The Roach River will start to see fall flows

August 29

The Roach River is scheduled to get an increase in water flow after Labor Day. There is plenty of water in 1st Roach Pond so it will go to around 200 cfs to start and get another bump to around 250 about mid-month. Because of the abundance of water these levels are more than we usually see which should result in more fish in the river sooner than usual. There is already a run of fall fish in the Roach River. Nymphs and streamers.

The Kennebec River should start to come down to more wadeable flows after Labor Day although there are no promises. The river is already full of fish and we are picking up plenty of fish in the shallower water around the edges. Streamers, small caddis, and nymphs.

The Moose River is also full of fish but is still experiencing high flows. If we don’t see any measurable rain it will start to come down before long.
It’s streamer season and we are starting to do well with the traditional fall patterns.

I could tie a Montreal Whore on tomorrow, leave it on for the rest of the season, be happy as a clam and catch lots of fish.

Fall flows have started at Seboomook Dam. Each fall the flow is increased to around 900 cfs at Seboomook Dam as an attractor flow to start the fall spawning run of salmon from Chesuncook and Lobster Lake. It is believed the Chesuncook fish move into the lower portion of the river and the Lobster Lake fish move into the upper part of the river from Roll Dam to the Dam on Seboomook. That upper part is very accessible with multiple, beautiful state campsites at Roll Dam and Burbank. It’s a great place to avoid the crowds and has the potential of catching a very big salmon. Remember these are the fish from Lobster Lake, where all salmon have to be released under 20″.

We have ideal fall fish conditions.

Great fall fishing conditions are exactly the opposite of ideal spring conditions.
In the spring we look of falling waters levels and rising water temperatures. As water levels drop fish become more contained in pools and runs. As the water temperature rises insect activity increases and hatches begin. Fish feed on a regular schedule and fishing gets better and better.

Then comes the heat of (most) summers during August and typically lower, warmer water. Fishing slows and many fish retreat to a lake.

When fall arrives we look for rising water levels and falling water temperatures. The increased flows and lower water temperatures are the stimulus needed to spark the fall spawning runs of trout and salmon. We usually are sitting around hoping for a good hurricane to make it’s way north and we benefit from the cool rains and higher water flows.

There are also agreements with the water people to hold back water during the heat of summer so they can provide increased fall flows (attractor flows) that begin after Labor Day Weekend. These scheduled increases usually provide us with a good, early run of fish in the Roach, Moose, East Outlet, and Upper West Branch of the Penobscot.

After that initial increase we hope for additional cool fall nights and some rain that continues to increase water flows and decrease water temperatures. When this happens more fish will continue to enter the rivers as fall progresses.
This year is the exception to what we consider normal. We have had lots of rainfall and a surplus of cool weather. The higher water levels and cooling water temperatures have already brought lots of fish into the rivers. The issue as everyone knows is about wadeable levels. The fish are there, you just can’t get to them. This could actually be a fall fishing season we’ll be talking about for a long time. We’ll keep our fingers crossed no hurricane makes it’s way to Maine and water levels drop as the fall progresses.

Remember this one thing about fall fish. We always focus hard on feeding lanes throughout the season. Both trout and salmon do not regularly feed during the spawning run.
For that reason they may not set-up housekeeping just in the obvious spots. Fish will certainly occupy many of the traditional spots but you will also find fish in places you will not see them any other time. That place is shallow water usually around gravel where they will actually be spawning later on. Fish the edges and high in runs where the water is shallow. It’s amazing how many fish we pick-up in unlikely spots. Spots no one else bothers to fish.

Because fall is not about food we often use bright attractor streamer pattens. It becomes more about territory and defending that territory against intruders, than getting a square meal. That’s why we swing big, bright streamers on sinking lines to try and appeal to the fish’s more aggressive nature. Never is a sinking line more important than during high water conditions especially in the fall. You need to get that fly in the fish’s face and during high water conditions it takes a sinking line to get it where it needs to be.

The other side of the coin is after fish have been in the river for a while they become more tolerate of their surroundings. They’ve seen lots of streamers, probably been caught one or twice and not as likely to chase them as aggressively as when they are first enter a river. Even though food isn’t the reason they are there they will eat a “Lay’s potato chip” if one is dropped in their lap. The Lay’s potato chip comes in the form of a nymph bounced along the bottom along eddy lines and in the tails of the pools. There usually isn’t any one pattern that dominates so keep changing them and you will pick up fish that are done chasing streamers and occasionally grab a tiny snack.

We almost always catch our biggest fish in the fall. They are in their prime, hit like freight trains and jump to eye level.

Project Healing Waters is great fun for everyone involved

August 4, 2006

Although there are nice fish in all the rivers and most of the pools, we are using a big bag of tricks to pull a few rabbits out of the hat.

Take the East Outlet, water level at present is as good as it gets for wading, 1300 cfs. There are still nice fish in every pool along the entire river. You can bring fish to the top with big flies like Stimulators, Tarantulas and foam stones in one pool but not in another. The same goes for nymphing but not consistently on any one fly. Golden or brown stones work in one place and not in another where tiny caddis pupa or a pheasant tail maybe the answer. Yesterday it seemed to be a size 18 Hemingway Caddis along shallow eddy lines that brought both salmon and trout to the surface.

The fact is our regular hatch season is starting to fade. There are small hatches mostly confined to early morning or late evening, usually small dark caddis. Hemingway caddis and soon Henryville caddis will be hatching, dark brown or black. From this point on they will be small, size 16 and smaller.

Fish the big flies over bigger, deeper water and small stuff in shallow water. Fish nymphs along eddy lines everywhere.

