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Fishing Report: Spectacular Scenery and Fish Aplenty

September 24, 2008 - Region A – Southwestern Maine
Fall fishing season is here, and it is certainly one of my favorite times of the year to get out there and wet a line. There’s nothing like fishing for landlocked salmon and brookies on a cool, crisp fall morning, while enjoying the striking reds, oranges and yellows of the surrounding foliage.

Many anglers think the department’s annual stocking season is over by late spring, and for the most part they are correct. However, southern Maine also has a relatively large fall stocking program where many of our rivers, streams, lakes and ponds are stocked with larger sized trout and salmon. The following rivers have good fall stocking programs and extended fall fishing seasons that make them a popular choice among local anglers: the Presumpscot River (Route 35 area in Windham), the Saco River (below Skelton and Bar Mills Dams), and the Royal River (below Elm Street in Yarmouth). In addition, don’t forget to give the sea-run brown trout rivers (Ogunquit, Mousam, and Salmon Falls) in York County a try.

The Crooked River is a good bet for quality landlocked salmon in a riverine setting, but be prepared to have some fishless days. The Crooked is more than 60 miles long, and the salmon can quickly disperse in this large river system, which can make for some spotty fishing. On the other hand, you’ll have an opportunity to catch some decent 3- to 5-pound salmon!

Many of our lakes and ponds also receive fall stockings, and most are open until the end of October or even as late as the end of November. Check out last year’s stocking report at www.maine.gov/ifw to get an idea where we typically plant fall-stocked fish.

Fall anglers have the first crack at these fall stocked beauties, which typically run in the 12- to 15-inch range for fall yearlings and up to several pounds for the brood fish. Although few anglers take advantage of the extended seasons, those hard-core anglers who do have reported some great days of fishing.

Regional Fisheries and Wildlife staff, as well as volunteers from the Town of Denmark, have completed a new carry-in access site to Pleasant Pond. Pleasant Pond is a shallow, weedy 239-acre water located in Brownfield, Denmark and Fryeburg.

The pond offers great opportunities for warmwater fishing, waterfowl hunting, canoeing/kayaking, and wildlife viewing. Previously, the only way for the public to access the pond was by paddling up the outlet from the Saco River or via permissive trespass over private property.

The recreation committee at the town of Denmark reminded us that our wildlife management area had more than 1,000 feet of frontage on the pond, and requested MDIFW to develop some sort of carry-in access. This is an excellent example of how different organizations can come together to accomplish a meaningful and worthwhile project.

This is the last regional fishery write-up for the openwater season, but we’ll be back to keep you posted during the winter. In the meantime, our wildlife staff will be writing informative articles throughout the various fall hunting seasons. – James Pellerin, Assistant fishery biologist, Gray

Region B – Central Maine
Bass will start to concentrate and begin to seek out their wintering grounds as water temperatures begin to cool. Both species of bass will over-winter in habitat that consists of abrupt drop-offs and rocky shoals at desirable depths. While bass seek out these wintering refuges their need for food is crucial to survive the long Maine winter.

Although bass can become more lethargic as the cooling process extends into the winter, bass will not pass up an easy meal, particularly when small jigs are retrieved very slowly around these wintering grounds.

Other warm water game fish like perch and crappie will also be preparing for winter. These species can be seen in schools, feeding on or near the surface, particularly during evening when the winds die down.

Try casting small spinners and jigs towards these schools of fish when seen feeding on the surface.

Other good spots that should not be overlooked would consist of slow-moving water between two bodies of water usually consistent with some type of crossings or bridge.

Trout and salmon will begin to seek inlets and outlets of lakes and ponds for the fall spawn. Moving water can be the trigger to success for fall salmonid fishing.

Small or large plugs, spoons and flies retrieved in a jerky motion will normally induce a salmonid to take.

Trolling or casting at the mouths of any brook or stream that enters into a lake or pond will also increase your chances for success. – Scott Davis, fisheries biologist specialist, Sidney

Region C – Down East
As stream and brook water temperatures decline, brook trout will disperse from their spring-influenced summer refuge areas and take up residence in feeding slots all through some of our best trout streams.

From now until the end of the month is the optimum time to take advantage of actively feeding trout adorned in their beautiful spawning colors. Remember that most of our rivers, brooks and streams close to fishing after Sept. 30 to protect spawning trout and salmon. Until then, artificial lures may be used, and I recommend the following terminal tackle for terrific fall brook trout action:

For fly-fishing anglers, it’s hard to beat the black ghost and marabou muddler streamer flies. For spin fishermen, some of the best lures I have found are the rainbow or copper-colored phoebe and the yellow and black Panther Martin spinner.

Here are the waters I recommend for terrific fall brook trout fishing: Old Stream – T 31 MD; Pleasant River – Deblois; Mopang Stream – T 24 MD; Crooked River – T 30 MD; Tomah Stream – Waite; and Chandler River – Jonesboro.

We hope you are able to get out and enjoy this time of year. Good luck and be safe! – Greg Burr, Assistant fisheries biologist, Jonesboro

Region D – Western Mountains
The last two weeks of September provide some of the best fishing of the year. Temperatures are cool, there are few biting bugs to contend with and the scenery is spectacular.

But, best of all, salmon and trout respond to the cooler temperatures with increased activity in preparation for their spawning runs. They frequently congregate at the mouths of streams, waiting for a flush of water to induce them to move upstream.

