Aroostook County Ramblins' from a Sporting Journal Columnist

Posts tagged “Salmon

Free at Last!

-Guess who’s back, back again.

Finals, 2 weeks of hell.
Spring semester, over 15 papers and 6 large essay exams.
Dean’s List for the first time ever in my college career? Priceless!

LLBean Streamlight Rod and Reel

-As I sit here in the comfort of my house in Northern Maine, looking back at this past school year for once brings more smiles than excuses. After completing my third and most successful year of College, I can’t help but be proud of my accomplishments. With one year left in my undergrad before a few years in graduate school, I now look forward to role reversal during my Senior year with student teaching. But enough about school, because summer has arrived.

Now the most exciting summer vacation of my life kicks off in a big way. I’ve given myself a week off before I make the five hour journey south to my new summer home in Poland Springs, and I plan on making the best of my free time in Northern Maine. While I will no doubt return home numerous times during the summer, this will be my most intense week of fly fishing in Northern Maine this season. To put it plainly, I don’t plan on fishing this entire week and having nothing to show for it! Trips to Soldier Pond and other favorite places along the Fish River will be a daily occurrence, and I might even get lucky enough to test out L.L.Bean’s 9wt Orion on some Saint John River Muskie (Hint Hint Derick Plourde). Stay tuned for some reports on my adventures this week, it promises to be one for the highlight reel.

Beautiful Northern Maine. A View from Soldier Pond looking out towards Eagle Lake in the Distance.

Beautiful Northern Maine. A View from Soldier Pond looking out towards Eagle Lake in the Distance.

A view from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park overlooking Bar Harbor.

A view from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park overlooking Bar Harbor.

In addition to some fly fishing, my fly tying vice will see some heavy action this week as I tie up some treasures for my buddy Jared to take into the Allagash for his trout fishing/drinking trip. A few frustrating outings during school also resulted in trees claiming several of my nymphs, so it’s also time to replenish my own collection in anticipation of some heavy fishing this summer. Another challenge I face this summer is learning to tie larger salt water flies for Striper fishing on Maine’s Coast. I’m extremely excited to catch my first Striped Bass, and I would love nothing more than to catch it on a pattern I tied myself. In the next week or so I also plan on upgrading my vice. I’m on the fence between an Renzetti Traveler and a Regal Medallion, so if anyone has a personal preference for either of these models or others, please chime in.

So alas, Up’North makes it’s transition into the prime fishing, non-academic season. I hope to do some great things with the site during these next few months, including layout changes, additional material including more fly recipes, trip reports, and of course, a healthy helping of gear reviews! Special highlights looking towards the future include a special fishing trip with the RoughFisher Jean-Paul Lipton, the Fly Fishing Film Festival in June, and some Bass and Striper excursions. Look forward to new, original content and loads of pictures documenting my entire summer of Fly Fishing in Maine.

We’re back in a big way here at Up’North Maine Fly Castings, and I couldn’t be more excited to finally make MaineFlyCastings.com my top priority for the next 3 months.

Raise a glass to tight lines and good times during summer of 2009!

-Ben

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Fly Fishin' Artist: Galen Mercer

- A few days late, but equally great. This weeks fly fishing artist is considered one of the finest sporting and landscape artists of generations past and present. Spending more than two decades of his life New York State, Galen Mercer’s time in the Catskill Mountains immersed him in some of the most beautiful scenery known to man, and he’s captured it brilliantly on canvas. Mercier’s classic use of color and his rhythmic brush strokes make his paintings come to life with a vibrancy unrivaled by most of today’s artists.
Here are a few of my favorite pieces by Galen Mercer. To view his complete collection, visit GMERCERSTUDIO.com

"In Salmon Camp" By Galen Mercer

"In Salmon Camp" By Galen Mercer

"Guide and Salmon" By Galen Mercer

"Guide and Salmon" By Galen Mercer

"Richard at Richard's Pool" By Galen Mercer

"Richard at Richard's Pool" By Galen Mercer

Happy Castings,

-Ben

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Why Maine?

The Spring 2009 edition of Maine Fish and Wildlife magazine is now available for your viewing pleasure. Inside these pages Mainers will find the latest info regarding deer populations, the Moose Lottery, and conservation efforts of many Maine Fisheries. After reading through the entire issue, I give it the Up’North Stamp of Approval. What I enjoyed the most was a video included called “Maine, A World Class Fishery.” In the video are registered Maine guides and other influential faces from the fishing scene including Matt Libby of Libby Camps, Mac McKeever of L.L.Bean, and fly fishing’s godfather Lefty Kreh. The video cues in on exactly what makes the Maine fishing experience so special, and also profiles what Maine Wardens and Biologists are doing to help conserve our precious Wild Brook Trout populations and other fisheries throughout the state. The Magazine is available online, view it HERE.

