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For Immediate Release September 23, 2003

September 23, 2003 Freshwater Fishing Report

Region A- Southwestern Maine

A few more weeks remain during the traditional open water fishing season which ends September 30th, although most of the lakes and ponds in Region A are open in October and/or November (catch and release fishing for bass, salmon, and trout). While many of our regular angler contacts are gearing up for fall hunting, we did still receive some favorable fishing reports. In general, cooling water temperatures and recent rains have improved conditions, particularly in streams. For example, the reach of the Little Androscoggin River below Welchville recently turned on again and anglers are reporting rainbows and browns up to 17 inches long. Although the fishing isn't as fast as it was during the spring, there are a lot fewer anglers...and bugs. Also, Sebago Lake anglers continue to catch plenty of lake trout, including a noticeable increase in the salmon catch.

We had hoped to deploy our renovated hydroaccoustics boat on Sebago this month, but much needed modifications and resulting delays did not allow for the boat to be put into active duty this season. In addition to replacing the boat hull, a new winch system is being installed and all the electronics need to be reinstalled, a major project to say the least. Some Sebago anglers have been reporting good numbers of juvenile smelts in the fish they've been catching, which is encouraging. However, we won't have a good handle on the extent of any change in smelt abundance until next September (2004), when we expect to resume annual monitoring of the smelt population with the hydroacoustics boat.

We continue to receive lots of reports from anglers purporting to have caught pike in Sebago. Many have been of great assistance by holding harvested fish and contacting us to verify their catch. However, to date we have only confirmed one northern pike in Sebago Lake (the one we captured), however, it is probable that more than one northern was illegally stocked and others roam the lake. We continue to encourage the harvest of this illegally stocked fish.

Our earlier efforts using the electrofishing boat to evaluate the extent of the pike introduction resulted in no additional northerns being captured or observed, and no evidence of successful spawning, including hybridization with chain pickerel. Collectively, this information suggests there are currently few northerns in Sebago. During our initial surveys we were looking for concentrations of pike that might suggest whether they originated from an illegal stocking in one of the more than 30 lakes and ponds that reside in the drainage, but no such concentrations were not found.

Sebago's large size (almost 30,000 acres) precluded us from effectively surveying the entire shoreline, let alone capturing all the pike that were planted there. One important objective of our original survey was to identify any opportunity to focus our limited resources more effectively in considering control/eradication options. Unfortunately, this opportunity did not present itself. We have encouraged angler harvest as the most practical means to harvest the low numbers of pike that are present. The purpose for discussing the reasons for the actions we undertook is that some have mistakenly suggested that the primary purpose of our initial work was to eradicate northern pike from Sebago. Certainly a welcome outcome, but not a realistic goal on a water of this size, given the season and available technology. In general, the use of electrofishing technology to eradicate and control populations of illegally stocked fish like pike and bass is not practical and effective, once established.

Next spring we plan additional surveys on Sebago of potential spawning areas. These surveys will be undertaken immediately following ice-out, when northern pike spawn. Adult northerns (the northern that was captured was an adult male) will be concentrated in specific types of shallow water habitat and more vulnerable to capture. A survey during the pike spawning season will provide us with a better idea as to the their abundance, and whether it would be practical to implement additional control/eradication measures.

- Francis Brautigam, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region B - Central Maine

At this time of the year, we all experience the change the season puts on us with the fall colors that rim the maple groves in the swamp land. The green trees are given a brilliant red that only comes when the call of winter is not too far off. Fish also experience a change that triggers them to either fatten up for the lean winter months (as the warm water species do) or go through reproduction that propagates the species (such as most coldwater species).

In Maine waters, natural reproduction helps but does not provide enough for what the anglers expect from the typical fishery in Region B waters. So at this time of year we supplement our waters with help from our hatchery system.

Starting about October 1st until sometime in November, our hatcheries will be busy stocking primarily brown and brook trout and smaller numbers of splake and landlocked salmon. By stocking, we are able to utilize the habitat that lakes and ponds have for growing coldwater fish. In the change of the season, we experience a change in the residence of many fish whether it is to seeking spawning grounds in small Region B feeder streams or if it comes in the way of a hatchery truck providing a supplement for the fishery.

