July 7, 2017
It’s just after the 4th and the monster mayflies of summer are now the main event on our trout ponds. This is what every still water fly fisherman has been waiting for all season.
The cool nights and rainy days have kept pond water temperatures ideal for the Green Drake (Hex) hatches. Just in the last few days fishermen have been in talking about huge hatches on some of the ponds and brook trout making pigs of themselves on cheeseburger size mayflies.
It’s time to drop everything get to your favorite trout pond before the hatches end and trout head for the spring holes to hold-up during the heat of summer.
When you head to your favorite pond don’t forget your sinking line. It will catch you fish long before the hatch starts. As you probably know the Green Drake hatches tend to happen during the last hour of light limiting the amount of dry fly action. We always string up our sinking line on one rod and a floater with a dry on another rod.
The Green Drake is a mud mayfly that lives burrowed in the mud with just its head out filtering the water for food and remains unavailable to the trout until it is time to hatch. They then crawl from their hole and wiggle to the surface where they crawl out of their case to become an adult winged mayfly.
Educated trout start to show-up in the bays, where a hatch will occur well before it starts, in search of the nymphs as they emerge from the mud. We use a sinking line with a shot 5′ leader and a Green Drake nymph (a very popular pattern is the maple syrup) and start fishing beneath the surface a couple of hours before sundown. Fish won’t start showing on the surface until the mayflies appear but you can usually count on hooking early evening fish sniffing around along the bottom long before the actual hatch begins. Because the mayfly doesn’t become available to the trout until just before dark your nymph isn’t competing with hundreds of others. Lots of times we’ll catch as many fish doing this than we will during the actual hatch when our imitation is competing with all those naturals.
The time is now to concentrate on the biggest banquet pond trout see all season.
And the Golden Stones of summer are now out in full force on all our rivers along with many species of caddis. It’s time to dust off your biggest bug box. We love tossing a size 8 Stimulator, or Bugmister, or Tarantula over the deepest runs in a river. Sometimes we’ll add whatever caddis is in season or beadhead caddis pupa as a dropper. You’ll be surprised who might show-up and when they do they mean business. Use anything lighter than a 3X leader and the ending to your big fish story may not be what you were hoping for.
Have a great weekend on the water.
September 14, 2014
The water flows are down to very wade-able levels on the East Outlet and the Moose and have been bumped up again at the Roach. Fall conditions couldn’t be any better. Cold nights and cool days are bringing new fish into the rivers right on schedule.
It’s spawning run time and new fish in the river are very eager to chase a bright colored streamer. Cast cross current and let it swing. Expect the hit to come at the end of the swing when the fly stops. Be sure to leave it there for a few seconds before recasting because you may be taking a fly away from at fish ready to strike.
Nymphing is also very productive. Once fish are in the river for a while they begin to ignore streamers so you need to deliver a Lays potato chip to the couch potatoes glued to the bottom.
When you are nymphing this time of season go to smaller patterns. Most of the nymphs are just beginning there life cycle and are quite small. Flip a few rocks and you’ll see what I mean.
If a fly isn’t working change it. In the fall it often takes 10 different flies to catch 10 different fish.
It’s that time of year when we see some of the biggest fish of the season. Life is good.
April 15, 2013
It’s a very slow start to the 2013 open water fishing season in the Moosehead Lake Region. Winter doesn’t want to give it up with additional snowfall just a couple days ago. Daytime temperatures haven’t warmed enough to begin any significant run-off. The lakes and ponds are still buttoned up tight with little or no open water to wet a line.
The water people are now beginning to capture run-off as the snow pack slowly begins to cut lose. The East Outlet is at 511 cfs and will probably remain there until Moosehead is near full which should take a while. Rain in the future will play a major role in how fast lakes fill. Rivers will not see an run of salmon until the lakes are full and flows increase by at least 3 fold.
