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.

Dog Days of Summer

The drought of 2016 continues throughout most of Maine and New England. Most natural rivers are too low or warm to fish well or perhaps shouldn’t be fished at all to protect the stressed fish. I have never seen rivers in the Rangeley area as low as they are now. For example, the Diamond River at the Dartmouth Grant, which can flow as high as 14,000 cfs during snow melt was down to 34 cfs.

It is no better in Massachusetts or the other New England states with the exception of the northern half of Maine that has fared somewhat better.

As I outline in my first book, “Fly Fishing the Seasons of New England” some fishing options remain even under these conditions. Rivers from bottom-release dams such as the Magalloway River flowing from the Azischos Dam has still been fishing well, all the way to the New Hampshire border. I fished it several days ago and we caught 5 species of fish – salmon, brook trout, fallfish, smallmouth bass (up to four pounds), and yellow perch!

The headwaters of rivers and streams high in the mountains are still cold with adequate flows. For example, the upper Ammonosoc River near Mt. Washington was packed with brook trout and rainbows several days ago – I assume because they moved upstream as lower stretches of river warmed.

Lakes in the Rangeley area fished very well all summer until slowing down recently. Fish still rise early in the morning and right at dark. More nights like last Monday night when night time temps dropped into the lower 40’s will lower the surface water temperatures.

Pray for rain!

Mid Summer Fishing and Book News

Late June and early July brought relatively cool weather and precious little rain for anybody. While parts of New England enjoyed some hit and miss thunderstorms that kept rivers and streams running, other areas were bone dry. For example, Kennebago River never had any real spring salmon run because of continued low water. On July 5 its temperature was 72 degrees, not good. In late June, I fished through the gorge of the Diamond River in the Dartmouth Grant because of water running at only 50 cfs. I fished with folks that have fished there for 20 years and have never fished the gorge because usually it is impossible if not dangerous.

The Rapid River and lower Magalloway both were at 300 cfs for most of this time, also extremely low. Charlie, the owner of Evening Sun Fly Shop in Massachusetts told me that the Squannacook River in early July reached record low levels. It makes for tough river fishing, although I have heard good reports. The West Branch of the Penobscot has been fishing well because that area received a bunch of thunderstorms and cooler weather (and of course it is a bottom-release dam draining a huge watershed).

A gentlemen I know sent me this photo of a 26.5 inch brown he took from the White River.

White River 26.5 brown

That river does not give up its fish easily but those who take the time to know its idiosyncracies, catch some impressive fish.

On the new book front, “Flyfisher’s Guide to New England” is now out and available. It has received some early great reviews as “THE where-to-go resource for New England”. Retail distribution will slowly increase over time but right now it is available at the Evening Sun Fly Shop in MA., Rangeley Sport Shop in Rangeley, ME., Maine Sport Outfitters in Rockport, and The Tackle Shop in Portland, Maine. It is also available at Amazon and from me directly signed if you send me an email. By all means go into your local book store or fly-fishing store and ask for it. That will give them the incentive to order it for their store.

Guiding Season

June is the height of the guiding season and the days can be long when it gets light at 4 A.M. and it is still light enough to fish at 8 P.M. This year has brought some hot days and a few very cold nights, but not very much rain. As a result, the fishing has been hot and cold. I have guided in a location where we didn’t see a sign of a fish, and then half an hour later another angler in the same place with a similar fly pattern, caught a half a dozen nice fish. I guided one person to a small river pool and we caught nothing, and then the next day, in the same pool, I guided two folks that caught 50 fish.

I had a few slow days, but a few successes as well. On the lower Magalloway River one weekend, when the fish were being pounded and fishing was slow, I had an angler who I taught the classic wet fly swing. On his first cast, he landed a beautiful 18-inch wild brook trout a size-18 wet fly – on the first cast!

I had a few new fly fishers who caught their first trout. Always an exciting event and a rewarding one for the guide.

