Fishing Report & Tips
The warm weather of two weeks ago is certainly gone and temperatures have returned to standard issue in the northwoods ie...cold! Water temperatures have also returned to normal so there is no need to worry about the water warming to quickly. Water levels are still low, but the good news is the lake is very close to full, and looking at the most recent 10 day weather forecasts we are definitely in for some rainy weather next week. This should give us the boost of water were looking for. At the East Outlet the water is low, 500cfs, but this is great for wade fishing. It makes almost all of the river completely accessible, its a fantastic time to see the pools from a different angle and learn more about the shape of the river. Fish are very hungry and very aggressively feeding on anything they can get their mouths on. Hatching activity has slowed with the cooler and windy weather, but fish are chasing streamers hard as well as biting on a lot of nymph patterns. The sucker spawn is in high gear.
It depends on who you talk to regarding the Moose River. Their are lots of fish at the dam pool which should translate into fish throughout the river. Some folks are boasting lots of fish on Big streamers and others say they are finding few fish.
Word from the ponds is that the action is heating up as brook trout are cruising the water looking for their favorite spring time snacks; dragonfly nymphs, small streamers and mayflies. Gear wise, full sinking lines are not necessary with lower water, a sink tip or even a floating line should do just fine. Fish have begun to look up.
Things are off and running
Smelt have been spawning hard in all the major rivers in the Moosehead Lake Region. Despite the lower water flow on the East Outlet there are fish everywhere. I ran it for the first time Wednesday with two customers, Gary & Elizabeth Herbert from Tennessee. In the first half hour they caught 4 beautiful brookies on 4 different nymphs. In the next couple of hours they probably caught 10 or more trout and salmon nymphing. They wanted whatever we were offering as long as it was along an eddy line.
Then we decided to swing streamers with a sinking line. We only needed one fly for the rest of the day, a Red Grey Ghost. The only time we tied on a new fly was when the one we were using was destroyed. It was as good as it gets.
Although we only used one streamer I believe any smelty looking fly would have worked if it were fished right. There was no reason to change a game that was working so well.
More than the streamer we were using there is no question the way Gary was stripping the streamer made all the difference. Fish were hitting short, just nipping the tail of the streamer and not getting hooked. When Gary felt anything he would stop stripping and jig the streamer in place. It only took a few twitches and a fish would aggressively return grabbing the streamer. It worked time after time pool after pool. The other thing that made the difference was getting the fly down. Fish are not looking up yet and if we could see the streamer as it swung cross current it got no looks and we never caught a fish in shallow water. Getting the fly down and close to the bottom in deeper runs was the ticket. Most hit deep but a few chased and make a grab just as the streamer came into view. We found the combination that made the different between a fish now and then to lots of fish in lots of places. It was a magical day we’ll never forget.
Rumor has it the fish are now up to Gilbert’s Pool in the Moose River. Fish that people are taking for an evening meal are fat and packed with smelt. The entire river is ready to erupt and there are going to be tales of big brookies and salmon in the near future.
If you love the smash of a salmon attacking a streamer now is the time. My folks yesterday made the statement I’ve made a thousand times “I thought that fish was going to rip the rod right out of my hand.” How much fun is that!!
Life begins again!!!
The weather took a turn for the better last week with daytime temperatures in the high 60's that vaporized a lot of snow and ice. Moosehead Lake was called out yesterday the 28th. Word is coming in lakes well north of here are ice free as well. With a forecast for more of the same for the rest of the week ice will be a distance memory by the weekend.
Now that the snow has all but left the woods smelt have started to run in the smaller local streams already. It won't be long before runs will be going on everywhere.
Fishing around the mouth of big rivers should light up nicely by the weekend.
It will be big traditional streamers and sinking lines to start. Until hatches begin later in the month you'll need your sinking line. Fish aren't looking up just yet.
The fly shop officially opens for the season on May 1st.
We'll be open everyday. We hope to see you on your way through.
May is sale month for Orvis Clearwater, and Access fly rods. You'll get 20% off any in stock rod, reel, and line combo.
It's a very slow start to the 2013 open water fishing season in the Moosehead Lake Region. Winter doesn't want to give it up with additional snowfall just a couple days ago. Daytime temperatures haven't warmed enough to begin any significant run-off. The lakes and ponds are still buttoned up tight with little or no open water to wet a line.
The water people are now beginning to capture run-off as the snow pack slowly begins to cut lose. The East Outlet is at 511 cfs and will probably remain there until Moosehead is near full which should take a while. Rain in the future will play a major role in how fast lakes fill. Rivers will not see an run of salmon until the lakes are full and flows increase by at least 3 fold.
Smelt are beginning to gather at the mouth of rivers and streams for their annual spawning run as will all the game fish. When the inflow of water rises above 40 degrees the runs begin. Smaller streams will be the first to see runs followed by the bigger rivers.
To start the fishing season my money is on the mouth of the rivers and the smelt runs. Typically run-off is about over when the smelt begin to run. Snow has to be all but gone in the woods before stream waters temperature can rise above 40 degrees. If you have to trudge through any snow to get to the mouth of a stream you are probably jumping the gun.
Temperatures in the Moosehead Lake Region are predicted to moderate in the next few days remaining above freezing overnight. Run-off should begin in earnest soon. As water levels in the lakes and ponds begin to rise open water will appear around the shoreline. Adding some rain to the mix will only speed the process.
Ice is not going to be early this season but it will happen.
We will have our shop ready and open for the new season on May 1st. See you in Greenville.
Everglades National Park Camping trip
You'll learn a lot along the way when you begin taking unguided trips into the backcountry. We began our winter Everglades National Park camping trips with my 20' Old Town canoe outfitted with retractable outriggers, powered by the paddle and a 2½ hp. outboard. It is extremely stable, safe and carries all the gear needed for a week of camping. We knew we’d be able to find our way around easily enough using a NOAA chart and compass (with a gps back-up) and not get into much trouble. Tides hide dangers below so our thoughts were “If we’re not going very fast shallow water, sand and oyster bar encounters won’t be very serious.” We had no one to show us the way so the canoe seemed like the logical choice to safely find our way about. Our plan was to go 25 miles in. The learning curve taught us many things. The first being our big canoe served us well but it had its limitations. It was slow traveling at a maximum speed of 6-8 mph so it took all day to get where we wanted to be. When fully loaded it only handled a foot of sea chop before taking spray over the side. Many bays we had to cross were much bigger in real time than they appear on the chart sitting in our lap so we constantly needed to leave the main trail for a lea shore to avoid choppy water, adding to our travel distance between destinations. We hadn’t bitten off more than we could chew. The issue became, travel time seriously cut into our productive fishing time.
On our return from last winter’s canoe trip one thing became very obvious. Our flats boats would eliminate these obstacles. We would be able to remain on the marked trail staying in deeper water allowing us to run at 25 mph, carry more gear, and have two boats just in case. Once there we could cover greater distances and explore a lot more country. It proved to be a very wise decision.
On Monday of the third week in January we launched out of Chokoloskee at the north end of the park then headed 25 miles south towards Lostman’s River. Our plans were to camp on the same spot as last winter and explore as much water as time would allow within a ten mile radius of our campsite.
The learning curve began at the launch. In our haste to squeeze every bit of daylight into our trip we began our journey in a bay all but void of water, low tide. We know the channel but even it was too shallow and narrow so our 25 mph plans would have to wait until we hit the trail markers and deeper water 3 miles away. So with motors on tilt we idled our way along.
With only a couple of minor course corrections the journey in was easy and we were campsite tight in a little over 3 hours. Our only fishing plans on this day were to find familiar water that produced fish last winter. The spotted sea trout were still in the places we left them last time plus a couple of small snook were right where the text book said they should be, a very good sign. Last year we found very few snook in an entire week of fishing.
Mission accomplished we return to base to find another fisherman camped along side us. Randy was also in for the week, alone, very friendly and a fisherman’s bond began that proved to be invaluable.
Exploring new ground
Our plans were to explore some new water that fellow campers of last season had pointed out on the chart then revisit an out of the way bay where we had found a good number of redfish last year.
We love to catch anything the sea has to offer but snook hunting is high on this year’s agenda. We’ll fly fish whenever we can but the spin rods are officially unlocked and in new waters become great tools for finding and catching fish. Fish holding in shallow water are desperately spooky so the swing of the fly rod spooks, the tiny shadow of the fly line spooks and when water visibility is at a minimum the fly becomes extremely hard for a fish to spot. Remember this country connects to the open sea where everyone is lower on the totem pool than something bigger. It’s the food chain and the thought of being on the menu has everything very edgy. Spook a fish and it roars off for deeper water taking his biddies with him.
Spin gear on the other hand allows the fishermen a cast of much greater distance with a fine diameter line that has no shadow and can be operated effectively in tight spaces where there is little room to manage a fly line overhead. The fly is replaced with a lure that wiggles like a fish, has rattles producing subtle sounds fish detect, and when made from some new, high-tech form of rubber possess a smell that can be absolutely irresistible to most fish.
Just like the fly, a spin fisherman has to be extremely accurate plus know exactly how to twitch that lure so it appears real enough to fool a fish into believing it needs to eat it. It’s not rocket science but skill level is equally as important when using any form of artificial bait. During the steep portion of the learning curve it’s wise not to leave any stones unturned when you’re trying to locate fish in a new area you have never fishing before.
We started finding a snook here and there always right where the textbook told them they’re supposed to be. It could be at the downstream edge of an eddy line, on a point of land, or along the deep edge of a creek the tide follows on its way in and out. If we weren’t catching’em they were leaving big mushrooms of mud as they spooked from their ambush zones. We began feeling good with our snook game even though we hadn’t come face to face with any real life bruisers.
We eventually found our way back to the out of the way bay at the perfect time during the low tide. We did spot a few very spooky redfish but only had a couple good sight casting opportunities. No one was eating. Sometimes they don’t. A unexpected surprise we did stumble onto were sawfish, a prehistoric beast of a fish sporting a saw blade snout one third the length of the fish ringed with sharp teeth that give this fish it’s name. They were neither shy nor spooky, swimming about in less than 2 feet of water. The odd creatures were up to 5’ in length, maybe longer. It was a chance encounter, few people experience. They were at one time hunted to near extinction and now extremely endangered so any sightings need to be reported to the Sawfish Commission. I’d make that call when I get back. What a treat.
Before the day was done we returned to what are now becoming reliable spots, iced a couple spotted sea trout for our night meal then landed a boatload of jacks, ladyfish, and mangrove snapper reassuring ourselves we can still find all the fish species of the Everglades. We’ll refocus our effects back to snook come morning.
To us campsite life has become equally as important as a good days fishing. We now have two powerboats so why not bring the kitchen sink. Steve and I have never been accused of traveling light.
Our neighbor Randy on the other hand also began his Everglades camping career in a motorized canoe where space is at a premium. He took the minimalist approach, with a one man pack tent, power bars, self heating evening meals and a couple good books. It’s a good approach, leaving his boat uncluttered. He could now fish his way in and out eliminating unnecessary gear occupying space more efficiently used for essential snook tackle. Randy is strictly a spin/bait casting, very focused snook fishermen and the son of a now retired profession bass angler. Needless to say Randy operates at a different level than most and his enthusiasm and willingness to share his knowledge of the artificial lure world has taken my snook game to an entirely new level.
I don’t believe Randy ever imagined camping alongside two guys with a “Lets bring ALL the comforts of home” approach. When he finished his long day of snook hunting he returned to camp finding us enjoying a very happy hour with our 13'x13' tent equipped with full kitchen/dining room and separate bedroom complete with cots made up with fitted sheets finished with full size pillows. He took photos to show his wife and friends.
Our new found friendship began to grow as we got further aquainted. Randy was sporting a, new to him, Maverick flats boat. He had done substantial custom work on it and invited us for the grand tour. Remember this is the son of a professional bass angler. He was taught by the best and a lot of thought went into transforming an already fabulous flats boat, the envy of every flats guide, into a customized fishing machine. The list of updates started with custom rod racks to a deluxe charging system for the 24 volt trolling motor power pack, and on and on, finishing the tour as our daylight faded by hitting a switch igniting under gunnel and compartment LED lighting. His lengthy overhaul was complete. This was his new boats first trip into the Everglades and Randy was obvious a very proud parent of a real life Dream Machine. I’ve only been around one other artificial lure fishermen that operated at this level and Eric out fished my fly rod every single day of our seven day trip into remote Canada. Needless to say I’m paying close attention to every little piece of advice Randy is willing to offer up. It again proved invaluable.
Finding 10-90 water
We had in mind to fish the mouth of Lostman’s River, one of three major tidal rivers that feed seawater and fish to the Everglades backcountry. This is why we brought the flats boats. We could comfortably make the run to the outside and back in a timely fashion. The map would easily get us there then we’ll just have to figure things out. Along the way we spotted a blitz of fish on the surface. A quick you-turn put us up current of the pod. With poppers at the end of the fly lines it only took a couple of casts and a pop of the fly to entice a strike. Who knows how many jacks we could have caught. It was a sure thing when you cast the fly into the blitz. We had our fun then moved on. We had a different fish on the brain and the mouth of the river was in sight with low tide and sight casting conditions coming on fast.
You never know if you are actually going to find fish prowling a flat in a foot of water. You always keep in mind that 90 percent of the fish are in 10 percent of the water. This needs repeating. 10 percent of the water holds 90 percent of the fish. The feeding jacks we just left were contained in a very small pod in a very big ocean. There is a lot of empty water out there and you have to be mindful of that when you’re exploring new ground. Find one and you’ll likely find more. I say it out loud every time I find myself in the 10 percent zone. When the conveyer belt of food funnels bait along the right edge or down the right rip line predators line up for the all you can eat special.
So we roamed about fishing different edges with current, along oyster bars that fell off into deeper water, and poled the flats searching for something big with a taste for crab on it’s brain. We did find the occasional, out of range redfish roaming the shallows and sea trout holed up during the low tide. You don’t get your hopes too high when you’re on foreign ground. A fish here and there tells you you’re at least in the neighborhood. Then out of nowhere a major explosion from something big after something small appeared on a point way across the river. We know we need to get there. A cast or two has to be planted on that precise spot but there is a lot of productive looking water along the way. So we probed along casting stink bait in the form of Berkley GULP at every textbook pocket of water on our way across.
The initial strike from a big fish wants to tear the rod from your hand. The drag is cranked down so a hook can be set into a boney jaw followed by an attempt to somehow contain the fish and stop it from wrapping you up in the tangle of debris that is everywhere. Before it’s over a major fish is on every side of the boat. You may even suspect your reel’s spool isn’t holding quite enough line for the task. When a big fish comes there can be a helpless feeling if you’re sporting too light of tackle. You can only hope you just might win the battle and get your catch to the boat for a closer inspection.
You win some and you loose some. I remember the first big tarpon I hooked and had on long enough to do battle with. My guide, Thomas, eventually stopped chasing the beast, staked the boat then sat down and made this comment “Now lets see who wins, good luck.” That one ended with a snap shot as did this. We finally boated a very big female snook. She was a 33”, full figured gal I’m guessing weighed 15-18 pounds. When I turned her loose I finally exhaled. This was my biggest to date. It wasn’t fly caught but what a trill and a half.
Now that we believed we knew exactly where every other big fish in the sea was holding we cast GULP shrimp till the stink wore off then started finding our way home. The map showed a narrow side channel leading to a small bay with an exit at the other end that kept us going in the right direction. Surely there would be tidal current inviting fish into the opening and the bay beyond. We found about every fish the seas offers there. I even saw a tarpon roll along a deep mangrove edge. All the stars had lined up and we found ourselves on another nice piece of that 10 percent water. We had to make tracks for camp before nightfall but we both promised we would be back the next day. The place stunk of fish and we needed to unlock its secrets.
Tomorrow would be moving day. You are only allowed a 3 night stay on any ground site so we'll need to pack all our stuff and move to a chickee stand for a one night stay then back to Lostman’s Five ground site to finish the trip out.
Never feel defeated
Yesterday Randy had begun to zero in on the snook and was happy to report a spot we had pointed out to him ended up being his most productive, holding the biggest fish of the day. He returned the favor with a couple tricks he had up his sleeve and talk of tomorrows fishing was front and center. A partnership of trust had formed. It would be early to bed and early to rise. We only have three more days and we have to move before heading back to the coast.
The move went smooth then it was a straight run to the sea. We now know the way so it was only a fifteen minute nonstop commute. We’ll fish a different area at the mouth on the outgoing end of the tide giving us a good stretch of potential sight fishing. The weather radio predicted a light wind for the morning with a cold front and north wind showing up in late afternoon.
Steve immediately caught a nice redfish right where it belonged then only a few casts later hooked into the biggest spotted sea trout of the trip. I’m not sure just exactly how big a sea trout has to be before it is considered a gator trout but this had to be one. It covered 23 inches of the scale and probably weighed in at 4-5 pounds. Our day had already been made and it was only 15 minutes old.
We managed to find a good deal of unproductive, fishless water but we weren’t going to give up till the incoming tide took the visibility away. We took turns poling and poked into every nook and cranny. If you look long enough and hard enough sooner or later a 10 percent piece of water may show up and there they are, two redfish in less than a foot of water poking along the edge of the mangroves. Then a major snook blows out from under a shady overhang twenty feet to the left of the boat. You put the breaks on and regroup for a super stealth approach knowing what may lie ahead. They can’t know you’re there. If a snook or redfish is aware of your presents they zip their lips. It’s a fact. And you can’t be certain they are even in an eating mood. Small fish are like kids, they are always hungry and constantly in the fridge looking for something to stuff in their mouths. Big adult fish are like us. We wait for the buffet table to be fully stocked before we line up. After we feast we turn our heads to any offer of another bite. Fish are no different. Add the element of concealment to the equation and the odds are stacked against you. So you put your best game on and proceed. Pull it off and you’re the hero, blow it and you feel like a failure and nothin’ your fishing buddy says to encourage the situation is goin’ to help. And don’t try wining because pity is in short supply. After all he did put you on the fish.
During this encounter everyone had no interest in eating. One refusal and you change whatever is on the end of the line. And when that gets refused you change again. At times it does matter what you try. The other day I found a lone, very big red patrolling the back corner of a bay. I believe he had no idea I was even around. I showed that fish three different things that always work or I should say almost always work that were simply ignored. The fish appeared like he was looking for something to eat but it became obvious he was just walking off the effects of the all you can eat lunch special. Who knows, I though he was as good as in the net.
But then something changes. Often it’s the noticeable shift of the tide. It’s like fishing the hatch when a flip of the switch has everyone on the take. In the same bay ten minutes later fish were inhaling the same thing others refused minutes earlier.
Back to Lostman’s, around another bend and a nicely placed cast goes under an overhang followed instantly by an explosion of water that jumps you straight in the air. The breast may have missed it but still wants it and made another violent blast before heading a hundred miles an hour for deeper water leaving a limb line and a very rapid heartbeat behind. You reel up, breathe into a paper bag for a few minutes then carry on. That moment in time remains in your memory for the remainder of your life.
We left time in the day to give that little back bay a better once over. I did see a tarpon roll there the day before. That alone is enough for additional probing. As we began to enter the narrow opening I mentioned to Steve “If I was a big snook there is the spot I would call home.” We fished it until we were convinced no one was home or not willing to play. Fifty yards further another carbon copy spot appeared. It got the same treatment only someone was home and pounded Steve’s stink bait. When the big snook surfaced for a jump we knew just what he had. Then the hook fell out and it began just another sad story. I know Steve will see that fish in his sleep for quite some time.
It was another great evening. We dined on leftover ceviche and fresh redfish at the chickee platform campsite while we relived the day. Before we ended the day I believe the final comment about the big one that got away was “ His mouth was big enough to swallow a watermelon.” Just right.
Exploring more ground
Moving day again. Only one night’s stay is allowed at any chickee. There are a number of through canoe and kayak travelers who all need a new campsite every night. The chickee platforms serve the purpose well. We were back at on the original campsite in no time and ready for the day. Our last full day would be spent closer to the campsite checking out likely looking snook ground. The encounters we had been experiencing so far had us singing Randy’s favorite tune, It’s Nothin’ but snook for me. We were thirsty for more and we actually had a game going that seems to be working.
So we studied the chart and began poking into likely looking haunts. We found our share of unproductive water but still managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat every now and then. Just enough, leading us to believe we’re on the right track but maybe at the wrong station.
It could not have been a more beautiful day, just like the others, with no other anglers to compete with. As a matter of fact the only other boats we saw actually fishing were guides with customers looking to fish were we already were. That made us feel like we were sniffing around in good water.
At one point around mid-day we heard an odd sound that kept getting louder. It turned out to be a mega flock of swallows that covered the sky as far as you could see. Many flew in a choreographed swallow dance you might see on a nature show. You just stop everything with your mouth flopped open in awe. Very cool stuff if I must say.
So we pressed on knowing at the end of this track is a station where we saw a very big redfish the other day laid-up on the edge of a channel at low tide and it wasn’t alone. The kind of fish you hope you might bump into again. The stars were lining back up for another go at that very area now not far from where we were.
Before that could happen we still had a bit of good water to try while the tide was still moving. There were the usual participates, ladyfish, jacks, and snapper. Then a couple of 4 foot sharks showed up to join in on the bounty and things got interesting real fast ending when Steve’s lure showing up with just the head of a ladyfish left. Like I said “Everyone is a bit lower on the totem pole than someone else.” You begin to understand why everyone is a little jumpy.
We eventually rounded the corner were we would conduct our last hunt of the day. Everything was perfect when I made a cast along an edge out ahead of the boat. Steve's comment was “ There she is beside that branch, she just moved out.” Before the out was finished she exploded on my jerk bait right at the rod tip and missed. I now knew big snook often immediately return to their original point of ambush. Randy’s tip # 10. I’d been listening. A flick of the rod tip and the jerk bait landed back by the branch. The blow-up was bigger than before and this time the deal was sealed. Before I knew it she was jumping on one side of the boat while I was on the other. I don’t mean to let the cat out of the bag but chaos almost always enters into the equation when big aggressive fish show up. You can’t react fast enough. You only hope it goes well as you attempt to manage the situation the best way you know how. Things eventually went my way and a grip and grin moment ended my day. I turned her loose, gabbed the little brown bag to bring me back around then gladly offered Steve the bow.
It goes without saying how things went around the campsite on our final night. We weren’t the only one with fresh fish stories. Randy had zeroed in on a snook banquet. I’ll only say he’s been playing this game for some time and it had gone very well. You end up waking in the middle of the night with a big smile plastered across your face. You know it would be nice to get more sleep but you can’t stop thinking about what might be in store tomorrow.
Randy is packed and ready for the trip out bright and early. He had family obligations that evening and an early departure would allow him enough time to check in on a couple old, super secret spots on the way out. One of course would be a spot where he had the biggest snook of his career almost in the boat. You don’t blow by a spot like that.
We on the other hand decided we had some time to spare so we’ll break camp then fish for a while before the twenty-five mile trip out. We visited some prime snook water but found none. The consolation prize was two nice redfish, which tend to hangout around snook water. Happy with the week we bailed before the tide fell below the no return point. The final chapter in this year’s learning curve was we almost beat the low tide in Chokoloskee Bay that met us upon our return. We only had to go at idle speed across shallow water for a mile instead of three.
We hope you enjoyed this account of our Everglades camping trip. If you are interested in seeing more photos of the trip click on the link below
We also put together a video of the trip. Click on the link below to have a look.
2012 - Year in Review
2012 was an extraordinary year in the Moosehead Lake Region in many ways. Before the open water fishing season got underway the Maine Supreme Court upheld LURC’s decision to approve the Plum Creek Plan. Although their development plans will take years to engineer the historic conservation component that protected nearly 400,000 acres from development became permanent. This enormous conservation plan protects the backcountry we love and guaranties public access and traditional uses. This is a monumental event that connects to nearly a million acres already in conservation. Quite Fabulous!!
With the extremely mild winter ice left the north country much earlier than normal.
By mid-April there was open water everywhere and smelt runs began a week early. We took advantage of some early season windows of opportunity and saw some of the finest brook trout fishing of the season. Below is a link to our early season video.
The early mild weather and no run-off had everyone worried good fishing was not going to hold-up but spring conditions returned and May was dominated by gray skies and plenty of rain filling the rivers with fish eager to chase streamers and dine on eggs being laid by suckers on their spring spawning run. The salmon fishing was about as good as it gets. We kept the video camera running and caught a lot of the early action.
We did our share of prime time smallmouth fishing and found some beasts eager to slam our top water bugs.
Mayflies began hatching in late May followed by the mega caddis hatches and surface fishing was productive and predictable. The fishing was great and it was dry flies all day long.
Summer weather was fabulous and fishing slowed. Our fisheries biologists conducted their East Outlet fish ladder survey as trout and salmon exited the river in search of the cooler water in the depths of the lake. Our camera was there to capture some of the beautiful fish in the ladder.
Although September has become our newest summer month fall fishing didn’t disappoint anyone. Returning fish in all the rivers were bigger than anyone remembers and in great shape.
October on the East Outlet was fabulous with great water levels for waders and lots of fish for everyone.
Now that November is here about the only game in town is the upper stretch of the East Outlet from the Dam to the yellow posts at the Beach Pool. In years past both trout and salmon remain in the river and good fishing seems to hold up till about mid-December when they return to the lakes and go back to feeding on smelt.
This will be our final post from HQ in Greenville. We will soon be heading to our winter fishing camp in Florida and will start reporting about the fishing from the 10,000 Island and Everglades National Park. We’ll be shooting a lot of video this winter to share with everyone.
Our thanks to everyone for another great season.
Lauri Boucher is our star fisherman of this fall. She has been reeking havoc on the East Outlet salmon. Laurie and her husband Rich are official members of the Hoover Vacuum Team. The photo above is just one of many she hauled in the other day on the East Outlet. Ask Laurie and she'll tell you late season fishing can have some fine rewards.
Although most rivers are closed at this time the East & West Outlets of the Kennebec remain open. There are still plenty of fish to be caught and I must say the quality of the salmon in the East Outlet could not be any better.
The river is full of fish and with water flows up in the last couple of days there should be more fish in the river within a couple of days.
We've been catching fish with a variety of flies and methods. There are fish out there that are willing to chase a streamer and a long line and aggressive retrieve seems to work the best. Make'em chase it!!
For the fish that are sick of chasing streamers, nymphing along eddy lines has been producing some beauties. Smaller nymphs size 14-18 are working better than bigger ones. If I only had one it would be a pheasant tail but we've been catching'em on lots of others as well.
Swinging soft hackle wets at the tail ends of the pools also appeals to fish. Fish'em slow and patiently.
The one thing that seems to be the most consistent in regards to all methods is there isn't one fly that seems to work very long no matter which method you're using. My best advise is, if you catch a fish on a fly change it because I bet you'll have a hard time catching another one on it. I can't count the days we didn't catch two fish on the same fly. I'm not saying it won't happen. What I am implying is it usually takes a lot of different flies to catch any amount of fish this time of season. If a flies isn't working change it.
Have a great October on the water.
All smiles on the East Outlet
The proof is in the net. Rich and Laurie Boucher had a fine day of fall fishing conditions on the East Outlet of the Kennebec this September 6th, just a couple of days after the river got a shot of water. The 19" salmon in the photo is just one of many salmon we caught plus a couple of brookies. We found fish in all the right places throughout the river.
Water has been running on the Roach and the East Outlet for about a week now and will start flowing on the Moose before long.
Fall streamer patterns are always a good choice but nynphing and swinging soft hackle wet flies also work well.
With night time temperatures predicted to be in the high 30's the next couple of nights conditions will only get better.
Fall is Here!!!
Well, we have finally got what we have been looking for over the past few weeks....water!! The fall flows have begun at most of the dams so this should mean plenty of fresh fish entering the rivers as we speak! Overnight we also saw well over 2 inches of rain fall, and this is even better news. The East Outlet has bumped up to 2000 cfs, this is a great number for pulling fish into the river and hopefully this flow can remain at that level to continue to bring fish in throughout the month.
The Roach river has seen its annual fall bump and is currently running at 200cfs, which while not a ton of water it should be enough to start things up. We are also expecting another water bump up on the Roach sometime later in the month. The Moose has not seen water yet, typically the Moose will see water levels come up next week. What we are really looking to see right now are new, bright chrome, fresh fish chasing streamers. This will let us know that the spawning fish have returned for the fall and the biggest fish of the year are entering the rivers.
