July 28, 2017 – Summer weather finally made it to the Moosehead Region a week or so ago. August is our windless, bright sky time of the season. We like to refer to August as MFO season (Mandatory Family Outing), when families get together for barbeques, weddings and reunions. Hardcore anglers take a break from pond and river fishing to sit back and take a breather before the fall frenzy, spawning season kicks into high gear.
Around here all day caddis hatches have past and currently are smaller morning and evening hatches. We’re seeing fewer rising fish during the day but everyone is still looking up though a bit harder to coax to the surface for a meal. Water is also warmer than before which makes it harder to move fish. People are still catching fish just not as many or as big as earlier on.
As the East Outlet warms into the high 60’s fish begin to exit the river for the cooler waters of Moosehead Lake or Indian Pond. One and a half year old salmon, 8 – 12”, that have been in the river feeding on bugs since day one decide they need a change of diet and begin moving into the lake for the first time and go to deeper, colder water looking for a higher protein diet of smelt. They’ll remain in the lake dining of smelt for a year until they sexually mature and get the urge to return to where they were born and carry on the tradition.
Not all trout and salmon leave the East Outlet or the Moose but they begin to be harder to find. The fish that remain in the rivers now begin to inhabit deeper runs. You may not spot many feeding fish during the day but some can still be conned into grabbing your dry flirting around on the surface.
We also often call this time of year Cheeseburger Season. We’ll put on a big dry like a Trude, or Stimulator or Foam Stone, then add a trailer fly a couple feet from the first one. Our choice for the trailer is usually an in-season caddis. Right now it’s an orange Kennebec caddis, or maybe a small Hemmingway or Henryville. Drift them over all the deeper water and along eddy lines. Skipping them about will bring attention to them and entice fish up to have a look and likely make a play for one or the other. Also try a bead head nymph as your trailer and use the big fly as an indicator.
Its not fast and furious fishing this time of season like it was last month but it does the trick when not much else seems to.
It’s the same game but a different story on the West Branch of the Penobscot. Those fish are born, grow old and die right in that river. They have no place to go. There is no fish ladder at the dam and no lake to retreat to for a long ways downstream. They do migrate downstream to Nesowadnehunk Deadwater during the winter but make their way back upstream as the water warms and the insects hatch and spend their summer in the cooler upper river between Little A and McKay Station (the powerhouse). This is a tail water fishery where water is diverted from the dam to a powerhouse and its turbines a half mile downstream by way of a tunnel. Below the powerhouse the river is loaded with fish of all sizes this time of season because they seek the cooler water and as we said before, “Have nowhere else to go.”
This is the best time of year to fish the upper section. There is no other time of season when there are more, and bigger fish than this and next month.
We are doing a lot of our drift boat trips there these days. We put in at the Big Eddy and take out just above Big A rapids. We are rarely disappointed and still catching most of our fish right on top. We still have a few openings for this month.
So have a great MFO season, enjoy all those cookouts, reunions and weddings, and grab what fishing you can for now.
We do have a some overnights that were recently made available for October on the East Outlet.
October 10-11 for 2 anglers
October 12-13 for 2 anglers
October 14-15 for 4 anglers
Go to; https://maineguideflyshop.com/east-outlet-overnights/
for details and cost.
The photo above is of Debbie Kempler with a beautiful mid-summer salmon caught on a dry at West Branch of the Penobscot.