By Rick Burnley
Brook Trout—“Things are pretty quiet,” reported Craig Bergeron from Saco Bait and Tackle. He was stoked that most of Maine’s snow had melted and reports that a few hardcore anglers are fishing the Mousam River for sea-run brown trout. Guys using light spinning tackle are throwing Panther Martins, Yozuri Pin Minnows and Mepps Spinners while flyfishermen are catching trout with shrimp patterns in size 4 or 6. “They’re fishing just below Roger’s Pond in the small pools,” he said. Local brook trout are keeping anglers from totally succumbing to cabin fever. Craig said that the Saco and Scarborough Rivers are holding small brookies. Guys are also catching trout in Deep Brook and the Cascades with worms or spinners. “Most people are still waiting for all the ice to clear,” he said, “but the hard-core guys just like to get out and fish.”
Bass/Bluegill/Crappies—From sunny Orlando, Florida, Captain Lynda Hawkins was stoked that the sunfish are still bedding. “Caught some that were still full of roe this week,” she said. “While I was taking out the hook, they were spitting out roe.” These fat panfish are suckers for a shiner under a bobber or dropped to the bottom behind a split shot. Bass fishing is starting to gain momentum on the Kissimme Lakes. Lynda is using plastic worms in watermelon and redbug and Producto Bait’s Hot Rod. “The Hot Rod seems to cast easier,” she says. Lynda’s finding the biggest fish in the scattered hydrila weed. When she finds the fish deep in the cover, she pulls a frog out of her box. “I’m using 65-pound test braided line so that I can force the lure through the weeds,” she says. Crappies are still biting. “Usually they quit this time of year,” she said, “but we’re still catching them in the deeper water o Ron’s Zit Jigs tipped with a minnow.” Lynda says that crappie fishing has been phenomenal this year, “We’ve got some up to 17 inches this winter.”
Speckled Trout—Gus Maggiore from Gus’ Tackle and Nets (985-643-2848) in Slidell, Louisianna told us that speckled trout fishing has been good and is getting better. Anglers are finding the fish across Lake Ponchartrain at the Tressles. They’re catching limits of spotted sea trout by bouncing a Hybrid Lure off the bottom. “That’s the big ticket around here,” Gus said. Offshore around the rigs, yellowfin action is starting to get real interesting according to Captain Devlin Roussell.
Largemouth—Jeff Rowlin has been catching walleye below the Red Rock Dam all winter. “This has been the best winter ever,” he says. Jeff explains that heavy rains all fall and a brutal winter were good for the walleye fishing. “The old guys are saying that these fish have actually been sucked through the dam gates,” he says, “I believe it, too.” Since the water temperature dropped into the upper 30s fishing slowed considerably. “The last fish I caught was a snook in Florida,” he jokes. Fishing should be getting better as the water gets warmer. “Traditionally, this time of year largemouth bass are the best shot,” he says. Jeff says that the local farm ponds will warm first producing bass up to 7 pounds. Once the water temperature hits 50 degrees, Jeff expects crappies to move up the creeks. “Hit the brushpiles and creek banks,” he suggests. When we asked what tackle he uses he laughed, “We’re from Iowa – the home of Berkley—we’re fond of the Powerbaits.” Tube worms in green or chartreuse with a metal flake get the nod most days. “Tube worms imitate so many different types of bait,” he explains. While Jeff works his tube jig, he’ll also fish a live minnow under a bobber on another rod. “The fish are running about a month behind right now due to the harsh winter,” he says. While anglers wait for the fishing to heat up, they can read Jeff’s new book “Reel Adventures of a Marion County Angler.” If you can’t go fishing, you can always read about fishing.
SPECIAL SALMON REPORT—The Pacific Fishery Management Council has voted to cancel all commercial salmon fishing off the coasts of California and Oregon this year. At this point, limited recreational angling will be permitted on holiday weekends only until a limit of 9,000 cohos have been taken. The National Marine Fisheries Service is expected to rubber stamp the PFMC’s vote.
Brown/Rainbow Trout—Trout fishing is on the upswing on Utah’s Freemont River. “The flows are settling down and the water is almost clear again,” Lenny Lopez at Back Country Outfitters told us. Lenny suggests using streamer patterns and nymph rigs to connect with rainbows and browns averaging 18 to 20 inches. Bicknell Bottom is also fishing well. “We’re seeing some midge hatches so we’re using small nymphs,” he says. For some great fishing, for some smaller fish, Lenny recommends heading to Upper Freemont above the Mill Meadow Reservoir. “The fish aren’t as big,” he says, “but there are lots of them.” The water is low and clear and Lenny’s been catching these trout on dry flies like caddis patterns and stimulators. “The fish are so hungry they’ll eat anything that hits the water,” he says. The river is fishing pretty good with streamer patters and nymp rigs. Bicknell Bottoms is fishing good. Some Midge Hatches so we’re using small nymphs to imitate those hatches. Brown and rainbow trout between 18 to 20 inches. Another area that’s fishing well is Upper Freemont above mill meadow reservoir—excellent for brown trout. Fish are averaging between 8 and 12 inches. Not a lot of big fish but there are a lot of fish, we’re even catching them on caddis pattern and stimulators dry flies. Fish are so hungry that they’re taking anything that hits the water. Pheasent tail nymph imitation of a may fly nymph. Water is very low and crystal clear.