Fishing Reports by Regional Fishery Biologists
May 6, 2008
Fish Stocking Report Now Available With Daily Updates
The spring 2008 stocking report now is available, and it features daily updates from hatchery staff.
Instead of hearing when and where the hatcheries have stocked well after the season has ended, anglers now will be able to easily locate waters freshly stocked with catchable trout.
Waters are grouped by county, listed by town, and include the date of stocking as well as the species, quantity, and size of fish released.
- Todd Langevin, Superintendent of Hatcheries, Augusta
Region A - Southwestern Maine - Photos from the field!
Hatchery stocking has progressed at a good pace, except for a couple of days last week when a heavy rains flooded most area steams.
The brook trout stockings are part of our “catchable trout stocking program.” Under this program the management goal is to provide harvest opportunity for trout of legal size so anglers shouldn’t be apprehensive about harvesting a few trout to eat. Anglers should recognize that this type of fishery does not benefit from catch and release fishing practices. Most of the waters stocked with catchable trout do not provide suitable habitat and water quality for the fish to realize any growth or to hold over from one year to the next.
If the mercury fish consumption advisory is a concern associated with eating catchable trout, past testing of hatchery fish indicates there are no elevated levels of mercury in our hatchery raised trout, and most of the fish we stock as part of our catchable trout program are in the “wild” for a very short time before being harvested, so there is little opportunity for mercury uptake.
Sebago Lake continues to provide steady fishing for salmon and lake trout, and we continue to get reports of some salmon in the 6- to 7-pound size range, including some that have been observed by Bill Yeo, our Sebago Lake census clerk. The smelt run started last week so the fishing action is only expected to improve as opportunistic salmon and togue converge on the smelt run that concentrates in the northwest corner of Sebago, including the mouth of the Songo River.
We haven’t received too many reports on other area salmon waters, which I generally view in a positive light, because if the fishing was bad I’d hear about it. If my weekend trip to Thompson Lake is any indication I can see why I’m not getting complaints. I fished with a friend and his son Saturday morning and caught 7 salmon and 8 togue. The salmon ranged from 16 to 20 inches, and most of the togue were 17 to 20 inches long. We certainly weren’t the only anglers catching fish that morning. The water temperature was a chilly 44 F, so slow trolling methods produced the best results.
Since water temperatures on Sebago and many of the other area salmon lakes are still cool (well below 50 F), the fish tend to be more sluggish and are generally more receptive to slower presentations. The most successful anglers at this time of the year fish sewed smelts or shiners. Some also will use slip hook rigs to attach their bait fish, but you can’t adjust your bait to “roll” using a slip hook rig. If you can troll your boat slow (below 1 MPH) and set out a sewed bait fish that is slowly rolling at the end of at least 25 feet of 8 pound monofilament attached to a sinking fly line or 1-3 colors of leadcore, you have created a deadly combination that salmon can’t resist. This method works best early in the morning.
If you have trouble getting your boat to troll at such a slow speed, you can opt to buy a trolling motor (relatively expensive), add a trolling plate (poor steering control, particularly in wind), toss out some 5 gallon buckets (not usually adequate) or use a more recent innovation called a trolling bag. The trolling bag is a beefed up drift sock, that many people have used for years to slow the rate of boat drift when your boat is not under power. The trolling bags (two are recommended) are attached to a rope that runs under the bow from one side of the boat to the other (so it won’t interfere with your fishing lines). A bag is connected to the bow line on either side of the boat’s keel. I recently bought two 28-inch diameter “beefy bags” from Amishoutfitters.com for my 17-foot welded aluminum boat powered with a 90 HP 4 stroke, and these rugged bags brought my trolling speed downs from 3 MPH to less than 1 MPH. I paid a little over $100, and the bags offer good steering control (way better than a trolling plate), and since my 4 stroke gets good gas mileage at idle speed, I have saved on the expense of buying and maintaining a trolling motor.
