May 24, 2018
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High water producing fresh run of fish in rivers

By John Holyoke, BDN Staff

Returning to Maine after a week on a long-awaited Quebec fishing adventure, it quickly became apparent that the wet weather that had been plaguing us before our departure hadn’t abated a bit.

Every piece of flowing water was high. Much of it was brown. Some of it was raging. And though it was sunny — OK, nearly sunny — when we arrived in Jackman, we didn’t have to drive very far before it started raining again.

At the Moose River in Rockwood, and at the East Outlet of the Kennebec, and at the Piscataquis in Guilford and Dover-Foxcroft, the story was the same as it had been in Canada.

Water, water, everywhere.

Luckily, that’s not necessarily bad news.

At least that’s the word from Dan Legere of Greenville’s Maine Guide Fly Shop.

Legere sends out periodic e-mail fishing reports, and according to his July missive, some anglers are experiencing fantastic fishing right now … as long as they don’t mind getting a little soggy.

Legere spends a ton of time on flowing water, and when he gives fishing tips, I have found it’s best to listen closely.

Here’s some of what the personable guide had to say in his most recent report:

“The high water made some of the rivers unfishable, but the good news is all that water has caused a fresh run of fish in the Moose, East Outlet and the Roach [rivers],” Legere wrote.

On one of the region’s most popular rivers, the fish aren’t being too discriminating, Legere reported.

“Word has it the East Outlet is full of fish again and they are taking everything: streamers, nymphs and dries,” Legere wrote. “When high water occurs in summer on any of our rivers another crop of salmon will enter a river. Salmon love current and when flow increases drastically a certain number of adult salmon make a run up-river and stay in the river ’til the heat of summer runs them out.”

In addition, Legere said heavy rain can flush fish from Moosehead Lake into the East Outlet.

The result, for those hardy enough to challenge the high water? Great fishing.

“There have been folks reporting 20-fish mornings below the East Outlet Dam even with the very high water,” he wrote.

Lac Barbel tales upcoming

As I mentioned more than a week ago (and as I hinted at earlier in this column), I’m back in town after spending a week in the former mining town of Gagnon, Quebec.

Four of us made the trip north to visit Eddington’s Tim Lander, who owns a camp on Lac Barbel.

Reaching camp requires a 750-mile drive that typically takes 16 or 17 hours (depending on how many tires you blow or what kind of engine trouble you encounter on the way up Route 389 from the St. Lawrence Seaway).

During the round trip, we did have engine trouble. We did blow a tire. We did find the bugs a bit blood-thirsty. And we did, eventually, catch more than a few fish.

As you might expect, I’ve got a few tales to tell after our weeklong expedition, and took a few photos that might be worth sharing.

Later this week I’ll tell you more about our trip into the Quebec woods.

Stay tuned.

Salmon count mounting

After returning from vacation, I was curious to see how the Penobscot River salmon run was faring.

Luckily, I had a report in my e-mail inbox that partially answered my question.

Oliver Cox, a fisheries biologist for the Maine Department of Marine Resources’ Bureau of Sea-Run Fisheries and Habitat, had checked in June 29 with his regular report, and the news was good.

As of June 28, 1,444 Atlantic salmon had been trapped at the Veazie Dam, according to Cox. On the same date a year ago, the total was 1,668. Though the information’s now more than a week old, it was still interesting. Cox said daily counts ranged from seven to 94 fish. Last year’s highest daily total was 89, and the Veazie Dam hadn’t had a busier day that June 28 in six years.

For the record, the all-time recorded daily high came on June 28, 1990, when an amazing 252 salmon were trapped at Veazie Dam.

As it turns out, reading Cox’s week-old report made me even more curious. And since he mentioned another report wouldn’t be forthcoming until the middle of this week, I headed to Veazie to check the current total myself.

As of noontime Monday, the year-to-date total had reached 1,698 salmon, including 21 trapped that morning.

To put that number in perspective, consider this: If the run stalled and no further fish return this year, the current total of 1,698 would still mark the third-highest seasonal total over the past 17 years. Only 2008 (2,115) and 1996 (2,044) are higher.

While nobody knows how long the run of salmon will last, one thing’s certain: If the numbers do diminish, it surely won’t be due to a lack of water.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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