Fishing Reports by Regional Fishery Biologists Region Map

April 27, 2008

Region A - Southwestern Maine - Photos from the field!


The regional fisheries staff has been out on Sebago Lake training our new seasonal census clerk, Bill Yeo.  Bill will be interviewing anglers on the lake two days per week from now until the end of September, and the data will be used to evaluate the current status and future management of the salmon and lake trout fisheries.

Our expectation is that Sebago will produce some great fishing this year. Anglers can expect salmon in the 21/2-31/2-pound range and lakers in 21/2-5-pound class. However, we anticipate some trophy salmon in the six- to eight-pound range, as well as some lakers over eight- to 10 pounds.

Early angler reports and our recent census efforts support our predictions for the season. On Thursday, April 24 and Saturday, April 26 the fishing was quite good. We interviewed 75 boats and anglers reported catching 50 legal salmon as well as, 44 lakers.  This equates to approximately 1.3 legal salmonids per boat. In addition, anglers have reported catching or losing some salmon over six pounds and one boat had reportedly landed a 12-pound togue!

Currently, the best salmon fishing is near the State Park; however, Jordan Bay is producing some great lake trout fishing with a few boats catching more than 10 lakers per trip.  It gets better. The best fishing is yet to come once the smelt run gets under way.

We have received quite a few questions regarding the gating situation for the State Park Boat Ramp.  Following is an excerpt from a recent press release issued by the Department of Conservation:

Sebago Lake State Park Boat Launch Open

Augusta, ME - The Maine Department of Conservation’s Bureau of Parks & Lands (BPL) announced today that the boat launch at Sebago Lake State Park is now open for the season. “Sebago Lake is extremely popular with anglers and the opening of our boat launch is important to many of them,” said park manager Tom Skolfield. “It has been a long winter, but since April 21st, the launch site has been open for the season.” State park staff members also installed the launch site’s dock this week.

Gates at the boat launch will open at 4:00 AM for the next few days. Beginning May 4th the park’s entrance booth will be staffed and the gates will then open at 9:00 AM. Anglers can purchase an early morning fishing pass, that - when accompanied with a season pass - will accommodate those who want boat access prior to 9:00 AM. That pass, and the combination to the gate that accompanies it, are readily available at Sebago Lake State Park.

Back to the fishing report. Although Sebago is getting a lot of attention from anglers this season, many other waters offer great salmon and lake trout fishing including Thompson Lake (Oxford),  Auburn Lake (Auburn), Peabody Pond (Sebago), and Kezar lake (Lovell). Due to changes in smelt abundance, Thompson Lake salmon are expected to be in better condition than last year, whereas anglers may notice decline in salmon and togue size quality at Auburn Lake.

This time of year, the biologists and the hatcheries get inundated with phone calls about what has been stocked and when particular waters will be stocked.  Typically, we refer these callers to our website to view last year’s report.  Although the report is a year old, the waters, species, numbers, and timing of stockings is typically very similar from year to year.  The biggest change will be timing, which typically may vary a week or two due to high spring flows, late spring thaw, and other unforeseen factors.

For example, stocking got off to a late start this season due to the delayed snow and ice melt, but the hatchery trucks are rolling and our three local hatcheries are quickly making up for lost time. In addition, although stocking site information is not provided in these reports, it should be noted that rivers are typically stocked at most major road crossings within the town listed.

The good news is MDIF&W staff is currently working towards a “real-time” stocking report for our “catchable” trout programs. Waters managed under a catchable trout program are typically stocked with legal-sized fish on waters that provide more marginal habitats (such as summer water quality limitations, competition and/or predation issues). Under catchable trout stocking programs we want to promote angler use and catch of recently stocked fish. 

Other types of stocking programs designed to “grow out” stocked hatchery fish and produce better quality fisheries will not be included in the real time stocking report.  We’ll keep you posted as to when this program goes live.  In the meantime, we will likely report recent stocking events in this weekly report.  Following is a list of waters stocked with spring yearling brook trout (9-11 inches) during the week of May 28th:

Brook Trout Stocking for the Week of May 28th.

