Fishing Reports by Regional Fishery Biologists Region Map

June 9, 2008

Informational meetings on proposed regulation changes

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s Fisheries Division is planning two informational meetings on a set of proposed regulation changes that are the result of our efforts to consolidate the Ice Fishing and Open Water Fishing law books.

The first meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, June 23 at the Gray Regional Office, 358 Shaker Road in Gray, and the second will be on at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 25 at the Sidney Regional Office, 270 Lyons Road, in Sidney.

If passed, the proposed regulation changes will take effect in April 2010 when the Department combines the two law books into a two-year booklet.

“These proposals will help ease the process for a much broader rulemaking effort in 2009,” said John Boland, director of IF&W’s Fisheries Division.

The public is invited to provide comments either in writing or at one of the public informational meetings. Written comments may be sent to John.Boland@maine.gov or mailed to Mr. Boland’s attention at 284 State St., Station 41, Augusta, ME 04333.

Most of the proposed changes will affect southern and central Maine. The Department’s objective is to increase angling opportunities where possible, further simplify the law book, and save time and financial resources that instead can be used to continue protecting the inland fisheries resource, Boland said.

The following general fishing rules are being proposed for lakes and ponds in Cumberland, York, Androscoggin, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Waldo counties, although special restrictions may apply for specific waters:

  • Proposal Number 1

    Lakes and ponds will be open to open water fishing year round. (Note: Two lines per angler, general law.)

    Lakes and ponds will be open to ice fishing from Dec 1 through April 30. (Note: We provided this liberal time frame in order to account for years when ice forms early on waters and/or for years when ice remains later on waters. A time period was decided rather stating “presence of ice or safe ice” given the “fuzzy” nature of such terms.)

    Lakes and ponds will be Catch and Release for all salmonids from Oct. 1 thru Dec. 31. (Note: General law for all other species would apply during this time period.

    Special regulations, more liberal or conservative, can be provided on specific waters as appropriate.) The term salmonids includes the following Maine fish species -- Arctic charr, brook trout, brown trout, landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, splake, and togue.

    For lakes and ponds, the general law bag and length limits for salmonids apply from January 1 thru September 30. (Note - Special regulations, more liberal or conservative, can be provided on specific waters as appropriate.)

    Also, under the proposed general rule fishing regulations, both ice anglers and open water anglers could fish lakes and ponds in December, but could not harvest salmonids, unless provided by special regulation. From Jan. 1 thru April 30, both groups of anglers could fish lakes and ponds and harvest salmonids under respective bag and length limits.

  • Proposal Number 2

    Unless otherwise provided by rule, the number of lines an angler may fish at any one time will be limited to two lines while open water fishing and five lines while ice fishing. At no time can an angler fish more than five lines. (Note: This modification in wording for the number of lines that can be fished by an angler at any one time is being made to address the potential for anglers to simultaneously ice fish and open water fish in lakes and ponds in the eight southern counties of Cumberland, York, Androscoggin, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Waldo.)
  • Proposal Number 3

    The current statewide aggregate bag limit for salmonids of five fish will be removed. (Note: IF&W management decisions regarding bag limits, length limits, open seasons, etc. for salmonids are already focused at the species level and the removal of this regulation would not impact current management strategies.) Again, the term salmonids includes the following Maine fish species– Arctic charr, brook trout, brown trout, landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, splake, and togue.

Region A - Southwestern Maine - Photos from the field!

I came into the office Monday morning to an urgent phone message and a rather amusing e-mail from the same caller. Following is an excerpt from the e-mail: “Well, if you don’t hear from me, I have been beamed up! Last night at 10 p.m., there was a mysterious boat on the water here. Seen from one end of the lake to the other. Description: Large, about 12 big headlights around the sides, large scoops on either side, water expelling from the rear. Another lake resident said it lit up the inside of her house (she's right on the water) and she went out to see what it was and it was NOISELESS! I called Maine fisheries to see if they were stocking the lake last night. They do not stock at night. All the stocking is done already including Tripp.”

I spoke with the above person Monday morning, and fortunately she hadn’t been abducted by aliens over the weekend. She was very relieved to hear that the beings and foreign craft on Tripp Lake were simply the regional fisheries staff and their electrofishing boat.

We spent much of last week sampling bass populations into the wee hours of the morning on Pleasant Lake (Casco), Deer Pond (Hollis), and Tripp Lake (Poland). If all goes well, we hope to sample at least another three waters including Halls Pond (Paris), Barkers Pond (Lyman), and Chaffin Pond (Windham). Our bass assessments are always interesting, and we often leave with a new perspective on the fishery.

For example, we expected relatively low numbers of bass on Pleasant Lake due to its predominantly sandy shoreline and lack of structure. However, it turned out the lake produced fairly good numbers of quality sized smallmouth and largemouth bass.

