Everyone’s Lookin’ Up

June 6, 2019 – Everybody is looking up.

Water flows in all the rivers are finally down to manageable levels. Hallelujah!!
And the Hendrickson hatches are in full swing. What could be better!

Once mayfly season kicks in, fish begin looking up. Translation… sinking lines become far less important in the quest for catching fish. Now you can tie your favorite streamer to your favorite floating line and fish it over your favorite water and fish will come roaring to the surface to grab it. Continue fishing them in the traditional way… 45 degrees cross current with an upstream mend them let-em’ swing with a twitch of the rod tip every now and then. Start with a short line and slowly add more to each cast, covering as much water as possible. The strike is at the surface and violent. Make sure you use a good stout leader or that big salmon or brookie will be slowing his buddies the fly he stole from you. We also like to make-em’ chase it but casting 90 degrees cross current then throwing a downstream mend to make the streamer head downstream faster than the current. Fish often boil behind it and miss it but they give you their location. Our belief is once you interest a fish in your streamer they will likely return and mean business.

This is the time of season when we’ll fish streamers and nymphs all morning and dries and emergers all afternoon. Just remember when it comes to mayflies… a good drift is better than a good cast. Once mayflies begin to appear don’t be in a big rush to get your fly on the water. Watch what’s going on. When you find a feed fish, which is a fish that appears more than once, put him on the clock. You’ll often see a number of naturals go over him without a rise. Once a fish rises to the surface and takes a bug it takes time for him to get back to his lie and begin looking up for another morsel. Your watch will often show you it’s been 3-4 minutes between eats. The more you know about a feeding fish the better your odds of fooling him. And there is nothing more satisfying than finding a feeding fish, making the perfect drift and fooling that fish.

Pond fishing has peaked. Fish are keeping bankers hours and surface feeding often lasts all afternoon. If you aren’t seeing any mayflies or surface feeding going on, that doesn’t mean trout aren’t looking to the surface for their next meal. They have been feeding on mayfly hatches for some time. If activity seems to be slow try traditional wets flies fished just under the surface. Old timers use to build leaders that had three flies attached, it’s still legal today. To the trout they are the emergers of the adults… Blue Dunn, Adams, Quill Gordon, Black Gnat and the like. Give one a nice long cast then work them with a slow retrieve. A traditional roll-of-the wrist retrieve works the best. You’ll likely see a nice swirl and tug on your fly when a hungry trout blasts to the surface for the take. Fishing will hold up until the ponds heat from long hot days under the sun. That won’t happen for some time given all the cold weather we’ve been having.

The old timers always called it bog laurel and claimed when the Bog Laurel is in bloom the bass are in the shallows and taking poppers. It’s still true today. If you know a good smallmouth place you may what to pay it a visit and toss a popper around. Yellow, white and chartreuse are our favorites. We have been having some wonderful days casting bugs to shallow water structure. The photos speak for themselves. Have a look but don’t tell anyone.

So as we said earlier “Everyone is looking up” and if you do as well you just might see an eagle or two looking back, giving you a high for a grand day spent North of the Monson-Dixin line folks like to call the North Maine Woods.

The photo above is Brea Hatch with a 22″ brookie caught while on a drift boat trip with Chad Cray. Congratulations Brea!!

Full Steam Ahead

May 31, 2019

We haven’t had a 70 degree days in two weeks but the worm has finally turned thanks to the sun. Trees are showing leaf production, combined with a couple dry days equals run-off has been reduced to a crawl.

Flows have been coming down in the East Outlet and Moose River. Both are full of fish and will soon be wadeable.

Although we have had to cancel many river trips we have been bouncing around taking advantage of windows of opportunity. It’s been all about heavy sinking lines and streamers. Grey or olive streamers have been working the best. Most of the takes are at the end of the swing, which is classic streamer fishing.

Blue wing olives have been hatching for a week or more and Hendrickson are beginning to show so fish are just now beginning to look up. It’s a magical day when big numbers of Hendricksons hatch. Fish that ignore BWO’s during high flows do triple backflips over a Hendrickson. All you’ll need is a similar dry presented with a drag-free drift and you’ll get takes every feeding fish you find. Experiencing a Hendrickson hatch is something you’ll talk about the rest of your life. Just remember the mayfly rule #1 – “A good drift is way better than a good cast”… meaning a drag-free drift is essential in fooling a fish during mayfly hatches.

