Old News Archive

May 19, 2008 - Open Water Fishing Report

May 19, 2008 - TRC

Region A – Southwestern Maine

By now most of the region’s waters that will be stocked have been stocked with the exception of some salmon lakes and some high-use catchable trout waters being stocked for a second time or third time. If you have any questions about whether your favorite water (catchable trout only) has been stocked please check out the Department’s new link (“current stocking”) on our Web site (www.mefishwildlife.com). The site contains an update listing of all stockings of catchable trout and is updated daily.

Our two most popular salmon lakes, Thompson and Sebago, continue to offer some steady fishing. It seems like the fishing on both lakes is either very good or very slow depending on the day and the angler. I guess that’s fishing. The fishing late last week on both waters was good.

Our angler survey on Sebago indicated anglers catching just under one legal salmon per boat on average. The northwestern corner of the Big Bay on Sebago continues to offer the best catches of salmon, even though the smelt run on the west shore tributaries has been over for about a week. Few anglers have been targeting togue on Sebago so far this year, which we attribute to the salmon fishing being so good for unusually large salmon in the 4- to 7-pound size range.

Thompson is offering smaller salmon and togue than Sebago, generally under 3 pounds for both, but the togue here often suspend high in the water column early in the morning and can offer some exciting fishing at relatively shallow depths of 10 to 15 feet below the surface. This is the same depth that the salmon are holding. Some of these suspended togue provide an even better fight than the salmon, in my opinion. Slow fishing will increase your catch of 18- to 20-inch togue.

I ran into Charlie Butler last Friday at Crystal Lake in Gray. Charlie is very skilled angler who had caught two 14-inch Crystal Lake rainbows and a “good size” largemouth bass that morning. Charlie also reported catching 40 Sebago Lake salmon recently over a one-week period. Most of these salmon were released.

The larger salmon and togue lakes are gradually warming and have reached 50 degrees F, at least on those days the wind isn’t blowing and mixing the water. Late last week on Thompson Lake the surface water temperature was 52 degrees F. Although slow fishing techniques continue to be productive for both salmon and togue, but especially for togue, with temperatures in the 50’s many traditional salmon anglers are fishing streamers on top while trolling between 3 and 5 MPH. This method will cover a considerable area of water and because the strikes are quick and hard, and the presentation is high in the water column a hooked salmon will often bust the surface and leap into the air. This is arguably the most exiting method and time of year to catch a salmon, when the salmon's fighting performance is at its peak. Early morning and late afternoon remain the best times to pursue salmon.

-- Francis Brautigam, Regional Fishery Biologist, Sebago Lake

Region B – Central Maine

Many of you may not be aware that the Fishery Division develops and write species assessment plans for each inland fresh water fish species. These plans include the species life history, management history in Maine, angler opportunity, angler demand, fishing quality, and most importantly the goals and objectives for the species into the next 15 years.

These species assessments were first written over 20 years ago and are periodically updated, with the most recent update for all species last completed in 2001. Included in these updates was advice and comments from public working groups on how they believed the department should be managing fish and fishing in Maine.

This past winter I had the opportunity to revise the plans for chain pickerel, muskellunge and northern pike (all members of the Esocidae family). The primary objective of this revision was to update the northern pike plan to reflect the department’s changing philosophy not to actively manage pike, where as the pickerel and muskellunge plans remained fairly unchanged except that new information was added as necessary.

The following objectives for northern pike were developed during the 2001 update:

· Further illegal introductions will be vigorously discouraged.

· Where northern pike threaten significant existing fish populations, management efforts should strive to reduce pike predation and interspecific competition.

· Proposals for officially sanctioned pike introductions outside of river drainages within Fisheries Management Regions A and B in which the species now occurs will not be sanctioned by IF&W.

· Proposed introductions of pike within the river drainages in Fisheries Management Regions A and B in which the species now occurs may be considered by the Department if the introduction does not threaten significant, pre-existing fish populations and is acceptable to the angling public.

· Where northern pike are actively managed, management efforts should strive to enhance those catch and size qualities of interest to the anglers utilizing the fishery.

These objectives were changed during the 2008 revision and with the approval from the public working group now have been adopted. They are:

· Further illegal introductions will be vigorously discouraged;

· Where northern pike threaten significant existing fish populations, management efforts should strive to reduce the pike predation and interspecific competition.

As you can see, the last three objectives have been eliminated to reflect the Department’s philosophy not to manage this exotic species. This will now prevent the Department from legally developing new pike fisheries and will also eliminate any active management, such as length and bag limits, on northern pike in the State of Maine.
-- James Lucas, Fisheries Biologist, Sidney

Region C -- Downeast

The time for fishing for wild brook trout in the streams and rivers is now! Water temperatures in the flowing waters of Downeast are in the mid 50s, and that’s perfect for optimum feeding activity for brook trout. Insect hatches of mayflies are now coming off in droves as well as some caddis, and trout are responding with high energy to take most any lure, fly or worm that hits the water.