Smelt are beginning to gather at the mouth of rivers and streams for their annual spawning run as will all the game fish. When the inflow of water rises above 40 degrees the runs begin. Smaller streams will be the first to see runs followed by the bigger rivers.
To start the fishing season my money is on the mouth of the rivers and the smelt runs. Typically run-off is about over when the smelt begin to run. Snow has to be all but gone in the woods before stream waters temperature can rise above 40 degrees. If you have to trudge through any snow to get to the mouth of a stream you are probably jumping the gun.
Temperatures in the Moosehead Lake Region are predicted to moderate in the next few days remaining above freezing overnight. Run-off should begin in earnest soon. As water levels in the lakes and ponds begin to rise open water will appear around the shoreline. Adding some rain to the mix will only speed the process.
Ice is not going to be early this season but it will happen.
We will have our shop ready and open for the new season on May 1st. See you in Greenville.
May 7 –
Fishing traffic was light this week but most fishermen I talked to had nothing but good things to say.
It appear the smelt run was earlier than normal on the Moose River. No surprise. Fish are already throughout the river and all the way to the dam. Someone called here the other day looking for a taxidermist. He had caught a 4 lb brookie somewhere on the lake in the Rockwood area.
The East Outlet is down to 2400 cfs and prime for picking. We haven’t started running the river yet but fish should be throughout the river.
The beautiful weather last week got the ponds perking. Folks were catching plenty of brookies using sinking lines. Dragon fly nymph imitations were doing the trick. Nothing on top just yet.
It’s sucker spawn season. If you haven’t fished them yet you’re missing out. Suckers will start spawning around the mouth and in the rivers. Trout love to lay just downstream of the beloved beasts sucking in their eggs. Suckers are good for something. It’s a short window of opportunity but the window is now open.
Streamer fishing is probably the most productive way to catch early season fish. You’ve got your favorite streamer on and made a great cast. The fly is right where you want it. Now what do you do? There are two schools to fly fishing. The 1st is learning how to get your fly out there. You just did that. The 2nd is what to do with your fly now that it’s where you want it. It’s all about the retrieve. Different flies, different fish, and different times of the season require different retrieves. Ever been with someone who was doing all the catching and you’re using the same fly? Who hasn’t. Don’t focus on where they are fishing but what they are doing with the fly. It’s got to appear natural, if it doesn’t you’re not playing the game right.
I’ll try and make some sense of it all, starting with early season streamer fishing on moving water. When you’re fishing streamers in the spring your fly is supposed to represent some species of minnow, mainly smelts in our neighborhood. Bait fish scurry about not hanging in any one place for any length of time. They stop in the wrong place and they stand the likely chance of getting eaten.
In moving water, as your fly swings across the current, flip the tip of your rod slightly to give your fly a little life. Flip the rod tip 4 inches and your fly accelerates ahead 4 inches. Pump the rod a foot and so goes your fly. A fish may slam the streamer as it moves cross current but we all know most strikes come at the end of the swing when your fly stops in the current for a second or two. Try leaving it there for a bit and give it a couple more jigs before you start the retrieve. You’ll provoke more strikes. Now as you retrieve it stop the retrieve every few feet. Your fly may go right by a fish that may not be in the mood to chase it but then it stops and becomes a easy target.
So many times fishermen recast a streamer before they can see it. It drives me crazy. If we had a fly camera to prove it, I bet anything they may be taking the fly away from an interested fish without knowing it. I always, always, always retrieve my streamer close enough to see it, stop, then jig the fly in that spot a couple of times before making another cast. A) I’m making sure the fly is not fouled. Streamers are notorious for that. Ever reel up to leave or change your fly and find your streamer in a tangle. Who knows how long you’ve been fishing a fly that won’t even catch bottom. B) A fish may just make a try for your fly before your very eyes which is always a thrill you’ll be talking about later around the campfire.