We had our annual Project Healing Waters Outing on August 1 st & 2nd. Eight disabled vets and two administrators came to the Moosehead Lake Region for two days of guided drift fishing on the East Outlet. There were some great fishing stories told about battles with salmon, trout and a very large smallmouth that ate a 10″ chub Pappy had on his fly rod. Great times were had by all.

The outing is part of a year long program through the Veterans Administration at Togus in Augusta. During the winter everyone in instructed in fly tying and casting by Trout Unlimited members so they can participate in outings like this during the summer months. Project Healing Waters is a wonderful national organization dedicated to helping disabled vets learn and participate in the sport of fly fishing. We are proud to a part of such a worthwhile cause.

Have a look at our photo page to see pictures of this years outing. Then go to to learn more about how they are helping our disabled vets.

There is no better time to learn about a river

4/11/08 -The East Outlet is at minimum flows as the water people start to fill Moosehead with the remaining run-off.

The river will never be any lower than it is right now. What an opportunity to learn a river. It will become obvious why you catch fish where you do. You might even find a new run you didn’t know was there. You will easily see the deepest parts of the pools, where the deeper runs are, and where the plunge into the pool really begins. You’ll see it all.

Not long ago the river ran at 5000 cfs, which put the water level well beyond the river bed. Now the river is low and you can walk what is now dry river exposed with low water conditions.

I went yesterday with a friend. It was wonderful to be on a river again and we had it all to ourselves. I did get a chance to fish a new Cortland, Big Sky 9′, 6 wt. It’s amazing these days that for under $200 you can have a rod that compares to much more expensive rods. It was a treat to cast right out of the box.

Even though we didn’t hook any fish, the river is spectacular at low water, wading was easy, and it’s teaming with wildlife. There isn’t much open water in these parts so migrating water fowl are all around plus the East Outlet is a wintering area for deer. Deer sign was everywhere. The low water has allowed the deer to get out of the waist deep snow and walk the river bed to feed. I saw 4, one of which walked up on me as I fished. Great stuff. So even though I didn’t hook a fish (yet) it was a wonderful first outing than did my open water deprived soul a world of good.

If you decide to give it a go put in snow shoes if you have them. Walking in the snow would be near impossible. Walking the river is actually quite easy with minimum flows but if the water happens to go up you’ll be faced with deep snow.
We’ll be open 9-5 , Thursday-Sunday during the rest of April so stop in if your get up this way and say Hi. We can once again fuel our passion for running water and the creatures that live there.

It’s Like a Garden Growing

Seasonal aquatic insect hatches are no different than a garden growing. In the aquatic insect world seeds are planted in the form of eggs. Eggs are deposited shortly after aquatic insects become adults (the hatch) during our summer months.

Living in the rubble on the bottom they slowly mature as nymphs then emerge and become adults around a year later. If the weather keeps the water cooler longer a species of insect may hatch a bit later one year than another. We have seen the first mayfly hatches as early as mid-May and as late as the mid-June.

Aquatic insect cycles are much like your garden. You plant your seeds in the soil, water and wait for them to begin growing. A glance at the package will tell you how many days until a vegetable reaches maturity and is ready to harvest. If the season is colder than normal it will likely take a little longer to mature. If there is lots of sun and rain it may be ready a bit sooner. Do enough gardening over the years and you have a pretty good idea what is going to be ready to pick first and so on throughout the growing season.

For instance radishes are often first to mature, then lettuce, spinach, peas, beans, corn, tomatoes, and brussel sprouts.

In the aquatic insect world there is also an order. Tiny midges are the first to hatch. After midges are the mayfly hatches and on their heals begin the caddis, dragon and damsel flies then the giant stoneflies of summer.

There is no need to get much more complicated than that unless you desire to get scientific about it. As with vegetables there are many varieties of a family of insects. You can find volumes of books dedicated to the mayfly, caddis, or stonefly. It’s fun to be able to identify one species from another but the fish really do not care. The scientific name of particular insect means nothing to fish. It’s simply about size and color.

What was ripe and delicious last week and you could get enough of, say peas , your not even bothering with next week because the green beans are in season an you have moved on to them until the corn comes into season.

Fish feel the same about bugs. There may still be a few Hendricksons still hatching a week after they began, when fish couldn’t get enough of them, but are now passing them by for Red Quills that are just beginning. As hatches progress along fish get sick of the same old thing just like we do and get all excited about the next species to hatch.

So the moral of this story is “What worked for you last week probably isn’t going to work nearly as well next week.” As guides we have a pretty good idea what’s coming next and the best we can hope for is the fly they wanted yesterday still works today, and if it does we know it’s not going to last much longer.

A prime example is the sucker spawn, which is unrelated to insect hatches but a very desired short-term food source. We know suckers are going to spawn sometime around mid-May and the water temperature has to be 48 degrees or above. We start drifting spawn patterns everyday when the conditions are approaching ideal. We know we might be a bit early but we don’t want to miss out. For a day or two nothing pays your best spawn pattern any attention what-so-ever. Then one day you toss it in the same place you’ve fished it the last 3 days and it doesn’t go five feet before something has it. And on that day it seems like every fish in the river wants it. Three days later you’ll fish it all day long and have a hard time convincing three fish they should eat it.

If you don’t have lots of time to follow hatches on your favorite river what can you do to increase your odds of knowing what’s in season? Put a little notebook in your bag. Whenever you have it figured out or hit a particular hatch make a note about it with the date. Odds are the same crop will be ready every year around that same date, give or take a few days.