Here are some of the best trout streams and rivers to try during the next three weeks that should give anglers hours of rod bending fun:

Denny’s River (Dennysville), East Machias River (Crawford), Machias River (T 31 MD), West Branch Machias River (T 31 MD), Chandler River (Jonesboro), West Branch Union River (Amherst), Middle Branch Union River (Aurora), Pleasant River (Columbia Falls), Crooked River (T 30 MD), West Branch Narraguagus River (T 22 MD), New Stream (Wesley), Old Stream (T 31 MD), Haynes Brook (Amherst), Pembroke Stream (T 31 MD), Mopang Stream (T 24 MD), Tunk Stream (Unionville), East Stream (Whiting), Great Brook (Whitneyville), Scott’s Brook (Northfield), Lawrence Brook (Cherryfield), and Great Falls Brook (Deblois).

Most of the streams and rivers are located in the heart of Downeast’s interior and heavily forested area, making trips to these waters both scenic and relaxing.

Enjoy them and be safe!

-- Greg Burr, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist, Jonesboro

Region D – Western Mountains

Salmon fishing at Rangeley Lake has been in high gear for the last two weeks, and while the large fish the lake is known for have been scarce, we have checked a few in excess of 4 pounds. A fair number of brookies are also showing up. Most of these are between 12 and 15 inches long, and the majority are wild fish produced in the lake's tributaries. At least two large year classes of wild trout are in Rangeley Lake now - their presence is likely a consequence of favorable stream flows and summer temperatures from 2004 to 2006. Warden Reggie Hammond is reporting some excellent trout catches from Aziscohos Lake, and the salmon are looking good, too. Temperatures have remained generally cool in the western Maine highlands, and if this trend continues the fast spring fishing on the big lakes should be extended. We can only hope.

We're conducting creel surveys on both Rangeley and Aziscohos this year. Liz Studdert, our summer fishery assistant, will be posted at the boat landings to interview anglers and measure their catches. Expect to run into Liz on Rangeley at the Town Park, the State Park, and the Oquossoc landing, and on Aziscohos at the Black Brook Cove Campground. As always, we appreciate the cooperation extended to our clerks while they collect this data - it's important information for managing these fabulous sport fisheries.

In addition to training Liz on the creel surveys this week, we'll be busy on a variety of projects. Our stream survey crews are gearing up to collect habitat and biological information on scores of unsurveyed streams throughout the region. After some refresher training on Monday and Tuesday, they'll strike out to begin this interesting work, stream flows permitting. We're also meeting with LURC staff to assess the impacts of a recent harvest operation on a tributary to Tim Pond, and we'll spend some time on the Rapid to evaluate brook trout fry numbers. Finally, we'll continue a reclamation feasibility study at C Pond in Upton by deploying several recording thermometers and locating areas of groundwater discharge.

Gene Arsenault and his crew from the Embden Rearing Station are well into their spring stocking season. Expect to see their trucks scurrying about with loads of catchable brook trout. Salmon, browns, and splake are also being stocked - most of these latter stockings go to waters with regulations designed to "grow them out". That is, they're stocked at a sub-legal size and spend a few months to a couple years in the water before while growing to legal size. For almost instant information on stockings of fish in our catchable trout program, check are website (http://www.maine.gov/ifw/fishing/reports/stocking/index.htm).
-- David Boucher, Fishery Biologist, Rangeley Lakes

Region E – Moosehead Lake

Water temperatures are still cool, providing some good trout pond fishing in the area. The smelt runs have come to an end and the blackflies are ready and waiting. Wet flies are still the preferred method this time of year on the fly fishing ponds. The dragonfly nymphs and salamanders are very active right now, and a few flying ants could be found last weekend.

Reports from Moosehead Lake indicate good fishing in Spencer Bay and Rockwood. The flow in the Moose River is still a bit high but anglers are congregating in the lower reaches as the salmon, trout, and lake trout feed on smelts in the river.

The hatchery trucks are still rolling in this region. Many of our spring-yearling brook trout waters were stocked last week and some will be stocked again the last week of May. You can check out the stocking activity at the IF&W Web page: www.maine.gov/ifw.
-- Tim Obrey, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Greenville

Region F – Penobscot Valley

Reports from East Grand Lake indicate that lake trout angling is as good as it gets. Lakers over 5 pounds seem to be the norm, while reports of a few togue up to 15 pounds are also making the rounds. Also sounds like some fast action for salmon, with the average fish boated between 16” and 18”. In early May, anglers fishing off of the International Bridge at the Orient reported seeing large numbers of salmon up in The Thoroughfare feeding on smelts, with some fish approaching 4 pounds. Other landlocked salmon lakes in the eastern part of the region such as Pleasant Lake, Lower Sysladobsis, East Musquash Lake and Lambert Lake have all started to produce some quality fishing as well. District Game Warden Paul Farrington reports good fishing for salmon at Junior and Scraggley Lakes this week. Anglers are catching salmon from the surface down to about 15 feet on sewn bait and streamer flies.