It’s not the time of year to harvest many of these fish, as their true value is in reproduction. That fact is reflected in regulations which limit the number kept or restrict fishing to catch and release only. Nonetheless, anglers have a great time catching and releasing these fish, which tend to be highly colored and full of fight.

And so the season changes for us also. During the summer much of our sampling is done by gillnet; more recently we have been electrofishing streams to make annual comparisons of population abundance.

Not surprisingly, with several good water years behind us, fish populations in streams are thriving.

Soon we’ll be turning our efforts to fall trapnetting, wherein we’re able to sample large numbers of trout and salmon, collect our information, and release them unharmed. This fall we plan to work on Rangeley Lake, the Richardson Lakes, Varnum Pond in Temple, and Little Jim Pond in Jim Pond Township. – Forrest Bonney, fisheries biologist, Strong

Region E – Mooseshead Lake
In 2005, the Legislature proposed and the department supported the designation of the brook trout as one of Maine’s heritage fish. We identified 305 heritage waters (often called “A” list waters), i.e. ponds supporting principal fisheries for brook trout but having no record of stocking. Legislation was enacted to provide special protection for these unique waters.

Later, the department identified nearly 300 additional waters that support self-sustaining populations of brook trout that had been stocked but not within the past 25 years (called “B” list waters). The fisheries division recognized the value of this latter resource by developing through policy an appropriate level of protection for “B” list waters.

Based on this research it was determined that the Moosehead Region has 144 trout waters that fall into the “A” category and 99 that are on the “B” list. Many of these ponds are zoned remote, and some have never been surveyed by a biologist.

As a science-based resource agency, we are actively involved in revising/updating our data to provide the public with the most accurate picture we can and to provide the basis for sound fisheries management.

And so, over the past two summers we have surveyed 24 ponds in Region E, of which 17 were on the A or B lists. We will continue to monitor these waters in an effort to better manage this important resource. – Jeff Bagley, assistant fisheries biologist, Greenville

Region F – Penobscot
Cooler nights and fall rains mean lake temperatures are coming down, and fish are moving into shallower water to feed and prepare for fall spawning. Fishing for landlocked salmon and brook trout in September can be as good as early-season fishing just after ice-out.

The difference is the fall fish should be in prime condition, having fattened up over the summer on smelt and other forage.

Male salmon and brook trout are on full display with hooked jaws and brilliant colors as they are preparing for the fall spawning season, and should you be lucky enough to hook into one, be ready to hang on for they are full of vigor this time of year.

Salmon lakes around the Penobscot Region worth a try this fall include East Grand, East Musquash, Lower Sysladobsis, Junior, Duck, West, Schoodic, Pleasant (Island Falls), Matagamon Lakes, and Cold Stream Pond.

Brook trout waters are spread throughout the region; however, the majority are in upper third of Penobscot County, especially in and around Baxter State Park.

Good luck this fall – before you know it we’ll be pulling snowmobiles out getting ready for the first ice-fishing trip of the year. – Richard Dill, fisheries biologist, Enfield

Region G – Aroostook County
Nadeau Lake, Fort Fairfield, was surveyed on Aug. 29 by biologists from the Ashland Headquarters. What was unique for this survey was that Nadeau hasn’t been a lake since 1970. In 2007, 37 years after the lake was drained for mining, the department built an outlet dam restoring the historic water level.

This effort culminated seven years of work by the department to improve trout habitat and create a wild brook trout fishery in eastern Aroostook County.

In 2001, a 33-acre parcel was purchased adjacent to the lake for a future public access; later that year, an access road, concrete boat ramp and parking area was constructed on the new property.

Over the next several years several habitat improvement projects, funded in part by Trout Unlimited, Trout and Salmon Foundation, Maine DEP and the Sport Fish Restoration Fund were completed with the goal of enhancing brook trout production.

During dam construction in 2007, the low water provided ideal conditions for a chemical reclamation, a process of applying the organic compound rotenone to remove all fishes. The reclamation removed brown bullhead, white sucker, and several minnow species that would compete with brook trout for food.

During the fall of 2007, as the lake was filling behind the new dam, the department transferred 310 wild brook trout from a nearby waterway. These trout will be the stock from which to build a new population of wild trout at Nadeau Lake. These trout were mostly 1-year-old or less, averaged 3.4 inches in length and weighed less than half an ounce.

During our most recent survey, we were able to sample 20 of these trout and found that growth, as expected, was extremely good. The trout had increased in length to 7-12 inches (average, 9.7) and increased in weight to over 6 ounces. Because of the fast growth, all trout that we observed were sexually mature, indicating that they will spawn in 2008, good news for our efforts to establish a wild population.

Contrary to what some anglers think, Nadeau Lake is open to fishing at this time. While we try to establish a new trout population, regulations are conservative (two trout daily bag limit), and to maintain high quality habitat in the future, the use or possession of live fish as bait is not allowed.

Anglers wishing to fish from a boat will find ample parking and a concrete ramp, but a 10-horsepower restriction is in effect; those anglers fishing from shore will find a convenient bank angling area. – Frank O. Frost, assistant fisheries biologist, Ashland

September 18, 2008
This Fishing Report is written by biologists at the Maine Department of
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and is produced bi-weekly during summer
months. For more information about fishing in Maine, visit www.mefishwildlife.com.


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