Fishing Reports by Regional Fishery Biologists Region Map

July 7, 2008

Region A - Southwestern Maine - Photos from the field!


Lake fishing for trout and salmon has held up relatively well in southern Maine due largely to the cooler (and rainy) weather pattern. Sebago is still producing decent catches of salmon and lake trout, particularly the later.

Anglers also have also reported some good fishing for browns and rainbows in the 2- to 4-pound range from several regional waters. Good bets for rainbows and browns include Crystal Lake (Gray), the Range Ponds (Poland), Kennebunk Pond (Lyman), Worthley Pond (Peru), and Pennesseewassee Lake (Norway).

As the summer progresses and the surface becomes too warm for salmonids, lake anglers will need to change their gear and tactics to target deeper, cooler water. For salmon, browns, and rainbows anglers should be targeting water depths in the 15- to 40-foot range, depending on the individual water and/or species. Lake trout will typically be even deeper during the summer, anywhere from 40 to 100 feet. Lakers will reside even deeper, but targeting them at depths over 100 feet is more difficult.

Fishing for warmwater species like bass, perch, and pickerel has been good and will hold up all season. An angler recently reported a great day of bass fishing were he and his partner landed over 30 largies. Pickerel and yellow perch are relatively easy to target this time of year by fishing shallow, weedy areas. They’ll take almost any lure, but weedless versions can help keep down on the frustration level.

White perch fishing is best in open water areas in the morning and evening hours where they can often be located by their continual surfacing. A variety of lures will work, but it’s hard to beat the old worm and bobber! Deep fried, batter white perch fillets are excellent eating. White perch are prevalent throughout southern Maine, a few good bets for some medium to large sized white perch include: Little Sebago Lake (Gray), Woods Pond (Bridgton), Lower Range Pond (Poland), Crescent Lake (Raymond), and Pennesseewassee Lake (Norway).

Surface water temperatures on rivers and streams in southern Maine have gradually been climbing, and as a result anglers have reported slower fishing for trout. There is still some good fishing to be had as the season progresses, but anglers will need to target smaller, cooler streams. These little gems support wild brook trout in the 4- to 10-inch range, with a 10 inch or larger being a trophy. “Trophy size” is relative to the species and size of the water being fished. For those stream anglers that don't want to beat the bushes and prefer larger quarry, try hitting the larger rivers where smaller, cooler streams enter and provide a thermal refuge for these larger trout.

Good luck and enjoy the variety of fishing opportunities that the State of Maine offers. By the way, did I mention the mackerel are running in the Saco and Biddeford area?

Jim Pellerin, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist, Gray

Region B - Central Maine - Photos from the field!

In the past month we’ve received disturbing news of anglers catching and releasing walleye in Long Pond. Walleye are a non-native fish species to Maine but are a very popular sport fish primarily in the Midwest and Canada.

The Belgrade Lakes did have an introduced population of walleye back in the 1940s but this population was thought to have been eliminated possibly through over harvesting. People discovered that large concentration of walleye were very susceptible to harvest during their annual spring spawning run. The eyes of walleye illuminate green at night when light is reflected. People took advantage of this fact by illuminating the fish with a flashlight and then spearing them in the shallows. This practice probably played a significant role in the demise of walleyes in the Belgrade Lakes.

During our 1996 routine fall trapnetting operation in Long Pond we captured a single walleye, this was the first walleye observed in Long Pond since the 1940s. The following 10 years we captured a total of 31 walleyes. These fish were all from the same cohort (all were spawned the same year). The first one caught was age 3 and we followed this cohort through age 12 in 2005. Since these fish were all from the same age class we believe they were illegally stocked. Until this summer we thought no natural reproduction from this illegal stocked fish had occurred but now it appears there may have been some limited reproduction.

The following table summarizes the size structure of the walleye trapnetted.

Length and weight of walleye trapped in Long Pond, 1996-2005.

Age
Length (Inches)
Weight (lb.)
3
17.8
2.2
4
20.5
3.3
5
23.0
4.7
6
23.7
5.4
7
23.3
5.3
9
25.0
6.3
10
25.6
6.2
12
23.0
4.8

The fish caught this summer are approximately 16 inches in length which indicates that there’s either been another illegal stocking or the fish have reproduced naturally in the lake. We will be trapnetting Long Pond this fall and if we should catch any walleye we’ll try to determine the origin of these fish. In the meantime if anyone should catch a walleye please save the fish and contact the Sidney Regional Fisheries Office.  

Jim Lucas, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist, Sidney

Region C - Downeast - Photos from the field!