Clemons Pond (Big) Hiram 200
Clemons Pond (Little) Hiram 150
Hancock Brook Hiram 250
Big Ossipee River Hiram 470
South River Parsonsfield 100
Little River North Branch Gorham 100
Little River Gorham 400
Little River Buxton 150
Little River Buxton 950
Piscataquis River Falmouth.Cumberland 550
Alden's Pond Gorham 100
Little Ossipee River Newfield 100
Little Osspiee River Newfield/Limerick 375
Isinglass Pond Waterboro 200
Presumpscot River Windham 875
Presumpscot River Windham 40
Otter Pond #2 Standish 200
Otter Pond #4 Standish 100
Auburn Lake Auburn 300
Auburn Lake Auburn 300
Nezinscot River Turner 500
The Basin Auburn 200
Brandy Brook New Gloucester 100
Little Androscoggin River Minot/Oxford 60


Lastly, we wanted to point out to anglers that the Otter Ponds in Standish will be stocked on Thursday, May 1, and MDIF&W staff will be conducting a short-term census on these waters as part of a larger statewide project to evaluate our catchable trout programs.

Hope to see you on the water and good luck!

- James Pellerin, Assistant Regional Fishery Biologist, Gray

Region B - Central Maine-Photos from the field!


At one time the tail water below Shawmut Dam on the Kennebec River was one of the most popular brown trout fisheries in the state. It was not that long ago when one could count 20 or more anglers during any summer evening downstream of the Shawmut Dam.

The tailrace area is easily accessible for wading anglers from both the Benton and Shawmut sides of the river. Two boat launches provide access to this portion of the river. One is located in downtown Fairfield in front of the Community Center. The other boat access site is an unimproved launch located in Shawmut just below the dam.

The popularity of the fishery grew out of an initial planting of brown trout in 1983. The intent of that stocking was to initiate and maintain a fishery for larger, older-aged brown trout, thus allowing the brown trout angler an opportunity to do battle with a big fish. In the years that followed, the river met those objectives. The browns flourished and some grew to several pounds.

At any one time there might be three- to five-year classes of fish living in the reach. Word spread through out the angling community and Shawmut gained its reputation as a quality fishery.

Prior to 2001, it was not uncommon to see many large brown trout sipping on the surface of the river, as mayfly or caddis hatches emerged from the bottom of the river.  The evening light triggered the feeding activity, and darkness would only intensify a feeding frenzy on the surface. Many anglers would leave the river prior to nightfall, but those who fished into the wee hours were sometimes rewarded when large brown trout took their fly. 

What has happened to this well-known brown trout fishery since then?  Some recent history will tell the story. 

In 1992, the Kennebec Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited requested a permit from the Department to stock the Shawmut tail water with spring yearling rainbow trout. The primary reason for stocking rainbow trout was to enhance the fishery and give anglers the opportunity to catch another salmonid that would not be as difficult to catch as the brown trout.  The Department approved the permit and the TU chapter purchased 1,000 rainbow trout from a private hatchery and planted them below the dam in 1992.  In 1995, the stocking of rainbow trout was increased to 2,000 to equal the number of brown trout being stocked.

The genetic strain of rainbow trout that were utilized from 1992 to 2000 didn’t   perform well. In short, they didn’t show the potential to produce a significant recreational fishery compared to the brown trout in terms of both size and catch rate. Also, the rainbows did not show much of an ability to survive into their second year after stocking.

In 2001, the Department took over the rainbow trout stocking program with a different strain of rainbows called the Eagle Lake strain.  This new strain would be utilized in an experimental performance comparison between rainbow trout and brown trout. Results from this report were compiled in: Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout Field Comparisons by James Pellerin, (Fisheries Final Report: Series No. 07-1). Other data has been obtained from voluntary angler booklets.  
      
Longevity characteristics observed in voluntary angler data indicate that the Eagle Lake rainbow trout utilized in the study show better long-term survival (called ‘hold-over’) than did the private source strain. However, neither strain of rainbow held over as well as the brown trout.  The rainbows did not contribute many large fish to the Shawmut fishery.

From 1993 to 2000, prior to the MDI&W stocking of rainbow trout, rainbows made up 27 percent of the total salmonid catch, compared to browns at 73 percent. In terms of larger fish, those 16 inches or greater, only 16 percent of the total rainbow trout caught exceeded 16 inches versus 41 percent of  all brown trout caught.

From 2001 to the present the brown trout fishery has significantly decreased, with smaller and less brown trout being caught than in previous years. During the same time period and after the Department started stocking rainbow trout, rainbows made up 61 percent of the total salmonid catch whereas brown trout made up 39 percent.

Composition of the catch also has changed significantly. In the years prior to 2001, voluntary angler data shows the bulk of the catch was made up of brown trout.  The graph below tells the story.

Kennebec River Graph

Essentially, we have lost a good proportion of our larger and older salmonids at Shawmut, both rainbows and browns.  The loss in size quality in the brown trout fishery has been particularly striking. This decline in the brown trout fishery has generated some concerns regarding future management strategies at Shawmut. 

