How big is the Moosehead Lake Region ?
As defined by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife the Moosehead Lake Region lies in the west central portion of Maine bordering to it’s west side the province of Quebec. In its 4400 square miles of territory there are 625 ponds and lakes over ten acres, with Moosehead Lake being the largest at 75,000 acres. 24% of Maine’s total lake area is in this region. There are also 336 miles of mainstream rivers with an additional 3800 miles of tributaries, 13% of the states total. In the Moosehead Lake Region are the headwaters of the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers, the Moose River, St. John and the Allagash Rivers.
What could I fish for ?
Our big rivers are dominated by landlocked salmon also holding brook trout. Within a thirty-minute drive from Greenville you can be on the Moose River, East & West Outlet of the Kennebec or the Roach River. The countless remote ponds in the region hold good populations of wild brook trout. Some of the ponds handy to town with easy roadside accessible are stocked by the state with brook trout. Smallmouth bass provide fast action and are found in a number of easy access and more remote areas. Perch and other rough fish are abundant in many of the warmer water ponds and provide for some fast action especially when you are introducing the younger generation to fishing. They just want to catch fish.
What about Smallmouth?
Smallmouth bass are not a native species to the Moosehead Lake Region. They have been around for quite some time though and are slowly spreading through the watershed. Because they have been here a long time there is some great smallmouth fishing in the region and big smallmouth to be caught. A 20″ smallmouth in not uncommon.
Prong Pond, Indian Pond on the Kennebec, Moosehead Lake and Brassua Lakes and the West Outlet of the Kennebec River are all excellent bass waters and all fall under general law fishing.
Smallmouth prefer warmer water than cold water species like trout and salmon. They don’t get very active until the water warms into the 60’s which isn’t until late May or more likely June. Once it warms bass can be caught all day with topwater flies like Sneaky Petes and foam poppers.
Smallmouth fishing will hold up well into July but when water temps reach the 70’s they begin to look for cooler water. In late July and August smallmouth tend to hold 10 – 20′ down. Surface fishing can be OK in early morning and late evening but daytime tactics are to get something down under by using a sinking line. Any crayfish looking creature should get attention. Crayfish are a smallmouths favorite food although they have a sweet tooth for yellow perch and small baitfish.
Smallmouth are usually more co-operative than cold water gamefish and are great sport. Who doesn’t love a hard fighting , jumping fish. Also where you find smallmouth there will likely be plenty of rough fish around like white and yellow perch or chubs (fallfish). When you want to get beginners involved with fishing these fish can provide lots of bobber and worm action.
When Can I Fish ?
Opening day in the state of Maine is April first. We are generally still in the grips of snow and ice until around May 1st. Ice generally goes out around the first week of May and fishing can be excellent as soon as ice out occurs. The season remains open until the end of September for most waters but some waters have an extended season allowing fishing until the end of October and beyond.
Are there any extended season waters ?
The general open water fishing season in the Moosehead Lake Region begins on April 1st and ends the last day of September.
The general fishing season ends the last day of September for most bodies of water because brook trout are spawning in October.
Some local waters remain open through the month of October. The East & West Outlets of the Kennebec remain open through October, catch & release only. Water flows are usually at very wadeable levels. Many of the salmon do not enter the rivers to spawn until October. Most fish caught are adults and in full spawning colors. The nights are cool and the days quite often warm. Foliage is at its peak the first of the month making October a beautiful time of season with very little fishing pressure.
A number of the small local ponds remain open through the entire month of October. Mountain View, Prong, Sawyer and Shadow Ponds are open in October still allowing you to keep fish. Remember to consult the law book for these special extended season regulations.
Most of the East Outlet of the Kennebec closes on October 31st because of spawning activity in the lower river but the half mile section between the dam and the yellow posts located at the Beach Pool remains open throughout the winter, strictly catch and release. Fishing can remain good well into December. By the end of December adult fish leave the river and return to the lake and begin feeding on their favorite food, smelt. There are always some brook trout and salmon that winter over in the upper stretch that remains open.
When is the best time to fish the rivers ?
Depending on the type of fishing you prefer the entire season can be quite productive. Early season fishing during May is streamer and nymphing time. Sinking lines and smelt imitations dominate. Stonefly nymphs as well as small mayfly and caddis nymphs also work well when fished along the bottom. Remember until the bugs start hatching the fish are not looking to the surface for food. Getting your fly well below the surface is essential. You’ll catch mostly bigger adult fish at this time but not the numbers that you can catch once the hatches begin.
