Welcome to the Mainely Flyfishing website, your source for guiding, instruction, fly fishing information, books, videos, and more. My name is Lou Zambello and I am a guide, instructor, writer, speaker, and columnist. Please explore this site or email me to learn more.

October continues summer weather

As I write this on October 15, I just got back from Upper Dam, where I fished in a teeshirt because it was 70 degrees. The water temperature…58 degrees…much warmer than expected for this time of year. Anybody still doubt our climate is changing?

After a warm and dry September (again), some trout and salmon finally started moving up rivers and streams at the very end of the month. Fishing turned on in Kennebago River for example on the last two days of the season as water temperatures finally dropped and water was released from the dam.

I never guide the last day of the season, reserving that time to fish with friends or family. I got up at 0-dark-30 to have a few hours on the Kennebago to myself. At a pool by the name of Green Island, I fished uneventfully and unsuccessfully as the light slowly brightened on a cloudy day. On my last cast before heading home for a very late breakfast and maybe a nap, I sleepily cast a prince nymph as  far across the pool as I could in order to tighten the line on the reel in an orderly fashion. I was abruptly shocked awake by a strong take. The female salmon that I eventually landed turned out to be the largest I have ever landed on Kennebago – somewhere around five pounds, certainly no less. Tough to get any sort of photo by yourself if you don’t want to put the fish on dry land but you get the idea of his size given that I have big- can palm a basketball – hands…IMG_1285Later on in the afternoon, in some sort of cosmic karma balancing, my wife caught the largest landlocked in her life on the exact same prince nymph fly. IMG_4688

With water temperatures still relatively warm, for waters that are still open, I assume that lake and pond fishing will stay good until the end of the month as will river fishing  where there is sufficient water.

 

Last week of the season

Another year and another hot and droughty September. Last weekend was ridiculous with very low water, air temps in the 80’s during the day and 60’s at night and water temps hitting 70. I think that there has only been several days of rain in the last four months.

It was sad to see schools of brook trout trapped when they came up rivers during the brief cold and rain of early September and then got hung up. I saw small pools in Kennebago, South Bog Stream, and others with hundreds of mature brook trout who were being harassed by anglers, mink, otter, and predatory birds.

Cold weather is coming so maybe the last two days of September will offer okay fishing. My friends and I fished hard for several days last weekend and didn’t catch a single fish over six inches..

On a more positive note, here are a few awesome pics from the season…

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My daughter fishing during the rain in early September without me. Not the best way to hold the fish but she had never caught a fish this big and it was a good learning experience. The photo is a little misleading – she is not holding the jaw.

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Brookie has great camouflage from above to thwart predatory birds as you can see after the release of this fish.

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But brilliant to each other as they fight for spawning territory.

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9500 ft. alpine lake in sw Montana from my trip.

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My wife, Lindsey with nice cut from that lake.

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and a photo from our float on the middle fork of the Salmon River, Idaho in early September.

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Typical Middle Fork Cutthroat

 

Mid-September Fishing Report

Hello everyone,

Sorry for my tardy reporting but I just returned from two weeks in Idaho and Montana fishing. I know, I know, absolutely no simpathy from my readers and none expected. It was a great trip but we will cover that later.

In late August and early September, most of New England experienced cool temperatures, something we have not seen in several years. Night time  temps were down in the 30’s in Rangeley a few nights and water temps in rivers dropped into the 50’s. Several good rain storms raised the rivers. Trout and salmon started moving into the rivers early and fishing for big fish was good into the first week of September.

The weather pattern has now changed and no rain has fallen in a week or so and high temps are in the upper 70’s to the low 80’s. Water temps in rivers such as Kennebago have risen into the upper 60’s. Fishing has slowed way day down although selected and experienced anglers are catching some nice fish on nymphs.

Lake fishing has been good with the warm and calm water encouraging some insect hatches including terrestrials such as ants and grasshoppers. This has fish looking up while they stage in shallower water awaiting spawning time.

I will check in again soon, but in the meantime pray for rain and cooler temperatures to bring more fish into the rivers and streams.

Lou

The Eclipse

Eclipse

I happened to be on Kennebago Lake during the afternoon of August 21st, the time of the partial eclipse. It was very interesting to see how the natural world reacted. During the peak when the sun was over 50% covered, the sunlight was definitely muted, the sky and reflected light off the water, looked like it was an hour before sunset.

Mosquitos emerged, when ordinarily they wouldn’t have in the heat of an August afternoon. The lake was calm and small trout started rising regularly. Birds such as Merlins that would only be active in the evening this time of year took flight. Loons started calling. And then as the sun re-emerged, song birds started singing like it was early morning. All very interesting.

Here are a few  photos of us on the dock looking at the eclipse by manipulating a pair of binoculars so they would project two images of the sun onto a piece of white paper.

eclipse Eclipse

Looking ahead, early September rain and cool temperatures for the last few weeks should mean fall spawning runs are starting now.