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has a policy of considering public comment on significant management proposals.  As such, interested citizens and anglers are being asked to consider the following:

  • Are anglers satisfied at the present time with the fisheries at Shawmut?
  • Should MDIF&W take steps to restore the fishery to its pre-2001 condition?
  • What management strategies do you think the MDIFW should take to manage this fishery?       

A public meeting to discuss potential management strategies for Shawmut has been scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 30 at the IF&W Sidney office at 270 Lyons Road in Sidney. Your comments and concerns are welcome and can be e-mailed to Scott.Davis@Maine.gov and Robert.Vanriper@Maine.gov or mailed to the address above.  Or bring them to the meeting!

Directions to the Sidney Office for the meeting are:

  • From Waterville and points north: I 95 South to Exit 120 Lyons Road, left onto Lyons Road, first driveway on the left.
  • From Augusta and points south: I – 95 North to Exit 120, Right on to Lyons Road, cross over the interstate, first drive on the left.

- Scott Davis, Fisheries Specialist, Sidney

Region C - Downeast - Photos from the field!

The start of the hot spring fishing season is now!  Most of the lakes in the Downeast region have all gone ice free in the last week and the trout and salmon are bending rods everywhere!

Trout ponds where the hot fishing is happening are as follows: Huntley Creek, Cutler; Simpson Pond, Roque Bluffs; Simmons Pond, Hancock; Pineo Pond, Deblois; West Pike Brook Pond, T 18 ED; Montegail Pond, Centerville; Salmon Pond, T 30 MD; Vining Lake, Cooper; East Monroe Pond, T 43 MD; Monroe Lake, T 43 MD; Duck Tail Pond, Amherst; Partridge Pond, Amherst; Fox Pond, T 10 SD; Little Tunk Pond, Sullivan; Young’s Pond, Otis; Lakewood Pond, Bar Harbor; Witch Hole Pond, Bar Harbor; Bubble Pond, Bar Harbor; Six-Mile Lake, Marshfield; and Long Pond, Great Pond Plt.

Good splake waters that are heating up are as follows: Peaked Mountain. Pond, Centerville; Fitts Pond, Clifton; Second Old Stream Lake, T 37 MD; Jacob-Buck Pond, Bucksport; Burntland Pond, T 35 MD; Long Lake, Marion; and Pleasant River Lake, Beddington.

Good salmon waters that I recommend are: Cathance Lake, Cooper; Long Pond, Southwest Harbor; Phillips Lake, Dedham; Brewer Lake, Orrington; Big Lake, T 27 ED; and Gardner’s Lake, East Machias.

West Grand and Pocumcus Lakes should be ice free by April 29 or 30.

Try your luck at these waters and I think you’ll be glad you did.  Anglers are reporting good catches this spring with the waters heating up early with the warm day temperatures.  Take advantage!

Enjoy being on the water, take a child fishing and be safe and wear your life jacket. Tight Lines!

- Greg Burr, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist, Jonesboro

Region D - Western Mountains - Photos from the field!

Very soon after ice out you can expect the hatchery trucks to be visiting many of our lakes, ponds and rivers.  The fish being stocked this spring are almost all of legal size, though a few waters have special regulations, so check your lawbook.

Here are the stockings to watch for in rivers:  Brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout in the Androscoggin River; brook trout and rainbow trout in the Carrabassett River; brook trout and salmon in the Dead River (below Flagstaff Dam); brook trout in the South Branch of the Dead River; brook trout in the Ellis River and the West Branch of the Ellis; brook trout and brown trout in the Kennebec River; brook trout and brown trout in the Sandy River; brook trout in the Sunday River; brook trout and rainbow trout in the Swift River; and brook trout and brown trout in the Webb River.

In most of these waters, fish are scattered over the length of the river.

We'll also be stocking a number of streams and brooks with brook trout:  Muddy Brook, Industry; Temple Stream, Farmington; and Wilson Stream, Wilton.

The following kid-fishing waters will be stocked with brook trout:  Aunt Hannah Brook, Dixfield; a section of the Carrabassett River; Haley Brook, Rangeley; several sections of the Kennebec River; Mill Stream, Embden; Pinnacle Pond, Kingfield; Tibbetts Pond, Concord; and a section of Wilson Stream, Wilton.

This year we also are adding a small pond behind the DHHS building, Rte. 150, Skowhegan, to the list of kid-fishing waters (access is off Maple Street).  Many of these waters will be stocked twice, in May and in June.

