Fishing Reports by Regional Fishery Biologists
September 17, 2008
This Fishing Report is written by biologists at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and is produced bi-weekly during summer months.
Region A - Southwestern Maine - Photos from the field!
Fall fishing season is here, and it is certainly one of my favorite times of the year to get out there and wet a line. There’s nothing like fishing for landlocked salmon and brookies on a cool, crisp fall morning, while enjoying the striking reds, oranges, and yellows of the surrounding foliage.
Many anglers think the Department’s annual stocking season is over by late spring and for the most part they are correct. However, southern Maine also has a relatively large fall stocking program where many of our rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds are stocked with larger sized trout and salmon. The following rivers have good fall stocking programs and extended fall fishing seasons that make them a popular choice among local anglers: the Presumpscot River (Rte. 35 area in Windham), the Saco River (below Skelton and Bar Mills Dams), and the Royal River (below Elm St. in Yarmouth). In addition, don’t forget to give the sea-run brown trout rivers (Ogunquit, Mousam, and Salmon Falls) in York County a try. The Crooked River is a good bet for quality landlocked salmon in a riverine setting, but be prepared to have some fishless days. The Crooked is over 60 miles long and the salmon can quickly disperse in this large river system, which can make for some spotty fishing. On the other hand, you'll have an opportunity to catch some decent 3- to 5-pound salmon!
Many of our lakes and ponds also receive fall stockings and most are open until the end of October or even as late as the end of November. Check out last year’s stocking report on our website (www.maine.gov/ifw) to get an idea where we typically plant fall stocked fish. Fall anglers have the first crack at these fall stocked beauties, which typically run in the 12- to 15-inch range for fall yearlings and up to several pounds for the brood fish. Although few anglers take advantage of the extended seasons, those hard core anglers that do have reported some great days of fishing.
Regional Fisheries and Wildlife staff, as well as, volunteers from the Town of Denmark have completed a new carry-in access site to Pleasant Pond. Pleasant Pond is a shallow, weedy 239-acre water located in the Towns of Brownfield, Denmark, and Fryeburg. The pond offers great opportunities for warmwater fishing, waterfowl hunting, canoeing/kayaking, and wildlife viewing. Previously, the only way for the public to access the pond was by paddling up the outlet from the Saco River or via permissive trespass over private property.
The recreation committee at the Town of Denmark reminded us that our wildlife management area had over 1,000 feet of frontage on the pond, and requested MDIFW to develop some sort of carry-in access. This is an excellent example of how different organizations can come together to accomplish a meaningful and worthwhile project. Two MDIFW Divisions (Fisheries and Wildlife), the Town of Denmark’s road commission, and volunteers from the Town's recreation committee all pitched in to provide labor, equipment, materials, and funding for the project. The site now has an improved access road off the Walker Falls Road, a gravel parking area for 4-6 vehicles, and a 500-foot mulched trail down to the pond. MDIFW would like to thank the Town, the recreation committee, and the various volunteers that helped make this project a success.
This is the last regional fishery write-up for the openwater season, but we'll be back to keep you posted during the winter months. In the meantime, our wildlife staff will be writing informative articles throughout the various fall hunting seasons.
James Pellerin, Assistant Regional Fishery Biologist, Gray
Region B - Central Maine - Photos from the field!
The fall air is now beginning to cast its spell on surface water temperatures in the central Maine region. With these changes come many fishing opportunities for both warm and coldwater game fish.
Bass will start to concentrate and begin to seek out their wintering grounds as water temperatures begin to cool. Both species of bass will over winter in habitat that consists of abrupt drop offs and rocky shoals at desirable depths. While bass seek out these wintering refuges their need for food is crucial to survive the long Maine winter. Although bass can become more lethargic as the cooling process extends into the winter months, bass will not pass up an easy meal, particularly when small jigs are retrieved very slowly around these wintering grounds.
Other warm water game fish like perch and crappie will also be preparing for the Maine winter that lies ahead. These species can be seen in schools, feeding on or near the surface, particularly during the evening hours when the winds die down. Try casting small spinners and jigs towards these schools of fish when seen feeding on the surface. Other good spots that should not be over looked would consist of slow moving water between two bodies of water usually consistent with some type of crossings or bridge.
Trout and salmon will begin to seek out inlets and outlets of lakes and ponds for the fall spawn. Moving water can be the trigger to success for fall salmonid fishing. Small or large plugs, spoons and flies retrieved in a jerky motion will normally induce a salmonid to take. Trolling or casting at the mouths of any brook or stream that enters into a lake or pond will also increase your chances for success.
Scott Davis, Fisheries Biologist Specialist, Sidney
Region C - Downeast - Photos from the field!
