Poor weather slows fishing action An old fisherman’s adage says that the best fishing happens in the worst weather. If that’s true, then Maine anglers must be enjoying an exceptional spring.
According to the National Weather Service in Gray, it rained 16 days in April, and 17 of 24 days so far this month. Most of the rest have been cloudy and cold. The forecast for the remainder of the week is rain.
Yesterday, I sat rather disgusted at my desk, debating what to write about in this week’s column. My editor, Ben Sturtevant, strolled into the office where we both work. He was soaking wet from his walk in from the parking lot.
He noticed the scowl on my face, too.
Since the rain began in April, it’s been a pretty much permanent state.
Inspired, he asked, “I thought the fishing was supposed to be better in the rain?”
Generally speaking, he’s right.
To find out more, I asked fisheries biologist and fanatic fisherman Scott Davis about fishing in the rain.
“If this was July and we were having a week of this cold rain, I’d drop everything and go fishing,” Davis said.
Instead, he’s catching up on paperwork in the office.
The problem, he says, is that rivers and lakes haven’t had a chance to warm up. Local water temperatures have been frigid. At First Roach Pond, north of Mooshead Lake, the water temperature was still 39 degrees on Monday.
On the Shawmut stretch of the Kennebec in Fairfield, the water has dropped back to 52 degrees. Still too cold — and too high — to fish well.
During most of the summer, a rain event like we’ve been having would improve the fishing, says Davis. Overcast skies bring better, more predictable hatches.
Wind and rain rile the surface of the water and make trout and salmon less visible from above, so they become bolder, and feed more aggressively. Cooling water temperatures also keep them happy.
Likewise for anadromous fish like shad, alewives and striped bass. Accustomed to the darker waters of the ocean, these fish are light-sensitive, and shy away from bright, sunny conditions.
Cloudy, rainy days bring them to the surface.
This year, alewives, stripers and shad are probably as unhappy as we are.
They’re likely sitting on the bottom of the Kennebec shivering — hiding from the torrents of mud and silt, or sitting out at the mouth of the river, wondering why they ever left the Chesapeake.
The Portland Weather Buoy recorded an ocean temperature of 43.5 degrees yesterday at 3 p.m. — much cooler than usual for this time of year.
According to DMR biologist Nate Gray, the alewife run is two weeks later this year than last.
That, in turn, means the stripers will likely be that late too.
The Weather Service, in its daily bad news report, recently notified us that, unless something drastic happens, this May will become the coldest ever on record in Maine.
Temperatures, they say, have been at or below normal for 26 of the past 29 days.
So has my attitude, says my wife. For the past few days, I’ve been dragging around the house, driving her crazy and getting nothing done.
“You need to go fishing,” she told me this morning. “Just go.”
If reading this is making you depressed, don’t be. There is some good news.
For those who’ve been willing to brave the weather, most of the usual spots have been producing fish — and some have been outstanding.
A friend who spent two days last week fishing in heavy rain and wind enjoyed some of the best land-locked salmon fishing he’s seen there in years.
Reports from area Game Warden Terry Hughes confirmed this. Likewise for the Rangeley Lakes, which continue to offer outstanding brook trout and landlocked salmon fishing.
Another central Maine party visited Grand Lake Stream last week and reported catching a lot of nice landlocked salmon.
“Look on the bright side,” Davis said. “Think about what this might do for the fishing in July and August– it could extend the good fishing through the summer.”
So there. Even if the forecast does call for rain every day for the next ten, there is hope on the horizon — and maybe even some good fishing.
Dave Sherwood 621-5648
Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.