Mayfly hatches start the end of May or the first week of June, a bit earlier if the water warms sooner. Caddis hatches kick in around mid-June with major hatches continuing through July. Mid-June through mid-July being quite reliable dry fly action with mid-day hatches common. August is stonefly and terrestrial season. In the heat of the summer you may want to get up early and work a bit harder to catch fish but fishing holds up especially on the tail water fisheries.
Smallmouth bass are found in a Moosehead and Brassua Lakes, Prong and Indian Ponds and the West Outlet of the Kennebec River. Fishing for smallmouth generally holds up well through July.
September is spawning season with the biggest fish of the season entering the rivers prior to their October & November spawn. Water flows are usually increased just after Labor Day weekend to attract fish into the rivers. We traditionally use large attractor streamer patterns in the fall. Spawning fish do not feed often and the brighter flies invade their guarded territory provoking aggressive strikes. Nymphing can also be very productive in the fall especially during low water conditions. After trout and salmon have been in the river for a while they begin to pick at nymphs.
When is the best time to fish area trout ponds ?
As soon as the ice goes out, usually the beginning of May, fish get quite active around the shoreline and at the mouth of streams where smelt congregate to spawn. Larger predatory nymphs such as dragon and damsel flies roam the shallows warmed by the sun. Full sinking or sink-tip lines are the order of the day.
As the water begins to warm just a little midge hatches take place. Midges, difficult to figure out at times, can be very productive surface action before the mayfly hatches kick in.
As June arrives so do the mayfly hatches. Mid-day hatches are common with spinner falls just at dark. Banker’s hours are in season. When July approaches Maine’s favorite Green Drake (Hex) hatches start and continue till mid-July. These monster mayflies provide the best chance of the season to catch the biggest trout on dries. These are late day hatches so bring your headlamp and plan on staying until well after sunset.
The heat of the summer requires locating and nymphing the spring holes. At this time of season the fish are stacked in the cool spring water entering from the bottom of the pond. A spring hole may not be any bigger than your living room but it holds the majority of the pond trout. Find it and you may have a summer day like none you’ve ever had before.
Once cooler nights begin in September trout leave spring holes very hungry. You probably won’t see much in the way of hatches or any surface feeding but trout cruise the pond searching for anything to eat. Use attractor patterns like a Royal Wulff or Micky Finn streamer on your dry line. Twitch them on or just below the surface and cruising brookies will probably find and eat them.
What are the rivers in the region ?
East Outlet of the Kennebec – 3 miles of remote water starting at Moosehead Lake flowing into Indian Pond, the first impoundment on the Kennebec. A dirt road follows the north side for about a mile then it’s on foot the rest of the way. Fly Fishing Only.
West Outlet of the Kennebec – The small neighbor to the East Outlet closer to Rockwood flowing over eight miles from Moosehead Lake into Indian Pond on the Kennebec. It provides a good early season trout and landlocked salmon fishery in the upper stretches and a wonderful warm water species fishery during the summer months throughout.
Moose River – A 2 mile tailwater fishery flowing from Brassua Lake into Moosehead Lake in the township of Rockwood.
Roach River – 6 miles of catch & release water flowing from First Roach Pond, in Kokadjo through very remote country till it dumps into Spencer Bay on Moosehead Lake. A very small river that provides the opportunity to catch big salmon and brook trout on 3-4 weight rods. What could be better? Fly Fishing Only.
West Branch of the Penobscot below Ripogenous Dam – One of the finest tailwater, landlocked salmon rivers in the northeast holding all wild fish that often grow to trophy size. It’s big water that holds big fish. Catch & release section, fly fishing only section and artificial lures only section.
Almost any of the small streams in the region will hold a wild brook trout fishery. Take a walk back a bit away from the road past the foot prints and you maybe pleasantly surprised. Find a beaver flowage and pan sized trout action could last all day.
What about some ponds ?
There are countless trout ponds in the Moosehead Lake Region. Some are easy access from the road and also easy access for your canoe or kayak, while others are remote hike in ponds that are perfect for the float tube fisherman. A good map is a must. The Maine Atlas & Gazetteer by DeLorme Publishing is your ticket to locating Maine’s remote ponds. The Maine Atlas is a detailed map of Maine’s extensive logging road system.
Special regulations put in place on many ponds years ago have insured quality fishing will remain on our remote ponds.
What are the current water flows
For water flow information and daily dam releases on the Penobscot River Drainage call 1-888-323-4341.
For water flow information and daily dam releases on the Kennebec River Drainage call 1-800-557-3569.
If you have a connection this is the place to go
You can always call us at 207-695-2266. Although we have no influence over water flows and can never guarantee flows will not change without notice we can tell you if a river is wadeable or not.
The staff at the Maine Guide Fly Shop is very knowledgeable in the ways of the trout, salmon and smallmouth. We will always try to help you in any way we can. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have.