Salmon started moving in the middle Magalloway River after a recent rain and I hope that they do the same on the Kennebago River because they haven’t as of yet.

My new book is finally arriving into my hands towards the end of this week. Then, I will be shipping it out and sending it to retailers ASAP. Enjoy the peak of the fishing season. Fish well and fish often.

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An excited client with a nice brook trout hooked on a dry fly.

Hatches Finally Start in Earnest

Hatches are at full swing now in the Rangeley Area with early season mayflies – Hendricksons, Quill Gordons, March Browns, or similar mayflies hatching regularly when conditions warrant –sometimes morning and sometimes afternoon.

The first really warm day on May 12 brought the first surface activity to Kennebago Lake. I had one of those magical evenings that sometimes one is fortunate enough to experience. I was the only one fishing on the entire lake, it was an 80 degree day and warm evening without a cloud in the sky. As the sun started to set, the lake was flat calm around the western shore. Two bald eagles watched me from a nearby tall white pine tree as fish cruised just under the surface sipping midges and other small fare. Every cast to a rise resulted in a fish. In the cold water they fought hard and some towed the canoe. I happily lost count of how many came to hand. It was so perfect, I half expected Kevin Costner to come out of a field of corn on the bank and ask me if this was heaven (that was a Field of Dreams film reference).

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Then on Monday, May 16th, the area had 3 inches of snow and temps in the 20’s and 30’s and howling winds. And I do mean howling – Mooseluckmeguntic Lake had 6 foot waves. On the following Wednesday, the temp of the water had fallen to 44 degrees in the rivers and all of the hatches just stopped

But by last weekend, May 21st, the weather warmed and hatches commenced again including on Saturday afternoon a huge fly ant hatch on the upper river. 4 anglers fishing there caught 10 massive brook trout over two pounds in just several hours.

By the middle of this week, blizzard hatches of early season mayflies were everywhere. I guided yesterday and my sport had a 30 trout (at least) afternoon – not telling you where. My only concern is that we have had no rain and the rivers are at summer levels already – just like the last two springs. We need rain…

Enjoy the fishing…Lou

The Dog River

I fished Vermont’s Dog River last week, a tributary of the Winooski River that I cover in my book, “Flyfishers Guide to New England.” It is a beautiful river with aqua-marine deeper pools and large trout. The wild trout are not numerous and very spooky and hard to fool when a full-blown hatch is not occurring. It seems like a one trout per pool type of deal and it feels a little bit like stalking fish in New Zealand although the fish are not as large. My friend Dave Durovich (a great guide in the area and a great guy) and I spooked a few, he briefly hooked a very large rainbow nymphing, and I landed a very energetic 18- inch rainbow on an olive soft-hackle streamer. Alas, no photograph. I also spent a little time nymphing the upper Winooski – a small river/stream that is really fun to fish. One chunky wild rainbow succumbed to my high-stick nymphing although the release was of the long distance variety. Below are a few photos of the Dog River…IMG_1921IMG_1919IMG_1903

Ice – Out

Ice-Out

Ice-out came to the Rangeley area over the last week, brought on by warm temperatures over the weekend. Although the lakes are clear of ice, it hasn’t been exactly warm this week with overnight temperatures dipping significantly below freezing and snow swirling around on Tuesday. I thought for awhile this winter that we were heading for a record early ice-out, sometime in early April. But April has been a relatively cold month with night time temperatures often below freezing, so the ice hung on. While April 24th ice-out is early – it is not ridiculously so. Over the last 20 years ago this has happened regularly.

I can’t give you any more information because I actually haven’t been in Rangeley, but instead traveling and fishing through Massachusetts and Vermont (here and there).

In book news, my new book “Flyfishers Guide to New England” is officially out –  sort of. The electronic version can be found on Google Books only.  Amazon Kindle software does not reproduce the maps very  well so we are holding off on that option as we look for a solution. Printed books will be available soon and I will let you know. Below is a photo of Kennebago Ice-Out.