Lakes in the northern part of the region are just getting up and running with fishing starting to pick up on Hay Lake, the Shin Ponds, Pleasant Pond, Mattawamkeag Lake, Matagamon Lake and Scraggly Lake. Quality salmon and brook trout have been reported from all of the above mentioned bodies of water within the last week. Most brook trout boated this spring at Matagamon are in the 12 to 18 inch category. The rivers and streams in the North Country are starting to drop to fishable levels, including Trout Brook, Seboeis River, Mattawamkeag River, Fish Stream, Wassataquoik Stream and Little East Branch. However, Webster Stream and the outlet of Matagamon Lake (East Branch Penobscot) are still running wild. For information on river flows statewide, please go to: http://newweb.erh.noaa.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=car

Lake trout have also been on the ticket at Schoodic Lake in Brownville, Millinocket Lake in T1R8 WELS, and Cold Stream Pond in Enfield. Landlocked salmon have also been in demand at all of the above mentioned lakes, as well as at West Seboeis Lake in T4R9 NWP, West Lake in T3 ND, Duck Lake in T4 ND and Nicatous Lake in T3 ND.

Regional splake waters worthy of some attention would include West Seboeis Lake in T4R9 NWP, Cedar Lake in T3R9 NWP, Endless Lake in T3R9 NWP and Lower Togue Pond in T2R9 WELS.

As the water level falls in the outlet to Cold Stream Pond, the “kids fishing section” on Cold Stream should start to produce some awesome fishing opportunities for kids under 16 and complementary license holders. This short section of stream is stocked weekly with catchable brook trout for kids to enjoy. The section starts at the highway bridge on Rt. 188 and goes downstream to the red posts by the old hatchery fishway. If you have a child or grandchild looking for something to do after school or on the weekend, take them up to Cold Stream for a fishing trip that they will always remember. There is a complete list of all of the Special Opportunities for Kids on page 6 in the Open Water Fishing Regulations booklet.
--Nels Kramer, Regional Biologist, Enfield

Region G – Aroostook County

River flows have been dropping to the point where the Memorial Day weekend should afford excellent opportunity to canoe and catch trout. The Aroostook River, Fish River and Meduxnekeag River are all destinations that anglers should consider for fishing. Special regulations apply to some sections, so be sure to read the lawbook before starting your trip.

Smaller brooks as well should be at water levels where trout should cooperate by taking a gob of worm on a hook. Fiddleheads are up and what could be any better after the long winter than a feed of fiddleheads and trout on the bank of a brook or river. Unfortunately, black flies may also be making their first appearance on Memorial Day weekend, as well, so put bug dope at the top of your packing list. I have been told by woodsmen that a daily dose of vitamin B will prevent blackflies from biting. They will swarm around you and land but not bite. It is necessary to start your vitamin regimen prior to the blackflies coming out so that your body has had ample time to be sensitized to vitamin B.

We have observed favorable smelt runs or egg deposition in most of the brooks we have checked. These include Eagle Lake, St. Froid Lake, Long Lake and Drews Lake. This should enhance the forage base in these lakes in the near future.

Roads in the back-country area managed by North Maine Woods are being repaired daily.

Al Cowperthwaite writes: “Now we have some good news. Due to concerns for fire danger and the need to be able access North Maine Woods, plus the great weather we’ve had over the past 11 days, road crews have made tremendous progress towards making roads passable again."

“As of Monday morning, the American Realty Road is passable from Ashland to Daaquam. Most bridge crossings have been fixed enough to be passable and road crews will return later to reconstruct them to make them less susceptible to future flood damage."

“The only major problems remaining are Henderson Brook Bridge over the Allagash and the Red River Bridge on the way into DeBoullie Township from Portage. Access to DeBoullie is possible from the north via St. Francis Checkpoint."

“Access to Fish River Falls should be possible before Memorial Weekend."

“Roads in the KI Jo-Mary Forest region between Millinocket, Brownville and Greenville are also in good condition."

“So we’re open for business. Reports are coming in that fish are cooperating”.

A call to the North Maine Woods office in Ashland at 435-6213 or a visit its Web site, www.northmainewoods.org, should provide up to date information on road conditions.
-- David J. Basley, Regional Fishery Biologist, Ashland

Submitted by : Deborah Turcotte, Spokesperson

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
SHS 41
284 State St.
Augusta, ME 04333

W: (207) 287-6008

C: (207) 592-1164

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