Ah, the dog days of summer, when perfect beach days pile up, one after the other … and open-water fishing becomes increasingly difficult.
Yes, many of our favorite fish species have retreated to the cooler depths at this time of year, and coaxing a few to attack your lure gets tricky. That doesn’t mean you can’t catch ’em. It just means you’ve got to try some new places and tactics.
And of course, when it comes to coldwater fish like trout and salmon, it makes sense to give them a break during the heat of August, make sure we’re not fighting them to exhaustion, and releasing them as quickly as possible.
If you’re more of an angler than a beachgoer, you’re in luck: Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife fisheries biologists have compiled their monthly report with all kinds of useful information for dog-day fishing.
From fisheries resource supervisor Kevin Dunham: The hot, humid weather of August can easily put a chill on successful fishing outings. Coldwater fishes including landlocked salmon, brook trout and togue will be hunkering down near lake bottoms basking in the relief the cooler, deep water provides. While coldwater fish species may be less active and more difficult to encounter during warm weather, August is a good time to target warm water species of fish including smallmouth bass, white perch, and pickerel. These fish are more likely to occupy the epilimnion, the layer of water above the thermocline, and can be targeted more easily than bottom-dwelling species.
Fishing tip: We’ve witnessed something out of the ordinary during a couple of recent lake surveys that may be of interest to anglers that like to target brook trout. It’s no secret that successful brook trout anglers usually fish the surface during an insect hatch or concentrate on fishing shallower water slightly offshore, and along edges of lakes and ponds. Recently, while conducting lake surveys, we caught some sizeable brook trout in our deep-water net sets. These nets were in 60 feet of water or more, and we were surprised to have captured brook trout that deep. At those depths the usual catch is composed of salmon, togue, cusk, and perhaps lake whitefish (if present). Brook trout anglers may want to think about fishing deep for brookies when having no luck in shallower water…
Fish River Lakes Region
From fisheries resource technician Derrick Cote: At this point in the season, the assault on cold water has continued unabated. According to the National Weather Service, stream flows are 10 to 30 percent of the normal for this time of year. We are nearing two dozen days with high temperatures exceeding 80 degrees and we haven’t reached August yet. A typical summer sees less than a dozen days.
Places to go and tips: The Fish River Chain of Lakes continues to produce for anglers willing and able to get their lures down into cooler water. Downriggers are extremely effective at getting your lures down among the fish. Use your fish finder to know where that sweet spot is. You’re looking for colder water with good dissolved oxygen; the fish will tell you where that is. Head to Eagle Lake for lake trout, Square Lake for brook trout and Long Lake for salmon.
From fisheries resource supervisor Tim Obrey: The biggest brook trout are caught right at ice out, the best of the salmon come in June and then again in September, but August is the time to latch onto a big togue in the north country. It seems the good togue anglers (not me, of course) know how to pound the bottom and dredge up those really big togue that are hanging just below the thermocline.
A lot of anglers want to go to the deepest part of the lake, but that is usually where the smaller togue are hiding. Those trophy fish are likely to be just below the bottom of the thermocline, which in most lakes would correlate to 45-65 feet of water. Don’t forget: Big bait=big fish.Togue don’t get to be wall-hangers by feeding only on 3 inch smelt. They want a meal and you’ll need to have rugged gear and heavy test line or all you’ll be left with is a sad story. Waters like Sebec Lake and Lobster Lake are go-to locations for togue over 10 pounds. Moosehead Lake is a big puddle, and there are some good ones out there, if you can find them.
Grand Lake Region
From fisheries resource supervisor Gregory Burr: August is the time to fish for warmwater fish species, such as white perch, chain pickerel and largemouth and smallmouth bass. Here are some suggestions of waters for anglers to try Down East.
In Washington County, anglers can find great summertime action for chain pickerel and white perch at Pocomoonshine Lake in Princeton, Crawford Lake in Alexander, Grand Falls Flowage in Princeton, Big Lake in Greenlaw Chopping Township, Meddybemps Lake in Meddybemps, Second Gardner’s Lake in East Machias and Rocky Lake in Berry Twp.
In Hancock County, I suggest fishing the following waters for pickerel: Scammon Pond in Eastbrook, Somes Pond in Mount Desert, Hamilton’s Pond in Bar Harbor, Wight’s Pond in Penobscot, Graham Lake in Ellsworth and Alamoosook Lake in Orland. For white perch in Hancock County, anglers can do well at Abrams Pond in Eastbrook, Toddy Pond in Orland, Green Lake in Ellsworth, Donnell Pond in Franklin, Jones Pond in Gouldsboro and Flanders Pond in Sullivan. As for smallmouth bass action, Long Pond in Mount Desert, Branch Lake in Ellsworth, Beech Hill Pond in Otis, Meddybemps Lake in Meddybemps, Big Lake in Greenlaw Chopping Township, Wabassus Lake in T5&6 ND BPP and Love Lake in T19 ED BPP should keep any smallie enthusiast happy. For largemouth bass, I recommend Toddy Pond and Alamoosook Lakes in Orland, Holbrook Pond in Eddington, Hamilton’s Pond in Bar Harbor, Rocky Lake in Berry Twp, Pocomoonshine Lake in Princeton, Crawford Lake in Crawford and Grand Falls Flowage in Princeton.