Roger Lavalliere, who is an ardent brown trout angler recently reported some excellent fishing on some of the area brown trout waters. One short afternoon trip to a nearby lake produced nine brown trout, one brook trout, and a rainbow! He also caught several browns and rainbows on two other waters he fished. Not a bad start to the open water fishing season!
- Francis Brautigam, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Sebago Lake
Region B - Central Maine-Photos from the field
There is an old adage in Maine that tells us that if we don’t like the weather to wait a while, a change will come. The middle of April was blessed with several days of warm, summer-like conditions that got anglers thinking that conditions would be ideal for an increase in fish activity. Most area ponds were losing their winter ice cover, just right for anglers to pursue their quarry. But other signs indicated that we needed to wait a while if fish were going to cooperate. As the month came to end, cool rainy weather prevailed as flowing waters, lakes, and ponds all responded to the influx of run-off. Fishing conditions deteriorated.
Fiddleheads, delectable table fare for some folks, had not responded to the warm weather and were just poking up near the end of April. Back on March 30, many area waters still had more than 20 inches of ice and some anglers still were driving road vehicles on the ice surface. Just three weeks later most central Maine waters were ice-free. In some instances, like most of those of natural origin, we cannot rush what we want could be accomplished. We just have to wait until the time is right.
Central Maine waters will come around for anglers in May once water temperatures have increased, and more active fish populations will provide anglers with a much better chance of landing a fish. Our Department will be stocking catchable sized brook trout in many area waters, primarily lakes and ponds. Check the Department’s Web site for more information.
Remember that some fish stocked in prior years have survived and grown to respectable and sometimes trophy size. As keeper of the voluntary booklet program in Region B, I have seen many records that have indicated 3- to 5-pound salmon, close to 10-pound brown trout, and even some 15-pound lake trout, all in stocked waters within 15 miles of Augusta, Maine’s capital city.
Don’t ignore brooks, streams and rivers as they also are stocked with catchable-sized brook trout. Some of these waters also retain fish stocked in past years.
Another little known or forgotten benefit in many flowing waters is that native populations exist and do so in credible numbers. Try fishing some of the flowing waters in the area between Waterville and Bangor. There are some gems holding wild brook trout. But, you’ll need to get off the beaten path to find them. If anglers would look at the list of flowing waters we do stock, those waters are ones that are not capable of sustaining native trout population. Therefore, search the map for those un-stocked waters. Many contain some native Maine brook trout, our heritage fish.
- Bill Woodward, Assistant Regional Fishery Biologist, Sidney
Region C - Downeast - Photos from the field!
We are seeing signs of spring weather much more frequently here in the Downeast region. Days are warming up nicely and we have had a minimal amount of rain to date. A couple of days of showers last week brought the flow rates in area brooks and streams up to levels that made fishing difficult in most locations. Flows subsided over the weekend, but this week’s rainfall amounts will determine the “fishability” of brooks and streams for the coming weekend. So keep an eye on the weather.
The good news is the ice is out everywhere in the region. West Grand Lake was the last to go out and it finally went sometime around Monday April 28. We expect great fishing for landlocked salmon and lake trout at West Grand this spring.
Anglers experienced fantastic action and catches there during the ice fishing season, and that should continue into the open water season.
Soon we will begin our spring creel survey at West Grand, just as we do every year. We interview anglers as they leave the lake to gain information about the length of time fishing, fish caught and released, collect length, age, and weight information from all fish kept, as well as fielding any questions anglers may have.
The spring creel survey is a very memorable and enjoyable time for me that I look forward to every year. It’s a great opportunity to gain valuable feedback from our anglers as well as a chance to catch up with friends that we haven’t seen since the prior spring.
Anglers are reporting great fishing on many of the salmon and brook trout waters in Washington and Hancock counties. My wife and I have already enjoyed some exciting fishing for brook trout on a number of small trout ponds. Beginning this week the Department’s hatchery staff will begin spring stocking. To view a list of some of the waters that will be stocked with brook trout and brown trout in the coming weeks, please check out the Department’s Web site.
Check your law book for the current regulations on the water you plan to fish.
