August 24, 2018 – We have been in summer mode for a while now. Nothing has really changed in the last couple weeks. Fishing is always good but catching has been slow compared to a month ago. Some nice fish are still being caught at the East Outlet. The flow was at 2200 cfs for a few days and some beautiful salmon dropped down from the lake into the upper section down to Secret Pool. They are nice fat, silver, fresh from the lake salmon that are fat as a football.
We have been catching fish but it takes a big bag of tricks. The predominant hatch has been a small tan body caddis, hatching mainly in the early morning hours. An even smaller black caddis has also been on the menu lately. Skipping caddis about the surface has been the best way to fool fish into believing your bug is the real thing. When fish aren’t interested in the dry fly bouncing on top they’d grab a soft hackle wet fly just under the surface. It’s an easier nugget to get. The key to successful soft hackle fishing is covering every square foot of the pool. Cast your soft hackle 45 degrees across the current and downstream. Give it a gentle upstream mend and slowly ease your bug across the current then let it hang for a bit at the end of your gentle swing. On your next cast pull another foot of line off your reel and repeat the process. Don’t swing it fast or retrieve it like you do a streamer. If it moves too fast fish just ignore it, bugs don’t naturally move that way. Keep increasing the length of your line a foot or two with every cast until you have reached as much water as possible. If nothing happens it’s time to either change flies or change spots. A small soft hackle Hare’s Ear or Partridge & Orange has been doing the trick.
Nymphing is always in fashion. The issue is most of the insect hatches have come and gone so the bottom on any river is now loaded with young nymphs. Flip a few rocks and you should find them covered with caddis lava and mayfly nymphs. Because there aren’t many hatches of any one species of bug, fish feed on the wide variety of nymphs that inhabit the bottom. One fish may want a Hare’s Ear, another a Pheasant Tail, and another a tan caddis lava. So flip a few rocks to see what’s around then have a look in your box for something the same size and color. If that one doesn’t get any attention move on to your next choice.
Up at the West Branch, below Ripogenus Dam, the same game applies. The one difference there is fish cannot exit the river so lots of fish now hold in Big Eddy on up to Little Eddy where the water is the coolest during the heat of summer. Most of that stretch is above Telos Bridge where there is a 26” minimum length limit on salmon so to protect the gene pool when most of the biggest fish hold during the heat of summer.
We just received word regarding fall, river flows right for Headquarters. Increases will begin right after Labor Day. The Moose should go to around 1200 cfs, and since Moosehead has plenty of water it will see a substantial increase as well. In the fall it’s all about decreasing water temperatures and increasing water flows. When fall increases happen it only take a few days to fill spawning tributaries with an early run of big fish.
Also this fall our fisheries biologists will be operating their fish weir at the Roach River. Moosehead Lake fish are in the best shape since the 80’s and they want to have a close up look at both the salmon and the brookies. The weir is set-up up in the lower section. We’ve gone there in years past to watch them tend the weir. The biologists always welcome visitors and they have a lot of cool info to share. Plus you’ll see some fabulous fish. Fall flows will begin right after Labor Day. They said there is enough water in First Roach Pond for two to three increases in flow during the month.
It appears that the heat of summer is beginning to back off. Nights have been cool and days haven’t been hot. At the beginning of this week the East Outlet water temperature read 74 degrees and yesterday it had already dropped to 68 degrees.
We never want to wish away summer but everyone this last week has been talking fall fishing and catch some of the biggest fish of the season.