Fishing report from the Western Maine Mountains and Beyond
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.
Well folks, it doesn’t look like ice out is going to come anytime soon in western or northern Maine. The weather continues to be seasonally cold. In southern Maine night time temps continue to be in the low 20’s and last night temps at Kennebago bottomed out at 10 degrees. These temps refreeze the lakes each night. Weather is supposed to warm up at the end of the week and with most of the snow gone, things should start really thawing.
Here is another video from last fall showing photos and underwater videos of native brook trout being trapped in streams that they started to ascend to spawn. With no rain, they were trapped in pools and couldn’t move up or down stream for a month before rains in early October raised water levels.
As promised, will start sharing some new videos. In early November, my son-in-law and I chased schools of bull redfish as they entered shallower water in Pensacola Bay. Armed with 8-weight fly rods, popping bugs or Clousers, we did battle. I highly recommend it for some heart-thumping enjoyment.
Congratulations to one and all fly fishers – We made it to the start of another fly-fishing season. I was in Massachusetts last week and the snow was mostly gone and the rivers looked somewhat fishable. Not so much in Maine, where most waters are still locked up tight with snow and ice. The snow is melting quickly though as are the south-facing edges of ponds and lakes. It won’t be long until fishing options expand exponentially.
Let me update you on some news….
I was at the Maine Sportsman’s Booth yesterday (Friday) and at the Sebago Lake Trout Unlimited Event last Saturday, so I was able to catch up with some of you, which is always fun.
I will be presenting “Advanced Tactics and Strategies for Difficult and Pressured Trout” on April 12th for the Nashua Flycasters Association.
It was a difficult decision but I have decided to stop guiding for the foreseeable future. After 16 years, I am ready to concentrate on other aspects of fly fishing. I may still guide informally (without pay) for charity or other reasons but for those of you who want to hire me as a paid guide, sorry but I will not be available. I will, however, be assisting folks who are interested with their fishing plans, get them connected with good guides, and even sometimes meet them for breakfast the night before or morning of their excursions, so you can still leverage my expertise and knowledge of the New England area. It won’t cost you anything (lodging and guides pay me a finders fee}. So contact me if you are interested I’m me helping you. I enjoy helping people have successful trips.
My first book, ” Flyfishing Northern New England’s Seasons” is sold out of it’s 3rd printing so it will be a while until it is back in stock. I am making some updates to it so if you don’t have this book yet, I am excited to be able to offer an updated version soon.
Finally, I have been remiss in posting a number of cool videos on this site and on YouTube, so look in the not to distant future for more videos. Happy fishing season.
For those of you wondering why I haven’t posted a blog in two months, I will explain. Caught the flu in early January while traveling to present at various fly-fishing shows. My computer melted down. And just when I was feeling better, it was time to head off to New Zealand for almost a month, arriving back home a few days ago.
So we have lots to catch up on. Fishing season is only a few weeks away and this is when people start asking me for my best guess concerning ice-out and when fly fishing will really start in Maine. The winter started out really cold in Maine – minus 20 and colder in Rangeley for a number of nights- and I thought ice-out would be late. Then we had a warmish, rainyish February, and I thought ice-out might be early. Now we are having a very snowy March and since snow insulates the ice, now I’m thinking ice-out might be more or less at the normal time for whichever body of water you fish.
Updates on my author- related activities….I have an article “A Guide’s Manual to Big Brook Trout” in the March/April issue of American Angler. I haven’t heard much from anybody about it. Has anybody seen it? Also in the same issue is a feature on my guide friend Abbie Schuster from Kismet Outfitters. In the current March issue of The Maine Sportsman, I have my bi-monthly column – this one entitled “Lou’s Ten Fly-fishing Resolutions.”
The Western Maine Fly Fishing Expo takes place next weekend on March 17 in Bethel Maine where I will be giving a talk on “Tactics for fishing Highly Pressured Waters for Difficult and Educated Fish”. Also my wife, Lindsey will be giving a talk on Climate Change and its impacts on forests and fisheries in the Northeast.
