October 6, 2008

Fishing Doesn’t End in October


When October rolls around, many Maine outdoors enthusiasts forget all about lakes, ponds and streams and start foraging for shotgun shells and orange caps.

Make no mistake, ruffed grouse hunters are out and about - their season started Wednesday - but that doesn't mean there's not a pile of aquatic options available.

In fact, many diehard anglers will tell you (as long as you agree not to let anyone else in on the secret) that come October, they enjoy some of the best fishing of the entire year.

Best of all, many of those anglers are able to fish in productive waters they don't have to share with anybody else.

I received an e-mail from guide Dan Legere, the knowledgeable proprietor of Greenville's Maine Guide Fly Shop, who passed along some fall fishing information readers may find useful.

"Fishing season may be over for most of the waters in the Moosehead Lake region, but there are still opportunities for some great late-season fishing," Legere wrote. "Fishing ends in most wild brook trout waters the last day of September for one simple reason: It's brook trout spawning time.

"Around mid-October native brookies begin their exhausting spawning rituals. Fisheries officials want wild brookies to be able to go about reproduction undisturbed to insure there will be plenty of fish for another season," he wrote.

But Legere pointed out there are some waters where brook trout reproduction is less viable, and fishing is allowed through October. In a couple of cases in his region, rivers are actually open all winter long ... if you're hardy enough to take advantage of the extended season.

Legere reports that Mountain View Pond, Prong Pond, Sawyer Pond and Shadow Pond are all stocked and open to fishing through October. Some angler restrictions apply, and he advises folks to pay attention to their law books.

If you prefer to fish moving water, Legere has a couple of options for you.

"The West Outlet of the Kennebec River will remain open all winter. The tackle restrictions are artificial lures only and [the limit is] two trout over 6 inches, all salmon caught must be released alive at once," Legere wrote. "Water flow on the West Outlet does not change and remains at 125-150 [cubic feet per second] year-round depending on the lake level. It is a great opportunity to do some late season wade fishing.

"There is a good dirt road (Somerset Junction) that follows the river for about five miles on the north side. The river meets the road in a number of spots and access is allowed all along the road. There is a fall run of salmon and brookies. There is very little pressure and fishing can be quite good," he wrote.

Another spot to consider is closer to Greenville, and a popular spring and summer spot for many traveling anglers.

"The entire length of the East Outlet of the Kennebec River remains open through the month of October," Legere wrote. "From Nov. 1 until April 1 only the upper portion from the dam to the Beach Pool remains open. This extended season is strictly catch-and- release.

"Water flow is presently at 1,008 cfs which makes it extremely wadeable. Keep an eye on our water flow page for any changes that may occur. The word is it probably won't see any major increase."

Heading Down East, one of the state's most popular fly fishing spots is also open in October.

Grand Lake Stream anglers can wade their favorite pools until Oct. 20.

An important note: all fish caught in Grand Lake Stream from Oct. 1-20 must be released alive at once.

Yes, it's October. Yes, your fishing gear may be packed away.

And yes, it may be time to consider digging some of that gear back out and heading out for a fine day of fall fishing.

Sugarloaf reunion on tap

For years, many area skiers have proudly labeled themselves as "Sugarloafers," referring to their preferred resort.

Although I'm an infrequent skier - five or six days a year is about average for me - and I'm among the thousands of folks who consider Sugarloaf/USA their "home mountain."

A recent press release informed me that resort officials have rolled out the red carpet for Sugarloafers of all ages, and are gearing up for a major event: the annual homecoming weekend is just a week away.

The event will run Oct. 10-14, and though it's a bit early for Sugarloafers to make any runs down the slopes, a wide variety of events is on tap.

I've headed through the Carrabassett Valley at various times of year, and while the snow-covered mountain is always beautiful, it's hard to beat the scenery during times when fall foliage is at its peak. If you're like me and plenty of other Sugarloafers, it doesn't take much of an excuse to pack up and make the 100-mile drive to Sugarloaf from Bangor.

One good reason to check out the action this year: Organizers will be giving free scenic chair lift rides on the SuperQuad all weekend long. Nearby Bigelow Mountain is spectacular under winter's icy blanket, and should be even more impressive sporting autumnal colors.

For those looking to stock up for winter, the Carrabassett Valley Academy's used ski and sports equipment sale, is worth a look. It has been rated by "Skiing Magazine" as the top ski swap in the East.

The sale will offer opportunities for shoppers and swappers alike, and skiers and snowboard riders looking to make some cash will undoubtedly find plenty of eager buyers.

If you're interested, equipment drop-off begins at 4 p.m. Friday at the Anti-Gravity Center. The sale begins at 10 a.m. Saturday.

If you're already fully equipped, that doesn't mean you can't find other shopping venues to check out.

The Upcountry Artists Arts and Crafts Show will take over the base lodge Saturday and Sunday, and organizers say guests can take home truly unique Maine souvenirs.

And at the Homecoming Auction (to be held at the Bag & Kettle) plenty of one-of-a-kind items will up for grabs, as will ski-and- golf passes, lodging packages and gift certificates.

A new addition to the homecoming festivities will be the Maine Huts and Trails members barbecue, which will take place Saturday at the Poplar Stream hut. For more information (or to become a member), go to www.mainehuts.org.

In addition, visitors will get to learn about off-season improvements during the Sugarloaf annual meeting, which will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Sugarloaf General Manager John Diller and other senior managers will be on hand to talk about summer activities, the resort's latest snowmaking enhancements, a new addition to Bullwinkle's restaurant, and other projects that were part of a $4 million off-season investment.

The annual Sugarloaf Uphill Climb is set for Sunday, and runners and walkers will make the challenging three-mile ascent along a maintenance road from the base of the SuperQuad lift to the summit building.

At the top, a spaghetti dinner and refreshments will be waiting. Registration for the race is $20 before Friday, and $25 on the day of the event. A shorter Kids Climb is offered for children age 12 and under at The Landing on Sunday. The entry fee is $5.

For more information about the homecoming festivities, or to register for the Uphill Climb, go to www.sugarloaf.com.

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