Check the Video out HERE!

I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

Maine, A Fishing Gem

Happy Castings,

-Ben

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Maine Salmon Season Canceled!

- The month long catch and release season for Atlantic Salmon on the Penobscot River has officially been called off. Originally slated to start on Friday, this season would have only been the second in the last decade. While the Penobscot still remains the only river in the United States with a sizable Salmon run, numbers are still incredibly bad, with over 90% of the spawning fish coming from federal fish hatcheries. Read the full article from The Bangor Daily News.

atlantic_salmon

Penobscot River, Milford Dam

Penobscot River, Milford Dam

Maybe I’m alone here, but the fact that over 90% of the migrating Atlantic Salmon come from hatcheries troubles me much more than the cancellation of any season. Hatchery fish compete with the native Salmon, and if practices aren’t changed quickly eventually these native fish will disappear. While most won’t see that as an extinction, that’s exactly what it is. The Penobscot river Salmon fishery should be managed through conservation efforts involving the removal of dams and the regulation of fishing (yeah I said it), not bombarded and covered up with hatchery fish. To learn more about the current condition of the river’s fisheries, and what you can do to help restore the Penobscot River, please visit the Penobscot River Restoration Trust website.

Happy Castings (Just not for Atlantic Salmon)

-Ben

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Mornin' Coffee: Rivers of a Lost Coast

- The Fly Fishing film Industry has taken of in a big way this year, and Rivers of a Lost Coast certainly looks to take top honors in my book. Rich with history and a great story, this film is much more than your average fish porn. Following a small group of Fly Fishermen at the turn of the 20th century, Rivers of a Lost Coast documents their struggles as populations of Steelhead and Salmon begin their rapid decline in California’s coastal rivers. But don’t be fooled! After viewing the trailer, you’ll realize this film is about much more than simply catching fish.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wmo_q6fh2gw&hl=en&fs=1&color1=0x234900&color2=0x4e9e00&border=1]
Catch Rivers of a Lost Coast June 4th in Portland, Maine at The Fly Fishing Film Tour.
For more information on the film, and to check out some great bio’s and pictures, visit RiversOfALostCoast.com

Happy Castings,

-Ben

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Salmon or no Salmon, THAT is the Question!

-Well, It’s almost 10pm and I’m finally settling in back home in Fort Kent. I was lucky enough to receive my second tour of the Bushmaster Firearms factory today, only this time it was as an introduction to where I would be working for the next three months. Needless to say, all the paperwork and politics are in the past, and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to get started!

Bushmaster Firearms

After eight hours of driving/napping, I can say with confidence that I have never seen more cops over the course of one day in my entire life. At one point during my drive I was behind a cruiser, and being followed by a cruiser for almost half an hour. My Drivers-Ed teacher would have been proud of my 10 and 2 hand placement, and my steady speed of 65mph. Needless to say I weathered the storm, dodged a few moose, and finally made it home.
What I saw when I pulled into Aroostook county didn’t particularly impress me, but It was something I was prepared for. The two inches of rain my father told me about, to my dismay, was not the exaggeration I had hoped it would be. I stopped on the bridge over Soldier Pond to examine the area I had planned on fishing, and was shocked to see it at least two feet higher than when I was home for Easter. Needless to say, water that high doesn’t exactly scream “Put a boat in me!” so I’ll have to examine other options if I plan on tempting a few Salmon while I’m home. Creek Addict comrade Chris Michels seems to think Nymphs might be my best bet, but these Native Landlocks are usually much too stubborn to fall for those antics. Until the water levels drop, I don’t expect the fish to be very active. Maybe tomorrows bluebird “summer day” will help my case and give me a better chance at some fish on Sunday. Either way, high water or not you can bet I’ll be fishing tomorrow, so check back soon for a report and some pictures.

This was Two Weeks ago, The water is about 2 Feet over those shrubs now!

This was Two Weeks ago, The water is about 2 Feet over those shrubs now!

