2008 Information - Kennebec River, Shawmut Section

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The Friday Update has moved.  See it at
http://www.maineflyfishing.com/friday-update
This page will remain and act as an archive for past posts.
So for review of any past posts come here to see the current weeks post follow the link above.

11/21/08 Ė Well the river out back is still over 10,000CFS and while the Carrabassett has dropped below 1,000CFS the Sandy remains over 1,000CFS and until it drops we wonít have wadable water.  I think the White Rock is still there but Iím not sure Ė havenít seen it in so long.   

So, since the purpose for this weekly Friday Update is to inform those of you who take the time to read it about river conditions and since the river hatches have all but stopped (lost the Blue Winged Olive hatch to high water again this year) and all I can report is high, cold water with no bugs showing I guess Iíll stop the Friday Update for this season. 

However, Iíll start next week with the Thursday Review articles and keep them going through until April 1st of 2009 when Iíll start the Friday Update river reports again.  I wonít be putting my rods away completely as I still plan a trip or two up river to the East Outlet and Madison is still producing.   

One thing I may have to try soon is making that New York run.  With the amount of people coming in here with big fish pictures itís becoming harder and harder to resist making the trip.  There are some nice fish caught out there and from what Iím being told one can get away from the crowds or fish with the crowds if you just remember to mentally prepare yourself for that type of fishing.   

Itís not only the pictures itís the videos as well.  Man I have to say it helps my day to visit Jeremy Cameronís Flies and Fins website and watch some of those videos and this one just looks like a good time.  http://www.fliesandfins.com/fishvideos/great-lakes-steelhead-9lives.wmv  Good fish and good friends - how can you beat it?

Check out some more of his and his friends videos at Flies and Fins and donít forget to visit next Thursday (Thanksgiving) for the Thursday Review.  That will give you something to do between Thanksgiving dinner and football games.  Have a safe and bountiful Thanksgiving everyone.

 - Mike

11/14/08 - Water temperature is 45 degrees.  I'll admit it - I don't fish much after the water temperature drops below 40 degrees so the next few warm days in the forecast are a good thing as they will extend my season.  The bad thing about the next few warm days is RAIN.

Yep, as you probably figured the water here in the Shawmut stretch is high.  Just to tempt and tease us last night the flow dropped below 10,000CFS for the first time in weeks. However, the small amount of rainfall we had last night and this morning has already reversed the trend and instead of dropping the river is already on the rise. 

Fallen LeavesNot so bad for me I guess as we are going to camp again this weekend.  I didn't catch fish last weekend (mostly cut and stacked wood) but this weekend I can spend some time on the water.  I still may not catch anything but the water is at least fishable.

Here's a question for you.  What's the most dangerous thing on the river bank this time of year? Not in the river but on the bank.  I suppose it may vary from river to river and situation to situation but for me the most dangerous things on the bank are slippery leaves. Yep, even studded boots can't cut down through an inch of leaves to grab something stable.  Last week I was picking my way down the bank - eyeballing the water on the way - and the next thing I saw - after the stars stopped blinking- was blue sky. 

That color you see on the right is what my lower back looks like today. Black and Blue from a fall I thought I'd put this up here to remind any of you still fishing to watch your footing while working your way down to the water. Fortunately for me when I crashed down onto a rock the impact was to the right of my spine and above the belt line where I'm carrying something of a spare tire for padding.  Had I landed on my tailbone I don't think I'd be getting around so well.

Anyway, I'm still hearing some good reports from people so if you have a mind to go fishing fish are still biting.  If you go I'd wait until later in the day.  Mornings for me have been very slow.  It has been the ole "Well, it's just nice to get out." game for me.  I'm ready for a few fish. It's too early to pack it in and spending my spare time tying.
11/07/08 First off the Shawmut levels are still too high despite slowly coming down.  I'll post on the Forum tomorrow if the White Rock peeks out. Water temperature is 47 degrees.  The mild nights and sunnyFishing flies - snagged off bottom days (until today) have been keeping the water temperature in a good range.  I hit Madison (which has been fishing fairly well) yesterday morning and swung streamers with my Spey.  I was using the sink tip on a Multi-tip Spey line and had one break-off - no fish to net.  I did catch the two flies you see on the right.  They are hanging down from the Bead Head Minnow I was using.  I had just mended my line when I felt a tug and then nothing - figured I'd just nicked bottom.  Well I had and those two flies are what I picked up from it - seems someone else thought the tail of that pool looked like a likely holding spot.

While Madison has been a bit high it has been very wadable and fishable.  Midge and Blue Winged Olives but not much Wyman Dam flow chart shows high water.else for hatches.  The river still has a lot of water to dump it seems. The online flow chart (click to enlarge) for Wyman is still showing large dumps of water every day.   Thankfully the big pulses of water are metered out by the Solon and Madison Dams.  I would be heading for Madison again tomorrow morning but it looks like the Sandy River is rising and that may put Madison out of play.  The Sandy was about 600CFS yesterday and today is already over 1,100CFS and climbing straight up.  Guess I won't be posting anything about the White Rock after all.  Sandy River Flow Chart showing high water

Anyway, the East and West Outlets are holding fish and those levels have been holding steady.  I sure wish the flow phone was still active.  It's a long drive to the East Outlet just to peek at the river to figure out the flow.  But high or not you can bet if I made the trip I'd find a section (above the Beach Pool) that I could fish.

It will be lake fishing for me this weekend.  It seems Pemadumcook Lake (where our camp is) falls under the Special Regulation S-24 and so is open year round.  There's a rock ledge out in front of our camp that provides spawning for Togue.  And even though the waters temperatures aren't cold enough for the Togue spawn to start I think I'll be doing some streamer flinging with my Spey Rod.  Who knows there may be some togue cruising that shoreline looking for the perfect spawning spot. Worse case I'll get in a few more hours or practice casting before the water gets hard. One thing I know for sure is if I don't go fishing I won't catch anything.
 
10/31/08 - Happy Halloween :-)

The scariest thing that will happen to me today was trying to get the video below to play.  I hope it works once I save this.  If not I'll try and get it set up another way before next Friday.

The water flows are again high. The Carrabassett and Sandy Rivers both jumped up and are slowly falling but each remains well over 1,000CFS and here in the Shawmut area we're running over 16,000CFS - no wading here. 

But if you follow the link below to the old Friday Update page and scroll End of open water markersdown you'll find a list of waters that will be open after today.  One place is the East Outlet and while it is open year round now it is only open from the dam down to the bottom of the Beach Pool.  There are bright yellow stripes on trees marking the end of the open water.  The flashing picture on the right shows the marks - don't be fishing below there.  I'm sure the area will be watched as this is the first year of extended fall fishing and wardens are bound to stop and check now and then.

The Dead River is another open water and they have cut that flow back - finally.  Today it is at 336CFS.  Some other flows that might interest you are East Outlet at 1008CFS, Harris at 325CFS from 9am to 6pm, Wyman (Bingham) at 6,000CFS until noon and then only dropping to 4,000CFS until 5:00pm and then jumping right back up, Williams (Solon) at 5,400CFS (high but fishable) which means Madison will be at 5,400CFS (high but fishable) also. 

So there you have it.  After tomorrow the Kennebec will close from the East Outlet, Beach Pool down to Madison - don't forget. Be sure and follow the link at the bottom that will take you to the old Friday Update page if you want to check and see what other water are open during the extended fall season.  Oh, and don't forget about the St. George - fish have been showing below Sennebec Pond. And did I mention the good reports I've been getting about the Sebago area :-)

East Outlet Brook Trout
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 theKennebec River Gorge 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.

Landlocked SalmonI'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 theRoad Washout 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.
10/17/08 - Flows are good. Water temperature is good - mid to low 50's. Levels are great for wading.  Shawmut is just below 6,000CFS but could rise some, as could Madison, because of yesterday's rain.  The Carrabassett and Sandy aren't overly high yet and shouldn't get much higher but they haven't peaked so we could see an increase later today.  Tomorrow should be fine.

Sorry I don't have time this morning to write morning.  But fishing should be good most anywhere you go.  Good luck fishing.


10/10/08 - Flows up and down the river are great.  Water temperatures are great.  Blue Winged Olives are hatching every day here at Shawmut and from what I've heard most other sections of the river are also enjoying fall hatches.  But beware - the fall Blue Winged Olives are small and sometimes these fish get real fussy about fly size.  There are still caddis of various sizes (the blacks are still around - late for them) and streamers are working.  All in all this three day weekend (for some) should be a good one. 

