Fishing Reports by Regional Fishery Biologists Region Map

September 9, 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!

To Region A biologists, the last month of summer means it is time to complete the stream surveys scheduled in our annual work plan. Some of these surveys are associated with the statewide brook trout monitoring program. These surveys are completed in each of MDIF&W’s seven regions and involve sampling brook trout and taking habitat measurements in two “close to pristine” streams. The objective is to use these streams as an overall measure of the health of wild brook trout populations statewide.

Our sampling at Worthley Brook in Poland indicated a very healthy population, averaging about one brook trout for every two feet of stream. Our second brook trout monitoring stream, Branch Brook in Sanford, seemed to have a slightly reduced population from past years but can still boast a high quality brook trout fishery with plenty of young trout in the system.

In Region A, several other stream surveys are completed annually on the Crooked River and on Mile Brook to keep an eye on the spawning success of wild Sebago Lake land locked salmon. In the past these surveys have alerted us when beaver dams have caused a hindrance to spawning in the Crooked River drainage. Surveys done after beaver dam removal also have shown the positive effects of removal on the spawning success of salmon. This summer Mile Brook and one site on the upper Crooked River in Albany have been sampled. The water levels at the two remaining middle section reaches of the main stem are still too high for safe and efficient sampling.

The last type of stream surveys conducted by Region A staff have the objectives of cataloging the species present and the overall water quality of each stream within the boundaries of each town in the region. This inventory allows us to identify important habitats and the presence of rare species. With this information we are able to plan and prioritize future Maine Department of Transportation stream crossings and comment on Maine Department of Environmental Protection construction applications with confidence. While we strive to survey the streams of three towns per year, high water and other fieldwork have somewhat limited our ability to meet this goal.  We have begun surveying the streams in the town of Denmark and hope to complete this town in the near future.  So far, about half of the streams surveyed in Denmark have had fishable wild brook trout populations. 

Brian Lewis, Biology Specialist, Gray

Region B - Central Maine - Photos from the field!

Now that summer is official over its time to get ready for winter, words nobody wants to read. But there’s still time for some great fishing, I know many people that live for fall fishing. What’s not to like? The weather is excellent, the leaves are turning colors and trout are at their prettiest when spawning.

As water temperatures cool the coldwater species will again be in the feeding mode to prepare for the rigors of spawning. Soon trout and salmon in lakes and ponds will move towards flowing waters in an attempt to spawn. Unfortunately, in central Maine suitable spawning habitat is severely limited and although trout may go through normal spawning activities very few offspring will result from these spawning attempts.  Nevertheless, even though there’s little survival from these attempts to spawn, we can continue to maintain good fisheries in these waters through annual stocking programs.

For those interested in trying fall fishing one of the better areas in this region is below the dam on Great Pond in the Village of Belgrade. Salmon and brown trout can be numerous there at this time of the year.  Every year reports of large fish are common and you may even be surprised with a large pike.  We received a couple of reports this summer of walleye being caught in Long Pond. Should you catch a walleye this fall please keep the fish and notify the staff in the Sidney Regional Fisheries office.

River fishing also is very popular and productive in the fall. Portions of the Kennebec and St. George rivers are opened year-round for those hardy souls willing to brave the cold weather. Some of the brown trout stocked in these rivers migrate into the tidal basin during the summer then return to spawn in the fall. We’ve heard reports of people duck hunting in the morning then fishing in the afternoon in these lower stretches and having success both hunting and fishing.

Another river you might want to explore is the lower section of the Medomak River which is open to fishing until the end of October.

Warmwater anglers also should also be happy this time of year. The warmwater species get in the feeding mode to bulk-up to survive the long winter when their metabolism slows and they generally go off the “feed.”  As the water cools in the early fall, bass tend to move from the deeper water towards the shoreline where fishing tends to be easier.  Anglers should begin the fall season by concentrating their efforts in the northwest part of the Region and then move southeast to extend fishing into the late fall. Great Moose Pond and Big Indian Lake near Hartland would be good places to start your fall fishing efforts. You might then begin moving through the Augusta area to lakes like Cobbossee or Annabessacook, ending your season closer to the coast at, perhaps, Damariscotta Lake.

River systems, such as the Sebasticook, with out migrating young-of-year sea-run alewives also can be very productive for bass in the fall.

Finally, I spoke with one party of anglers late last year that love fishing for white perch in the fall.  So don’t forget to give late season panfishing a try.

Jim Lucas, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist, Sidney

Region C - Downeast - Photos from the field!

Fall, the season many Mainers live for, with its cool nights, bright sunny days, low humidity, and colorful foliage. With every passing week, September weather produces a change from warmwater summer fishing to renewed surface fishing opportunities for landlocked salmon, brook trout, and brown trout.