And, of course, larger, catchable brook trout will be stocked in a number of lakes and ponds:  Austin Pond, Chain of Ponds, Baker Pond (Solon), Black Brook Pond (Moxie Gore), Bugeye Pond, Caribou Bog (Chain of Ponds Twp), Clearwater Lake, Crowell Pond (New Sharon, Chesterville), Dodge Pond, Embden Lake, Grindstone Pond, Gull Pond, Haley Pond, Harvey Pond (Madrid), Jackson Pond (Concord Twp), Jim Pond, Long Pond (Township E), McIntire Pond (New Sharon), Moxie Pond (The Forks Plt), Otter Pond (Chain of Ponds Twp), Podunk Pond (Carthage), Porter Lake, Richardson Lakes, West Richardson Pond, Round Pond (Rangeley), Rowe Pond (Pleasant Ridge Twp), Saddleback Lake, Tea Pond, Toothaker Pond (Phillips), Tufts Pond (Kingfield), and Wilson Pond (Wilton).

We stock many other waters in the fall, with either the smaller fall fingerling fish or the larger fall yearling fish.  And most of our salmon are stocked in the spring, but are not generally of legal size until they have grown a season or two.  Nonetheless, the stockings listed above should provide lots of good fishing in many waters throughout western Maine.

- Forrest Bonney, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Rangeley Region

Region E - Moosehead Region - Photos from the field!

It looks like spring may happen after all!  Although there are still large piles of snow left in our parking area, open water can be found around the edges of some ponds and near the mouths of flowing water.

The Piscataquis River is still a little high but it should be fishable soon and the hatchery trucks won’t be far behind.  The East and West Outlets would be a good bet for someone in the area looking for a place to wet a line. The East Outlet is running a low flow as Kennebec Water Power refills the big lake and the West Outlet has a good fishable flow all year.

We are still a week or more from the “smelt hatch” on most waters in the region. So, while the ice and snow continue their annual retreat, we can bring you up-to-date on a very busy and successful winter season and on some projects of interest that will take place this summer.

If you are fishing the upper Piscataquis River in Abbot this spring, don’t be alarmed by the strange contraptions floating in the channel.  Fisheries biologists from the Bureau of Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat (we used to call it the Atlantic Salmon Commission) will be conducting studies on Atlantic salmon in the river.  These Rotary Screw Traps are designed to catch young salmon (smolts) as they drop out of the river and head to sea. The smolts will be captured and then released in an effort to estimate salmon production in the upper river.

In another study, consultants and staff from Florida Power and Light Energy (FPLE) will be conducting studies around Brassua Lake and the Moose River this summer as part of the relicensing of the Brassua Dam. One study of interest will involve evaluating the habitat improvement projects that were constructed when the power station was constructed.  At that time, IF&W requested the dam owners to dig pools and place large boulders below the tailrace to hold adult salmon and trout to create fishing areas.  A small island also was constructed on the north side of the river.

FPLE biologists have received a permit from the IF&W to capture and implant radio tags in several adult salmon and brook trout in the Moose River.  They may be using several different techniques to capture the fish, including: angling, nets, and electrofishing. 

Tracking will continue throughout the summer and fall using stationary receivers and portable receivers on the water, on the ground, and in the air.

This will be a very interesting study that will not only tell us about the habitat improvement projects, but we will learn a lot about movement into and out of the river, how temperature, flow, and possibly smelt drift through the dam affect movement of the coldwater gamefish.

We will also gather some tracking data from around the lake to learn about the movements of these fish when they leave the river.  This study dove-tails nicely with some brook trout work the IF&W will be conducting on Moosehead Lake in the next few years.

Many folks have asked us about the success of the new and very liberal bag limits on lake trout last winter. As you may know, lake trout have become very abundant in Moosehead Lake over the past 15 years or so. The smelt population crashed as a result of too many predators on this primary prey species for the lake, and salmon and lake trout growth suffered. We made several regulation changes during this period in an effort to reduce the lake trout population.

While we did make some progress in some years, we could not attain our fishery management goals for lake trout.  In fact, two years ago, we began to see growth slip and catch rates increase; a sure sign that the lake trout population was on it’s way back up.

We further liberalized the bag and size limits on lake trout starting last winter in an effort to get ahead of the oncoming problem and try to get the lake trout population into balance.  We also worked with the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce to develop a fishing derby to target lake trout and bring more anglers to the big lake in the winter.

We have documented a decline in ice fishing use in the past several years and we needed to reverse that trend if the new regulations were to be successful.  This would be a difficult task since ice fishing pressure, in general, has been declining statewide.
 