Finally, stay tuned in the coming weeks for the results of our spring trapnetting work for brook trout and salmon. Good luck!
Region D - Western Mountains - Photos from the field!
Ice outs are occurring at a feverish pace here in western Maine, including the big lakes in the Rangeley Chain. Warden Reggie Hammond reports Rangeley Lake was largely ice free on May 5, so that means Mooselookmeguntic and Richardson lakes also are ready for fishing. Frank Braley predicts a mid-week ice out (May 6 or 7) for Spring Lake north of Flagstaff Lake and Pierce Pond and its tributary ponds can’t be far behind. Trout ponds in the region’s highest elevations still may be a week or so away.
Prior to receiving the latest slug of rain, we received several reports of great spring fishing in the Dead River at Big Eddy, the Kennebec below Wyman Dam and Williams Dam, the Magalloway River, the Carrabassett River in Kingfield, and the Rapid River. Flows now are receding quickly and, barring an additional deluge, conditions should be prime for some great spring/early summer stream fishing.
Speaking of the Rapid River, we recently completed a three-year study that examined the effectiveness of using “burst flows” to disrupt smallmouth bass spawning. The idea was to exploit the vulnerability of bass during this critical period in their life history; dramatic changes in flow rate and water levels, even for short periods, can cause adult bass to abandon their nests and displace very young bass fry. We found that 50 percent or more of bass nests in the Rapid River could be negatively impacted in this way. We noted a decline in the recruitment of young bass while the study was occurring, and numbers of young trout increased slightly during the final year. While there are many factors that determine year-to-year variations in bass and trout numbers (most of which we can't control), we were nonetheless encouraged by the results. We’ve designed a “bass flow regime” for the Rapid river that FPL Energy, the owners of Middle Dam, will implement voluntarily when water conditions permit. The proposed flow regime calls for increasing flows to 1,200 cfs for 10 to 12 hours, every third day, from about June 27 to July 6. The pulsed flows only will occur at night to minimize conflicts with anglers.
We’ve designed a long-term monitoring plan that will allow us to fully evaluate the new flows over the next several years. Check the Department’s web site www.maine.gov/ifw/fishing/reports for specifics, including several updated documents pertaining to the Rapid River project.
Many good people contributed to our work on the Rapid -- too many to list here. Particular thanks are due to members of the Rapid River Coalition and the Orvis Corp. both which contributed significant financial resources to this project. Brandon Kulik, a very fine biologist with Kleinschmidt Associates in Pittsfield, was the project leader.
Region E - Moosehead Region - Photos from the field!
What a difference a week makes. The heavy rain and snowmelt we received last week caused some very high flows in most of our rivers and streams. Flows have slowly subsided and now are just beginning to get back to normal.
Since 1994, IF&W has been managing the flows and lake levels on the Roach River and First Roach Pond. When the region receives a large amount of rain like we did last week, the Greenville fisheries staff has to keep a close eye on flows that are coming into First Roach Pond. This often times requires many trips to Kokadjo to make adjustments to the dam so that adequate flow releases can be made to pass excess water so that the lake doesn’t overfill. This past week was especially busy for the fisheries staff in Greenville. We made six gate adjustments in seven days.
During the peak of the run-off we estimate that there was approximately 3,000 cfs of water coming into First Roach Pond. We were releasing 1,900 cfs and the pond elevation still rose 0.7 feet in 24 hours. The gates have been reset and we currently have a flow of 300 cfs at the dam. This flow is much more suitable for fishing.
The hatchery truck came from the Embden Rearing Station last week and stocked the regions first brook trout of the season. These fish were stocked into the West Outlet. In the upcoming weeks many of our put and take waters will get a visit from the Embden and Enfield hatchery trucks. These will be completed as the gravel roads become passable and flows in the streams and rivers stabilize. These stocked fish provide fishing in easily accessible waters and are intended to provide fishing opportunities in waters that are not able to sustain wild fisheries. It also can take some of the fishing pressure off of the wild trout ponds in the area since many anglers take advantage of these stocked fish. In general, these waters have a two fish limit to help distribute the catch amongst anglers over several weeks.
