May 26, 2008 - Open Water Fishing ReportMay 26, 2008 - TRCRegion A – Southwestern MaineThis past week I was fortunate to take part in three days of brook trout sampling in the Moosehead Lake region. The folks that manage the big lake were kind enough to ensure that I saw a good cross section of their springtime field efforts. We worked both wild and stocked waters, assessed a relatively new stocking program, and assessed the age and growth implications of a stocking rate change. The differences between the Sebago Lakes region and the Moosehead region were many and very evident. The most important difference was a welcome reminder of what Maine brook trout can be in the absence of introduced warmwater fish. The brook trout I handled in the Moosehead region were invariably fat, healthy and were found in relative abundance. I am not suggesting that the fisheries crew in Greenville and the anglers they serve don’t bear their share of the pain from illegal fish introductions, but in southern Maine seemingly endless quantities of bass, perch, pike, and crappie abound and limit our opportunities to manage for trout and salmon. The end result of competition and predation by warmwater fish on brook trout is the inability to support a significant brook trout fishery. Another interesting difference between the Sebago and Moosehead regions were the amazing number of ponds managed by my colleagues to the north. The Greenville office manages roughly 1,200 ponds, four times the number in the Sebago region. I have fished a small number of the ponds in the Moosehead area and always welcome the scenery and solitude to be found there. I intend to make a concerted effort to fish more of the brook trout gems in that area. I would like to extend a big thank you to the fisheries crew at Moosehead for a great few days of work.While I had a great time working outside the region I am happy to be home and working with more familiar topics. The first thing I did after the long Memorial Day weekend was to look through the Sebago Lake creel census data collected by our seasonal census clerk, Bill Yeo. Bill contacted 60 fishing parties between Friday and Sunday and found that the salmon fishing is holding up very nicely. Between salmon and togue (mostly salmon), the average catch rate was between 1 to 1½ fish caught per boat. The salmon still seem to be concentrated around the mouth of the Songo River as well as the west shore, but they have begun to spread throughout the lake. As water temperatures rise, the bass in southern Maine will soon begin their spawning activities. The generally smaller males begin moving into shallow water and can be seen building nests and recruiting a short-term mate. The next few weeks are a great time of year to take kids fishing for bass. Bass, especially smallmouths, are extremely aggressive towards anything that invades their nests and sight-fishing bass in the spring can be a blast. Each year at this time the staff of Region A takes a week or two to characterize bass populations by making collections with an electrofishing boat. The electrofishing boat works by passing a generated electrical current through a localized area of the water to stun the fish. These fish are netted, measured, and released unharmed. These collections are done at night when all sizes of bass are cruising the shallows. The boat is large, the generator is loud, and the lights are bright, so please don’t be alarmed if we visit your area of the shoreline. We pass quickly and hope to disturb nobody. We may begin sampling as early as next week on Hall Pond in Paris, Pleasant Lake in Casco, Tripp Pond in Poland, and Deer Pond in Buxton. We hope to use a smaller boat to sample bass at Barker Pond in Lyman and Chaffin Pond in Windham. -- Brian Lewis, Fisheries Biologist Specialist, GrayRegion B – Central MaineMaine’s almost perfect Memorial Day weekend….. It was darn cool and breezy if you were on the water Saturday. On Sunday, I don’t know if I ever saw a cloud in the sky. Although I was not too comfortable in my rain jacket on Monday the periodic passing rain showers brought me some relief. With the weather conditions jumping from one extreme to another, anglers should of had at least one good fishing day over the Memorial Day weekend.One thing that was pretty constant was the black fly emergence. I managed to get them in my eyes, up my nose, heard them in my ears and ate a few over the three days.Bass anglers should take into account the current conditions we have had the last few weeks. This time of year, it is common to see bass on the spawning grounds one day and not to see them in the vicinity the next. Bass fishers should be patient; eventually the fish will react to rising water temperatures, and will then head for the nesting areas. Trout anglers also should consider the current conditions. You may see a good hatch one day and not see anything resembling one the next. Yes indeed, at this time of year there will be bugs. That, in part, is what makes the fishing decent this time of year. When the water temperatures eventually stabilize you will have more predictable hatches. -- Scott Davis, Fisheries Specialist, SidneyRegion C – DowneastAnglers targeting lake trout and salmon had some great catches over Memorial Day weekend at West Grand Lake. Colin Shankland, our work-study summer assistant, interviewed 29 parties of anglers on Saturday and Sunday at the dam. The majority of the salmon being caught were in the 15.5-17.5 inch range, with most togue falling between 18-22 inches. Waters that we recently stocked with brook trout are providing excellent fishing for trout in the 9- to10-inch range, with some anglers reporting catches of 15-20 fish in a morning of