The 1st edition of my book, “Flyfishing the Seasons of Northern New England” sold out, but the 2nd edition is now available. The only difference between the two, besides some minor corrections, is that the 2nd edition has additional pages of color photographs, and we made it less type-dense for easier readability. Don’t hesitate to e-mail me if you want a signed copy.
The time for fly fishing shows is rapidly approaching. The following are my current speaking engagements/Book signings.
• January 17,18,19: The Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough, Ma., Presentation: How to catch Trophy Native Brook Trout (www.flyfishingshow.com)
• January 24 The Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, NJ
• February6, 7: The Fly Fishing Show in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Presentation: Where to Fish in Northern New England.
• February 15th Fly tying Demo and Presentation at Evening Sun Fly Shop in Massachusetts (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I am hard at work on my next two books. The first is the Flyfisher’s Guide to Northern New England. This is actually a new edition of an existing book with updated information and the addition of Massachusetts to Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. It will be published late in 2015 if I can get it done. To share some of my discoveries from the book research, there will be a new tab on my website that will contain my 50 favorite fishing spots. I will post a few every month until I reach 50.
Brook trout videos from 2014 spawn in western Maine
My wife and I were in the Rangeley area during the middle of October and because of the continued lack of rain, rivers were very low and clear, which gave us a great opportunity to do some filming when we came across a school of spawning brook trout.
My wife had the camera and a tripod but not a polarizing filter so it was a bit of a battle with glare as the sun ducked in and out of clouds. She spent several hours videoing and taking photos.
I have not done a lot of editing so most of these videos are in real time. You can see the males defending territory and females digging redds or laying eggs and covering them up after the males fertilize them.
Most of the brook trout in the video are from twelve to twenty inches long and up to three pounds although they look thinner because the photos are taken from above.
Well, the official season has ended and I have to say, it ended with a whimper instead of a bang. No appreciable rain meant low water, not a lot of fish moving, and those that were available were pounded day and night by desperate fisherman. The Mags, Kennebago, Rangeley River, Moose River, and many others were as low as I have ever seen them. The Roach river had better flows but at the expense of first Roach Pond which looked like it was going to be drained. It doesn’t feel like fishing to me when there are 100 fish stacked up in a small pool waiting to go upriver, and 8 fisherman flogging the water over them. When one is hooked, I am never completely sure whether they were legitimately hooked, or perhaps snagged in the mouth.
There were a few nice fish to be had in less crowded conditions but they were hard-earned. I did some traveling as I continued to do research my latest project – revising Flyfisher’s Guide to Northern NewEngland book and ended up in Jackman, Moosehead, and northern Massachusetts. My travels reminded me of the wonderful variety of watersheds and the trout that inhabit them. I will upload some photos from my travels soon.
It is mid-June, the middle of spring fly fishing season and the middle of black fly and mosquito season as well. The black flies really came out last week in the Kennebago area. If you were not protected, you got chomped on.
During early June, the Rangeley River fished well with a variety of fish falling for dry flies and nymphs, but as the days wore on, the fish were pounded and seemed to get smaller and smaller.
Fishing turned on at Kennebago Lake with a variety of fish sizes rising in the evening to assorted mayflies, caddis, and whatever else the wind blew in. On June 2, at the conclusion of a very warm and still day, the large carpenter ants had their first winged mating swarm day of the year – what some fisherman call a flying ant hatch. Those winged large ants falling in the lake and river really got the large fish up and rising quickly. I was guiding on the upper river at the bridge and a slow day turned into a good day as a number of large trout appeared as if from nowhere and starting taking ants off the surface (and similar artificial flies). Later on Kennebago Lake, a concentration of ants meant that two other anglers in a boat and I in my kayak landed 8 trout over 14 inches between us – (mostly them unfortunately as I missed a few and broke off a few) My largest was a full 18 inches. What fun.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, significant numbers of salmon have not run up the Kennebago River this spring. Not the correct combination of high water and ideal temperature I guess. Maybe a heavy rain will get them moving and salvage the season. With all of the cold and ice, not too many fish overwintered in the river either. Some of the lower pools have definitely changed with the heavy ice, as certain large boulders and in different places and parts of pools have filled in.
My schedule is fully booked for the rest of June and my first guiding openings will be in July. I still have opening for my advanced fly fishing class on June 28th.
Despite lots of rain in the southern part of Maine, the Rangeley area did not get enough rain to move the rivers much. After fishing hard the first week in September and talking to a number of people, it was clear that the fish hadn’t started moving yet. The temperatures had been fairly warm as well. In the upper Magalloway, anglers (myself included) caught mostly chubs. I did catch several dozen trout and salmon at the old Black Cat dam one day nymphing but they were all (with one exception) of the 6 inch variety. The one exception was a beautiful, fat 18 inch salmon that must have ascended the river from the lake.
The second week of September is bringing much colder temperatures and hopefully with some rain later this week, the fish will be on the move.