The weather forecast is also favorable - no rain until the middle of next week and the temperatures are are supposed to be above average.  Nice.  I'll be up at camp this weekend but it's one of the few times I wish I wasn't going as the fishing here should be better than the fishing there.  Sure wish the West Branch was open in October :-)One of our best dry flies for trout, the Indicator ensures you wonít miss a strike.

If you're not sure where you want to go this weekend scroll down a bit to last week's post and you'll find some links to open water lists that might help you decide.  Something you might want to try is hanging a nymph (say a small beadhead Pheasant Tail off the hook bend of a high floating fly like the Indicator fly on the right. 

The quintessential bead head fly.Fairly often the fish will come all the way up and take the indicator but more often they'll hit the nymph.  Try several different nymphs until you find the one they want.  This rig often works better now than a sink tip line or split shot and a deep nymph.  At least that's often the case because of all the full grown and dying weeds coating the bottom this time of year.  

If a hatch starts you can readily replace the nymph with a dry like the Blue winged olive dry flies are a vital pattern for any angler's arsenal.Blue Winged Olive, Thorax style on the right.  These Thorax style flies don't get enough press - they are more realistic than a Catskill tie and work well but you don't hear a lot about them.  For those of you that tie they are easier (in my opinion) to tie than a Catskill tie if for no other reasons than the wings don't have to be divided and the wings set back towards the middle of the hook giving you more room for tying off hackle.

If you've got a mind to throw some streamers don't completely give up on Smelt or Dace patterns but if they aren't working don't hesitate to throw something gaudy at them.  The Montreal Whore and Mickey Finn account for a lot of fish this time of year.  Both of those flies are great attractors and there certainly are others.  The Wood Special comes to mind when I think about attractor Streamer patterns as does the good and reliable Sure-Bet.  (love that fly)
This fly is a huge spring and fall favorite among all bucktail flies.
All in all it should be a good weekend to get out and there are few of them left.  I've got more places I want to hit than I've got weekends left in the month :-( 
One spot I'll be sure and hit is the Upper Kennebec Gorge (saving that one for the last weekend).  Another is the East Outlet but I may save that one for the first weekend in November since it's open year round now down to the Beach Pool.  And I promised myself I'd get back to the Forks to swing streamers after my last trip up there.  I plan on walking up river from the Ball Field (one - two miles) and spending the day with my Spey Rod working back to the bridge.  So much water so little time.
10/03/08 - The flow is again high. Probably will be for another 4 or 5 days. Flows are dropping in the Carrabassett and Sandy Rivers but when they drop there is a fair amount of main stem Kennebec water coming right behind it.  However, you don't have to go far above Shawmut to get into some good levels. Nice Brook Trout

Solon and Madison are running at 2,900CFS which is a great level but don't count on it staying quite that low for the whole weekend.  As soon as the Carrabassett and Sandy drop they will let more water out of Solon.  However it shouldn't blow it out and if you can get up to either water before it comes up you should do well.

Speaking of doing well, you may have noticed the trout pictures blinking and the salmon picture below.  Check them out and rest assured they are still swimming around out there.

All I can say about this salmon and the trout in the pictures is they came from Maine waters.  Oh, I can also say, in the way of a hint that the waters are closed now :-) But there are fish out there in open waters that Landlocked Salmonrival these fish.  And to help you find some of them here's a list of counties I found S-24 water in. (S-24 being Extended Season - Remains open to open water fishing from October 1 - December 31: artificial lures only; all trout, landlocked Salmon, and togue must be released alive at once.)

The counties I found with S-24 waters are: 
Aroostook
Cumberland
Franklin
Hancock
Kennebec
Knox
Lincoln
Oxford
Penobscot
Piscataquis
Somerset
Washington
York
and for a bonus here's a link to those waters listed as year round.  So there you go - take a look I'll bet you can find some water to fish.  Please remember to check your law book instead of just trusting my list.  I've been known to make a mistake now and them. :-)  Another reason for checking your law book is there are a number of water that are listed as open in October and they don't show up in the S-24 lists.  I'll try and put together a list of the October ponds, streams and rivers.  If I get it done I'll add them here and post a notice on the forum.

Anyway back to fishing in the Kennebec.  Remember the whole of the Kennebec River is open until the end of October.  So besides Solon and Madison you might want to be checking the East Outlet which is running at 1008CFS today and other locations up and down the watershed. Fishing should be good most anywhere right now and it would be a shame to waste any days as there are few left.  Get out there and go fishing :-)

OK - back with an update - here's a link to a page which has a list of Fall Waters, by County.  These waters don't appear in the S-24 listings but do allow for fishing beyond September.
Check the list out by following this link:  Fall Waters


09/26/08 - Well it's taken weeks but the water flow has stabilized, the temps are perfect, levels are great, hatches have started back up, fish are working and life in general is great.  That is if you don't think about the Landlocked Salmonrain that is supposed to start this afternoon and continue right through until Monday morning followed closely by more rain on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Oh, well that's the way it has gone all summer why should it change?

Yet those who have made it onto the water are finding fish, like the Landlocked Salmon you see on the right, are willing to take a fly if you put it out there for them.  This one was caught in the Moosehead area. 

Flows are generally good today up and down the river with Shawmut being low for the first time this whole summer.  It's low because as they said last week they have completed the concrete pour they had to do on the Shawmut Dam and are in the process of refilling the Shawmut/Skowhegan impoundment.  They are also putting the flashboards up on the Winslow (Hydro-Kennebec, I think it's called today) dam so water down river is also low. 

Lots of Alewives in the river - no stripers to speak of - one here two there - sad turnout for stripers this year.

Hatches are still holding on - actually getting stronger.  The fall Blue Winged Olives haven't started but there are still small tan caddis, black caddis around during the day and yellow bodied mayflies (maybe still sulphurs still?) showing.  I haven't seen the evening hatch as it's dark by the time we close the shop now so I just haven't hit Shawmut in the evening. 

I won't get to fish it in the evening this weekend either as Sunday Linda and I head to Vermont for the annual Orvis Dealer meeting.  And while I'm thinking about it let me mention that we won't be open Tuesday as we'll still be in Vermont but we will be here Wednesday and back on our regular schedule

 
09/19/08 - Water temperature is a nice 54 degrees. Clarity is good.  Flow is jumping all around but generally staying at wadable levels.  Shawmut is fishing well in the evening with fish showing.  It's fishing well during the day but since the midday Blue Winged Olives haven't started it hard to locate the fish. Wading is a little tough as there is a fair amount of flow and levels after about 10:00am tend to rise up into the 7,500CFS range.

What is pushing the levels around is a new plan for downstream fish passage.  FPL is shutting off the main turbines in the sluiceway during the night and then cranking them up around 7:00am.  This allows nighttime downstream passage without having to pass through the turbines but makes for a big push for waders when they start them up in the am. 

River levels up and down the river are better. The East Outlet is running around 1,200CFS and producing well for some.  Others have reported finding the fish "finicky" but "finicky" or not at least they are there.  The Moose River is fishing well.  The West Outlet is also still producing but as always it depends a lot on who was in there just before you.

Moving down the river Harris is pulsing and from 1:00pm until 7:00pm will be down at the 325CFS level.  A good afternoon to be in the Gorge area.  I went to The Forks on Monday and poled my canoe up river about three miles (to the pool just above where Moxie comes in) and found good fishing for Brookies and Salmon.  However, the promised drop from the high of 7,500CFS never happened.

Harris was running at 325CFS on the way up.  Harris bumped up to 7,500CFS like they said it would and then never dropped back down. The projection was for Harris to cut back to the 325CFS level from 2:00pm until 5:00pm - my window for the return trip.  Well, I ended up heading back at 3:30 and the river was still high.  The first mile of the return trip at that level was what I believe is referred to as an "adrenalin rush."  Brought on mostly, not by the flow, but rather by the 30-mile per hour wind gusts.  One of which grabbed my canoe as I was snubbing up with my setting pole, pushing the canoe into my setting pole.  That required quickly lifting my pole, which allowed the wind to swing my canoe around broadside to the current just above a drop with deep standing waves.  Oh, did I mention the rock?

Anyway I obviously made it back home safely but it reinforced a valuable lesson Ė the flows they give when you call the flow phone are projected flows and SUBJECT TO CHANGE. I knew when I left they might not drop like they planned and Iím glad I paid attention on the way up fixing my return path in my mind just in case they didnít drop the flow.  One thing to note is the first two miles going upstream from The Forks is some of the best looking fall streamer water I've seen in awhile and, in my opinion, just made for Spey.

Moving further down river you'll find plenty of water flowing in from the Dead River.  It's still high running at 1,500CFS today.  Wyman dam is pulsing again with a midday flow of 5,900CFS which is more than many want deal with but it can be fished. 