Pond fishing has exploded. Folks are catching lots of brookies looking for anything just under the surface. Mayfly hatches should begin in earnest any day now. This is when you can spot and stock a trout traveling down a shoreline picking off every mayfly in it’s path. All you have to do is drop your imitation out ahead of the feeding brookie and if you have the right fly, it’s almost a guarantee he’ll pick it up. How much fun is that? Size and color of your fly is the key here.

The Roach has come down to a wadeable level, 220 cfs. It’s like a fall flow. Salmon that came in on high water should remain in pools until the river goes to summer flow, 100 cfs. When that happens fish in the lower river will quickly exit but fish in the upper river from the dam to the Warden’s pool will remain there all summer.

A Grey or Black Ghost on a sink-tip or maybe a floating line should do the trick….and of course nymphing.

If you care at all about smallmouth bass they started eating poppers yesterday. Don’t tell anyone we told you. Twenty inch smallmouth are tons of fun when they are eating a perfectly placed bug a few inches from good structure. But don’t tell anyone.

So it Full Steam Ahead, high water is always a challenge but when flows drop to fishable levels watch out.

The photo above is of long time guide Ian Cameron and Alan Jansujwicz, long time customer, with what has become an everyday East Outlet landlocked.

Water, water, Everywhere

May 24, 2019 – We hate to say it but the rainy season in Maine doesn’t officially end until mid-June. This seasons weather patterns have confirmed that many times. As a result our rivers have remained swollen due to a severe weather pattern that bombed through Maine a couple days ago. They (the water people) are still trying to get rid of that water. And another rain event came through during the overnight. Our leaves have just started to bud in the last couple days. The facts state run-off ends when the forest becomes green again. They need a lot of water to develop leaves so excess run-off should come to an end soon.

Smelt runs are pretty much over but fish that entered our rivers on the heals of a smelt run, remain in the rivers for a number of reasons. The first and most substantial being the discovery of the endless insect populations. As waters begin warming mayfly nymphs become active. Blue wing olives have already begun in earnest. Also caddis lava start to pupate so there is plenty of insect activity. Next in line is the sucker spawn, which shifts into high gear when water temps hit 48 degrees. That’s going on right now in many rivers and streams. It lasts for just about a week. And streamers continue to work until there are so many bugs hatching fish forget all about baitfish. So for the time being we’ll play three different games during any given day. It will be streamers and nymphs all morning and once the mayfly (Hendricksons) begin popping its dries all afternoon and maybe a spinner fall at dusk.

The Moose and East Outlet may remain be too high to wade fish this weekend. Now what? The West Outlet flows the same year round, 128 – 179 cfs (cubic feet per second). It’s a tiny dam and is only there to keep the lake level up. The West Outlet flows for eight miles before it enters Indian Pond and there is a road that runs along the north side for 5 miles. There are lots of easy access spots all the way to the railroad trestle (Summerset Junction). It’s not that much different than fishing the Roach River. The few folks we know that call the West Outlet their home water often boast of good fishing and no people.

Prime time is here for all our wild trout ponds. We know moving water fishermen have a hard time jumping ship to still water fishing but there is some fine fishing coming up on the ponds. Sinking lines with dragon fly nymphs or small woolly buggers will find feeding brookies cruising the edge of shoreslines. Midge hatches have started so trout are already looking to the surface for a meal. Try fishing a small standard hornberg just under the surface. A slow twitchy retrieve should get plenty of attention.

The Roach River has been cut back to 300 cfs. It’s a bit high but fishable. Line your rod with your sinking line then attach your favorite streamer. We like a Black Ghost Maribou right about now. You should find eager salmon throughout the entire river. They would have come in during higher water and remain in the river until it gets cut back to summer flows… 100-125 cfs. That won’t happen for a while.

This just in form Brookfield regarding the West Branch of the Penobscot weekend flows.
“I am just giving everyone a heads up that we will be reducing flow tomorrow afternoon.  We will be shutting the gates in an attempt to provide reasonable flows through the weekend.  This should allow rafting trips and better fishing for the holiday weekend.  We will be running at station capacity (3,500 – 3,600 cfs) from 5:00pm – 07:00am and 3,200 cfs from 07:00am – 5:00pm, daily.

