum?
-- Dave Basley, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Ashland
Deborah Turcotte, Spokesperson
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
284 State St.
Augusta, ME 04333
W: (207) 287-6008
C: (207) 592-1164
IF&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.