August 25, 2017
We never want to wish away summer but this is the time of season when our thoughts go to fast forward and we begin wondering just how the fall fishing is going to shape up.
There are two key ingredients to good fall fishing, water flow and water temperature. In the spring we want falling water levels and rising water temperature. When high water of springtime subsides and water temperature begins rising bugs become active, hatch season begins and fishing gets better and better. In the fall just the opposite needs to take place. We have just been through the low water, warm water time of the season when fishing is the slowest in most places. Now cooler nights starts conditions in the other direction and water temperature begins falling. It doesn’t happen overnight but already what was an average water temperature of 72 degrees a week ago is now down to 67 degrees and fish have already begun to be more active. If the cooler weather predicted for this week persists it will drop even more. The two key ingredients for good fall fishing are falling water temperatures and rising waters flows. Mother nature determines how fast the water cools but increase in water flow can be manipulated by dam releases. The water people, Brookfield Energy and our local fisheries biologists recently collaborated on this falls river flows.
Here are the results of their collaboration. It’s all for the fisherman’s benefit. We own these guys a big “Thank You” for thinking of us. This is our favorite time of season and the stars are beginning to line up nicely.
Moosehead Lake Region Fishing Report – 8/21/17
Prepared by: Tim Obrey – Regional Fisheries Biologist
As August fades away and we roll into the vibrant colors of fall, the fishing is sure to improve. I often think of September as the “playoffs” for salmon and brook trout fishing in the Moosehead Lake Region. The biggest and the best fish are on the move and anglers know where to find them. Brook trout will begin their spawning migrations at the slightest hint of an increase in flow as the air temperature decline and the days become shorter. We’ve seen them move into spawning tributaries in August after a good rainstorm. We had several great opportunities to observe spawning behavior while operating our weir on the Roach River a few years ago. Brook trout came into the river first, soon after we opened the gates. We documented this on Socatean Stream too. Just pulling a few beaver dams upstream was enough to attract brook trout out of Moosehead Lake and into the cool stream. We also found that the salmon wait until the second/third week to move upstream in the Roach River.
We try to manipulate flows in our major salmon and trout rivers in the fall to improve fishing for one last hoorah. In many cases, we’ve worked specific requirements into the dam license to provide suitable flows. Of course, we are limited by Mother Nature in some years. Last year, we had a severe drought which limited the ability to enhance fall fishing opportunities, but we do the best we can. Here is a brief rundown of what can be expected this September in the Moosehead Lake Region:
1. Roach River – We actually operate this dam and the wet summer has given us plenty to work with for September flows. We will increase the flow to around 200 cfs on September 1st. This will cause the lake to drop at a rate of roughly 1.2 inches per day. So, if you are a campowner that has a shallow shorefront, be aware that the time to get your boats and docks out will be approaching.
2. Moose River below Brassua Dam – The existing dam license calls for an attraction flow from September 15th to October 15th. We are currently working with Brookfield to tweak that requirement a little to provide better fishing opportunities. We’re working on an increase in flow to around 1,000 cfs on September 5th, then if there is sufficient water left in Brassua Lake, anglers can expect another increase to 1,200 cfs on September 15th.
3. East Outlet – There is a target flow of 1,000 cfs on the East Outlet in September and early October. This is a good wading flow, but a little low for drift boats. We typically get higher flows because the lake must be drawn down during this period to accommodate lake trout spawning, so think of the 1,000 cfs as a minimum flow in most years.
4. The West Branch of the Penobscot below Seboomook Dam – The license requires a flow of 750 – 1,250 cfs during September. In reality, we struggle to reach the low end of this range in most years due to restrictions on the lake drawdown. Anglers can expect flows around 750 immediately after Labor Day then an increase to around 1,000 cfs on the 15th until the end of the month. It is likely that the flow will decrease sharply after Oct 2nd, so don’t dilly-dally coming up-river after the fishing season closes or you may find some very skinny water.
5. Wilson Stream (Lower Wilson Pond) – The situation at Wilson Pond is a little different. We do not draw the lake down to provide fishing opportunity. Wilson Stream is the major spawning tributary for the wild salmon downstream in Sebec Lake. We must manipulate the flows in the stream to allow salmon to pass a major set of waterfalls where the stream dumps into the lake.
You can check out some video I shot of the salmon attempting to jump the falls at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9czRGAsa8g . Also, Wilson Pond has a wild lake trout population that benefits from having the lake drawn down before they spawn on shoals in the lake in late October. Therefore, we expect to start the drawdown immediately after Labor Day in order to reach our objectives. Again, campowners should take note and plan appropriately.
These plans could change abruptly based on rainfall but this is the plan as of now. We anticipate some extremely good fishing on the Moosehead Lake tributaries and outlet this fall. The salmon and trout are looking great and there are plenty of them. Hopefully, you can get out and enjoy the last month of fishing on most of these magnificent rivers.