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.

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

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.

Fall Fishing is Here! Sort of.

Early September has brought a few changes from August but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the lack of rain. Mid-August brought two rainstorms to the Rangeley region that dropped over 3 inches of rain in some areas, but the ground was so dry that much of it was absorbed with little run off. Still, it did raise and stabilize river flows in some areas. However, we have had little rain now for over a week and air temperatures are rising again into the upper 70’s during the day this week.

We did have cool nights (into the low 40’s several days) and water temperatures are dropping with rivers and streams falling into the 60’s. As a result some spawning fish are starting to move. Anglers are hooking a few nice fish in the upper Magalloway, a few nice salmon in the lower Kennebago, and seeing some big trout in the upper stretches.

Best bet is to fish early in the morning, be patient, and be satisfied with maybe one or two nice fish.

Fish are also starting to move into shallower water in the lakes and ponds and people are reporting the beginning of good action – although still with mostly smaller fish. Today on Kennebago it was cloudless, 75 degrees, and calm, but fish were rising at mid-day as tiny trico-like mayflies emerged in shallow water and mixed with a few tiny flying ants. Go figure.

In literary news, my new book is becoming more widely available and is now found in most fly-shops, sporting goods stores, and specialty book stores in New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts including Bass Pro in NH, and Kittery Trading Post. Not LLBean yet. If you don’t see it at your favorite store – ask for it! Of course, you can always buy it directly from me. Good luck with your September fishing and keep praying for a good tropical storm to reach northern New England.

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.

The End of the Season

        

           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 New England  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.

Spring finally arrives in Western Maine; fishing hot and cold

Well, a lot to cover in this blog report…

Finally, after a long end of winter, fly fishing has started… In the Rangeley area, most waters were very cold in early May and the fishing spotty.

Some folks did really well on the lower Mags when the water was running low on a variety of flies including the good ol san juan worm. Several brookies around 4 pounds were caught.The warmer weather around the 14th good action was to be had at the #10 bridge. The smelt run was done but suckers were moving in and trout and salmon along with them. Many nice trout and salmon were caught on streamers, copper johns, sucker egg patterns, and even dry flies.

Lots of fisherman though. One morning I counted 6 boats and 15 wading fisherman. A few testy folks because fishing was in tighter quarters than normal but it seemed like everybody was catching fish. Some folks I guided did very well on a new nymph I tied.

They were fishing to trout and salmon that had been fished over heavily but this fly roused them. I will write about it in a later post.

Road were terrible though. It looks like when the snow melted quickly, all the culverts were still frozen through with ice so the water damaged the road along almost every culvert. You had to be very alert to avoid vehicular damage. I didn’t see one rut and almost damaged a few molars not to mention the underside of my auto.

The heavy showers during the weekend did blow out a few streams and rivers depending upon where the heavier rain fell.

This week I am teaching seven Greely High School seniors how to fly fish. They chose learning to fly fish as their senior project. They are fine young men and catching on quickly. You forget all of what is involved with actually successfully catching a fish until you teach a real newbie…With everything that has to go right, sometimes it seems a miracle that we catch what we do! We have been fishing in southern Maine to newly stocked fish and they act so differently from wild fish that sometimes I am not at all confident what tactics and flies to use.

Finally, my book continues to sell steadily which is satisfying. A nice review in the Maine Sportsman Magazine helped. We are almost sold out and have to do a reprint, which is great.

I hope everybody gets out fishing. My next presentation is at the Rangeley Library in early July. I will be busy the next few weeks with guiding and attending two kids graduations.

September fishing wraps up with warm temps, large fish in rivers

Fall Salmon

Ben Sturtevant releases a nice Kennebago River Salmon during a mid-September outing.

In the Rangeley area, the rest of September remained dry and seasonally warm. While lots of rain fell all around Maine, it seemed to miss our area. One good rain fell in the middle of the month, and that along with a few nights of cold temperatures, did start the fish moving.The Kennebago and the Mags had large fish present throughout the river system by the middle of the month.

The size of the salmon this fall was very good with most fish 15 inches and above and very fat. It shows that there are plenty of smelt in the lakes for the salmon to feed on. With lower water flows and many fishermen, the fish wised up quickly  and while some lucky anglers enjoyed fast action, most worked diligently to land a few fish. The fish landed though were usually of good size. Fresh fish into the rivers were suckers for marabou streamers in white or grey. Later on as they wised up, nymphs, small soft hackles, and wood specials worked better. Hornbergs fished wet and large attractor dries such as Royal Wulff’s took their share of fish.

It was a windy month and many days the lakes were difficult to fish although the fish were in the shallows most of the month. The foliage started peaking the last few days of the month. How our climate is changing. 25 years ago when I fished the Rangeley area the last week of the month, most the leaves had fallen from the trees and it frequently spit snow or sleet. Today it is in the high 60’s.

Early October should bring good fishing in waters that are still open. Water temperatures and flows will be reasonable. The long term weather forecast looks benign