For now I sit reclined with my computer on my lap, soaking in the comforts of home with my Black Lab Molly by my side. The Redsox and the Yankees are in the bottom of the 11th inning deadlocked at 4, and I’m hoping the Sox can pull one out tonight to open up the………..going GOING GOIIIINNGGGGG GONNE! Kevin Youkilis hit’s a walk-off homer over the Green Monster! Sox take the first game of the weekend series! (That literally just happened as I was writing). At least I have something to smile about before turning in for the night!

Wish me luck tomorrow, I’m gonna need it!

Tight Lines,

-Ben

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Up'North Bound with Salmon on the Brain!

-Well, driving is the name of the game this weekend.
This morning I make the drive two hours south to Windham to sign some papers and finalize my summer job at Bushmaster Firearms. After a quick lunch with my aunt, it’s back on the road for a five hour drive to Fort Kent. With the weather promising to be nothing short of amazing this weekend, I’m hoping the water levels are low enough to allow for some decent salmon fishing. I’ve heard some mixed reviews so far this season, but all in all it sounds like the fishing has been great in the past few weeks.

Fish River Classics

Fish River Classics: Photo By Ben Rioux

Unfortunately, northern Maine got dumped on with rain these past few days, receiving just over two inches before it was all said and done. My father said the rivers are rising like crazy, but I’m hoping they can drain out to normal levels before Saturday. Regardless, you know i’ll be out there dragging streamers and praying a nice Landlocked Salmon comes along to make my day. I’ve heard reports of a few fish over 24inches being taken last week, so I’m itching to throw my line into the mix! I have a few nice looking Ghost variations that I’m dying to test, including a black, white and green pattern that I have really high hopes for. I’ll post some pictures of all my recent flies (And Fish Hopefully) later this weekend, with a few more additions to the Fly Recipes page as well. Until then, Wish me luck!

"Stand By Me" Trail Trussel over the Fish River: Photo By Ben Rioux

"Stand By Me" Trail Trussel over the Fish River: Photo By Ben Rioux

Tight lines, and see you on the river!

-Ben

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Mornin' Coffee: RIP LPS

Good Morning ladies and gents!

A new Link has been added to Up’North’s  Fly Fishin’ Friends, and its one worth a BIGGGGGGG look.

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to stumble across a great Blog that had somehow avoided my eyes these past few months. RIP LPS is a personal blog written by probably the most hardcore fly fishing lady I’ve ever seen. Don’t Believe me? Read her stories and you’ll understand. While hundreds of writers blog about fly fishing every day, few have the passion, or knowledge of fly fishing that Camille Egdorf does.

Camille In action! "Throwin' some D's"

Camille In action! "Throwin' some D's"

At only 19 years old, her summers are spent in Alaska guiding for her parent’s guided fishing operation on the King Salmon and Nushagak rivers in Bristol Bay. (Egdorf’s Nushagak River Camps) When not in Alaska, she can be found wading the rivers from California to Montana and beyond, catching anything from Trophy Steelhead to giant Sea Run Browns. I’m wondering when she might add Trophy Maine Brook Trout to that list of accomplishments, but she still has plenty of time for that!
To Check out Camille’s blog, and the amazing pictures that grace every story, head on over to RIP LPS now!

Tight Lines and Happy Times,

Ben

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Living in PERFECT Harmony?

-A few reports of Salmon over the 20 inch Mark are starting to roll in from Northern Maine, as reportedly the water levels have dropped just enough to heat up the fishing. While not incredibly fast, word on the street is that this year so far local watersheds are sporting very large landlocks.

Muskie in the Saint John River

Muskie in the Saint John River

The most promising report of all comes from a particular section of the Fish River I’ve been worried about for some time due to the growing populations of Muskie along that stretch. It seems that regardless of the increasing threat, the Salmon populations are maintaining quality numbers comparable to those of the past 5 years. This is a promising sign, and one that might be easily explained. My hunch is that while the Fish River can easily support a healthy Muskie population, fast waters help keep most Muskie confined to the slow, more gradual waters of the Saint John River that they tend to prefer. Landlocked Salmon and Brook Trout are much better adapt to swimming in faster currents, giving them a competitive advantage over Muskie in the Fish River. While I think it’s silly to assume that Muskie don’t have an established presence in at least the lower portion of the Fish River, I do believe that conditions are such that will continue to allow Muskie, Landlocked Salmon, and even Brook trout to coexist in healthy populations.
Although to be completely honest, the thought of Muskie establishing themselves in any part of the Fish River makes me angry.
Back to the vice in preparation for my big trip back home this weekend!

See you on the River,
-Ben

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Mornin Coffee: Females who Fish!