The Solon stretch, along with Madison, should provide both good wading and fishing.  Solon is flowing at 4,100CFS all day and so is Madison. My guess is those levels are the best we'll see for awhile so you might as well take advantage of what good weather we have left by going to fish them.  Both are producing some nice fish and there are a decent amount of fish showing in both locations.

Which brings us down to Shawmut.  As I said above the Shawmut section is seeing water level changes during the day but nothing drastic.  Levels are on the high side by evening and areas like the White Rock are deep with strong flows.  However, fish are showing, bugs are hatching (small non-descript mayflies not sure what they are but small olive and pale yellow patterns are working) and so fish are showing.  There are also Black Caddis fluttering about.  

Linda and I are headed to Millinocket this weekend and I'll be checking the smaller streams to see if any Brookies have started to move up into them.  Nahmakanta Stream will have cooled off nicely and hiking the AT trail along side of it does provide access to some nice pools.  Who knows what I'll find in there?

 

 

09/12/08 - Well as promised Hanna gave us a fair amount of rain followed a few days later by even more.  Levels are still high, water temperature out back is 61 degrees, clarity good but with this level (8,500CFS) there Water Flow Graphwon't be many of us fishing it.  As it has been the river is low enough to be tempting but high enough to discourage most.

The East Outlet is running at 3,000CFS plus, Harris is humming away at 7,500CFS all day (although it's at 325CFS until 10:00am which keeps the level around the Forks down until about noon - the mouth of Moxie calls), Bingham is not pulsing but instead flowing at a steady 5,600CFS and Williams (Solon and Madison) are running at 5,900CFS.  There's a lot of water in the system and soon the lakes will have to be drawn down to the winter levels so even without rain the flows will be strong.  So it's smaller feeder streams again for me this weekend. 

A lot of waters close at the end of the month and so perhaps you should think of some spots you haven't fish yet this season and go visit them - even with high water you can always work the edges.  I've hit a lot of ponds this season (and they've fished well) but didn't get them all.  There are a couple I still want to try but I'll probably miss them as I crave moving water - just haven't fished enough of it this season. 

Webber Pond is going to be dumped down to winter levels soon.  The 15th they will pull the boards on the dam.  That means a lot of Alewives will be headed down 7-Mile Stream.  That may bring some Stripers up into the river but I wouldn't bet money on it.  However, even if it doesn't there should be some bigger fish around taking advantage of the bounty.

The Dead River is still running over 1,000CFS.  The Moose is a thought as it has been running up around 2,000CFS and recently was cut way back.  Might be some good fish holding up by the dam but expect crowds.   The West Branch is another water that is fishable - it's at the 3,100CFS level it has hung at all summer and remember it closes the end of the month.  Fish it while you can.  Cannon Bunny Dun

English Pheasant TailHatches have backed way off.  Get out the midges.  There will be Little Mahogany Duns into October along with the ever present Blue Winged Olives. The Olives will be the tiny guys, Baetis or Acentrella - use a 18 to 24 hook or throw those 16's and 18's and hope for a fish who forgot to bring his ruler. 

All in all the Kennebec River has been too high most of the summer.  The good part of that is the fish have had feed and little stress from heat. I guess you could also say it's good that the high water has forced a bunch of us Kennebec Addicts to search out some other waters.  However, I for one am hoping the levels drop and we get some decent wading levels for the next month or so.  With water temperatures like we have now if we can get wading levels we should have a spectacular October. (maybe even the last two weeks or so of September after all it's only the 12th)
09/06/08 - I was fishing yesterday morning with some friends I promised to show around the Madison water.  We had good fishing (all smaller fish but plenty of them) and great levels - only about 3,300CFS. Since the fishing was good I stayed a little later than normal and didn't get back to the shop until just before 10:00am to open.  With Shawmut being at a good wading level we were busy all morning and I didn't get a break until well after noon.  And then I'm happy to say it picked right back up.  So sorry I didn't post. 

Flows up and down the river are high once again.  I'm sure they are making room for the Hanna rain.  East Outlet is 3,650CFS all day, Flagstaff (Dead River) is 1,510CFS, Wyman (Bingham) midnight to 1:00pm at 5,000CFS then from 1:00pm to midnight 4,600CFS, Williams (Solon and Madison) will be at 5,700CFS and here at Shawmut it's about 3,700CFS - all will be higher tomorrow I'm sure.  So while you can get some fishing in at Shawmut above it is back on the high side.

Hanna is supposed to dump 3 to 6" of rain with most of it falling after midnight.  Just what we didn't need. 

Most consistent hatch is the Black Caddis.  Some mayflies right at dark.

08/29/08 - How about it - the White Rock is showing - check out the picture - haven't seen that rock for aWhite Rock at Shawmut month. 07/18/08 is the last entry I show with wadable water. Not only is the White Rock showing they are putting the flash boards up.  Very nice.  The water flow has been crazy. 

Flow GraphJust to show you how quick it can change check out the graph showing flows.  If you enlarge it you can easily see how quickly the water dropped when they pushed the buttons that close the gates. About 2:00pm it was around 11,000CFS and by midnight the flow was down around 4,000CFS.  Levels all up and down the river are low enough to start fishing again.

Well almost anyway.  Yesterday the East Outlet was down to 2048CFS and today they bounced it back up and it's running at 2,950 but I think it will be lower again tomorrow.  The reason I say that is the Moose River is down today and running at 1,886CFS down from the 3,000CFS - plus level it has been at for weeks.  When the Moose (flowing into Moosehead) drops they normally drop the outflow.

Going down the river flows are much better.  Bingham is running at 6,300CFS most of the day - high? - yes but yesterday it was down to 4,600CFS most of the day and could well be at that level again tomorrow. 

Solon is at 5,700CFS - very fishable.  I'm going to have to float that soon.  Madison runs at the same flow as Solon and so it will be at 5,700CFS all day. 

Shawmut is at 3,400CFS - darnright low.  The upriver levels will likely be down by tomorrow as it is common to see a big drop and a small bounce and then stable flows.  Enlarge the graph above and you'll see what I mean.

Anyway there are also hatches. Small MayflySmall mayflies like this guy(I'm not sure what the one on the right is)  and then there are larger ones like the Cahill on the left. The Cahill is late they normally peter out by Light Cahill Mayflythe middle of August but it has been so cool they are still around.  A neat thing about this one is that you can see all the identifying colors Tom Ames talks about in his book.  To quote him "Variegated yellow to orange abdomens and salmony thoraxes are coupled with a distinct yellow cast to the dun's wings." and if you enlarge that picture you can certainly see the yellow cast to the wings and the salmony thorax.

Rainbow TroutAnd better yet there are still fish in Shawmut.  I caught this rainbow last Saturday. The level was still high so I was out in the canoe and it was late (full dark) before a hatch brought some fish up but it was worth the wait to have an opportunity to cast at a rising fish.  Just haven't seen much of that this summer.  Not much at all with the levels being so high.

Work is still going on at the dam and here's a pictureDam Construction Work of the "houses" they are building.  These will be anchor points and work stations for the inflatable bladder they are going to install. They are slowly putting flashboards up as they work and should have them all up today or tomorrow.  If you have Windows Media Player you can watch a video by clicking this link. In the video I sweep the top of the dam and you can see the barge they are working off and some workers putting flashboards up.

So there you have it.  The levels are good here at Shawmut and getting better up above.  Time to start fishing the Kennebec again.  Oh, one last thing - water temperature this morning is 68 degrees.  This should be a good September and October.


08/22/08 - Water is still high but close to wadable.  Water clarity is good and the temperature is 68 Shawmut dam constructiondegrees.  There are hatches of Sulphers, Tan Caddis, small Olive Caddis, still some Lead Winged Coachman and the White Flies should be showing any day.  

If you are wondering about the White Rock it is still there and in the picture on the right you can just see the top of it (underwater) a short distance above my canoe bow-sprint.  You might also note that while the removal of Fort Halifax dam is getting all the press there is a construction project going on in Shawmut as well.  The crane and wood structures you can see on the dam are busy installing an inflatable flash board system.  When that goes in (not complete until next season) we should get a few more days fishing at Shawmut as the flood waters won't be tearing out the flashboards.  Instead FPL will just deflate the system and inflate it after the water drops.  That translates to more days fishing for us because they won't have to take several days to dump the impoundment above.

Levels are still high starting with the East Outlet running at 4,458CFS - but - there are people fishing the East at that level and catching fish.  I know, I know - I wouldn't normally fish it at that level either but it's been high for a month or so and people just have gotten feed up with waiting for it to drop.  If you decide to go to the East or anywhere else up and down the river to fish it while it's still high do be careful.  The guys I know who have tried it haven't gone out more than knee-deep and then worried about being swept off their feet.  Mostly they fished from rocks and ledge outcroppings where they could work the eddies below them.