We haven’t got the official word but looking up Moosehead Lake it appears that the majority of the lake is ice-free. Many ponds in the immediate Greenville area have open water or the ice has gone out altogether. This is a good time to get to your favorite trout pond and try your hand at those early season brookies. The alder leaves aren’t quite as big as mouse’s ear yet so good fishing on the brook and small streams may be a week or so away yet. There have been minimal reports of smelts running, but they should be starting in many places in the southern part of the region.
Region F - Penobscot Valley Region - Photos from the field!
Most of the lakes in the central and southern areas of Region F are now free of ice, however lakes north of Millinocket likely will need a few more days to a week before they are open for spring fishing.
We are getting reports of smelts running up the tributaries of many of our lakes, although this year like everything else they are a few days late. The word from Henry Hartley, supervisor of the state fish hatchery in Enfield, is that they will begin stocking spring yearling brook trout, salmon, lake trout, and splake this week.
There also will be a few excess brood fish stocked out that are averaging over a pound a piece.
We have been receiving reports from throughout the region that the fish are beginning to bite, thus signifying that spring is here. Salmon are biting on Schoodic, Cold Stream Pond, East Grand, Millinocket, Pemdumcook, East Musquash and Pleasant Pond. Splake are biting at Cedar, Lower Togue, and Endless Lakes. One disgruntled angler reported that last week’s flood waters pushed sheets of ice on the Seboeis road making it hard to access the landing at Seboeis Lake. His plans for a morning of fishing for splake and salmon squashed, he quickly turned his truck around, and an hour later was at Cold Stream Pond trying his luck for salmon. I’m happy to report that he was successful taking home a fat salmon for supper.
As the high water starts to subside in the brooks and stream the brook trout fishing will begin to pick up. We have not received any reports of either lake trout or smallmouth bass being very active but as the water begins to warm up they too also will become more active.
Last week, 40,000 spring yearling hatchery salmon were marked at Grand Lake Stream Hatchery. Thanks to the help from Region F, C and G as well as volunteer help from high school students from Presque Isle, the University of Maine in Machias and several volunteers from Lincoln the marking was completed in a day and a half.
The Department clips the fins of many hatchery fish in order to easily identify age and assess growth of these fish during our angler interview and sampling efforts. These salmon will be stocked throughout northern, central and down east Maine with in the next few weeks.
For those interested in following the progress of the hatcheries stocking or just wondering how many fish will be stocked favorite fishing hole check out the Department’s Web site. The link was established to keep you informed.
Region G - Aroostook County - Photos from the field!
In the wake of severe flooding in Aroostook County, river flows are beginning to recede to normal high spring flows. The St. John, Aroostook, and Fish rivers all remain high and very turbulent at this time. Snowpack in central Aroostook remains at 1-2 feet in sheltered, wooded areas so river flows are expected to remain high through much of May. Fishable water flows are not expected until mid-late May.
With all the water entering lakes and ponds, ice-outs are happening quickly especially in small ponds and lakes. All waters in Southern Aroostook, the Houlton area, are now out. Drews Lake in New Limerick is out today, although a small amount of ice is floating around the large part of the lake. Echo Lake and Arnold Brook Lake in Presque Isle went out around May 1. Anglers venturing out for an early trip should be aware that launches may remain closed due to snow and/or frost.
A number of the small lakes in eastern Aroostook County received retired brook trout brood fish from state fish hatcheries. These waters include: Echo Lake (Presque Isle; 100 14- to 16-inch); Monson Pond (Fort Fairfield; 800 12- to 14-inch); Mud Pond (Linneus; 50 12- to 14-inch); Nickerson Lake (New Limerick; 100 14- to 16-inch); Carry Lake (Littleton; 300 12- to 14-inch); and Conroy Lake (Monticello; 50 14- to 16-inch). These larger fish were stocked in late fall 2007 and from results in past years these trout are readily caught by anglers shortly after ice-out.
- Frank Frost, Fisheries Biologist, Ashland