Fish size, quality appear to be good

Posted May 01, 2009, at 6:48 p.m.

Editor’s note: Open-water fishing season is under way, and this week, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife previews Region F, Penobscot County. For previous fishing previews, from Regions A-E, and to purchase a fishing license, visit www.mefishwildlife.com.

Last week’s wind and rain, followed by the fantastically warm weather earlier in the week, has caused most of the lakes in Region F to shed their winter ice cover. In fact, many of the lakes in central Penobscot County have been ice-free for more than a week.

The ice at East Grand Lake in northern Washington County was breaking up last Thursday, and the entire lake should be ice-free by now. East Musquash Lake and the other lakes along Route 6 east of Lincoln have been ice-free for more than a week. The ice went out of Schoodic last Tuesday and Cold Stream Pond a week and half ago.

The next month is prime time for spring fishing for salmon, trout and togue as the lakes will have “turned over,” — surface water temperatures will have warmed and the fish will be active and in the mood for a feast.

Region F offers many opportunities when it comes to cold water fishing. Productive salmon waters in central Maine include the Jo-Marys (Upper, Middle and Lower), Millinocket Lake, and the Pemadumcook chain of lakes all just north and west of the town of Millinocket.

Pleasant Lake in Island Falls and Deering Lake in Weston both have the reputation of producing some of the fattest salmon in Region F. The salmon at East Grand Lake in Danforth and Weston showed improvement during this last winter’s ice fishing season in terms of size quality and catch rates, and we expect this trend to continue through the 2009 open-water fishing season.

Traditional salmon lakes east of the town of Lincoln include East Musquash Lake, Pleasant Lake (in Kossuth), Junior Lake and Lower and Upper Sysladobsis (Dobsie) lakes, which can all be accessed from Route 6 running east from Lincoln to Topsfield.

West, Duck, Spring and Nicatous lakes, all east of the town of Burlington, produce healthy salmon with the occasional fish tipping the scales at more than 4 pounds.

Finally, anglers have a legitimate chance of catching trophy-sized salmon (over 5 pounds) at Schoodic Lake and Cold Stream Pond. In recent years, the size and quality of salmon at both of these waters has responded exceptionally to reduced stocking rates.

Some of the lake trout waters in this region include Millinocket, Ambajesus, Pemadumcook, Pleasant Lake (in Kossuth), Lower Jo-Mary, and 1st and 3rd Debsconeag Lakes, Schoodic Lake and Cold Stream Pond.

Matagamon Lake continues to produce some decent togue, however in recent years the growth rate has declined, prompting some changes in our management, including liberalizing the size and bag limit (3 fish, 14 inches, only one over 18 inches), and we have canceled the stocking of togue for several years until we see an improvement in the growth trend. We encourage anglers to keep these smaller togue, as thinning some of the stock-piled fish from the lake will help us meet our management goals.

Brook trout opportunities in Region F are plentiful both in streams and in lakes and ponds (too many to name), offering fishing over both stocked and wild populations of fish. Nearly 30,000 spring yearling brook trout ranging in size from 8-10 inches will be stocked in the region’s waters this spring. Also, holdover fall yearling brook trout (12-16 inches) as well as surplus brood fish (16-18 inches) stocked out in fall of 2008 provide an added bonus to anglers lucky enough to coax one into biting.

Finally, as always, the fisheries and hatchery staff here in Enfield want to make special mention of the “kids only” waters (under the age of 15) in the region. In the next few weeks, Pickerel Pond on the Stud Mill Road near Old Town, the “Fire Pond” in Burlington, Hannington Pond in Reed Plantation, Giles Pond in Patten, Rock Crusher Pond in Island Falls, a small section of Mattagodus Stream in Springfield, Rocky Brook in Lincoln, and a small section of Cold Stream in Enfield will all be stocked with spring yearling brook trout. Some of these waters may also receive larger surplus or retired brood fish, some weighing nearly 4 pounds.

You can find updates as to when the waters are stocked by visiting the DIF&W Web site at: www.maine.gov/ifw/fishing/reports/stocking/index.htm.

Put the spring cleaning chores aside for an afternoon and take the kids fishing.

— RICHARD DILL, REGIONAL FISHERIES BIOLOGIST, ENFIELD

Fishing regulations reminder

The Open Water Fishing Regulations booklet that you used last year is “good” through March 31, 2010. If you’ve misplaced it, you can pick up another one at DIF&W in Augusta or at most licensing agents.

It would be a good idea to review the law book before you head out to your favorite water. General law regulations are found on Page 8, but don’t forget many waters have regulations that depart from the general law. Check to see if the body of water you will be fishing is listed under the appropriate county heading. If it is listed, it will be followed by the special regulations that apply to that water. Remember, there were numerous changes specific to individual waters recently, so check the body of water you will be fishing.

— DENNIS MCNEISH, FISHERIES MANAGEMENT SUPERVISOR, AUGUSTA

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