Flagstaff is also high running at 1,190CFS.  And the same goes for the Dead River - people are fishing it and catching fish.  They are working the edges and finding that fish also don't like the high fast water out in the middle.  The fish are holding close to the banks and the adventurous are getting hookups. 

Now don't go out fishing somewhere and get hurt or swept and then e-mail me all mad because I told you to go.  I'm not telling anyone to fish water they are uncomfortable wading. I'm just saying that if you look hard you can find fishable water - at almost any level. 

The Carrabassett and Sandy have both dropped enough so that we should be wading.  However, there seems to be so much water in the main stem of the river that flows are still up.  That could change any day now.  Harris Dam is being pulsed and I expect Wyman to start pulsing soon.  That will bring the flows down quickly.

The West Branch of the Penobscot is still running about 3,100CFS and fishing quite well for this time of year.  Also the ponds are still producing and it's a pond for me this weekend.  I haven't walked into Lang Pond in quite awhile and I just may have to try it on Monday.

And one last thing - Spey Class was great and all who attended had a good time and cast better when they left.
  
08/15/08 Water is still high but dropping.  Shawmut is running about 12,000CFS and is clear finally.  Boats and canoes can handle that flow but wading is tough.  There are some spots one can wade at that level but precious few.  Bank fishing along the Pasture Pool area can provide some action as well as fishing from the points, on the Benton side, up by the White Rock.

East Outlet is running at 3,145CFS, Harris is pulsing again but will be at 5,000CFS after 9:00am.  Which means the Ball Park area in the Forks will be fishable until about noon. It's no wonder the East is running about 3,000 as the Moose flowing into Moosehead is running abut 3,900CFS and when the lake is high they have to pass on whatever is flowing in.

Bingham is at 5,500CFS all day and should start pulsing any day which will allow limited wading depending on release times.  To check the flow call 1-800-557-3569 and listen to the voice prompts.

Ponds are still fishing well.  A friend and I were up above the Forks on Sunday fishing a pond and we had rising trout all day.  (off and on) The surface temperature was 68 degrees. Not bad for August.

So there is fishing out there - go give it a try. 

Spey class this weekend so I won't get much fishing in but I'll do a lot of casting. :-)

ps - a lot of Solon and Madison can be fished at 7,000CFS - you just have to pick your spots.  Water is clear.
 
08/08/08 How's that for a date - all eights. Anyway, water temps are great, flow is moderate, levels are good and the bugs are popping off the water - oops - sorry dreaming again.  Seems all I can do is dream about fishing the Kennebec River or most any other moving water in the state.  Today's flow out back is 40,000CFS that's just crazy. It is August after all.

The only part of that opening dream that is true is the water temperature.  It's a cool 61 degrees out back right now.  Normally we're fighting the mid to high 70's this time of year.  At camp last week I fired up the wood stove on several occasions to take away the morning chill and overall damp feeling.  Something wrong will having to stoke the wood stove in August. 

Even the small streams up to camp (Millinocket area) were high.  It's good for the fish and there are more Brookies in streams like Tumbledown Dick than I've seen in a number of years. That's a good thing but it's unusual to have to worry about being swept downstream in a small water like Tumbledown Dick.  It's been pretty hard on the beaver dams also.  Those busy beavers are working overtime. 

All up and down the river flows are high.  The Carrabassett and Sandy Rivers are in the 5 to 6,000CFS range.  East Outlet was running at 4,000CFS yesterday and I've been trying to dial the flow phone for about an hour now and all I get is a busy signal.

Bingham is running a 18,000CFS and so Williams (Solon) has to be right in that range and therefore Madison.  has to be running at that level plus the Carrabassett flow.  Then below Madison you add in the Sandy River flow and it just gets worse.

Ponds are about the only hope and while they have stratified and thermoclines are well established they aren't deep. Fish will come up through them if you temp them with the right surface fly.  If you go down after them you don't have to go far.  What's tough about some ponds right now is the amount of feed that is in the ponds.  Those high running streams are sweeping plenty into the ponds and the ponds themselves are, in many cases, up in the bushes still. 

So as much as I like to try and find some positive stuff to say about some part of the river and fishing in general I'm having a hard time.  I think we're to the point where about the only good thing to say is - if this rain finally slows we should have a good September and October.  In fact I'll make a prediction.  By the end of the first week in September we'll have water temps in the low 60's fish will be rising to the fall hatches and by October they will be fully fattened up and in prime shape for spawning.   They'll be in prime shape and aggressive as only spawn ready fish can be which will make some of my favorite fall action - swinging big streamers - the best it's been in years.  How's that for being optimistic? (please don't e-mail me and tell me there is a difference between being optimistic and stupid) :-)

On another note our Spey Class is still scheduled to start on the 16th of this month and there are two spots left.  Check out the details by clicking here.

And to shift gears again let me mention Garth McElroy's website.  The last time I mentioned his site it was a collection of some of finest bird photographs I've ever seen.  Well, even if you visited it then you should go back and see it again.  He's added some sections - FISHING and HUNTING photos have been added and a section on Mammals and Scenic Habitat will be added soon.  But the really cool thing is he has added a sister site that lets you select photos of his and have them printed on T-shirts.  Well, I've got too many T-shirts now but I know soon I'll have some more. 

Oh, After all this doom and gloom about flows let me mention that the West Branch is still running about 3,100CFS and while a solid, fast flow it is very fishable at that level.  If you really want a treat on the West Branch of the Penobscot give Greg Bostater ("Boz") a call and have him raft you down through some of the sections.  Fly Fishing and White Water all in the same trip.  He's been doing that river for over 10 years now and he will get you over fish. Check out his site by clicking here. (just to tell you what kind of guy he is when he won the bottle of Jameson Whiskey at the FFIM conclave this year he opened it up and passed it around - now there's a good guy and he can fish)

07/25/08 Blown out again. Our flow is up around 23,000cfs - enough already.  This is a tough summer if you like to fish moving water.  Water temperature is 70 degrees, clarity is awful and even using a boat is out right now.  Yet with the Carrabassett and Sandy Rivers running high and the Shawmut and Skowhegan dams having ongoing projects there is a need to keep things down this way from being washed away.  So - they are holding as much water back up above as they can.  So head north. 

How far north is the question.  Solon is out as it's flowing at 11,000cfs.  But Bingham might be far enough if you don't mind wading Bingham at around 4,000cfs because that's the flow all day today at Bingham.  At least, from 7:00am to 7:00pm.  As you go up from there flows are reasonable.  Flagstaff used to be called high at the 614cfs flow it has but become reasonable for many. 

And the Forks, controlled by Harris releases should be down around 325cfs (above the Dead's influence) until around noon.  Harris jumps from 325 to 5,000cfs at 10:00am but it takes until around noon for the water bubble to reach the Forks.  So there is fishing available there at least until noon. Now the East Outlet is another story.

The East Outlet is only 1,665cfs all day long.  So the question becomes how long can they hold those flow levels at the East Outlet and Harris?  Those watersheds got this rain also and my guess is Flagstaff and the East are going to have excess water to dump.  If they have room they'll hold until the Carrabassett and Sandy return to normal levels and then they'll increase the main stem flows.  I suspect the reason they are dumping Solon so hard right now is to make room incase they have to dump above before the Carrabassett and Sandy drop.  Quite a balancing act they go through when they have this much water to deal with. 

The bright side of all this is the water temperatures are staying down if you can call 70 degrees down.  70 is some better than the 75 to 79 it often is this time of year. 

Shifting away from the river to a happier topic (at least for Linda and I) I want to remind you that the shop will be closed next week as we will be on vacation.  Saturday, tomorrow the 26th is our last day until Augustmoose skull and antlers 5th when we return.  So - sorry no Friday Update next week. But when we return I'm sure I'll have some sort of news from the north country for you.  One nice thing that ties into last year's July vacation is that I'll get to hang my moose skull and antlers at camp.  If you were reading Friday Updates last year you may remember this picture as the one I posted when I found the skull and horns.  The whole process took awhile but IF&W did finally agree I hadn't broken the law by carrying them out and then did finally issue a permit for me to have them. You can read the whole story in last season's Thursday Review if you're interested. See it by clicking this link.

One other item I wanted to mention is the Ft. Halifax Dam removal.  It is on hold right now because of high water.  I'll be checking it out when we return and I'll put an update on the forum when I find out the status of the project.  And with that I guess I'll sign off until the 8th.


