April showers bring May flowers, but what do May showers bring?

Most would say mosquitoes, but May showers or not, mosquitoes in Maine will arrive in mid-May, come rain or shine. How long they stay, well, we’ll get to that later, but steady rains in May certainly can affect hunters and anglers, much more than beyond swatting a few black flies and mosquitoes.

So far this murky May, precipitation is higher than normal, but what does that mean if you are headed out fishing?

With cloudy skies much of the month, most anglers will find that waterbodies haven’t warmed up to temperatures that many might think are appropriate for this time of year. Many anglers are still finding water temperatures suitable for catching coldwater fish like salmon, trout and togue throughout the water column.

Inlets into lakes and ponds are running full to their banks, and in some cases, over their banks. With the steady showers, there has been quite a lot of run-off into lakes and ponds. For fish like smelt that spawn in the spring in rivers and streams, the silty run-off can cover fertilized eggs and suffocate them, affecting a generation of fish.

With the large bodies of water cooler than usual, lake water temperatures near the mouths of inlets can be several degrees warmer than the rest of the water. That’s because rain water from storms is gently warmed by the surface as it finds its way into brooks, streams and rivers.

“Earlier this week, the Songo River was in the low 50s, and once you got onto Sebago Lake, the water temperature dropped into the high 40s,” said Francis Brautigam, a fisheries biologist with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Bass fisherman know that there can be great fishing for both large- and small-mouth bass as they prepare to spawn. However, this cool weather has delayed pre-spawn activity. It seems the fish are ready, but looking for a place to spawn. With cloudy skies and cool temps, Brautigam also says the northern shore of many lakes will warm up faster due to the southern sun exposure.

“Bass do seek out warmer water, and warm flows of water from inlets draw bass from the cooler parts of the lake,” he said, who says that while out taking biological samples, they can scour a lake and find hardly any bass, then come upon an inlet where the fish are stacked right in.

“It’s not every inlet, but if you can find the right spots, you can find that the fishing goes from terrible to phenomenal,” Brautigam said.

For those who like to hunt turkey or grouse, a soggy spring means fewer grouse in the fall, and fewer turkeys next spring.

“We had a report of a very early turkey brood last Thursday. Those little ones may suffer with this weather pattern,” said Brad Allen, a wildlife biologist who oversees the state’s bird program for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

“Total rainfall is a good predictor of turkey brood success. If there is greater than average May rainfall, than there is less than average poult production,” said Allen. “We are headed for a fair to poor year for young turkeys.”

As for grouse, Allen says it is still early to tell for grouse, who are more affected by weather patterns in June since they nest later. Allen did add one more cautionary note concerning ground-nesting birds.

“One other factor that doesn’t bode well for either is that under moist conditions, scenting is excellent for predators,” said Allen, “so when the hen grouse or turkey gets eaten by a larger predator or the eggs by the smaller predator there is no poult production.”

And as far as this soggy spring’s impact on what some call Maine’s unofficial state bird?

“At this time, the rain doesn’t make much of a difference,” said Charlene Donahue, an etymologist with the Maine Forest Service. “The mosquitoes that we see in late May breed once a year, and aren’t affected by this year’s rain.”

“There are a couple of salt marsh mosquito species that breed in saltwater and will have multiple generations during the summer,” said Donahue, who added that there are other Maine mosquito species that will do the same. She said “it can be as little as 2-3 weeks between generations during a wet summer.”

However, most of Maine’s 40 mosquito species overwinter as either egg or larva and hatch out in late May and June. Females will mate, feed on blood and then deposit their eggs within a few days to a couple of weeks.

Ensuring that next year, come rain or shine, there will be more mosquitoes.

Mark Latti is a former public information officer for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and a registered Maine Guide. He can be reached at:

[email protected]