May 24, 2016 With some warmer weather things are really starting to perk up, both on the salt and freshwater. Looks like it’s the saltwater species that are stealing the show as from the offshore deep sea fishing charters and party boats the amount of haddock seems endless and although they are not legal to possess, more and more codfish are being caught and released, which is indeed good news as that fishery really revolved and evolved around cod.
The migratory fish such as stripers have arrived in numbers but it’s hard to catch a legal fish of 28 inches with stripers just under providing a teaser! Some mackerel have showed and a big run of herring and alewives are providing plenty of both bait and protein for those that don’t mind picking bones from their cooked fish.
Freshwater has been up and down, a lot of this dependent on the air and water temperatures. Hatches have been spotty but when it happens the fly fishermen have found some quality trout and salmon. And in Maine’s most northern waters the ice is finally out. But fishing has been mixed as cold water seems to have slowed down the fishing and the smelt run that many people love to fish for landlocked salmon and brook trout was over quickly, not providing a lot of opportunities for some of the usually hottest action of the season.
This writer just got back from a week’s fishing in Aroostook County, Maine’s most northern and largest county. The Fish River Chain of Lakes are two numerous to list but Square, Long, Mud and Cross Lakes are easily reached, both from some good boat launching areas and going between the lakes on small rivers that are locally called “thoroughfares.”
There is also a medium sized lake, Madawaska that is among these lakes that harbors some outsized brookies, both stocked and native. It was in this lake we first wet a line, fishing with friend Tom Wolters who has a seasonal home there but hails from Michigan. We had brookies in the eighteen inch range that took both streamer flies and small lures!
Our foray into Mud Lake which is accessed by one of the small thoroughfares from Long Lake’s launch area provided no action, but earlier in the season we were told that brook trout up to over three pounds were occasionally taken!
Back to Madawaska Lake we again encountered some outsized brookies.
Next we fished the Mud Lake-Cross Lake Thoroughfare. By boat and using anchor drops to cover the water as we dropped downstream we had some spectacular fishing for mid-sized brookies. Tiring from that we boated across Cross Lake and into the Cross Lake-Square Lake Thoroughfare. It was there that we caught the largest salmon so far, a pretty three pounder. These fish are not native but they are the product of natural reproduction.
Last time on the water we hit Long Lake, which as a reputation of having “long times between hits.” But we tangled with a four pound landlocked salmon quite quickly but then spent several hours before the next couple of smaller salmon took our marabou streamer flies.
It’s a 385 mile trip from here to there so we don’t fish these waters often but when we do it’s like stepping back in time!
MAINE: Master Maine Guide Stu Bristol of Lyman reports: “Plenty is happening on the water this week as summer weather moves in. Saco Bay and Portland Harbor are both right full of small striped bass in the 18–25-inch range. No keepers yet but anglers are sure having a ball with the glut of small fish.”
“Inland, the bass are at the height of spawning and beds are being seen on all local warm-water ponds. Crappie in all the popular waters are just about done spawning and should be back on shoreline structure and cruising the lake at shallow depths. Sabattus Pond in Greene is still the crappie hotspot with fish in the 2-pound plus range common. Smaller crappie water such as Wadley Pond in Lyman/Waterboro are giving up crappies just over a pound each and Lake Arrowhead crappies are back on the stumps.”
“The Saco River between Biddeford and Buxton is the hotspot for brown trout, especially the stretch below Skelton Dam. Water level and flow is down and smallmouths that usually hug the gravel shorelines have moved out to deeper water. Most lakes and ponds are showing surface temperatures just over 60 degrees with some water in the low 70’s.”
The legendary Bunny Clark party and charter boat that fished the southern waters off the Maine coast reports on it’s last outing. “The fishing/catching was excellent overall. Legal landings were good to very good. Most fish caught were haddock followed by cod. Most legal fish landed were haddock, by far. The cull was one legal haddock for every four caught. So there were many haddock that had to be returned. There were also quite a few cod that had to be returned. Legal landings also included three pollock, six mackerel, a halibut and one whiting. There were fifteen dogfish that were released. Drifting was the method. It was a perfect drift. Cod flies caught the most fish by far.”
Famous Maine Guide Dan Legere at the Maine Guide Fly Shop in Greenville on Moosehead Lake reports: “Although streamer fishing is still in season you’ll have to start shopping around in your streamer box for different ones to try. Now that smelt have dispensed traditional smelt patterns aren’t as effective as they were. What worked yesterday may not work today. What worked in the morning may not work in the afternoon.”
