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.

New Waterflow Website

Brookfield Renewable introduced a new water flow website, SafeWaters.com
It’s lot more than just a chart with today’s flow
As we kick off 2019, Brookfield Renewable would like to introduce their new waterflow tool – Safe Waters.
SafeWaters.com has replaced the former h2oline.com website. Flow information can also be accessed by calling 1-844-430-FLOW
Users will no longer need to provide a site code for conditions.
This user-friendly website and phone line will allow users to easily check real-time water conditions, long-term forecasts, whitewater schedules, safety notices, and facility information at Brookfield Renewable sites across the US.
We will have a message on Waterline redirecting users to Safe Waters throughout the year as we continue outreach.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out.
  And please feel free to share with others.             Safewaters.com

The Year in Review – 2018

Last winter hung in there longer than anyone wanted or expected. Mother Nature didn’t loosen her grip until well into April. At the time ice-out predictions implied mid-May at the earliest.

But warmer weather finally arrived and conditions changed quickly. A perfect storm for run-off developed and within a ten day stretch snow was quickly dissapearing sending run-off was into full swing. In a few short days lakes filled to the brim, ice-out was back on schedule and officially called on May 5th. The rain ended and within a week high water subsided and great fishing conditions prevailed.

Smelt runs in all of Moosehead’s tributaries were as good as anyone has seen in resent history. Biologist told us they had small sampling nets out and documented smelt runs in every stream around the lake.  A tremdous run at the Moose River produced early season trolling as good as it gets with some very impressive salmon and brookies caught.

When high water comes on the East Outlet every spring we’ll see a good run of salmon enter the river from Indian Pond as well as drop through the gates at the dam on Moosehead. The bonus associated with this kind of early season event is big Moosehead brookies drop out of the lake as well and remain in the river for some time. Fishermen were boasting of 3-4 lb brookies being caught. We had some of our guided customers bring real some beauties to net on a number of outings. As predicted 18 – 20″ landlocks were common creatures. Sinking lines and streamers did the trick throughout the month of May.  And trolling the shorelines the first couple weeks after ice-out proved very productive. Customers not only talked about boating some huge brookies they had photos on their phones to prove it. Our son Alex caught a 5 lb. 2oz bruiser while trolling a tandem Grey Ghost streamer along the shoreline in sight of downtown Greenville. Fishing season was off to a very impressive start.

Hatches came right on schedule and small pond trout fishermen had a grand time the last week of May and the first week of June. Green Drakes were right on time so pond fishing held up throughout the month of June.

Caddis hatches prevailed through the end of June and well into July. Eighty-degree days came early though and relentless heat was dominant throughout the summer. We had to dig out the air conditioners. Something that doesn’t happen most years. It was great camping weather but the hot summer warmed the rivers to the point where fish moved back into the lakes and colder water.

When the heat of summer comes we typically head for the West Branch of the Penobscot and it’s tail water fishery. Even that was warmer that usual but fishing held up pretty well throughout the heat of summer.

Once cooler weather came around spawning runs kicked in and big fish began showing up. When they first enter a river they are very aggressive and eager to globber a streamer. Fall fishing is hard to beat. Hard hitting, high flying landlocks put smiles on a lot of fishermen’s faces. Anglers brought football shape salmon pushing four pounds to their nets. Thinking back on those days helps get you through that long spell of down time.

We posted some wonderful outdoor photos throughout the season at our “Photos” page of our website. Have a peak. It’s helps get the juices flowing again and inspires you to get this season’s trips in the works. Planning a outing to your favorite fishing hole is a prescribed cabin fever reliever when all you currently have to look at is cover in white. Our website also has a “Videos” page if you want to see some moving water and leaping fish. You might even pick up a hit or two on how to fool a fussy fish or two.

The Moosehead Region has a good compliment of snow so water should not be an issue this coming season. It’s getting to be that time of season when we begin our countdown to another season opener.