07/18/08 Levels are good - wading is easy.  Flashboards are up and again this morning the water temperature is 70 degrees.  Air temps today are supposed to hit 90 and the there will be little cloud cover so by this evening the temps (surface anyway) will be several degrees higher. 
Big Foam Stonefly
Bingham and Solon have the coldest water around.  As you drop downriver the temps understandable warm.  Yesterday at Madison (early) I got a temperature of 70. Tomorrow morning, early, I'm heading for Bingham early where I expect to see mid-60s for temps. 

Morning hatches have all but stopped.  Well, actually so have the midday hatches.  Evening hatches are holding up but are spotty.  There are mayflies (Sulphur, Cahills, Mahogany Duns and Leadwinged Coachmen) showing and Stimulator Dry FlyCaddis are active.  But I'll begin my searching with a dry tomorrow morning with a BIG foam Golden Stone imitation.  Something about those big foam stones or a big bright StimulatorLarge Attractor Fly that brings fish up from their resting spots.  If that doesn't work I'll switch to nymphing but I'll try the easy way first.  Actually before I start nymphing I'll probably do some searching with a big Bugmeister.

All in all fishing is fair - just about what you can normally expect this time of year. Fish are active right at dusk working the evening hatches.  Cold water areas hold a concentration of fish.  Warmer areas are spotty.  Riffles and plunge pools which are well oxygenated are good bets.  Smallmouth fishing is ON.  Lakes and ponds have heated up and thermoclines (sp?) are well established.  Fish will come up through the thermo but working the edges of the ponds won't produce like that technique has been producing. 

Much in the news lately about Fort Halifax Dam which was breached yesterday. Ft. Halifax Dam BreachThe mussel relocation effort is going well.  The slow drawdown over the last two weeks has allowed volunteers to keep pace with the exposed mussels and rescue many.  As with any effort like this some are missed but literally thousands of threatened mussels have been rescued. (click dam picture to enlarge)

If you would like to see a video of the hoe-ram breaking up the dam follow this link: Ft. Halifax Breach Video.
07/11/08 - Levels are good - flashboards will be up soon.  Flow is moderate.  Water temps are warm - 70 degrees at 6:00am today. Alder Flies (Zebra Caddis) have started up and down the river.  I've seen some here in Shawmut but nothing like the Alder Fly hatches of years past.  One theory is the Zebra Caddis are net spinners and just plain can't handle the flows we've had the last few years.  However, there are some and if Mother Nature can see fit to give us a year or two with decent flows they should rebound. 

The Kennebec has certainly suffered these last - well - almost a decade now that I think of it.  We had 5 years of drought, one year of normal flows and we're in our 4th year of high flows.  Yep, that's a decade.  Memory starts to fade after awhile and one begins to wonder - was the fishing really that good.  Well here's a reminder for you - actually a pair of them.
Another Brown Trout

Nice Brown Trout
Nice wouldn't you say.  But those aren't fish from the past - there were caught in the Kennebec (all I'm allowed to say) and they were caught this week. 

Up and down the river flows have improved.  Hopefully, they'll stay good.  East Outlet is still above 2,000cfs (2,360cfs), Bingham is pulsing again as it normally does and will be at 3,950cfs from Noon until 5:00pm, Williams is at 4,400cfs so Solon should fish well as should Madison (their flow in Madison is the same as Williams) and we're down to just under 5,000cfs so wading is easy. 

Other areas are dropping also.  Flagstaff is still a little high but flowing at 480cfs and the Moose River, while also still high, is flowing at 653cfs.

I'm seeing Yellow Stoneflies, Lead Winged Coachmen, Light Cahills and those big scary guys the dreaded Dobson fly - man those things are ugly.

So to sum it up the levels are good - temps are approaching levels where trout MUST be played quickly and released quickly or even if they swim off they may well die.  Smallmouth are active.  Shad are still in Waterville and the coolest water sections of the Kennebec are Bingham and Solon.

Oh, and Didymo is getting closer - clean your gear and when you move from one watershed to another take precautions even if there no Didymo has been reported in the watershed you are leaving.  It may be there and just not reported yet.  Check out our Didymo thread on the forum at: http://flyfishingonly.net/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4228 The best bet is to completely dry your gear (especially the felt-soles) or freeze your gear.  I find freezing my stuff to be the easiest way. 

07/03/08 - No post tomorrow on the 4th, we'll be at camp but here's the latest as of today.

The river is still running high. Water temperature at 6:00am was 67 degrees (not bad for the 3rd of July Ė too bad we canít fish it) and clarity is poor.   

Yesterday I was holding slim hope of wading Saturday or Sunday because the Sandy and Carrabassett Rivers were about to drop below 1,000cfs and shortly after they do that we get to wading levels.  Well, last night they got big rains over west and this morning the Sandy is up to 1,700 and climbing.  With more thundershower predicted for this afternoon I think we can forget wading Shawmut until around the 10th or so.   

Not much fishing available above the Sandy and Carrabassett influence either.  Starting at the top Ė the Moose River flowing into Moosehead Lake is running at 2,778 (down from 3,678 yesterday but still too high) and with that kind of flow coming in they are keeping the East Outlet high. 

East Outlet is running at 3,973cfs today.  Dead River is at 1,020cfs. Bingham (Wyman Dam) is at 7,500cfs all day (no pulsing so they are full).  Solon (Williams Dam) is at 8,500cfs, down from 9,000cfs yesterday but nowhere near enough. 

You might have noticed I jumped over Harris Dam above the Forks.  Well, itís pulsing some, at least today.  From midnight to 9:00am this morning the flow is 325cfs and then it bumps to 7,000cfs for the rest of the day.  That means above the confluence at the Forks you will have low flows until around noon.  Areas like the outlet of Moxie or above the ball field and such might provide you with some good morning fishing. 

The saving grace in all this is the pond fishing.  Since it hasnít been real hot ponds are still fishing well and people are whispering about Hex hatches.  Cooler than normal temps and Hex hatches on the ponds Ė thatís the name of my game this weekend.  

Have a healthy and Happy Forth of July and stay safe.  Iíll post an update when we get back from camp (which is where weíll be for the next four days) so check back on the 8th.  

 


06/28/08 - update - big rains in the Western Mountains last night and the Sandy River and
Carrabassett River have both gone up to that 1,000cfs threshold.  That means high water all day today.

I don't think they'll get the river down for wading today or tomorrow.  I do think FPL is going to miss their target of having the flashboards up by Monday.  They may make it but if they do I'll be surprised. 

So I guess we'll have to write this weekend off as another lost weekend.
06/27/08 - Still too much water.  However, it's better and cleaner.  Water temperature is 66 degrees. Level is high Shawmut Dambut fishable from the rocks and Pasture Pool banks.  Fine for boats and Canoes.  Caddis everywhere. White Rock Level

FPL says they plan on putting the Flash Boards back up on Monday.  Draining the impoundment so they can put the boards up is what's keeping the flow so high and fast.  My guess is tomorrow it will be wadable.  If not tomorrow Sunday almost for sure. However right now I'd not try it.  If you enlarge the picture on the right you'll see the water going over the top of the White Rock.

There are fish showing and if one can get close enough to cast to them they will take.  This morning the fly of choice was the Rosenbauer Snowshoe Emerger, in cream.  There were browns and bows in the Pasture Pool. 
Caddis EmergerAs I mentioned though the water is high and getting out enough to cast to the fish without a boat is tough.  Just to give you another glimpse of theHigh Water water level here's a picture of the island. If you expand it you can see the brush is in the water. 

Anyway there are fish showing level is slowly dropping and the fish are looking up.  I'll post tomorrow here and on the forum tomorrow morning and let you know how Shawmut looks.  Just so you know what they look like here's one I got this morning.  Had another bigger one (of course) that made a good run - came a solid three feet out of the water and threw my hook.

Rainbow Trout




06/20/08 - Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.  At least I wouldn't want to drink it.  The water behind the shop right now is dirty - about the color of coffee with too much cream.  Ugly.  Water temperature is 61 degrees.  Hatches are good and the flow is above 39,000 cubic feet per second - so much for wading.

A call to the Dam Operator at the East Outlet tells us it'll be high for awhile as the planned minimum flow out of the East Outlet is 7,000CFS for the next week.  Flagstaff is flowing at 6,440CFS, Moose River is 8,450CFS and so it's safe to say the whole Kennebec Watershed is blown out from Moosehead to Popham Beach.

So that's the river report.  Here's the server report - the company that hosts our site has installed a new server and the recent problems we've been having should be over.  However, when they transferred the data over they lost last weeks post which had some good hatch information.  Luckily they didn't lose the pictures from my picture file so I'm going to redo last weeks bug info.  Here goes.