Anglers should be prepared at a moment's notice to change their venue or tactics by traveling to the spots where weather plays a role, when rain or cooler temperatures gives a boost to the flows or reduction in stream temperatures. Surface water temperatures are falling, so many lakes and ponds will be providing action to the persistent angler. Don't overlook the deeper water though, as smelt, the primary forage for many game species, are prone to fluctuate in depth and give the angler pleasant rewards. Sixty-eight waters are stocked with brown trout in this region and the action from now until the end of the open water season can lead to unbelievable fishing stories. Eight waters in this region are stocked with landlocked salmon and they all have good fishable populations that may provide a silverside to those who know their haunts. Brook trout are in about 20 waters that may be setting up for some fast action. Seek out the species you want at any number of the waters in Region B and you will be happy with the results.

-- Bill Woodward, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region C - Downeast

At Green Lake yesterday, while Rick Jordan and I were taking a lunch break from our shoreline electrofishing for young of the year smallmouth bass, I saw a boat with two anglers pass by. I thought one of the guys in the boat perhaps was booklet keeper Harold Parker of Ellsworth. A phone call this morning to Harold confirmed that I was right. He and a buddy took advantage of the beautiful day featuring flat calm conditions to dredge for togue. Harold reported that they fished in 50-60 feet of water with some success...he landed a 22 inch togue in great shape, and his buddy lost two others. Although he has had decent fishing for 22-23 inch fish, with the largest weighing from 4- 4 1/2 pounds, he has not boated any 6-8 pounders. This past winter, which was the best at Green in quite a while, togue of that size were not uncommon.

This final week of the regular season should be productive at West Grand Lake/Grand Lake Stream. Lots of sexually mature salmon are moving down the lake towards the dam and Grand Lake Stream on their annual fall spawning run. This creates an excellent opportunity for trollers to catch some well proportioned 18-20 inchers in peak condition. Try the area starting about 100 yards up from the dam up to Munson Island....the period from 4pm till dark can be mighty good. Stream anglers score well fishing nymphs with sinking/sinking-tip line or streamers such as Black Ghost, Joe's Smelt, Wooly Bugger, and Barnes Special. For those who can't schedule a September trip, you can fish the lake (catch and release, artificial lures only) from October 1-15, and the stream from October 1-20(catch and release, fly fishing only). The October stream fishery is very popular with anglers as well as some bird hunters who delight in the chance to shoot several partridge/woodcock and catch several salmon on the same blue-ribbon day.

In response to my request for digital photos of fish caught this summer in Downeast Maine, West Grand angler and camp owner Ken Grant graciously sent me a photo of a salmon caught in late August on the unexpected surprise...while he and a young angler were trolling streamer flies for bass. If you would like to see the salmon, click here:

Last week, I electrofished several small tributaries of Lower Patten Pond checking up on relative abundance of juvenile wild brown trout. The results were not encouraging. At one brook, where we captured 91 young of the year and 4 parr on 9/22/81, we captured nothing because the brook was DRY. At another, where we sampled 68 young of the year and 8 parr on 8/27/82, we captured 38 young of the year and one parr. These comparisons illustrate how production levels of juvenile brown trout have been adversely affected by the preponderance of relatively warm, dry summers which have afflicted eastern Maine over the past 10 years. Back 21-22 years ago, in response to cooler, wetter summers, these small brooks were more productive. Furthermore, there were no smallmouth and largemouth bass in the pond back then to prey upon the young brown trout as they migrated out of the brooks into the pond.

Today, the Lower Patten Pond fishery for wild brown trout is a mere shadow of its former self, barely hanging on by a thread. In this particular case, we know what has caused the demise of this salmonid fishery: 1) Over the past 10 years, Mother Nature hasn't delivered the beneficial summer rains that she usually did 20 years ago, and 2) illegal introductions of smallmouth and largemouth bass by dumb, misguided anglers have added two severe predators/competitors to the ecosystem. Sadly, this double whammy proved to be more than even the tenacious wild brown trout could withstand. For those anglers who complain that the salmonid fisheries in Maine are "going down the tubes", they need to keep in mind the Lower Patten Pond example wherein both causative factors are beyond the control of fishery biologists.