As stream and brook water temperatures decline in Downeast Maine, brook trout will disperse from their spring-influenced summer refugia areas and take up residence in feeding slots all through some of our best trout streams. From now until the end of the month is the optimum time to take advantage of actively feeding trout adorned in their beautiful spawning colors. Remember that most of our rivers, brooks, and streams close to fishing after Sept. 30 to protect spawning trout and salmon. Until then, artificial lures may be used, and I recommend the following terminal tackle for terrific fall brook trout action: For the fly fishing anglers, it’s hard to beat the black ghost and marabou Muddler streamer flies. For the spin fishermen, some of the best lures I have found are the rainbow or copper-colored Phoebe and the yellow and black Panther Martin spinner.
Here are the waters I recommend for terrific fall brook trout fishing: Old Stream – T 31 MD; Pleasant River – Deblois; Mopang Stream – T 24 MD; Crooked River – T 30 MD; Tomah Stream – Waite; and Chandler River – Jonesboro.
We hope you are able to get out and enjoy this time of year. Good luck and be safe!Greg Burr, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist, Jonesboro
Region D - Western Mountains - Photos from the field!
The last two weeks of September provide some of the best fishing of the year. Temperatures are cool, there are few biting bugs to contend with, and the scenery is increasingly spectacular. But, best of all, salmon and trout respond to the cooler temperatures with increased activity in preparation for their spawning runs. They frequently congregate at the mouths of streams, waiting for a flush of water to induce them to move upstream. It’s not the time of year to harvest many of these fish, as their true value is in reproduction. That fact is reflected in regulations which limit the number kept or restrict fishing to catch and release only. Nonetheless, anglers have a great time catching and releasing these fish, which tend to be highly colored and full of fight.
And so the season changes for us also. During the summer months much of our sampling is done by gillnet; more recently we have been electrofishing streams to make annual comparisons of population abundance. Not surprisingly, with several good water years behind us, fish populations in streams are thriving. Soon we'll be turning our efforts to fall trapnetting, wherein we're able to sample large numbers of trout and salmon, collect our information, and release them unharmed. This fall we plan to work on Rangeley Lake, the Richardson Lakes, Varnum Pond in Temple, and Little Jim Pond in Jim Pond Township. We’ll let you know how we do.
Forrest Bonney, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Strong
Region E - Moosehead Region - Photos from the field!
The Fisheries Staff in Greenville has been busy once again this summer making our way to a few of the many unsurveyed ponds we have in the Moosehead Region. Our objective was to try and survey five waters that are zoned as Remote Ponds. Everyone seems to have heard of remote ponds and many think that these ponds are ponds located out in the middle of nowhere. Well, this is partly true. Many are in fact located in areas that are very challenging to get to as our experience this summer proved. However, many of the remote ponds in the Moosehead area have road systems that run very close to the pond. This is where the Maine Land Use Regulatory Commission (LURC) comes in. The early to mid-1970’s was a time when much of the Maine North Woods was being opened up by many new road networks, brought about by the large-scale wood salvage operations resulting from the spruce budworm infestation of Maine’s spruce-fir forests. LURC and MDIFW fisheries biologists worked together to identify ponds in the north woods that were deemed worthy of additional protection. By protecting or zoning a pond as remote, this resulted in limiting vehicle access to within a half-mile of the pond. Such limitations resulted in the installation of gates, the removal of culverts or bridges, or placing large boulders across a road to prevent the passage of cars or trucks.
In the Moosehead Region 123 ponds were zoned as remote. Many of these ponds had not been scientifically surveyed, that is, our knowledge of their trout fisheries was based on the reports of anglers. Due to time and resource constraints it was not possible to conduct scientific surveys to corroborate the presence of trout fisheries in these waters in the short period of time they were being designated for zoning. It was determined that it would be best to protect these resources while we could. The ponds would be surveyed as time and resources allowed.
In 2005 the Legislature proposed and IFW supported the designation of the Brook Trout as one of Maine’s Heritage Fish. MDIFW identified 305 Heritage waters (often called “A” list waters), i.e. ponds supporting principal fisheries for brook trout but having no record of stocking. Legislation was enacted to provide special protection for these unique waters. Later MDIFW identified nearly 300 additional waters that support self-sustaining populations of brook trout that had been stocked but not within the past 25 years (called “B” list waters). The Fisheries Division recognized the value of this latter resource by developing through policy an appropriate level of protection for “B” list waters. Based on this research it was determined that the Moosehead Region has 144 trout waters that fall into the “A” category and 99 that are on the “B” list. Many of these ponds are zoned remote and some have never been surveyed by a biologist.
As a science-based resource agency we are actively involved in revising/updating our data to provide the public with the most accurate picture we can and to provide the basis for sound fisheries management. And so, over the past two summers we have surveyed 24 ponds in Region E, of which 17 were on the A or B lists. We will continue to monitor these waters in an effort to better manage this important resource.