There are lots of bugs hatching.  The Hendricksons are over, caddis have started, in a big way, and if we could fish there are enough bugs on the water to make finding out what they are taking into a real chore.  Here are some choices.
    Pale Evening Dun MayflyPale Evening Dun - Spinner Mayfly
The guy on the left is a Pale Evening Dun.  The guy on the right is the Spinner and both are often mistaken for Hendricksons because of the tomato colored eyes.  That's understandable because they are in the same genus and the best clue as to which is which is that the Pale Evening Duns are smaller - more in the 14-16 range while the Hendricksons are more in the 12-14 size range.

When you look at the underside of a Pale Evening Dun another difference shows itself.  The Pale Evening Duns underbelly is a pale yellow to olive color - much lighted than a Hendrickson. Hatch time for the Pale Evening Dun is later than that of the Hendricksons.  Don't look for Pale Evening Duns until 4, maybe, 5:00pm.

The spinner is another story though as they tend to darker as the picture on the right shows.  They get more of a reddish tint to them.  They also don't fall to the water when egg laying - they dap their eggs into the water instead of dropping to the water and releasing the eggs after landing.

Cream Cahill Mafly DunAnother mayfly that is showing now is the Cream Cahill. Cream Cahill Spinner - Mayfly It is in the same family as the Light Cahill but hatches earlier and continues hatching longer than the Light Cahill.  The Cream Cahill is, as the name implies, cream colored while the Light Cahill leans strongly towards a yellow/orange color. 

The Cream Cahill is another reason to be out on the water towards evening as they like a later hatch time than the Pale Evening Duns.  If you're ever fishing the Pale Evening Duns and the fish seem to turn off try switching to a Cream Cahill - the Cream Cahill hatch will change the focus of the fish.

The spinner is a night owl and comes out after dark to lay eggs.  Actually, dap their eggs, would be more like it.  They don't just land and drop their eggs they spread them around a little.  They'll be around until September and you should be looking for them.

And finally here's the March Brown. Or at least I think it is.  I'm not 100% sure of any of these but I do think this guy is a March Brown and they'll be around for a couple more weeks.  Like the Cream Cahill above the dark eyes of this mayfly will lighten to a pale green after awhile. 

The March Brown has distinct banding on the body (most patterns are tied with a yellow rib material) and two tails.  It is a larger mayfly and a size 10 hook isn't too large.  They like faster water and have a lighter underside than to top of their back would indicate.  A good nymph is the Pheasant Tail and this hatch gives you a reason for carrying those size 10 and 12 Pheasant Tails.

The Spinner fall takes place before full dark and you should be looking for the spinner fall over riffle areas. 

Well, that's it for this week.  Remember the ponds - the river might be blown out but the ponds beckon.

March Brown Dun - Mayfly

06/18/08 - Still way high and no sign of dropping - stop the rain - I've had enough.
06//13/08 - Bugs are showing - lots of them.  However, the water is too high for fishing at Shawmut.  My guess is we'll be able to fish tomorrow.  Water temperature is 62 degrees.  Sorry that's all for now a we are having a server problem and I'm keeping this short as I don't know how long my connection will stay active.
06/06/08 - MayflyConditions are great.  The rain was just right in that it gave us some needed water but didn't flood us out.  Levels at Shawmut are still fine, clarity is good and the water temperature is 56 degrees.  But the best part is yesterday, for the first time this season I was greeted by BUGS on the building - good bugs as in mayflies and caddis - FINALLY.

Hendricksons, Blue Winged Olives and I think PMDS but who knows for sure. mayflyI do know some of them are small as that's my little pinky in the picture on the right and if that mayfly were on my fingernail it could get lost.

There are a fair amount of bugs around today and I expect even more tomorrow as the temps mayflyare supposed to get warmer with Sunday being downright hot.

Flows up and down the Kennebec are good.  East Outlet is 1,353 - a little low if you are floating it in a drift boat but right nice if you're wading.  Bingham today is 1,750cfs from noon untilCaddis 6:00pm - (makes me wish I wasn't working) and Flagstaff is flowing at 210CFS - man these are good flows. Oh, and Solon and Madison are running about 3,100CFS today - get out and make the best of it.

One thing you might do tomorrow is stop by the shop here anytime from 11:00am until 4:00pm and enter the Casting Contest (click for details) if you do you'll be supporting one of the best young adult programs going.  If you win you'll get to pick any of the Orvis fly rods (bamboo excluded) as your prize - but win, lose or draw the entry fee you pay will help the Trout Camp and help keep this wonderful program going.  However, you don't have to participate to win something. 

It seems many people who would like to donate to the Maine TU Trout Camp just can't get by to participate. So we've set up an alternate way to enter and win.  If you call the shop or stop by and pay the entry fee but don't or can't participate your name will be put into a hat and you might win your choice of a Power Matrix TLS fly rod.  That's right you can enter and win a great fly rod without even showing up. 

The winner of the Casting Contest will be determined tomorrow but the winner of the Power Matrix won't be drawn until next Saturday - just to give any late comers a chance :-)  So even if you don't stop by or call today or tomorrow you can still enter all of next week by calling or stopping by. 

OK back to fishing - get out there and do it this weekend if you can.  Conditions couldn't be better - hatches finally, great water temps, good flows, great clarity and weather.  GO FISHING. Ed Mestieri that means you too.

Oh, just signed back on to add - rumors of Stripers and confirmation of Shad in Waterville, Winslow.


05/30/08 - Because it's in me to be optimistic about life in general I picked 05/23/08 as a start of wading date.  Looking at snow pack when I made that prediction it didn't seem like a very good bet but the levels and conditions we have right now are still just plain great - it was a good guess.

Levels are good, flow is moderate (although they have been cleaning the flood and trash gates so there are some big logs and junk floating around - keep looking upstream for logs coming at you) water temperature is jumping from 52 degrees in the morning to abut 55 at night.  Mayflies are sparse but hatching and caddis are just beginning and spotty - but starting to show. With the overcast weather and occasional showers that are predicted for the weekend the Blue Winged Olives should be out in force Saturday and Sunday.

Fish are also starting to show but nymphing or streamers are still the big producers.  I haven't fished my dry line yet - it's been my streamer stripper sink-tip that has worked for me.  Hare's Ear nymphs, soft hackles (green body) and standard wet flies like the March Brown and Light Cahill are putting fish in my net. I'm definitely a fan of sinking lines over split-shot for getting my flies sub-surface and swinging wet flies is one reason why.  Really, I guess I should say swinging wet flies and catching fish in the reason why.

The IF&W freshly stocked Browns are up and down the West shore and providing good fun.  As for hold over fish not many browns showing but rainbows (last year's are about 16" now and fighting well) are being caught and a few people have mentioned holdover browns but I haven't caught any.  Actually, although I'm just a few miles away I've had a hard time getting to the water - one thing or another has gotten in the way but that's all about to change.  Getting into the water early like this and having good flows and water temp is to great a gift to waste after last years high water and fast flows. 

If you get a rainbow and it's about 16" to 18" chances are if you flip it over and look you'll see the two vent fins clipped 07 stocked rainbowlike the fish shown in the picture on the right.  These fish are strong and real head shakers - be sure and check your tippets for nicks and knots as these fish will break you off. 

Not many Shad or Stripers being caught in the Waterville/Winslow area - yet.  Still looking for them to show.  If I start hearing about any steady activity I'll post it here and on the forum.  Don't let these good conditions slip away without getting out.  While the water is a little on the cold side still in the north country Central Maine conditions are great. 

Speaking of the north country Linda and I are heading to camp this weekend and I'll be plying Tumbledown Dick stream and Nahmakanta Stream - probably no hatches up there to speak of but those stream sized brookies of Tumbledown and the possibility of some big salmon in the bottom stretch of Nahmakanta are calling - got to go check it out.

Oh, one last note - several people have stopped in the last few evening and were headed to Shawmut about an hour before dark.  While they probably caught fish the peak of the day for hatch activity is somewhere between 2:00pm and 4:00pm and will stay that way for a bit.  Once the caddis start that will spread the hatch activity out some but for now it's mid-afternoon for most hatches. 

Oh, one last, last note - flows are generally good up and down the river but you should check by calling 1-800-557-3569.  I'm not sure why but FPL has been dropping the flow in Bingham to about 2,000cfs from 2:00pm to 4:00pm (today 1,750CFS from noon to 5:00pm) and that's a nice flow for the peak hatch time.  Solon is down to 3,300 today which means that stretch and Madison will wade well. - Go fish :-)


05/23/08 - Conditions are perfect at Shawmut.  Level is good, clarity great, water temperature is 55 degrees and this weekend should see dry fly activity as there has been little yet.  However, with the sunshine we'll have the next three days things should pop.