Late July and early August Brings Summer Fishing Conditions

When water temperatures warm to the point that river and stream fishing slows down, surface activity on lakes and ponds only occurs right before dark or first thing in the morning, and stripers start moving out from tidal rivers to deeper in Casco Bay, it is time to change fly-fishing locales. or species. While I have been prioritizing stripers, they are disappearing from near shore haunts as the water warms with the warm humid nights that we have had.

People have the false perception that it is the hot days that warm the water. More often, it is when the nights stay warm and humid, and prevent waters from cooling, that create the largest upswing in water temperatures.

When larger waters warm above 68 degrees, I sometimes move to small mountain streams that stay cold all summer. Wading wet, even if the day is a scorcher, can mean numb feet after awhile.

Small stream summer fishing means a 3-weight (or smaller) rod, a handful of flies, wet wading, and lower expectations. The native and wild trout, and even the educated stockers are easily spooked and won’t be must larger than hand-sized.

But I love the carved granite plunge pools of New England; no two are ever exactly alike, and the quicksilver trout can appear as if from nowhere in liquid-crystal pools to grab my offering.

The below photos are of the upper Ammonoosuc River where on my last visit a half a dozen hand-sized rainbows rose to my Puterbaugh caddis. I didn’t land a larger rainbow from one of the pools below.IMG_0730 (2)

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July Rains Keep Fishing Productive

What a difference a year makes. Last year, July marked the continuation of a deepening drought with low and warming water. This year, almost continuous thundershowers have kept rivers so high as to be unfishable at times. This in turn has  brought landlocked salmon into many rivers from the lakes where they usually spend their summers. These salmon will  now stay in the rivers all summer. Some anglers believe that salmon only run up rivers in the spring and the fall, but during high water, salmon will enter and move up the rivers regardless of the calendar.For example, fresh salmon moved into both the Magalloway and the Kennebago Rivers in early July, and anglers who intercepted these fresh salmon did well.

My wife and I actually had a LLS double, both fighting leaping salmon at the same time, but not in the river. We were dry-fly fishing Kennebago Lake during the evening around July Fourth. We saw no sign of any of the drake hatch from the week before, but trout and salmon must have memories that last at least a week because for several nights, they were coming up and nailing a Quigley’s green drake cripple (emerger). The best trout was a fat 16 incher that gave quite a fight on my 3-weight rod.

I reluctantly left Kennebago because I wanted to try some striper fishing. The striper fishing  this year on the southern coast of Maine has been the best it has been in at least a decade, according to those that keep track of such things. Particularly plentiful are schoolies in the 10 to 16 inch range that can put up quite a fight on a 6-weight fly rod. My kids and wife wanted to striper fish as well so we had several family outtings and caught stripers in the New Meadows River while kayaking, the Scarborough Marsh (in a friends boat) and off Higgins Beach (wading). A green and white Clouser seemed to be the ticket, but then again, that seems to be all that I ever use, so  how would I know any different. I have caught a few larger fish on a fly-fishing type popper. Boy, do they slam that thing.

Here is a few photos with various family members holding up typical schoolie stripers. I highly recommend getting out there and giving it a try even if the water is warming up and the fish are getting a bit more difficult to come by.IMG_4469IMG_0996 (2)IMG_0965

Fishing Action Everywhere

Hello everyone,

Sorry for the length of time between posts. How time flies when one is balancing fishing and work.

Late June was a month of weather contrasts, and how good the fishing was depended on what hour you were on the water on any particular day. It could be hot and humid part of the day, then pouring rain,  followed by a cold night and the next day. It led to frequent closet rummaging: Shorts to fleece, back to shorts, and then complete bug- coverage apparel as the little beasties swarmed. Often streams and rivers were too high to fish and ponds or lakes were the best or only options

The brown drake and green drake hatches on Kennebago Lake commenced on the east side of the lake on June 23rd and commenced up the lake until on the 27th bugs were popping opposite Grants on the north shore. It was very windy and rainy at times and fishing was tough under those conditions but those that were out during the lulls caught 12-16 inch trout and salmon on drake imitations. This author, alas, was otherwise occupied with guiding away and familial responsibilities, and didn’t get a chance to partake of above-mentioned hatch.

A couple of interesting fishing stories….I was fishing a favorite stretch of the Magalloway River way down below Wilson’s Mills and on successive casts caught a good brook trout, a large fallfish, and a monster yellow perch. Where else can you do that? The water was almost too high to fish.

My favorite fish caught so far this year: I was high-stick nymphing on the Kennebago right at dark. Couldn’t really even see my line at all – certainly couldn’t see the sighter that I use for reference. I felt a sluggish resistance, set the hook, and eventually landed a very strong and fat 20-inch brook trout. I handed my 10-foot, 4-weight nymphing rod to my son-in-law and he hooked and landed another brook trout that seemed almost identical out of the same lie. We worked our way back to the car by flashlight, both with wide smiles on  our faces.