-Here at Up’North, we show love for any lady who can hang a line with the guys on any fishing excursion. This morning I’d like to introduce you to some county girls who aren’t afraid to fish with (and sometimes out fish) the fellas regardless of the season or conditions. Major props ladies, you’ve all earned the Up’North Seal of Approval. Keep the pictures coming!

Kel. Marquis

Muskie

Sarah's Muskie

Sherrie and a few days worth of Trout Dinners

Happy Castings

-Ben

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Fishing Trips: April 11 at Soldier Pond

-Spring is in full swing in Northern Maine, and the signs are everywhere. Rivers throughout the county are running with ice and minor flooding is causing many people major headaches. Well, no headaches here! This year I’ve been fortunate enough to get out and fish more than usual during early Spring. While the fish have managed to avoid my grasp thus far, I’m more than excited to just be out on the water having a good time.
My first trip to Soldier Pond of the season has been on my mind since April 1st came around. For me, a fly fishing season hasn’t officially started until I cast a line out on the waters of Soldier Pond. Something about the atmosphere holds a special place in my mind, and will likely keep my coming back every season for as long as I can cast. The day was sunny and for me most part comfortable…until I stepped out of the truck at the pond. Strong winds greeted me and quickly made me question how difficult it might be to loft big streamers off the bridge. Regardless, I wasn’t about to abandon my pursuit.

Think I love Fly Fishing? Big smiles for the first day at Soldier Pond!

Think I love Fly Fishing? Big smiles for the first day at Soldier Pond!

I was greeted at the pond by my buddies Alex and Jon, and Jon’s little brother Thomas. Only a Freshman in High school, Thomas has the fly fishing fever that few could match. While I was putting my rod together, he was standing waist deep at the edge of the pond in his neoprene waders making casts into the current as small pieces of ice floated by. That’s what I call dedication.

Thomas Morin changing flies (That he tied) before wandering back into the icy waters!

Thomas Morin changing flies (That he tied) before wandering back into the icy waters!

My buddy Lucas also came along to make his first casts of the season. Lucas and I spent almost every night last summer casting flies at rising salmon off the bridge, and he was just as excited as I was to pick up where he left off. In a matter of minutes we were casting from shore and catching up on old times. It didn’t take long before we made the trek up the bank and trudged our way towards our normal spots on the bridge. After a few casts we realized fishing where we usually do was pretty much useless. We battled the winds for some time and had nothing to show for it but frozen fingers and runny noses. As cold as it was on the shore, up on the bridge it was freezing. Still, we took turns battling the elements and throwing lengths of line as far as we could. Suddenly as if it were planned, the wind blew our lines across our backs almost in unison and upon finishing our casts we managed to hook the only catch of the day, our pant legs. After digging the streamers out of our flesh, we decided casting from the bridge would have to wait, and made our way back to the shore.

Lucas fighting 25mph winds off Soldier Pond Bridge.

Lucas fighting 25mph winds off Soldier Pond Bridge.

A few hours passed by and I can say with certainty the only thing I caught in that time was a cold. Then, as if to spite me, something completely unexpected and insulting happened. Lucas was taking pictures, and as I turned to smile for the camera my rod tip bent sharply twice. I reacted clumsily and my hook set missed by a mile and resulted in most of my line collecting on the shore at my feet. It serves me right I guess, rule number 1: Only pose for pictures after the fish is in hand! I made a few “hopes and dreams” casts toward the spot I got the strike, but reeled in with nothing to show for it. After a few mumbled curses I snipped my streamer and Lucas followed suit. Soldier Pond trip number one would end exactly as we had expected it would, with soar arms and missed opportunities. Still, per usual I enjoyed simply catching up and visiting this spot after the long winter caught inside. We agreed that in a few weeks when the waters had dropped, we would fish through the day and photograph a few keepers. The Salmon better not make me a liar!

I just had to Laugh at the timing of that strike! Of course Lucas snapped the picture anyway after I missed the fish! He was slightly more amused than I was.

I just had to Laugh at the timing of that strike! Of course Lucas snapped the picture anyway after I missed the fish! He was slightly more amused than I was.

Until then, see you on the snow covered shore!

-Ben

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Conservation Efforts ahead for Grand Lake Stream

-The Bangor Daily News reported this past Thursday that one of Maine’s premier fishing destinations is earmarked for conservation. The article outlines the plans of a conservation group that intends to purchase nearly 22,00 acres of land near Grand Lake Stream. The purchase would protect much of the essential lands surrounding the Stream from future development and allow for sustainable forestry in the region. Grand Lake Stream has long been considered one of New England’s best areas to catch trophy Landlocked Salmon, and the impact of an effort of this magnitude can only make it better.