This year's Browns have been stocked and they look like the picture on the right.This year's stocked Brown Trout They are clipped and the clip is the right hand vent fin.  Showing this year's clipped fin These fish are active and fairly spread out already.  I haven't caught any yet but there have been several reports of 16 to 18" fish - both browns and rainbows - caught this week.  I'll be looking for some of them this weekend.  Not much surface activity in the morning while I'm up there but Sunday and Monday I plan to be there from 2:00pm to 4:00pm (as a minimum) to see if the Hendricksons start.
Caddis spun net
There is indeed insect life and it's active right now. The picture on the left shows Caddis Larvaethe spun net of a caddis larvae and the one on the right is looking down into the net - if you expand the picture (click on it) you'll see the net circled in red and the green larvae curled up in the bottom.  There are also a bunch of Hendrickson nymphs and Golden Stones crawling around down below and later today I'll try to get a video of a Golden Stone converted over to video streaming size so I can add it to this post.  Check back if you can. 

All in all it's a perfect Memorial Day fishing weekend.  When you're out on the water this weekend pause and thank the veterans and active duty service men and women for the freedom we all enjoy.

Oh, almost forgot - flashboards are up and so the current out is the middle is mild compared to the Shawmut side flow which is its' normal hard, but very navigable, push.  

Here's that Stonefly video - click this sentence anywhere.


05/16/08 - Water temperature is 52 degrees - that means Hendricksons any day now. Which would be about right as I'm heading to GLS tomorrow and they normally start while I'm gone.  I don't miss much in the way of dry fly action as it takes a few days for the fish to re-learn feeding off the top and I'll be back by then.

As for being wadable - I waded it this morning. Here's a picture of the White Rock.  Water Level IndicatorBelieve me when I tell you it was a chore getting out there and back.  I wouldn't have been able to do it if the center gate was open but since it wasn't and since I often tell people if it's only showing by an inch I can wade to it I decided to try.  The flow is FAST AND HARD. In one spot I was waist deep and my STUDDED boots were just sliding over the gravel.  I just went with the push until they grabbed and got traction but it was hairy.  Water clarity is good as you can see in the picture on the left. Anyway, all that effort and no fish this morning. 
Water clarity picture
But casting from shore the last two days I got fish.  Splake I think. Some people like Splake some don't but I can tell you the fish I caught fought well and I like Splake with flythe pull of 16 to 18" fish. These fish seemed to like the Montreal Whore although they took a Black Ghost as well. The picture on the right taken underwater is my first sub-surface picture with my waterproof camera.  Must be waterproof like they say as it's still working. 

So, although high, if you're careful you can wade Shawmut.  The flashboards were sitting18" Splake in FPL's unloading area and the barge/johnboat they use when they put them in was there as well so flashboards (baring big rains) should be going in soon. 

Alewives are in Winslow and there are rumors of an occasional Striper they won't be long.  Shad will be soon behind them.  Fishing is about to turn on - man - it was a long winter and dragged out spring - it's about time.

It will still be awhile upriver as well.  Solon (William's Dam) is at 6,000cfs all day today and will stay high until they start pulsing Bingham (Wyman Dam) but Wyman is staying at 6,500 all day today.  Check the flows by calling 1-800-557-3569. With Solon at 6,000 you can bet that Madison is at 6,000cfs and that's a tough wading level at Madison.  However, it's all dam flow the natural flow waters like the Sandy and Carrabassett have dropped enough so that when they decide to throw the switches the level will settle out.  So do call and check because by tomorrow we might have much better levels.  East Outlet is 3,183cfs all day - too much for me.  If you're up there it's worth a peak and you can catch fish at the level fishing from the edges but you won't find me doing much wading there at that level. 

Grand Lake Stream is at 343 and I'm a happy man.  That flow allows fish to move and makes for some decent fishing if you walk the stream like I do.  When it's down in the 250cfs range there aren't many fish between the named pools and there isn't a lot of movement between pools but at the 350cfs range there is movement.  Still better fishing in the pools but I like to hike and fish so like I said I'm happy with the flow level there.

Oh, one final note - Got a report yesterday from Bangor - 2 Atlantic Salmon caught - 9 in the trap.  Rumor has it Kenny Clark caught the first one - he'll be here in the shop Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning covering for me - stop in and ask him.


05/09/08 - Water temperature is up to 44 degrees.  Wading is still not an option as the flow is High Water Mark21,550cfs and normal is around 6,000cfs - that is if I remember correctly as we haven't seen that flow in quite awhile. The photo on the left will give you an idea how high the water was - the gravel pile I circled was washed up and shows the high water mark.  You can see if my truck was parked down by the present water level I'd be buyingFlooded Path a new truck. 
You can also see by the picture on the right that the path down river is flooded - if you plan to walk it bring your waders. That level won't change much until they close the Open Bays on Dam flood gates and if you enlarge the next picture on the left you'll see they have one full bay of floodgates wide open.  When they're dumping water like that we can only wait.
The East Outlet flow is 9,650cfs - now that's a high, high flow for the East.  No wonder though as the Moose River is bringing in 3,000cfs all by itself and when you consider all the other tributaries feeding into Moosehead you can understand the high flow of the East.  However, West Outlet is chugging along at 156cfs so if you're in the area it might be worth stopping at the West for a few casts. 
The Carrabassett and Sandy are dropping fast (1,370 and 1,710cfs) and should be down below that magic number of 1,000cfs by the end of the weekend.  (too late for most of us) And finally Flagstaff (Dead River) is running at 1,490cfs - another high source. The good part of all that is the natural flow waters of the Carrabassett and Sandy are going to be down to an acceptable flow soon by themselves and all it takes for the other sources is a flip of the switch to close gates and we're wading Shawmut.  I'm still hanging in with my May 23rd date for Shawmut.

And Smelt gather by inlets and outletslast but not least here's a picture showing the reason I've been talking about going to local ponds and lakes to work the inlets and outlets. Many baitfish are spring spawners and they are gathering (or already have) to go spawn and when they gather bigger fish show close to shore.  The fish I'm holding was taken while casting from shore (well I did wade out knee deep) on a streamer (Supervisor) and a week from now when the spawning run ends fish like that won't be cruising the shores.  This is a short window - take advantage of it while you can.  The fishing might be slow (only fish I got in 4 hours of casting) but it's good when it happens :-)


05/02/08 - Water temperature has dropped back to 35 degrees.  Wading is great except that while wading you really have to watch out to keep from getting tripped up by the tree roots and casting while wading through the woods 15' back from the river's normal edge is tough because the tree branches keep grapping your line. Anyway I'm still planning on wading to the White Rock by May 23rd :-)

Here's a picture of our steps out back that go nowhere since the river stole our dock and platform - taken today.

Steps in high water



Here's a picture of our steps out back that go nowhere since the river stole our dock and platform - taken two days ago.  The highest I've ever seen it was just over the third step.

Steps showing lower water level



So not much to say about the fishing except you might want to hit some other waters than the Kennebec this weekend.

Oh, there is one more thing of some interest.  My bug collection crew has agreed to work the back Small Midgedoor area of the shop and capture bugs for me.  This is all they are getting so far. Nothing but midges.  They tell me if I don't feed them some Mayflies or Caddis soon they are going to spin their webs somewhere else.  I've explained it'd out of my hands but they won't listen to reason.
04/25/08 - Water temperature is 38 degrees.  40 degrees is when I figure the chances shift from getting bump now and then to actually hooking up.  Flow out back is around 35,000CFS and holding.  Really this has been a great melt - no real threat of flooding yet - just a slow steady melt.  I'm liking it and I'm beginning to believe my own tongue in cheek  prediction of wading by the 23rd of May at 6:00AM here in the Shawmut stretch. 

East Outlet remains low at 511CFS (few fish reported - water is colder up there as it's still running out from under the ice) and so it's quite wadable.  One thing about salmon though is they don't seem to mind the cold as much as many fish do. Case in point is GLS also running out from under the ice but producing fish.  GLS is at 257CFS today.

The Dead River is up as are both the Sandy and Carrabassett. I'm not hearing much about the Sheepscot or the St. George.  Both tend to warm a little earlier than the Kennebec so they may be worth checking out. 

The KVCTU banquet was a success and we had a great turnout.  If you missed it and want to attend at least one TU banquet to support the good work they do you still have a chance.  You can go to the Merrymeeting Bay Chapter's banquet.  Heck, even if you made ours you can go to theirs.  Linda and I will be there - it's always a good one.  Get the details at http://www.mmbtu.org/banquet.html Check it out now as the banquet is tomorrow night at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Brunswick.

And finally here's another knot video for you The Duncan Loop. Click name to see video.