I will also be at the Maine Sportsman’s Show the first weekend in April. I am not giving a presentation but will be at the Maine Sportsman’s booth for part of the weekend. When I know my exact schedule, I will let you know.
The Trip to New Zealand was fantastic despite some very challenging weather in the form of big storms with rain and wind. Will go into it in more detail in the future but here are a few photos, my wife with her best fish of the trip (a rainbow) and my best fish (a brown) as well. I estimate that both were over four pounds
Happy New Year. Only three months until official Maine fishing season starts.
First some corrections to my last post regarding speaking engagements:
I neglected to mention that I will be giving a presentation on January 11 in Littleton NH at the Ammonoosic Trout Unlimited Meeting. See their website or facebook for all of the info. My wife Lindsey and I will be giving a video and pictorial talk on western Cutthroat fishing.
My talk at the Marlborough Fly Fishing Show will be: Advanced Tactics and Patterns for Catching Difficult Trout and Salmon in Heavily Pressured New England Waters. My talk at the Edison, New Jersey show is: 3 Best Places to fish for Trout each month of the year in New England (36 in all)
My daughter, Erika, and her fishing-fanatic husband, Brian, were visiting over Xmas vacation, so of course we went flyfishing. On Xmas eve day we headed over to the upper Presumpscot and for this winter it was a reasonable day with temps around 32 degrees. We crunched through the ice-crusted snow and nymphed the clear but cold water. It was beautiful with the sun shining through the ice-covered trees. We didn’t really expect to catch anything but then we saw a pretty good rise in a slow pool and then another rise under the bridge. We increased our intensity and fished until feet were numb but didn’t get a strike. Oh well, we at least can brag that we were out there.
The photos below are indicative of how cold it was. The first photo shows the only thing I hooked with my woolly bugger – a chunk of ice.
First a seasonal joke: What did Santa say to his fishing buddies before they left on a fishing trip? “I hope that you sleigh ’em.”
Let me first go through some announcements…
First, for those of you who might want one of my books, but is looking to save money, I have a limited number of “seconds” for sale. These are books that are earlier editions, have a slightly marred cover, or it smudged when I signed it. Some folks want a cheap second copy if they have a fishing camp in addition to a primary home. I am selling second of both books for $ 15.00 includes shipping (ordinarily $ 28 and $ 33 with shipping) Just email me your address, and mail me a check to Lou zambello at 35 Crystal Lane, Cumberland, Me 04021 and I will send it right out.
Some scheduling notes: I will be presenting to the Mollyocket Trout Unlimited Chapter on January 17th. Presentation will be Highlights from my book, Flyfishing Northern New England Seasons. For specifics – see their website.
I will be presenting at both the Marlborough and Edison New Jersey Fly Fishing Shows. Check their website for times and locations. Presentation for Marlborough is going to be: 3 Best Places to fish for Trout each month of the year in New England (36 in all)
Finally, look for my article in American Angler Magazine (March/April edition) on Catching Big Native Brook Trout.
Short notice I know, but on November 21st I will be giving a great presentation on western Cutthroat fishing. Lots of video. Also, some awesome video of fall spawning brook trout. Hundreds of fish stacked up because of the drought. For more on the impacts of the drought, see my article in the Maine Sportsman for December.
Anyway, the cutthroat presentation on the 21st of November will be at the Sebago Lake Trout Unlimited Meeting at 7:00 at Camp Ketcha on Blackstrap Road in Scarborough.
Just returned from Florida, fishing the fabulous Pensacola Bay for many species but particularly schools of giant bull redfish. See the result below:
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…Later 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.
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.
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…
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.
Brookie has great camouflage from above to thwart predatory birds as you can see after the release of this fish.
But brilliant to each other as they fight for spawning territory.
9500 ft. alpine lake in sw Montana from my trip.
My wife, Lindsey with nice cut from that lake.
and a photo from our float on the middle fork of the Salmon River, Idaho in early September.
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.