Wild Ride

July 15, 2017

Both the Moose River and Penobscot Drainages saw over 3 inches of rain last week that came from the back to back to back thunder storms their torrential rain which quickly filled Moosehead & Chesuncook to capacity and caused flood gates to be opened.

The origin of the Moose River Drainage begins near the Quebec border above Jackman. It involves hundreds of square miles and countless tiny feeder streams that all end up in the Moose River Drainage then flow 25 miles, gathering more water along the way, to Brassua then dumps into Moosehead where the only viable release is the East Outlet Dam.

The same goes for the Penobscot. The North and South Branch meet at Seboomook Lake then flow 30 miles into Chesuncook gathering additional water from Lobster Lake, Ragged Lake, Caucomgomoc, and Umbazooksus Lakes. All that water eventually makes its way to Ripogenus Dam.

These drainages are enormous and when big rains hit them head on water accumulates from every tiny stream and heads for the ocean. Unfortunately flows don’t decrease nearly as fast as they increase and all of us on the receiving end, way downstream, got to deal with a week of very high water. It’s not over just yet but flows are dropping daily and our rivers will be back to normal soon.

The Roach River Drainage, which is way south of the other two, didn’t see the volume of rain the others did so flow wasn’t affected.

If you own a Delorme Gazetteer, have a look at the headwaters of these systems and you’ll see what we mean by enormous drainage. It is staggering how many tiny streams feed water into the drainages.

As we have said in the past, when floodgates get opened on the East Outlet fish often are flushed into the river from Moosehead. As a result we are seeing bright new fish in the river. They are easy to identify. Lake fish that have been dining of smelt are bright silver and possess very few black spots along their side. Once in the river where they eat insects instead of smelt they will begin to darken and form a lot more black spots.

The approach to fishing high water doesn’t change. Caddis and stoneflies keep on hatching and fish keep feeding. You just have to look at the river like you have never been there before. Fish move into what we call High Water Holes, which appear along the edges of the river. They show-up where there wasn’t enough water to hold fish before but are now obvious runs that appear as a result of higher water level. Fish leave traditional lies because the flow is too fast and move to the edges and stack in new High Water Holes. Once the water recedes fish return to their traditional runs.

In conclusion whoever has been doing all the rain dancing needs to give it up. But thanks for the additional water. It keeps the summer fishing good and fresh and insures we will have plenty of water to run when fall fishing comes around.

Oh, the Green Drakes may be over on some bodies of water but if you start heading north or look to higher elevation ponds the hatches are still going strong.