I can’t stress enough that this is 100% dependent on inflows and we may not be able to offer these flows for very long.  We are expecting an inch or more of rain over the next couple of days and it may get to a point where we just can’t support this type of operation any longer.  I will send out follow up emails as soon as I know we will be increasing flows again. I hope Mother Nature cooperates and we are able to continue operating this way, but time will tell. “

Have a grand Memorial Day Weekend . The weather people are predicting a favorable weather pattern will prevail.

Ciera Hamlin and her father Richard were in the shop the other day with Ciera’s state record splake. 11.38 pounds caught in the Moosehead Lake Region. Splake which is a hybrid cross between a brook trout and a lake trout are stocked in many ponds around the state. They look like a brookie but have the potential to get very big.
Congratulations Ciera, she said she thought she had bottom. After a 30 minute battle the new state record was in their net.


Let the games begin!!!


May 17, 2019

No two seasons are ever the same, but high water in the early season is most always a common theme. It is the official rainy season after all. Some years are a bit more rainy than others and this season is no exception so the faucet has remained open longer than we had hoped for and unseasonably colder temps have been the norm and not on anyone’s wish list. Southern Maine isn’t much further ahead than we are so it’s been a relatively slow start as far as the catching component of fishing goes. Iceout waters haven’t been in any hurry to warm, even a little.

We are happy to announce that that’s all changing. But why?It’s said that the catching doesn’t kick in until the leaves on the alders are the sizes of a mouse’s ear. Translated..,.Leaves develop very rapidly from bud to regulation, mature leaf. To accomplish that, they require a ton of nutrition rich H2O. That rapid process puts an end to run-off. As a result inflow of excess water slows and rivers become contained within their banks. Once that happens fish begin filtering back to their traditional lies and as the water warms a bit they get back to the task at hand, looking for a good square meal of whatever is abundant… Smelt for example.

Smelt runs may be over in most of the smaller streams but larger rivers like the Moose are just beginning to percolate. As luck would have it, thanks to the foliage water river and stream flows have finally come down to fishable levels. You may not be able to get to your favorite spot just yet but there will be plenty of fish elsewhere.

It’s no secret smelt patterns and sinking lines work the best this time of season. The text book says to cast 45 degrees down stream and cross current. What it may not say is “After your cast give your line a big mend upstream (maybe even two or three) to get your fly as deep as possible then once it comes tight flip the tip of your rod up & down a few inches as your stream swings across the downstream current so it looks like a minnow scurrying about”. “Then at the end of the swing let you fly stop for a few seconds before bouncing it about a few times prior your next cast”. Most of your strikes will come at the end of the swing when your fly stops and becomes an easy target. If you feel a slight tug, you suspect might be a short strike of a fish, leave it be and tickle it just a bit. If that fish didn’t feel the sting of your hook it might very well return to finish the job. A customer, who caught a bunch of salmon today said he never lost a fish, admitting he has lost his share in the past. Translation…. Very hungry, very aggressive, no nonsense salmon. Translation….This is the time of season you’ll want to pull out your 2X tippet or you may be sorry. The guys have already netted good numbers of salmon and trout over twenty.

With the nice weather predicted over the weekend, life in our wild trout ponds will once again begin their open water cycle. You may still have to use your sinking line and woolly buggers but be sure to bring along your floater. If you’re a tiny fly guy midges should start flirting about in the warming weekend sun. And mayfly hatches aren’t that far out. Remember the last week of May and the first week of June is mayfly time on wild trout waters.

It’s great to once again dive head long into Maine’s open water fishing season.

May the Fish Gods look favorably upon all who seek the “Drug of the Tug”. Not to mention the lovely wild places they call home.






It’s go time!!!

May 10, 2019

Moosehead Lake was officially called out on Thursday , May 9th. Smelt runs are on everywhere including the Moose River which saw smelt in the river last night.