Rapids on Grand Lake Stream, Maine

Rapids on Grand Lake Stream, Maine

Read the complete article in the Bangor Daily News HERE.

Multiple Visits to Grand Lake Stream are on the TOP of the list for me during this Fly Fishing Season. I’m currently waiting on some extra money before I can get too adventurous. The New Pentax Optio W60 is my next essential purchase (For the good of the site is what I keep telling myself), so when I do get out that way you’ll see some great pictures of my adventures.  I’m a sucker for fall fishing, so I’d imagine October will probably be my favorite time to Fish Grand Lake Stream, especially when all of my local spots are still active with Hungry Salmon but no longer allow me to legally fish.

Until then, Happy Castings

-Ben

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A Carrie Stevens History Lesson

Carrie Stevens

Carrie Stevens

-Chances are, if you have ever tied a fly you’ve heard of famous fly tying legend Carrie Stevens.
A Self-taught tier from Upper Dam Maine, Carrie Stevens has developed patterns that are not only extremely beautiful, but incredibly affective in Maine waters and throughout the United States. I am forever in debt to her for creating classic streamers like the Grey Ghost, which lands me multiple bragging size Salmon season after season. Still, while many people know of the numerous fly patterns Steven’s has contributed to fly tying, most know very little about her life or even the techniques she used and how she developed them.

Grey Ghost: By Carrie Stevens

Grey Ghost: By Carrie Stevens

The Rangeley lakes region where she did her tying was once considered the best destination in the eastern United States for catching trophy brook trout. Wealthy businessmen and politicians would dish out the big bucks for a fishing vacation at one of the numerous fishing camps throughout the region including the lavish Mountain View House. Stevens was a large reason for the growing popularity of the Rangeley fishing scene after she caught a giant brook trout weighing in at just under seven pounds. The fish and the streamer she used to catch it gained her national recognition and led to her into the fly tying business shortly thereafter.

Numerous Streamers tied by Carrie Stevens

Numerous Streamers tied by Carrie Stevens

The life of Carrie Stevens is beautifully chronicled by Graydon and Leslie Hilyard in their book “Carrie Stevens: Maker of Rangeley favorite Trout and Salmon Flies.” The book can be purchased on Amazon HERE. Additional information on Steven’s and her streamers can be found on the Rangeley Outdoor Sporting Heritage website. The Museum that is being constructed as we speak in Rangeley will feature a vast amount of regional history, including many artifacts like flies, pictures, and writings from Carrie Stevens and other Rangeley Legends.

An Artists rendering of the Rangeley Historical Musuem currently bieng constructed.

An Artists rendering of the Rangeley Historical Musuem currently bieng constructed.

I don’t know about any of you, but her method of tying kind of makes me feel silly for tying with a vice!

-Ben

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Slow Fishing got you down? Check out Up'North's Essential Tips for Spring Fishing!

-With April now well underway, there is a good chance that more than 90% of the northern Maine population has yet to cast a line. I can’t say I place blame, not everyone is as crazy or obsessed as I am. The fact of the matter is, Ice and Snow are still covering many of the rivers and making it difficult to get to some of the best fishing spots. Fishing during the early Spring in Maine can be extremely challenging and dangerous, which probably explains why so many fisherman opt to just start their fishing well after the snow is melted away. Well, BIG MISTAKE! While difficult, fly fishing in the spring can be incredibly rewarding and even relatively safe if the proper precautions are taken.
This article will discuss the techniques and strategies for staying comfortable while fishing during early Spring in Northern Maine, all while catching more fish.

Grey Ghost

Grey Ghost

Before I get into the meat of the discussion regarding techniques, I would first like to note that no matter how well you follow these tips, or any for that matter, Spring fishing in Northern Maine is usually very challenging and getting skunked can be common. Their are exceptional days that come along if your lucky, but for the most part high waters and limited access make Spring Fishing very difficult. While the following tips have worked for me in the past, they are by no means a guaranteed way to catch more fish, simple personal strategies that have caught me fish during previous Spring Fishing trips. Enjoy!

Tip number 1: Keep your cool

  • The biggest key to success that I’ve found is simply to keep your cool and just try not to get frustrated if your not catching anything. If fly fishing was easy and constantly productive it would lose it’s excitement. In the Spring it’s easy to make excuses when your not catching fish, which is always a plus. Just be patient and persistent and sooner or later the river gods will have your back.