If one retrieve isn’t working, change. I like to not cast all the line I have out and as the streamer swings cross current feed more line allowing the fly to drop downstream then use a couple quick jigs to turn the fly giving it a little different presentation. Subtle changes sometimes make huge differences. If a fish makes a pass at your fly at the end of the swing leave the fly there. Do not recast, you’re taking the fly away from an interested fish. Leave it in the water and jig the fly, move it just a little to the right then left. Do a strip tease. Tickle him. It’s amazing how many times you’ll get a fish to chase your fly again. Some are down right suicidal.
So I’ll just finish by saying “It is important where you put your fly but I believe it’s way more important what you do with your fly after it’s out there.”
Have a great time on the water.
October 3 – The East Outlet flow is now at 1000 cfs and will probably stay that way for awhile. You can literally fish anywhere in the entire river.
Bring your full bag of tricks. Fish this time of season have their mind on each other and not so much on food. Hatch season is over except for late season Blue wing olives in the size 24 range.
What works in one pool doesn’t in the next. My best piece of advice is “If it’s not producing change it”.
Fish from top to bottom. Talk to 10 different anglers and you’ll get 8 different answers. Yesterday we caught fish on top with tiny wets, on the bottom with buggers and nymphs, and took fish swinging big streamers. We had to constantly change our tactics, and we got very nice fish.
The water temps are now in the mid-50’s so fresh fish should start showing but the fish that have been in the river for a while are catchable, you just need to be willing to change tactics often.
Rumor has it there are good numbers of handsome brookies in the upper river. The photo above says it all.
Have a great October. It’s not all about shotguns anymore.
August 30 – It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride this summer with water levels bouncing all over the place. The plug on the Roach River had to be pulled earlier for a time. All that did was pull in more salmon for the upper pools. It’s currently flowing at 115 cfs but will be likely be increased to 200 cfs by the end of this coming week. The perfect fall flow. We can count on an early run of fish especially with water temperatures already back in the 60’s.
Fish are still taking everything, streamers, nymphs, and dries. The tiny caddis of mid-summer have been hatching for sometime, mostly in the morning and late evenings.
In the morning look to the shaded side of the river. We have been seeing
hatches of small, #16 Goddard Caddis and tiny, #18 Black Elk Wing caddis. Small Hemingway
Caddis have been doing some damage on the feeding trout and salmon as well.
Remember when you are faced with higher than normal water levels look to the shallower, slower moving water near the river’s bank. Fish often move from heavy water flow areas where they normally hold to lesser flows and shallower (2-3 foot)water.Fish will be in places you never see them during more normal, lower flows.
Pull out your full bag of tricks. Start by throwing a cheeseburger over the bigger water. Tie a beadhead caddis pupa as a dropper behind the big fly. Fish see the cheeseburger but often grab the dropper hanging beneath. Use a double caddis rig along the edges and over shallow, slower moving water or put on a sink-tip line
and fish a good sized streamer in the depth of the pools and runs. It’s not to soon to use your bright fall patterns. We tied on a Montreal Whore the other day and hooked a nice bunch of salmon already in the river, officially starting the
spawning run of fall.
We’ve been told that the Moosehead Lake will not be drawn down as low this fall as in past years. It’s about the togue spawning. What this means is we should see a drop in the water flows sometime in the future but I know just when.
It won’t be long before the small pond trout emerge from spring holes where they have been spending their time during the heat of summer. When warming waters sent them to spring holes to wait out the heat they were fat and happy from all
the insect hatches earlier in the season. When they decide to leave the cool water of the spring
holes trout do so because they are hungry once again and begin roaming the pond for a meal. Launch out a nice, fluffy Wulff or a Hornberg, then give it a twitch once in a while so hungry trout can find it or try a traditional, bright fall streamer like a Micky Finn or Royal Coachman and use a jerky retrieve in the film of the water if the dries aren’t getting ant attention.
I can’t think of a much nicer way to spend a fall day than on one of our many small ponds.