10/24/08 Conditions are great – if you don’t mind the early morning cold. 🙂
Of course you can avoid the cold by sleeping in or traveling during the early morning to catch the afternoon hatch. The river is fishing well from top to bottom. Water temperatures are in the high 40’s early in the day and have been creeping into the low 50’s if the day is warm. These temperatures will start the spawn and with the spawn will come the lockjaw we all dread so if you’re going to fish do it soon. There is usually a period of feeding post spawn but it doesn’t last long as the cooling water drops the fish’s metabolism to a point where they just don’t need to feed often.
But in the mean time the river is fishing well from top to bottom. I didn’t make it to The Forks Sunday as I had planned. Well actually I did but I drove right through. I was headed there and called the flow phone on the way. They said Harris would be running at 325CFS all day long and I changed my plans right quick. Hard to pass up a day in the Gorge. That is if you don’t mind the hard access and even harder exit.
There are plenty of fish down in there but I seldom get a BIG fish. However, it’s beautiful down in there and I love it so I keep going. The fishing is generally consistent and at 325CFS the wading is fairly safe – if they don’t change their minds and up the flow due to a call for power somewhere on the grid. I was lucky and the flow stayed the same all day. I had good fishing and don’t mind the climb back out so it was a great day.
Monday I fished the East Outlet and had good fishing there. Some bigger fish were showing and the levels were great for wading (1,008CFS). All in all it was a good weekend. The East Outlet fish were stubborn and took some coaxing but they did take. Early on I had to nymph them, later they would take a streamer and about 1:00pm they started coming up to the Baetis hatch. That’s one tough hatch. I was using a size 20 Cannon Bunny Dun and they would come to it but it was work.
I’d see a fish rise and then move myself into casting position. Then I’d wait – sometimes a long wait. But if they showed again I’d start casting. Often it took 15 or more casts to the same spot trying for the same drift before I could coax them up for a take, but take they would which made it worth the effort. But that technique does tax your patience and skills.
Even with the size 20 Bunny Dun I was using a 5X tippet. Some would say that’s too big a tippet but it was working. I think the reason why was the length of my leader – I was using at least 12′ and often 15′ of leader with fully 5-feet of that being tippet. The long tippet is the key – at least for me. When the tippet would get clipped back to 4-feet I added some because if I didn’t I stopped getting hits.
So anyway, as I said, fishing is good up and down the river. Shawmut is spotty but now that flows have stabilized it’s getting better, Madison is fishing well, Solon and Bingham are on and the upper river is starting to crowd up with fish moving up for the spawn. If you get a chance give the lower sections of the river a visit and if time and gas money allow don’t hesitate to move north.
Don’t forget there are a lot of other waters open as well – the fishing isn’t confined to the Kennebec. The Dead is still running high but it’s fishable and if you scroll down a bit you’ll find links to other open waters. The whole state is fishing well right now.
However, some of the woods roads, like always, can be a problem. Wood cutters just can’t afford to keep the roads up if they aren’t cutting in the area. That’s one reason I drive a 4-wheel drive truck and carry a come-a-long, electric winch, rope, chain, high-lift jack, shovel, axe and drive on 10-ply tires. Most places I want to go to I can get to and if I get stuck on the way I can usually get myself out.
But you don’t need to go 4-wheeling to find good fishing. Actually much of the open water is easily accessed with a regular sedan and while gas isn’t cheap it’s going to be a long winter and I’m going to get as much fishing in as I can before the snow comes and stays.
Don’t let the small size of the afternoon hatch put you off. The fish will still come up and hit a big gaudy attractor fly if you keep at it and hanging a mid-sized caddis or mayfly imitation off your big fly will increase your chances. Streamers are also working. Get out and give it a shot. If you’re wondering what flies to try scroll down to the 10/10/08 post and check those flies out. I caught a fish on each of those patterns this weekend – each one – so I know they are working.