We invite the angling public to attend one of two informational meetings to discuss and comment on a set of proposed regulation changes for Hancock and Washington counties that will create increased conformity of general law fishing regulations among 10 of Maine’s counties.

Meetings are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on July 29 at the Bucks Mills Rod and Gun Club in Bucksport and at 6:30 p.m. on July 30 at the Calais Rod and Gun Club in Charlotte.

The proposed changes are largely the result of ongoing efforts to consolidate ice fishing and open water regulations into a single two-year law book. Our aim is to increase angling opportunities where possible, further simplify the law book, save time and financial resources, and to continue protecting the resource. Most of the proposed changes will affect southern, central, and eastern Maine angling opportunities.

The following general fishing laws are being proposed for lakes and ponds in Hancock and Washington Counties, although special restrictions may apply for specific waters:

  • Lakes and ponds are open to open water fishing year round. (Note: Two lines per angler, general law.)
  • Lakes and ponds are open to ice fishing from Dec. 1 through March 31. (Note: We provided this liberal time frame in order to account for years when ice forms early 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 through 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.)
  • For lakes and ponds the General Law bag and length limits for salmonids apply from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30. (Note: Special regulations, more liberal or conservative, can be provided on specific waters as appropriate.)
  • Under the proposed general law 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 through March 31, both groups of anglers could fish lakes and ponds and harvest salmonids under respective bag and length limits.
  • 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 and two eastern counties. They are Cumberland, York, Androscoggin, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Waldo, Hancock, and Washington.)

The current statewide aggregate bag limit for salmonids of five fish will be removed. (Note - IFW 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.)

The term salmonids includes the following Maine fish species – Arctic charr, brook trout, brown trout, landlocked salmon, rainbow trout, splake, and togue (lake trout).

Rick Jordan, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Jonesboro

Region D - Western Mountains - Photos from the field!

A study to evaluate the effect of adding large woody debris (more commonly known as trees) to headwaters of the Sunday River has grown to a major brook trout research effort thanks to the involvement of Dr. Stephen Coghlan of the University of Maine.  The original study, funded through the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, involved restoring wood to two tributaries of the Upper Sunday River in extreme western Maine and monitoring the results, which are expected to moderate flows and improve brook trout habitat by creating pools and adding organic matter (notably by trapping leaves) to increase the abundance of macroinbertebrates (aquatic insects), a major food source for brookies.

Enter Dr. Coghlan and his crew, including graduate student Paul Damkot.  They are not only helping to monitor the existing project, but have expanded it to determine the role of brook trout as macroinvertebrate predators.  They are in the process of sampling streams both with and without brook trout, and have plans to introduce brook trout into fishless reaches to monitor resultant changes to the macroinvertebrate population.
 
To return to the original project, Maine streams (as well as many streams nationally) are thought to be devoid of naturally occurring wood, which was removed to facilitate log/pulpwood drives and hasn't really reoccurred naturally since log driving days because of cutting near the shores of streams.  We found several log-driving dams on the Sunday, even high in the headwater streams, supporting this notion.
 
Jay Milot, who works in the White Mountain National Forest, has had good results from adding trees to a number of streams, and did the work on the Sunday River.  We have a similar project on the headwaters of Bemis Stream, a tributary to Mooselookmeguntic Lake, which is also being monitored.

Forrest Bonney, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Strong

Region E - Moosehead Region - Photos from the field!

There certainly were some explosive fireworks this weekend in the Greenville area and not just from the annual Fourth of July celebration.  The hex hatch has started in earnest in the region and now is the time to enjoy some of the best dry fly fishing of the year.

I am a firm believer that if you want to catch big brook trout while fly fishing then you must fish below the surface with a sinking fly line. I’ve pawed through enough gut piles to know that big trout feed primarily on small fish, leeches, and crayfish.  But this week is one of the few times when the big boys will be coaxed from the depths to feed on the surface for the those massive mayflies sometimes referred to as Green Drakes.
 
On many ponds the hatch begins around sunset and continues well after dark. I have seen some hatches that dribble off and on all day when the conditions are good, including a flat calm pond surface and warm air temperatures.  Friday night was the best night in the area. The light west wind subsided and both the bugs and fish were ready. We have had a southerly wind since Saturday afternoon which has persisted through the prime evening hours. I suspect the next calm night will be very good hex fishing.

The East Outlet continues to provide some of the best fishing in the region even though the flows have been high recently.  Salmon and brook trout are stacked in the river and those anglers that know where to fish during high water have been rewarded with great catches.  The salmon are looking very good in the river, obviously taking advantage of the abundant supply of caddis and stoneflies in the river. Water temperatures remain cooler than normal and the fish are very feisty when hooked.  Don’t drive by the East Outlet without taking a cast.