Authors Note: It is gratifying that my Flyfisher’s Guide to New England is selling so well and that readers are telling me that it is proving a good resource for them. For those of you that have found this book useful, I would like to remind everyone that my first book, Flyfishing Northern New England’s Seasons, is a “how-to” book that complements the Guide. It is written in a different style with instruction for sure, but also stories, observations, and anecdotes. It is available from myself, Amazon, and some fly shops. Finding new water to fish is only half the battle, one still needs to know what to do.

Hatches, Hatches, Hatches

Despite all of the continuing clouds and rain, over Memorial Day weekend, hatches commenced in the Rangeley area: midges, a blizzard of blue-winged olives, and a few medium-sized mayflies in the Hendrickson, march brown, and Quill Gordon families. And yet, large trout were being caught on streamers in shallow water literally stuffed with smelts – spitting them out as they were brought to net. The smelt must have still been running even into Memorial Day, or at least were moving back into their deeper water haunts and being intercepted as they passed through the lake shallows.

My son and I encountered an epic blue-winged olive hatch (size 18) on the upper Kennebago River. With a strong current downstream, and high-winds blowing upstream, the bugs were blown into a quiet side channel eddy that was all of 2 or 3 feet deep, and there were hundreds sitting on the surface. Somewhere between 12 and 20 trout were rising regularly. It was tough to get the trout to pick your fly amongst all of naturals but every once and awhile we would be successful. It was cool just to see the event and catch some fish. A happy young angler just upstream from us landed what looked to be a 20 inch plus trout on a dry fly.

As we move into mid-June, the larger mayflies and caddis are emerging in  earnest and quite a smorgasbord of insects are available to the trout. We are in the midst of really hot weather for the western mountains of Maine, with temps in the high 80’s during the day and upper 60’s at night. It is a  bit discouraging to watch the water temps in the rivers rise from the mid 50’s to the upper 60’s in just a few days. Hopefully, weather and water temps will drop before it forces the trout back into the lakes, otherwise it will be a short season for trout fishing on the smaller streams and rivers with lake access.

We have also been experimenting with a fly we don’t fish often but are intrigued with its success with very large trout. Maybe you can tell what it is from this mediocre close-up photo took last night.KIMG0053 (2)

Mother’s Day Snow

I was up in the Rangeley area during Mother’s Day weekend, looking forward to doing some shortly-after-ice-out fishing with my wife and was greeted by heavy snow on the morning of Mother’s Day morning. The fishing had just started picking up in the Rangeley area but the snow killed the action for the day – at least for me. I had caught decent trout and salmon on the Mags and Kennebago Lake the day before.

 

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Of course, the snow was followed several days later by temps in the 90’s. Then temps dropped back into the 40’s with rain. The weather obviously has been extremely variable this spring. In mid-May, the fishing in Rangeley was very inconsistent because the weather and water temps were cold and the smelt runs stopped and started or were tough to fish because of heavy water. I fished the usual places to check out the action, Little Kennebago, the Logans in Kennebago Lake, Rangeley River, Camp 10 bridge on the Mags. Picked up a fish or two, hear and there — not dead but not spectacular either. Did have a huge trout on by the causeway on Kennebago Lake but lost it after a bit.

A few lucky anglers seemed to catch it just right at the Camp 10 Bridge and had lots of action, while others did not have the same experience. The Rangeley River was slower (action-wise) then it should have been.

After the snow, I headed south to Pennsylvania for a week to visit some of the well-known spring creeks. What Fun! I don’t get to fish for rainbows and browns very often because they aren’t found as easily in Maine. I hit rivers by the names of  Mud Run, Yellow Britches, Fishing Creek, LeTort, Spring Creek (at Fisherman’s Paradise) We had to work for the fish during the day because the weather was very hot and cloudless. During cloudy stretches or in the evening during sulfur hatches, the fishing was easier.

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Nice Rainbow on Fishing Creek

Early Spring Fishing

I was  really eager to hit the water early this year. So, what else is new. Given water flows and cold temps and just the need to spend some time walking in the woods, I opted to start the season with small streams in the Cumberland County area. My first foray was to a small stream in Durham that I had wanted to fish for 20 years but hadn’t. It was a beautiful weekend day and I didn’t have the place to myself and shared the largest pool with several worm dunkers and hardware slingers – all nice, friendly guys. The water was very cold and without any luck, everybody left but me. I’ll bet the sun warmed the water a bit, but I ended up catching 4 or 5 trout on a wood special and tiny pink nymph slowly retrieved. The takes were very subtle and I missed some. The trout were recent stockers but included one native trout that somehow survived last years drought.

Other small local streams also yielded at least a few wild or holdover trout including my favorite Collyer Brook in Gray and a small stream near Range Pond. A couple of the eager brookies were caught on a klinkhammer dry fly! Again, it was reassuring that at least a few trout survived the drought and can repopulate the small area streams.

In 10 days, I am off to Pennsylvania to try my hand at catching some of their famous brown-trout from famous limestone creeks. A couple of those days will be fishing Cathy and Berry Beck’s private water on Fishing Creek so I can’t wait. I will also spend time on Spruce Creek and the Letort. I will keep you posted.