Spring is Sprung

First of all, I apologize for the tardy posting of my blog. Giving many fly fishing presentations and two weeks in the Bahamas bonefishing left me swamped. I am sure not a single person is feeling sorry for me.

After my bonefish adventure, I could literally write a book entitled, ” 101 Ways to Lose a Bonefish”, because I experienced them all. I lost fish to barracudas, sharks, mangrove roots, disenigrating reels, snapped backing line, broken fly-line loops, broken hooks, slack line, and fly-line loops around the fly-rod butt, just to name some of the ways. Fortunately for my ego, I did land a few as did my wife, Lindsey, and members of my family. You can see from this photo of my son-in-law and I releasing two fish, how amazingly bonefish blend into their environment. No wonder I can’t see them.IMG_0807IMG_0811

Getting back to Maine, this is the time of year when everybody is asking me about ice out. At the end of February, it looked like lakes were going to open up early. But then came March, which ended up with an average temperature below December, January, or February. Ice got thicker and then was covered with major snowfall. So now, even though the 70’s weather over Easter weekend melted much of the snow, I think the ice is going to hold out for a bit longer, particularly since this week will feature a return to colder weather. Ice is half out of the small ponds in southern Maine. Damariscotta Lake ice went out late last week. Ice out will move north over the next few weeks.

Stocking will commence in Maine in earnest this week and fishing will improve from there.

Dog Days of Summer

The drought of 2016 continues throughout most of Maine and New England. Most natural rivers are too low or warm to fish well or perhaps shouldn’t be fished at all to protect the stressed fish. I have never seen rivers in the Rangeley area as low as they are now. For example, the Diamond River at the Dartmouth Grant, which can flow as high as 14,000 cfs during snow melt was down to 34 cfs.

It is no better in Massachusetts or the other New England states with the exception of the northern half of Maine that has fared somewhat better.

As I outline in my first book, “Fly Fishing the Seasons of New England” some fishing options remain even under these conditions. Rivers from bottom-release dams such as the Magalloway River flowing from the Azischos Dam has still been fishing well, all the way to the New Hampshire border. I fished it several days ago and we caught 5 species of fish – salmon, brook trout, fallfish, smallmouth bass (up to four pounds), and yellow perch!

The headwaters of rivers and streams high in the mountains are still cold with adequate flows. For example, the upper Ammonosoc River near Mt. Washington was packed with brook trout and rainbows several days ago – I assume because they moved upstream as lower stretches of river warmed.

Lakes in the Rangeley area fished very well all summer until slowing down recently. Fish still rise early in the morning and right at dark. More nights like last Monday night when night time temps dropped into the lower 40’s will lower the surface water temperatures.

Pray for rain!

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.

Hatches Finally Start in Earnest

Hatches are at full swing now in the Rangeley Area with early season mayflies – Hendricksons, Quill Gordons, March Browns, or similar mayflies hatching regularly when conditions warrant –sometimes morning and sometimes afternoon.

The first really warm day on May 12 brought the first surface activity to Kennebago Lake. I had one of those magical evenings that sometimes one is fortunate enough to experience. I was the only one fishing on the entire lake, it was an 80 degree day and warm evening without a cloud in the sky. As the sun started to set, the lake was flat calm around the western shore. Two bald eagles watched me from a nearby tall white pine tree as fish cruised just under the surface sipping midges and other small fare. Every cast to a rise resulted in a fish. In the cold water they fought hard and some towed the canoe. I happily lost count of how many came to hand. It was so perfect, I half expected Kevin Costner to come out of a field of corn on the bank and ask me if this was heaven (that was a Field of Dreams film reference).

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Then on Monday, May 16th, the area had 3 inches of snow and temps in the 20’s and 30’s and howling winds. And I do mean howling – Mooseluckmeguntic Lake had 6 foot waves. On the following Wednesday, the temp of the water had fallen to 44 degrees in the rivers and all of the hatches just stopped

But by last weekend, May 21st, the weather warmed and hatches commenced again including on Saturday afternoon a huge fly ant hatch on the upper river. 4 anglers fishing there caught 10 massive brook trout over two pounds in just several hours.

By the middle of this week, blizzard hatches of early season mayflies were everywhere. I guided yesterday and my sport had a 30 trout (at least) afternoon – not telling you where. My only concern is that we have had no rain and the rivers are at summer levels already – just like the last two springs. We need rain…

Enjoy the fishing…Lou

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.

North Carolina Fishing and other matters

Hi Folks, my website is infected with some virus so some of you may see random words that are meaningless. This may force me to undertake a long overdue redo of my website.

I apologize for the long time between posts. How time flies when you are shoveling snow. Here is what the front of my house looks like.
I have been busy giving presentations around the eastern US although a few have been snowed out. I apologize to those hoping to see my presentation in Somerset NJ but I was coming down early that Saturday morning and the bulk of the snow was between NJ and Maine and I just couldn’t make it.

I was presenting at the fly fishing show in North Carolina and I had Sunday morning free before flying back to Maine. My future son-in-law and I hopped in a car to the Pisgah National Forest in the North Carolina Mountains, spent the night, and first thing in the morning were on the water at the Davidson River. We fished the stretch below the hatchery (no jokes please).

Even though the morning started cold (ice was freezing on the guides) it was just nice to be fishing. Plus, it is such an exotic environment because of the large Rhododendron bushes all around the water. Because it had been so cold, hold over browns and rainbows were stacked up in the deeper pools (it is not a big river) and there were only a few anglers around. Fishing midge pupa or emerging midge patterns under an indicator (or high-sticking with no indicator), we did well. A welcome respite from the Maine Winter.

Davidson River

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.

Video: Low Water Provides Clear View of Spawning Brook Trout

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.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Late Summer Hex Hatch Hits Kennebago

Hexagenia Mayflies fluttered off the surface of Kennebago in full force in late July, bringing exciting large dry fly fishing. Of course, most of the anglers had quit for the season leaving the entire lake to a lucky few. Kennebago hexes seem slightly smaller and more delicate than the same species in other bodies of water, so most existing patterns are too big and bulky. The most successful dry fly pattern was an extended yellow deer hair
body, curved upward off the water, with a tall vertical post of brown deer hair.

The following photo sequence shows how things went for several evenings: Find an emerging hex, cast an imitation nearby, watch for the strike!

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.