As coldwater sport fish approach the fall spawning season, they return to the shoreline in search of spawning habitat. Knowledgeable lake and pond anglers will experience success near tributaries and outlets. Grand Lake Stream, West Grand Lake, Alligator Lake (T 34 MD), and Long Pond (Mt. Desert Island) are good places to try fall salmon fishing. For fall brook trout, try Monroe Lake (T 43 MD), East Monroe Pond (T 43 MD), Simmons Pond (Hancock), and Long Pond (Aurora). Good bets for brown trout are Walker Pond (Brooksville), Lily Pond (Deer Isle), Jones Pond (Gouldsboro), Long Pond (T 10 SD), and Simpson Pond (Roque Bluffs).

Fall also is a prime time for white perch fishing. Anglers who locate schools of this delicious sport fish have fast fishing and ensure many meals of fried perch fillets or fish chowder. If you’re looking for perch, try Grand Falls Flowage (Princeton), Big Lake (T 27 ED), Pocomoonshine Lake (Alexander), Third Machias Lake (T 42 & 43 MD), Chain Lakes (T 26 ED), Georges Pond (Franklin), Abrams Pond (Eastbrook), Lower Patten Pond (Surry), or Green Lake (Dedham and Ellsworth).

Fisheries staff will soon be conducting the annual sonar survey of smelts at West Grand Lake to assess population abundance because of smelt’s importance to landlocked salmon growth. Because smelts tend to stay in schools during the day then break out of the schools at night and forage as individuals, our sampling must be done under cover of darkness. We run GPS (global positioning system) transect lines totaling about 20 miles during the West Grand sampling, which includes mid-water trawling to verify species occurrence at various depths. This information will be used to better manage salmon at West Grand Lake.

Rick Jordan, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Jonesboro

Region D - Western Mountains - Photos from the field!

In this fishery region, the western part of the state, there are currently 300 surveyed lakes and ponds and only three full-time fisheries biologist to manage them. Needless to say, there are a few waters that we just don’t visit very often. Twenty years can pass before a body of water gets an official visit by a team of biologists. In those cases, we rely on anglers to collect the data that we can use to evaluate the health of the fisheries. Currently, I have 68 volunteer anglers on my roster who record information from every fishing trip that they make during the summer. These people are very valuable to us as there is no other way to acquire the volume of data that they collect.

In 2007 alone they made a total of 1,063 fishing trips to 75 different lakes and ponds. They fished 3,770 hours and caught 1,800 legal-size fish of various species. If I were to include the rivers, streams, and brooks the number of waters would just about double. We sincerely thank the individuals who take the time to participate in this program.

Over the past months, we evaluated a number of stocked brook trout waters throughout the region. Highlights include a brook trout from Bald Mountain Pond in Somerset County that weighted 5¼ pounds. Other fine trout were sampled from Chase Pond in Moscow, Kilgore Pond in Pierce Pond Twp., Little Ellis Pond in Byron, Lincoln Pond in Parkertown Twp., Lower East Richardson Pond in Adamstown Twp., and Quimby Pond in Rangeley, just to name a few. After the evaluations are completed, decisions can be made, if necessary, to modify the water’s stocking rate and/or regulations. All the waters listed above require a little effort before you are afloat in a boat or canoe, but they are regarded as excellent angling destinations.

Dave Howatt, Regional Fisheries Biologist, Strong

Region E - Moosehead Region - Photos from the field!

We are already seeing signs of the arrival of fall in the north-country.  The leaves are starting to change colors and we have seen a substantial decrease in daylight coupled with cooler nights.  The latter will slowly lower water temperatures in ponds and rivers across the region.  This decrease in water temps should increase the activity of brook trout and salmon on their annual migration to spawning areas.

Reports from anglers and information from voluntary box surveys are very encouraging for the start of the fall fishing season.  Anglers are reporting catching some nice salmon and brook trout from the Moose River, Roach River, and the East and West Outlets of the Kennebec.  Fish are being taken on a variety of streamer and nymph patterns.  Although many of the reports I have received are from the rivers across the region, anglers looking to get away from the crowds can find some great fishing opportunities on our remote ponds.  Many of these ponds tend to receive lower pressure during the fall fishing season and can provide some fast action.

As fisheries managers we spend a substantial amount of time evaluating stocking programs in the Moosehead Lake Region.  In the summer of 2007 we resurveyed Mud Greenwood Pond in Elliotsville, Piscataquis County.  This pond was stocked biennially with brook trout from 1968 to 1980. Data from the file indicate that these early stockings resulted in anglers catching some very fat fish up to 16 inches.  However, the stocking program ceased at this water in 1980 due to reports from the local district warden that no one was catching any more brook trout.  This was also reflected in a subsequent gillnetting survey in 1981 when the sampling failed to produce any trout.

