Deeper, cool water holding fish after hot weather

An angler tries his luck on the West Branch of the Penobscot River near Abol Bridge recently.
An angler tries his luck on the West Branch of the Penobscot River near Abol Bridge recently. Buy Photo
Posted Aug. 02, 2013, at 12:17 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife fisheries biologists are preparing fishing reports that may help anglers in the weeks ahead. Here’s the report that the DIF&W released last week.

Moosehead region

Recent hot weather has cooled down trout and salmon fishing in the Moosehead Lake area. Early July generally means a big hex hatch, but DIF&W fisheries biologist Tim Obrey said that this year the hex hatch seemed a little off, according to reports from area anglers. Obrey suggested trying local rivers for trout and salmon.

“Water levels are good, and the fishing is still pretty good. The East Outlet and the West Branch should still have some good fishing,” said Obrey. Obrey noted that the caddis hatch has been strong on the West Branch, with anglers having the most luck in the evening.

Moosehead Lake experienced an excellent spring with good catches of trout and salmon, and several large brook trout. Right now, however, if you want to fish the lake, you need the equipment to get down deep. According to Obrey, trout and salmon are cooling off in deeper depths between 35 and 65 feet.

Penobscot region

While some anglers are experiencing the midsummer doldrums, DIF&W fisheries biologist Nels Kramer says anglers on East Grand Lake are still experiencing a lot of success.

“I’ve talked with the district wardens there, and for those who are fishing deep, they are still catching quite a few salmon in the 18- to 20-inch range,” said Kramer. Kramer added that they are even catching some salmon up to 23 inches.

Bass fishing on the Penobscot is picking up, but anglers need to be aware of changing water levels. The Veazie Dam was breached on Monday, lowering water levels in that section, and water levels behind the Mattaseunk Dam in Medway have been lowered to facilitate repairs on the dam.

“There’s a lot of water downstream — The bass may be confused but they still need to eat,” said Kramer.

Aroostook region

While the green drake hatch is over, recent rains and cooler weather have dropped water temperatures in the region, and according to DIF&W fisheries biologist Frank Frost, trout are biting again.

“On Monday, we had one river that dropped 16 degrees,” said Frost, who added that with two nights of predicted nighttime lows in the 40s, river fishing should bounce right back.

Cooler tributaries will hold the most fish, and Frost recommended streams such that flow into the Aroostook such as the Mooseleuk and Munsungan as possible fishing destinations.

“Trout hold in the cooler water, but once it cools off, they will spread out,” says Frost, who added that water levels have been high much of the summer, and with the midweek rain last week, that trend will continue.

Central Maine region

DIF&W fisheries biologists are busy on the upper Kennebec River, taking a closer look at the section of river between Harris Station Dam and Wyman Dam.

“We are up there getting a better understanding of the fish population in that section, looking at the age and growth of fish in that segment of the river,” said DIF&W fisheries biologist Jason Seiders. To capture fish, biologists use an electro-fishing boat that sends pulses of electricity into the water, temporarily stunning fish, which allows biologists to net them. They are weighed and measured, then released.

Seiders said they saw several anglers fishing that section, and that the fishing was “fantastic.” The fish surveys revealed quite a few salmon in the 16- to 19-inch range.

“Unfortunately, bass numbers are also relatively high,” said Seiders, who reminds anglers that there is no size or bag limit on bass in that section, and anglers can keep as many bass as they want. Removal of bass from that section will help salmon and trout populations, and anglers who like to keep bass to eat would be wise to try this section of river as well.

Anglers may want to float that section of river in a canoe. Put in at the ball field just over the Route 201 bridge in The Forks and you can take out at the Hole in the Wall near Northern Outdoors on Route 201. This segment is approximately 5 miles in length.

Down East region

This time of year, anglers will have the most success chasing warm-water fish such as pickerel, bass and white perch, according to Greg Burr, DIF&W fisheries biologist in Jonesboro. He recommends fishing the edges of weed beds and lily pads for pickerel and largemouth bass, and the drop-offs and deep rocks for smallmouth bass.

White perch are schooling and anglers may find them nearly any time of day. If you are looking for some perch waters for a fish fry, in Washington County try Second Gardner Lake in Marion, Rocky Lake in Township 19, Third Machias Lake in Township 43, Big Lake in Greenlaw Chopping Township, and the Grand Falls Flowage in Princeton.

In Hancock County, head out to Toddy Pond in Orland, Georges Pond in Franklin, and Webb Pond and Abrams Pond in Eastbrook.

This time of year, fishing for salmon and trout is a little more difficult, but the fish are still there, just deeper. Burr recommends using use lead line, downriggers or still fishing to get down below the thermocline, somewhere between 25 and 40 feet.

Rangeley Lakes region

DIF&W Fisheries biologist Bobby Van Riper has noticed more anglers on the region’s rivers this year, and said he is receiving good reports about the fishing in these rivers.

“Fishing pressure seems to be up, and we are getting rave reviews on the fishing. The Rapid, Magalloway, and Kennebago have been superb at times, but with the warm-up we’ve had, it is starting to slow down,” said Van Riper.

For those willing to hike or bike a bit to access a fishing spot, Van Riper suggests a trip into Upper Dam on Richardson Lake. As the weather warms up, trout seek out the deep pool at Upper Dam. Anglers should be aware that there is a different water flow pattern at the dam as repairs continue on the dam.

Rangeley Region Fisheries biologists will be visiting Moxie Pond next week to do a bass evaluation. Bass were illegally introduced into the pond in 1998, and have now spread into other ponds in the watershed.

“It’s one of the unintended consequences of illegal introductions. There are a bunch of little ponds that were nice brook trout ponds, but now have bass,” said Van Riper, who noted that bass have moved through tributaries and have colonized other ponds that flow into Moxie.

Sebago Lakes region

Thanks to last week’s scorching weather, surface water temperatures in the Sebago Lake area are unusually warm, according to regional fisheries biologist Francis Brautigam, a full two to three weeks ahead of where we usually are.

“I was on Sebago Lake earlier this week, and at 10:30 a.m., the surface water temperature was 79.8 degrees. I have never seen it that warm,” said Brautigam, who added that a local angler fishing Norway Lake reported that waterway reached the 80 degree mark.

Cold-water fish such as trout and salmon don’t stand much of a chance with prolonged exposure in water temps near 80, so Brautigam reminds anglers to play and release fish as quickly as possible, keep the fish in the water as you release it, and be careful handling and releasing the fish.

With lake and pond temperatures above average, now is a good time for brook and stream fishing for trout. Recent rains mean flows are good for fishing, as fish will move when water levels increase. Since many of these small streams are fed by groundwater, they also are not heavily influenced by the temperatures spikes we experienced last week.

 

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