The harvest of lake trout 14-18 inches has typically ranged from 4,000 to 6,000 fish in the winter.  Anglers also released many fish that they could have legally kept in this slot.  We knew that we needed to exceed the historic harvest rates to get ahead of the burgeoning lake trout population.

The ice fishing derby was very successful.  Not only did it give us a good jump start toward removing lake trout, it also created a lot of good publicity for the lake and the fishery goals.  We registered just over 2,000 fish and brought hundreds of new anglers to the region that weekend.  And they kept coming back for more.

Winter use has hovered between 10,000 and 12,000 angler-days for the past several years.  This winter, angler use was estimated to be nearly 19,000 angler days. We estimated approximately 28,000 lake trout between 14-18 inches were removed last winter and an additional 2,000 fish less than 14 inches were harvested for a total of around 30,000 lake trout less than 18 inches.  Catch rates for small lake trout remained high all winter, indicating that we still have some work to do, but this is a terrific start toward reaching our goals.

- Tim Obrey, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Moosehead Lake

Region F - Penobscot Valley Region - Photos from the field!

Who would have guessed that Cold Stream Pond would be out by now? Early estimates from old timers around the lake gave May 1-5 as the most likely prospects for the lake to be ice free. In fact, the lake was out the morning of the April 24.

The couple of weeks of sunny, relatively hot weather in mid-April really did a number on the 30 inches of ice present on March 31.

Early reports from Cold Stream are sketchy, but I did hear of a couple of very nice, 4-pound-plus salmon taken the day following ice-out. No reports of togue or brook trout yet.

Other regional waters north of the Lincoln area will be a few more days. According to reliable reports, Schoodic Lake in Brownville should be out on Tuesday, April 29 .  East Grand should be out by the weekend of May 3 or 4, and Millinocket and Pemadumcook also will be out this weekend. Pleasant Lake in Island Falls, Matagamon Lake and Scraggly Lake in T6R8 WELS and other water bodies in the far northern part of the region will be ice-free the following week, most likely.

Presently, high water is prevalent across the region as many of our smelt populations are staging before they run up lake tributaries to spawn. The West Branch Penobscot is just starting, as are a number of smaller lake populations throughout the southern part of Region F.

As the week progresses, we will be checking smelt runs across the region, as well as setting burlaps at some of the stronger runs to transfer smelt eggs to some smelt deficient waters.

May I suggest a couple of early season waters that are open to youngsters less than 16 years of age. At the top of the list would have to be Pickerel Pond in Twp 32 MD. We stock the pond with both spring yearlings (500 annually) and fall yearlings (300 annually), as well as a few brood fish each year to keep it interesting for the kids. The Maine Youth Fish and Game Association have an ongoing program for the benefit for area youngsters. For more information, go to http://www.maineyouthfishandgame.org/ .

Other early season opportunities for youngsters only include Rocky Brook in Lincoln, Cold Stream in Enfield, Giles Pond in Patten, Johnny Mack Brook in Orono, Mattagodus Stream in Springfield and Rock Crusher Pond in Island Falls. Jerry Pond in Millinocket is open to all during the open water season (open to persons under 16 during the winter only) and offers all members of the family additional opportunity to hook the big one.

- Nels Kramer, Fisheries Biologist, Enfield

Region G - Aroostook County - Photos from the field!

Believe it or not, it looks like spring in the eastern areas of Aroostook County.  Snow lingers in the woods and where piles of snow were deposited from winter plowing but the lawns and fields are mostly bear with green grass showing around the edges of roadways and buildings.  What could have been catastrophic water levels were controlled by the lack of rain and hot weather with cool nights.

That said, rivers and brooks are running high and the lakes remain iced over.  I do not anticipate any of the major lakes to be open this weekend but through next week leading up to the weekend of May 9, ice-outs should be progressing north.  Presently, anglers have been fishing lakes in southern Aroostook at the mouths of tributaries and where it has pulled away from the shoreline enough to get a line in.  As the boating season nears, please remember to wear your life jacket, as the water is extremely cold.

Travel in the North Maine Woods area west of Ashland is as you might expect, rough and muddy with frost holes.  Roads that were not plowed may still be snow covered.  We would ask that you please respect the industrial landowners who build and maintain these roads for commercial purposed and not go “mudding” on these roads with 4 wheel drive trucks.  You wouldn’t want people rutting up your front lawn or back forty, as the case may be.

- David J. Basley, Regional Fishery Biologist, Ashland