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.

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.

Ice Out

My email these days is filled with folks asking me fishing questions so for this blog post, I will just answer them!

When was ice-out?

In the Rangeley area, it was within the last seven days, in fact higher elevations ponds still have at least a partial coating of ice. Further south, ice has been out for two weeks or so. However, the water remains cold because of cloudy days and cold nights. Patches of snow still linger in the woods in the Kennebago area.

How is the fishing?

Fishing has been slow because of high and cold water. In fact the lower Mags is running at 2000 cfs versus 350 for most of last year. I don’t know if I remember it being that high . A heavy snowpack melted quickly in Rangeley, followed by occasional rain. This is resulting in the spring run-off being closer to historical norms versus several dry springs over the last five years. While this means a slow start to moving-water fishing, it bodes well for sufficient water flows later in the year and good ground water levels.

Smelt are running in places, but perhaps not yet where water temps are still hovering around 40 degrees. Lake and pond fishing where smelt are running up brooks is where I would want to be fishing.

Does the high water mean that spring runs of salmon will push up rivers such as Kennebago?

Not necessarily. At least in Kennebago, salmon don’t really take advantage of high water flows until temps hit 50 degrees. Hopefully when the river warms up, water flows will still be high.

Do you have any fun fishing photos/stories?

Always. My guiding partner Abby from Kismet Ouftitters has been doing some drift boat guiding in western Mass. and found some really nice brown trout in the Hoosic River.IMG_3211 (2) IMG_2780

How is the new book selling?

Very well. We are going to start a second printing soon, which will allow me to update the book a little, correct a few typos and include a few more waters. “Flyfisher’s Guide to New England” can now be found in almost every fly fishing outlet in New England, but it does sell out quickly and doesn’t always find its way back onto the shelves in a timely manner. Remember, you can always purchase the book from me directly, signed of course. Just email me.

Enjoy the beginning of a new fishing season.

Lou

Spring is Sprung

First of all, I apologize for the tardy posting of my blog. Giving many fly fishing presentations and two weeks in the Bahamas bonefishing left me swamped. I am sure not a single person is feeling sorry for me.

After my bonefish adventure, I could literally write a book entitled, ” 101 Ways to Lose a Bonefish”, because I experienced them all. I lost fish to barracudas, sharks, mangrove roots, disenigrating reels, snapped backing line, broken fly-line loops, broken hooks, slack line, and fly-line loops around the fly-rod butt, just to name some of the ways. Fortunately for my ego, I did land a few as did my wife, Lindsey, and members of my family. You can see from this photo of my son-in-law and I releasing two fish, how amazingly bonefish blend into their environment. No wonder I can’t see them.IMG_0807IMG_0811

Getting back to Maine, this is the time of year when everybody is asking me about ice out. At the end of February, it looked like lakes were going to open up early. But then came March, which ended up with an average temperature below December, January, or February. Ice got thicker and then was covered with major snowfall. So now, even though the 70’s weather over Easter weekend melted much of the snow, I think the ice is going to hold out for a bit longer, particularly since this week will feature a return to colder weather. Ice is half out of the small ponds in southern Maine. Damariscotta Lake ice went out late last week. Ice out will move north over the next few weeks.

Stocking will commence in Maine in earnest this week and fishing will improve from there.

Fly fishing shows and presentations

Hi Folks,

I continue to travel around New England giving presentations, talking to anglers about their fishing plans, and signing books. What fun. Recently, I was at the New Hampshire Fly Fishing show in Manchester NH (great show if you haven’t been), The Farmington Valley (Connecticut) Chapter of TU, and The Sebago Lake Chapter.

Next up, the Greater Boston TU chapter in Newton, Massachusetts on Feb. 27th, and a Cumberland Library presentation on March 9th. Then there will be a gap in the action as I will be bonefishing in Abaco for two weeks in late March.

Enjoy two videos that are a compilation of short video snippets of a number of waters in Vermont and Maine that I describe in my Flyfisher’s Guide to New England.

Somerset Show

Hi everyone. Just a reminder that I will be at the Somerset Fly Fishing Show everyday giving a presentation and signing books. Check out the schedule on their website for times I will be giving my presentation about how and where to catch trophy brook trout – tactics, locations, seasons, and flies. Also listed are the times I will be at the author’s booth.

The Marlborough Show was last weekend and it was nice to see so many old fishing acquaintances, guiding clients, and avid readers of my books. I was told that my new  book, “Fly Fisher’s Guide to New England” was the number one selling book at the show. We just about sold out.

I have a new guiding partner, Abby. We will be hosting events together, co-marketing, and collaborating on a number of activities. She will also be subbing for me as a guide when she has time and I do not. Check out her website at www.kismetoutfitters.com

Winter Doldrums

To entertain folks during January, I will be adding some new videos. Here is one steelheading in upstate New York in a small creek with my friend Steve. Send me an email if you have a desire to steelhead away from the crowds.

Winter events

My schedule for the winter is starting to finalize. Here are some highlights:

Saturday, Dec 10th: I will be at the Rangeley Region Sport Shop all day for their open house event – tieing a few flies, signing a few books, showing some of my videos from 2016, and telling tall tales.

January 12th: I will be presenting at the Hammonasset Chapter of TU in Connecticut (hctu.org)

January 17th: I will presenting to the Pemigewasset Chapter of Trout Unlimited (pemigewasset.tu.org.

January 20,21,22: The Flyfishing Show in Marlborough, Mass: I am giving different presentations depending on the day. Friday, I have one of the big rooms and have an hour and twenty minutes to take people through a number of strategies, tactics, and flies to catch trophy brook trout.

January 27.28th, and 29th: The Flyfishing Show in Somerset, New Jersey.

I haven’t given up on the fishing either. With another fairly warm fall, fishing was comfortable in November. I had a few beautiful days fishing the upper Presumpscot River and the Saco River. Didn’t catch much however for some reason. It couldn’t be because of any lack of skill on my part so I assume the fish disappeared right before I got there.

Last week, I ventured down to one of my favorite late fall fishing spots – The Lamprey River in New Hampshire – and I finally found a few nice rainbows.img_07261.

I have also been working hard, editing video from this year including some great underwater brook trout action. they should be posted here and under the video tab in the next few weeks so check back.

Have a good holiday