fishing. We have heard reports of action like this all over the Downeast region. Many of these fish can be caught while fishing from shore, but to cover the most ground I suggest trolling in a small boat or canoe. Be on the look out for fish swirling at the surface and be prepared to cast a spinner or a fly to the area where the rings began. Things can get really exciting when everywhere you look you see fish rising at the surface. Even though the days are warming (as we just passed the unofficial start of summer) the nights are still quite cool. Because of this, I suggest trying your luck at the waters if you want to target brook trout: Six-Mile Lake in Marshfield, Simpson Pond in Roque Bluffs, Fox Pond in T-10 SD, Montegail Pond in T19 MD, North and South Meyers Ponds in Columbia (kids only waters), Cutler Naval Station Pond in Cutler (located across the road from the former naval base), Fox-Hole Pond in Deblois (kids only water), Lily Lake in Trescott, Birch Harbor Pond in Winter Harbor, Simmons Pond in Hancock, Echo Lake in Mount Desert, Craig Pond in Orland, and the Orland River in Bucksport. -- Joe Overlook, Fisheries Biologist Specialist, JonesboroRegion D – Western MountainsTo date we have good fishing information on Rangeley and Aziscohos lakes with scattered reports coming in from other waters around the region. At Rangeley Lake our clerk Liz Studdert has checked more than a hundred anglers who have kept 19 salmon and released 51 legal-size salmon and 85 sublegal salmon. We're encouraging anglers to keep their one salmon at Rangeley because growth rates are declining - a moderate reduction in the number of salmon will result in better growth rates in the future. Anglers at Rangeley Lake also kept 12 brook trout and released 23 legal-size and 2 sublegal trout. The biggest salmon checked at Rangeley to date was 4 pounds 7 ounces; the biggest trout was 1 pound 3 ounces.At Aziscohos Lake, Liz has checked 46 anglers who kept 15 salmon and released 12 legal-size and 65 sublegal salmon; they kept seven brook trout and released seven legal-size and 15 sublegal trout. The biggest salmon checked at Aziscohos to date was 2 pounds 7 ounces; the biggest brook trout was 1 pound 3 ounces.We also checked a 3 pound 12 ounce brook trout from Mooselookmeguntic and have reports of many large, fat salmon being caught already this spring. The liberalized salmon regulation (3 salmon limit, 12-inch minimum length, only one greater than 16 inches) at Mooselook is apparently paying off with increased growth rates. In an era when catch and release is promoted, it sometimes confuses anglers when we encourage them to keep more fish. However, at Rangeley and Mooselookmeguntic lakes, there is a lot of natural reproduction that is resulting in more salmon than there are smelts to feed them. The same situation occurs at Big Kennebago Lake, where we have also liberalized the brook trout regulations in an effort to reduce their numbers and improve growth rates. That said, we generally support the catch and release ethic, which works well on most waters.-- Forrest Bonney, Regional Fisheries Biologist, StrongRegion E – Moosehead LakeMemorial Weekend has come and gone. This long weekend is often regarded as the biggest fishing weekend of the open water season. Although gas prices may have kept some folks a bit closer to home this past holiday weekend it was not evident on my ride south from Greenville on Friday evening. The number of vehicles heading north carrying canoes and towing boats and campers seemed endless. It was certainly a good weekend to be in the north woods. The weather seemed to cooperate and initial reports are that the fishing was quite good throughout the region. Many of the wild and stocked trout ponds in the region are producing some good catches. Flows in the smaller brooks and streams are at levels that make them very fishable and reports are that fishing is very good as well. We had a report of a nice lake trout being caught from Moosehead Lake this past weekend. The big laker was 32 inches long and weighed in at 10 pounds.The Rockwood area in the vicinity of the Moose River has seen lots of fishing activity. Anglers trolling this area have reported some nice salmon and lake trout catches. Folks fishing in the Rockwood and Moose River areas may have noticed some posters/signs put up by Florida Power and Light biologists describing some of the research they are conducting on the Moose River. This work is being conducting in association with the relicensing of the Brassua Dam. FPL and Normandeau biologists are collecting salmon and brook trout and implanting them with radio tags. These fish will then be tracked to document their movements within the Moose River and in Moosehead Lake. There is a lot of time and money being spent on this project and a lot of valuable information to be gained by it. IFW would like to request that if anglers do catch any of these fish that they would release these fish. We’ve had one report already of a salmon being caught and killed that had been radio tagged three days earlier. We would like to mention that on the weekend of June 21-22 the Moosehead Lake Fisheries Coalition and Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce are hosting a Moosehead Lake Open Water Togue Fishing Derby. Cash prizes will be awarded for the three largest lake trout and the smallest lake trout entered, along with a door prize.For more information about this event, please contact the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce at 1-888-876-2778 or 207-695-2702 or email and firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Moosehead Lake Coalition’s website at mooseheadlakecoalition.org-- Jeff