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.


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.

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.

A Dry Early September

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.

August Action

Perhaps as a make-up for the lousy weather, high water, and challenging fishing during much of May, June, and even July, the fishing in August was the best that I can remember. Rangeley rivers fished well with certain pools holding a concentration of salmon and trout. Many lake fish ascended the rivers during the flushes of water from the rain and then when the water warmed into the low 70’s, they holed up near incoming cooler tribs. Colder nights in early August returned the water temps into the mid to high sixties and the fish went on a feeding spree.
Kennebago Lake fished well because hatches were late and spread out and the water stayed cool enough for fish to stay in the shallows and feed instead of decending to the thermoclines. It was ironic that with most of the anglers gone, a few lucky anglers had a number of summer evenings where they could cast to rising fish without any other boat nearby.
The lower Magalloway below the dam continued to fish well with many smaller fish falling to nymphs and dries and the occasional monster caught with big streamers or nymphs.
We have not had significant rain for some time so we now could use some precipitation to bring the start of autumn fishing although with continued cool temperatures, I am sure there are a few good fish to be caught in the lake shallows and rivers and streams.

(Sorry for the delay in posting this – I thought it had posted several weeks ago)

June Has Been a Strange Month So Far

Another busy month and I am behind in my entrees to this blog (again). June, like May, was very strange month weather wise. Cold stretches and Hot stretches but very few days with temps between 60 and 75.
The last weekend in Maine we had hot weather and the fishing really turned on. Big fish caught on the Mags as schools of good fish seemed to move in and out of different parts of the river. Feeding behavior was strange. Had a client catch one big trout still stuffed with smelt. Another client the same day caught another heavy trout but this one had yellow Jell-O (sucker eggs) in his mouth. Still another good salmon was actively rising to insects. Usually, this feeding behavior is separated by a few weeks.
Hatches started in earnest in the Logans on Kennebago and the lucky few anglers fishing caught many trout up to 15 inches or so.
Cold nights and heavy rain early in the month blew out most of the rivers until the middle of the month and the cold rain cooled the lakes and ponds down and seemed to suspend hatch and fish activity.
People arrived in the middle of June at Kennebago expecting active fish and there really weren’t any. Water was cold and it was very windy. I flew into a couple remote ponds between Rt 4. and 17 south of Rangeley and there wasn’t much happening there either.
The high water has brought many salmon and trout into many rivers including Kennebago. The water was just too high to fish in most spots. Anglers on the rivers now with more normal flows are doing really well.
Lake bass anglers had interesting stories to tell. The erratic weather had cooled the water and delayed spawning in many locations until the 2nd week in June or later. If bass anglers were on the water the 2nd week of June after a warm day when the shallows had warmed, they had unbelievable action. I fished with my brother on Damarascotta Lake one evening and one morning and we caught more than 50 bass between us. I have heard other similar stories as well.
Towards the last half of June, brown drake hatches are finally starting although it is two weeks later than usual. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the summer unfolds.