Based on our surveys conducted during the first week of June, it appeared that smallmouth bass were well into their spawning season on most regional lakes. As the spawning season for smallmouths begins to wind down, anglers can expect largies to begin their spawning season. In addition, anglers can often extend the opportunities for spawning bass by fishing larger waters, cool rivers, and/or by traveling northward. For example, I paddled around Sebago Lake with my son over the weekend, and I was unable to find a smallmouth nest on the portions of the main lake due to the cooler surface temperatures. On the other hand, smallmouths and largemouths were observed cruising in the shallows and hanging around docks suggesting it wouldn’t be long.

James Pellerin, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist, Gray

Region B - Central Maine - Photos from the field!

Many lakes and ponds in the region are already at mid-summer water levels, as rainfall in the month of May was much below normal. Up until recently, the cool nights along with windy cool days made for unusual fishing conditions where anglers were enjoying an extension of springtime low water conditions as lake water temperatures were in the low 60s: prime temperatures for salmonids in this region. Bass spawning was delayed with smallmouth bass seen on their nests in early June. In Maine, though the locals tell us to wait a minute, as weather turned sultry over the weekend, fishing conditions turned about normal.

In the village of Belgrade Lakes, anglers attracted by the water flow at the dam are rewarded with white perch and the occasional brown trout and salmon. Other places that flowing water will attract both fish and fishermen are: Wings Mill Dam at the outlet of Long Pond; all the dams on Messalonskee Stream; the dams on the outlet of Cobbossee Lake; the dams on the Nezinscot; dams on the Sheepscot River; the dams or remnants on the St. George River; and dams on the Sebasticook River. If you cannot get to any of those, try looking even closer to home at an outlet of the lake or pond in your neighborhood that may have a dam or an outlet constriction. It may hold a temporary, yet rewarding, fishery.

There is no shortage of inquiries generated by information in recent fishing reports. Most want specific directions to hot spots in the central Maine area. As most well informed anglers know, biologists are able to do research that provides an "edge" for the professional fishery scientists. We also have the knowledge as to where the hatchery system should stock waters suitable for providing a fishery for our angling clientele. At this time of year there are many waters that will yield a decent catch of stocked salmonid species.

There also are many waters that still yield the native brook trout and the occasional native brownie, togue or salmon. Wild brookies, the most popular fish in Maine, have a limited distribution in Region B by the fact that there are few brooks and streams where cool water temperatures and decent flows are readily available in the months of June through September. Many lakes and ponds also have limited salmonid habitat due to the fact that as a lake stratifies, oxygen becomes depleted in the deeper water. Biologists have conducted experimental stocking programs in many waters in order to provide the species best suited for a particular body of water.

So if you are salmonid fishing or fishing for any of our warmwater fishes have fun and enjoy the fruits of many who manage and provide a true American pastime in the Vacationland of Maine. Give any of the regional fishery biologists a call at one of the seven offices around the state. You can find the telephone numbers at the State of Maine web site: www.maine.gov/ifw/fishing/index/htm. Call and get the “scoop”.

William L. Woodward, Assistant Regional Fishery Biologist, Sidney

Region C - Downeast - Photos from the field!

Smallmouth bass and chain pickerel recently have moved into the shallows and are providing anglers with fast fishing. In-shore lake water temperatures have risen into the mid 60s, and bass and pickerel have followed. When the shallow shoreline temperatures increase, baitfish and small game-fish stay close to shore, darting in and out of newly emerging vegetation, rocks and logs, while feeding on an abundance of food.

Chain pickerel take great advantage of the abundant schools of juvenile fish and stalk and wait until unsuspecting prey meander by. The current water temperatures have produced near-optimum feeding conditions for both bass and pickerel, and they both will strike hard as they bolt from in-shore cover to grab their hapless victim. No longer are they lethargic fighters from being in the ice-cold winter and spring waters. They jump, dive and bull their way through the shallows and off drop-offs trying to get off your line. This is the best time of year to experience fast shallow water action.

Bass are spawning now and also take great advantage of a plethora of food, in the form of insects and baitfish, swimming by their nesting areas. Male bass commonly charge out and grab baitfish when they can, while still protecting their eggs and young in the vicinity of the nest.

Here are some of the best lakes and ponds to fish for chain pickerel and smallmouth bass:

Smallmouth Bass – Hancock County Waters: Long Pond, Mount Desert Island; Branch Lake, Ellsworth; Green Lake, Ellsworth; Graham Lake, Ellsworth; Beech Hill Pond, Otis; Georges Pond, Franklin; Long Pond, T 10 SD; Molasses Pond, Eastbrook; Toddy Pond, Orland; Alamoosook Lake, Orland; Holbrook Pond, Holden; Donnell Pond, Franklin.

