Better Late than Never

The highly anticipated Drakes (Hexes) are finally beginning to show. The West Branch ponds and Big Lyford are perennial favorites. There’s easy access, lots of eager brookies and liberal laws so folks can take a few for the frying pan. Some of the more remote higher elevation ponds should also begin any day. Most have fewer fish with tighter regulations but have the potential of producing much larger fish. Wherever you choose be sure to bring your sinking line so you can fish a maple syrup along the bottom before the hatch begins. Once drakes hatches are in full swing fish begin cruising coves where hatches happen looking for these mud nymphs as they crawl out of the mud and head for the surface to hatch. Drag your nymph along the bottom before the real ones start to emerge and you should start to see some action long before the main event.

Case in point… As I’m typing this, a gentleman came in the shop, who was on a trout pond last evening waiting for the drake hatch. The hatch didn’t begin until after sunset but they watched a couple other guys catching fish long before the hatch started while they weren’t getting any action on their dries. Once the hatch started they did do well on dries. He said they looked like they were fishing something subsurface and if I might know what they were using. I rest my case.

Now for moving water…rattle any riverside alder and you’ll likely cause a storm of displaced caddis looking for another leaf to lite on. There will be tan body caddis, brown body caddis, olive body and even a few black body caddis. They’ll range in size from 12 to 18. One fish wants the size12 olive body caddis, another will only eat a size 14 brown body caddis, and the biggest fish in the river may have an appetite for a size 18 black body caddis. And that is just for starters. If you watch the water for feeding fish you’ll see fish picking bugs off the surface but you’ll see just as many swirls, which indicate fish feeding subsurface. Those fish have an appetite for crippled caddis. And so it goes, you can only hope what worked yesterday will work again today but you know that may not be the case and you begin cycling through what you have seen when you rattled those alders. We as guides use the process of elimination in order to figure fish out. First in line on the leader is likely going to be an elk wing caddis of some body color. Then we’ll tie on a caddis emerger as a dropper about two feet beyond the dry that lies on its side in the surface film. That way we cover two potential feeding activities. Ideally the first pair work but if we are fishing over feeding fish or water where we know fish are holding and no one makes an attempt to eat our offering we’ll begin cycling through what is in season and what we believe is the next caddis species on the ever changing menu. And if that’s not enough on another rod we’ll fashion a set of soft hackle wet flies… partridge and olive, partridge and orange or the current favorite fish food, a Nancy’s Prayer. These small, size 12-16 wet flies are fished just under the surface and often get a lot of attention simply because they are an easier tidbit for fish to sip.

This time of season our policy is, if it’s not interesting fish change it. Fish can be fooled you just have to find the right fly. Once you do you’ll bring your share of fish to net. And don’t forget to twitch your dries about. The twitch is a biggie that convinces fish to make the trip to the surface for a snack.

Cheeseburger season is about to go into full swing. A couple days ago Golden Stones began show in good numbers. What that means is fish will begin coming to the surface for big dries, flies you can easily see… Stimulators, Tarantulas, and Bugmeisters soon be on the menu.

Have a great time on the water.

The Cycle of Caddis Continues

Aquatic insect hatches are like a garden growing. Once all the seeds are planted things begin to grow over time and eventually harvest season arrives. Radishes are likely you’re first crop. You can hardly wait until you have the first bunch for your salad. But after you’ve eaten radishes everyday for a week you are not as excited about eating the last of the crop. All of a sudden the lettuce is ready so you move on and so it goes… peas, then beans, spinach and corn and tomatoes.

The same goes for fish and their garden of aquatic insects. Mayflies are the first to show and fish go wild over them but after the Blue Wind Olives have hatched for a few days they get sick of them and quickly move on to the newly hatched Hendricksons, then Red Quills and March Browns. These days the Cycle of Caddis has begun so fish want nothing to do with your mayfly imitation that worked a couple weeks ago, they want the current crop of caddis.

Fish also begin to recognize imposters. If your fly isn’t the right size or body color they might have a look but they may not eat it. Fish will also key on a stage of a particular hatch. When you spot a splashy take a fish is probably trying to grab an emerging caddis before it flies away. A simple swirl of water with not splash and a fish could be eating a submerged adult drifting with the current. If you spot feeding fish it’s a good idea to observe how they are eating so you can figure out how they want a fly presented. Your fly needs to look like it came from nature. The last few days both trout and salmon have been looking for caddis bouncing around on the surface. A simple twitch of your fly as it drifts along on the surface can provoke a take. At times we had to skip our flies up river a few feet then drift back over the same area to get fish to cooperate. And we had quite a few takes when we were reeling in to move and the fly was moving fast and bouncing on over the surface. How fish want a fly presented can get complicated but once you figure out what they are keying on your luck will quickly change.