Region F - Penobscot Valley Region - Photos from the field!
After a full summer of lake and pond surveys the fisheries staff here in Region F are gearing up for the fall field season, primarily trap netting. Fall is an opportune time to sample the salmonid populations of our large lakes, as trout and salmon are responding to their natural instinct to spawn and are cruising the shorelines in search of spawning habitat and mates.
Trap nets, set at strategic locations around a lake, intercept fish which end up in the box part of the net. Trap netting is a non-lethal method of sampling, which means after the biological data (length, weight, and scales for aging) is collected from each fish it is then released alive back to the lake, hopefully to be enjoyed in the future by anglers. Typically we try to sample at least 30 fish for each of our target species, usually landlocked salmon, lake trout, and brook trout.
Depending on water temperature and timing it may take one or more weeks at each lake to collect the fish that we need. However our goal is to get our sample quickly and move on to the next lake, as our window of opportunity ends with the onset of cold weather, generally around Nov. 1.
The growth data that we collect from these fish helps us determine if the current regulations are effective for meeting our fishery management goals and for our stocked waters if the stocking rates need to be adjusted. In addition to our field work, fishery staff will be analyzing data collected from the summer lake and pond surveys and writing reports and recommendations based on those reports.
Cooler nights and fall rains mean lake temperatures are coming down, and fish are moving up into shallower water to feed and prepare for fall spawning. Fishing for landlocked salmon and brook trout in September can be as good as early season fishing just after ice out. The difference is the fall fish should be in prime condition having fattened up over the summer on smelt and other forage. Male salmon and brook trout are on full display with hooked jaws and brilliant colors as they are preparing for the fall spawning season and should you be lucky enough to hook into one, be ready to hang on for they are full of vigor this time of year. Salmon lakes around the Penobscot Region worth a try this fall include East Grand, East Musquash, Lower Sysladobsis, Junior, Duck, West, Schoodic, Pleasant (Island Falls), Matagamon Lakes, and Cold Stream Pond. Brook trout waters are spread throughout the region; however the majority are located in upper third of Penobscot County, especially in and around Baxter State Park.
Good luck this fall – before you know it we’ll be pulling snowmobiles out getting ready for the first ice fishing trip of the year!
Richard Dill, Fisheries Biologist, Enfield
Region G - Aroostook County - Photos from the field!
Nadeau Lake, Fort Fairfield, was surveyed on Aug. 29 by biologists from the Ashland Headquarters. Routine lake surveys include a series of transects to determine water depths, which results in a depth map commonly used by anglers and boaters, water quality, and of course fish sampling. What was unique for this survey was that Nadeau hasn't been a lake since 1970. In 2007, thirty-seven years after the lake was drained for mining, the MDIF&W built an outlet dam restoring the historic water level. This effort culminated seven years of work by the MDIF&W to improve trout habitat and create a wild brook trout fishery in Eastern Aroostook County.
In 2001 a 33-acre parcel was purchased adjacent the lake for a future public access; later that year an access road, concrete boat ramp, and parking area was constructed on the new property. Over the next several years several habitat improvement projects, funded in part by Trout Unlimited, Trout and Salmon Foundation, Maine DEP, and the Sport Fish Restoration Fund, were completed with the goal of enhancing brook trout production. These projects focused on deepening the future lake, providing cover for adult and juvenile trout, providing spawning habitat, and increasing cold-water inlets. During dam construction in 2007 the low water provided ideal conditions for a chemical reclamation, a process of applying the organic compound rotenone to remove all fishes. The reclamation removed brown bullhead, white sucker, and several minnow species that would compete with brook trout for food. These projects all add to the very productive, limestone-based water quality of the Lake and will significantly increase trout production.
During the fall of 2007, as the lake was filling behind the new dam, the MDIF&W transferred 310 wild brook trout from a nearby waterway. These trout will be the stock from which to build a new population of wild trout at Nadeau Lake. These trout were mostly one-year-old or less, averaged 3.4 inches in length, and weighed less than half an ounce. During our most recent survey, we were able to sample 20 of these trout and found that growth, as expected, was extremely good. The trout had increased in length to 7-12 inches (average, 9.7) and increased in weight to over 6 ounces (Photo 1). Because of the fast growth all trout that we observed were sexually mature indicating that they will spawn in 2008, good news for our efforts to establish a wild population.
Contrary to what some anglers think, Nadeau Lake is open to fishing at this time. While we try to establish a new trout population, regulations are conservative (two trout daily bag limit), and to maintain high quality habitat in the future the use or possession of live fish as bait is not allowed. Anglers wishing to angle from a boat will find ample parking (Photo 2) and a concrete ramp but a 10 horsepower restriction is in effect; those anglers fishing from shore will find a convenient bank angling area (Photo 3).