Tip number 2: Put your Dry Flies away Sally!

  • I don’t care what you saw on TV, or what your best friend’s brother’s uncle’s grandfather told you, Salmon and Trout in Northern Maine Rivers are not boiling in the rivers during the first weeks of April. Fish a wide variety of streamers on a sinking line and I can guarantee you a more productive outing. This can be difficult for some people, including myself, who like to fish dry flies and a floating line. The simple truth is that trolling MOST rivers in northern Maine during the early Spring is the tried and true way to catch fish. There will be plenty of time to fish that mayfly or green drake in a few months, for now break out the Grey Ghosts, Joe Smelts, and a sinking line. You won’t be sorry.

Tip Number 3: Make friends with someone old.

  • You might be laughing, but this really is an essential tip. Fly fisherman of generations past could tell you more about techniques that work and spots that produce more than any book ever will. The problem is, if your not friends with these veterans of the fly, there is no way in hell your getting any directions to where they caught that 5 pound salmon. The things I have learned from grandfathers and other old timers have greatly shaped my style of fly fishing and my general attitude towards the sport. Tap into this extensive database of fly fishing knowledge and I promise you’ll be the wiser for it. The past generations of Fly Fisherman are always willing to help out younger generations of fly fisherman and pass on the tips and tricks they have learned over their many years out on the water.

Tip Number 4: Do some preseason scouting.

  • In the past few years, God gave fly fisherman a gift. This gift is commonly referred to as Google Earth. If your too much of a pansy to walk into the fly shop and ask for directions to a spot, or even complete Tip Number 3 above, Google Earth can be extremely useful. It allows anglers to explore their surroundings from the comfort of a computer, and is essential for locating rivers, streams, and even boat landings. In fact, The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife even has a template for Google Earth that points out numerous boat landings throughout Maine. The moral of the story? If your early season spot just isn’t working out, it’s easier than ever to find a new one. Get crackin’ Junior!

Tip Number 5: Change Streamers often!

  • Whenever I’m out on the water I always try to pre-arrange at least 4 or 5 streamers I plan on fishing during the course of the day. These streamers are usually ones that have served me well in years past, and most of them range between size 8 and 2. The faster rivers around Aroostook County tend to produce better with a larger fly, while the more gradual moving shallow rivers produce better with a 6 or 8. As the season wears on into May, I usually opt out of using the large streamers and switch to a size 6 for most of my choices. See the Fly Recipes page for some ideas on what might work for you!
Google Earth!

Google Earth!

As always, Safety should be the primary concern during any fishing, especially in the Spring months. Remember to always wear a life jacket, and if possible fish with a buddy. If you see ice on the water, it probably isn’t safe to venture out in a boat. When the ponds and lakes break up the ice can run down rivers very suddenly, and being trapped can be deadly. No fish is worth drowning for, so in this case finding a safer alternative is always the best bet!

Best of luck in this young season, and Happy Castings,

-Ben

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The Death of a Page!

-Well, I did it again.

In a effort to fine tune Up’North Maine Fly Castings for world domination, I have made another important decision that I feel will benefit the overall layout of the site and it’s content. I felt it was necessary to remove the “Fishing Trip Log” page because It ultimately was not functioning the way I originally intended it to. Because of the limits of a page, accumulating multiple fishing trip stories would not only get confusing, but also extremely difficult to navigate. Instead, each fishing trip experience will be reported directly on the main page of the blog. To provide users with a chance to browse the writeups of multiple fishing trips, I have added a “Fishing Trip” catergory that will allow easier access to individual trip stories. This will also allow readers to comment on the individual trips, instead of only being allowed to comment on an entire page.

Because the season only starts tomorrow, a single writeup from the 2008 season was present on the page. I’ve posted it below so It won’t be lost forever! I hope this change goes a long way towards making Up’North more enjoyable and user friendly!

Happy Castings,

-Ben

Soldier Pond, Final Casts of the 08′ Season

*Anyone who knows me, knows that fall is my favorite time of the year. Cold, Crisp air, a looming hunting season, but best of all, fall fly fishing.

Water levels were at their lowest point of the season as I parked the truck and started to string up my 6 weight. It was my first trip back home since school had started, and I was itching to get my line wet. After 4 months of fishing every other day this would be my first time in 3 weeks, and most likely my last.