Fall is Near!!
We are so close to escaping the dog days of summer, this morning it was a whopping 45 degrees out, perfect weather to start bringing down those water temperatures. While most of the water in the area is fairly low this week, everything will change with the approach of Labor Day. Water levels are average to good in most bodies of water around the area, and we will be expecting our normal increases of water at all the dams. This should begin the day after Labor Day give or take. An email from our biologist let us know the Roach River will be increased for the current flow of 80 cfs to 200 cfs on Sept. 4th. This is the scenario we have waited all summer for.
If you follow the fishing report you know that we need increased water flows combined with decreasing water temperatures, the magic recipe for great fall fishing. The higher flows in early September are usually enough to bring the initial round of spawning fish into the rivers, but the key is cooling water temps to keep fish coming! The first fall run of fish will usually feature chrome silver females and the beginning of the colorful hooked jawed male salmon. This early round of fish can be quite aggressive when all you need is a Montreal Whore or a Grey Ghost all day. As the month of September moves along the fish can become more difficult to catch so using your bag of tricks will come in handy. Nymphing is always good in the fall, as are wet flies, and even different stuff like an odd ball streamer in the bottom of the fly box will often prove itself useful.
The flow of water can also affect things. Last year we had ridiculous amounts of water and it was sinking lines throughout the month. Sinking lines or at least sink-tips are a necessity in the fall.
So it's time to lay plans for fall fishing. It's our favorite time of season. The fabulous colors of fall are not that far away and the biggest fish of the season are going to start showing up.
Check out our latest video "Eagles Feeding"
Hot Fun in the Summertime
Well its the first week of August and so far the fishing has been very respectable! Typically this time of year we can see our slowest fishing. But so far that's not the case. Fishing has been steady to good over the past week. That being said, fishing in August is rarely easy, this is a great time to really hone your skills. We are dealing with opportunistic feeding fish, I can't say how many times you can pass a fly over the same spot and on the 41st cast....bang! Rarely will a fish in the summer come back a second time to that fly so both hook set, and line management are absolutely crucial. As far as fly selection goes the story remains the same, Big stimulators in a variety of colors, small caddis in a variety of shapes and sizes. Stone fly shucks have been plastered all around the banks of the river so if nymphing is your game golden and black stone nymphs should produce. The good news is that this is usually the week that the water temps will peak out and we will soon be seeing the gradual cool down. Looks like the area will see some rain this weekend , which would be fantastic! A couple of good storms in the next few weeks and we will be locked and loaded for the upcoming fall fishing!!
East Outlet vs. West Branch
In last weeks fishing report we discussed the fish ladder in the East Outlet and how fish leave the river in search of cooler water and smelts but, we didn't talk about what happens at the West Branch of the Penobscot. These are two very different water systems. While the East Outlet has a more migratory population of fish the West Branch is in fact quite opposite! Fish in the West Branch are river fish, what does this mean? There is no fish ladder at the Rip dam and there is also not a body of water for fish to retreat to in the heat of the summer, this is good. Fish in the Penobscot are forced to stay in the river, and eat...insects! This is what makes the Penobscot such a wonderful summertime fishery. While summertime in the outlet can be a day full of weighted nymphs and indicator rigs, a day on the Penobscot in the summer can be 100 percent dry fly fishing. The Penobscot is a true tailwater, it is a bottom release dam which allows cooler water to enter the river, while the water is still on the warmer side it will always be slightly cooler than the East Outlet. What this means is that insect activity can continue right through the dog days of summer, and when the fish can't escape it means they need to focus on feeding. Fishing in the West Branch has remained quite active. Fish will rise to caddis and stonefly imitations, emergers, and even streamers. This season we are seeing a lot of fat and healthy fish throughout the West Branch. Since today is the first of August it means the countdown is on to everyone's favorite time of year...the fall. In the next couple weeks we will start discussing the difference in fall fishing in regards to these two very different rivers.
We also have another video up "Caddis Season On the East Outlet" Click on the link below and join us during prime caddis season.
East Outlet Fish Ladder Study conducted by Inland Fisheries & Wildlife Department
You may recall I mentioned in an earlier "Fishing Report" that our local fisheries biologists would be conducting a study of the fish using the fish ladder at the East Outlet dam. The study has been going on for a long time and every few years our biologists monitor the passage of fish through the ladder during the same period of time starting in mid-June till the beginning of August. The ladder is tended every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during that period.
Once fish enter the fish ladder attempting to enter Moosehead Lake they are captured in the final chamber where they can be netted for a close-up examination.
Each fish is checked for scares left behind from fishermen’s hooks, examined for any missing fins that had been clipped prior to stocking or are wild born fish with all their fins. The highest percent of salmon in the system are of the wild variety.
Salmon are rarely stocked directly into the river but are put into Moosehead at Greenville and in Rockwood. Some are also stocked directly into Indian Pond. They clip a different fin each year so when a missing fin is observed they can determine what year and where that fish was stocked. It’s fascinating stuff especially when they handle a salmon that was put in Moosehead this spring, then somehow found it’s way to the East Outlet Dam and ended up in the river, hung out there, then entered the ladder in an attempt to get back into the lake and start feeding on smelt in the deeper, colder water of the lake. They have observed salmon originally stocked in Indian Pond then caught years later in Northeast Carry at the northern most end of Moosehead Lake. Who would have thought?
This year In particular the biologists are looking for young wild salmon that were born in the river last year. They stay in the river their first year feeding on insects till the second summer then move into Moosehead to start feeding on smelt. Something in nature tells these young fish insects aren’t enough any more so they head for Moosehead or drop back into Indian Pond in search of colder water and a high protein diet of smelt. If the number of young, wild fish add up to what they have seen in the past it will be a good indication natural reproduction in the river is holding up.
Migration of landlocked salmon and brookies into the lake appears to revolve around water temperature of the river. As the water warms throughout the season, fish start to migrate to the lake. The closer the temperature get to 70 degrees the higher the fish count. Every fish doesn’t leave the river but it becomes obvious there are fewer fish in the river now than were earlier in the season. As a matter of fact the biologists have looked at close to 1000 fish to date. Once the fish have been checked they are put into the lake above the dam where they were headed for anyway. When I asked how many fish end up back in the river then in the ladder again they said it was uncommon to see the same fish more than once. They clip a tiny piece of tail fin so they can tell if a fish is recaptured. It later grows back.
By comparing the results from this season with data collected during previous studies they can determine the overall health of the landlocked salmon and brook trout fishery in the East Outlet. I’ll post the results of their study once the final figures are in. It’s always interesting. The more you know the more you understand how an ecosystem operates.
I joined the guys yesterday while they tended the ladder and observed some very good looking, healthy fish. I took the video camera along and filmed the entire process. You can find our latest video about the study by clicking on this link.
We hope you enjoy it.
Our "Caddis Season on the East Outlet" video is also up at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0prAAHPzcOw
Wounded Warriors spend a week on Moosehead Lake
Earlier in July we had the great honor of guiding a group of 5 active duty soldiers from Walter Reed Military Hospital. We got to spend three days with the guys fishing the West Branch of the Penobscot, Indian Pond and the East Outlet. The week long trip was sponsored by the Wounded Warrior Outings foundation headed up by Ron Raboud.
John Holyoke, outdoor writer for the Bangor Daily News spent the day with us on an East Outlet drift trip and wrote a wonderful piece about their experiences while staying at Mt. Kineo on Moosehead Lake.
Here is a link to John's story and more photos of the trip.
The hot and humid days of summer have finally reached us here up at Moosehead. Although the temperatures aren't quite as warm as further south, we are still seeing temps in the upper 80's!!! The water at the east outlet has remained relatively high and this is definately a blessing as the bigger water will help to keep fish in the river. As far as insects go, its still the same, big stimulators and attractor patterns with a healthy variety of caddis in all shapes and sizes. Nymphing can be a very effective way to get to the fish in the deeper pools. We say it this time of season every summer "It's the time of year to really bring your whole bag of tricks and begin digging deep into the fly box." Rarely will there be many "magic bullets" this time of year, so if something is not working...change it. This time of year we are looking for an opportunistic fish that just sees something that he wants. Usually you will have one chance to set the hook. Drifting a fly back over an area where you missed a fish will generally not get a second look. Line management is key, you need to make sure you don't leave yourself out of position to make a solid hook set.
The fishing remains good at the West Branch, especially in the summer months as cooler water from the bottom release dam ensure a much more active fishery.
Stones and Caddis!
While the "blanket" caddis hatches of early June have subsided we have begun to transition quite nicely to our summer stonefly hatches. Stonefly nymphs and stonefly adults are prolific this time of year, however what is even more exciting is that "anything goes" season is here. That means the biggest, weirdest, ugliest looking creation in your fly box can peak the interest of an unsuspecting fish. A common way of fishing this time of year is to fish two dry flies, perhaps a big stimulator or tarantula as your first fly and run a smaller caddis type fly about 18inches behind. This way you can fish a smaller than usual fly in the back because you have a bigger "indicator" fly up front!
We currently have been dealing with some rather wet conditions, to say the least so the river is running at 3300cfs as of noon today. Most likely the river will stay on the high side for at least a few days. There is always a bright side at the end of this tunnel though...new fish in the river! Usually this time of season the water is low and beginning to really warm up. This typically triggers the respectable fish in the river to look for an exit strategy. Fish will leave the river via the fish ladder into Moosehead Lake or travel downstream and exit into Indian Pond. For example this past Monday the crew at the Department of Inland Fisheries counted 161 fish in the ladder! Generally the first fish to leave are the biggest fish, but with a high flow of water coming into the river we should see additional fish entering the river from Moosehead and Indian. Flows at the West Branch remain fairly steady from about 2000-3000 cfs. The West Branch can always make for a great plan b when the Kennebec is running to high. Fishing has stayed pretty consistent at the Penobscot recently. Big stoneflies are hatching daily along with the intermittent caddis hatches.
The biggest fishing news story will be the annual Green Drake or Hex hatch. This should be coming to a pond near you any day now. Green Drake hatches have been reported all around the area ponds even with some sighting on Moosehead. Keep in mind this is an evening hatch so don't go looking for dry fly action until you have seen the last light of day. Fishing nymphs like maple syrups and woolly buggers with sink tip lines can do the trick while your waiting for the hatch to begin!
Our latest video "Smallmouth Week in the Moosehead Region" is now posted Here is the link
Everything is Where it Should Be
The photo above of John Paul, age 10, with one of the beautiful salmon he caught while fishing with his dad on a guided trip with Josh. Nothing but smiles, rumor has it he boated eight fish on their Fly Fishing 101 trip on the East Outlet.
Surprise surprise! It is June 14th and Caddis are hatching in big numbers and the water levels are right where they should be. Caddis have really begun to show in the past week. Multitudes of every size, shape, and color at seemingly anytime of day. While typically morning and evening are prime times don't give up on the afternoon. You can expect to see caddis anytime of day. The early days of the hatch are over so you might need to be a little more imaginative than just a size 14, green elk hair caddis!
Nymphs are still fishing well and even streamers are still making some noise out there as well. Water temps and water levels are just about perfect. The Outlet is flowing at about 1900cfs. We should expect that to continue throughout the weekend. With no significant rain in the forecast it looks like that flow should slowly get lower, they generally will keep the river around 1200-1300cfs this time of year.
The West Branch of the Penobscot is also fishing quite well. River levels are a bit on the high side for wading at 3100cfs but the river is very fishable from the comfort of a drift boat. Same story up there as well. Caddis Caddis and more Caddis.
As a result of the last round of rain the Roach River finally got a big run of water. It went to 600 cfs for a few days bringing in a nice run of salmon. The flow is now back to 150 cfs and the upper pools will now have fish all summer.
The ponds are fishing extremely well right now. With fairly cool weather for the past month the water temps are still in the good zone. Expect fishing to be best in the morning and evening and keep on the look out, cause the green drake hatch is right around the corner. Hard to believe there is only two weeks till July! Well this is the fishing report we have been waiting for!! Drop everything and get up here! The rivers are on fire!!!
We have a new video clip posted. Just click on the photo at the top of our home page and join us as we key in on the sucker spawn on the East Outlet.
The Caddis are Coming!
May 31Well the first chapter of our fishing season is about to end and a very exciting chapter is ahead...dry flies!! Right now we are in a little bit of a transition time, the fish aren't quite sure if they're ready to look up for food, or to keep their heads down. Just when we think its time to put away the sink-tip lines and streamers and bring out the dry fly box the fish can make us change our tune. Currently we are seeing a great deal of hatching on the outlet, varieties of mayflies and even a few caddis the other day. However, we are not finding many fish rising to take these offerings. Bright sunny days and wind have probably kept the fish down but overall cool water temperatures are the culprit, and cool temps at the beginning of June are certainly not a bad thing! Nymphing is providing the most consistent fishing right now, pheasant tails, hares ear, and any kind of caddis larva or pupa should work. If we don't see fish feeding on the surface you can bet that they're getting steady meals underneath. Streamers can still work, but typically as May transitions to June streamers will become less and less effective. If you scroll down the "Fishing Report" take a look at reports from the past few years, if you check out each June you will find one thing in common, the "drop everything and get up here", or "Caddis Caddis Caddis" report is always between June 3rd and the 15th. So prepare the dry flies for battle! We will see you on the river.
Hendricksons, Red Quillls & Fish, Fish, Fish!!!
May 25The results are in. The survey says the mayfly hatches are in full swing. It doesn't really matter where you are, all the fish are now looking up.
Ponds are in full bloom. Show-up on any remote trout pond with a hand full of Adams, Blue Dunns, and Black Gnats and you're "In Like Flint". The hatches are mid-day and with water temps still very trout friendly, fish are cruising the surface gobbling up lots of tiny emerging morsels on the surface. It's the time of season when you will find feeding fish moving along a shoreline gobbling up bug after bug. All you have to do is lay the right fly out ahead of him and he'll eat it.
The rivers are fishing extremely well. Brookies are being caught that are measured in the pounds not inches and the salmon fishing has been off the scale. We had a two boat trip to the West Branch a few days ago and boated over 70 salmon and brookies. Streamers and nymphs in the morning and dries all afternoon.
Have a peek at our "Photo" page for some of this season's highlights on and around the water.
This is that time of season when you can set your watch by the hatches. It really doesn't get any better.
May 19If May is any indication, we are looking to have a fantastic fishing season! The water levels have come down across the area, all the rivers are at wadable levels and the fishing is great. This is definately one of our favorite times of year the to fish. With smelt runs over but water temperatures still hovering around the 50 degree mark almost all techniques for fly fishing can be used. From sinking lines and streamers, nymphing, and even dry flies can all be effective depending on the weather, time of day, etc. This time of year most people would pound the water with streamer flies but this is not quite necessary this year. Warm weather this weekend and throughout next week combined with the lower water levels can turn some of the fish off to streamers. Bright sunny days will require some heavy nymphing, as fish tend to hold on bottom. The early season mayflies have really been coming off in the past few days so dry fly season should be right around the corner. Keep in mind, especially on the river, early season fish have a tendency to ignore the initial Blue Wing Olive mayfly offerings so be prepared to be a flexible! Its amazing looking back at previous year's fishing reports how surprisingly consistent our insects hatch and fish behave. Like clockwork the mayflies begin hatching in the last week of May, and the first week in June will see our first caddis sightings.
For now we are swinging streamers and bouncing the bottom with nymphs in the a.m. then switching to dries in the p.m.
Don't overlook the many trout ponds in the region. The great weather of the last few days has started the mayfly hatches across the board. Hatches of Blue Dunns and Hendricksons will start around noon and last all afternoon. What could be better!!!
Fly fishing season has truly begun. Stop in and say Hi on your way by!! Life begins again.
All the stars are lining up.
May 3rdAfter the false start that had everyone excited about some very early season fishing a week or so ago April managed to returned with rainy days and typical daytime temperatures in the low 40's. We saw snow flurries a couple of times.
What the return of traditional April weather did was stall the premature advance of a shiny new fishing season. Not a bad thing at all.
Like everywhere in the northeast we were faced with low lake levels and rivers at minimum water flows. Smelt runs had started a week or more ahead of time.
That has now all changed. The lakes are full. There is lots of water flowing in most of the rivers which are presently filling with fish as I type this report. Water temps are staying in the mid 40's, the smelt run is going on in the Moose River right on schedule and the fish are co-operating quite nicely. There are reports of a 16 lb lake trout taking at the mouth and lots of nice salmon coughing up smelt when they come on board. Many are being taken on top while trolling traditional streamers especially ones with orange beads. The Moose should be filled with fish all the way to the day within the week.
The East Outlet water levels have gone from 500 cfs to 2800 cfs in the last few days. This will insure a good run of fish throughout that river. They will come from Indian Pond and also drop out of Moosehead with the high flow.
With no measurable rain predicted in the near future the water flow should start to drop before long. Get ready for some wonderful river fishing.
Don't overlook the ponds. They are already fishing very well with some early season surface business already starting.
Stop by the shop and say hi on your way through. It's a brand new season and we are Celebrating our 30th Year of "Serving the Serious Fisherman".
We have the NEW Orvis Clearwater rods and reels in plus the all New Orvis Hydros 3D fly lines.
If you get a chance go back to our home page and click on the photo at the top of the page. It's now a link to our videos and slide shows. We plan on posting regular videos throughout the season. In the current video we were taking advantage of the great early season weather before April returned.
Ever have a peek into a fish's mouth?
April 23rd, 2012
The ice has officially left the region, the smelts are running all over the place, and life as we love it is slowly returning to the north country.
There is no doubt this season has started earlier than most but we are not all that far ahead in this region.
Smelt runs have started but only a week ahead of most years.
Fields and lawns haven't greened up just yet and the trees still refuse to bud out, at least for now. We saw snow mixed in with the all day rain today. Everything is currently in a holding pattern except the fishing.
It has certainly started and the stars are beginning to line up nicely. We've already dipped limits of smelt, had midnight smelt fries, and landed many larger than average, football brookies.
It's text book fishing. Find the smelt and you'll find fish. We've always said during this time of season 90% of the fish in a large body of water are jammed into a few acres feasting at one of the biggest banquet halls of a fish's year.
For now it looks like our rivers are going to be very wadeable. Wherever the river meets a lake, smelt patterns or on the menu but upriver nymphs are still the main course. Have a look at the photo above and you'll see what the salmon were coughing up before the hatches started.
We will be reopening for the season on Friday, April 27th and open everyday till October. We always look forward to the start of another season.
April 1st at the mouth of the Roach River
Plenty of open water but no fish just yet.
The first report of fishing this season was at the mouth of the Roach River. There was lots of open water but do to a low, cold river flow and no smelt run, fish have not showed up just yet.
Until the smelt start running fish stay well off the mouth of the streams and rivers where smelt are now gathered waiting for warmer water temps.
If you ask 10 different people what they believe sparks a smelt run you'll get 7 different answers. The moon has to be out, the night has to be cloudy, the run-off needs to be over, or the peepers need to be peeping.
The rule we have always followed regarding smelt runs is stream water temperature. Take a thermometer with you and stick it in the smelt stream. If it is 40 degrees or under, make a few casts to confirm the water is still too cold, enjoy the sunset, and head home. Over 40 degrees and smelt should start running. Gamefish will be close by enjoying an early season, high protein feast.
Our trout ponds also still have a ways to go before iceout occurs and fishing really gets going. They need more warm weather and a good hard rain to get those inlets flowing.
It won't be long. Until then do a rain dance every chance you get.
Maine Guide Fly Shop heads for the Everglades
Grand plans; January 2012
Preparations for a canoe trip deep into the backcountry takes a lot of research and planning. We have done this a hundred times, in many different places, so what to bring for clothes, camping gear, and food is easy. The lists are a click away. It’s the fish that cause the sleepless nights. The Everglades National Park canoe trail stretches 100 miles from Chokoloskee to Flamingo. There are 1.5 million acres involved with countless bays the size of lakes throughout. Like water everywhere 90% of the fish will be in 10% of that water. Introduce daily tides and being in the right place at the right time becomes a major consideration and key component to success.
There is a marked main trail the entire way that will be quite easy to find and follow. Leave the main route and you are on your own. We sport around in a 20’ Old Town Tripper XL canoe with a 2.5 h.p. kicker so wind direction and velocity is always an issue on open bays. We know we will likely have to spend a lot of time off the main trail so a chart in your lap, a compass, and a GPS become your close friends. You can get good and lost if you go off course and loose your way.
We had all our plans laid to put in at the southern end of the park in Flamingo. We launched there last year and planned to go much further back this time around. Hell’s Bay would be our first campsite then we would venture deeper into the backcountry in search of the prize fish, snook. Their winter habitat is about as far back as you can get. They have become my favorite Florida fish because they are very wary, finicky about when and what they will eat, and these days very hard to find. Oh, they get very big, jump eye high, and tear up tackle. Everything you want in a fish. There should be lots of spotted sea trout, jacks, mangrove snapper, and ladyfish that are usually easy to find and catch. Snook are just the opposite and currently have a strict catch and release policy in place. Their hiding spots are guarded secrets for very good reasons.
As a last thought I called the ranger station in Flamingo hoping for a fishing report from the Hell’s Bay region. I was put in touch with the biologist currently interviewing fishermen at the launch in Flamingo. There were no encouraging words regarding snook catches from Hell’s Bay. He suggested we concentrate in the Lostmans River region, 40 miles in. The reports from the guides indicated snook were being found in that particular neighborhood. The best way into Lostmans is from Chokoloskee at the northern access to the park. New charts were purchased and our plan was finally in place. We now have it narrowed down to 10,000 acres of backcountry. We’ve got 5 days and enough dry goods for 7, just in case.
We start our day in line at Everglades Headquarters in Chokoloskee. Campsites in the park cannot be reserved until 24 hours before your actual trip and it needs to be done in person. As suggested in their planning guide we show-up with a plan A and a plan B. We are third in line and we have been told which sites have already been spoken for and when. Things begin looking good for our plans with only one change. We’ll spend two nights on two different chickee platforms and be on a ground site for two nights at Lostmans Five. Before we go on our way the ranger gives all in attendance the basic do’s and don’ts then goes over their check list. “Remember you need one gallon of water per person per day.” He informs us, “ You are on our own and you need to file a float plan with next of kin just in case. Here’s the number they will call if we need to send out the hounds.” His last words were for those camping at ground sites. “Don’t feed the alligators and the raccoons will go to great lengths to get into your fresh water supply. There are no fresh water faucets for refills. Have a great time.”
We had already loaded the canoe in our driveway just to be sure everything had a home and that the center of gravity was where it belonged .So our launch was calculated and went extremely smooth. This was especially apparent as we watched other parties who hadn’t done much Proper Prior Planning having issues with where all their gear was all going to go. I throttled our magnum 2.5 h.p. Suzuki and we were on our way. We do have to put 30-40 miles of backcountry behind us before we pitch the tent at our first campsite, Lostmans Five, our only ground site.
Our travels would take us to the east and to the south into a predicted easterly wind of 10 to 15 mph, gusting to 20. We know we’ll have to avoid crossing the many 1-3 mile wide bays and find our way alone the lean and away from the nicely marked trail. A two man crew makes travel quite simple. Steve is navigator and I’m responsible for keeping as much sea out of the canoe as possible. It was a long days travel with little fishing time but it only took a sponge now and then to keep things dry. It was a beautiful journey but I kept thinking it’s like going from Greenville to the Golden road in a canoe. “ Hey Steve we must be at least half way by now, right?”
We passed a number of paddle power parties. I detected motor envy in a few eyes and here comes another combustible in others. Then just before we arrive at Lostmans Five a powerboat roared up along side. “Where you headed” were their first words. After we stated our destination their reply was “ Sorry to have to barge in but we fried our prop trying to get to our designated site. We’re running on the spare and had to switch to Lostmans. Just shove our shit out of the way. We’ll be back before dark.” Then their 90 hp roared them away.
Our first impression was not what you might call …….. At that particular point in time we had no idea how lucky we would become as a result of their misfortune.
We hit land in short order, preformed a hasty campsite detail, threw our tackle in the canoe and went looking for dinner. A bit of positive thinking had put fish on all but one night’s menu. It didn’t take long before just enough spotted sea trout were flopping in the bottom of the boat and we were heading in to dine on very fresh fish.
We were introduced to our neighbors over happy hour last evening. They were the best of friends and have been camping and fishing in Everglades National Park for 35 years. They started camping in the Everglades long before it was ever considered as a park and when there were still cabins scattered around the backcountry. What a wealth of knowledge and the stories kept us entertained all evening. We were so fortunate to meet these guys, ages 71 & 73, who helped us tremendously. They were hardcore snook fishermen who had seen it all and their knowledge of the area was invaluable.
We planned our day with advice from our neighbors, packed a lunch and headed south along the trail. We had no problem finding fish anywhere we found current. It’s a simple equation. The tide comes in, then the tide goes out. Fish gather along eddy lines down current of any point and around thoroughfares between bays. Sink-tip lines and baitfish imitations swung crosscurrent found lots of feeding fish. We routinely caught sea trout up to 20”, jacks, ladyfish, and mangrove snapper.
One behavioral pattern that came to light in our travels regarded the alligators, and there were plenty who loved to sun themselves on shallow points of land facing the sun. Imagine traveling tight to the shoreline, rounding a bend, and seeing an explosion of water because you spooked a 10’, 400 lb gator. It makes your heart skip a bunch of beats. Backcountry gators are typically very shy, usually slipping into the water and disappear well before you get very close. When you accidently spook one and it blows out in shallow water you begin altering your flight path to give sunny points a nice wide birth so no one gets spooked especially us.
During the high sun of mid-day we found a quiet, out of the way bay with hardly a foot of water depth. It didn’t take long before we caught a small snook right where he was supposed to be and found redfish stocking the shoreline looking for a meal. We spooked a few at first, then slowed down our pace and had a number of shots at others. Sight fishing is a tough game with very spooky fish as the prize. If you make a perfect cast, two to three feet in front of a moving fish, they either spook or attack. We missed one by setting the hook too soon, hooked another and lost it, then hooked and landed a nice redfish. This stuff makes your day. The odds of pulling it off are stacked heavily against you. It boils down to good teamwork. Very rewarding.
We returned to our campsite after a great day in the Everglades with enough spotted sea trout for a fry and a double batch of ceviche to share with our neighbors. Bill and Joe, once again, kept us entertained with lots of Everglades tales. We asked them how come there were no raccoons? “We were warned by the park rangers they could be a real issue.” Their comment was “ We haven’t seen a rodent around here in 15 years. The BIG snakes ate them all. There used to be lots of mice and hogs too.”
“What about the BIG snakes?”
“It’s winter, you never see snakes during the winter it's too cold. We don’t come here in the heat of summer when they are out and about. The bugs then are way worse than any big snake.”
We made sure our tent zipper was buttoned very tight when we called it a day.
Moving day for us. We’re heading another 10 miles south to a chickee platform at Roger’s River Bay. Our plan is to fish our way well off the main trail through a maze of back tidal creeks. But first we have to pack. Bill and Joe decided it best to hang around for an extra cup of java. They really wanted to see how in hell we were going to get all our stuff into one canoe. When we finally got everything in place with plenty of freeboard remaining the boys took a couple pictures, we shook hands, and they bid ado with a few well chosen parting words “ We have been coming out here for a long time and we have never met another canoe party as well prepared or equipped as you boys.You do have it figured out. We usually have to give'em food to get’em by because they planned on eating lots of fish they don’t know how to catch.” I don’t know if I have ever been bestowed a nicer vote of confidence.
We spent our travel day snook hunting. The boys told us the snook were very hard to find these days. There had been a historic cold spell a few winters back that took it’s toll on many tropical species of fish, especially the snook. They knew a lot of good spots and were having a hard time of it themselves, or so they said.
We soon found their advice to be very true. We fished lots of prime snook holding water along the way and came up short.
We arrived at our chickee platform in plenty of time to get set-up and finish the day fishing a spot the boys had suggested. Some days you get’em and some days you don’t.
As we enjoyed the end of the day on our chickee we spotted something coming around the far point. It became obvious it was headed our way. It turned out to be the local gator just looking for a handout. Since people clean fish there all the time, this big guy must come by to clean things up. He was quite shy before dark then he moved in for a few close-ups. Did you know their eyes glow in the beam of a flashlight? Oh, they don’t appear to fancy lettuce either. Good thing his domain is four feet below our home on stilts.