Don’t despair if you’re not into fly fishing. This is also a good time to dunk a bait or troll. The Greenville Junction Wharf is always a favorite spot for anglers who don’t have a boat.  Most folks lob a worm or shiner off the end of the pier in hopes of catching a salmon or togue. The fishing is best in spring but it has some ups and downs throughout the summer. Right now the fishing is pretty good. We are hearing multiple reports of good salmon catches and a few lake trout as well.

This is also a good time to troll for lake trout and brook trout.  As the surface temperatures approach 70 degrees, these coldwater fish slip down to the thermocline.  If you know where to look, you can find these fish.  I prefer a flat fish for both lakers and brookies this time of year.  Size, speed, and depth are very important to be effective with a flat fish.  Most people troll too fast with these lures which are meant to just crawl along.  Check out some photos of my son, Henry, from a few recent trips with the flat fish. In the first photo Henry is holding a 61/2 pound lake trout caught on a flat fish, and on the second he is holding a wild brook trout.

Tim Obrey, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Greenville

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

The summer field season has been in full swing for several weeks now for the fishery biologists in Region F.  Staff has been busy conducting lake and pond surveys around the Penobscot Region to assess the condition of warm and coldwater fish populations as well as the condition of their habitat.  Staff may visit 30-50 waters in a summer, along with keeping up with normal office paper work and other responsibilities of the job. 

During a pond survey, we collect water quality information including a temperature and dissolved oxygen profile from the surface to the bottom of the lake (deepest point), as well as testing the pH, alkalinity, conductivity at the surface and bottom of the lake.  A Secchi disk reading helps determine the clarity of the lake or pond, and biologists record the level of turbidity seen in the water at the same time.  While this water quality “snap shot” can vary greatly depending on the weather conditions in the days prior to the survey, it gives us a general understanding of the basic physical and chemical properties of the lake.  Since most of the lakes and ponds in Region F have been surveyed at least once (often more than once), biologists have prior readings to compare current results to.  If anything were drastically out of the ordinary then further, more precise sampling would follow.
 
Fish samples, typically collected with traps or nets, can help fishery biologists determine if management strategies (stocking rates and regulations) are effective at producing desired growth rates of principal sport fish populations; mainly brook trout, salmon and lake trout. Usually we need a 15 to 30 fish sample across several age classes to determine the current condition of a population.  Equipment such as traps and nets help us to quickly obtain a sample and are set from one hour to one day depending on the water body.  Based on the results from our surveys we can then make recommendations for future management changes (if needed) to help maintain or enhance the sport fisheries in the region.

Recent fishing reports indicate, as expected, that cold water fish species have moved down with the cool water, generally to depths greater than 25 feet. Salmon have been biting off and on at Cold Stream Pond, and a good number of the spring yearling brook trout stocked this spring as a well as fall yearling brook trout stocked in 2007 have been providing for some steady action.

We’re still receiving reports of better than expected togue fishing at East Grand Lake, and Matagamon Lake has been hot as well. The green drake hatch has finally started in the Baxter State Park waters, so evening dry fly fishing should be fantastic!

The bass fishing in the Penobscot should be good all summer, but can be slow during the mid-day heat… anglers will do better on over cast days or during the morning or evening hours.  Trolling or drift fishing for white perch in the evenings should be very productive, and if there happens to be a hatch coming off, fly fishing over a school of perch can be very entertaining.
 
Good luck, and be safe on the water.

Richard Dill, Regional Fisheries Biologist, West Enfield

Region G - Aroostook County - Photos from the field!

The recent hot weather from the weekend is quickly dropping flows in the rivers, brooks and streams.  As this water drops, fishing for trout should be excellent until the water becomes to warm and the fish search out spring holes to get them through the warm summer months.  Larger rivers such as the Aroostook and Allagash, where trout have been spread out due to cool water temperatures, should now see trout actively feeding in the riffles.  We would note, however, that flows in the Allagash Wilderness Waterway have been running high due to the abundant rainfall in that area of the state.
 
Whitney Brook, Three Brooks, River des Chutes and the North Branch of the Presque Isle Stream are a few of the good trout brooks in eastern Aroostook County that could be visited for a productive day of trout fishing.  Behind North Maine Woods gates, the many tributaries to the St. John River remain cold and full of trout for those looking for some pan size trout to go with breakfast.  As the days warm up, black flies should be less of a nuisance but the deer flies will become more of a plague.  Troublesome as they can sometimes be, they are, however, much better than the hurricanes, firs, tornados and poisonous snakes that must be endured by our southern and western states!

David J. Basley, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Ashland