Fish often key on subsurface bugs drifting with the current. They’re an easy meal. Caddis become adults subsurface, the process isn’t without it flaws. Most make it through the surface film and fly away but many fail and are left to drift away in the surface film. When you find fish making only a swirl of water there are eating crippled caddis. Your tactic will change from flirting a fly about on the surface to using soft hackle wet flies just under the surface. They are easy to tie and easy to fish. Their names are simple, Partridge and the color of the body… Partridge and Olive, Partridge and Orange, Partridge and Brown… the partridge part of the name is the hackle used for its wing and the color in the name would be the body color.

Now is the perfect time of season to use them. In a fishes mind they look like a dead caddis just beneath the surface. Begin with a couple rod lengths of line. Cast 45 degree downstream and crosscurrent. Mend upstream and swing them slowly across the current. If they swing too fast like you would fish a streamer fish will likely ignore them. It’s unnatural, bugs don’t move that fast. Add a couple of feet of line to the next cast and repeat. It’s a good idea to loosen your drag and keep your index figure off the line. The strike is usually a gentle take leading you to believe it many be a small fish but when a fish feels the hook it will take off and your drag will take over. If you try and hold a fish but using your figure you are likely to either straighten the tiny hook or break it off. Swinging soft hackle can be extremely productive and far less intense as trying to fish tiny dry caddis on uneven water and currents. Caddis will be the predominate hatches throughout the month of July. The more you know about these bugs the more successful you’ll be.

Drake (Hex) season is a bit behind this year. Shallow, low elevation ponds should have already had Drakes hatching by now but rainy, cool weather hasn’t allowed trout ponds to warm enough for hatches to begin. This week’s stellar weather forecast should change all that. It’s finally time to start babysitting your favorite pond. As with all hatches the first couple nights are magical, you can do no wrong. Trout have been waiting for these cheeseburger size mayflies and when the event begins trout can’t get enough of ‘em. Stashed canoes get flipped, and launched in hopes of hitting the main event of the season. A quick paddle around the shore will let you know if anything has been going on. When drakes emerge they leave big shucks (exoskeletons) behind that float and wash up on the shore. No shucks showing translates into maybe tonight is the night.

The photo above is Geo Matteson with a fine East Outlet salmon caught on a caddis emerger.

Have a memorable Forth of July week. See you on the water. We’ll be closed on the Forth.

 

 

 

Dries all day!!!

June 20, 2019

We have been talking caddis for some time now. Maybe tomorrow, then tomorrow will be the day, then todays the day. This went on for a while. Then the day came and that day was yesterday June 19th when bright green-bodied caddis hit the scene as well as dark brown and tan caddis, a nice way to begin caddis season. Two day ago there wasn’t a caddis to be seen but we still teased fish to the surface all day but nothing over 16”. Bigger fish wouldn’t come to the surface after one tiny caddis flirting about on the surface. Yesterday that all changed when there were lots of caddis bouncing about. The small fish must have been hiding because we saw few fish under 18”. In the morning big salmon meant business. The takes were deliberate and most takes ended with a bent rod. It’s a beautiful sight when you get to watch a salmon or trout start up from the bottom with your fly in its crosshairs. It’s what we wait for each season. It’ll be dries all day long for days on ends. But they don’t always come easy. At times there will be a number of different caddis species hatching at the same time. Species overlap and one fish wants one species and another wants something different.
 
Feeding fish are often after crippled caddis drifting on the surface, or caddis bouncing about trying to take to flight, or dead adults in the film of the water, and even emerging caddis. The trick is figuring out what exactly are fish feeding on and how they want your caddis imitation presented.
 
One sure fire way to get a fishes’ attention during caddis hatches is by twitching your bug just a bit as it drifts along on the surface. Make your best cast, mend your line if needed then keep your rod tip high and flip the tip slightly every now and then so your fly scoots an inch or two as it drifts downstream. It’s that tiny scoot that convinces a fish it needs to eat it. We’ve watched crippled caddis flopping about along with hundreds of motionless caddis and it’s the cripples that get eaten every time. Also at the end of the drift skip your fly back upstream 5-10’ then dead drift it back over the same water. If you pick your fly off the water and dead drift it back over the same water they will often ignore it. The SKIP gets the fishes’ attention and the drift back that gets the fish.
 
