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.

June rain leads to good July fishing

I can’t believe how the month of June flew by. Guiding, more exploration of Vermont fisheries, smallmouth bass fishing on Damariscotta Lake, Striper fishing in New Hampshire, and before you know it we are into July.

June was a cool and very wet month for much of New England. I had to cancel two scheduled classes that were supposed to take place in northern Vermont and on the Andro because all of the rivers were blown out. The Rangeley Rivers were very high and not fishable off and on all month. On the positive side, the waters have stayed cool and fishing continues to be good. The Rangeley River fished well thru June – and remains one of my favorite nymphing rivers.

The Kennebago Lake brown drake hatch occurred the last week of June and those that were on the lake enjoyed tremendous action from salmon and trout. A few trout approaching 20 inches – quite a treat on a dry fly No sign of any green drakes or hexes yet.

Kennebago River had some salmon come up in June with the high water but not as many as I might have thought. However, the river is filled with trout of all sizes, mostly 6-10 inches but more then I can ever remember – maybe because of several wet summers. With more rain at the end of June, more salmon have recently arrived. Yesterday, in a couple of hours, I landed 8 salmon on a simple mid-sized Royal Wulff. With cool lake surface temps, I think the river will continue to fish well through July.

The photo is my wife catching a nice trout during the evening rise on Kennebago Lake.

Hatches starting in earnest

May was a strange month in the northeast. In several states  (like Massachusetts) until the last day of the month it was going to be one of the driest months on record. In southern New England it was also one of the warmest May’s on record. Yet in Maine and northern New England it was very cold. Most of the hatch activity was late.

Fortunately, welcome rain arrived the last day of the month. I was getting concerned about real drought and the quick end to fishing season in many areas. Some streams were running at mid-summer levels. Continued rain has improved the situation considerably and early June has been cold. In Rangeley we had a number of mornings in the lower 30’s with frost in some areas and afternoon highs in only the lower 40’s

In the Rangeley area, early insects such as small black stoneflies, march browns, and even a few sulphers emerge during warm afternoons. The small tan caddis are emerging in droves on Kennebago. The lake is active with some good fish but no one is catching salmon on the river as of two days ago.

Two days ago I guided Rita, a 72 year old woman who had never fly fished. She was a very enthusiastic student but as of 8:30 had not landed a fish without help – casting, hooking, and landing by herself. On just about the last cast, she cast, hooked, landed and  released a twelve inch brook trout on a dry fly. Victory!

This has been a different spring for me because I have been traveling extensively to attend my daughter’s graduation and then her wedding, and also researching my next book. I have fished some new and very interesting water. I will share some of my learnings and photos periodically. This week I am going to Damariscotta for some smallmouth bass fishing and then on to fish northern Vermont for the weekend. Next week I will be back to Kennebago to guide for a lot of the week.

News Flash and My Speaking Schedule

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 (charlie@eveningsunflyshop.com)
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.

Fishing picks up in June, but so do the black flies

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.

Spring is here, but ice-out still a ways away

Spring-like weather has finally arrived and the snow is melting quickly and ice thinning on lakes and ponds in southern and central Maine. Rivers are quite full from melting snow runoff. In the mountains and north, it will take a while for the snow to melt and four feet of ice to diminish. Ice-out there is a ways away.

I have been busy speaking about my new book and writing my next one, “How to catch trophy wild Brook Trout”. There are a number of specific tactics and techniques required if you want to increase your chances of catching a real trophy. Of course, you have to be fishing in places where these fish live, and they aren’t found everywhere.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction:

For many anglers, there is something special about landing a trophy native trout or salmon on a fly. That is why fly fishers pursue Atlantic salmon in Quebec, brown trout in Germany, Yellowstone cutthroat in the park, steelhead in the Pacific Northwest, golden trout in the Sierra, and brook trout in the Northeast United States. Native is the key word because it means the fish have always existed in these waters (at least since the last ice age), have never been stocked, and are still born and grow in these waters. Wild fish are fish that were born in the watershed they live but whose ancestors were put there by human beings in the recent or distant past. Native fish are all wild but not all wild fish are natives. Still, catching a trophy wild fish is quite an achievement as well. Now, there is nothing wrong with landing a stocked trout that has grown large or even a brood-stock fish (one that was stocked at a large size), but it is just not the same.

The above native brook trout was caught on a soft hackle grey ghost streamer last fall.

My next speaking engagements are at the Cumberland Library on May 1 and The Orvis Store in Dedham, Massachusetts. Please join me.

I am also excited that people are beginning to sign up for my instructional classes. One day to learn all of the different fishing methods from my book. Too often, people limit their approach to just one method or another and don’t adjust to different conditions or water types. Give me a call if you want more information about these classes.

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.