Dinner tonight will be spaghetti during a spectacular sunset over Rodgers River Bay. We saw only two other boats all day. Just right.
We’ll be heading north to the Sweetwater Bay chickee. We are over 40 miles in and need to cut the distance to Chokoloskee so we’ll have the entire last day to fish our way out. We planned our route over breakfast, deciding to again take the back, back way avoiding a predicted headwind and exploring the less traveled water. On our way in on day 1 we spotted a flats boat, sporting fly fishermen, working the back corner of an out of the way bay. We needed to have a closer look. It is on the way.
We had quite a distance to cover so we spent the better part of the day moving and only stopping to fish what we considered to be prime water. We were anchored in a small cut between bays catching a fish a cast. It was one of those ,put a BIG circle on the map, kind of spots. In the background we heard a powerboat for some time that kept getting closer, finally rounding the point towards us when it shut down. We heard “ SHIT someone’s there.” Then they spun around and roared away. Nice to know we are sniffing out the good spots. We are still in the middle of nowhere. The circle on our map got a big star beside it.
As we neared our destination at Sweetwater Bay, Steve spotted a small creek on the chart leading to a dead end bay. The water in the bay was gin clean with a mass of light green moss covering most of the surface, the likes of which we had not yet seen anywhere. It would suggest this was a spring water bay adding freshwater to the system. It was a magnificent little oasis in the middle of nowhere. Another circle on the chart now marks “More exploration needs to be done here.”
We arrived at our final night’s chickee platform tucked in the back corner of remote Sweetwater Bay. It’s a double site and we have a neighbor who is a lady on her own out here bird watching for a few days.
Set-up is easy and after a final sunset happy hour we dined on fresh mangrove snapper and stir fry veggies, very delicious.
We are both early risers. Watching the light come and a day begin never gets old. Our neighbor lady was already up, nourished, canoe loaded, and ready to shove off at first light. The weather radio predicted 10-15 mph eastern winds today. She had a good distance to cover and thought it wise to put many miles behind her before the wind showed up, a very wise choice. Her parting words as she shoved off were “There is no doubt you boys are having a great time. I truly enjoyed eves dropping last night as you recapped your journey. It’s hard to find two people these days that get along so well.” She soon vanished into the misty morning light in her solo canoe in search of her own tales.
We’ll finish our trip exploring more out of the way tidal creeks as we fish our way back to Chokoloskee. There will be a tail wind today so the seas will be behind us and traveling is going to be easy. We spent much of the day in the smaller water avoiding big bays whenever possible. Along one of the small creeks we came on to a calm, shallow bay that appeared perfect for sight fishing. We deployed the outriggers for stability, Steve hopped up on the front seat for better visibility, and we went into stealth mode. It didn’t take long before we spotted reds sneaking along the shallows. When the hunt was over Steve had landed a beautiful, fat, & happy red that didn’t see us coming. What a way to end a trip.
We arrived back in Chokoloskee before the sun set, loaded the gear in the buggy, fired up the phone to let our spouses know we survived and that all went well. On the drive home we began laying plans for our next trip into this wonderful place. We soon decided we need to stay longer plus we now know we can bring our flats boats instead of the canoe which translates into, we get to bring more stuff, perfect.
Here is the link to view the entire slide show
Stuff you never expect!!
December 10, 2011
There is nothing like seeing stuff in the wild for the first time. Most of the time you are expecting to see new sights. That's why your there. That's why it's called an adventure. But in every adventure into the wild there also comes surprises. Bonus stuff you never expected. New lessons to be learned no matter how many time you're been there and done that.
When we began to travel the coastal waters in Southwest Florida four years ago, we were, as always, in search of fish but also knew there could and would be surprises around any corner. Stuff you just can't imagine till it happens. And when you're fondly remembering a great trip it may be the big fish you remember but the one thing you remember most is that out of nowhere event.
The photo above of my good friend and fishing buddy, Ed Michaels, holding this beautiful sea turtle was one of those once in a lifetime experiences we'll never forget.
We were busily fishing for spotted sea trout along a tidal ripline in Everglades National Park. Fishing was good, they were right where they were supposed to be. Textbook fishing in a spot we had never been to before.
Well one fish doubled Ed's rod to the handle. We could only speculate what it could possibly be. Certainly not a sea trout. The very last thing we would have guessed was a turtle. What to hell was this creature doing in a ripline, we'll never know. It was a harmless hook-up in the rear flipper. They have extremely tough hide. We realized the turtle was going to have to come aboard in able to successfully extract the jig hook. Once the turtle was tired enough we were able to bring him on board and have a real close look. It was a beautiful wild creature, obviously old because of the huge barnacles dotted around it's shell. He soon revived, got his picture taken, them swam back to turtle land unharmed. Stuff you just could never expect. We always say it's not just about the fishing.
The fish are always the main object of our pursuits but there is a lot of bonus stuff that adds so much to a trip. Things you may not foresee come along and make your day.
To put it all into perspective, I had a customer some time ago reel up his line, put his rod down, and stopped fishing. After a bit I asked him " Is everything fine. You want to move? You need a new fly? How about a snack."
His reply was " Dan, I can't remember the last time I could look in every direction and not see one man made thing. If it's OK with you, I think I'm going to watch the wind blow through the leaves for a bit."
NEWS FLASH!! The East Outlet has finally come down to 1800 cfs!!!
October 12The East Outlet finally was dropped to 1800 cfs yesterday and is predicted to stay there at least through the weekend.
I need say no more than the river is full of salmon from end to the other.
We've been fishing it through the high water and I must say I can't remember when I have seen a nicer run of fish up to 20".
The state also stocked 500 13-15" brookie the beginning of the month. They are being very cooperative.
Try it all, streamer, nymphs or tiny dries. It sometimes takes ten different flies to catch 10 fish. It's just that time of season.
See you on the river.
The photo above is of Charlie McCarthy cradling a 20" male salmon caught a few days ago. I believe he was swinging a streamer.
He and friends were on a guided drift boat with guide Chad Cray and Dan. Way to go!!!!
If you are up this way fishing and need anything please call 207-695-2266.
Big Water...Big Fish
Well, we are still experiencing higher than average flows on the East Outlet, it is currently at 5900cfs. This is big time water. We have been running the river with the drift boats and managing to do quite well. The river is full of fish and with bigger water they are pushed into tighter spots. As the water continues to cool, this will bring another batch of fresh fish out of Indian Pond. For the wade fisherman this doesn't mean too much right now but this set up could really bring some fantastic fishing right through October. Remember the East Outlet is open throughout the year. Consult the law book for rule changes. Right now there are a large number of fish in the river that have not seen a fly or a fisherman all month!
The Roach River remains at an optimal flow right now, 240 cfs, this is ideal for both wading and for the fish as well. A lot of good reports have been coming from the Roach in the past couple of weeks. Things have been slower over the past few days with the bit of Indian summer that we have received so the water has warmed a little. According to the forecast it looks like we can see some of that nice cool weather over the next couple of days which would be a great way to end the open water fishing season.
As far as the shop goes it looks like we will be staying open the first few weeks in October. Most likely 9-5pm hours but give us a call on your way up just in case.
The Countdown Begins!
We are currently experiencing some high flows in the area right now, but we are hopeful that we will see some significant drops over the next few days. The Brassua Dam was lowered to 2900cfs today, which we see as a step in the right direction. The Roach River has seen a lot of water in the past week but is now at optimal levels and we can say that the river is " on fire", so if you find yourself in the Greenville area make a bee-line to Kokadjo and enjoy fall fishing at its finest.
If you are planning a trip in the next week or so, be prepared for heavy water flows. I would suggest full sinking line or sink tip at the very least. We are still drifting the east outlet and having success with large streamers as well as cone head streamers on sinking lines. During higher water fish will stack up in softer water. The edges of the river can be chocked full of fish. Nymphing is an essential method of fishing in high water as well. Many fish will be holding in deep eddies so finding a way to get flies to them is key. Beadhead nymphs like stoneflies, prince's and hares ear will usually work well.
Its Go Time !!!!
September 1 Fall has begun on the Roach River! While the area didn't see a deluge of rain as was predicted, we still got in the neighborhood of three inches. While most of the area river flows stayed stable the Roach River got pounded with a heavy release and lots of fresh fish in the river. Two days of flows in the 600 cfs range( which is big water on the roach) has brought huge numbers of fresh brook trout and salmon into the river. This is streamer fishing at its finest, catch it at the right time and place and you can do no wrong. All the classic streamer patterns should do the trick. Montreal Whores, Shufelts, and of course the Grey Ghost should do quite nicely. If the water is deep enough a sink tip line can also help a lot. As of today the flow in the Roach is 200cfs, this is ideal for bringing fish in as well as a very safe level for wading. The outlook for the month is to hold at the 200cfs level with periodic bump ups throughout the month. This should be a fantastic fall.
As far as the East Outlet goes, due to heavy rain and flooding further downriver flows have remained lower than most would think. As we have said Moosehead is brimming with water, so no concerns there. Typically the river will get bumped up sometime in the next week. Until then we should still consider the Kennebec as "summer" fishing. We have not yet had a heavy release of water therefore we have not seen a batch of new fish yet. On the bright side temps are really cooling off and we are seeing fall like weather, so fish are definately beginning to come around and feed more actively. If your fish the outlet you should still consider small dries, caddis, etc as well as nymphing. When you see the water levels rise then its time to bust out the streamers! If you're looking for a preview of fall fishing in our area check out our latest video on our facebook page!!
Fall is in the air!
If you have been following the water flows in the past couple of days you will have noticed that the levels have dropped, but there is no need to panic. As we have said before the area lakes and ponds have plenty of water and we should still be looking at excellent water flows through September. While the low water is not ideal it really can give you a chance to learn the river and scope out some great spots where fish could be holding in the future.
Fishing is still picking up as water temps are steadily dropping. We have already had a couple of cool nights and the leaves on the trees are not looking as green as they were a month ago. As for fly selection the same patterns are still working, small caddis, stimulators and soft hackle flies are catching fish. Pictured above is Nate with his very first landlocked salmon caught on a fly rod, he joined the 18 on 18 club as this was an 18" salmon caught on a #18 fly!
For Roach River addicts everything is on pace for a fantastic run of fall fish. The water releases from the dam are scheduled to begin on September 2nd and there is enough water in Roach Pond that that will continue through the month. Lowering water temps and raising water levels are always the key to fall fishing.
For now, its time to dig out the streamer box, sharpen the hooks and get ready for fall!! Make sure to check out Maine Guide Fly Shop on Facebook too!!
The worm is turning......
Our story this week begins with water temperatures...they're finally started down! For the past 4 weeks or so we have been dealing with water that has been well over 70 degrees. We are finally starting the turn around and seeing water in the 60's. If you look back at our fishing reports from this time last year, you will see that we weren't so lucky. Last year there was hot weather straight through August and worst of all there was no water in any of the lakes. This year we are setting up for a great fall fishing season! Already we are seeing many more active fish in the rivers and things will only get better. The key to fall fishing is a combination of events, lowering water temperatures and rising water levels, basically the opposite that we look for in the spring. Most fish are summering in the deeper waters of the lakes, chasing smelt and getting big. As the water cools and more water gets sent through the dams these fish will begin to migrate back into the rivers. Keep in mind, these fish have not been in the river, they have no idea what a caddis or a stonefly is. They eat other fish and become aggressive at doing so. This time of year our fly box will become heavily populated with streamer flies..and so should yours.
The good news this summer is that with plenty of rain we will have plenty of water to be released in the next few weeks. For example, last August docks were completely exposed along the shores of First Roach Pond, this year the pond is brimming with water. This will allow water flows to be increased into the Roach River at the beginning of September, last year we didn't get a release until September 15! This will be the same story across the area at the Kennebec, Moose, and Penobscot rivers. What this COULD mean is that barring any 90 degree heat waves, we should have fantastic fishing right through September.
As a quick reminder, remember that starting August 16 the rule is artificials and flies only on all the small streams and rivers, as well as fly fishing only on the Moose River below Brassua Dam and also on the West Branch of the Penobscot River below Seboomook Dam. Consult your law book for any special regulations that may go into effect on your favorite waters.
If you get a chance make sure you check us out on Facebook, we will be posting tons of new photos and videos from our trips this year!
NREC Annual Outing
All the smiling faces above are the result of NREC's (Natural Resource Education Center) Annual Indian Pond Outing. This year over 20 kids, ranging in age from 6-14 signed up for a day of fishing with Dan, our regional fisheries biologists, and local volunteers.
The day started with a fly casting demonstration and fly casting lessons by Dan then a total of six boats took the gang out on Indian Pond for a day of fishing lessons around the pond. Although fly fishing was on the agenda we did a lot of spin fishing as well. Everyone had a great time fishing with some very fine smallmouth caught. Everyone practiced catch and release so all fish were release unharmed.
My gang desperately wanted to keep the first big bass that came to the boat but after we talked at length about the benefits of catch and release, proper handling and, returned the first one, every other fish they caught was handle with great care, a photo was taken, and happily released unharmed. It was great to see.
You'll find more photos of my gang on our photo page.
Project Healing Waters 2011
Last week the Maine Guide Fly Shop took part in the annual Project Healing Waters outing! Project Healing Waters is a nationwide program, paired with Trout Unlimited, that provides fly fishing instruction for disabled veterans. This is a wonderful program that allows patients of Togus Veterans Hospital to spend a couple of days with us on the river. This year's trip we decided to spend our days on the West Branch of the Penobscot. The vets were greeted to the area by a home cooked meal provided by the Kokadjo Trading Post.
Day one for the vets began at Auntie M's in Greenville with an early morning breakfast, then it was off to the Golden Road for the ride to the Big Eddy campground. The weather was perfect, and the fishing was tough in the morning. A few fish were caught nymphing and on soft hackle flies but the dry fly was not the fishes favorite. The morning ended with a BBQ right at Big Eddy campground and then we were off and ready to catch fish! Fishing really picked up in the afternoon when fish began to look to the surface. We finished the day just above Big Ambejackmacamus Falls and headed back to Greenville. Day 1 ended for the vets with a wonderful dinner hosted by the Rod and Reel Cafe in Greenville.
For day 2 we decided to run the Horserace section of the West Branch, a beautiful section of river that flows into the Neswaudnahunk Deadwater. The day began with a delicious breakfast hosted by Kelly's Landing in Greenville, then we were off for the dusty drive to the river. Our patience from the day before was rewarded because day 2 was just an excellent day of fishing. Action was very good right in the morning and just got better and better as the day went on. Dry flies were the name of the game. Stimulators and tarantulas with smaller caddis droppers were extremely effective, nymphing, and even streamers were catching fish. Day 2 ended with a traditional cookout put on by the American Legion at Moosetracks Cabins on Prong Pond.
All in all, what a wonderful experience this years outing turned out to be. We had 4 vets that have never touched a fly rod, and caught fish! It was very nice to see familiar faces too that clearly look forward to spending time on the water with us, it is quite a honor. Many thanks go out to the local businesses of the Greenville area as well as the assistance of the Moosehead Chamber of Commerce for making this such a pleasure to participate in each year!
The Heart of Summer
Weather wise we haven't seen too much change in the last few days, the extreme heat of last week has gone and we have actually received about an inch of rain in the past couple of days, but still not enough to change the water. We are continuing to see water temps into the 70's , don't expect this to change in the near future. Usually this temp will flatten out during the 2nd or third week in August. The key to water temperature this time of year is nighttime lows! As nights get a bit longer through the summer and those overnight air temps creep down to the fifties and forties, that's when we really see the water temps co-operating. So, for now pretty much the same story. Early and late will be the best opportunities for dry fly fishing with caddis and stonefly. Mid-day.....well you can always take a nap? Nymph fishing will be your best bet. Remember this time of year is a grab bag there are no magic flies and truly you can't try anything wrong. Switch set ups often, experiment with different size and colored nymphs. You probably have a few hundred flies in your fly boxes!.....Use em!
Summer Spring Holes
As well as the rest of the country, we are experiencing extremely hot weather in the Moosehead area. With temps in the upper 80's every day water temperatures are also rising up the charts. Pond fishing can be fast and furious from May through early July, but what happens in July and August? Fish in the pond and in lakes behave a little differently this time of year. We all know that brook trout and salmon, our two target species, prefer water generally in the range of 45-55 degrees. As anyone who has been swimming recently can tell you its a lot warmer than that. As of yesterday we were finding water temps of 74 degrees in Moosehead Lake. That means that most of our ponds will be hovering in the staggering 80 degree range! This temp is certainly unsuitable for cold water fish. In larger bodies of water, ie Moosehead, fish need only go down 20 -30 feet to find the cooler water, warm water pushes cold water down and by August the cooler water can be down as far as 60 or more feet! Most baitfish prefer the cooler temps so therefore that's where we'll find our sportfish. The pond works a little differently. Brook trout in most ponds don't have many baitfish to choose from and subsist mainly on a diet of the insects. The heat of summer will burn away most insects like caddisflies , mayflies, and other "pond" insects. Most ponds are fueled by what are called "springholes", some ponds may have one or two and some may have a dozen or more.
To fish these are just like aquatic air conditioning units and when you find a spring hole you will find the fish. I think of brook trout as much like humans when it comes to summertime, wouldn't you rather sit in an air conditioned room when its 90 degrees outside or would you prefer baking a nice meal over a hot stove? In some ponds the spring hole might be 10 feet down and in other ponds it might be 30 or 40 feet below the surface, either way your gonna need to bring your favorite sinking line on this trip. You can find spring holes with a depth finder. Usually they will be located in the deeper spots but not always so use thermometers, or sometimes just asking someone familiar with the pond for info. The best technique is to locate your boat, or canoe on or around the spring hole and anchor in both the front and back. With long casts your goal is to cover every inch of water you can, usually in a fan shaped pattern along your boat. Most heavy sinking lines are rated in an inch per second sink rate so its necessary that you know the depth of the water you're in. So, for example if your spring hole is 20 feet down and the rating of your sinking line is 6 inches per second, after making your cast you should count out 40 seconds before beginning your SLOW retrieve. Brook trout will slow their metabolism in warmer waters so inching along a small streamer, nymph, or woolly bugger will be your best bet. Things will return to normal in September when the water begins to rapidly cool and fish return to the surface to feast once again before they spawn in October.
Stonelflies, Caddis and Dries...Oh My!!
Topwater fishing season is in full swing with the arrival of stoneflies this week. Water levels and water temps are perfect considering that we are well into the second week of July. The river has been running consistently between 1500- 1900 cfs, this is ideal for both wading as well as holding fish. The majority of fish we are catching are with dry flies on the surface. Caddis, stoneflies, stimulators, and tarantulas are our flies of choice. The larger tan caddis of June have moved along, darker bodied and smaller caddis have been much more effective this week. A stimulator with a small caddis tied off the hook bend is an excellent choice this time of year. Small streamer, soft hackles and nymphs are also consistently bringing in fish.
Pond fishing is continuing to hold on despite some warm daytime temperatures. Green drake hatches have become fairly sporadic, look for ponds with higher elevations if you want to find the big mayflies. Very soon the ponds will shut down for a few weeks as the warm temps will drive the fish deeper into the spring holes.
Smallmouth fishing has remained very good. Bass are still being caught on the surface, as always structure, structure, structure. As the water starts to warm look for the bass to begin their migration to cooler waters. Instead of looking for the stump fields areas with moving, deeper water will also be key as we move into summer fishing.
Well after the past few weeks of very warm weather the water temperature has reached the 70 degree mark. This will make fishing extremely challenging over the next few weeks. Insect hatches will be sporadic at best with most action in just the first couple hours of daylight. This is the time of year when anything goes. There are no magic flies. Success can be found with experimenting with different flies and fly combos. Large stimulators and stonefly imitations can work, but if they are not try something smaller. Caddis are present in the river as well so patterns like the goddard caddis and smaller black caddis patterns can also be effective. As usual nymphing will be the most consistent way to catch fish. At warmer temperatures fish will be stuck on the bottom in deep holes and not much will move them. As far as nymph selection the best flies are the ones that work! Change nymph rigs often. Keep in mind, at this water temperature handling fish is not suggested. Warm water has very low levels of dissolved oxygen and fish will be very sluggish as well as slow to recover after being caught.
Tarantulas & Drakes
As expected fishing has remained excellent at the East Outlet of the Kennebec through the first week in July. Water levels have remained steady and water temps are still cool (62 degrees). This is quite a departure from this time last year when the water was tetering at the 70 degree mark. Caddis still reign supreme, but we are beginning to use a lot of the larger stimulator and tarantula patterns as well which means that stonefly season is upon us. Double dry rigs have been effective the past couple of weeks. They are an excellent way to survey an area as well as allowing you to test out a myriad of different color or size options as well. Remember if you are using bigger flies like the large #8 or #10 stimulators you will want to employ a heavier leader or tippet size. Usually a 3x will be thick enough to turn your fly over properly and prevent the inevitable pig tailing that usually occurs with big flies. As far has caddis goes skittering has been the word. Sometimes you need to forget everything you have been told about a dead drift and let your fly drag and pop over the surface. Teasing a skittering fly back and forth over a particular area has also proven to be very effective. As we approach the warmest part of the year prepare yourself for more subsurface presentation. Nymphing will become key throughout the warmer time of the day. If you like swinging a streamer, remember to scale back on size this time of year, #4 streamers you used for the spring will likely to big in the summer months.
We are also right in the zone for our annual Green Drake hatches. These next 10 days should really be the heart of the hatch. The Green Drakes will hatch in late evening usually a few moments before sunset. So if you're really looking to fish the hatch don't even head out till after supper. Fish will eat nymphs throughout the day on the ponds, this is why the Maple Syrup pattern gets a lot of attention this time of year. If you head out to the pond bring two rods, one rod with a sinking line or sink tip to fish the green drake nymphs and another floating line set up to fish the dries.
Perfect Water Levels!!
The story this week has been water, as in all rivers in the area, are at ideal levels. After a tumultous June the East Outlet has settled in nicely and is currently running at 1700 cfs. This is the perfect level for wading as most of the river is easily accessed!
Caddis are still steadily hatching and the most effective time to fish has been from early morning till mid-afternoon. While we are seeing large amounts of caddis on the water there have not been a great deal of actively feeding fish. We are catching fish on the surface but nymphing is still the most successful way to land fish. We are seeing varying sizes, shapes, and colors of caddis so a magic bullet is not really out there. We like to use a double dry rig right now which allows you to fish different patterns at the same time. Tie on a larger caddis pattern, perhaps a standard elk hair first and follow that with a smaller less visible caddis as a trailing fly. Remember, use the indicator fly as such, as your flies float downstream key in on the area they are in rather than focusing on a single fly. If you see a take in the general area assume it was on one of your flies. Stoneflies are also moving into a prominent position in the river. This would be a great lead fly for your nymph rig. Brown and black are excellent choices and the weight of a double beaded stone will really help things get down. With lower water levels fish are definetly keyed into food on the surface. Throwing a large stimulator or tarantula over a deep spot is an excellent choice this time of year.
Our extended fishing forecast for the area is excellent. We still have very cool waters in the rivers and we haven't quite approached the 60 degree mark. Even though high waters have shut down a lot of fishing in the past few weeks this also means that we should have an extended season which will carry good fishing through July! This time last year the water was well over the 65 degree mark and fishing was beginning to slow down considerably. If you missed out on opportunities in June due to high water consider making the trip up to Greenville in July!
Alert!! .....for pond fisherman, the green drakes are here. Reports are coming in throughout the area. We should see the mega hatches throughout the next couple weeks. As a rule of thumb the 4th of July is usually the time and that is right around the corner. So dust off the big bugs, maple syrups, and 3x leaders!!
Fish On !!
Caddis season is in full swing right now and this is the time we have been waiting all year for. Hatches have been steady on all the rivers and almost anytime of day, morning and evening of course being prime feeding times. We are seeing a large variety of caddis species and size which still can pose a bit of a challenge. Remember our sport is called "fishing" not "catching"! Most of our success has been with smaller patterns of size 16 and even 18 varieties. One suggestion when fishing these smaller flies is too use one smaller fly tied off the back of a larger "indicator fly. This allows you to see the general area where your smaller fly is. Remember to use the indicator fly to see the general area of both your flies, focusing solely on the bigger indicator will cause you to miss hits on the smaller offering. Imagine the indicator fly sitting in the middle of a hula hoop sized area and any splash in the area is likely at one of your flies.
We have still been very successful with larger fish using nymph rigs and streamers. Sinking tips or sinking lines are no longer necessary as most fish are keying in on the surface for food. As far as nymphs go getting down is the most important thing. The river is still high and to get a nymph rig to the bottom requires weight. We suggest using a double set up. This time of year a big stonefly makes an excellent first fly, double beadheaded, tungsten, anything that will get the fly down. Usually something smaller can be tied off the first fly, caddis nymphs, hares ear, or pheasant tails are all excellent choices. To seal the deal some split shot between the two flies will give your rig the extra weight it needs. Nymphing can always test your patience but the reward is usually high, as the largest fish of the summer will usually be taken sub surface.
The photo above is of Colby Brown with a beautiful brookie he caught while wading at Big Eddy.
Caddis are here!!!!
June 15 Reports are coming in right and left, Caddis are here across the Moosehead area. The East Outlet is finally starting to percolate, we thought it was coming any day now and it truly is. Anglers are catching fish on dry flies now! The river flow has not come down in any major way so wade fishing is a little limited. We are seeing steady hatches and surface action in the morning and evening. Don't put your nymphs and streamers away just yet, they will still be useful during the mid-day. Without any significant rain in the forecast things should only get better. The West Branch of the Penobscot saw a drop in water flow earlier in the week and the fishing has been great. Caddis, Caddis, Caddis. Its truly the best time of the year!
Summer has arrived!
Our rainy days of May have finally passed and this past week we have been experiencing some phenomenal weather! Abundant sunshine and temps in the 70's ,feels really nice after our cold and rainy spring. Water levels on the rivers have also subsided. The east outlet is currently running at 3700 cfs which isn't ideal for wading. It still lets you access a few spots to work a nymph or a streamer. With flows at this level still keep working a sinking line or at least a sink tip this is deeper water right now and fish wont be seen as much on the surface. Caddis and mayflies are now hatching throughout the river, although the water level will need to make another more significant drop before we can really start the dry fly season. Last year was a very early year and we reported the first caddis hatches on the third of June, this year appears to follow the norm so look for things to really start popping in the next couple weeks.
Ponds are still running smoothly as well, consistent mayfly hatches seem to be occurring each evening around most of the ponds right in the Greenville area. Bass fishing is also reaching its peak right now. Water temps are ideal and bass are taking flies on the surface.
The summer tourist season is quickly approaching. We have a good three week period before the crowds arrive. Now is a perfect time for a trip up to Moosehead.
Finding Fishing Opprotunities During High Water
May 31st Rain has definately been the story of May, and we are hoping that story will end with the beginning of June tomorrow! Unfortunately rain dominated the forecast over the Memorial Day weekend and has left us some extremely high rivers, the east outlet topped out at a little over 13,000 cfs yesterday, I didn't add a zero either! Keep in mind that good wading in the outlet is at 1000-2000 cfs range. There usually is a reward on the back end of high water though...more fish. In the entire month of May there was one day when wading was even possible, and I bet most of you missed it! The river will be filled with fish in the coming weeks as the water subsides, remember, these are fish that have yet to see a fly! They will not know what a grey ghost, pheasant tail, or elk wing caddis even is, so things are setting up for a really nice June.
With the cooler temps the fishing has really been excellent the past few weeks, as long as you can find a place to get in. Fishing in the Moosehead area has never been called..easy, so its important to keep in mind a plan A, B, C, and even a plan D. One option recently has been the West Outlet of the Kennebec, for the most part this is a completely ignored spot that is actually quite a sleeper that always holds plenty of fish. The West Outlet water flow remains at a constant 136 cfs throughout the year, and contains close to 10 miles of excellent fishing. Although its generally known for some of our warm water fish, the faster moving water contains excellent populations of landlocked salmon and brookies, both stocked and wild. The west is a slow moving, muddier version of the east outlet and a mayflies dream. With steady water flows and more plant life to hold onto mayflies can come off like wildfire here. Fish will rise to dries, chase streamers, and love to sip on soft hackle emergers.