During our resurvey of Mud Greenwood Pond in 2007, we did not collect any wild brook trout and found no evidence of fishing activity.  Region-wide trout stocking evaluations in the 1990’s indicate that fishing was very poor in many waters managed with these every other year stockings.  Managers suspect that these fish suffered unusually high mortality rates and/or these ponds were not stocked at all in some years by mistake, which resulted in poor fishing for extended periods of time.  Consequently, managers reduced stocking rates on these waters and began stocking them annually.  We feel that this may have been the case at Mud Greenwood Pond but the stocking program was cancelled before our extensive brook trout stocking evaluation.

Mud Greenwood Pond is currently on a list of waters that has not been stocked in over 25 years.  We are proposing to remove this water from the list and resume the stocking the stocking program since there is clearly no principal fishery for wild brook trout.  Water quality and current species composition are suitable to maintain a brook trout fishery, if stocking were to resume.  We plan to use this pond to complete some research on hatchery brook trout survival and than manage this pond as a high quality fishery by stocking it at a low rate using the F1 strain (Maine Hatchery and Kennebago cross) with a high length limit regulation.  This proposal is currently going through the internal peer review process and will go through public review sometime during the winter of 2009.

Stephen Seeback, Fisheries Biology Specialist, Greenville

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

As fall approaches and we look back at the past summer, we always seen to wonder “where did summer go?”  It seemed as if at first we would have some very hot days and nights, then the skies would open up and, wow, did it ever rain and rain and rain. This was the third summer in a row that the Penobscot Region has had above normal rainfall. This was great news for Maine’s coldwater fish -- water temperatures stayed fairly cool and water levels remained high for most of the summer -- except at times some of the major rain events pushed the rivers and stream over their banks to almost flood stage.

Throughout the summer we have received good reports from anglers fishing stream and rivers across Region F.  In the next few weeks trout and salmon will become more active as the water temperatures cool and we are expecting some great fishing as a result.

On another note:  this week fisheries and hatcheries staff will be marking approximately 60,000 brook trout and splake raised at Cobb Fish Hatchery in Enfield, to be stocked out this fall and next spring.  With the help of the hatcheries dedicated staff and along with the help of a group of excellent clippers from around the area, the task will be completed in just three days.

This year, we will clip (remove) a fin from 9,500 splake and 50,500 brook trout. The clipping of fins allows fishery biologists to easily determine the age of hatchery fish when observed in an angler’s catch or as part of our sampling efforts. Remember, this is often several years after they have been stocked.

Evaluating fish growth age is fundamental in the management of our stocked waters.  If growth is deemed too slow, we may recommend a decrease in the number of fish stocked in a certain body of water in order to lessen the impact on the forage base (generally smelts).  If growth is exceptional, then we may increase the number of fish stocked with a goal of bumping up catch rates, while still providing a healthy robust fish for the angler.

Not all the fish raised at State hatcheries are marked though, in fact, Cobb Hatchery will be stocking out more than 100,000 marked and unmarked fish this fall.  Cobb Fish Hatchery presently has more than 320,000 fish on station to be stocked in the next few years. The fish on station include Brook Trout, Splake, Landlocked Salmon and Lake Whitefish. 

Brian Campbell, Fisheries Biologist Specialist, Enfield

Region G - Aroostook County - Photos from the field!

In October, fishery biologists from the Ashland office will be using trapnets to sample brook trout and salmon populations in Square Lake and certain other regional waters.  These large nets capture fish as they are traveling the shoreline. Now that water temperatures have cooled, fish are much more active traveling shallower areas as they search for spawning habitat. Trap nets have a lead that stretches from shore to the large net, or trapping box that holds the fish alive.  Fish are captured by being directed into the trap by the lead and wings attached to the trapnet. The large net has a series of funnels much like the entrance to a minnow trap that makes it difficult for the fish to escape once inside the large net. The fish will remain alive in the net until released by biologists.

Prior to release, the fish will be anesthetized and then measured and weighed.  Fin clips will be identified on stocked fish to determine the year they were stocked, and if there is no identifying fin clip, scales will be taken on wild fish to determine age. A piece of the tail fin will be removed for future identification should we capture the same fish more than once.  The data we obtain from these efforts helps us evaluate our management programs and determine the status of fisheries in the Region.

The trapnets are marked by white or red floats set in a triangular fashion 60-100 feet from shore.  We ask the public to please not disturb the nets by keeping a safe distance from them while fishing or boating. If you observe the nets in your favorite lake, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about our objectives or the results of the netting.

Frank O. Frost, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist, Ashland