-- Ron Brokaw, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region D - Western Mountains

Just the ticket for September fishing: rain every few days to induce salmon and trout into the rivers for some great fishing. There has been good action on the Kennebago and Magalloway plus lots of other streams and rivers. When time has run out on waters that close the end of September, don't forget that there are lots of waters that are open through October; these are primarily stocked waters limited to catch and release fishing, but what a time of year to go fishing! Look for the S-23 and S-24 codes in the lawbook.

Dave Howatt is mailing out envelopes to our faithful booklet keepers and in return will receive lots of valuable information about the past season's fishing on western Maine waters. Thanks to all of our booklet keepers for recording your fishing trips. With a small staff and hundreds of waters to keep track of, we rely on our volunteers help us monitor the fisheries that we don't have time to sample on an annual basis.

While I'm thanking people, thanks to all the volunteers who have helped us with river surveys and other tasks. Your interest in Maine's natural resources is allowing us to move into new areas that we couldn't hope to accomplish on our own. Have a great fall.

-Forrest Bonney, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region E - Moosehead Region

Last Friday night's brush with the remnants of Hurricane Isabel left us with a whopping quarter inch of rain. We could still use some more rain, and cooler weather, to improve fishing prospects for the final week of September.

Beyond September, a number of stocked waters in the Moosehead Region will remain open to fishing through the month of October. In the open water rulebook, these waters are noted with the special "S-23" designation. An artificial lures only regulation applies to the extended season in these waters, and all fish caught must be released alive at once. The major exception is the Piscataquis River, from the dam in Guilford downstream to the Sebec-Atkinson Bridge. This 16-mile stretch of river is open to openwater fishing year-round, with an artificial lures only restriction. Children 12 and under may fish with a no live fish as bait restriction, which means they can use worms. The daily bag limit - year round - is 2 trout!

Low flows and high water temperatures are not conducive to trout fishing in the Piscataquis through the summer months. In fact, these conditions limit trout survival there over the summer. However, the "put and take" stocking of catchable size brook trout in the spring, and brown trout in the fall, creates trout fishing opportunity in an area not specifically noted for its number of trout waters. On Wednesday, September 24, 1,500 fall yearling brown trout will be stocked in several locations from Guilford to East Dover. These browns will average close to a pound apiece, and should provide some good fishing in the weeks ahead.

Most of the Moosehead Region's ponds that are stocked with catchable trout each spring remain open to fishing in October. However, come October many fishermen have already put away their fishing gear in favor of hunting equipment. Over the past years we have observed very little use on ponds open to fishing during October. Therefore, to provide some additional incentive for fishermen to get out and enjoy the early fall days, we have recommended that some of our put and take ponds remain open to fishing through October 31 under the regulations that apply all spring and summer.

The Commissioner's Advisory Council will consider this recommendation at their meeting on Thursday, September 25th. If they approve it, next year in October fishermen will be able to take home a trout or two from these ponds. There is no need to worry about the trout populations. At these waters the hatchery truck will be back each spring to replenish the supply for another season. With increased hatchery production as a result of the bond issue that passed last fall, it is likely that in the years to come some trout can also be stocked in September to further improve fall fishing.

As a final note, thanks to the Dover-Foxcroft Kiwanis Club and the Town of Dover-Foxcroft there is more opportunity to fish in Dover's Kiwanis Park. In 2001, the Dover Kiwanians sponsored a project that enlarged and deepened a small pond on Dunham Brook to improve conditions for a brook trout stocking program. This year the Kiwanis Club, with a grant from the Maine Community Foundation, and a lot of help from Dover's town crew, sponsored another project to increase the size of this pond.

Kiwanis Park Pond provides an excellent place for family fishing in the Dover area. Catchable brook trout are stocked there every spring. It is a great location for parents to bring their children for a picnic and to teach them how to fish. The pond is a good place for kids to go after school, on weekends, and in the summer after school is out. The Piscataquis County Sheriff's Department holds its annual DARE program at the pond, and IF&W insures that there are trout present to be caught. This year over 100 youngsters were involved.

Kiwanis Park Pond is an excellent example of how good things can and do happen when people work together to improve the recreational opportunities available in our communities.