As far as other waters go the Roach River is currently running high but same story here higher water pulls more fish so as this comes down the fishing will heat up. The East Outlet and the Moose are currently coming down, and as long as we do not get significant rainfall, this should continue. Ponds should really be kicking in to gear this weeks with the warmer temps the mayfly hatches should really be on!
Mayfly season is right around the corner!!
We have had some major setbacks with water flows this past week. Major rains have caused all of the rivers to raise back to run-off type flows. Fishing in moving water does not yield to many options right now, however, the Roach River has moved down to 250cfs, this is a very fishable level and the river should be holding fish throughout. If the salmon pictured above is any indication there are a lot of good sized healthy fish around. Water temperatures are steadily creeping up and over the 50 degree mark which means one thing.... mayflies! We have seen quite a few early mayflies whizzing by our ears in the past couple of days. Typically BWO's(blue wing olives), blue duns, black gnats, and adams mayflies will be first on the scene. However don't put away the sinking line and streamers quite yet. Typically, fishing during the morning, it will be best to swing streamers with sinking line, or at least sink tip. Nymphing as well should be productive in the earlier parts of the day, sucker spawn and smaller mayfly type nymphs would be great choices. As the water warms up during the mid afternoon you can start looking for mayflies to hatch and fish to begin rising, just keep in mind if the temperature isn't near 55 degrees your most likely not gonna see rising fish.
Pond fishing is really becoming a great option right now. Ponds will warm up much faster than the rivers and we are seeing evidence of that right now with steady mayfly hatches in the afternoon and evening. Pulling along streamers will continue to be effective as well as working the shallows with a sink tip and a dragonfly nymph.
Early Season Fishing!
The snow has finally released its grip on the Moosehead area! Smelt runs are in full gear, and water temps are hovering near the 45 degree mark in most lakes, ponds , and rivers. Everything is falling into place, now we are just waiting for those water levels to start to decrease a bit. Most of the rivers are still experiencing extremely high releases but we are seeing signs of a tapering off. As long as we don't see significant rainfall in the next week things should really begin to back off.
Pond fishing has really started off well this year! With most ponds being relatively shallow and muddy bottomed the warm up really begins quickly. Fish are really starting to wake up in some of the ponds just a few miles from town. Streamer patterns have been very effective, as well as the usual May fly of choice...dragonfly nymphs! Most of the action in the ponds will be around the edges and especially where a small brook is running in. Sinking line or at least sink tip line is a neccessity this time of year. Although if you're desperate for dry fly action, fishing midges is always effective this time of year. Griffiths Gnat in a size 18 or 20 will do, midges are very small so fish can really be voracious on these little fellows! Remember another exciting pond event is just around the corner..Carpenter ants! Fish the area around the biggest pine tree on the warmest day, and if there is a slight breeze? ..hold on! Some trout will feed exclusively on ants and nothing else for a short period of time so make sure you always have a couple good ant patterns in your box. We are looking forward to seeing all the familiar faces in the shop in the next few weeks and would love to see some new ones as well!!
Ice is officially out !!!
Ice has left the north country for another season.
It was officially called out @ Moosehead on Wednesday and quickly disappeared everywhere else in the last few days although there are still plenty of snow drifts left in areas where the sun does reach.
With the measurable rain we had this week the rivers are currently sky high, and well over their banks. With no more measureable rain in the forecast they should start to drop steadily in coming days. The result of all this high water will be fish, especially salmon. They are will entering the rivers now and when fishable levels return there will be lots of fresh, eager to chase streamer fish everywhere. The photo above was on our first trip down the East Outlet last season. This healthy brookie was probably a Moosehead trout that came over the dam from the lake during the early high water of last season.
For now the small ponds will begin to produce fine brook trout fishing. There are maps and a "Small Pond" guide on our website that will lead you to many of the countless wild trout pond not far from Greenville.
Just remember the frost is still coming out of the back roads and there can be some very soft spots especially along the shoulders. Pick your parking spots wisely.
Smelt runs have started and should last throughout this week. The early season banquet for a lot of hungry fish is in full swing.
It's time to make tracks as life begins again in the north country. There is no time to waste.
See you on the water
It's time to dust off the equipment
April 15th, 2011
Winter is having a hard time loosening it's grip this year. At this time last season all ice and snow was long gone.
There is still snow pack in the woods, although is has dropped considerably. You'll need snowshoes if you want to access any of the East Outlet water below the bridge. Water flow on the E.O has dropped to 1100 cfs in order to capture the remaining run-off from the Moose River drainage. Moosehead is still down about two feet below full so it should take a bit to fill unless a major rain event occurs.
Rumor has it there are some brookies in the river from last fall. It classic nymph fishing for now. This flow makes it exceptional wading and a great time to explore the river and find just where the holes really are.
Please remember the water is deadly cold and taking a tumble this time of season will likely ruin your day.
No need to make plans into any trout ponds just yet. Everything is still buttoned up tight and you'll likely need a snow machine to make the trip.
We are still in Florida but will be heading north on April 24th. The shop will be open for the season on April 30th.
See you then.
Maine Guide Fly Shop does Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park canoe trip Jan. 24-27, 2011
Steve Cole and I did a 4 day canoe trip into the backcountry of remote Waterwater Bay in Everglades National Park. We had a wonderful time. We both agreed we would do it again tomorrow. Below is the account of our trip. I hope you find my ramblings interesting.
There are also a number of addition photos posted on our "Photos" page of the website.
Launched at Flamingo, the south most access to Everglades National Park, at 10:30 am and headed to the North River Chickee platform, a distance of about 25 miles. We are sporting around in my 20’ Old Town XL Tripper with a 2.5 hp outboard motor and outriggers for added stability. Our thought is we will be able to cover some water, stay upright (so we won’t be eaten by gators), and still get a lot of fishing time in. I will add we are spending 4 days afloat in the park and we will not once set foot on dry land, pythons are rumored to be out there.
A strong southeast wind kept us from the direct route across Whitewater Bay. It’s huge and appeared to be more than we wanted to take on with a full load. So we motored along the lea shore till we could enter the river system and the backcountry to avoid the open water of the huge bay. Bear in mind this entire area is a maze of tidal rivers that all look alike. There are three way intersections and dead end channels. Once we were in the Roberts River wind was no longer an issue. We just had to find our way along the maze of river channels. Steve was the navigator and kept our position on the map at all times. We also had a GPS that helped reinforce our position. With the map, compass, and GPS we never were lost and after 3 days in the wilderness we reentered Whitewater Bay and Steve said “That channel marker you can see over there should be Red #44” and it was. A top notch navigator is an absolute must.
Fishing was the easy part. Find the deeper water of the river corners and we caught spotted and sand sea trout. Ladyfish are everywhere.
The chickee platform was just large enough for our 10 X 10 tent and all our stuff. The winds died by happy hour and we dined on sea trout fillets with mac and cheese then checked out till dawn.
We fished around the area of the chickee then packed to head for the next one at Watson River. You are only allowed one night at any chickee platform. It’s like an Allagash canoe trip when everyone moves everyday so others travelers have a place to call home at the end of the day. Once you are in the backcountry chickees are about 5-8 miles apart.
We fished all day and caught many fish in the river system. When we found fish it was literally a fish a cast. If one fell off another would hit. At one point I counted and had 4 different fish on in one retrieve. It was a wonderful day on the water and we again dined on sea trout fillets for dinner on the Watson River chickee. After a beautiful sunset we settled in for the night.
We were all tucked in and sound asleep, then at 11:30 pm the leading edge of an unknown, to us, cold front slammed us with 50-60 mph winds. We woke to the sound of a freight train just before the wind arrived. I have experienced them before but knew they were coming and always managed to scamper away and hide while they passed. These are the kind of fronts that leave boats, caught in the middle of a lake, upside down. The initial blast just about flattened the tent and it was a wild state of affairs for 30 minutes with an upside down kitchen in the tent. I learned long ago to always police the campsite before retiring. It’s more about rain and raccoons than wind but we had the tent tied down tight to the chickee platform and the canoe very secure with everything packed away. Our Eureka tent held fast and the canoe and motor stayed put and upright. A hard rain accompanied the front but we were safe, secure, tucked back in, and all was well an hour later.
We woke at dawn to rain and thunderstorms but the winds had died and shifted to the south which left us in the lea so we enjoyed an extra pot of coffee and added a layer of clothing because the front brought with it cooler air. Here layering means an additional long sleeve shirt.
Just as we were getting the canoe loaded we saw one of the two other canonists we passed on our journey. He was alone, very wide eyed and planning on putting a lot of water behind him before his day was done. His one comment was “Big winds today according to my weather radio. How come it’s so calm?” Ten more words and he was long gone.
Once packed, we fished our way to our next chickee, about 8 miles away. The winds slowly built during the morning so we moved from the open bay back into the shelter of the tidal rivers. Fishing today was slow, probably due to the cold front and colder water temperature. The entire area seemed like the size of Moosehead Lake but with water depths that average less than 5 feet. The cool, wind driven rain and fallen air temps cool this water quickly. Falling water temps always put the fish off. Blue skies, rising water temps, and fishing gets better and better. Read any fishing report from Florida and it’s the same story. January just seems to have more cold fronts than any other time of season. It is a winter month.
Once we were set-up on the Oyster Bay chickee skies cleared for another beautiful sunset while we were entertained during happy hour by three dolphins hunting in the bay around our campsite. They weigh-in at over a 100 pounds and are fierce predator. Every fish out there is on the menu. A crystal clear, star filled night followed. There is a low red glow on the eastern horizon, probably Miami.
We woke to a beautiful, calm, clear day but night air temps have fallen into the 40’s. It wasn’t long before the sun showed and immediately warmed the air around us. Steve caught a nice breakfast sea trout literally out of the tent flap. We added Canadian bacon, eggs and an English muffin for an Oyster Bay breakfast.
Today we have to make tracks. We have a long haul, maybe 25 miles back to the take-out at Flamingo.
Winds remained light the entire way and temps climbed into the high 60’s. We caught sea trout, ladyfish, lizard fish (ugly little beasts), Spanish mackerel, and mangrove snapper. Finished the day with a fish a cast at the Tarpon River and watched a fabulous sunset on our way out of the park.
Every person I mentioned our trip plans to had the same comments. “What about all those alligators?” And “The snakes man, there are pythons out there.” And my favorite “Are you aware the bugs will suck every ounce of blood from you if you are not prepared.”
So Steve and I took extra bottles of DEET, pledged to zip the tent flap extra tight every night and remained on alligator watch throughout the journey.
I’m sorry to report the most dangerous things we encountered were the two inch long platform crabs living on the chickees that were afraid of their own shadow and scurried off to hide if you even looked their way.
We were a bit disappointed that we truly never spotted an alligator, snake of any kind, and only may have been bitten by two honest to goodness non-see-ems, but that was the first night and most likely a product of our over active imaginations. I wonder if this is not just an act to keep the masses away. We did only see two other parties in four days. Maybe next time.
I must say I would head back in tomorrow. It is a wonderful experience in the real wilderness of Florida where you could get good and lost. Everglades Nation Park is way over 1,000,000 acres of unspoiled backcountry. The chickee platforms are well down and a welcome sight at the end of a day in the canoe. A fish a cast ain’t half bad either. I should probably wait though till warmer weather brings warmer water temps and the snook out of hiding just in time for the bugs, snakes, and gators to resurface.
For those interested I will probably offer a couple of 3-4 night backcountry canoe/fishing trips next winter. I have to do a bit more investigating later this winter to confirm my findings.
You'll find a number of trip photos posted on our "Photos" page.
A Different World
As everyone probably already knows Penny and I are wintering at our southern fishing camp/office/on-line mail order/charter service on the southern Gulf side of Florida, Naples to be exact. I now have my Captain’s license, a flats boat, my 20’ Old Town canoe, and am guiding backcountry fishing trips in the Rockery Bay Reserve and Ten Thousand Islands Region. I thought it would of interest to everyone if I reported on the diverse local fishery during the off season back home.
Here you’ll find an entirely different world with entirely different fish and wildlife. Around these parts, for me, the wilderness is truly on the water and most of the coastline has been preserved from here to the Keys, nearly 200 nautical miles of what appears to be two billions miles of backcountry shoreline. A fifteen minute run in a flats boat from any of the boat launches and you kiss the world good-bye, rarely seeing another boat.
For example ten miles from our place is the Rookery Bay National Estuary. It’s an enormous bird sanctuary with an extensive system of tidal rivers and creeks. You’d likely get lost without a good chart or GPS and it would take a week to explore all the water available. Not a whole lot different than exploring the backwoods of Maine with your Delorme in your lap. The different being the back roads that we travel around here are made of water. So just close your eyes for moment. Picture in your mind a page from your Maine Atlas and imagine all those roads as water. I absolutely love exploring this world and just like the backwoods at home the further you get off the beaten trail the fewer people you find.
The wildlife is endless whether on the wing or in the water. You never know what you’re going to find. One minute you’re watching a sting ray inching along the bottom looking for a crab to chomp when another fish, you didn’t even know was there waiting in ambush in the shade of a mangrove limb, blows out heading for the sanctuary of deeper water. My heart pounds thinking about it. And the variety of birds that are native or migrate here for the winter is endless. You’ll be watching a flock of egrets peacefully perched in the mangroves when an osprey lets out a cry, eye high on a dead limb a hundred feet to your right. There are pelicans, great egret, blue heron, white ibis, wood stork, osprey and bald eagles and roseate spoonbill, and on and on and on. I’m forever seeing someone new. Everyday is an adventure and no two days are ever the same. It’s no different than launching the drift boat at home. When I kick the engine in gear I’m always excited about leaving the world behind and down right giddy about what today will bring. It never gets old.
Have a closer look at the map above. You’re just seeing a tiny bit of the water there is to explore and it’s all as it always was.
I’ve spent the last two winter seasons learning the lay of the land, poking into as much of it as I can. I’ve found some wonderful places where few people frequent. So if you have a bit of adventurer in you and want to have a peek into this wilderness on the water place, I’d be honored to take you there.
I need to excuse myself; this is after all a fishing reports page. I got side tracked and forgot to elaborate about the fishing. I will say this regarding the fishery, “There are lots of fish and lots of species of fish which you’ll learn lots more about in my winter fishing reports below”.
If all this peaks your interest there is a “Guide Service – Florida” button on the left side of this page where you will find our Backcountry Trips. Come join me for an unforgettable journey into another world.
Where do we begin?
Fishing tidal water is not rocket science and many principles that apply to moving water (river fishing) also apply to the comings and goings of the sea. On the Gulf Coast of Florida the real complexity involves the tides and the effect the wind and the moon phases have on them. There are no 10 foot tides that are commonly found in other places. Here a 4 foot tide is huge and at times the tide won't move a foot. Full and new moon phases command the greatest movement of water while in between extremes far less water flows.
Now enter into the equation, the wind. If the wind blows from the shore toward the sea (an off-shore or east wind) the outgoing tide will be greater than predicted and the incoming will be held back with less water allowed to enter the backcountry. If the wind blows from the west the opposite applies. This is flat country where average water depth on the flats, at high tide, will likely be 4 feet or less. If you find 8 feet of water remember the spot because it is considered a deep hole and a sanctuary for fish when low tide comes. During a full or new moon phase, when the major low tides occur many flats, usually covered with water, go high and dry.
There are tidal charts, like the one above, available on-line that predict the highs and lows for any given day of the year. They are calculated as average mean tides over a 50 year period and indicate whether the tide will be higher or lower than average and indicate how much one way or the other ( + or - mean ) it will be.
If this doesn’t confuse you enough, tides are predicted at given locations along our coastlines; Boston, Miami, Everglades City and so on. Predictions are made at the coastline, not inland. As you move further inland from the coast along tidal rivers it takes longer for the water to get there, at times an hour or more. The low tide also occurs earlier in the backcountry than predicted at the coast because all that water has to leave before the low can occur on the outside. Factor in the wind speed and direction and things begin to get very interesting.
So there is homework involved before any trip. It’s all on-line. There are tide charts and NOAA weather predictions with wind speed and direction for your viewing area. The short course is tidal movement, times of high and low tides, wind speed, and direction all factor into the decision of where you might go for the day. You slowly begin to understand where you can go or not go and when. It all boils down to T-O-W (Time on the Water). In the beginning it’s a real challenge but you only need to get stuck behind some oyster bar during low tide and get to sit there thinking it all over till the tide allows you to leave before you begin to really pay attention to the details. After a while it’s just a few minutes of homework at a couple of websites and you know where you’re going to spend your day and more “Time on the Water”.
Fishing the Flats
Now that we have done our homework and logged enough “Time on the Water” learning why the tide and the wind effects how water moves, where and when, we can begin making intelligent decisions which way to go once the boat slides off the E-Z Loader.
To effectively sight fish the flats they need to have < 18” of water covering them. Often fish are found sneaking about in less than a foot of water. To sight fish a window of opportunity needs to be recognized. That window typically appears during the last two hours of the outgoing and the first couple hours of the incoming tide. Once the flat has really flooded you can’t see the fish anymore plus they'll scatter about, often moving back beneath the mangrove cover and out of play completely. Also remember every time the tide goes out all fish are forced out from under the sanctuary of the mangroves and back onto the open flat.
Scattered about most flats are sand bars created by big tidal surges. Around these bars you'll often find current and drops where predator and prey frequent. They can be a good spot to stake up the skiff, hop out, and silently watch for approaching fish. Something is very likely going to show-up sooner or later. The faster the tide moves the quicker the current, increasing the odds someone is going to come around looking for a meal. Oyster bars are very fertile, everywhere, and always a center of activity attracting the entire food chain.
Locate a tiny tidal creek along the edge and you can count on fish hanging there waiting for bait to be flushed out on any falling tide.
Sight fishing the flats is not a whole lot different than still hunting whitetail deer. It is one thing to spot one, and quite another to get a bullet into it. So we play a game of stealth and cunning. Break a branch and every deer nearby senses something isn’t quite right and switches into high alert. Bang the hull of a fiberglass flats boat with a fly reel or clunk a pair of pliers and the same thing happens. Every fish in that neighborhood now sense something’s up. Remember this is a predator/prey world and everyone in the ocean is a little lower on the totem pole than something else. All you need to do is witness, just once, a one hundred pound bottle nose dolphin track down and trash a nice redfish and you begin to understand why everything on a flat is usually a touch jumpy.
So we pole along as silently as possible with the sun behind us or over our shoulder for the best possible visibility. If a cloud passes over the sun and visibility fades we hold our ground and wait for conditions to improve. I can’t count the times I’ve kept moving and spooked a big fish not 5 feet from the boat because I just couldn’t see it in lousy light. We’re just inching along, at the same time scanning the flat for movement anywhere. A push of water along the shoreline implies something bigger that baitfish or a tail of a redfish slips above the waterline as it pins a crab to the bottom, is all you may notice. When I still hunt deer I rarely see the entire animal, instead spotting the flicker of an ear or tail or the distinctive gleam of sunlight on antler. Sometimes you'll notice just the shadow of a snook bellied into the bottom waiting in ambush next to the shade of a mangrove limb. You question rather it really could be a fish or maybe just another dark spot along the bottom. You strain your eyes a little harder and you start to see his tail fin barely budge as he waits oh so patiently for an opportunity to eat.
So there you are, a foot off the water on the table top flat deck of the skiff, 60 plus feet of line neatly arranged by your feet, with leader in hand, ready to launch one.
This is exactly what we came looking for. He's in range and doesn’t even know we’re around. Deliver the fly neatly in front of him, give it one strip and he’ll attack as if fired from a cannon then gobble it like a meat scrap thrown to a starving dog. Land the fly a bit too close or even worse line him and he’ll blow out for deeper water like you jabbed him in the ass with a hot poker taking everything else nearby with him.
Make it a good one and you’re in for the time of your life. He’ll either head for the tangle of the mangrove roots and you’ll have to put the brakes on to stop him before it’s too late, or he’ll head for the safety of deeper water in the nearest channel. Pull it off and you’re back slappin’, high fivein’ , picture takin’, two dollar cigar smokin', till you finally catch your breath and start inching along in search of his buddy.
Good times on the flats aren’t measured in numbers but in memories and believe me when I tell you; you'll remember each and everyone. You can’t stop grinning and there's goin' to be a big ol’ smile on your face when you finally lay your wary head on your pillow.
Brook Trout Study Continues on the Roach River
The Moosehead Lake Brook trout study continued last fall with an intense study of the Roach River spawning run. In late August our local fisheries biologists relocated the weir from Socatean Stream, on the western side of the lake, to the Roach River. The intentions of this study is to observe, close hand, the size and the number of wild Moosehead brook trout entering the Roach River to spawn. As fish move into the river on their spawning run they bumped into this weir. They find their way into the large holding cage where they can be netted, then measured, weighted and surgery performed. A certain number of mature male brookies were implanted with transmitters so their movements can be tracked for approximately two years. Most male fish handled were also implanted with a pit tag that contains individual information that specifically I.D.'s that fish. When a fish passes by a receiving antenna or a wand is passed over a pit tagged fish useful information is automatically downloaded and used in the survey.
This is real time, high tech stuff that is taking the biology of fish science to another level entirely. Some of the mysteries of movement, survival during the spawn, and conditions that trigger spawning activity are coming to light.
Go to our "Photos" page for more pictures of the operation.
If you are interested in learning more about the Brook Trout Study just click on the photo above for a link to a video and an article done by the Portland Press Herald.
The Fat Lady hasn't sung yet !!
As you can see from the above photo of Holly Jones, the East Outlet is still producing some lovely landlocked salmon. This is a typical male salmon in full spawning colors. They are gorgeous.
This time of season spawning fish have been in the river for some time and tend to get a bit fussy. They really aren't very interested in food. There are fish throughout the river so if you are at a hole you know fish hold in keep changing flies. We like to start on the surface and work our way to the bottom. It may take a lot of fly changes to tickle the right fish. My fly patch looks like a jumbled fly bin by the end of the day but we usually have a good number of fish to show for it.
What a strong finish !!
The last week of the regular season ended with a bang. Even though rain tried to dampen some spirits it came mainly at night and the increased waters flow just brought in more fish.
As usual the rivers were all full of beautiful fall salmon and trout. The fisheries biologists are conducting a study of the Roach River spawning run resulting in a very impressive fish count in excellent condition. Fishermen were also impressed with the quality of the Roach River run catching many larger than normal fish. The reduction of lake trout in Moosehead plus the aggressive smelt stocking effects seem to be paying off.
Our Fox Hole trips went very well. Everyone had a wonderful time. The Upper Penobscot (Fox Hole) also saw a good run of fish. We caught more larger fish this fall than we have in quite some time. Reports from other anglers around us were about bigger fish than usual. You'll find a number of Fox Hole trip pictures on our Photo Page. The photo above this report is of Brian Porter from Cape Cod who was accompanied by his father Richard. I'll have to give top rod honors to Brain. If there was a fish out there to be caught he knew how to get'em and landed an impressive number of salmon in the 4 day trip.
So now that the regular season is over we'll focus our effects on the East & West Outlets of the Kennebec which remain open to catch and release fishing. Water flows on the E.O. have remained at 1200 cfs which is excellent wading conditions. The same game still applies as it did yesterday. Bring your entire bag of tricks. The river is full of fish and many salmon don't show up till October. A lot of quality fishing time still remains.
The West Outlet is the sleeper stream most folks simply overlook. It's flow is a gentle 132 cfs and it never changes. There is always a run of fall fish, certainly not the numbers the East Outlet has but every one of the upper pools holds a few nice salmon and trout. It can be accessed by the Somerset Jct road just north of the bridge on Rt.6/15 . The road follows the river for about 5 miles to the railroad trestle. There are a number of access points along the way.
So don't pack your rods away just yet. The foliage is peaking and the fish are still chasing flies.
See you on the river.
Two Weeks Left!!!!( And We Now Have Water!!!)
The Roach River has finally seen its annual charge of water, as expected it has been raised to 150cfs, not a lot of water but certainly enough to pull a charge of fish into the river. Combined with some real cold temperatures and rain this should be a great combo for fall fishing. Reports from anglers this morning indicate brookies are already throughout the river.
As usual new fish in the river means streamer fishing! These new fish have spent the entire season in the big lake. They don't know the difference between mayflies and caddis flies nor do they care. They have been feeding primarily on smelt, minnows, and other fish. Unlike the springtime, fish in the fall have not entered the rivers to feed they are there to spawn and defend spawning territory. We use streamers to provoke reactions from fish looking for spawning territory, so sometimes the bigger the better, 8x long, #2, and #4 streamers. Don't be shy about throwing out an enormous streamer. You are just trying to catch the attention of a fish that has a lot more on his mind.
Although the East Outlet hasn't seen an flow of water the overall water temps are still going down rapidly and new fish are entering the river. The EO is not seeing a lot of pressure right now so its really a great time to explore the river and maybe find some new secret spots.
ATTENTION: THIS JUST IN !!!
The water has officially been turned on. After speaking with the dam keeper we have been informed that the Moose is now cranked to 900 for the rest of the month, that is prime fish pulling flow. The East Outlet will have some survey work being done on Thursday the 16th which will fluctuate the water drastically over the course of the day, but Thursday evening the water will be brought up 1800 cfs probably for the remainder of the month.
The East Outlet remains open through the month of October but the other big rivers close the last day of September, so you better hurry if you want to get in on same great fall fishing. This is when we catch some of the biggest fish of the season.
Lets Talk Fall !!
Leaves are starting to turn and a lot of out of state plates are headed south...must be September! So far the fall started off with a bang, 5 days of 80 almost 90 degree weather capped off with the remnants of a hurricane that brought some much needed rain. As discussed in previous reports fall fishing stands firmly on two pillars; water temperature and water level. Water temperature being the more important of the two. In September we are looking for heavy water flows to bring fish into the river and cool water temps to keep the fish in the river. Typically during the first couple weeks in September water is being released from area dams which allows fish to move into the Roach, Moose, East Outlet, and West Branch rivers, etc. These water releases are dependent on a few factors, most important water being held above these dams. This spring and summer has been extremely dry, with very little if any accumulation at all. This means these rivers do not have a lot of water in reserve. The other real big factor is water temperature; salmon and brook trout want 50-55 degrees period. Currently the rivers in the area are hovering around the 65 degree mark. As the nights begin to get colder and longer and barring any "Indian Summer" we will see a steady decrease in water temps as September progresses, this is a good thing.
Currently the Roach River is scheduled to see a push of water this coming weekend, at least up to 150 cfs which will be enough to bring in a fresh run of fish. However the length of time that this release can be maintained depends on the water in Roach Ponds which is scarce. This is another example of how fall fishing is not an exact science, saying that fishing is better at the end of the month compared to the beginning isn't neccessarily true. Yes water will most likely be colder at the end of September than the beginning, but, if there hasn't been significant rainfall or water release it means the same fish have been in the river for almost a month!
As far as fishing goes if fish are pounding streamer flies you are probably fishing to newer fish in the river. As fall continues the more fisherman and flies that fish see the less likely they will be to take traditional streamers. That doesn't mean don't use them or try them, just be willing to experiment with different approaches. Vary retrieves, make bigger swings, make slower swings, etc. Fishing nymphs and soft hackles can also be extremely effective when dealing with stubborn fall fish.
Low water...No Problem!!!
While we haven't had significant rain in the past week we have seen some really cool night time temperatures and the fishing has really improved. Most river temperatures are beginning to move into the mid to lower 60's! We are catching fish in all the major rivers, Kennebec, Moose, Roach, and The West Branch. We are also beginning to see many silvery chrome Salmon in the river which is a good sign that the fall run is beginning. Streamers are becoming very effective, larger patterns as well; Grey Ghost, Pink Floyds, and Mitchell Creeks. Nymphing is still consistent, especially in the sunnier times of the day, pheasant tails, prince nymphs, and assorted copper johns can generally do the trick. If your lucky enough to fish during one of the cloudy or overcast days tie on some small dries, parachute type patterns are great, and be patient, big fish are still coming up for properly drifted dries. As of late there have been many good reports coming in from the west branch below Rip dam, lots of salmon in the 12-14 inch variety and as always the possibility of something really big! The seven day outlook is looking very favorable, they are currently tracking hurricane Earl to hit Maine by Saturday. We could use a big dose of rain and a hurricane or tropical storm could be just what the doctor ordered.