Chain Pickerel – Hancock County Waters: Scammon Pond, Eastbrook; Seal Cove Pond, Tremont; Alamoosook Lake, Dead River Section, Orland; Graham Lake, Ellsworth; Upper West Bay Pond, Gouldsboro; Upper Patten Pond, Surry; Davis Pond, Eddington; Rocky Pond, T 22 MD.

Smallmouth Bass – Washington County Waters: Wabassus Lake, T 6 ND; Big Lake, T 27 ED; West Grand Lake, Grand Lake Stream; Pocomoonshine Lake, Alexander; Crawford Lake, Crawford; Love Lake, Alexander; Pleasant Lake, Alexander; Bog Lake, Northfield; Meddybemps Lake, Meddybemps; Woodland Flowage, Woodland; Third Machias Lake, T 43 MD; Pocumcus Lake, T 6 ND; Cathance Lake, Cooper; Gardner Lake, East Machias; Rocky Lake, T 18 ED.

Chain Pickerel – Washington County Waters: Grand Falls Flowage, Princeton; Woodland Flowage, Woodland; Orange Lake, Whiting; Pocomoonshine Lake, Alexander; Crawford Lake, Crawford; Chain Lakes, T 26 ED; Fourth Machias Lake, T 5 ND; Hadley Lake, East Machias.

These are some of the very best Downeast bass and pickerel waters for you to experience this fantastic early season shallow water action. Both of these fish are easy to catch and are great fun for children.

Greg Burr, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist, Jonesboro

Region D - Western Mountains - Photos from the field!

We’ve had cool weather, we’ve had rain, and now we’ve had blistering heat, which sends salmon and trout scurrying into deeper water. Nonetheless, they’re still biting at our big lakes. At Aziscohos anglers have been catching a lot of salmon, up to 18 inches, and fewer trout.

We’ve been concerned about Rangeley Lake the last couple of years as we’ve watched salmon growth rates slide. As a result, we curtailed stocking the last two springs as numbers of wild salmon increased, and we’re encouraging anglers to keep a salmon to thin the number of predators on smelts. These efforts may be working as we’ve seen some fatter salmon this spring, and anglers are reporting clouds of smelts on their fish finders. Managing salmon waters can be a bit nerve wracking, as it’s always a struggle to balance their numbers against the forage fish they feed on. And landlocked salmon are notoriously finicky eaters -- quite simply, if they don't have smelt to feed on, they rarely do well.

The past few years we’ve been stocking a number of “marginal” waters with large brook trout to create additional spring fisheries. Some of these waters become too warm in the summer for brookies and some have quite a lot of interspecific competition from warm water fish species, but brookies will certainly thrive for a few months after ice out. One such water is Harvey Pond, beside Route 4 in Madrid, Franklin County. We frequently travel this road on our way to Rangeley, but haven’t seen much in the way of angling activity. And so it was that Dave Howatt and Liz Studdert checked for the presence of these brookies with a net last week. They immediately caught large numbers of them, confirming that they’re there, waiting for someone to throw a lure their way.

With our stockings now listed on our website, it’s easy to find waters that have trout and other species waiting for anglers to go after them.

Forrest Bonney, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Strong

Region E - Moosehead Region - Photos from the field!

The fisheries staff from the Moosehead Lake Regional Office of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has teamed up with the Natural Resource Education Center in Greenville to create a new program that will provide a mechanism for students interested in the field of resource management to gain valuable hands-on field experience while making a positive contribution to the enhancement of fisheries management in the Moosehead Lake Region. This program also will allow biologists to conduct new, innovative fisheries research in the area. We have developed a list of potential projects to conduct in the next few years.

The new internship program will contribute to NREC’s goals of providing high-quality on and off-site learning experiences, to be a research center for the area, to have highly engaged partners, and to sponsor programs that honor the area. The program will also help the IFW meet its goal of effectively managing the fisheries resource. The Moosehead Lake Region includes more than 1,200 lakes and ponds, as well as more than 4,000 miles of flowing water. Currently, this massive region, which has more water than many states, is managed by just three permanent fisheries biologists.

This spring NREC hired two Unity College students to remove competing fish species from two trout ponds in the region. Work began in early May on Crocker Pond in Dennistown and Misery Pond in Misery Township. Misery Pond is a native brook trout water, while Crocker Pond is stocked annually by the IF&W. Based on previous sucker removal studies, brook trout growth and survival improves when large numbers of suckers are removed from small trout ponds.

The interns were more successful at Crocker Pond, where they removed just over 5,300 suckers weighing approximately 2,000 total pounds. We also were very impressed with the trout fishery at this pond, which is located just a few miles north of Jackman. Crocker Pond is generally managed as a “put and take” fishery for hatchery brook trout. It is stocked each spring and fall. There are no gear restrictions on this water and the only special regulation is a two fish limit to spread the catch between the many anglers that utilize this fishery. We delayed the stocking this spring until the project was completed. We documented that 20 percent of our catch of brook trout was over 12 inches, indicating that many fish were surviving and growing beyond the management goal.

