An angler tries his luck on the West Branch of the Penobscot River near Abol Bridge recently. Credit: Brian Feulner / BDN

Last week, Erik Poland set a state record when he caught a lake trout that weighed 39.2 pounds. That kind of news can (and will) prompt anglers across the state to head to their local lake or pond and try their luck.

Who knows? There might be another state record fish lurking down there, just waiting to take your bait and make you famous.

Fortunately, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists regularly compile tips designed to help anglers catch more fish, and go where the fishing will be good. July is a month where some anglers struggle, as waters warm up and trout and salmon become more picky. Follow the advice of these experts, and you’ll be more apt to hook onto a wall-hanger of your own. Or better yet, if you catch, take a photo, and release your fish, someone else can catch that same fish in the future.

Fish River Region

From fisheries resource biologist Jeremiah Wood: Northern Maine is brook trout country, which makes the fishing up here quite reliant on the presence of cold water that brookies require to survive. Some years we see prolonged wet, cloudy periods where you can find trout most anywhere, while years like this one require an angler’s ability to find cold water in order to find trout.

For anglers looking for specific waters to target, Eagle Lake in the Fish River chain should produce plenty of salmon for those trolling 30 feet or so below the surface. The Meduxnekeag River is a likely spot for brook trout in groundwater inputs and brown trout at night. Further north, the St. John River is producing fast action and big fish for those who can access the deeper holes during these super low water conditions.

Fishing tip: I often like to tell anglers the most valuable piece of equipment they can take fishing this time of year (other than a rod, of course) is a thermometer. A simple handheld fishing thermometer goes for $10 to $20 most places, and it’s more than adequate to help you find fishing spots. Stream-dwelling brook trout feed actively at 60 to 65 degrees this time of year.

Penobscot Region

From fisheries resource supervisor Kevin Dunham: Prime opportunities abound in July, particularly for warm water species. If smallmouth bass is your target, there is no shortage of destinations to be considered. Pushaw Lake is handy to Bangor and offers great action for smallmouth bass as well as pickerel and white perch. There are good boat launches in Glenburn and Orono. With the recent hot weather and spawning activity, the smallmouth action should be second to none. Pushaw is also gaining in popularity amongst area anglers due to an introduced population of northern pike. When you get bored with catching too many bass, why not give pike a try!

Pleasant Lake in Island Falls is another body of water gaining in popularity for smallmouth bass anglers, and should provide some good action for bass during July. There are several other options at Pleasant Lake as anglers can also target landlocked salmon, brook trout, and white perch. Landlocked salmon in the 3- to 4-pound range are fairly common at Pleasant Lake. A state-owned boat launch can be found in the northwest corner of the lake and caution should be used motoring from the launch out into the lake as the area tends to be shallow during dry summers.

Baxter State Park has many excellent wild brook trout ponds. Though many of these ponds are rather remote and require a hike to get to, the payoff can often be brook trout in the 12- to 17-inch range. Canoes are generally available at these remote ponds; check with Baxter State Park personnel for details. Two such ponds, Lost Pond and Foss-Knowlton Pond, both in T3 R10 WELS, can be accessed via a hiking trail from the Daicey Pond campground. Both are restricted to fly fishing only. If you’re looking for a trout pond with little to no hiking needed check out Rocky Pond and Round Pond in T2 R9 WELS. Both are located just off the Baxter Park Tote Road and canoes are available at Round Pond. Both ponds are stocked with brook trout and general law terminal tackle is allowed.

Moosehead Region

From fisheries resource supervisor Tim Obrey: I’m not going to spot burn anyone’s favorite small trout pond, but I can point to a couple places for good fishing, at least for early July. Rum Pond, just east of Greenville, has a spotty hex hatch. What I like most about this pond is it’s not an overwhelming hatch, but instead creates competition and active searching for food. Trout can be very selective during the hex hatch in some locations. You really need to be on your A game. Not so at Rum Pond in my experience. The fish will work the surface like a dolphin, sucking down everything in their path. Just lay that hex pattern about 10 feet in front of them and get ready.

I’ve been checking salmon anglers at Chesuncook Lake all summer and the fishing has been pretty good. Overall, catch rates are high compared to other salmon waters. I have seen some nice fish too with several over 20 inches. The fish have stayed near the surface. Most anglers have been successful fishing with hardware from the surface down to about 15 feet. Fishing pressure is very low so if you’re looking to get away from it all and have some good action, head on up. There is a no size or bag limit on salmon under 16 inches and we are encouraging anglers to take home some fish.

Grand Lake Region

From fisheries resource supervisor Gregory Burr: By July, lake surface waters will have risen to over 70 degrees, which means coldwater fish species such as trout and salmon have primarily sounded to deeper depths. Most lake anglers fishing for lake trout, salmon, splake, and brook trout in July use downriggers and lead-core line to get to cooler water that holds these species. Trolling with these methods with live bait and lures are the preferred techniques for mid-summer salmonid fishing. These fish will be found 10 to 35 feet under the surface, with lake trout being even deeper as the summer progresses. Good lakes Down East to fish in July are Tunk Lake, Jordan Pond, Echo Lake, Donnell Pond, Branch Lake, Green Lake, Beech Hill Pond, Hopkins Pond, Cathance Lake, and West Grand Lake.

Anglers wanting to fish for warm water species such as smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, white perch, and chain pickerel will find that these fish are very active in the shallow warmer waters around the rocks, weed beds, and lily pads. Summer fishing for these species can be great fun for kids and newcomers as these species can be readily caught by actively casting using surface plugs or lures from shore, dock, or from a canoe, kayak, or boat. Also fishing with a worm and bobber can be very effective for warmwater fish and can give children hours of enjoyment catching sunfish, bass and perch. Some waters to fish: Toddy Pond, Alamoosook Lake, Scammon Pond, Hamilton’s Pond, Big Lake, Meddybemps Lake, Third Machias Lake, Crawford Lake, and Pocomoonshine Lake.

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...