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.

Hatches, Hatches, Hatches

Despite all of the continuing clouds and rain, over Memorial Day weekend, hatches commenced in the Rangeley area: midges, a blizzard of blue-winged olives, and a few medium-sized mayflies in the Hendrickson, march brown, and Quill Gordon families. And yet, large trout were being caught on streamers in shallow water literally stuffed with smelts – spitting them out as they were brought to net. The smelt must have still been running even into Memorial Day, or at least were moving back into their deeper water haunts and being intercepted as they passed through the lake shallows.

My son and I encountered an epic blue-winged olive hatch (size 18) on the upper Kennebago River. With a strong current downstream, and high-winds blowing upstream, the bugs were blown into a quiet side channel eddy that was all of 2 or 3 feet deep, and there were hundreds sitting on the surface. Somewhere between 12 and 20 trout were rising regularly. It was tough to get the trout to pick your fly amongst all of naturals but every once and awhile we would be successful. It was cool just to see the event and catch some fish. A happy young angler just upstream from us landed what looked to be a 20 inch plus trout on a dry fly.

As we move into mid-June, the larger mayflies and caddis are emerging in  earnest and quite a smorgasbord of insects are available to the trout. We are in the midst of really hot weather for the western mountains of Maine, with temps in the high 80’s during the day and upper 60’s at night. It is a  bit discouraging to watch the water temps in the rivers rise from the mid 50’s to the upper 60’s in just a few days. Hopefully, weather and water temps will drop before it forces the trout back into the lakes, otherwise it will be a short season for trout fishing on the smaller streams and rivers with lake access.

We have also been experimenting with a fly we don’t fish often but are intrigued with its success with very large trout. Maybe you can tell what it is from this mediocre close-up photo took last night.KIMG0053 (2)

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.

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.

Rangeley Area Ice-out

Ice-out in the Rangeley area is finally here. Later than the last several years but pretty typical if you look back over the records of the last 50 years or so. It has been a strange spring with very little precipitation and day after day of blue sky without a cloud. Streams in Central and Southern Maine are very low for this time of year, but in the Rangeley area there was snowpack with lots of moisture content so the melting snow has provided plenty of water for the rivers. As soon as the water temperatures rise a bit the smelt will be on the move and so will the fish. The key to fishing the rivers this time of year when the water is cold is not to move flies too quickly. Dead drifting streamers or providing motion and movement while keeping the streamer in the same place is often the ticket to success.
Some of the most popular places get pretty crowded but it is unpredictable. Sometimes anglers anticipate the weekend is going to be crowded so they hit their favorite spots during the week and Sunday turns out to be empty of significant angler traffic.
I will be out almost every day now trying to hit the smelt runs. My guiding days are filling up but I do have some days available the week of May 20th. Contact me if you are interested.

While waiting for the ice to go out, I travelled to upstate NY to try some steelhead fishing. Check out my video on YouTube under “Playing Large Steelhead” mainelyflyfishing.com to see how I did. Yes, it was cold.
I have started writing a column for The Maine Sportsman on adventure biking (biking and fishing, biking and birding, etc.) Check it out. My first column was in the April issue and they will continue each month throughout the year.
I am looking for a cover photo for my book which will (finally) be published this fall. If anyone has a high quality photo of a person fly fishing with a backdrop that shouts northern New England, I would like to see it. It would preferably show some action – fly casting, fighting a fish, landing a fish – that sort of thing.

I will post again soon.