Also a splashy rise often indicates a fish going for a caddis as it becomes an adult just under the surface. Pay attention to where the splash was. There is probably a rock just beneath the spot. That fish is always in a sweet spot right under the splash. Try skipping your fly over that spot a few time and you’ll probably fool the fish into making a grab for your caddis imitation.
 
If you spot fish just making a boil of water and no splash they are likely feeding on crippled caddis in the film of the water. These are fish you want to swing a soft hackle by, the slower the swing the better your chances. Cast 45 degrees drown stream and across the current then mend upstream to slow down the swing. We fool some of our biggest fish swinging soft hackle wets just under the surface.
 
Drake (Hex) season is just around the corner. Everything is happening a little later than usual this season so probably expect the drake to be a bit late as well. A few hot days could bring things back in line. We have always said “If you plan your vacation around Drake hatches the week of the 4th of July is a good bet. Hatches are always happening somewhere around then, we’ll keep you posted.
 
The photo is of Tom Mackey, winner of this years, Bangor Daily, Win a Drift Boat trip with John Holyoke and Dan. Tom took his game to another level and fooled a number of nice fish ending his day with a great drift of his caddis to a feeding fish, which he is proudly holding in the photo. We all had a lot of laughs and a wonderful day on the East Outlet of the Kennebec.
 
It’s a grand time on season to be on the water chasing feeding fish. Hatches have every fish looking up on both moving or still waters. There are lots of smiling faces in the fly fishing community.
 
See you on the water.

The caddis are coming, the caddis are coming

Caddis hatches haven’t kicked in just yet so it takes a mixed bag of tricks to fool fish.

Mayfly hatches are about over but they convinced fish to begin looking up which is a good thing. At this point in time we say “They’re in transition”. There are always a few transition days every season, between major mayfly hatches and the start of much anticipated caddis hatches when fish seem to lay low and aren’t feeding on any one thing or on a regular schedule. Anglers say, “You can set your watch by the mayflies hatches” so when they’re hatching you settle into a routine of nymphs & streamers all morning and dries all afternoon. At 12:01 you can count of seeing the daily cycle of mayflies hatches begin like clockwork. But once mayfly hatches fade away fish seem to be in a funk before the caddis blizzard hatches begin. They’ll pick at this and that but don’t seem to be focused on any one activity or time of day.

You’ll get one fish to chase after a streamer dancing around out behind a floating line, another will sip a soft hackle wet fly fished meticulously just under the surface, yet another may choose a bright green body nymph or black stone bounced along the bottom and or another will grab a royal coachman parachute fished dry. If it’s not working trying something different, is the best answer when  transtion days are on. But the indecision fish are experiencing is about to end end as soon as caddis season kicks in, which is any day now. Once caddis appear in earnest the perfect drag free drift isn’t always the answer for fooling fish.

If you get the opportunity to observe a mayfly hatch you’ll see mayfly after mayfly sitting atop the surface film drifting along motionless while their wings dry then pop off the water and take to flight. Caddis on the other hand are tiny explosive canisters that blow open just under the surface and the winged adult takes to flight as soon as it breaks through the surface film. It’s like they magically appear. The issue with hatching subsurface is there are many malfunctions in the system. Adult caddis make it to the surface but can’t that to flight because a wing got wet so they flop around on the surface trying desperately to fly. Sit back and observe a caddis hatch and you’ll see lots of cripples flip flopping around on the surface. Many times fish key on cripples, they’re easy targets and easily spotted bouncing about. Many times your key to success is make your fly imitated one of those crippled caddis. It’s easy enough to do. As your fly dead drifts along on the current give your rod tip a tiny twitch so your fly scoots a couple inches then let it dead drift and more available for a fish to grab. There are many times, especially during major caddis hatches the twitch draws way more strikes than the dead drift.

Around these parts the sequence in which caddis hatch happen begins with a bright green bodied elk wing caddis. Until they start we’ve been fooling fish with chartreuse nymphs, bright green soft hackle wets and green streamers. Next in line are the olive body elk wing caddis, then tan, then dark wing caddis like the west branch caddis. That should take us into July and summer caddis hatches.

Caddis season is a fun time when all does not have to be perfect to fool fish except the correct color body which means everything. Start by rattling river side alders before you step a foot into the river. When you spot a caddis on a leaf, the bug with a pitched roof for a wing, grab it and flip it over to see the body color. Match the color and the size and you’ve quickly solved what you should be using to fool awaiting fish.

River flows could not be any better all around. It’s a majically time on moving water. Don’t miss out.

Bugging for smallmouth is top shelf. The spawn is over and they’re on the stumps, but don’t tell anyone.

The fish on the eye high leap photo above took the lead fly with the dropper visible on the short leader above the salmon. Very cool.

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.