We were able to talk to quite a few anglers that were fishing while we were conducting our work and one had landed a nice fish exceeding 3 pounds. Clearly, this stocked pond is heavily utilized by locals and visitors, yet it is still a very nice fishery. It is a great example of how hatchery fish can create fishing opportunities and actually take some fishing pressure off wild/native trout ponds in an area.

This cooperative project is supported by donations to NREC from groups and individuals interested in improving the fishing in the Region, as well as funds from this winter’s togue fishing derby on Moosehead Lake sponsored by the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce. We plan to continue the competition removal project next spring and add new projects in the near future. Thanks to everyone for their support!

One last note: We want to remind everyone that the Moosehead Lake Fisheries Coalition and the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce are planning a summer fishing derby on Moosehead Lake on June 21 and 22. There will be $1,200 in cash prizes and numerous door prizes including an Old Town Predator square stern canoe. You can get more info at www.mooseheadlake.org. It’s a great chance to enjoy the beautiful lake in the summer and have a chance at winning some terrific prizes.

Tim Obrey, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Greenville

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

Reports from around the region are that the trout ponds are getting hot, with good hatches of insects coming off in the evenings making for excellent dry fly or emerging fly fishing conditions. The salmon and togue are heading for deeper water in the Regions southern and central lakes, but that salmon can still be taken near the surface in lakes north of Millinocket, especially on overcast, rainy days. Togue at Cold Stream Pond are already down at 60 to 80 feet. Trout fishing in the East Branch Penobscot below Mattagamon Lake was especially good last week, and this should continue for at least another week. The recent cool damp days appear to have moved bass temporarily off the spawning beds, but the warm weather predicted for the upcoming week should help set the mood and make for prime bass fishing conditions. Remember, when fishing bass during the spawn get them back in the water ASAP while the boat is still near the nest. The longer a nest is left unguarded, the more susceptible it is to predation by other fishes.

It appears as though we can add at least three more lakes to the ever growing list of waters in Maine that have been illegally stocked with non-native fish species.

Based on a report and pictures we received last week from a concerned angler, largemouth bass are now firmly established in Mattanawcook Lake, and Folsom and Crooked Ponds in the town of Lincoln. In fact, the angler reported that “largemouths are now captured as often if not more frequently than smallmouths in these ponds.”

While it is unfortunate that the smallmouth bass population appears to be in the process of being displaced by the largemouths, even more disconcerting is that Mattanawcook Lake, like several other illegally stocked largemouth waters in the drainage, flows directly into the Penobscot River. Largemouth bass are not known as a riverine fish, however access to the river means largemouth now have the ability to swim into countless other lakes and ponds in the Penobscot drainage putting at risk the native fish communities that inhabit them.

I have heard illegal stockings dubbed by some as the ecological crime of the century in Maine, and I would have to agree. The Department’s education and outreach programs informing citizens of the risk of illegal introductions is admirable and in my opinion has likely made a difference for those people accepting of such information.

However, there are a number of individuals out there that have decided to knowingly and willingly take matters into their own hands, ignoring that they are forever changing the fish communities, and potentially entire lake ecosystems in the Maine waters that they choose to stock. Please help us in our efforts to prevent future illegal stockings by reporting suspected illegal stocking activities. The State of Maine offers a $2,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for illegal stocking. To report an illegal introduction call 1-800-ALERT-US (253-7887) or 287-6057. To report using US Cellular or Maine Wireless dial #GE and for Unicel dial *GW.

Richard Dill, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Enfield

Region G - Aroostook County - Photos from the field!

Kayaking has fast overtaken canoeing as a preferred method of floating navigable rivers and streams for recreation purposes. There are some now who also use this watercraft for fishing. The Meduxnekeag River flowing through downtown Houlton should be on the list of destination for a day trip kayak adventure. From the public boat landing just downstream of Riverside Park to the public access on land owned by the Houlton Band of Maliseets at the iron bridge on the Lowrey Road or the Covered Bridge on the Carson Road, the river gradient is flat and the current gentle. The water level drops quickly in the summer but for this time of year there should be ample flow to float a kayak. Other times during the summer the trip could be made after a rainstorm or several days of steady rain.

The river corridor is little developed with homes or camps so one has the feeling of being in a remote setting while public roads parallel either side of the river. Sport fisheries that can be experienced include brook trout, brown trout and smallmouth bass that have moved into the drainage from the St. John River in New Brunswick. Either before or after the trip, visitors can experience the business/lunch attractions that are available in downtown Houlton within easy walking distance of the public boat launch.

David J. Basley, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Ashland