View From a Distance

I took my normal spot on the Bridge and began casting. I started with a white hornburg and began drifting it in front of the pier and down under the bridge. Stripping my line, I worked my casts towards the left competing with the wind on every stroke. The bridge is one of my favorite spots in the world, but it has it’s fair share of hazards that the wind only seems to compound. About 8 feet above your head is a set of power lines. One arrant cast and you could lose anything from your fly to your entire line, the prove of this hazard decorates the lines like a christmas tree.

I had made a few contributions to this mosaic of fly fishing history, but today I wasn’t in the mood. My hornburg triggered a few follows and even a few light tugs, but no dice. I gradually moved across the bridge, casting to the left and right of the pier and wrestling more consistantly with the wind at this point. My patience was wearing thin.

I reeled in my line and slumped back against the cement railing frustrated and relatively frozen. The fall air was something new to my lungs, and while I welcomed the change my body was still savoring the 70 degree weather I had experienced at school only 24hrs earlier. I snipped my hornburg and changed out my tippet from 4 to 6 pound test, tying on a a size 4 “pink lady.” I had only ever caught one salmon on this streamer, but something told me it was worth a try. I made my way to the other side of the bridge so I could strip my line and let it go in the gradual current. This summer had taught me that dragging streamers on the opposite side of the bridge was never as productive, but sometimes your only option. I let out about 80 feet of my floating line and let the current do the work, tossing my bright pink streamer back and forth like a small minnow. My 10 foot leeder combined with an 5 foot tippet meant that my streamer would only stay about a foot under the surface, which is exactly where I wanted it.

I walked the length of the bridge to cover more water, making sure that my streamer looked as natural as possible. When I got to the hole on the right side of the bridge, I shortened up and made a single cast straight for the center of it. Pinching my line with my finger, I reached for my coffee on the cement pillar. BANG! A brute of a salmon freight trained my fly. I decided my coffee could wait until later and reeled in my excess line. As any avid fisherman knows, hauling a big fish over the side of this bridge is no easy task. I let him tire himself out in the current so I could get him out of the water and over the bridge as quickly as possible, but as soon as I would make my move so would he. He battled to take for the current a number of times, but I continued to turn him back into the pool. Finally, I set my rod against the pier and began to pull up my line hand over hand. What came over the bridge was a beautifully fat landlocked salmon. Probably just making his return trip from some of the deeper waters in the fish river chain, this was the largest fish I hooked into in a little over a month. I struggled with my forceps to remove the hook cleanly, but he had basically inhaled it. By the time my fly was free the large amounts of blood told me that the chances of survival were minimal. This fella would serve as a meal instead. A few old timers stopped when crossing the bridge to get a look at my trophy. I held it up proudly and they congratulated me before driving off.

With the wind picking up, I decided a few more casts into the pool would probably be the extent of my fishing. Still beaming from the excitement of my last fish, I made a large back cast and wrapped my leader around the power line. The tangled mess told me that my fly now belonged to the bridge, probably the rivers way of punishing me for taking a fish. Fitting considering the circumstances, I cut my losses and unmade my rod before the walk back to the pickup. I dropped my fish in the cooler and started towards home, making a scheduled stop at my grandparents to show them the fruits of my labor. Once home, I measured and weighed the fish at just shy of 20 inches, and just over two pounds.

My brother snapped a picture of it before I cleaned it and examined what It had been eating.

Last Salmon of the Season


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Spring Excitement, Fly Tying, and a Summer Change..

-I know the fishing season never ends for some of you lucky western folk, but I can’t say enough how excited I am for my season to begin in just five short days. The anticipation is something comparable to Christmas for me, only instead of spending money on gifts for family and friends, I’m spending it on fly tying materials, leaders, and tippet. I have officially entered panic mode, and it feels great. Naturally, streamers are the hot item at my fly tying bench. Wood Specials, Grey ghost variations and giant white wulffs have accumulated in my fly box, as well as a few custom nymph patterns. I’ve done my homework this season more than ever, and I can proudly say I’m prepared for anything the river throws my way.