The Moose River is a favorite destination for early season trollers. Smelt, salmon, brookies and lake trout will be throughout the river in the upcoming days. As each day passes fish will be caught further and further up the river. Trolling your favorite smelt pattern is the way to go. There will be lots of bragging size fish come to net over the next couple weeks.

Small ponds will be ice free in the coming days if they aren’t already. Sinking lines and dragon fly nymphs fished along a sunny shore should find fish feeding on any easy target crawled along the bottom.

River flows are still extremely high. They are at the mercy of mother nature. Lakes are brim full from excess run-of so every drop of water that comes from above must be passed on down river. When leaves begin to bud and leaves begin to form trees need to pull a lot of water from the ground, which is a big help slowing run-off. You can expect the river will begin to subside before long.

We aren’t peaking just yet. The new season is still in it’s infantsy. So it’s go time. Once the ice goes 36 degree water begins warming a bit everyday and fishing quickly improved.

Have a great beginning to the season.

The Bubble is about to Burst.

Ice won’t be out this weekend but there is open water about so there are fish to be caught if you know where to look. Most of the snow is gone from the woods which means stream water is beginning in warm to that magical 40 degree mark when smelt begin they spawning runs. It’s a covert operation. They are currently gathered around the mouth of most rivers and streams. When stream water reaches 40 degree and light fades away after sunset smelt head upstream to spawn. Once a run begins it lasts just about a week as long as the water temp remain 40 or above. A cold rainy day or a snow fall will shut a run down. As soon as it warms the run continues. Like many of naturers wonders a smelt run is an event like no other. Wherever it is legal to take two quarts for personal use or consumption you’ll find a gathering. Brook trout, salmon and lake trout won’t be far from the bounty of food.

One such spot is where Ragged stream enters Caribou / Chesuncook lake at the Golden Road. There is no dipping of smelt there anymore but back when you could we have seen so many smelt crammed into the pool below the falls, smelts get pushed out on the banks. Both Caribou and Chesuncook Lake are over run with salmon. As a result growth rate is slow so not many salmon meet their full potential. A douple seasons ago the state imposed a No Bag Limit on salmon under 16″. If you are looking for a batch of salmon for smoking there is going to be some crazy fishing around the mouth of Ragged Stream for the net week or two.  There is a gravel launch at the campsite on the Golden Road just north of the Ragged Stream bridge. Pay attention to the wind direction. If it’s out of the north it can get rough. It’s best to go when it’s calm or a south wind.

Smelt runs are just now beginning. Smaller streams generally are first with larger rivers being last. A perennial favorite is the Moose River in Rockwood.  It’s one of the last to run. It won’t happen until Brassua Lake, which feeds it is ice free. Until the river water reaches 40 degrees you’ll find millions of smelt holding at the mouth of the river just off the drop in 30-60′ of water. Your fish finder will mark many big fish feasting right there. Once Brassua is ice free and begins to warm smelt start slipping into the river under the cover of darkness to spawn with trout and salmon at their heals. It’s going to be a wild state of affairs when it happens. Once fish enter the river they will remain for some time because there is also a substantial drift of smelt into the river from Brassua Lake.

Moosehead should go ice free this coming week. The window of opportunity for hooking up with a very big brookie is just around the corner. Both brook trout and salmon will be tight to shoreline feasting on adult spawning smelt. Traditionally anglers use a small boat with a tiller motor and troll tight to bouldery shorelines using tandem smelt style streamers. It’s not the zone you want to take your bay boat. Most use fly rods with sinking line. Play out a couple long lines with 20′ leaders. Work the contour where you can see the bottom on one side and not on the other. If there are two of you, one might want to cast a third line equipped with a smelt pattern toward the boulders then let it swing out behind your boat. Fish will follow your fly and if they don’t grab that one they will likely grab one of your set lines out behind. The scenery is fabulous and there isn’t a fish swimming anywhere any prettier than a brookie.

One word to the wise when you begin poking around the backcountry this time of season… be careful where you pull over or turn around. Frost has just come out of the ground and even though it may look dry there are many soupy spots where you could be up to your axles in short order. This time of season we always toss in a spade, come along, and high lift jack just to save that seven mile hike for help. When someone has to take a leak we make a habit of stopping right in the middle of the road. You not going to cause very many traffic jams.

