Ice-out finally and other news

Ice-out is official. For all practical purposes, ice was almost all gone on Rangeley, Mooselookmeguntic, and Kennebago on May 6th or 7th.

I was guiding on Wednesday and didn’t see too many signs of smelt however. Water temps were below 40 on the Rangeley River in the morning but with air temps approaching 80 degrees in the afternoon, water temps were 43 on the Rangeley and Magalloway Rivers by afternoon. By the time you are reading this, I am sure the fishing has picked up.

Everyone anticipated potential flooding from the snowmelt but with little rain falling in the last two months, it didn’t happen. Now with the lakes low, dam operators are trying to refill them and some river levels are low. It is hard to believe given the amount of snow that we had. Mooselookmeguntic Lake is at least four feet low, but maybe this is intentional due to the Upper Dam work being done. This will limit fishing opportunities on the Rangeley River if it stays at that level.

The best thing about giving presentations and signing books at fly fishing shows an Trout Unlimited chapter meetings is all of the interesting people you meet including talented outfitters and guides, some of who you end up fishing with. Over time, I will introduce some of them to you.

Brian, owner of Pheasant Tail Tours (www.pheasanttailtours.com) and Harry, owner of Berkshire Rivers Fly Fishing (www.berkshireriversflyfishing.com) have introduced me to Massachusetts fly fishing. People from northern New England don’t think about going to Massachusetts to fish, but that is a mistake. Mass. rivers fish better early and late in the season then more northern climes and you can extend your season.

The Deerfield River is a great river to float for rainbows and browns, and the Hoosic and Housatonic Rivers are being rediscovered for their very nice brown trout fishing. There are other options as well and Brian and Harry can take you there on either wading or float trips. I have been enjoying my time fishing in Massachusetts – you don’t get a lot of chances at holdover brown trout or rainbows in Maine.

Anxiously awaiting open-water season

Well, I am sure that everyone is waiting for the cold weather to end so we can start to see some open water. This is the time when we all daydream about fishing and plan future trips so I have some recommendations for you…

First of all, if you have never fished for the steelhead or large browns in Upstate New York that run into the tributaries of the Great Lakes than you have missed out on some real fun. Forget about the stories you have heard about crowded water and snagging. There is a guide service that does a tremendous job in New York. Go visit their website at www.reelactionfly.com. You will be amazed at their photos and videos. They also offer some great options at their camp in Alaska.

Here is a photo of me with a rather large brown trout I caught while they guided me. Trust me when I say that when one guide chooses another guide to assist , then the guide must be good.

If you are interested in Atlantic Salmon, the Restigouche River has some of the largest Atlantic Salmon in North America. I was at a show and the videos that the Restigouche River Lodge were showing were mouth-opening. While I have never been there, Kevin McDevitt is involved, and he is a quality individual who I have known for many years. Their website is www.restigouchelodge.com.

Finally, if you haven’t seen the following video, check it out at http://vimeo.com/85147880

I am not going to tell you anything about it except it is from New Zealand, just click on it – you will be glad that you did.

Finally, I will be giving my book presentation at the Maine Sportsman show on Friday and Sunday, the last weekend of March and at the NutMeg Chapter of TU (http://www.nutmegtrout.org) on March 18th in Connecticut.

November fishing continued good

Decent weather continued into mid November and the fly fishing in Southern Maine continued to be good in those bodies of water still open to fishing. The Presumpscott River was particularly good, not only the section near the Sebago dam but further down river below other ponds and dams. Water flows were low making wading and fish spotting easy, and water temperatures were still in the mid 40’s so the fish remained active. See my video of the action in early November. Later in the month flows increased significantly, limiting the fishing options somewhat
The attraction this time of year is the mix of fish you can hook up with. Good size brookies in gorgeous spawning colors are stocked as are large 18 inch plus browns. Holdover fish move up the river from ponds and lower parts of the river. I watched one guy net a wide and fat landlocked salmon that was over 4 pounds, and saw a picture of another 25 inch salmon (caught on a spinner). I also caught chubs and small mouth bass. Like I said, you never know.
Classic Maine streamers such as The Grey Ghost catch fish but nymphing has the highest rate of success. I nymph with copper johns in various colors as well as pheasant tails, and zebra midges. What tippet size to use is a dilemma; finer tippet sizes yield more fish, but breakoff’s are likely if you hook into a horse.
The Royal River near where it empties into the ocean, continued to yield fish if you hit it at the right time. The water levels and fish activity levels fluctuate widely depending upon rainfall. I will end with a relevant excerpt from my book,” Flyfishing northern New England – The Five Seasons”:
Coastal streams that become brackish before emptying into the ocean stay warmer because of the ocean’s influence. Last fall, in southern Maine, the ocean temperature in some of the shallow bays and estuaries was still in the 60’s in early October. If you have never tried fishing for sea-run browns, I recommend it. From the Royal River in Yarmouth all the way down the Maine coast to New Hampshire, many streams have sea-runs. The Maine Sportsman newspaper and other publications give detailed descriptions every year of where to find them. I have a neighbor who every year catches browns over 20 inches from the Royal River, right in downtown Yarmouth. He uses very large lures and flies with lots of flash. I have had my best action with large soft-hackle marabou streamers in yellow and small muddlers. It usually isn’t fast fishing, but it is a thrill every once and awhile to hook one.