June 19, 2008

Anglers Do Well to Heed Advice From Top Guides


Spend a few hours in a boat with a good Maine guide and you soon realize that there's a big difference between them and you.

Yes, you may spend a lot of time fishing. Yes, you may know plenty about the fish you pursue. And yes, if you sit back and pay attention, you'll learn more in a guide's on-water classroom than you would have thought imaginable.

When you think about it, that makes perfect sense.

After all, if you spend a weekend or two a month on the water - or every weekend, for that matter - you're still lacking the daily experience that a good, busy guide can tap into.

Those top guides are on the water virtually every day, and when subtle changes happen - fish start taking an olive-bodied caddis fly instead of a pale green-bodied caddis, for instance - they know.

That, in part, is why I like to pass along the tips of guides when I receive them. They're tapped into the waters their clients fish and can give you information it might take hours or days for you to accumulate.

Here, then, are a few tips from Dan Legere of Greenville's Maine Guide Fly Shop, who e-mails me a periodic report on the goings-on in his region:

"The caddis are hatching in big numbers and are hatching everywhere. The rivers are on FIRE!" Legere wrote. "Despite the big water on all the rivers, the caddis have the fish doing back flips all over the place.

"I was on Big Eddy [on the West Branch of the Penobscot River] yesterday and fish were banging caddis all over the pool all morning," he wrote. "Just remember on Big Eddy it's all about the foam. When you see a fish take something on the surface, have a hard look at where that fish showed. Odds are the fish took a bug in a patch of foam."

Legere said that makes perfect sense.

"Foam means food," he explained. "Bugs collect in the foam and fish look to the foam for food. Whatever fly you choose, land it and dead drift it in a patch of foam. I know it's tempting to drift your fly all by itself on clean water, but fishing the foam will get you way more takes. Believe me, it works and is as essential to success on the Eddy as having the right fly."

Legere said the Moosehead Lake region has received a lot of rain lately, which has paid dividends for fishermen.

"The big round of thunderstorms last week dumped a good deal of water in a short period of time," he wrote. "Water had to be dumped, the lakes are brim full. The consolation prize of big flows is fish.

"The East Outlet [of the Kennebec River] has seen a tremendous run of fresh fish. There are more fish in the river than I've seen in a long time. We were not seeing many 18-inch-plus fish earlier, but they are there now in big numbers," he wrote.

Legere said those fresh fish will feed on surface hatches, but can be caught in other ways as well.

"Fish straight from a diet of smelt in the lake want smelt and will chase streamers hard," Legere wrote. "Don't be afraid to use the big springtime smelt streamers and you don't need to put them on a sinking line any longer, the fish are looking up. Despite the high water fish are feeding on caddis all day and chasing streamers to boot. Life is extremely good."

There's no doubt about that. And it certainly sounds like time to go fishing.

Togue derby on tap

While we're talking about the Moosehead Lake region, I'll give you a final heads-up on an event that promises to be a hit this weekend.

The Moosehead Lake Fisheries Coalition and the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce have combined forces to stage a togue- only fishing derby that will be held Saturday and Sunday.

A winter fishing derby on the lake succeeded in removing about 2,000 togue from the lake, which helped the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife in its goal to reduce the overabundance of lake trout.

Weigh-ins for this weekend's derby will run from 3-8 p.m. on Saturday and from noon until 4 p.m. on Sunday. Weigh-in stations will be at the Beaver Cove Marina in Beaver Cove, the Big Lake Marina in Greenville and at Moosehead Bait & Tackle in Rockwood.

Entry into the derby costs $20.

The largest togue caught will earn the lucky angler $600, while second and third prizes will be $400 and $250.

If you struggle to catch big fish, don't worry: Derby organizers will also hand out $250 to the angler who catches the smallest togue - and who is willing to admit it.

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