The past month of fishing reports have been sounding like a broken record, but the weather hasn't really been cooperating with us fisherman. The good thing is that there really are still fish in the river, and some cooler nightime tempertures have really helped a lot. We are still desperate for water and crossing our fingers for some rain today. Right now I can't stress enough that there are no magic bullets, try anything and everything out there. On Sunday we caught all fish on small parachute dries and yesterday all fish with streamers. The water is low so its a great time to hunt out potentially good spots for higher water and to get a better feel for the shape of the river. There are really no flies or specefic techniques that are working better than others. Varying retrieves, presentations, and flies can really pay off. Don't be shy about pulling out that fly you bought ten years and haven't used!
Late Summer Salmon!
August 18 We are still seeing good action on the Kennebec even with all the warm weather and lower water flows. The outlet has been holding at about 1400 cfs for the past three weeks, this is a great level for wading and still enough water to hold decent fish, salmon in the 16-18 inch class are still being caught regularly. As far as fishing styles and selection things are the same. Early morning and evening will be the best time to use dries and nymphing will be most effective overall. this is a great time of year to really brush up on your nymphing skills and to try out flies that haven't seen much action in your fly box, really anything goes this time of year. On a recent trip we had our best luck with Mitchell Creek Maribou streamers, go figure! Its important with these conditions and sunlight that you approach the area or pool that you are fishing with care, fish can spook easily and a stealthy approach can really help out. Delicate casts are a must and excessive noise are a no no. We experienced a little over 1 inches of rain on monday night which was great and nighttime temps are really cooling down, but with lake levels as low as they are a pounding of rain would be really beneficial right now
Fall is around the corner!
It looks as if our water temps have finally peaked a couple of weeks ago and we are beginning to finally see the temperatures on the decline. Our area has seen some very cool nights and rain in the past week or so which is a good thing. Some of the trees in the area are starting to change just a little which reminds us that September is almost here. Fishing has remained decent through August even with the warmer weather. A good nymphing strategy remains key but we are taking a few fish on the river with dry flies, small patterns though of the 16 and 18 variety, small caddis are still hatching sporadically and with water temps creeping back into the 60's the fish are responding. Fish are still slower to move this time of year so location is key. Traditional soft hackle flies have also been productive, when fishing soft hackles controlling the speed of the swing is very important. You'll want to make small mends throughout the drift to ensure as slow and steady swing as opposed to the more dramatic swings we use with streamers. As fall fishing approaches one of the things we really want to see is a steady decline in water temperature at the same time we see an incline in water level. This is the combination that equals incredible fall fishing and can really kick start the spawning runs of Brook Trout and Landlocked Salmon. So as you plan your fall fishing trip to the area its not necessary to assume that the best fishing will be towards the end of September, sometimes a few rainy days and a couple of nights in the 30's even towards the beginning of September can trigger the fish to really move into the river.
The following email was an account of one of our guides Mike Jones and an August 12th trip on the East Outlet. The photo above says it all.
Mid August, and the river temp is 64.0F at 8:00 am.; we had 5 to 7 hours of good fishing ahead of us. With Peter Newton, and his son Walker, we started the drift with dries and nymphs on the East Outlet. After an hour, we had caught a few nice salmon then we anchored up in one of my favorite nymph holes. After reviewing casting a nymph rig, and considered the depth of the hole, Walker drifted into a perfect East Outlet hen about 19" in length; a great sign for early fall fishing for bright salmon! Best fish of the day, and many other good salmon brought to net! A great skill-building trip for Peter & Walker. Michael Jones
This is the email from Peter and Walker after their day with Mike:
Mike, Here is the picture I took of you and Walker.
Great day floating the East Outlet! We appreciate you getting us on all those great nymphing holes and Walker is especially grateful after pulling this 19" salmon off of her spot when his
thingamabobber went down like a rock. We've been fishing with the Maine Guide Fly Shop for
10+ years and every year we have had a great time - can't wait to come back for another trip. Thanks so much, Peter and Walker Newton
Our Annual Project Healing Waters Fishing Trip
July 28-31We held our annual Healing Waters Fishing Trip on July 28-31.
Seven disabled veterans; Everett Butler (Sonny), Alan Johnston, John Rogers, Wes Cumming, Stan Munson, Jerry Gilbert and Pete Sargent attended this years outing. Teri Olson, recreation director at Togus Veteran’s Hospital organized the group and Bruce Bowman with Trout Unlimited was also on the trip for additional support.
Everyone arrived on Wednesday afternoon for their stay at Moosetracts Cottages on Prong Pond. They have a wonderful handicapped accessible cottage that is extremely wheelchair friendly with an impressive wooden ramp that weaves its way through the woods to a beautiful dock on Prong Pond so everyone gets to enjoy the spectacular view.
On Thursday everyone made the journey to the West Branch of the Penobscot for our first day of fly fishing. Fish were a bit fussy at first but everyone caught fish on dry flies before the day was over. A medium size tan caddis and a yellow hornberg worked the best. We all enjoyed a barbeque at Big Eddie Campground. The day was spent fly fishing from Big Eddie down to a takeout just above Big A Rapids. The weather could not have been better.
On Friday everyone headed for the East Outlet of the Kennebec and the 3 ½ mile drift to Indian Pond. Fishing was tough in the upper river in the morning but after we had lunch at the Beach Pool persistence paid off in the lower, less accessible part of the river with more action and everyone catching fish once again. A small tan tent wing caddis called the King’s River was the dry fly of the day. Again the weather and the company could not have been any better.
The vets spent their evenings dining at the Rod & Reel Café and Kokadjo Trading Post then relaxing at Prong Pond. On Friday evening our American Legion put on a wonderful barbeque. After the great meal everyone had a lot of laughs brought on by some very funny local story tellers. They claimed all their stories to be true. There may have been a touch of doubt.
A guy from R.I. saw me mowing my lawn, pulled over, then waved me over to ask for directions. “How do you get to Bangor?” I replied “I always ride with my neighbor.”
Many thanks have to go out to the countless folks who had a hand in putting together this year’s Healing Waters Outing. If I tried to gather all the names of the individuals and businesses that gave their time I would surely miss some. It’s a very long list. You know who you are and it’s because of your overwhelming generosity that makes this a wonderful event our disabled veterans so look forward to each summer. We are already laying plans for next summer. Our heart felt thanks goes out to each and everyone involved. It would not be the event it has become without your continued support.
You will find more photos of the outing at our photos page.
With water temps on the rise and water flows getting lower the most consistent technique becomes nymphing. If your still looking to dry fly fish you will definately aim towards fishing the early morning or the evening. Caddis and stonefly patterens are both effective. If your fishing towards the middle of the day however you will most likely find yourself nymph fishing. Nothing fancy; stonefly nymphs, p-tails, prince nymphs are always a hit and small is the game. We like to rig up a couple flies. A beadhead stonefly makes a great lead fly and then about 18 inches behind tie on a trailing nymph, this allows you to experiment with different patterns, colors, and sizes to see what fish are looking for. Fish are not moving very quickly these days so make sure your nymphs are getting down to the bottom. It's O.K. to get hung up now and then so you know that you are fishing the right zone.
Remember 90% of a fishes food is consumed from a foot along the bottom or a foot at the surface.
The East Outlet is the best game around.
Fishing may not be what it was a month ago but the East Outlet still holds good numbers of nice salmon still in the river from the last high water event two weeks ago.
It did take six different flies to catch the first six fish of the day yesterday but who's counting and we're still seeing 16-18" fish in most of the runs.
Tiny black caddis have been the predominant hatch along with a mottled wing caddis called a King's River. Fishing has been best in the morning before the bright mid-day sun has its effects on surface activity. Then again as the light fades around sunset.
The West Branch of the Penobscot below Rip Dam is seeing flows increase from 2000 to 3200 cfs during the day due to power demands. Weekends should see the levels remain more stable at around 2000 but there are no promises. Fishing has been very good when the flow are around 2000.
One nice thing, it's wet wading season and the water feels great on these hot summer days. Some folks are falling in on purpose.
See you on the river.
Summer in Moosehead
With the monster caddis and stonefly hatches of June slowing up we are now officially into Summer fishing. This time of year can really test the patience and skills of even the most seasoned of anglers. In the East Outlet we are still finding fish but with warmer water temps they are being less cooperative. Stoneflies are hatching daily so big stimulator and tarantula patterns are effective. The fish in warmer waters are much less aggressive than last month but they will still rise to a big offering, just react fast because recasting over the same spot will most likely not cause a second rise. During the summer months fisherman must really start thinking like a fish. The way we feel on a 90 degree day with 90 percent humidity is the way fish feel in the river, there metabolism and energy levels are low. Look for riffles and whiter water, these areas have much higher oxygen than the surrounding waters which means these areas can hold fish. Nymphing is another great technique in the summer. Fish are rarely willing to move very far for a snack and nymphing allows us to present a fly directly to the fish. Stonefly nymphs, pheasant tails and copper johns are excellent choices right now.
Heat Wave !!
While hazy hot and humid has never been synonomous with good fishing the East Outlet is holding up quite well even with the 90 degree temps. The flow currently is about 2700 which is the upper range for wading but there are plenty of fish throughout. We are in the summer fishing season so you really need to come ready to try out every last fly in your box, a fisherman that is willing to adapt and try many different techniques can do well this time of year. Stoneflies and caddis are still the insect of choice which means that fish will definatly rise to a dry. Big ugly stimulators are effective to imitate summer stoneflies, hoppers and other terrestrials can be just as effective as well. Nymphing and streamer fishing are also techniques that should be experimented with. As we said in the last report there are a lot of new fish in the river that will be more than willing to wail on a streamer.
Green Drake fishing on lakes and ponds is still going well. Hatches throughout the area are still occurring nightly. While early in the season typical hatches could last an hour or more, late in the season and with added heat hatches are becoming shorter, sometimes only lasting for 20 or 30 minutes, so be prepared. Fish are also becoming much more selective with their green drake selections so quality casting is important as well as quality fly selection! Instead of using your favorite dry fly tie on a nymph like the maple syrup and work it just below the surface. At the end of the hatches fish are more apt to take the nymph than the dry.
The East Outlet gets a new run of fish!!!
The heavy rains that fell last week put the lake level on Moosehead over the top. As a result water had to be dumped and flows went to 3400 cfs, making it almost nearly impossible to wade. This amount of water does have its positive effects though. In general salmon love big water and whenever flows are increased drastically, in any river with a population of salmon in the lake below, new fish will enter the river. With water temps still in the low to mid-60's the East Outlet just got a fresh run of fish and the continued high water should keep them coming.
Yesterday we saw all the new fish first hand. There were bright silver 16-18" salmon all over the river.
When water flow is high you need to look at the river from a entirely different angle. It's big, intimidating, and completely changed from the last time you saw it at a much lower level. The pools you know aren't there anymore. It's now a flush of water and your not going to wade to any of your favorite spots.
The fish are still there but where? They don't want to battle all that big water so they'll move to the edges and find slower, less hospitable water. We call this spots High Water Holes, when fish are in spots you would never see them during lower flows. They aren't the big pools and runs you are used to. Fish are now holding along smaller less obvious eddy lines below a small point of land or bend in the river. They aren't hard to find. You just have to look at the river differently and move your focus away from the big water and traditional spots. Just look down the sides of the river and you'll begin to pick them out. They are now holding in the quieter water along the eddy line where there is now 2-3 feet of water.
Fresh fish are also very different creatures than fish that have been in the river during all the hatches. The resident fish have been dining on insects for some time and won't chase a streamer like they did before the hatches started. You'll still catch these guys on tiny caddis and nymphs. Fresh fish have been making a living chasing smelt in the lake and now they are in the river with the same game in mind. They'll find the bugs in due time but when they are new to the river they need streamers.
If you want to find out if fresh fish are around put the sink-tip line back on and swing your favorite streamer. New fish are eager to chase streamers and less likely to sip a dry fly. We proved it yesterday and caught the bulk of the fish swinging streamers. They were chrome silver, fresh from Indian Pond, hit like a freight train and jumped eye high. It was the best day we have had for bigger fish in quite a while.
Remember always be over cautious of high water. It can be dangerous wading but if you look to the edges for newly flooded High Water Holes you can stay in safe water and sniff out plenty of fish.
Have a great 4th of July weekend.
The Green Drakes(Hex) have finally started in a few spots. Now is the time you had better be baby sitting your favorite haunts. The first night of the hatch can be magical. The biggest trout in the pond are on top and making pigs of themselves. Lay out anything that resembles those monster mayflies and they'll eat it! What a hoot it is to pick off cruising trout on flat calm water.
There are lots of imitations around and they work well at given times. The drakes mostly are a yellow/brown color but also all gray and even pale yellow or green. Its good to carry all the different colors in size 8 just in case. A good nymph is just as important as the dries. A nymph called the Maple Syrup has gotten lots of attention in the last few years. Its a tan chenille body with a yellow calf tail and a brown soft hackle collar. Tied on a streamer hook its long enough to imitate the nymph very well. Remember to use a good stout leader on these big bugs or they will spin in the air as you cast and twist your leader. 3X tippet should do the trick.
Take a flashlight along because you'll be staying till the end. The Hex hatch happens just before dark. Hatches will usually last about a week on a pond with the deeper, higher elevation and northern ponds hatching last. Allagash Lake for instance doesn't usually pop till mid month.
While your waiting around for the hatch to start hook up a sinking line and the nymph so you can work the bottom for a couple hours before the light starts to fade. You should find fish cruising around the cove looking for an early meal.
This is the time hard core pond fisherman wait for all year. The big boys are out and feeding on top.
Stoneflies and Drakes
We have had a fantastic spring of fishing and as we roll closer to summer the forecast is still looking great! Cool temperatures in the evening have really benefited the rivers, while flows are still low the temperatures have still remained cool. Caddis are still abundantly hatching throughout the days and evenings and we are now beginning to see stoneflies on the river. Again this is a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, but signals some really fun fishing as fish continue to look up for food. Tarantulas and stimulators are important flies right now. A great method that we use quite often is a double dry rig which a stimulator is the lead fly and varying smaller caddis patterns as a trailer.
With all the early hatching this spring we are eagerly awaiting the hex hatches and the big mayflies of summer. We are seeing them sporadically so it really looks like we will be seeing the bulk of the hatch activity earlier than the 4th of July.
Caddis Season in Full Swing!
June 11We are into week number 2 of the caddis hatches and things are still going strong. Last week saw a few rainy days but that hasn't affected the river flow at all. The East Outlet of the Kennebec is running at around 1000 cfs which is very wadeable and the fishing has remained excellent. The river is seeing a lot of pressure right now so be sure to bring the whole bag of tricks. A standard 14-16 elk hair caddis will probably not cut it right now. Emergers and sub surface presentations will be key. With the hatches arriving early we are looking to see the Stoneflies begin ahead of schedule as well. Nymphing with heavily weighted Stonefly nymphs has been producing fish as well. With relatively overcast days and some downright frigid nights river water temperatures have remained very steady. Flows in the Moose River have been a little high the past few days, although fishing has still been good near the dam. Good reports have also come in from the West Branch as well. Caddis still being the dominant hatch with many fish being caught on nymphs and streamers also.
Ponds in the area are starting to produce. We are beginning to see early signs of the Hex hatches, very sporadic, but an indication that the typical green drake mayfly hatch which typically starts around the 4th of July might be a little early. Smaller mayfly action has subsided on the ponds but with water temps still fairly low there are fish around, and willing to take a dry fly.
Breaking News !!!!!
June 3Ice out was early, mayflies were early and it appears that the caddis have arrived early as well. Typically we do not see the first caddis hatches until the middle of June but they are here now!! Anyone that was lucky enough to be fishing the East Outlet yesterday found themselves enjoying the first serious dry fly action of the summer. The first wave of caddis consisted of the bright green variety as usual but fishing emerger patterns and parachutes this time of year can be very important. The water level of the East Outlet also dropped considerably down to 1000 Cfs even with the deluge of rain we recently had. This is the optimal level for wading as almost all section of the river are easily accessible. So beat the crowds and head up early, the caddis are on!!
Fish On !!!!
Temperatures have been in the 90's the past few days and the fishing is really starting to heat up as well. When you head up this weekend make sure to bring your whole bag of tricks. We are still fishing a lot of streamers and nymphs in the river, but with water temps hovering between 50-54, expect anything. Reports of Hendrickson mayflies hatching are coming from all over the area, Moose River, Kennebec, and the Penobscot. Typically this early mayfly hatch will last about 10 days so if you want to experience the first dry fly fishing of the season, come on up!
Water levels are on the high side but still very fishable. Even better we still have a limited number of drift boat trips available for the first couple weeks in June, but they really are going fast!
In the nymphing department we are having a lot of success with caddis larva, especially the bright green ones. Typically the first caddis hatch will be in the first or second week in June, right now the river is filled with tons of larvae and the fish are eager to partake. On the eastern side of the lake good fishing reports are in from both The West Branch as well as The Roach. The Roach is at summer flow level so its worth checking out before the water starts to get to warm.
The still water ponds are beginning to percolate and seeing some nice hatch activity in the early mornings and evenings.
For the smallmouth fisherman now is the time! Most bass in the area should be making their way to the spawning beds as temps reach the magical 60 degree mark, which means its time to bring out the poppers and start working the surface.
Have a great Holiday weekend
...and it begins again
We are beginning to get some really nice weather in the Moosehead area, looks like it will be close to 80 today! The East Outlet of the Kennebec has been brought down to fishable levels today. It's been dropped to 2400 cfs which isn't the best level for wading but very fishable. There haven't been many fisherman around so the pressure is light and the fish are plentiful. Temps are still on the cooler side in the upper portions of the river so make sure you come equipped with some heavy sinking lines for your streamers and definately nymphing gear. This week will begin to see some of the Hendrickson's beginning to appear towards the lower end of the river, and with the forecast calling for unseasonably warm temps for the next week we could be in for a real treat.
Action on the ponds is ramping up as well. We are beginning to see the early hatches of mayflies. With the warmer weather don't be surprised to see some ants and other terrestrials creeping around the pond. A few good ant patterns are a necessity this time of year. Sometimes trout feeding on an ant hatch will ignore everything else.
So far so good on the weather and water fronts, we'll keep our fingers crossed. Surprisingly, with the extremely early ice out the fishing season, as far as hatches and water temp go, is exactly where it was last year! If you scroll down you can read the fishing reports from last year, sometimes it can be interesting to see what was going on this time last year!
Have a great weekend on the water.
Nothing but net!!
May 7Fishing traffic was light this week but most fishermen I talked to had nothing but good things to say.
It appear the smelt run was earlier than normal on the Moose River. No surprise. Fish are already throughout the river and all the way to the dam. Someone called here the other day looking for a taxidermist. He had caught a 4 lb brookie somewhere on the lake in the Rockwood area.
The East Outlet is down to 2400 cfs and prime for picking. We haven't started running the river yet but fish should be throughout the river.
The beautiful weather last week got the ponds perking. Folks were catching plenty of brookies using sinking lines. Dragon fly nymph imitations were doing the trick. Nothing on top just yet.
It's sucker spawn season. If you haven't fished them yet you're missing out. Suckers will start spawning around the mouth and in the rivers. Trout love to lay just downstream of the beloved beasts sucking in their eggs. Suckers are good for something. It's a short window of opportunity but the window is now open.
Streamer fishing is probably the most productive way to catch early season fish. You've got your favorite streamer on and made a great cast. The fly is right where you want it. Now what do you do? There are two schools to fly fishing. The 1st is learning how to get your fly out there. You just did that. The 2nd is what to do with your fly now that it's where you want it. It's all about the retrieve. Different flies, different fish, and different times of the season require different retrieves. Ever been with someone who was doing all the catching and you're using the same fly? Who hasn't. Don't focus on where they are fishing but what they are doing with the fly. It's got to appear natural, if it doesn't you're not playing the game right.
I'll try and make some sense of it all, starting with early season streamer fishing on moving water. When you're fishing streamers in the spring your fly is supposed to represent some species of minnow, mainly smelts in our neighborhood. Bait fish scurry about not hanging in any one place for any length of time. They stop in the wrong place and they stand the likely chance of getting eaten.
In moving water, as your fly swings across the current, flip the tip of your rod slightly to give your fly a little life. Flip the rod tip 4 inches and your fly accelerates ahead 4 inches. Pump the rod a foot and so goes your fly. A fish may slam the streamer as it moves cross current but we all know most strikes come at the end of the swing when your fly stops in the current for a second or two. Try leaving it there for a bit and give it a couple more jigs before you start the retrieve. You'll provoke more strikes. Now as you retrieve it stop the retrieve every few feet. Your fly may go right by a fish that may not be in the mood to chase it but then it stops and becomes a easy target.
So many times fishermen recast a streamer before they can see it. It drives me crazy. If we had a fly camera to prove it, I bet anything they may be taking the fly away from an interested fish without knowing it. I always, always, always retrieve my streamer close enough to see it, stop, then jig the fly in that spot a couple of times before making another cast. A) I'm making sure the fly is not fouled. Streamers are notorious for that. Ever reel up to leave or change your fly and find your streamer in a tangle. Who knows how long you've been fishing a fly that won't even catch bottom. B) A fish may just make a try for your fly before your very eyes which is always a thrill you'll be talking about later around the campfire.
If one retrieve isn't working, change. I like to not cast all the line I have out and as the streamer swings cross current feed more line allowing the fly to drop downstream then use a couple quick jigs to turn the fly giving it a little different presentation. Subtle changes sometimes make huge differences. If a fish makes a pass at your fly at the end of the swing leave the fly there. Do not recast, you're taking the fly away from an interested fish. Leave it in the water and jig the fly, move it just a little to the right then left. Do a strip tease. Tickle him. It's amazing how many times you'll get a fish to chase your fly again. Some are down right suicidal.
So I'll just finish by saying "It is important where you put your fly but I believe it's way more important what you do with your fly after it's out there."
Have a great time on the water.
The regions trout ponds are true jewels
Now that the ice has made an early retreat and the river are a bit too high and cold to fish give one of our many wild brook trout pond a try.
In the Moosehead Lake region we have an inventory of wild brook trout ponds that, for the most part go overlooked. An effort was made years ago to put regulations in place and revive our ailing wild brook trout populations in all our wild brook trout ponds. It has been a wonderful success story but never made the pages of fishing publications. Pick up a fly fishing magazine and it's all about moving water.
A flat calm trout pond may not appear as exciting as the next pool in the river but there isn't a more peaceful spot on earth. And you will likely have it all to yourself, everyone else is on the river. The only equipment you need other than your fishing gear is a canoe, kayak, or float tube and you're good to go.
A ponds fishing cycle starts a few days after ice goes out. The high sun begins to warm the water a bit and aquatic insects become more active. Dragon fly nymphs are busy preying on mayfly and caddis nymphs in the shallows. A sinking line and a good dragon fly imitation fished at the drop-off along the sunny shoreline will usually produce the first brookies of the season. By the end of May-beginning of June mayflies begin their cycle. They start hatching in early afternoon and continue hatching until about 5, leaving plenty of time for happy hour. The action can be fast and furious, spotting, stalking, and casting to cruising fish eating everything in their path. Tie an emerger on as a dropper behind your mayfly and you may catch two at a time.
During your time on a back country trout pond don't be surprised if a moose or two is sharing your cove as they feed on the aquatic plant life also beginning to grow. Pick a pond that produces lots of trout and has liberal laws and you may take a few for breakfast or choose a pond where strict regulations allow fish to grow to photo size and try for a BIG one.
The peace and quite can become infectious.
Have a look at our Remote Pond Info where you'll find 40 ponds within an hour of Greenville. Grab your Maine Atlas, do a little research and this season devote a little of your precious fishing time chasing wild brook trout on one of our many backcountry ponds. You won't be disappointed.
You'll find a nice collection dragon fly nymphs and early mayfly selection at our on-line catalog.
The ice is long gone!!
April 30, 2010
Ice left the Moosehead Region very early this season almost breaking the all time record. It was officially called out on April 15th, one day later than the record.
The great weather of late March and early April led everyone to believe things we're going to be summer like soon. Then April returned and things have returned to near normal with snow squalls roaring down main street Greenville April 29th.
Smelt have been running in the smaller streams but the big river runs are just now beginning and the warmer weather predicted for this weekend should send those smelt to their spawning grounds in the Moose, Roach, and East Outlet.
There have been very few fishermen out and about. The rivers have been a bit to high and the weather hasn't been very favorable for pond fishing. That should change with the warmer weather predicted for this weekend.
The good news is the East Outlet just came down to 2800 cfs and those fish haven't seen any flies yet.
My guess is the lower river might be better because of the gathering of smelt.
The fish will all be stacked up at the mouth of the Moose River where all the smelt are but fish have been seen chasing smelt up in the river a bit. Tomorrow, May 1st is opening day on Moosehead Lake so anywhere the smelt are gathered at the mouth of a stream is where you want to be.
Sinking lines and smelt patterns. If your fly isn't down 3-4' fish you're not really in the zone.
April 4, 2010
Ian Cameron has been guiding for us forever and is drawn to the rivers as soon as spring shows. Here is the account of his first outing of the new season.
Ian and Bamboo Bob's Excellent Fishing Adventure
Friday, April 2 was a gorgeous blue bird day in Greenville. With temperatures close to 70 degrees Ian and Bamboo Bob headed to the East Outlet for our annual early bird outing. Past years had found us struggling through waist high snow. This time there was barely any in the woods or along the shoreline. The high peaks though, still hold snow.
The flow on the EO was down from 750 to 550 CFS. It was reduced because of flooding on the main stem of the Kennebec, The dam keeper told us that it would be ramped up to 1000 CFS on April 3. We fished from the dam, all the usual known honey holes, some pocket water down stream a little past the Route 15 bridge.
We tried assorted streamers, nymphs, and woolly buggers. Turning over rocks showed active aquatic life and the water temperature was 42 degrees. We never moved or saw a fish...but the excitement and the "feeling" was with us.
We decided that we needed deeper and slower water. The Beech Pool fits the bill for this. The road was firm, and we drove and parked above the road down to the pool.
It looked perfect. No fish, but we saw butterflies, midges on the water, ducks cavorting, and we sat in the sun.
A little after lunch we drove to the Moose River and fished both sides below the dam. Still no fish, but still midges on the water and the feeling was "fishy."
We headed back to the EO, and decided to chance a drive down the West Outlet road hoping we could get to Indian Pond. We almost made it, but turned back because the road was a little too boggy. as this was the first trip of the year, we decided that getting stuck in the woods would be better after a few more trips under our belts.
All in all, it was a wonderfully satisfying day to out in the North woods....and, as we all know, when we're skunked..."It's not about the fish."
During the winter months, while the region is in a deep freeze and there isn't any reporting to be done, our "Fishing Report" page remains very idle.
This off season we will be posting articles of interest about what's going on behind the scenes that often goes unnoticed. There is always ongoing research to further understand, maintain, and improve our fisheries...a great opportunity to learn more about life beneath the surface of the water. Fisheries science has moved to a new dimension. We find it fascinating and we believe you will too.
NEW Year-Round Fishing Law Book
The Department of Island Fisheries and Wildlife and been working on a new system of regulations that combine Maine's fishing laws into one book and include both summer and winter regulations. It is intended to save the department a bundle of money, address conflicting laws and establish a new code system needed when special regulations are applied to a given body of water. It is not radically different from past law books but the format has changed so you'll need to learn how to use it in order to check for special regulations.
Try my approach. Every season I always pick-up two new fishing law books. I put one in the vehicle and the other next to my rocking chair so when I'm spending some down time I'll read it from cover to cover and have a check on my favorite spots for any changes. The nice thing about a year round, two year book is now I will only have to get caught up every other year and that's a good thing.
The new fishing law books are now available so check with your local sporting goods shop. The new book contains both summer and winter regulations and is in effect from April 1, 2010- March 31, 2012. You can also view or download your own copy from the Department's web site. Click the IF&W logo above to see the new law book.
Here are some changes for waters in our area. First, all waters open under Group A for ice fishing are now open for the month of April to ice fishing as well as open water fishing. This should provide some great days of ice fishing on waters like Prong Pond, Fitzgerald Pond, and Little Big Wood Pond. Second, we have removed the delayed opening at First Roach Pond. You can now open water fish starting on April 1st . Also, we are reverting back to the 5 togue limit on Moosehead Lake starting this summer. All 5 can be l4-18" and only 1 may be greater than 18".