04/18/08 - Kennebec Valley Trout Unlimited banquet is tomorrow.  You can get tickets at the door.  For more information go to the KVCTU website at www.kennebecvalleytu.org.

Now the river.  Water is high about 31,000CFS out back and the water temperature is 37 degrees.  All in all this is a good melt as we could well have had flooding. 

The water clarity is surprisingly good and even with this high flow I plan on swinging streamers from the bank over the weekend.  The better chance would be to work the inlets and outlets of some local ponds and logic may win out and send me visiting some ponds instead of working the river.

Last year about this time I made a post and had to close it early to go plow snow.  Glad that's not the case this year.

With the melt going well and 70 degrees predicted for today with a week of 50 degree weather following I'm sticking with my optimistic guess of wading at Shawmut by the 23rd of May - 6:00am :-)

Here are some flows for you: Bingham - 10,200CFS, Flagstaff - 201CFS, East Outlet - 511CFS, Carrabassett - 5,500CFS, Sandy - 8,740CFS and Grand Lake Stream - 287CFS.

I've done another knot video and this one is the Orvis Knot. (click name to see video) A good strong knot for attaching a fly to a leader.  This is the knot I tie most of my flies on with - it's an easy knot to tie and best of all you can do it with cold fingers.

04/11/08 - River is getting higher each day.  Started to get dirty this week also.  Not much fishing going on in the lower Kennebec because of those problems.  However, the East Outlet is only flowing at 500cfs and if you bring your snowshoes you can get to fishable water.  Better to come to the shop here tomorrow and participate in the Tie and Lie we are holding. 

From Williams (Solon) down the water is just too high.  However, the flow out of Flagstaff is down to 201CFS and the Moose River which is open is running at 584CFS.  Just remember you have to deal with snow up there and the temps are cold.  Water temp out back is 34 degrees.

Here's another knot video for you.  This one is the Perfection Loop.  The Perfection Loop provides a nice straight pull and is an easy knot once you've done a couple.  You can also make a small, strong loop with the Perfection Knot which makes it great for a line to leader connection.

04/04/08 - Not much has changed.  Some people are catching fish but not a lot of catching going on.  Locally the main stem of the Kennebec is running high but clear.  Places like Belgrade sluiceway, Weeks Mills, Sheepscot, and the Sebasticook below Ft. Halifax Dam are worth looking at. 

As usual Grand Lake Stream produced some opening day fishing.  Flow today is over 700 at GLS so while high it is fishable.  There are dams scattered around the state that like GLS provide a reasonable flow until the melt really starts.  Many of those don't provide good fishing except for this time of year so you may want to check some local spots like lake outlet dams and pond inlets that normally don't produce - you may be surprised.

For those interested in keeping an eye on the Kennebec the webcam in Augusta is working and you can view it at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/me/nwis/uv?dd_cd=01&format=gif&period=7&site_no=01049320

Not much else to say right now but I've got a new video for you here's a Blood Knot (click name to watch video) for those of you who want to tie some up but aren't sure how. 

Early Stonefly04/01/08 - Well it's a typical April Fools Day and once again the joke is on us.  Not much fishing to be had but there is some good news.  There are some stoneflies moving about as you can see by enlarging the photo on the right.  Actually, these guys have been on the move for a week or so and with the melt we'll have today and tomorrow they should continue to be active.

3 guys fishingBut the access is hard in the places I visited this morning.  Wyman Dam in the fog.Wyman Dam is pretty well fogged in the snow is up to the top of the guardrails along the roadside.  But that didn't stop three guys who were there at 7:30 this morning.  Nope it didn't seem to slow them down at all.  One was fly casting and the Snow cover rails at Wyman DAmother two had spinning rods.  I have to admit I didn't walk down to ask how they were doing.  You could walk on the crust and so the snow wasn't much of a problem but by mid-morning each step is going to break through and the climb back up the bank is apt to be a tough one.

Solon was at a reasonable level with similar access.  The picture on the right Picnic Tables under the snow.shows the picnic tables at Evergreen Campground - the table tops are about at the top of the snow pack. Looking up and down river about all you Solon looking upriversee is fog and some bare ground right along the river edge indicating the river has been higher.  With the next couple of days of warmer weather my guess is that open bank space Solon looking downriverwill soon be under water.

At the bottom of the page I've put up some pictures from last year's April Fools run.  You can see there's quite a difference from one year to the next.

Dropping downriver to Shawmut where the edges are also bare the picture isn't much better.  The snow in the parking area is deep.  As you drive around the Knee Deep in SnowFairfield area and looking at the snow banks you could get the idea that the snow is almost gone but if you get out and go walking around you find out differently.   I was some glad I didn't break through to knee level with every step I took as it wasn't easy getting back on top of the snow.  Same old story you take a few steps and things are swell and then  - bang - you drop through and when you push hard to lift yourself out the other foot breaks through - not fun.

Here's what the entrance road looks like and it'll be awhile before anyone is driving down to the landing.  Someone will try it though and soon is my guess.  Entrance road to Shawmut is snow bound.They do it every year and tear up the road for everyone else.  Some people shouldn't be allowed to have 4-wheel drive.  Anyway, once you get down to the water at Shawmut it doesn't take long to figure out that wading isn't a good idea.  The level is high and the flow is fast. 

Shawmut FlashboardsHalf the flashboards are down and there's a lot of water coming over the dam.  The rest of the flashboards will go with the onset of a good thaw and then we'll begin the long wait for them to put them White Rock is under water.back up.  My guess is we won't see that until we get past the middle of May - perhaps not until the first week or so of June. 

So that's about it for this Friday Update.  Stay tuned - keep checking in and I'll give you to lowdown on the river conditions.

And finally below is the first post from last year just to give you an idea of difference from one year to the next.
04/06/07 Welcome back to the Friday Update.  As usual the river is just what you would expect - cold and high.  Not as high as some years but high for wading.  Great for boating in the Bingham area as you'll see in some of the pictures I took on opening day but generally to high for wading.

Here's a rundown of what I saw Opening day.

First Bingham.

As I drove into Bingham I could see the river was up but not the normal almost flood stage ones often sees in April.  The section across from the Bingham Motel was almost inviting.  I kept on going and crossed Austin Stream and wished that was open as the levels in it looked good.  However, the wild rainbows of Bingham deserve protection during the spring spawn so it was only a passing thought.  So I drove on to visit Wyman Dam my usual starting point for my April 1st run. 

When I got to Wyman I was surprised to see the flood gates not only weren't open but they hadn't even been washed clean of snow.  A sure sign the melt hasn't really started upcountry. 

There were people fishing and I took a couple of photos and tried to highlight the guys with red outlines.  You can see two guys who must have walked down on the power line side to get some wading in. 

A few people had caught fish and one guy came in yesterday with a picture of a 20" plus Splake or Brookie.  I looked at the picture and couldn't tell - tail was pretty square and it was a handsome fish.  The guy wasn't sure either but said other than being curious he didn't really care and his son (who caught the fish) surely didn't care. His son was just happy to have caught such a fish on opening day.

There were people using the new boat ramp and when I headed back down river towards Solon I saw a group of people at the head of the Multi-Use trail so there must have been some wading going on down below.  Bingham is still not real high as you can see by this chart. The flow is being regulated and only a few spikes of really high water so far.

Then down to Solon which was fairly low. As you can see looking upstream there were people out in canoes and the rock pile just above the bridge was showing.

I didn't see anyone wading but they certainly could have.  That may change soon with the melt we're bound to have but until it starts Solon might well be a good area to try. 

Looking downstream the river was clear of ice.  As a matter of fact all of the upper river sections looked to be free of ice. It was a different story when I got down to Madison. 

Madison had ice and snow.  Now after yesterday's storm everyplace has snow but there wasn't all that much on the first when I was driving around.  That is until I got to Madison.  There I saw lots of snow and quite a bit of ice on the river.  

Some GeeseAnd, I saw a lot of geese.  One field that had some large open areas had a lot of geese.  Enough so that I heard them before I saw them.  Those birds sure can make a racket. A nice bonus that comes with spring days is being able to ride around with your window part way down so you can hear such things. 

My next stop was Shawmut and it was high.  High enough so that they had one bay of the mechanical gates wide open.  That's right you guessed it the White Rock wasn't showing.  It might be awhile before we see that.

All in all it's a typical April.  Water is low when you think about what we have coming in the next few weeks and it's tempting to think about some serious wading.  But for my money I'll take the edges and shoreline for my casting and fishing.  That water is just to cold to risk much wading and at 33 to 36 degrees I can tell I DO NOT want to fall in. 

Yep, I'll be fishing the smaller feeder streams and lake inlets for awhile and leaving the main stem of the river to the soon to be returning Ospreys.

 



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