Run-off has kicked into high gear.

April 22, 2019
Winter has finally loosened its grip on the Moosehead Region. Run-off water is flowing from every corner and crevice. If you’re following our water flow page you’ll see the headwaters of both the Penobscot and Moosehead drainages are pumping big flows into Chescuncook and Moosehead but outflows are low conpared to inflow so both are filling fairly fast. Moosehead is only 18″ from being full. The snowpack is dwindling away but is far from being gone back at the head waters which gets their start not far from the Quebec border. If we don’t see any substantial rain event in the near future river flows may remain fishable. You can bet the water folks are watching our long term forecast very closely. This is when they begin nibbling away at their nails curtesy of Mother Nature, the great equalizer.

We are creeping up on smelt run time. We’re seen plenty of small stream runs begin around the 26th of April. It will likely be a bit later this season. The science behind smelt runs is simple. They are gathered around the mouth of rivers and streams already but until stream water entering your favorite body of water is 40 degrees F or above you might as well stay put. We have been way to early way too may times. The only way stream water is going to climb about 40 degrees is when snowpack is just about gone. Melting snow is cold, just over 32 degrees. As long as there is ice in your drink is remains around the freezing mark. As soon as your drink ice is gone and a bit of sun shines hit it, it not long before to begins to warm. Once snow leaves the woods a sunny warm day begins to warm the ground and and any water flowing to a pond.
Smaller streams with headwaters up in the hills always warm first and so do their smelt runs.

If the body of water you plan on fishing is a large lake like Moosehead that’s fed by a big river like the Moose a slightly different set of rules applies. In order for the Moose River smelt runs begin ice has to have left Brassua Lake before it begins to warm, the drink principle. That’s why larger river smelt runs are the last to happen. Most of the streams entering Brassua have already run before the Moose River run begins, the same goes for Moosehead.  The solution for all the smelt mysteries is to carry a water thermometer in your gear. Stick it in moving water for two minutes and if it’s over 40 degree F there should be smelts around and your Grey Ghosts, Nine Threes and Magog Smelts should prove worthy of the task. Under 40 degrees and you’ll probably be playing more cribbage than you planned. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The photo above was taken from a web cam at the mouth of the Moose River on April 22nd. Conditions are changing fast but in the Moosehead Region things haven’t rounded the corner just yet.  If you would like to keep an eye on ice conditions around the Moosehead Region here is the link to MooseheadWebcams.com.

Don’t hold you’re breath

April 15, 2019
As you can see from the photo above, taken today, spring is taking its sweet old time showing up in the Moosehead Lake Region. It’s going to take more than a few warm, bright sunshiny days to beat down the snowpack and desolve 4 feet of ice.

Spring run-off hasn’t really started yet and snowpack this year holds a lot of water. Way more than the lakes have capacity to hold. As we begin posting daily water flows we’ll see flows begin to increase in a attempt to let excessive run-off go downstream. It’s about flood protection. When there is just enough water remaining in the snowpack added to average yearly rainfall (caculated by the 50 year average) flows will eventually go to minimum flow in order to capture the remaining water. The lakes fill then water is adjusted to inflow (what comes in must go out). If mother nature doesn’t throw us some above average rainfall all will be well. Mother nature plays a huge role in how water flows over the next three weeks.

As we reported earlier Brookfield Energy has a new water infomation web site Safe Waters. This site shows a lot more info than just current water flow. They have added predicted flows, scheduled releases and lake levels which don’t seem like much but divulges much more info if you know how to use it.

For now lets take a look at Moosehead Lake and the lake level number. When the Moosehead is brim full the number is 1028.98 feet , right now the lake level number is 1025.61 feet. Do the math and you’ll find the lake is still down 3.37 feet. Moosehead is a 75,000 acre body of water. Adding enough water to fill it an additional 3.37 feet is major water. And there is more than enough water and expected rain to fill Moosehead before this years run-off ends. So the water people keep a watchful eye on what is entering the lake and what still remains in the snowpack. When things cut loose all the little mountain streams around the lake run hard adding to what is coming down the Moose, which begins above Jackman plus what dumps from the Roach River drainage which is all the mountains to the southeast of Kokadjo. When it all happens, water level in Moosehead begins to change rapidly. Last year the prefect storm of run-off happened and Moosehead filled three feet in three days. Keeping an eye on lake levels is a good indicator as to what’s going to happen with river flows. Once Moosehad fills to capacity, 1028.98 feet, what comes in must go out or else dams can be compromised. Water management people prefer not to fill Moosehead to capacity so you’ll see the lake is generally maintained 3 to 4 inches below full so there is enough room to handle additional water from a rain event without having to dramatically increase flows. That’s done to accommodate us recreational users.