Maine's Black Bear Research Program
While fishing with customers I often chat about the natural wonders of nature all around us and that there is much more to a day spent in the back country of Maine than just the fish.
During our off season another dedicated group is very busy trudging through the woods looking after those very creatures we find so fascinating.
An email came to us the other day about the ongoing Maine Black Bear Project that we want to share with everyone. Good stuff that goes on during the dead of winter.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has been studying Maine's black bear population for quite some time. Biologists have been tracking a number of radio collared bears year round. During winter hibernation they get the opportunity to pay a visit to den sites and check on hibernating bears and their newborn cubs. The little guys, helpless at birth, are born in the den during the winter months. They feed on mother's milk while she tends to them between naps, all tucked away in their den until the snow leaves when they emerge to begin their new lives as one on Maine's fascinating and elusive creatures.
If you haven't seen this yet, it's a video of one typical visit to a bear's winter den. The mother bear is safely tranquilized so she and her offspring can get their physical unharmed then be returned to their hideaway to continue their long winter's nap. Although this biologist's visit to a bear's den is routine, what they discovered at this particular den was not.
Click on the photo of the cubs to view the video and what they found on a beautiful winter's day in the back country of Maine.
Natural Resource Education Center will build a new Visitors Center in Greenville
Realizing a Dream – NREC receives grant to build Visitor’s Center
The Natural Resource Education Center at Moosehead (NREC) is pleased to have been awarded a grant of $253,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Enterprise Program. The funds from this grant, in combination with our Capital Fund, will be used to fulfill one of NREC’s primary goals of developing a Visitor Center for the Moosehead Lake Region.
We envision a center that will provide permanent exhibits for visitors to learn about the history, heritage, and recreational opportunities in the area. The new building will be NREC’s new headquarters and provide a location to carry on our Maine Wood Explorer (K-12) program and monthly evening educational programs on various outdoor topics. The facility will house orientation and interpretation services, educational exhibits, both on-site and off-site programs, interpretive trails, and events that explain and celebrate the unique natural and cultural heritage of the region. The new center will also house the Moosehead Lake Chamber of Commerce which recorded over 24,000 office visits last year. We plan to have a large conference room and rent office space to help fund maintenance for the new building.
We will be working with the Town of Greenville and the Moosehead Region Chamber of Commerce to develop the new building on the NREC property abutting the DOT rest area just south of Greenville on Rte 15. We are currently working with DOT and the Town of Greenville to acquire the rest area. It is a perfect location to welcome and provide information to the many guests that vacation in the Moosehead Lake Region.
We want to thank Dr. Ken Woodbury of the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council for his assistance in writing and applying for the grant. We are also grateful to NREC’s past-president Eric Ward for taking the lead on the project and thanks to all the members of NREC for their support over the past 13 years.
Moosehead Lake wild brook trout study
January 2010The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is partnering with NextEra Energy, The Natural Resource Education Center at Moosehead, and Plum Creek to conduct a two year study of the wild brook trout population in Moosehead Lake. Moosehead Lake is a 75,000 acre oligotrophic lake with wild brook trout, lake trout, and landlocked salmon fisheries. It is the largest wild brook trout lake east of the Great Lakes. The recreational fishery in this lake and its tributaries and outlets are of major economic value to the region and to the State.
The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (EBTJV) identified Maine as the “Jewel” of the eastern range with the most intact wild populations of any state in the northeast. In addition, Maine is the only state with large lakes (over 5,000 acres) of self-sustaining populations of brook trout. We are the last stronghold for wild brook trout and represent a unique opportunity for research to improve the knowledge base and to promote better stewardship and restoration projects across the northeast. In March 2008, the EBTJV identified 10 areas of study needed for brook trout in large lakes and rivers. The Moosehead Lake project has multiple objectives which address several of these research needs. This study will quantify the difference in population size and any changes in sex/maturity or age/growth. We will also be able to compare the number of brook trout utilizing Socatean Stream in 2009 to data collected in 1958, when Fisheries Biologist Roger Auclair constructed a wooden weir on the stream.
The specific research needs identified in that 2008 meeting that will be addressed during this study include:
1. Movements of brook trout in large lakes and rivers.
2. Interactions between brook trout and exotic salmonid fish species.
3. Interactions between brook trout and exotic non-salmonid species.
4. Factors influencing brook trout spawning survival.
5. Determination of persistent population size.
6. Effectiveness of regulations for brook trout management.
Our assessment will include a major initiative to evaluate all of the major and minor spawning tributaries in two years. Specifically, we plan to fabricate and operate a fish weir on two major brook trout spawning tributaries to capture the entire runs beginning in 2009. Trapnets will be used to capture brook trout at the mouths of smaller tributaries and at potential shoreline spawning sites. Thirty mature brook trout from the Roach River, Socatean Stream, and various shoreline sites will have a radio transmitter surgically implanted in the body cavity. All mature brook trout captured will receive an individually coded PIT tag and a fin clip. We will install stationary dataloggers on the source streams to identify fish moving into and out of the stream/river. Aerial flights will be conducted bi-weekly during the fall and monthly during the remainder of the year.
Tracking will allow us to locate specific spawning areas, areas of winter refuge in the streams, areas of winter refuge in the lake, identify mortalities and estimate post-spawning mortality, and track general fish movements in this large lake system with multiple inlets and outlets. Winter angler surveys and angler counts in combination with the PIT tag information will allow us to estimate angler use, harvest, and exploitation of wild brook trout in the winter fishery. Population data collected from Socatean Stream will be comparable to work completed by Roger Auclair in 1957.
The study has already begun.
The weir was installed on Socatean Stream in late August and we immediately began catching mature wild brook trout moving into the stream in preparation for the fall spawning. Clearly, flow was the most important factor on trout movement into the stream. Each time we saw an increase in flow, there was an immediate response of more trout moving into the stream (and the weir). In fact, it was extremely dry in early September and we stopped catching trout in the weir. So, we took a day to survey the entire stream and remove debris/beaver dams. We removed several large beaver dams which created a small, short term increase in the stream flow as the beaver flowages were drawn down. At the end of the day, we observed several trout in the weir and more came in over night due to this flow increase. Each time we had a rain event; more fish would come into the stream. Peak movement occurred during peak flows and movement quickly dissipated as the natural flows receded.
The weir operated from late August through late October. We had hoped to operate it through November; however, a large rain event the weekend of Oct 24th caused scouring and washing under and around the structure and it could not be reset in the high flows. Therefore, we removed it later that week.
We caught 372 wild brook trout in our weir during the study. Most of the fish were 14-17” in length. We took one large female that was just over 21” and 3 lbs. We know we missed many fish as well. Several times we had holes appear under the weir and fish were able to pass. We observed dozens pass around our feet one day while trying to patch the holes. In late October, we seined a pool of trout to count the number of tagged vs. untagged fish to try to estimate the number we missed. We seined 39 trout and only 10% were marked! Overall, we were very impressed with the numbers of fish in the stream. Socatean Stream still has a strong run of wild brook trout.
We were able to implant radio telemetry transmitters into 40 fish. All other fish were PIT tagged. We tracked the radio tagged fish through the fall and were able to locate many spawning areas in the stream (Note the antenna protruding from male trout in photo!). We only observed 1 mortality in the tagged fish prior to the onset of spawning. These radio tags have mortality switches which emit a different signal when the fish dies. We expected to see high post-spawning based on a similar study at Chamberlain Lake and the work conducted on Socatean Stream in 1957. To date, we have seen 58% mortality on these fish. This is very similar to data collected at Chamberlain Lake.
We will continue to track these fish from a plane during the winter months to locate areas of winter refuge. We will install our antennas on the stream next spring to see if and when any fish return to Socatean Stream. We also received grant for nearly $12,000 from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund (The instant lottery ticket fund) to conduct the same study on the Roach River beginning next August.
You'll find more pictures of the original and new weirs at our photos page.
The East Outlet Rules!!!
The East Outlet flow is now at 1000 cfs and will probably stay that way for awhile. You can literally fish anywhere in the entire river.
Bring your full bag of tricks. Fish this time of season have their mind on each other and not so much on food. Hatch season is over except for late season Blue wing olives in the size 24 range.
What works in one pool doesn't in the next. My best piece of advice is "If it's not producing change it".
Fish from top to bottom. Talk to 10 different anglers and you'll get 8 different answers. Yesterday we caught fish on top with tiny wets, on the bottom with buggers and nymphs, and took fish swinging big streamers. We had to constantly change our tactics, and we got very nice fish.
The water temps are now in the mid-50's so fresh fish should start showing but the fish that have been in the river for a while are catchable, you just need to be willing to change tactics often.
Rumor has it there are good numbers of handsome brookies in the upper river. The photo above says it all.
Have a great October. It's not all about shotguns anymore.
Last Call! Can you believe the summer is over? It feels like it never started, but there are only 5 more days left in the regular open water fishing season. Remember that the East Outlet will remain open for an extended catch and release season beginning October 1st. The way this fall has shaped up I expect October to be a great time to hit the water on the East Outlet
The next 5 days are looking good for fishing, cool nights and overcast days, the perfect weather for swinging a big old streamer across the current. The flow at the East Outlet is at 1355cfs which makes wading a breeze and reports are that some nice fish have entered the river just begging to be caught! Streamers and nymphs are still the choice of the day. All the usual patterns ; grey ghosts, woolly buggers, mitchell creek, footer specials, etc and for nymphs small, 16-18 pheasant tails, hare's ears, and copper johns should do the trick.
The Roach River has been as consistent as always for solid September fishing. Fish are being found throughout the river at both upper and lower pools. Many fisherman will focus on the pools if your looking to beat the crowds, work the pocket water in between! Just as many fish can be found in between the pools this time of year moving from pool to pool. One way to cover even more ground is to tie a trailing streamer behind the bend of the lead streamer. I like to experiment by tying different combinations of color, size and style, Sometimes fish will hit the lead and sometimes the trailer.
T-Minus 12 Days!!
12 more days to go until the end of open water fishing for most waters!! The East Outlet has been fishing well as of late, we are beginning to see some of the larger spawning fish enter the river. As of yesterday the water temperature was 58 degrees, we have had some very cool nights! Nymphing seems to be the most productive of fishing styles, small pheasant tails, hares ears, and copper johns in the 16-18 range have been effective. Although fish will still chase the big streamer from time to time. Last night the upper end of the east outlet saw an incredible caddis hatch! Strange but true brown caddis in the 12-14 variety were the choice of the evening, definately not something that happens on a typical September evening but we have seen some strange things this year!
Things have really been heating up at the Roach River. It had been quite slow as of late but a bump of 50 more cfs has really done a bunch to draw some more of those spawners in. I had a great evening of fishing with streamers in portions of the lower river which is a good sign and catching brightly chromed, fresh fish in the river was an even better one. At 250 cfs fish can be lurking anywhere in the river. Earlier the focus has been strictly in the pools but with the extra water fish will move around and enter some of the pocket waters which lets us spread out a bit.
The Moose River has finally been brought down to very wadeable levels, it had been running near 2000 for most of the summer. Reports are that there is plenty of activity and good fishing, but not too much in the way of size, but with only twelve days remaining who can complain??
Fall is Here!!
September 9The key to great fall fishing is higher water levels and lowering water temperatures. Well we have one of those covered. We have seen increasingly cooler night time temperatures in the area, which has been great, most river temps are in the low to mid sixties throughout the area. Although I hate to say it the best thing that could happen now is...rain! Cooling water temps are great but for really great fishing some higher water would be perfect.
Fishing has been good throughout the area. The East Outlet has been consistently producing, still caddis in the early morning and late evenings, small-small-small. Swinging big streamers is also attracting a lot of fish as well, the typical fall patterns; Montreal Whores, Shufelt Specials, lots of white! By the end of September fish have seen every shape, size and color of fly so take this chance to use some of the standard fall patterns before the crowds come!
Water temperature already dropping
It's been a bit of a roller coaster ride this summer with water levels bouncing all over the place. The plug on the Roach River had to be pulled earlier for a time. All that did was pull in more salmon for the upper pools. It's currently flowing at 115 cfs but will be likely be increased to 200 cfs by the end of this coming week. The perfect fall flow. We can count on an early run of fish especially with water temperatures already back in the 60's.
Fish are still taking everything, streamers, nymphs, and dries. The tiny caddis of mid-summer have been hatching for sometime, mostly in the morning and late evenings.
In the morning look to the shaded side of the river. We have been seeing
hatches of small, #16 Goddard Caddis and tiny, #18 Black Elk Wing caddis. Small Hemingway
Caddis have been doing some damage on the feeding trout and salmon as well.
Remember when you are faced with higher than normal water levels look to the shallower, slower moving water near the river's bank. Fish often move from heavy water flow areas where they normally hold to lesser flows and shallower (2-3 foot)water.Fish will be in places you never see them during more normal, lower flows.
Pull out your full bag of tricks. Start by throwing a cheeseburger over the bigger water. Tie a beadhead caddis pupa as a dropper behind the big fly. Fish see the cheeseburger but often grab the dropper hanging beneath. Use a double caddis rig along the edges and over shallow, slower moving water or put on a sink-tip line
and fish a good sized streamer in the depth of the pools and runs. It's not to soon to use your bright fall patterns. We tied on a Montreal Whore the other day and hooked a nice bunch of salmon already in the river, officially starting the
spawning run of fall.
We've been told that the Moosehead Lake will not be drawn down as low this fall as in past years. It's about the togue spawning. What this means is we should see a drop in the water flows sometime in the future but I know just when.
It won't be long before the small pond trout emerge from spring holes where they have been spending their time during the heat of summer. When warming waters sent them to spring holes to wait out the heat they were fat and happy from all
the insect hatches earlier in the season. When they decide to leave the cool water of the spring
holes trout do so because they are hungry once again and begin roaming the pond for a meal. Launch out a nice, fluffy Wulff or a Hornberg, then give it a twitch once in a while so hungry trout can find it or try a traditional, bright fall streamer like a Micky Finn or Royal Coachman and use a jerky retrieve in the film of the water if the dries aren't getting ant attention.
I can't think of a much nicer way to spend a fall day than on one of our many small ponds.
Good Late Summer Fishing
The unusual heavy rains and high waters of the past month has done a lot to help the fishing in these dog days of August. The East outlet has been experiencing higher than usual water flows, generally around 3000cfs, this is at the upper level of wadeability. This time of year it would be more common to have flows around 1200. Although the higher water doesn't make the wading easy is does however keep more fish in the river by keeping the water somewhat cooler. The best times to fish have been in the early early mornings and late evenings. High sunny skies in the midday will usually settle most of the fish down till evening. Hatchwise caddis still seems to be the big show in town, sporadically hatching in the evening, nymphing and streamers should be the way to go in the morning. Don't forget to try stoneflies and stimulator patterns as well. Consistently darker and smaller caddis patterns have been most productive, black caddis, miracle caddis, etc have all been working well.
Water has gone down, and the fish have come up!
With the deluge of water we saw last week the rivers are returning to very fishable levels. It seems like deja vu here, the same thing happened in August of last year with heavy rains and high water but there is a bright side!! All of this water has brought fish in great numbers into the rivers, and has managed to keep the temperature down as well. The East Outlet as of today has come down to 3000cfs which is just about the boundary for wading levels, but with no significant rain in the forecast it should drop even more. The fishing is fast and furious! Caddis are still proving to be successful as well as the big stimulators. Streamer fishing is always a good thing to try after high water, new fish from the lake and Indian Pond are generally chasing small fish, perch, and other bait fish. So swing your streamers and hang on! The Roach River is seeing a ton of water, 500 cfs as of today!! A considerable number of fish should be entering the river right now, as the water gets brought down the fishing should be fantastic. Typically August is the slowest time of the season but with these heavy flows and low water temperatures this August should give us a great extended fishing season!
Water levels back to wadable levels
As you can see in the photo above Emily Farley was a very happy camper when she drifted a pair of dries at the head of a pool, on a guided trip at the East Outlet, and hooked not one but a pair of nice brookies. This doesn't happen very often. Way to go Emily!!!
Water levels have finally subsided to more fishable levels and it looks like they should stay fairly stable if we don't get any measurable rain in the near future.
High water will screw-up the fishing but it will bring in another crop of fish.
The East Outlet is again full of fish from one end to the other and with water temperatures presently in the low 60's fishing will hold up for quite some time. The same applies to the Moose River.
The giant stones of summer are now out so it's time to drift those big stimulators and foam stones over big water. There are still good caddis hatches in the evening, black is the color.
The green drakes have now been hatching for about a week and continue to hatch on some of the area ponds. The water temperature in the ponds remain cool enough to keep the trout out of the spring holes and cruising about in the evenings grabbing whatever in available on the surface. It won't be long though before the heat of summer drives the trout into spring holes were they will rest fat and happy living on the fat they built up from all those hatches that ends when the drakes quite.
Fishing is holding up nicely for now.
Great fishing in between the raindrops
So as of today both the Moose and the East Outlet are running just a bit high(okay a lot!) but that doesn't mean there aren't great opprotunities to catch fish in the area. The Roach River has been bumped up to 250 cfs which is great. A high flow in the summer can help bring some new fish into the river, as well as expanding some of the fishable area. Caddis is still king but don't forget to try your nymphs as well your go-to streamer patterns. The West Branch of the Penobscot is still fishing well. Chesuncook Lake is capable of holding a large amount of water so the heavy rains haven't affected the flow at Ripogenus Dam. Again caddis are your best choice, but I have also heard reports of wooly buggers becoming a favorite, coneheads in black, olive, and brown.
Another overlooked spot is the the West Outlet of the Kennebec, it doesn't get the press of the East Outlet but it can definately be just as good of a time. Smallmouth bass rule the ponds but the quick water sections down to Somerset Junction hold a ton of beautiful brookies. While you aren't gonna necessarily bring home a trophy no one ever complains about catching a bunch of 12-14 inch fish.
Keep in mind while the high water holds back the fishing now when the water returns to its normal flows...look out!! The East Outlet and Moose will both see fresh runs of fish and the rivers will be on fire!
The drake have not yet shown up in any real numbers but our local indicators ponds are starting to have small hatches which means the main event isn't far away. I suspect as soon as the sun starts to shine again and the water warms just a bit the small ponds will be the place to be.
Water levels still fine and fishable
While most of Maine and the rest of the east coast have been under a deluge of water the Moosehead Lake area has remained on the drier side. We have had very minimal amounts of rain which has kept the water levels in the rivers very consistent and the fishing excellent. Looking back at the water flows from last summer, this week saw flows between 7000 - 12000 cfs at the East Outlet!! Its a much different story this year, this week the Outlet has hovered around the 1400- 1700cfs level which is really good for wading. As far as techniques go be sure to bring your imagination with you as well. Caddis are prevalent all over the river right now smaller caddis in the 14-18 size range have been working well, but don't be surprised when what worked on the last pool doesn't even get a look on the next, be prepared to switch flies often. Experimenting with different dropper set ups is a neccessity. Dangling a nymph behind a dry can be very effective as well as tying caddis of different sizes and colors as well.
In the warmer waters of Indian Pond the Bass spawn is all but over. Look to the stumps and other structure to find the lunkers. Having a good selection of poppers is key right now, matching the popper to the kind of light, bright days- yellows,chartreuse to dark days- blacks and reds, will get you on to some more fish. As the spawn is ending in the warmer water this usually means that the action will heat up in the cooler waters of Lily Bay in Moosehead. The same rules and flies apply, find structure and you'll find bass, and Lily Bay has no shortage, fields of boulders and stumps abound and provide bass "condominiums" to lots of big fish.
Caddis, Caddis, Everywhere
It's caddis, caddis, caddis everywhere now. If this says anything about how fish love caddis I had customers on the West Branch below Rip Dam the other day and they brought up over 100 fish to caddis imitations. Every fish in the river loves to eat caddis.
For a while it'll be elk wing caddis in sizes 12-16. Have a close look at early season caddis from the top and they all look just about the same but flip them over and look at the bottom side from a fishes angle and you'll find, bright green, olive, brown and black bodies. Believe me the fish know the difference.
We like to rig a second caddis as a dropper behind the lead fly. Use about 2 feet of 4X or 5X tippet and tie it to the bend of your first fly. Choose a different color body or a different size caddis for the dropper. Dead drift your flies much like you do mayflies but at the end of the drift lift your rod-tip and skitter the caddis upstream a few feet then drop your rod-tip and dead drift them back over the same water. Unlike mayflies, caddis often skittle along the surface in an attempt to fly and fish often key in on the tiny v-wake they are making. You'll be surprised at who might take a stab at the helpless caddis you are dead drifting back over the same water you just fished.
Even though there may not be a caddis hatch going on at the time you are fishing, every fish in the river is now looking up and with water temperatures still cool they have no problem coming to the surface for your dry fly.
Nymphing is always in season and now is the time to break in your caddis pupa in all those popular colors. Work the eddy lines especially at the heads of the pools. Make sure to let your nymph drift to the surface before you recast them. Fish are used to chasing caddis as they naturally head for the surface to hatch. Don't be surprised if something nails your nymph on the pick-up.
As the caddis hatches progress and fish start getting a bit fussy about what they want try not treating your dry fly with floatant and fishing it in the film of the water as a cripple or take your nipper and trim it back a bit to imitate the emerger instead of the adult. It's good to have a few tricks up your sleeve, you'll start fooling a lot more fish.
Start making plans for the Green Drake (Hex) hatches. They haven't started yet but predictions have the event scheduled to start sooner than later.
So polish off your monster mayflies and if you need a few new ones go to our
Our on-line Catalog where you will find a great selection of proven winners.
Big Bugs for Big Bass
Smallmouth bass season is just upon us. Although we have had some fantastic daytime tempertures, into the seventies, the night time temps have not really sustained an overall warm up in water temperatures. For bass to begin the spawning ritual we really need to see water tempertures hold in the low sixties. Large female bass abound in the west outlet of the Kennebec, Indian Pond, and Prong Pond, however the techniques to catch them are a little different than our warmer neighbors to the south. Right now bass are glued to structure and not very active in the shallows. A steady diet of sinking flies like buggers and clousers with stop start retrieves will entice strikes but patience is a must.
Reports from local rivers are also favorable, weather wise fishing can suffer from long periods of high pressure so while blue skies and seventy degrees can be good for the soul it might not always help for the fishing! Mayfly hatches are still being seen in great numbers, and great varieties. Make sure the flybox is stocked with all shapes, colors and sizes. Caddis are also showing sporadically along the Moose, Kennebec, and the West Branch of the Penobscot. Remember to skitter your caddis across the surface during the swing this can really entice some great top water action. The blanket hatches haven't happened yet so grab a handful of elkhair's and be prepared for some of the best fishing of the season!
The caddis are coming!!
In the past week the weather as well as the fishing is really beginning to heat up! We have finally seen temperatures in the 70's up here in the Moosehead Lake area. The mayfly hatches are in full swing, with hatches coming off early in the morning till late in the day. We have also had some reports of early caddis hatches in the Moose River area, although its not quite time to ditch the rest of your fly selection. If your headed up to the area its time to pack the entire arsenal; streamers, lots of nymph imitations, and a good selection of dries. The East Outlet has been continuing to fish well, expect to see a lot more brookies in the upper sections due to IFW stockings. Reports from the north say that the West Branch of the Penebscot is doing well. Lower energy costs are cutting into demand which is allowing the West Branch to see some real consistent flows. Ponds have also been doing quite well, trout have still been gorging themselves on dragonfly nymphs, but with dragonflies starting to emerge they will switch over to a more topwater diet from here on out.
The Hendricksons are Here!!!
Code Red! As you can see from the picture the mayflies are out in swarms!! Okay, the picture is an exageration but the hendricksons are finally here, and we couldn't be happier. Still plan on swinging streamers and working nymph patterns, but make sure you bring your dry flies when you head up north this week. Hatches have been ocuring daily on the Moose and East Outlet, usually during the warmest part of the day 12-4ish. The best part is that you don't always need to match the hatch perfectly a good drift will win over every time. With a low pressure system in the forecast fishing should remain steady right through the weekend.
The Heat is On
We have seen a crazy week of weather in the north woods, 27 degrees a few nights ago and just yesterday topping out in the low 90's. Unsettled weather to say the least, but it looks as if the temperature will stablize through the Memorial weekend and into next week. On the rivers we are really starting to see some significant hendrickson(dark) and blue wing olive hatches. If your fishing in the upper ends of the rivers stick with the sinking line streamers and weighted nymphs, the water from the lake is still pretty cold so the hatches will take a little while to make it upstream. Saw a few folks catch some nice landlocked salmon in the upper end of the East Outlet yesterday; copper johns, pheasant tails, and stonefly nymphs are all steady producers. The outlook is great so far, remember last year we really didn't see mayfly hatches up here till the first week in June, so we are ahead of the game this year.
Pond fishing strategies will remain the same, hopefully this weekend will bring some hatches. Warm weather can also signal ants, flying ants, carpenter ants, big and small. Folks are catching a lot of trout in the ponds with bellies just full of em. Dragonfly nymphs and woolly buggers should also attract some action, as well as pond classics like Hornbergs and Muddlers.
The Time is Now!!
Where to begin? With ice leaving the " big lake" early and without considerable rain(fingers crossed) the early season is really starting to take shape. Lakes, rivers, and ponds.
On the riverfront the East Outlet, as of 12pm this afternoon, will drop down to 2100 cfs! Which is great news. With heavy flows throughout the past couple of weeks a healthy run of fish should have come up from Indian Pond. So if your looking for something to do come up to the area and be one of the first to wade the East Outlet. The Roach River has also moved into "summer flows" and is moving about 100 cfs, barring any heavy rain it should stay at this level through the summer. Lots of new fish in these rivers can mean good fishing, they probably haven't seen too many grey ghosts or any of our other popular streamers. This is also a great time for nymphing; caddis,stonefly, and dare I say mayflies! can all be found on the river bottom. If you need any help stop in the shop we'll be glad to "hook" you up!
Trolling streamers is still king in the lakes and on the Moose River we are still hearing reports of big Salmon caught up Rockwood way. Ponds in the area are starting to fish well too. If casting tiny #24 midges isn't your thing, try working a big old dragonfly nymph close to shore. Dragonfly nymphs are little dinosaurs patrolling the shorelines for something to eat, which means that the brookies aren't to far behind.
This is a great time to check out the Moosehead Lake area. The bugs or the crowds aren't here yet and the fishing is fantastic! Stop by the shop and say hi on your way through! Good fishin to all.
Small ponds already fishing well
This picture says it all.
With early ice out this year, the small ponds have already heated up and some beautiful brookies are being caught.
Bring your sinking lines, dragon fly nymphs and streamers. It's shoreline fishing at its best. Expect a midge hatch in the afternoon if the water warms a degree or two during the day.
This is also prime time to troll for brookies in the big lake. Remember the ice out rule " Troll close enough to shore so you can see bottom on one side of the boat and not on the other."
The river flows are starting to come down and will likely be at wadeable levels by the weekend if we don't get any measurable rain.
Things are already starting to perk!!!
Ice is officially out everywhere
Ice was called out on Moosehead Lake, April 26th. The wonderful, warm weekend last week vaporized the remaining ice just about everywhere.
Because the water temperature would be rising at the West Outlet during that beautiful weather pattern I thought I would give the bass a try and you can see in the photo above I caught it right.
The West Outlet Dam at the lake has been producing some nice brookies and salmon. Some guys are claiming good numbers of fish as well.
The East Outlet has seen it's water flow double to 1200 cfs. Very wadeable. The lake is still down and needs to be filled more before any additional water will be added. It may take a week or more since the run-off everywhere but the Moose River is about done.
The Roach River is still running high at 500 cfs, down from the 800 cfs it was at, which makes it unwadable but will insure a good run of salmon. It's opening day on Moosehead Lake but I bet the mouth of the Roach is holding good numbers of fish feasting on smelt gathered there to spawn.
With the warm weather last week midges have started hatching on some of the shallow water trout ponds. Lots of opportunity there.
Don't forget your sinking lines, streamers or nymphs. Most of the fishing will be beneath the surface, at least for now.
I have left all of last years reports and water flows up so you can go back and do some comparison planning. There is a ton of worthy information if you take a little time and do a bit of homework you may find some more pieces to the very big puzzle. Just scroll to the bottom of the page and then start back up. It's worth an evening.
Life begins again!!!
Ice is officially gone !!!
Ice was officially called out on Moosehead Lake April 26.
