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Fall is up on us!

September 7th, 2018 by

I think this is my favorite time of year!  Days and nights are cooler which means the water cools and the fall trout and salmon start running up the rivers to spawn. There’s crispness to the air and along with the leaves the trout and salmon start to change color and this is when they are the prettiest.

I can still get them to come to a caddis dry but as we get deeper into fall, I turn to streamers and nymphs. We don’t have many days left before we are tying flies and watching snowflakes falls, so get out there!

Soft Hackle Season

August 23rd, 2018 by

Soft Hackle Season

August 5, 2018 – We see the same thing about this time every year. As summer sunshine warms the waters of Moosehead Lake and its tributaries trout and salmon begin retreating to the lakes seeking cooler waters in the deeper areas where smelt hangout. Many of the E.O. residents either drop back into Indian Pond or pass through the fish ladder in the dam to Moosehead Lake. Although fish still remain in the river, trout and salmon numbers in the rivers fall off. 10-12″ salmon that have spent the first year and a half of their life decide a diet of only insects is not enough and head to the lake to seek it’s cooler water and begin feeding on a steady diet of smelt, the high protein food they need to mature into adult fish. The same goes for the Roach & Moose River. When cooler fall weather conditions arrives the colder water will begin luring spawning age fish back into the rivers.

The West Branch of the Penobscot below Ripogenus Dam is an all together different story. It’s a tailwater and a very unique landlocked salmon fishery where fish are born and spend their entire life in a river environment. There is no fish ladder at Rip Dam so fish are stuck in the river. The reason they thrive is the passage of smelt through the power plant turbines and through flood gates during high water events. There are enough smelt dumped into the river to maintain a large, healthy population of salmon and trout. It’s a unique situation that exists in very few places.
Because it is a tailwater fishery angling remains very good during the heat of summer. Caddis and stone fly hatches hold up and fish continue feeding on top all summer long. Early morning and late evening are the best times for hatches and spotting feeding fish. Also West Branch water levels this season have been excellent for both waders and drift boats.

Wherever you fish this time of season it becomes harder and harder to tease fish to the surface for a tiny dry. There is very little daytime hatching and fish don’t want to exert much energy getting a tiny amount of food. They can get what they need poking around the bottom searching for nymphs. But they are all still looking up for one more easy meal.

This is the time of season when soft hackle wets can make the difference. To the fish they look like a dead or cripple bug just below the surface and much easier to grab than a dry sitting high on the surface film where they have to poke their nose above the surface to try and grab a bug.

Soft hackles are simple to fish. Start with a short line, cast 45 degree downstream, make an upstream mend to straighten things out and swing the little wet across the current. A tight line is essential. If nothing becomes of that swing pull a couple feet or less off your reel and repeat the process with your soft hackle a bit further downstream. Cover as much water as possible so if there is a hungry fish looking for a tidbit it will see your fly. Fish all the water you can reach then either change spots or change flies. Your choice of soft hackle wet fly is also simple. Pick out whatever body color the present caddis hatches are. At this time of the season around here it’s orange, tan or black body caddis. We are raising way more fish to soft hackle wets than dries and hooking more fish as well. They are an easy target. With one flip of its tail a fish can make an gentle sip and have your bug in its lips with lvery ittle effect. When it happens you probably would see the take. When the fish heads back to the bottom all you feel is weight until your hook finds home and your salmon goes airborne. Soft hackle wets are a game changer especially in the heat of summer.

Enjoy your time on the water.

for more reports from Maine Guide Fly Shop:

Maine Fishing Report

August 7th, 2018 by

I just wanted to put up a quick report of my areas I guide. The Penobscot is my main area and where I have been focusing on. With the rain over the last week the Penobscot has doubled in flow, which isn’t a bad thing. When the river jumped in flow, it really got the bass active. Every fish we caught was spitting up damsel flies or bait fish.

On Friday I had a grandfather, son and granddaughter out and they landed 78 fish in four hours and that rolled into two more days off big fish and lots of them.


The Wets Branch of the Penobscot has warmed ,so please check the water temp before fishing it. If you do mornings and evenings would be best for cooler water. With that said the temp has been hovering just below 70. Stac and I got up there a week ago and it fishing was incredible. We caught all fish on dries even though there was no hatch. Caddis and big stone flies are the food of choice.



