Spawning runs are in full swing in all of our rivers. The water temperature is now the low 60’s and some of the biggest fish, which spend their summer in the depth of the lakes chowing on smelt, now are in our rivers have their mind on other duties.
When landlocked salmon and brook trout leave the depths of a lake and enter a river they are thought to be very aggressive and prone to chase streamers of all configurations. Once in the river for a spell they’ve seen lots of our streamers and likely been fooled once or twice, they’ll settle down and begin to ignore fast moving flies.
It’s a fact food isn’t their driving factor but actual spawning activity doesn’t occur until mid-October for brookies and sometime in November for salmon. During their long wait fish begin to pick at a little food. The theory is they have eaten plenty of Lays potato chips in the past so when the right nymph comes drifting by their nose they may just pick it up. The same goes for a soft hackle. When swung slowly cross current and just below the surface, they’re an easy target for a bored fish to sip in.
So there are fish willing to chase your streamer, pick up your nymph, or sip your soft hackle if presented in a way that tickles their fancy. But they can be very particular and ignore lots of offerings. One fish wants a Sour Cream and Onion while another prefers a Wavy Lays. Our fly patch is always full by the end of the day. Many days it takes 10 different flies to catch ten different fish and that’s not counting all the flies they could care less about. This time of season when you catch a fish on some fly you’re often better off cutting it off and going to another because it can be tough catching two fish on the same fly.
Our best advise this time of season is “If I ain’t working, change it” and “Cover every square foot of water” so if there is a fish out there looking to grab a fly it’s going to see your fly. And remember this is spawning season so fish aren’t always holding along the feeding lane. It’s not about food. You’ll find fish where you never see them any other time.
It’s that time of season once more. Sunday marks the closing of most waters in the Moosehead Lake Region to fishing. It’s all about our wild brook trout populations.
We have some of the finest brook trout waters in the lower forty-eight. Brookies will be spawning soon and are best left alone so they can spend time on their spawning grounds and lay their eggs in peace. Once laid their eggs sit on the bottom until spring when they finally hatch. With only a small percentage from each cluster of a few hundred reaching adulthood they need all the help they can get. And biologists now know that more than 50% of all adult brook trout and salmon perish during the spawning cycle from exhaustion and predation. If we want to maintain healthy brook trout populations we have to accept the fact that wild brook trout waters need to be left alone during the spawn to repopulate. It’s been working so our wild brook trout waters remain well populated and extremely healthy throughout the region.
There are some exceptions where wild brook trout populations do not dominate the fishery and fishing is allowed to continue beyond the last day of September. In this region there are a number of small ponds that are annually stocked with hatchery trout. Mountainview, Saywer, Prong and Shadow ponds all remain open until the end of October. Also the East Outlet, West Outlet of the Kennebec and Indian Pond, which they run into remain open to anglers through October. So fishing opportunities remain available for at least anther month. We don’t have to hang up our rods just yet.
Have a great weekend on the water.