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Name that Location Contest

In February, I posted two photographs as part of a “Name that location” contest (scroll down to see them). The winner of the contest was John Carlton who correctly identified the photos as Profile Lake in New Hampshire and the White River in Vermont. Both great locations to fish and described in detail in my new book. John will receive several soft-hackle marabou Gray Ghosts tied by yours truly.

It is time for another contest so whoever first correctly identifies the river in this photo will receive a free copy of my book hand signed by me. I will give you two hints – this is a warm water fishery and not in Maine. Good luck.

Sunset

Updates

Let me update folks on several things…

First, I will be giving presentations at the Maine Sportsman Show in Augusta on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 1, 2 and 3. Check the schedule on their website. Friday and Saturday my presentation will be “20 Great Fly Fishing Locales that You haven’t Heard of.” Sunday’s presentation will be “Tactics and Locations to Catch Trophy Brook Trout.” I will also be at the Maine Sportsman’s booth Sunday morning and probably other times as well.

Second, I will also be at the Sebago Lake Trout Unlimited Conservation Event/Dinner/Auction on Saturday, April 2 from 4:30 pm. or so on. I will be signing books and wandering around.

Third, let me update you on my books. My first book, “Flyfishing Northern New England’s Seasons,” has been sold out just about everywhere, but the 3rd printing is arriving this week, and will be shipping to stores that have run out. I will have some to sell directly as well and anyone who attended recent talks of mine when they were not available can contact me and I will ship them out to you. My new book, “Fly Fisher’s Guide to New England,” a where-to-go book goes to the printer this week, will be available in Kindle version the week after that, and in the stores to buy in early May. This book is the reason why I have not been seen around much recently. It was an unbelievable amount of work: 4 states, 369 pages of 8 by 11 format, 80 maps, 400 photographs, over 1000 waters described, hatch charts, 100 vacation suggestions, 100 beginner and easy-access suggestions, and a dozen fly patterns. Just the Table of Contents and Indexes are over 10 double column pages. I have been spending some long days doing the final editing, and I  look forward to receiving feedback from readers.

Fourth, The April Issue of the Maine Sportsman is well worth buying. I supplied the cover and this is the issue with the fish stocking section. But also fun is some of the April Fools articles and columns – look for them.

Spring Ice Out for Rangeley

An increasing number of people are now contacting me asking about my projections for Rangeley ice-out and trying to schedule fishing trips. Here is what I know….or think I know…

  1. Ice is already out in most of New England and already up to central Maine. For most places it is the earliest ever. When I find some relevant articles, I will post links. Ice in more northern Maine locales is still frozen solid and this week ushered in colder weather with snow and night time temps in the teens. If you look at webcams from Moosehead Lake or Bosebuck Camps you can check the status of the ice.
  2. The long-term outlook is for average or below average temps for early April. This may delay ice out and water warm up. However, I am still think ice out will be in mid-April in Rangeley and threaten the all-time record set several years ago. Snow is about gone so the ground will warm up fast and that will raise the ground water temperature.
  3. What does this mean for the fishing? Maine opened the season last week so it means that it is now legal to fish everywhere. I know people are catching trout in small streams. Smelt will run early, once the lake temperatures rise into the low 40’s. Last time the ice went out in mid-April, it took a number of weeks before the smelt ran. But smelt, suckers, black-nose dace, shad, stripers, etc. will all migrate or spawn several weeks early at least.
  4. Hatches will be early as well but not ridiculously so because the maturation of insects is based on cumulative degree-days of the water over the year. But since water temps have been much warmer than normal since basically last summer, I anticipate early hatches, certainly by a week or two.
  5. Sporting Camps such as Grants are opening up earlier than usual.
  6. Lakes and Ponds that are stocked heavily for the ice-fishing crowd will have plenty of fish to be caught in early spring because the ice-fishing season was so short or non-existent, so try places like Crystal Lake in Gray, Maine. Just to name one.