Bagley, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist, GreenvilleRegion F – Penobscot “They’re biting!” That was the report from all around the Penobscot Region for Memorial Day Weekend. Unfortunately what most folks were referring too was the black flies. After a long winter the black flies have emerged and this year they seem a bit put out with Mother Nature for the delay and subsequently are angrier than ever. Luckily, the steady breeze that has blown for most of the past week has not only provided a steady “salmon chop” on the water but also helped keep the bugs at bay. Fishing in the Penobscot Region was a bit slow over the past week. Reports from Cold Stream Pond, East Musquash, Schoodic, Sysladobsis and Duck lakes were all the same, plenty of anglers but few fish captured. East Grand Lake is the exception though, as we continue to get reports of good salmon fishing and better than average fishing for togue of good size (5 pounds plus). In the next few weeks anglers should begin to go a bit deeper with either lead line or downriggers as fish will be moving down as surface water temperatures begin to rise. Every year concerned anglers report dead or dying smelt they see on lake surfaces or along lake shores. Some fish kills are problematic, likely the result of pollution, however many are natural occurrences. It’s a tough life being a smelt. Virtually all other game fish species in Maine lakes utilize smelt for food when they are available; loons, mergansers, terns and other birds eat smelt as well as other fish; otters, mink and raccoons too will eat smelt if they can capture them, they are especially susceptible to furbearers during spring spawning runs; and of course human’s desire smelt for both food and as bait for fishing.Even if a smelt is lucky enough to survive the 2-3 years to maturity, and successfully migrate into a tributary to spawn, many will often die in the weeks following. The reasons for this post spawn die-off are related to stress from the rigors of spawning, most they often succumb to mere exhaustion. Stress related to spawning also leaves smelt susceptible to natural diseases, or less able to cope with drastic changes in water quality or water temperature common during a Maine spring.Seldom does this post-spawn mortality affect a lakes’ entire population of adult smelt, and hopefully these individuals will be replaced in short order by the young-of-year smelt soon to be hatching and emigrating from lake tributaries. In fact, the adult smelt that die after spawning likely create a short lived but bountiful feast for game fish as well as birds and mammals. The downside for anglers is that during these times the fish are well fed and may be a reason why the bite is slow (or should I say excuses for why we are not catching fish, along with “Too sunny, too warm, lack of a chop, too much chop, etc). Finally, smallmouth bass fishing across the region should be getting hot in the next few weeks as “smallies” move into shallow water to spawn. The Penobscot River is regarded as one of the best bass waters in the entire Northeast. There are numerous public boat launches from Milford to Medway (50-plus miles of river), providing the opportunity for float trips of several miles or more with the chance to leave a vehicle at a downriver takeout spot. 20, 30, or even 50 fish days are not uncommon while fishing the Penobscot in June, and the fishing remains quite good throughout the summer and fall as well. A few of the other smallmouth waters in the region worth a try include South Branch Pond, Chemo Pond, the Dolby Flowage, and Nicatous, Pushaw, Mattanawcook, Egg, Caribou, and Long lakes. Stump (or Snag) Pond in Lincoln has largemouth and smallmouth bass.-- Richard Dill, Regional Fishery Biologist, EnfieldRegion G – Aroostook CountyThe Aroostook River is a popular trout fishing destination in this region. Several launches along the Aroostook River make it convenient for anglers to access the river for a day of fishing. When reconstructing the crossing over Millinocket Stream on the Oxbow Road, the land owner improved the shoulder of the road and slope for safety and ease of launching a canoe.Downstream in the town of Oxbow, a newly constructed public launch is now available for anglers or recreationists to get onto the river. It is a day's float downstream to the town of Masardis where another public launch has been constructed for the public.Another easy day’s float for fishing will take one to Ashland’s public access by the Aroostook River Fish & Game Club. The next public access is in Washburn. This stretch of river between launches is quite long. An angler may have to be very selective in the areas fished to make it this entire section in a day. Last I knew there was a campsite at the confluence of Beaver Brook that requires a permit from the Maine Forest Service for a campfire. Another short float will bring one to the Presque Isle public launch just below the Rte. 1 bridge. The hydrogenerating station at Caribou offers a chance to pull out of the river just above their dam – don’t miss it! Below the dam, the City of Caribou has developed a car top launch for recreationists. The last public access is in Fort Fairfield across the river from the town business section. Whether your interest is fishing, canoeing or kayaking, the several communities along the Aroostook River in the last 10 years have created excellent opportunity for the public to enjoy this resource.-- David J. Basley, Regional Fishery Biologist, AshlandSubmitted by : Deborah Turcotte, SpokespersonMaine Department of Inland Fisheries and WildlifeSHS 41284 State St.Augusta, ME 04333W: (207) 287-6008C: (207) 592-1164NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.