September 22, 2018
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Want to do some river fishing in September? Here’s some info you’ll need

John Holyoke | BDN
John Holyoke | BDN
An angler fishes the Roach River in Kokadjo, Maine, in late September 2015.
By John Holyoke, BDN Staff

After the dog days of summer end and the state’s flowing water begins to cool back down, anglers who target those rivers and streams often head to their favorite spots and enjoy some of the most enjoyable fishing of the year.

Mosquitoes and black flies aren’t biting, the air gets crisper, and the fish are often cooperative.

But anglers also know that conditions can vary in the state’s rivers and streams, especially those where the flows are controlled by dams.

Tim Obrey, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s regional fisheries biologist in Greenville, recently passed along in a fishing report a few tips for those who are considering fishing waters in the Moosehead Lake region in September.

Here’s what you might expect on various waters, according to Obrey:

— Roach River: “We plan to release water starting Sept. 4. We will likely release around 200 [cubic feet per second] to start, then increase the flow again around the middle of the month,” Obrey wrote. “We will be operating the weir on the lower end of the river this year to monitor the run of wild brook trout and salmon. We welcome the public to check it out, but please do not touch any of the gear. The fish can get stressed, so we ask that you stay back away from the weir. We usually tend the weir on a M-W-F schedule, and we get to the site around 9:30 a.m.”

— Moose River: “Brookfield will release 1,200 cfs starting on Sept. 5. This should be a very good fishing flow. They may increase the flow toward the end of the month if there is enough storage in Brassua Lake,” Obrey wrote.

— East Outlet: “The flow will likely be a little lower for the remainder of August as Brookfield attempts to hold Moosehead Lake stable through Labor Day. Flows will increase after the holiday,” Obrey wrote. “I’m not sure of the exact flow, but with 1,200 cfs coming in from the Moose River and the annual plan to get Moosehead Lake down to a low elevation before the end of October, the flows should be very good for fishing.”

— West Branch of the Penobscot below Seboomook (Foxhole area): “We haven’t set the flow yet for the month of September, but based on preliminary comments, the flow will likely be around 750 cfs,” Obrey wrote. “This is lower than the optimum for fishing and boating. We like to have the flow closer to 1,000 cfs, but it has been dry and Brookfield is limited by their license to maintain certain lake elevations. Pray for more rain!”

— Wilson Stream: “We plan to begin the release at Wilson Pond on Sept. 5,” Obrey wrote. “It is important to put flow into the stream early in September to help the wild salmon at Sebec Lake make their spawning journey over Earley’s Falls. It is spectacular to see these fish jumping at the falls in September. If you’re interested, you can see it for yourself by traveling to Willimantic and standing on the ledge outcrop where the stream drops into Sebec Lake. [Featured above is] a link to some video I shot a few years ago.”

If you’re interested in watching a similar scene play out this year, Obrey has some advice.

“[The spawning run] really gets cranked up the last two weeks of September, and it’s over by the first week of October, most years,” Obrey said in an email. “Also, there is more activity late in the afternoon/close to sunset.”

The water flow can be raised to draw fish into the stream, and then lowered to make the trip upstream a bit easier. But Obrey said the fish you see jumping into the air in the video aren’t the ones others should emulate.

“What is very interesting is that fact that none of the jumping salmon actually make it over the falls. The successful salmon actually swim up the [approximately] 4 ft vertical flume of water in the center of the falls, never breaking the surface. It is incredible to watch,” Obrey wrote. “Only a small percentage of the fish actually make it up the falls each year, and it is very stressful. I’m certain there is a high rate of mortality associated with the spawning run.”

If you’re interested in checking out the activity, Obrey said it’s important to be careful when getting close to the water.

“Tell your readers to watch their footing,” he said. “The ledges can be slippery when they are wet.”

And finally, Obrey said the recent lack of rain has taken its toll on local waters. First Roach Pond, for instance, dropped 3½ inches in just a week, while the Roach River was maintained at its minimum allowable flow.

“So, when these dams start to release water, you can expect the impoundments to drop quickly unless there is rain,” Obrey wrote. “So please plan accordingly if you have docks or boats that need to come out of the water for the winter.”

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