As summer comes and we emerge from the rainy season you’ll watch lake level gradually drop inch by inch throughout the summer. On the other end of the season, there is a provision in the license agreement that states the lake has to be drawn down to a certain level by mid-October for the lake trout to spawn successfully. If lake level is still fairly high come Labor day water has to be released to meet that goal. If it is a dry summer and low then don’t expect much of a bump in flow, which is one of the two componants we need to spark spawning runs.

So if you are into fishing as deeply as we are you can follow water data on Safe Flows as we do and with a few note on one piece of paper have a fairly good idea what might be coming.

So when you read our ramblings and preditons of things to come know that it’s not just off the cuff. We love doing our homework and sharing it with you so we can hopefully help you have many memorable days of fishing.

The Maine Guide Fly Shop will offically reopen for the season on May 1st.

We look forward to seeing and helping everyone enjoy their precious time on the water.

Hatches & Hints

Our Hatches & Hints page is dedicated to educating you about fishing the Moosehead Lake Region and its many windows of opportunity that present themselves throughout our fishing season. Starting with early season smelt runs, followed by the sucker spawn, then major mayfly, caddis and stonefly hatches culminating with the spawning season.

We’ll fill you in on what you can expect to encounter and when, along with proven techniques you can add to your bag of tricks that should help you become a more aware and productive angler.

A Simple Solution

Every summer, around Drake season, fishermen wander into the fly shop frustrated about their leader getting all twisted when casting big drake patterns to feeding trout at their favorite pond. They want to lay the blame on the particular brand of leader they were using. Fortunately it’s not the brand of leader’s fault. Because it doesn’t take a ten pond test leader to land a brook trout, many of which are under twelve inches, we choose a 5X – 4 lb test tapered leader. It makes scense because any brookie can be brought to the net on 4 pound test if we’re careful. The thing we don’t factor in our decision is how a big fly, say size 8, moves through the air during the act of casting. We all want to make a long cast because there’s plenty of room so we can really reach out there. But the further we cast the more we flex the tip of the rod so the faster a fly moves through the air. A big Green Drake imitation is not very aerodynamic and wants to spin or corkscrew out of control leaving many revolutions in the leader once the fly lands on top of the water. Sometimes you’ll watch as your bug tries to unscrew on the surface of the pond. Bring your fly to hand to see hwats wrong and the leader is twisted up and we end up blaming it on the leader.
There is an easy fix and it’s not changing brands. First, forget about the trout, they don’t figure into this equation. Think about the fly you chose to imitate one of natures monster drakes. In order to minimize corkscrewing you need to use a heavier, stiffer leader. Save your 5X – 4 lb test leaders for smaller size 14, 16, and 18 flies. Ramp up to a 3x – 10 lb or 2X – 12 lb test leader. They are much stiffer and stop big fluffy mayfly imitations from spinning out of control. Your fly will cast much easier, turn over better and land more naturally than when cast using a lighter, whimpy leader that can’t control you’re bulky bug. And consider backing off on that country mile cast so your bug won’t be traveling at warp speed. You’re perennial problems with twisted leaders will become a thing of the past.
Here is a nice table, to follow regarding
dry fly size in relation to leader size.
 6X – # 18 to 24
5X – # 14 to 18
4X – # 12 to 16
3X – # 10 to 12
2X –   # 6 to 8
**** When it comes to streamers you can get away with lighter leaders simple because streamers are generally much more aero dynamic than dries. With streamers it’s more about pound test than leader diameter. Just remember when big salmon and trout grab a streamer it is likely going to be a violent act. If you go too lite that big fish you’ve been hoping for might steal your streamer, leaving you with just another sad story to tell while you’re drowning your sorrows.****