The beautiful weather of last weekend vaporized the remaining ice. Everyone I talked to is saying the ice appears to be gone everywhere around here.
The smelts runs have started all over so it's time to shed any cabin fever that remains and head for the hills.
We'll be doing some hard snooping around in the next few days and report back hopefully with some pictures of the first fish of the season.
Life begins again!!!
Iceout won't be long.
Ice still remains on our lakes and ponds but it won't be long before we're be back on open water.
The great weather predicted for the upcoming weekend should gobble up most of the remaining ice.
Here is a preseason fishing forecast from our regional fisheries department. I thought you would find it interesting.
Variety is the salt of angling. In the Moosehead Lake Region, the angler can find the variety of angling opportunities in which they seek. There are various fish species to pursue and various types of angling techniques to bag your quarry. After a long and successful winter of ice fishing in the Moosehead Lake Region we will soon hear the delightful sounds of the words “ice-out”. Snow melt and spring run-off are changing angling opportunities daily. Although many of the ponds and lakes are still covered with ice they will produce some of the fastest fishing of the open water season shortly after ice-out.
Lake trout fishing strategies change with the season. Lake trout typically seek a constant water temperature between 40-52 degrees F. Lake trout can be targeted between the surface and at depth of 15 feet at ice-out. In mid- to late spring, anglers will need to get down to deeper water around depths of 30 – 50 feet as water temperatures increase. Lake trout primarily feed on small fish, but can be taken with heavy jigs or cut bait and are also caught by trolling large spoons and lures. Anglers can find some fast fishing on Moosehead Lake, First Roach Pond, and Lower Wilson Pond if they are targeting lake trout this spring.
Spring is also a good time to find landlocked salmon cruising the shallows and the mouths of tributaries looking for smelts as they begin to congregate. Gray Ghosts, Black Ghosts, Mickey Fins, and a variety of other smelt imitation streamer patterns can be deadly this time of year. So as local ponds and lakes that provide principle fisheries for these mini-Atlantics begin to thaw, anglers could be surprised at what the Moosehead Lake Region has to offer. Some places to try this spring are Chesuncook Lake, Brassua Lake, Moosehead Lake, and First Roach Pond. There are also good opportunities to catch landlocked salmon on some of our local river fisheries like the Roach River, Moose River, East and West Outlets of the Kennebec, and the West Branch of the Penobscot.
Many of the season’s largest brook trout are caught along the shore as water temperatures begin to increase. Even the most novice angler can find fish that will take an assortment of flies, lures, and bait. Make sure to check the law book to determine which fishing gear is allowed on bodies of water you plan to fish.
Once we begin to see an increase in water temperatures and a decrease in stream and river flows, we will begin our annual spring stocking of legal-size brook trout. These brook trout are stocked in easily accessible waters through the region to create “instant fishing” opportunities. Many of these waters are stocked on more than one occasion to distribute the catch among anglers and to ensure fishing success longer into the season.
Finally it's time to talk fishing again.
We have missed the smell of campfire coffee
and time spent on the waters of the Moosehead Lake Region.
It appears winter is loosening it's grip a little sooner this season than last. The recent warmer weather and rain has the snow pack much lower than last season. You can leave your snowshoes at home.
The East Outlet is at it's annual spring flow of 500 cfs. The plan is to start filling Moosehead Lake which is always drawn way down during the winter and to manage potential flooding downstream now that the state's snow pack is turning to runoff.
It's the perfect time to really learn the East Outlet. At 500 cfs you will see the dimensions of every pool and run and begin to understand why you find fish is certain places when the river is at normal levels when reading the river can be very difficult.
April below the East Outlet is about fooling fish, mainly salmon, that have been in the river all winter scratching out a living feeding on the nymph population. Streamer aren't really on the menu yet because smelt runs are still a month away.
Over the winter 99% of the fish that have stayed in the river after the fall spawn slowly made their way up river to the dam pool. Reports from April anglers indicate fish are only being taken in or close to the dam pool and on nymphs.
April in the north country is more about the first outing of a new season and learning an old favorite or new river than hooking a bunch of fish.
It's about the season's first fish, spending time on the water with friends, and the smell of campfire coffee perked on an open fire.
"Ask the Guides"
During the winter months when we don't really have any fishing to report on we are going to dedicate our reports board to questions we receive from newsletter readers participating in our "Ask the Guides" segment. Here you will find questions sent in followed by comments from the guides who make their living guiding the waters of the Moosehead Lake Region.
When it comes to figuring out fish there is always something to learn. Please read, learn, and enjoy what the guides have to say.
Seneca Love sent us this great question,
"I have fished the East Outlet once in October, and I caught one
> salmon about 14 in. on a #18 hares ear nymph. That was the only time ever
> that I have fished the East Outlet. But I am extremely knowledgeable about
> the West Branch of the Penobscot, because that is rearly the only place I
> fish. Can you tell me the similarities between the East Outlet and the
> West Branch(such as hatches, types of fish, and productivity)?
It's all about time on the water required to learn any river.
The East Outlet has the same hatches with both salmon and trout. If there is
a difference it would be the West Branch has a much larger population of
salmon and also smelts. Al salmon are born in the WB and live out their
entire life in the river. The fish in the East Outlet come and go from both
Moosehead Lake and Indian Pond.
I guide both rivers and there are lots of times when I would consider the
East Outlet fishing better like last summer. After the hatches started to
fade away I found it hard to catch many fish with the higher than normal
flows on the West Branch. The East Outlet fished better for me because of
lower water flows making it more fishable.
The bottom line is it is all about time on the water and learning a system
and where the fish hold. We both know there is a lot of unproductive water wherever we fish.
The fish on the West Branch are all wild, bigger and stronger (with a few seasonal exceptions) than the fish on the East Outlet. The EO is about 50% stocked fish, but we're getting more and more wild fish every year. The brookies on the West Branch are all wild too.
When the water warms in the summer, the WB usually fishes much better because of colder water coming from Rip Dam, as opposed to the top water coming from the EO dam.
The EO "seems" to have a better and more consistent hatch of stone flies that the WB, but there may be those who find this to be the opposite. The caddis "seem" to be more prolific on the EO.
And as we all know, the smelts that come through Rip Dam provide the heavy dose of protein that grows bigger salmon.
In A.A. Luce's book Fishing and Thinking (1959), he wrote of the mysteries of the stream: " In trying to understand the behavior of the trout, as in trying to grasp the nature of truth, this attitude, technically called emperical, is essential. There are no 'causes' of the behavior of trout, if by 'cause' we mean a mechanical force acting on an animated machine, and mechanically producing effects...There is only one way of finding out whether it is a good fishing day or not; and that is to fish and find out. Experience is the only test."
See you on the river!
Bill Stanton sent in this great question to "ASK the Guides"
Which of your dry fly patterns would you recommend for skittering across the surface without absorbing too much water and sinking?
The caddis flies. We skitter them all the time because fish tend to chase caddis that skitter about naturally. Mayflies don't work very well if skittered, they need a drag free drift.
If you plan on skittering your caddis make sure to treat your leader with floatant also so it won't sink and pull down your fly.
Tim Shaw sent this question to "Ask the Guides",
I would like to see in your newsletter a little article on the tackle (lines, leader, flies) and techniques (area of pond, water temp, depth of water, time of year) for fishing in the ponds when no visible hatch is occurring. I am an experienced fly fisherman but have limited knowledge of pond fishing.
I have to say, one of the hardest skills to acquire is knowing how to work a trout pond when there is nothing going on, no hatch and no trout showing.
First you need the right tools for the job. Water temperature is always important so a good thermometer will help you determine what you should be trying.
You'll need at least two different fly lines, a floating and a sinking. If you own only one sinking line it should be a fast-sinking that is also a full sinking line, one with a sink rate of around 2 1/2 - 4 1/2 inches per second. A fast sinking, 10' sink-tip would be the next and a super-fast full sinking line if you plan to fish ponds of water depths greater than 15 feet.
At ice out, water will be under 40 degrees and insect activity is minimal. As the water slowly starts to warm mayfly nymphs start to actively feed in swallow 2-10' of water especially along the shoreline the sun beats down on. This renewed insect activity provides a banquet of food for dragon fly nymphs that now are crawling on top of the duff along the shoreline gobbling up the easy prey. It is here and now that the sink-tip line is important. With a good dragon fly nymph imitation you can cast along drop-offs then let your sink-tip line take the nymph to trout patrolling the shoreline. All you need is a short, 6' piece of 3X tippet material as your leader.
Nymphs just crawl about so a slow retrieve will work the best. This is a good time and place to use a black or olive woolly bugger also. If there is a good minnow population a streamer imitation like a black nose dace could do the trick, just use a faster retrieve.
As the water begins to warm after the ice has been out for a week of more you'll begin to see fish working the surface on any calm afternoon but you can see no obvious insect activity. It's midge season and time to drag out the tiny fly box that contains Griffiths Gnat , Blue Wing Olive, and Clusters in sizes 20-24. You'll need 6X tippet material and a very steady hand. Because they are near impossible to see on the water I like to use midges as a dropper 2'- 3' behind a larger dry fly. It lets you know where the midge is and acts as a strike indicator. Trout tend to sip midges making it hard to see the take. If your larger dry moves just lift your rod. Remember you'll be playing a sometimes large trout on a very tiny hook on very light leader.
When June finally arrives so does the mayfly hatches. For the first couple for weeks the fish keep bankers hours. The high sun warms the water a few degrees by mid-day when hatches begin and continue all afternoon till around 5 pm then fade away and fat, happy trout disappear. You might as well head for Happy Hour because late evening feeding isn't that popular to the trout. If you want to stay you might catch a spinner fall just at dark but fish are fat and happy from the mid-day meal and quite often not that interested. Hatches include Blue Dunns, Black Gnats, Adams, Hendricksons and Red Quills in size 10 or 12. If fish get finicky I will use the associated unweighted nymph as a dropped a couple of feet behind the dry.
Bankers hours don't last that long as the heat of summer arrives warming the water to over 70 degrees driving trout to the cooler 55-60 degree water of spring holes where they will spend most of their time till fall when the water cools. If is wasn't for cold spring water entering the ponds from the bottom, often in a small area no bigger than the foundation of a house, trout could not survive the heat of summer.
If there is a magical time during the summer trout pond cycle it comes around the beginning of July with the Green Drake or Hex hatches. The monster mayflies that hatch just before dark will bring the biggest trout out of the spring holes in search of the abundant bugs often referred to as cheeseburgers with wings. If you have even witnessed the first drake hatch on a pond you will never stop talking about it. I always bring a second rod with a sinking line along. With the right nymph you can begin to catch trout well before sunset as fish begin to cruise the shallows in search of an easy meal.
Once the Drakes are done hatching, usually by mid-July, trout will spend all their time in the cool water of the spring holes. They have had a great season of hatches and remain in the spring holes living on the fat they put on earlier. Fish can be caught during the heat of summer but it is very technical fishing with sinking lines, nymphs and the closely guarded secret of where the spring holes are located. If you are not fishing close to the bottom where the cold ground water enters the pond you are fishing in bath water where there are no fish.
Once the heat of summer breaks around the end of August water temps start to drop and the bath water of summer releases its hold on the ponds. It's now time of trout to exit the spring holes and go on the feed once more. They usually spend a long enough duration in the cool water of the spring hole and work up a mighty appetite.
By the second week of September you should find trout cruising around ponds in search of a meal. There aren't really any hatches that time of season so you won't see many rising fish but they are looking. All you need to do in the fall to catch trout is tie on a Royal Wulff or the like and let it lay on the surface then twitch it so it makes a set of rings. Fish are cruising about looking for anything. I believe they often will key in on the concentric rings made by something struggling on the surface.
You'll be surprised at what shows.
Good luck Tim and thanks for your question.
Capt. Rob Thompson of Kennebec, Maine
asked the guides:
"When a landlock, a laker, a brookie strike at a smelt or streamer what part are they most likely to strike, the tail or the head? From befind or from the side?
"In my experience, salmon and brook trout hit a fly from behind, then turn. This behavior may have something to do with chasing bait in moving water?! If a fly has too long of a tail, the result is a tug, but no take. Bass go for the eye spot, both striped bass, largemouth & smallmouth alike." Michael Jones
I don't think there is any question these fish strike at the tail of a fly. We watch fish come at streamers all the time and as Mike mentioned, strike a streamer from behind then turn to head back where they came from. Once in a awhile they one will gobble a fly but 99% of the fish we bring to net are just barely hooked, many just by a piece of skin. If you ever lost a fish after thinking you have him hooked solid it is probably because the fish is only hooked by a piece of skin that ripped loose when the fish put the power on. All because they are nippers and hit short from behind. Dan Legere
John Mooney asked the guides:
Hi, I just started trolling tandem streamers for LL salmon and I was wondering first what type/color fly you would start the day with and when to change the fly and why?
John: "I was told by an old Maine guide that whenever in doubt (when it comes to light conditions and time of day) go with a Black Ghost Streamer. The logic follows that a black & white pattern will be visible in all light conditions. It is a virtual salmon and trout killing machine!
When to change the fly? I always say out loud "we better change flies!", and then a fish will strike the cold fly 3 out of 5 times?! Don't try to figure that one out, it just seems to work that way in practice. Really, I change flies
whenever I have lost faith in the one I am dragging; the most important thing is to have confidence in what you are presenting behind the boat." Michael Jones
The newlyweds, Mike and Holly Jones
On October 18th close friends and family gathered for a celebration of the union of Michael Jones & Holly Russell at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland. It was a beautiful, sunny day that saw all our guides off the river, out of waders, and sporting around in suit and tie.
After the ceremony everyone joined the newlyweds at the Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit for a fabulous luncheon and many toasts of everlasting love and happiness.
I'm sure the salmon and trout of the Kennebec and Penobscot also wish the extremely happy couple a lifetime of love and laughter.
A grand time was had by all.
October on the East Outlet
Even with the cold mornings and the winds of fall the East Outlet is a wonderful place to finish out the season. Water flow is at 1000 cfs so wading is easy, you can even wade across the river in places.
We are earning every fish and you do need a big bag of tricks this time of season to tickle fish that have been in the river awhile. Be sure to swing some streamers, they are getting use to seeing white so try olive or yellow. A Barns Special has gotten some attention the last few days. There have even been some good blue wing olive hatches lately, size 22-24 that fish are sipping early and late in the day.
Not a lot of folks on the river either. No need to start at daybreak, early morning isn't that productive this time of season. About the time the mist leaves the water fish seem to be waking up. It's a great time to sit back and have another cup of java before sliding into the long johns and wool socks and three other layers before taking on another day on the water.
As many can remember it wasn't all that long ago this time of year our fly rods were all put away till another year. It certainly is great to have this extended season with salmon still jumping eye high.
Just remember October can be like May. Water temperature is down to the low 50's which means a dip in the river is a cold one so be safe.
See you on the river
October fishing opportunities
Fishing season maybe over for most of the waters in the Moosehead Lake Region but there still are opportunities for some great late season fishing.
Fishing ends in most wild brook trout waters the last day of September for one simple reason, it's brook trout spawning time. Around mid-October native brookies begin their exhausting spawning rituals. Fisheries officials want wild brookies to be able to go about reproduction undisturbed to insure there will be plenty of fish for another season.
In a few waters where viable wild brook trout population are not present fishing is allowed through the month of October and a couple of our rivers are open all winter.
Here is the line-up;
Mountain View Pond at the base of Squaw Mountain Ski Area
Prong Pond in Beaver Cove
Sawyer Pond in Greenville
Shadow Pond in Greenville Jct
These ponds remain open to fishing through the month of October. These are stocked ponds and you are allowed to take two trout per angler. Some special tackle restrictions do apply so please consult your law book for details.
The West Outlet of the Kennebec River will remain open all winter. The tackle restrictions are Artificial Lures Only (AOL) and two trout over 6", all salmon caught must be released alive at once. Water flow on the West Outlet does not change and remains at 125-150 cfs year round depending on the lake level. It a great opportunity to do some late season wade fishing. There is a good dirt road (Somerset Jct) that follows the river for about 5 miles on the north side. The river meets the road in a number of spots and access is allowed all along the road. There is a fall run of salmon and brookies. There is very little pressure and fishing can be quite good.
The entire length of the East Outlet of the Kennebec River remains open through the month of October. From November 1st till April 1st only the upper portion from the Dam to the Beach Pool remains open. This extended season is strictly catch and release.
Water flow is presently at 1008 cfs which makes it extremely wadeable. Keep an eye on our water flow page for any changes that may occur. The word is it probably won't see any major increase.
The leaves have turned and peaking, fall is definitely in the air, and the river is full of fish. What a great time to be on the water.
We still have openings for a late season drift. Talk in over with your fishing buddy and give us a call at 207-695-2266 for a great day on the water.
The shop is now closed during the week and only open the first two weekends in October. If you are in town and need some supplies during the week give us a call, if we are around we'll be glad to open.
Have a great late season fishing trip. See you on the river.
So many spots and so little time !!
Well the first day of Fall is upon us, the nights are cool and the fishing is excellent. Many of our ponds and rivers will be closed for the season so this week is a great opportunity to get in some of the last great fishing of the year. The East Outlet will be opened throughout the month of October for catch and release fishing only.
Fly selections haven't changed much over the last week. Fish are still chasing flashy maribou streamers. Remember in the river the color white is a sign of weakness and sickness for baitfish, which makes that color an excellent choice for fish looking for an easy meal. Nymphing is also an excellent way to catch even the pickiest of fish this time of year, experiment with different patterns and set ups, without a predominant insect hatch fish aren't neccessarily keying in on anything in particular. This time of year fish are territorial and will sometimes chase anything that is in their area. Folks have also had some luck on the surface, with small dark caddis and tent wing caddis. Again its all about territory not really "matching the hatch".
Have a great last week of fishing.
Wadeable waters for the rest of the season
GOOD NEWS !!!
High water issues seem to finally be behind us. The East Outlet flow has been cut back to 1335 cfs and is predicted to stay at that flow till late October. The Moose River has also been cut back to 809 cfs. What this means is wadeable water should prevail everywhere barring any major rain event
The great news is the Moose, East Outlet, and Roach River are all full of fall fish. This is the time of season when a small fish is 16". The urge to spawn brings the biggest fish of the year in from the depths of the lakes. It really is an exciting time to be fishing. The leaves are turning, the water has cooled and fall is in the air.
It's time to swing those big fall streamer patterns. Pack your sink-tip line and nothing less than 3X leader material. The violent strike from a big, aggressive fall landlock will leave you wondering what happened to your fly if you use anything less than 8lb tippet.
A quick tip about fall salmon fishing with streamers. It is all about territory and salmon are just trying to run the intruder out of its area. The hits are usually short nips at the fly or just a big boil behind your streamer. If a fish doesn't grab your fly make sure to leave it where it is and simply gig the fly in that spot. Often a fish will get more aggressive and make another pass, maybe 3 or 4 passes till it finally grabs the fly and gets hooked or poked. Quite often the fish will be just skin hooked and if you try and hold the fish, which is now going crazy and leaping about, you'll rip the hook out of the fish. A lot of big fish will be lost and I'm as guilty as as the next guy of trying to hold fast on a fall fish. Try to remember "the act of aggression on your behalf when a fish hits so hard you think he could rip the rod out of your hand, has to be immediately followed by the the act of surrender and let the fish run" or you and your salmon will likely part company.
Although dry fly fishing slows this time of season you still may bring a fish to the surface with a big Royal Wulff or tiny Henryville Caddis at the tailout of any pool.
Nymphing will still be productive for the rest of the season. Because nothing much is hatching there is no one nymph that works everywhere. Don't be afraid to change nymphs often. If you believe there are fish in the run you are fishing you'll probably get one to grab a nymph even if it takes ten changes to do it.
There are so many great places to fish and so little time. I only wish September could be three months long.
Stop by the shop when you are in Greenville for any last minute needs or just to say Hi. Good luck.
Early September East Outlet report!
September 8, 2008
The river is in perfect shape following a glancing blow of heavy rain that mostly fell 50-100 miles south of the Moosehead region. While river levels rose in southern tributaries in Maine, the East Outlet Dam Manager, Michael Moon, lowered the level from 3850 cfs to 2900ish on Sunday! This new flow exposed a lot more wade options for shore anglers seeking fresh run salmon.
Our guides returned from the weekend with very happy clients. The weather was mild & comfortable, and caddis flies were hatching once again as water temperature returned to the low 60's F. The trend is for more and more fish to enter/return to the river throughout September and early October with the best fishing Maine can offer to the fly enthusiast!
In terms of fly selection, dark size 16 & 18 caddis were productive fished behind something bigger and brighter, like a Royal Stimulator (strike indicator). Blue wing olives are showing, although the stomach pump shows that the fish are predominantly keying in on available caddis. On bright days, a small olive wooly bugger can save the day, while on overcast days, the traditional ghost patterns work well. Our favorite fall streamers remain the Montreal Whore, and Shufelt Special, and some of Danny's home spun white maribou and rabbit strip casting streamers available on the counter at the fly shop; stop in!
For nymph fishing, our guides like to use Copper Johns in all color varieties for riffle nymphing, followed by an 18 Pheasant Tail. In deeper plunges, go with a heavy stone in brown or black (Orvis Tungsten bead), followed with a PT or Copper John. The later the season progresses, the more 'persnickity' the fish become. To get the fish to take, you need to drop size both in tippet diameter (5x) and hook size (#18); and the guides start fishing BLT's (black little things...enter your favorite small nymph here).
We hope this helps in planning a visit, and please feel free to call if you are interested in learning all of this in the company of one of our full-time guides; excellent dates still available in our calendar!
Anyone considering a trip to the E.O. should call ahead to see what the flow is scheduled to be @ 1-800-557-FLOW, and always wear your wading belt; arrive alive!
The Roach River will start to see fall flows
The Roach River is scheduled to get an increase in water flow after Labor Day. There is plenty of water in 1st Roach Pond so it will go to around 200 cfs to start and get another bump to around 250 about mid-month. Because of the abundance of water these levels are more than we usually see which should result in more fish in the river sooner than usual. There is already a run of fall fish in the Roach River. Nymphs and streamers.
The Kennebec River should start to come down to more wadeable flows after Labor Day although there are no promises. The river is already full of fish and we are picking up plenty of fish in the shallower water around the edges. Streamers, small caddis, and nymphs.
The Moose River is also full of fish but is still experiencing high flows. If we don't see any measurable rain it will start to come down before long.
It's streamer season and we are starting to do well with the traditional fall patterns.
I could tie a Montreal Whore on tomorrow, leave it on for the rest of the season, be happy as a clam and catch lots of fish.
Fall flows have started at Seboomook Dam. Each fall the flow is increased to around 900 cfs at Seboomook Dam as an attractor flow to start the fall spawning run of salmon from Chesuncook and Lobster Lake. It is believed the Chesuncook fish move into the lower portion of the river and the Lobster Lake fish move into the upper part of the river from Roll Dam to the Dam on Seboomook. That upper part is very accessible with multiple, beautiful state campsites at Roll Dam and Burbank. It's a great place to avoid the crowds and has the potential of catching a very big salmon. Remember these are the fish from Lobster Lake, where all salmon have to be released under 20".
We have ideal fall fish conditions.
Great fall fishing conditions are exactly the opposite of ideal spring conditions.
In the spring we look of falling waters levels and rising water temperatures. As water levels drop fish become more contained in pools and runs. As the water temperature rises insect activity increases and hatches begin. Fish feed on a regular schedule and fishing gets better and better.
Then comes the heat of (most) summers during August and typically lower, warmer water. Fishing slows and many fish retreat to a lake.
When fall arrives we look for rising water levels and falling water temperatures. The increased flows and lower water temperatures are the stimulus needed to spark the fall spawning runs of trout and salmon. We usually are sitting around hoping for a good hurricane to make it's way north and we benefit from the cool rains and higher water flows.
There are also agreements with the water people to hold back water during the heat of summer so they can provide increased fall flows (attractor flows) that begin after Labor Day Weekend. These scheduled increases usually provide us with a good, early run of fish in the Roach, Moose, East Outlet, and Upper West Branch of the Penobscot.
After that initial increase we hope for additional cool fall nights and some rain that continues to increase water flows and decrease water temperatures. When this happens more fish will continue to enter the rivers as fall progresses.
This year is the exception to what we consider normal. We have had lots of rainfall and a surplus of cool weather. The higher water levels and cooling water temperatures have already brought lots of fish into the rivers. The issue as everyone knows is about wadeable levels. The fish are there, you just can't get to them. This could actually be a fall fishing season we'll be talking about for a long time. We'll keep our fingers crossed no hurricane makes it's way to Maine and water levels drop as the fall progresses.
Remember this one thing about fall fish. We always focus hard on feeding lanes throughout the season. Both trout and salmon do not regularly feed during the spawning run.
For that reason they may not set-up housekeeping just in the obvious spots. Fish will certainly occupy many of the traditional spots but you will also find fish in places you will not see them any other time. That place is shallow water usually around gravel where they will actually be spawning later on. Fish the edges and high in runs where the water is shallow. It's amazing how many fish we pick-up in unlikely spots. Spots no one else bothers to fish.
Because fall is not about food we often use bright attractor streamer pattens. It becomes more about territory and defending that territory against intruders, than getting a square meal. That's why we swing big, bright streamers on sinking lines to try and appeal to the fish's more aggressive nature. Never is a sinking line more important than during high water conditions especially in the fall. You need to get that fly in the fish's face and during high water conditions it takes a sinking line to get it where it needs to be.
The other side of the coin is after fish have been in the river for a while they become more tolerate of their surroundings. They've seen lots of streamers, probably been caught one or twice and not as likely to chase them as aggressively as when they are first enter a river. Even though food isn't the reason they are there they will eat a "Lay's potato chip" if one is dropped in their lap. The Lay's potato chip comes in the form of a nymph bounced along the bottom along eddy lines and in the tails of the pools. There usually isn't any one pattern that dominates so keep changing them and you will pick up fish that are done chasing streamers and occasionally grab a tiny snack.
We almost always catch our biggest fish in the fall. They are in their prime, hit like freight trains and jump to eye level.
The rivers are dropping
The latest round of high water has started to drop once again and should be back to wadeable levels before long. The consolation prize is the East Outlet has gotten another run of salmon and there still appears to be good fish in all the pools. We caught a number of bright salmon yesterday all the way down the river. The rains along with the cool temperatures has brought the waters temperature back down with added to the new run of fish. I don't thing there is any question but we will have good fall fishing because water will not be an issue this fall.
The Roach River also got a shot of water this week when the level had to be increased to 125 cfs sparking life in the salmon that were already in the river and seeing new fish entering from Spencer Bay.
We've been catching fish on streamers and dries, as well as nymphing. What could be better.
The high water is allows a pain but we are looking at what could shape-up to be a grand fall fishing season that will start earlier than ever before. I don't want to wish away summer (what we had of it) but fall is certainly my favorite time of season when we catch the bigger fish of the year. It's time to make plans.
We do 3 & 4 days fall fishing trips during September to the Fox Hole on the Upper West Branch of the Penobscot. We go by 20' canoe and small motor 8 miles down river from Lobster Landing and camp right on the river to fish the fall run of salmon from Chesuncook Lake. If anyone is interested we currently have an opening for two people the week of Sept 11-14 and September 23-25 & 26-28.
If you are interested go to our guided trips page on our web site for details and costs.
Fall fishing is just around the corner.
Early Fall Fishing!!
August 27We'll keep are fingers crossed because it looks like the water on the East Outlet is finally coming down. The best part about the high water is that it has brought a lot of fish into the river. The fish are literally piled up in there, say goodbye to the dry flies and bring out the streamers and nymphs. Big streamers and pheasant tails. The water temperature is currently at 62 degrees!! which is unseasonably cool for this time of year. The fish are coming in to spawn and brookies and landlocks have been caught in their beautiful fall colorings. Some folks have even seen some black caddis hatches as well in the afternoon.
On the other side of the lake the Roach River has been fishing extremely well. Again the fish have come into the river a little early. Streamers like; pink floyd, shufelt specials, Montreal whores have all been producing consistently as well as small beadheaded nymphs. Most fish caught have been in the 16-20 inch range so hold on!The plan is for more water to be released sometime this week so we should look to see even more fish in the river
Project Healing Waters is great fun for everyone involved
Although there are nice fish in all the rivers and most of the pools, we are using a big bag of tricks to pull a few rabbits out of the hat.