Tie off your thread often, select a vice that best suits you, and make use of your mother’s nail polish

I learned a considerable amount of tricks and techniques at the vice from tying masters Mike Martinek and David Klausmeyer during the L.L.Bean Fishing Expo. Tie off your thread often, select a vice that best suits you, and make use of your mother’s nail polish (sorry mom!). My classic streamers are nowhere near the quality I hope they might become, but I’m sure Martinek would be proud with my progress. Frustrating as it might be, I’m still trying to figure out where the money saving aspect of fly tying seems to have gone. Twenty five dollars for a cape here and a cape there has the potential to turn into a ton of flies, but lost time can be more costly than lost money when your in college. Still, Fly Tying is a hobby I’m proud I picked up, and one that I’m sure I’ll continue well past the days I can cast a line. There is something simple and peaceful about this complex form of art, and I won’t even pretend that I have it all figured out. What I do know is that the satisfaction I get from completing a clean looking fly is something that can’t be understood unless you’ve actually done it. While I still consider fly fishing my favorite hobby, I can certainly see how some of the best fly tyers in the world might not even be fishing anymore. What makes it even more exciting is that my DEFINING moment in tying has yet to arrive. Everyone tells me catching your first fish on a personal creation is a feeling like no other, so I’m sure you’ll get a huge article when that day comes.

Ben Rioux

This Summer is shaping up to be extremely different for me, and I anxiously await it. After more than 20 years spending my summer vacation stomping around Aroostook County, tough economic times and a need to gain some experience has finally torn me away from home. While I welcome this new oppourtunity, the change will have its difficult moments and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to balance work, fly fishing, and trips home to see my family and the lady, but I’m sure I’ll work it out. Regardless, I will continue to report on the fishing in Aroostook County, and hope to get my fair share of days in at some of my favorite haunts. You can drag me as far away from home as you want, but I’ll always find a way back sooner or later.

While I am away, I look forward to meeting new fisherman, poaching their favorite spots, and making them confused and angry as I pose for pictures. The chance to fish new waters is always exciting, and only adds to the long list of new experiences I hope to take in this summer. I’ll miss my mother’s home cooking, and saturday morning fishing trips with dad, but something tells me those days are far from over. For now the northern trout and salmon can rest easy knowing they have a free and easy summer ahead of them.

See you on the River

-Ben

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An Offical Up'North Welcome!

-Recently my readers have been able to tune in to the thoughts of a few contributors on Up’North. As anyone who writes a blog or maintains a website knows, it’s not easy to go it alone. I’m excited to have two important members of the Northern Maine Fly Fishing community on board as I push Maineflycastings.com even closer to world domination.

While I’ve already introduced you to Alex Mitchell, I would like to take some time to do the same for our latest contributor, Ryan Wishart.

Close your eyes for a second and envision your ideal residence. If your like me, its probably somewhere close to an incredibly beautiful, constantly productive “favorite” fishing area. When most fisherman close their eyes, they see something like Ryan’s Childhood home on the shore of Soldier Pond. His close exposure to this tiny fly fishing heaven for so many years has undoubtedly given him more knowledge to contribute than anyone else I can think of. His posts will add depth and variety to the site, and that is greatly appreciated. I look forward to reading what Ryan has to offer more in the future.

Ryan Wishart, Soldier Pond Maine

Ryan Wishart, Soldier Pond Maine

Read Ryan’s full Bio on the newly updated “GANG” page!
Happy Castings,
-Ben

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Wishy's Words

Hello fellow readers!

I will start by introducing myself. My name is Ryan Wishart and I grew up in the small town of Soldier Pond that Ben believes should be the new Maine capital. I spent countless days watching fly-fishing in this small piece of fishing heaven. I am a self taught artificial fly fishing artist and I am honored to be invited by Ben to engage in some of my favorite topics of discussion. My first post will be about early spring fly fishing which seems fitting with spring starting in only a few more days (well technically anyways). Streamers are my fly type of choice in the spring time. Obviously it is still too cold for a dry fly hatch so streamers allow us to mimic what is already present in the water. This may include baitfish or other aquatic organisms. My favorite early spring streamer is the Magog Smelt. It is produced primarily from purple and white bucktail along with a few strands of peacock hearl. Other variations that I have tied include a little yellow, blue, or green bucktail. A picture can be seen below.

Wishbone's Magog Smelt

Wishbone's Magog Smelt

In Northern Maine a healthy population of smelt can be found in the lakes. In the springtime the smelt “run”up the rivers and brooks to spawn. This becomes an important food for Trout and Salmon that are just starting to become more active with the increasing water temperature. I like to fish it with a small spilt-shot a few inches up the leader (if using my floating line) or using sinking line to present the smelt closer to where the predator that I am seeking is located. When the water temps are still cold the fish are more lethargic and tend to take an easier “lunch” over a chase. Hope this tip works for you and good luck!

-Ryan

Oh and I would like to also add — My nicknames include Wish, Wishy, Wishbone.

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