“If you know there are fish there, change if your doing nothing. We like the 3 fly rule. If you don’t interest fish with three different flies that have worked in the past it’s time to move on. When your fly starts getting attention it will probably work for a while.”
“Also nymphing becomes more important these days. Fish that were new to the river and have now been in the river for a while discover the insects and begin feeding heavily on nymphs. You will find a hodge-podge of bugs on their menu and catch fish on a number of different patterns. Every bug that exists is crawling around the bottom. Right now there are bright green and olive caddis lava getting ready to pupate and fish are keying in on them because they are available. There are a lot of fish in the rivers we just have to work a little harder to interest them in what we have to offer.”
“Hatches are still a ways out. The water actually cooled down a couple of degrees the last few days putting hatches off for a while.
It’s a different story on the trout ponds. Guys are saying you can’t do much wrong. Fish are feeding on top. The Wood Special or a Hornberg are hard to beat when fished just under the surface. And don’t forget your mayfly selection. It should include Adams, Blue Dunns, Black Gnats and Quill Gordons. With the warming trend predicted over the next few days ponds are poised to explode with the first major hatches of the season.”
Jerry at the River’s Edge Sport Shop located on Rangeley Lake amid the other lakes there says that there had been a huge landlocked salmon caught out of his lake this weekend. No weight was available but it was a whopping 27 ½ inches long! It took a sewed on smelt.
“The rain slowed things down a bit but right now the fishing is HOT! The river fishing has started up and the fish in the lakes have moved down into the 40 to 45 foot range and are hitting. Up at Mooselookmeguntic Lake there’s been some beautiful brookies taken and lots of average sized salmon. No hatches seen yet.”
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Rick at Suds-n-Soda Sports in Greenland says that the ground- fishing anglers are having no trouble with picking up limits of haddock; the key is to move around until you find a nice school of keeper sized fish. There are also a lot more cod this year that are providing good action but they are not yet enough of them to allow possession.”
“Striper fishing has been hot! If you can net or catch some live alewives you have the hot striper bait right now. Live lining or trolling will both provide lots of action in both Little Bay and the Piscataqua River.”
“Some of the artificial baits are also providing plenty of striper hits. Soft plastic Saltwater Assassin and Tim Moore’s Whisperer Lure are murder on the legal sized fish with soft plastic shad baits taking many schoolies in the just under legal size.”
This just in from NH Fish and Game-- Release Bass: We are in the midst of bass spawning season and all bass (largemouth and smallmouth) need to be released through June 15. Also, you can target bass only when using artificial lures and flies at this time, no live bait, which helps to avoid deep hooking.
New Version of Lead Jig Law: On June 1, 2016, the laws prohibiting the use and sale of certain lead sinkers and jigs will change to include all sinkers and jigs with a total weight of one ounce or less. To learn more, visit www.fishnh.com/fishing/get-the-lead-out.html.
Please help out on our survey: Licensed New Hampshire anglers may receive a phone call, an email or a letter in the coming weeks, asking for participation in a survey about your fishing experiences. Please consider participating, if contacted, to help us better understand anglers' participation in and satisfaction with fishing in New Hampshire. Learn more
Trout stocking: See where we're stocking fish at fishnh.com/fishing/trout-stocking.html.
“There is nothing quite like catching a fish on the surface, according to Andy Schafermeyer, NH regional biologist in the Northcountry.
“Some may say that the whole premise of angling is to make contact with a fish. If that is true, a fish breaking the water and rising for bait would seem to increase that very connection. Whether it is a big smallmouth smashing a popper or a 3-inch trout sipping a Royal Wulff, hooking a fish in this manner will bring a smile to anyone who witnesses it.”
“I put this theory to practice on a fishing trip last fall. It rained every minute of this three-day adventure, and the fishing was very slow. I was with some men who really know their stuff and we were trying every trick in the fly-fishing book. Some of us were fishing heavy nymphs, some of us were fishing droppers and I watched one of my friends tie on a big, ugly striper fly. Nothing was working and we were soaking wet. When my frustration had reached its peak, I decided that if I was unlikely to catch a fish and was essentially practicing my casting, I’d put on a big, dry fly and watch it move among the raindrops. I’d like to tell you that everything changed and I started catching fish on every cast. Unfortunately, that is not what happened but I did catch a few. The fish rose to the surface in a way that made me smile and forget that rain was running into my waders like a broken spigot.”
“Insects are hatching in northern New Hampshire right now, and I saw some fluttering caddis on the Connecticut River yesterday. I also had a few small, dark stoneflies land on my hat to keep the black flies company. This will all translate to some good dry fly fishing as temperatures warm into the weekend.”