Take the East Outlet, water level at present is as good as it gets for wading, 1300 cfs. There are still nice fish in every pool along the entire river. You can bring fish to the top with big flies like Stimulators, Tarantulas and foam stones in one pool but not in another. The same goes for nymphing but not consistently on any one fly. Golden or brown stones work in one place and not in another where tiny caddis pupa or a pheasant tail maybe the answer. Yesterday it seemed to be a size 18 Hemingway Caddis along shallow eddy lines that brought both salmon and trout to the surface.
The fact is our regular hatch season is starting to fade. There are small hatches mostly confined to early morning or late evening, usually small dark caddis. Hemingway caddis and soon Henryville caddis will be hatching, dark brown or black. From this point on they will be small, size 16 and smaller.
Fish the big flies over bigger, deeper water and small stuff in shallow water. Fish nymphs along eddy lines everywhere.
We had our annual Project Healing Waters Outing on August 1 st & 2nd. Eight disabled vets and two administrators came to the Moosehead Lake Region for two days of guided drift fishing on the East Outlet. There were some great fishing stories told about battles with salmon, trout and a very large smallmouth that ate a 10" chub Pappy had on his fly rod. Great times were had by all.
The outing is part of a year long program through the Veterans Administration at Togus in Augusta. During the winter everyone in instructed in fly tying and casting by Trout Unlimited members so they can participate in outings like this during the summer months. Project Healing Waters is a wonderful national organization dedicated to helping disabled vets learn and participate in the sport of fly fishing. We are proud to a part of such a worthwhile cause.
Have a look at our photo page to see pictures of this years outing. Then go to www.projecthealingwaters.com to learn more about how they are helping our disabled vets.
Summertime!....and the Fishing is Easy.
July 25th The extremely wet weather we had here in June has done us quite a favor, the high water flows in the Kennebec last month have really helped to extend our fishing season in July. The east Outlet has been fishing extremely well. With fish not keying in on one particular morsel this allows us to expand the menu in our fly boxes. Folks have been doing well fishing big stimulator and tarantula patterns as well as small bead head nymphs and larger stonefly nymphs. Tying on a classic like a Grey Ghost or a Mitchell Creek can also coax a big fish from the pools.
Action can still be found on the West Outlet on the Kennebec as well as the Roach River to the east. Best bet are small bead head nymphs at the latter. Warmer waters in Indian Pond is driving the Bass closer to cool waters, so the mouth of the Kennebec is a great spot to catch some summertime bass. Its also a great time to catch the monsters customers are reporting fish in the 18-20 inch range.
Stonefly Season has arrived!!
The Golden Stones just kicked in on the rivers. They are the big helicopter looking bugs you see from time to time flying around the river. The nymphs crawl out of the river at night onto rocks and trees then slowly emerge and become adults. Look around the rocks and tree trucks and you will be able to find the cases they leave behind. They look like clinging little dinosaurs but hollow.
What does this mean?
The fish are finally dining on the big stuff. Up till now we had to fish small caddis to catch fish on the surface. Not any more. Yesterday our best fly was a size 8 Tarantula. Salmon bounded it hard. They also came to size 8 Foam Stones and Stimulators.
Now is the time to prospect around over heavy water with cheeseburger size flies. Even though there are no fish showing, every so often a big fish will come up and nail the big fly. When they show they mean business. There usually are no refusals. They grab it and growl. It's easy, great fun and the flies are big enough our aging eyes can see them easily. You'll be yelling out loud, you can't help it.
As you can see on our water flow page the Moose River is now at very wadeable levels and as an added bonus the East Outlet is scheduled to go down more tomorrow to 1468.
Drop everything because this is about as good as it gets.
The pond fishermen are having a grand time chasing the Hex hatches. A few spots have gone by but lots are yet to hatch. The main event should go on for another week or so as the larger ponds and higher elevation spots begin to pop.
It won't be to long now before trout have to retreat to the spring holes to wait out the heat of summer so get your licks in before the ice cream melts.
Monday's Weekend update
As predicted the Green Drakes started hatching all over on the small ponds as well as around the coves of the big lakes.
These hatches should continue for a while.
The East Outlet was at 2500cfs all weekend and everyone reported catching lots of fish. The river has fish all through it. Salmon and trout are taking a variety of patterns from the West Branch Caddis & Olive Elk Wing Caddis to Stimulators, Tarantulas, and Golden Stones all on top. Underneath it's Copper Johns, Dark Caddis Pupa, Hare's Ear and Bead Head Golden Stone to name a few.
With the lake full we should see good water flows throughout the month staying cool enough to hold fish in the river.
When the Moose finally comes down to a wadeable level, you can only guess as to how many fish are up in the river.
High water means fish the shallows.
The Drakes are here !!
Happy 4th of July
Even though high water persists folks are catching lots of fish. During high water on the rivers new spots start to appear. Fish will move into places you don't often find them holding. Seek out shallow, slower moving water around the edges. The bigger flush of water pretty much washes out the best known and fished pools and runs but fish will move out of that heavy water and hold in the shallower slower runs that show-up during high high flows.
Caddis are still your best bet with a darker body #14 working well. The West Branch Caddis (a local fly) has just started to hatch. Also golden stones are beginning to appear which means big stimulators are now in season. Drop a caddis behind a stimulator and skip it around the slower water. You will probably be pleasantly surprised. Don't leave your nymphs on shore. They are always in season.
NOW for the Green Drakes (hexes) which have already started in a few places. This is the time you had better be baby sitting your favorite haunts. The first night of the hatch can be magical. The biggest trout in any pond are on top, making pigs of themselves. Lay out anything that resembles those monster mayflies and they'll eat it. What a hoot it is to pick off cruising trout on flat calm water.
There are lots of imitations around and they all work at given times. The drakes are often a yellow/brown color but are also gray and even pale yellow or green. It's good to carry all the different colors in size 8 just in case.
A good nymph is just as important as the dries. A nymph called a Maple Syrup has gotten a lot of attention in recent years, because it works! It's tied with a tan chenille body, a yellow calf hair tail, and a brown soft hackle collar, a very simple fly to tie. Tied on a streamer hook the nymph is long enough to imitate the nymph very well. Remember to use a good stout leader on these big bugs or they your fly will corkscrew in the air as you cast and twist your leader. Go to a 3x tippet to do the job.
Take a flashlight along because you'll be staying till the end. This hatch happens just before dark. Hatches will usually last about a week on a pond with the deeper, higher elevation and northern ponds hatching last. Allagash Lake for instance usually doesn't pop till mid-month. While you're waiting around for the hatch to start hook-up a sinking line with a nymph so you can work the bottom a couple of hours before the light start to fade. You should find trout cruising around the cove looking for an early bird meal.
This is the time hard core pond fishermen wait for all year. The big boys are out and feeding on top. How can it get any better than that.
NEWS FLASH !!! 9:00 a.m. July 3rd
Mike the dam keeper at the East Outlet just called to tell us the E.O. is being dropped from 4000 cfs to 3064 cfs today and probably will go down to 2500 cfs tomorrow, July 4th. You know where we'll be. See you on the water & have a safe and memorable 4th of July celebration.
High water and Green Drakes
High water in most of the rivers has been the issue for the last week. Thunderstorms dropped too much water on the Kennebec watershed. Although water has been dropped considerably wadeable levels have no yet returned. The E.O is supposed to come down to 3000 cfs but it hasn't quite yet. Hopefully by the weekend. The caddis are still hatching in good shape and we have been picking up a fair number of trout and salmon in the shallow eddies.
It's time to drag out the big mayflies. The Green Drake (Hex) hatch is in the near future. The shallow lower elevation ponds will be the first to pop. If you play your cards right you can follow the hatches as the water warms in the coves of the bigger bodies of water like Moosehead Lake. The higher elevation ponds should be the last to bloom often not hatching till well into July. We'll keep you posted as the event all pond fishermen anxiously await unfolds. Remember the first night of the hatch you can do no wrong. You'll never forget it.
One quick tip when you start casting the huge #8 flies it takes to match the hatch. Use a 3X tippet leader. Ever have the leader twist all up when you fish these big flies? That's because you are still using the light leader you had on for the small flies. The bigger stiffer leader will control those bigger flies and stop them from corkscrewing when casting. Trout don't care that the leader is 8 lb. test. You'll be glad you did.
Caddis , Caddis Everywhere !!!
The caddis are hatching in big numbers and are hatching everywhere. The rivers are on FIRE ! Despite the big water on all the rivers the caddis have the fish doing back flips all over the place. I was on Big Eddie yesterday and fish were banging caddis all over the pool all morning. Just remember on Big Eddy it's all about the foam. When you see a fish take something on the surface have a hard look at where that fish showed. Odds are the fish took a bug in a patch of foam. Foam means food. Bugs collect in the foam and fish look to the foam for food. Whatever fly you choose, land it and dead drift it in a patch of foam. I know it's tempting to drift your fly all by itself on clean water but fishing the foam will get you way more takes. Believe me it works and is as essential to success on the Eddy as having the right fly.
Make sure you have plenty of Elk Wing Caddis in all the popular body colors. CDC's bring a lot of fish up as well. OH yea emergers, don't forget emergers, salmon love emergers.
If you follow the waters flows on our water flow page you'll see high water is presently an issue everywhere.
The big round of thunder storms last week dumped a good deal of water in a short period of time. Water had to be dumped, the lakes are brim full. The consolation prize of big flows is fish. The East Outlet has seen a tremendous run of fresh fish. There are more fish in the river than I've seen in a long time. We were not seeing many 18" plus fish earlier but they are there now in big numbers. Fish straight from a diet of smelt in the lake want smelt and will chase streamers hard. Don't be afraid to use the big spring time smelt streamers and you don't need to put them on a sinking line any longer, the fish are looking up. Despite the high water fish are feeding on caddis all day and chasing streamers to boot. Life is extremely good.
I know wading is tough but fish are everywhere and swinging a streamer is all it takes.
It all about caddis !!
June 13 -Caddis season has arrived. The mayfly hatches are all but gone and the annual caddis season is upon us. The first caddis hatches arrived on the West Branch yesterday and have not quite started on the East Outlet but should any day.
All you'll need is a hand full of olive or bright green bodied caddis in size 12 & 14 and you can do no wrong.
As I have stated with mayflies about the drag free drift being essential things change with caddis. The drag free drift works but now you can skitter caddis at the end of the drift. Also skip a caddis towards you by lifting the rod then letting it drift back over the same water by dropping your rod tip. Also try tying another dry caddis as a dropper and skip the pair around. Drives fish crazy.
Enjoy caddis season. It's a great time of year.
Don't forget to stock up on caddis pupa and lava. The fish in the above photo was caught on a bright green bead head caddis lava fished along an eddy line.
June 4th - The mayflies are in full bloom and hatching most days throughout the rivers. They are usually mid-day hatches and last till 5 or 6 pm. Have plenty of BWO # 14-16, Dark Hendrickson #12-14, March Brown # 10-12, and associated nymphs, like pheasant tails, olive and natural hare's ear.
We like to drop the smaller flies about 18" below a weighted stone fly or use two of the smaller nymphs and put a split shot between the two. Also try dropping a small unweighted nymph about 2' behind your mayfly to tickle any fish feeding on the emerging mayfly.
Bass are just now starting to head for the gravel to spawn. The cool nights and rainy weather has keep water temperature below 60 degrees most days but anytime the sun shows and water temperatures get to 60 or above the bass head for the shallows. We caught our first bass on a popper just 2 days ago. Clousers have been the answer till then.
There is a good supply of bass water in this region and plenty of really very big bass to be caught. Prime places are Prong Pond, the entire West Outlet with Long Pond being the focal point. Indian Pond on the Kennebec has long been know for fabulous bass fishing. The area around Lily Bay State Park is getting quite a reputation for large smallmouth as well. It's great fun especially when they start nailing poppers on the surface. Take a look at our photo page to see some of our recent bass outings. Very impressive fish!!
See you on the water.
The Hendrickson's are here!
May 30th - Well its almost June so that means its time for mayflies! Some good hatches are showing up so be sure to arm yourselves with plenty of hendricksons, red quills, and blue winged olives the usual suspects of the early mayfly season. Most of this action is occurring in the ponds in the late afternoons. Our recent blasts of high winds and really cool nights have slowed down some of the water warm up in the area so you'll still want to keep that sinking line handy or at least a sinking leader.
The rivers have remained cool and fairly fast so pack the streamers and other smelt patterns as well as a good selection of nymphs.
The big waters have remained cool as well, but productive. Some sinking line and a Joes Smelt or Grey Ghost will probably due the trick.
The warmer temperatures in the ponds have signaled the beginning of the smallmouth bass spawn, if you like catching big fish now is the time. Smallies are retreating to the shallows to begin their spawn and are extremely defensive. Not quite ready for surface presentations but throw a clouser or big streamer close to shore and hold on!
Time to drag out the dries
May 23 - Things are starting to come around nicely. The cool temperatures have held off the hatches we are all hoping for. The fact is in the Moosehead Lake Region we often don't see any real mayfly hatches till the beginning of June. If we have a nice warm spell in late May the hatches sometimes start earlier. One thing for sure the hatches will come it's just a question of when.
I have seen major Blue Wing Olive hatches the last couple of days on the lower East Outlet. They always get mixed reviews from trout and salmon. I've seen the water littered with the little morsels and nothing taking a one on the surface. Other times, like yesterday, the fish make pigs of themselves on the tiny tidbits.
The hatch that every fish in the river eats is the Hendrickson's and the Red Quill's. They are usually not far behind the BWO's.
The warmer weather predicted for this weekend should get things percolating any day. When the Hendricksons & Red Quills do kick-in they'll be size 12-14. Like most hatches the first day is magical with fish taking anything that even comes close to the real bug.
Two things to consider when matching any hatch. First is size and second is color. You don't need to know the names of any of the insects. The fish don't know any names, they just know they want one particular bug, the one that's hatching. If you spot fish rising don't just start casting, hoping you have something they want. Fish can be extremely particular. I once had to go to # 18 Blue Wing Olive to catch huge smallmouth bass acting like trout, sipping the tiny mayflies as the wind blew them over a reef they were holding on. Bass are not supposed to care but nothing else would work. So before you screw things up, stand back and observe. What is it that they are eating. Look at the water's surface and watch for insects hatching and drifting along on the currents. When you do see fish actually eat a bug look in your fly box and pick a fly that is the same size and next is the same color. Do this and you should be able to join in on the action. The next extremely important ingredient is the presentation. Just as important as having the right fly is presenting that fly properly to feeding fish. Remember a good drift is always better than a good cast. With the right fly you are in the game but a bad drift will leave you scoreless. Trout and salmon demand a drag free drift during mayfly season. The shorter you have to cast the better you'll be able to mend the fly line and control the drift of the fly. The further the cast the more currents you'll have to deal with and the more slack line you'll have to manage. A drag free drift with the right mayfly to a fish you found feeding along an eddy line or maybe at the tail end of a pool offers one of the best rewards I know... You'll have a good reason to pat yourself on the back.
This is what we've been waiting for so polish up those mayflies, don't forget the Gink and have a great time on the water.
Let the games begin
Things are finally beginning to settle in for us up in the Moosehead Lake area. A combination of warmer waters in the ponds and lower water flows in the rivers have paved the way for some great fishing opportunities in the past week.
The Kennebec River at East Outlet has gone down to 2700 cfs, which means....fishable! The river should be brimming with good size fish that have yet to see fly fisherman or fly. Large streamers should be the pattern of choice, as most fish in the river are feeding primarily off of spawning smelt. A note of caution though, the river is still running fairly fast so be careful wading. West outlet slower flows have also yielded some good fishing. I caught a beautiful 17 inch Brookie on a Joes Smelt the other day. This is a great time of year to be in the Moosehead area mild weather, no crowds, and good fishing has made the early spring season a real treat.
Folks have been coming in the shop looking for devil bugs, griffiths gnats and dragonfly nymphs so the pond season fishing is underway. Warm afternoons have given rise to some nice midge hatches griffiths gnats have been the fishes favorites so far. Hopefully the mayfly season will begin in the next couple of weeks, which makes for great fishing and a chance to dust off that floating fly line! A lot of our ponds are only a short drive away if your looking to save some gas money.
Don't hesitate to stop by the shop and say hi, and good luck fishing!!
Even though high water prevails on the rivers for a while longer there are lots of fishing opportunities. The Roach River is the exception and was lowered to 125 cfs today. It was sky high for a while, which should have tickled a nice run of salmon.
All water is ice free and now is the time to do some trolling on any of the lakes and ponds. 1st Roach Pond is fishing well around South Inlet Campground. The smelt are gathered around the gravel bar where they spawn and so are the fish. Some big lake trout are always taken there this time of season.
The mouth of the Moose River in Rockwood is prime with fish gathered at the mouth feasting on the spawning smelt. They haven't filled the river quite yet but will within a week.
It's midge season on the small trout ponds. We really have been blessed with wonderful, sun shiny days and day time temps in the 60's. We are already hearing folks say the fish were rolling everywhere and there were no bugs to be seen. That's because midges are so tiny they are near invisible. It takes a size 22-24 fly to even interest a fish. The Griffith's Gnat or a Cluster fished in the film of the water is the ticket around here. Because it is next to impossible to see exactly where your tiny fly is, I like to drop it on 2' of 7x tippet behind a dry fly which I can see like a #12 Adams. When you do set the hook just lift your rod, don't try to set the hook. If you do set too hard you'll either break off the fly or pull the fly loose. You'll have the fish hooked only by the skin with such a small hook. It's not as tough as it sounds and it's about the only way you'll get any surface fishing this time of season. Midge fishing is usually an afternoon activity and like all hatches there is no guarantee. Don't forget dragon fly nymphs on sinking lines along the sunny shore. This is prime time with very hungry fish searching the shallows for the easy pickin' dragons.
We have been posting current water flows on our web site www.maineguideflyshop.com every morning so you'll be able to tell when our moving waters start to recede.
I caught my first salmon of the season a couple of days ago. A beautiful 18-19" male with a hook jaw. Caught on a Grey Ghost. It is wonderful to be back in the saddle.
Have a great fishing week.
May 2 -There is open water everywhere. Moosehead isn't officially called out and there is still some ice in coves and floating around the main lake but Lily Bay is open, Rockwood is open, Spencer Bay is all but free of ice. Any stiff wind and winter's grip will finally be gone. Hoorah!!
It's all about smelt patterns on the lakes and wherever streams and rivers flow into any lake.
The rivers are running high and probably will be for a few days. Bad for now but good for later. High water in spring always brings fish in.
Smalls ponds are opening up steady and will be a good bet for this weekend. As soon as the water starts to warm brookies will be circling the ponds picking up dragon fly nymphs along the shallows. Check our small ponds guide plus there are printable maps of the area, click on Moosehead area maps on the left.
I can't wait to get out myself but I have shore duty all weekend. Stop and say Hi if you are in town.
Right on schedule
4/25 - We are back on schedule for iceout. The beautiful weather of last week has done major damage on the remaining snow and ice. Moosehead's top layers of ice are gone leaving the remaining ice jet black which means with a little more nice weather, some sunny days, and a stiff northwest wind the remaining ice will be gone sooner than many thought.
We always say if the ice comes out before May 1st it's early, if it goes out after May 10th it's late. I think it's safe to say that we'll see the ice gone closer to the 1st than the 10th.
For the trollers in the crowd opening day on Moosehead is Wed. May 1st. The mouth of the Moose River in Rockwood is the place to be. Smelt will be gathered at the mouth waiting for the water to warm above 40 degrees triggering the spawning run. There will be plenty of open water around the mouth of the river for the annual flotilla of boats. Plenty of fishermen will be taking advantage of these ideal conditions. Dust off the tandem smelt streamers, it's that time of season.
If anyone is in the business of trying for one of Moosehead's legendary trophy brook trout, the window of opportunity is about to open. The first two weeks after iceout will be your best chance to become a member of "The One that Didn't Get Away Club". Brookies have to be 4 lbs or better. Put on your best, beat-up old propeller and do battle with the rockiest shoreline you can find. Adult spawning smelt head for the shallow shore and follow it to any stream where they will spawn. Troll the contour close enough to shore where you see bottom on one side of the boat and not on the other. Keep a constant lookout for boulders and have the motor unlocked so it will bounce if you happen to get too close to structure (rocks). If you aren't constantly in peril you aren't in the zone. Springtime brookies aren't a whole lot different that smallmouth. They love patrolling the shallows especially along reefs and boulder strewn shorelines.
We like to use old fiberglass fly rods, sinking lines and long leaders at least 20'of 8 lb. test. Fish a long line, work the rod, and give your fly action. The scenery is great and the reward may be a lifelong memory. This is your best chance to make the club. The by-product of pounding the shoreline at iceout is salmon and laker trout are also there indulging in the banquet of bait fish as well.
We'll keep you up to date as the ice finally is replaced by the mirror image of an uninhabited shoreline on windless open water. Life begins again.
Good luck this weekend and stay safe. Don't sit on your life jacket, WEAR IT!. An unintentional swim this time of season can be deadly.
Help the fisheries by leaving information for the biologists
4/18 - Looks like it is going to be a nice weekend to get out and cast a fly, enjoy the nice spring weather, and maybe hook your first fish of the 2008 season.
The beautiful weather this week saw temps climb into the 60's in the Moosehead Region. It has really dropped the snow pack a lot but hasn't done away with all the snow. Not like it has just south of here. You'll still need snowshoes if you plan to hike downstream anywhere. Don't expect the back roads to be free of snow and OK to travel by truck till the beginning of May. Ponds rarely go free of ice till the first week of May.
I will say with the great weather we have had iceout stands a good chance of being on time. We always say if ice goes out before May 1st it's early, if it goes out after May 10th it's late.
The East Outlet's flow remains at 511 cfs and should stay there for some time to come. It is exceptionally wadable. I can't say the fish have been very cooperative but it's been fun trying. Until the ice leaves and water temperatures top the 40 degree mark, catching is going to be slow. Bring your tiniest midges. There was a huge midge hatch right at the bridge on the East Outlet when I was there on Wed. and I didn't have my midge box. You'll want #22-24 midge nymphs. All they really are is a tiny bit of very fine black dubbing wrapped around the tiny hook. That's it.
The photo you see at the top of the report is that of an information box put out by the fisheries biologists at access points to the rivers and ponds in the region. There are a good number around. Take a moment and flip the lid to fill out one of the information cards inside. It's painless and takes less than 5 minutes to fill out. The information asked for is how long you fished and what fish you caught, released and kept. You need to understand we only have 3 full time biologists and a couple of summer assistances (maybe) to manage the fresh water fisheries in a management area that starts below Dover Foxcroft and extends to Allagash Lake, 100 miles north of Greenville. Good information regarding a fishery is hard to come by and very valuable to these guys. It helps give them a good idea of the quality of the fish in a system and helps with rules making and stocking rates. You are truly doing yourself and the fisheries a big favor by taking the time to stop and share what you know with the scientists. I do and you should too.
If you would like to receive our regular email newsletters and fishing reports all season sign-up. The button is on the left at the top of any of our web pages. I think you find them informative and fun. Lots of folks have told us to keep'em coming.
Have an enjoyable and memorable weekend around the water.
There is no better time to learn about a river
4/11/08 -The East Outlet is at minimum flows as the water people start to fill Moosehead with the remaining run-off.
The river will never be any lower than it is right now. What an opportunity to learn a river. It will become obvious why you catch fish where you do. You might even find a new run you didn't know was there. You will easily see the deepest parts of the pools, where the deeper runs are, and where the plunge into the pool really begins. You'll see it all.
Not long ago the river ran at 5000 cfs, which put the water level well beyond the river bed. Now the river is low and you can walk what is now dry river exposed with low water conditions.
I went yesterday with a friend. It was wonderful to be on a river again and we had it all to ourselves. I did get a chance to fish a new Cortland, Big Sky 9', 6 wt. It's amazing these days that for under $200 you can have a rod that compares to much more expensive rods. It was a treat to cast right out of the box.
Even though we didn't hook any fish, the river is spectacular at low water, wading was easy, and it's teaming with wildlife. There isn't much open water in these parts so migrating water fowl are all around plus the East Outlet is a wintering area for deer. Deer sign was everywhere. The low water has allowed the deer to get out of the waist deep snow and walk the river bed to feed. I saw 4, one of which walked up on me as I fished. Great stuff. So even though I didn't hook a fish (yet) it was a wonderful first outing than did my open water deprived soul a world of good.
If you decide to give it a go put in snow shoes if you have them. Walking in the snow would be near impossible. Walking the river is actually quite easy with minimum flows but if the water happens to go up you'll be faced with deep snow.
We'll be open 9-5 , Thursday-Sunday during the rest of April so stop in if your get up this way and say Hi. We can once again fuel our passion for running water and the creatures that live there.
The snow pack is dropping
April 10th - The snow pack has been dropping steadily all week. Bright sun and 50-60 degree weather is sucking the snow into the sky and running water into the drainage.
Dam gates are being closed so not to loose any more of the run-off. It will take quite awhile to capture the remaining run-off and fill all the lakes in the Upper Kennebec Valley. Moosehead is 75,000 acres and is as low as it can be drained.
The East Outlet has been dropped to 500 cfs which is ideal wading conditions and the Moose River is flowing at 572 cfs which is also perfect. I suspect these flows will remain for some time unless we get greater than anticipated spring rains.
I've got a shiny new Big Sky series fly rod from Cortland that needs to be broken in. Today's the day I've been waiting for all winter.
Life begins again!!!
Still up to our ears in snow
March 27 - It seems like we are still under winter's grip. Night temps have been below zero this last week and rising only slightly above the freezing mark during the day. With near record snowfall, snowmobiling is still the #1 activity.
Moosehead Lake is still experiencing the annual draw down with flows on the East Outlet still extremely high. I expect they will start to cut back on the flows as the run-off kicks into high gear. I'll let you know when fishable levels begin. With the extreme high water all winter I believe the river should have more wintered over fish than usual plus there is a good chance lots of fish got dumped below the dam in the high flows of winter.
I know I'll be heading there as soon as the flow allows, I'm just going to need my snowshoes to get to the river.
The West Outlet is actually fishable with a year round flow of 125-150 cfs. There should be fish from Long Pond, just down stream, working their way up to hold in the road side Dam Pool. There are usually some nice brookies and salmon taken there through the month of April, nymphing mainly.
The West Branch of the Penobscot below Rip Dam is always a good bet to wet a line in April. There is always a few very hardy souls taking advantage of the April 1st opening. Newsowadnehunk Deadwater is the place. Many salmon winter over in the deadwater and big streamers fished near the in- flow will see some action. People will have to slide their watercraft over the high snow banks and shore ice to get to open water. Bring your snowmobile suit and REMEMBER the water is deadly cold this time of season and ALWAYS wear a good life jacket. Keep in mind the 50/50 rule. If the water temperature is less than 50 degrees you have a 50/50 chance of making it out of the water before hypothermia does you in.
Let the games begin!!!
East Outlet of the Kennebec Open Year Round
1-14-2008 - The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has openned the East Outlet of the Kennebec River to Year round fishing.
The current rule change reads:
From November 1st to April 1st - Fly Fishing Only - Catch & Release from the Dam to the tail end of the Beach Pool.
I remember, not that many years ago, standing in the shop looking out the window on a beautiful April Day feeling penalized for living in Greenville because nothing openned till May 1st. With some effort on my part the East Outlet, West Outlet, Moose River and Roach River were openned the 1st of April like the rest of the state. It was more about opportunity that productivity.
Opportunity is what this new change in the rule is all about. Even though I haven't taken advantage of the new opportunity to fish the East Outlet this winter, it makes me smile "Just thinking about it".
For those of you who may be considering giving it a go on one of those above freezing days you need to know the water flow is at 3500 cfs and won't be dropping anytime soon. Moosehead Lake filled this fall from all the rain and it has to be drained back down by spring to make room for all the run-off we will probably have when the snowpack cuts loose. If you could get to the river through all the snow you can't do any wading. There is a consolation price though. Generally after the fall spawn takes place fish drop back into Indian Pond with one exception, HIGH WATER!!
High flow hold fish in the river. When it does become fishable there should be fish to fish over. Time will tell. I plan on giving it a go when it warms up again and I'll let you know. My guess is it'll take a very, very heavy nymph to get the first fish of the year on.