Late season rewards

October 22, 2018 – There is only a week remaining in the extended season for the East Outlet of the Kennebec. Come November 1st the only stretch of river that remains open is from the Dam on Moosehead to the yellow posts located at the Beach Pool.

Until then the entire river remains open and the fishing is still worth a trip. The river is full of adult landlocks and brookies. Anglers have been wrestling with some gorgeous fish averaging 18-20″ and bigger. We aren’t saying getting one to eat your fly is easy, breezy but if you work the river over you’ll probably have a grin from ear to ear before the days end. Our latest customers comment was “I can’t believe I landed that big fish on that tiny little fly”.

Because we are nearing spawning time for salmon, around mid-November, their mind is on other things than looking for a square meal. But because they have eaten a million Lays potato chips in the past they may just grab one or two more before they move to the spawning areas. Their mind may be on spawning but if a tender, tiny Pheasant Tail nymph or a small Partridge & Orange soft hackle comes drifting past their nose they may casually sip it in.

It may take a number of different flies to hook a few different fish. There is a salmon out there that will still chase down a streamer, or one that will pick up one more nymph drifting along the bottom, and others that are willing to slip to the surface and sip a soft hackle when presented just so.

Have a look at some of the beauties our customers have been bringing to net this October at the “Photos” page on our website. They are some of the best fish of the season.

Our fly shop is now offically closed for the season. What few fishng still around don’t really need anything so we are busy doing things that were left undone during the busy season. We aren’t far off so if you are passing through and need gear feel free to ring us up @ 207-695-2266 and if we are handy we’ll be happy to swing the door open and help you out.

Last Harrah

October 5, 2018 – 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.

 

 

It’s all about water flow and water temperature

September 21, 2018 – We say it every time someone asks, “How’s the fall fishing?” The answer is always the same, “Fall can be Feast or Famine.”

In order for landlocked salmon and brook trout to get the urge to begin their fall spawning runs in earnest two factors have to fall into place, a sudden increase in water flow and a sharp decrease in water temperature. A sudden increase in water flow is easy. Just crack a gate or two at the dam. In our region the policy on Moosehead, Brassua & First Roach is hold enough water back during the season so flows can be increased after Labor Day to attract fish into our rivers. That has already happened and the Roach River also got a second increase around mid-month. The second ingredient, a drop in water temperature, which mother nature has control over wasn’t as co-operative as we would like. When flows were increased the day after Labor Day it was 70 degree water and fish decided to stay put in the lakes until water temps fall from the low 70’s to the low 60’s. River water comes from the lake above the dam so the lake has to cool off which isn’t an overnight process. As nights get colder lake water drops about a degree a day so it takes many cool nights to get water temps where they need to be to attract fall fish into a river.

Everyone remembers last fall’s run. We had a week of cold weather the last week of August. When they increased the flow just after Labor Day it was 62 degree water and all the river filled with fish in just a few days and fall fishing began with a bang. Not the same situation this fall season.

Fish will come in when conditions get right. The last few nights have been in the low 50’s and in the low 60 during the day. The cooling process is beginning to work because most people in the shop today are finding and catching fish and they are beauties. Today it’s raining hard and the air temperature is in the low 50’s so conditions are changing fast.

This email just came from our fisheries biologist Tim Obrey.

We wrapped up the weir project today.  We put 301 brook trout upstream and 189 salmon.  We saw improvements in fish size from the last time we operated the weir in 2010 and 2011. The catch in the weir went up and down with the warm weather. The warm weather the first week of Sept and again on the weekend of the 14th really slowed them down, but the number of fish coming into the river picked up this week.  The water temp today was still 62 F. This cold rainy weather will get them excited. We tended every day so not to hold the fish up for more than a few hours each day. We had around 75 fish today and several very nice salmon. We removed large sections of the weir before we left.  Some of the frame remains but the fish can pass freely. I’ll have a more detailed report later in the fall.

There isn’t a lot of time left for most waters but if mother nature continues to co-operate it looks like it’s going to be a very strong finish.