In order to gather some baseline information (length, weight and age) on the white perch population in Lake Winnipesaukee, we recently placed nets in bays well known as areas used for spawning white perch, reports John Viar, NH Regional Biologist in the Lakes Region.
“We were able to get a good representative sample of spawning adults this week including several fish in excess of 15 inches and two pounds. Despite the species being highly pursued during the ice fishing and the spring open water season, the population continues to appear abundant and healthy. White perch seek out the first areas in the lake that reach around 60° F to spawn. Females can have over 100,000 eggs and once fertilized, the eggs can hatch as quickly as a day or two. In some of our larger lakes, robust body condition in conjunction with large egg and milt masses can cause a disruption to swim bladder function. This will make some of the larger adults to float on the water surface.”
“Although the spawning run for white perch started over two weeks ago, the fluctuating weather patterns have likely extended the period where adult white perch congregate in the northern portions of Lake Winnipesaukee to spawn. During the recent cold fronts, the shutoff of the spawning run has been as instantaneous as a light switch. After a few days of warmer weather the spawning run picks up again. I predict, given the forecast for the end of the week, that the spawning run will again be in full swing over the weekend and early part of next week. This is a very popular time of year for some anglers. They use a variety of different tackle (small inline spinners and spinner baits, live bait with strike indicators, small jigs, spoons and streamers) to target these fish in parts of Moultonborough, Melvin, Nineteenmile, and Twentymile bays as well as around the Lees Mills and State’s Landing areas. Although Lake Winnipesaukee is perhaps best known for trophy sized white perch, both Winnisquam and Squam lakes also produce some quality fish. For these two lakes seek out shallow bays that could warm more quickly and larger inlets, such as where the Winnipesaukee Rivers enters Winnisquam Lake.”
Alan Nute at the AJ’s Bait and Tackle at Meredith on Lake Winnipesaukee says that the salmon fishing slowed a bit and dropped down into the 25 foot range during the bright daylight hours with water temperatures in the mid fifty degree range.
“The bugs are out and the fish are feeding on them. Rainbow trout are being found at the outlets of the brooks and steams hosting a sucker run and in the larger streams the ‘bows will go right up into the moving water to feed on the spawn.”
“Out on the lake, best colors for salmon and rainbows are the Red/Gray Ghost streamer, the Magog Smelt, White Ghost and Black Ghost. For lures the BB Gun spoons and Top Guns in the new “dirty white bay” colors have been hot.”
“The hotspot for white perch, which have been schooling around the Weir’s Beach area. Crappies are starting to hit in some of the local ponds and the trout stocking in the local ponds and rivers that always is done for the big Memorial Day weekend has started with some excellent catches recently.”
From Tall Timber Lodges on Back Lake in New Hampshire’s largest and most northern town of Pittsburg comes this info: “Fishing for brook trout on Pittsburg’s outer ponds can be a good option when things aren’t exactly clicking on the river or the lakes. N.H. Fish & Game stocked some of the ponds this week and the gates are open on some of the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters’s logging roads, but make sure you check the list because not all of them are open.”
“Coon Brook Bog (fly fishing only) looked especially inviting today, with a good hatch of size 14 BWO’s and rising trout hungrily feeding on them.
Alas, I was up there checking the TTL row boat (one of the perks of staying with us is taking out our row boats gratis on the outer ponds where we have them), so I did not have a fly rod in hand. The road up there is rough, so make sure you’re driving a 4×4 with enough clearance if you go.”
“The roads in to both Round Pond (general rules) and Big Brook Bog (fly fishing only) were pretty good, so they should be targeted as well if you’re doing a tour of the ponds.”
“As you would expect, the best dry flies would be BWO patterns of all kinds, along with properly presented Adams. Hornbergs are usually solid too, along with Woolybuggers and streamers such as the Golden Demon and Mickey Finn when the fish aren’t showing themselves.”
“So far, Tall Timber has boats at the three ponds mentioned above and we’ll have a few more boats at other locations too, once the gates to those ponds open.”
Because of the inherent time restrictions of gathering fresh, up-to-date information, editing and producing this report in a timely manner, occasional errors or marginal information may slip by us. We try our hardest to provide accurate information. We urge readers to use this report as a tool to increase their fishing pleasure and not to rely on as their sole resource. First or second hand information is offered by fishing guides, commercial fishing charters or party boats, bait and tackle dealers, well known successful anglers and state and federal fisheries and natural resource law enforcement officials. We also welcome and use reports forwarded to us by fishermen that use this report. ~ Kittery Trading Post Fishing Report Editor