-Paul Johnson, Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region F, Penobscot Region

Surface water temperatures remain elevated on most of the region's lakes and ponds, mid to high 60* F is the norm. Reports have been spotty, but places like East Grand Lake, Seboeis Lake, Spring Pond, Pleasant Pond, Duck Lake, and Upper JoMary Lake should start to heat up soon for some suburb fall salmon fishing opportunities. Also, last call for some angling opportunities in flowing water. Excellent reports this year are coming from the East Branch of the Penobscot for both landlocks and brook trout. Anglers fishing the West Branch of the Penobscot have reported fast fishing from time to time, but with few large fish being reported.

Anglers still have a few days to get their fill of fishing on most waters throughout the state, although many waters do remain open through October to "catch and release" fishing. Anglers wishing to fish under the S-23 provisions should check the Open Water Fishing 2003 Regulations for the particular water that they are interested in, or access the online edition at S-23: EXTENDED SEASON - Remains open to fishing through October. From October 1 - October 31: artificial lures only; all fish caught must be released alive at once.

A landmark event happened this past week here at Cold Stream Pond. Steve Greenleaf, long time togue angler and a voluntary record bookkeeper for the Department since 1984, achieved a personal milestone by catching a "mile of togue". Earlier this summer while looking through his database of fish records, Steve realized that he was a little shy of a total of 5,000 feet of togue, laid end to end. As a result, this spring he announced that he would be going over the top sometime this summer. Last week Steve was 19" short of 5,280 feet, and by weeks end the record was history. Congratulations Steve! That's a lot of togue.

--Nels Kramer, Assistant Regional Fisheries Biologist

Region G - Aroostook County

Since August 16, rivers, brooks, and streams have been under more restrictive general law regulations. Generally, all flowing waters are artificial-lures-only (ALO) with a daily bag limit of 1 fish; however, some exceptions apply so anglers should check the lawbook prior to an outing. As brook trout move toward spawning areas, anglers can have great success in areas that might have been seemingly fishless 1-3 months ago. Deep holding pools are the habitat anglers should focus on as this type of habitat provides the protection older, larger trout need to survive predation from certain birds and mammals. Don't overlook the pools near road crossings; often large pools occur directly downstream of roads and trout often use these pools while "staging" in preparation for spawning.

Lakes and ponds retain the regulations that applied earlier in the season until the last day of September. Brook trout have become very active in smaller lakes and ponds recently. A trip over the weekend to a recently reclaimed pond resulted in more than 30 brook trout being caught in under 4 hours; the trout caught were up to 15 inches in length. The fish were reported to be very active between 7 and 9 AM and readily hit artificial lures.

As September winds down, anglers can fish their favorite water one last time. Most waters close the last day of September, but many will remain open through October with ALO and catch-and-release regulations. We recommend trying one of these waters during October as the action can be excellent for larger fish. More than 30 waters are open to October fishing. I list the waters below and categorize them for opportunities to catch larger fish (fish larger than 16 inches) indicated by an "**". If you live in northern Maine, you are likely to be within a relatively short driving distance to one of these waters.

Arnold Brook Lake, Presque Isle; **Beaver Tail Pond, T14R10; **Black Pond, St. John; Bran Lake, St. Francis; Carry Lake, Littleton; **Cochrane Lake, Smyrna; **Conroy Lake, Monticello; Daigle Pond, New Canada; Deep Lake, Littleton; Dickwood Lake, Eagle Lake; **Drews Lake, New Limerick; Echo Lake, Presque Isle; Hale Pond, Moro Plt.; Hanson Brook Lake, Presque Isle; Logan Lake, Houlton; **Moccasin Pond, T14R8 (note: fly fishing only); **Monson Pond, Fort Fairfield; Mud Pond, Linneus; Pennington Pond, T15R6; Perch Pond, T15R9; Round Mountain Pond, T11R8; Spaulding Lake, Oakfield; Timoney Lake, Oakfield; Ugh Lake, T12R14; Big Caribou Pond, T7R10; Little Caribou Pond, T7R10; **First Currier Pond, T9R11; **Echo Lake, T9R11; Upper Elbow Pond, T10R10; Island Pond, T9R10; Matthews Pond, T8R10; and **Millinocket Lake, T7R9, T8R9, T7R10.

-Frank Frost, Regional Fisheries Biologist




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