I don’t know if it is due to global climate change or some other factor but October’s are definitely warmer than they used to be in Western Maine. I remember years ago October’s were pretty cold – low 20’s at night and low 40’s during the day. This year in October lows were routinely in the high 30’s and highs were in the 50’s – nice fishing weather, and the fish cooperated.
Fishing at Upper Dam was excellent this October, good weather and low water flows made the fish accessible and active. The last weekend of the month brought heavy caddis hatches and brought the fish up. Knowledgable anglers were having 20 fish afternoons. Even without a hatch, fish were concentrated in the moving water at the tail of the pool and were very catchable among the rocks with European nymphing techniques. A few were quite large. I had one very wide salmon on for a while – I got to see him quite well when he jumped head high just ten feet away from me – until I had to work around a rock to follow him downstream. One slight dip with the rod tip gave him a bit of slack, and he was gone.
Fishing in southern Maine also was good as Maine Fish and Wildlife continued stocking several local rivers and holdover fish started appearing again. The brown trout and brook trout the state stocks in the fall are large, healthy, and have very good quality fins and colors. I fished to rising browns in both the Pleasant and Royal rivers in October. On one foggy, drizzly, and warm afternoon a blue-winged olive hatch occurred on the Royal below the old mill, and it was fun trying to catch browns on top. I also just missed a very large fish (sea run brown) that boiled the water around my nymph as it ended its drift and was swinging to the surface.
Early November looks like it may bring more of the same. A relevant excerpt from my book, “Flyfishing northern New England – The Five Seasons” During the late fall/early winter season, I continue the patterns and tactics that I used in the fall. In many rivers and streams, although the brook trout spawning is probably completed, the landlocked salmon and brown trout spawning is still continuing and those species will aggressively attack colorful streamers. This is particularly true in rivers and streams that stay warmer. Any river flowing out of a large lake will stay warmer because it takes more cold days for the large volume of lake water to cool. Last year, the upper Presumpscott River that orginates from Sebago Lake had temperatures in the upper 40’s, with brown trout still spawning in late-November, even though there was snow on the ground. I guided two people on the Presumpscott last year on the day after Thanksgiving, and they both hooked salmon and trout while nymphing (red copper johns) and wet fly fishing (partridge and orange).
The dog days of summer mean that one has to try different places and techniques to catch trout or salmon. Many of our favorite spots in June become too warm to fish successfully in late July or early August.
One of my favorite mid-summer places to fish is Cupsuptic Stream, both above and below the falls. This small stream stays cool all summer and the trout stay active. It isn’t a big stream and the runs and pools are not large so neither are the trout- they range from 4 to 8 inches with occasional bigger ones – but they are as beautiful as little jewels and have surprising yellow bellies. They almost look like a cross between a brook trout and a golden trout. The best way to fish is to wade wet and fish a 2 or 3 weight, with your favorite attractor dry fly, and unless you snag it in a tree, you can fish the same fly all day. You will probably get over 20 strikes in an afternoon.
The Upper Connecticut is another great mid-summer locale because water flows from a bottom-release dam and stays cold all summer. It is only an hour and change from the Kennebago area by car. I usually launch my kayak and paddle both up and down stream as I look for rises. Action tends to pick up towards evening when the light dims. I usually catch at least 6 fat energetic rainbows on ants or caddis imitations with the occasional brook trout or brown trout. Here is another excerpt from my upcoming book… Fishing mountain streams at higher elevations is another possible summer strategy. I love to travel to the Presidentials in New Hampshire and hike up the myriad of trails that parallel small streams running down the side of the mountain. The water is clear and there is no algae, mud, or plant life of any kind because of the scouring it receives during the spring run off. It is rock, sand, water, and a few tree limbs. That’s it. It’s the kind of small stream that Disney tries to recreate in its theme parks or expensive resort landscaping but can never quite pull off. There are many mountain streams throughout Northern New England. I have enjoyed fishing the small streams in what is referred to as the” northeast kingdom” of Vermont. Staying in Vermont for a moment, during a normal summer, the feeder streams of the Batten Kill River can fish well for small brookies. Beautiful small streams also cascade off Mount Mansfield (also in Vermont), as well as the Mahoosic Mountains, Mount Katahdin, Saddleback, and Sugarloaf Mountains (in Maine). These spring-fed streams are always cold and flowing regardless of drought conditions, and most of them are filled with small, wild, and colorful brook trout. The trout are small, no doubt about that. The streams are fairly sterile, without much food available, and are frozen or very cold for nine months of the year. So a 4-inch male brookie may already be a spawning veteran and the king of his small pool. You can catch an occasional 8 incher that seems like a monster but the brookies are willing and fun and as beautiful as a fine piece of jewelry.
The gear is simple. A 3-weight 6 or 7-foot rod and a small fly box filled with a few Elk Hair Caddis, Parachute Adams, small Muddlers, and bucktail streamers are all that you need. There are no mysteries here. If the fish are present they will reveal themselves. If you don’t catch something quickly, keep moving. Sometimes a steam will have become too acidic to support trout. Other times it has been over fished.