Maine Guide Fly Shop Fishing Report

May 4th, 2018 by

 Iceout could be just around the corner

Things change fast this time of season. Ten days ago the Moosehead Lake Region was frozen solid and you needed your snowmobile to get around the backcountry. During those ten days we’ve had a nice shift in the weather pattern. Things warmed up, stayed mild and we had a couple of major rain events. As a result our substantial snowpack cut loose and water started running from everywhere. This time of season when snowpack is densest two inches of warm rain can product ten inches of water. Lakes went from low to near full, open water began to show around shorelines and especially at the mouth of tributaries.  This all spells – iceout isn’t that far away. With 3 days of upper 70 degree weather moving in tomorrow the remaining ice should vaporize by the weekend. It can’t take bright sun and near 80 degree temperatures.

Here’s a link to the web cam on Blair Hill. You’ll have a bird’s eye view of the process.

The added bonus from this warmer than normal weather is smelt runs will begin as soon as the warmer weather moves in. Fishing spring smelt runs is the very first “Window of Opportunity” of our fishing season and everyone’s chomping  at the bit.

Hitting this window of opportunity can be a grap-shoot but you can increase your odds by doing a little home work. There is a bit of science behind spawning runs. Smelt are no different than other cold water fish that go upstream to lay their eggs. Water temperature is the main driving forced. This time of year smelt begin to gather around the mouth of a stream or river where it enters a body of water, be it a small pond or a big lake. For example,  Moosehead smelt stage in deep water just off the mouth of the Moose River waiting for a signal that tells them to enter the river and begin spawning. That signal is above 40 degree water entering the lake. In order for that to happen snow has to be gone from the woods and run-off nearly over before stream or river water can rise above 40 degrees F. Small streams with head waters in the hills run first. High sun and 60-70 degree daytime temperature warms the earth which warms the stream water.

Smaller rivers like the Roach River warm next. Thirty-four degree water leaves First Roach Pond then flows six miles before entering Spencer Bay. Once snow is pretty much gone and air temps rise to the mid-60’s or higher the high sun warms the water as it makes that six mile journey to the lake. We have checked the water temperature at the dam on First Roach then again at the mouth of the river and discovered there can be a ten degree rise in water temperature from First Roach to Moosehead. That figure will very depending on water flow. The lower the flow the easier it warms on a nice warm, sunny day in late April. If the flow is high it will not warm as quickly. It’s like boiling water, put a cup of water in a pot, hang it over a fire and it doesn’t take long to bring it to a boil. Put a gallon of water in the same pot over the same fire and it takes much longer.

So larger rivers like the East Outlet, warms much later because Moosehead Lake has to warm first. The same goes for the Moose River, which is only a couple miles below Brassua. Instead of flows being in the hundreds of cubic feet per second (cfs) like the Roach, they are measured in thousands of cubic feet per second.

If you do some homework  you can come up with a game plan that allows you to successfully chase smelt runs for a couple weeks. Just keep in mind smaller streams, whose headwaters are the surrounding hills, warm and run first then small to medium rivers where water has to flow a good distance between two bodies of water, and finally ending with larger rivers fed by another lake not  far upstream.

Each presents a window of opportunity. Smelt runs in our region of Maine may be as much as two weeks apart. Runs in Downeast and southern Maine are probably already winding down by now.

Generally speaking, we rarely see the first of the smelt runs in our area before April 25th or at the mouth of larger rivers like the Moose River or East Outlet before the 10th May. Individual smelt runs last as long as a week so when you hit one the fun will last a while. Once they are over both smelt and game fish leave and start dispersing back into the lake or pond and we fishermen move on to the next “Window of Opportunity”.

I hope this helps. Unless you live close by and can keep a eye on a run it’s like trying to make your best call as to when a particular hatch is going to begin. That’s where we come in. We always have our finger on the pulse of this neighborhood.

Just remember water temperature is the major component that triggers smelt runs. A long time ago we started packing a stream thermometer and if the stream water entering the pond or lake is under 40 degrees your probably going to go home empty handed because no-one’s around just yet.

Fly Fishing in Chile

February 28th, 2018 by

Our Sponsor Fins and Furs Adventures  just hosted a trip to Chile

Here are some of their pictures from the trip!









Sponsors Fishing Report

July 2nd, 2017 by

2017 has been a great year so far! We have had cool nights and warm days and lots of rain, so the river temps have stay down. The caddis have been coming off with some yellow sallies and some others hatches mixed in. Big stone flies are starting to show with damsel flies, so pretty much any species you are trying to catch is looking up. I hope you get out enjoy the great weather here in Maine.



Kevin McKay, Owner

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