In April 2010, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) liberalized both ice and open-water fishing laws in lakes and ponds in the bottom third of the state by allowing year-round angling in most of them.

Except for a handful of rivers, though, flowing waters still open April 1 and close Sept. 30, just as they have for decades. Most of us in the bottom half of the state have at least one river or stream near us that’s open all year.

A few anglers have taken advantage of the expanded opportunity in ponds and lakes, but most Mainers have met this monumental change with a loud yawn — despite the fact that affected counties include heavily populated ones such as York, Cumberland, Androscoggin, Sagadahoc and Kennebec.

Other than those five counties, the changes also took place in Oxford south of the Androscoggin River, Lincoln, Knox, Penobscot, Waldo, Hancock and Washington counties.

In March, I poked around many of central Maine’s early-season, open-water angling hot spots, looking for fishing activity. Anglers were scarce despite record-setting warm temperatures. It was business as usual, as it has been for decades now. You’d never know fishing laws had changed.

The unseasonably warm temperatures brought out plenty of ice-fishers, though, and popular name waters drew big-time weekend attention.

The following is strictly an opinion based on last year’s observations, but I suspect that on April 1 – the old starting date for open-water angling – crowds will form at name places, just as they have for decades. Old habitats certainly die hard.

In fact, when April 1 coincides with the State of Maine Sportsman’s Show in Augusta, running until 5 p.m. today, crowds at the Civic Center are thinner because folks would rather go fishing than talk about it inside a building. Producers of this show expect low attendance anytime April 1 coincides with this annual event.

A few rivers and streams near me have open-water fishing year-round, and two of the more popular ones include St. George and Cobbossee.

Two name stretches on the St. George lie below Sennebec Pond in Union and in Payson Park in Warren, and today, anglers will surely be out and about at these spots.

Cobbossee Stream below Cobbossee Lake’s outlet draws crowds, so anglers can expect company. Another favorite fishing hole on this stream lies off the Collins Mills Road about two miles downstream of the lake.

Sheepscot River below Sheepscot Pond in Palermo attracts anglers on April 1, the opening day of fishing there. This river’s season continues through Sept. 30 — the traditional open-water fishing date for decades.

Adventuresome types head for Grand Lake Stream on April 1 to fish the state’s premier opening-day honey hole. Few April Fool’s Days here pass without this fly-fishing-only water producing landlocked salmon to folks casting baitfish imitations or nymphs.

Newcomers to Grand Lake Stream find lots of fly rodders on April 1, so newbies can easily note the popular runs and favorite flies for the day. 

The season on this storied, picturesque stream kicks off today and goes through Oct. 20, an odd closing date for Maine’s rivers and streams. The season usually ends Sept. 30 or Oct. 31.

When I was a kid, the Kennebec River from Wyman Dam to the bridge in Bingham drew legions on April 1, and Bangor television news crews often shot footage to run that evening. This opening-day spot receives much less attention these years.

I’ve kicked off opening days there and noticed many anglers trolled the fast currents in boats. I cast from shore near the foot of Wyman Dam.

In the last decade, my opening-day efforts take place on hidden brooks. I’ve become quite a brook fisherman since the mid-1990s, a return to the waters of my youth. In years when spring run-off doesn’t rage, fishing can be okay but seldom fast.

When waters run high, brooks along the coast that have brook trout also contain sea-run brookies, colloquially called “salters.” The fast current draws salters upstream from estuaries where these fish spend much of the year, and they congregate in deep pools, often beside Route 1.

I’ve occasionally killed a few salters for a meal, and their stomach contents in early April surprised me — damsel nymphs and scud bugs. This forage says something about the brooks. They have silt bottoms, the preferred habitat of these two insect families.

Sea-run trout have fainter spots and pewter-colored sides. The landlocked variety has typical olive sides, and males sport bright red spots and cerulean aureoles — as a general rule.

They are exactly the same species and intermingle in many brooks. Adventuresome brookies leave brooks for salty estuaries for abundant food and cooler water in summer’s heat.

 

Ken Allen of Belgrade Lakes is a writer, editor and photographer. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]company. Another favorite fishing hole on this stream lies off the Collins Mills Road about two miles downstream of the lake.

Sheepscot River below Sheepscot Pond in Palermo attracts anglers on April 1, the opening day of fishing there. This river’s season continues through Sept. 30 — the traditional open-water fishing date for decades.

Adventuresome types head for Grand Lake Stream on April 1 to fish the state’s premier opening-day honey hole. Few April Fool’s Days here pass without this fly-fishing-only water producing landlocked salmon to folks casting baitfish imitations or nymphs.

Newcomers to Grand Lake Stream find lots of fly rodders on April 1, so newbies can easily note the popular runs and favorite flies for the day.

The season on this storied, picturesque stream kicks off today and goes through Oct. 20, an odd closing date for Maine’s rivers and streams. The season usually ends Sept. 30 or Oct. 31.

When I was a kid, the Kennebec River from Wyman Dam to the bridge in Bingham drew legions on April 1, and Bangor television news crews often shot footage to run that evening. This opening-day spot receives much less attention these years.

I’ve kicked off opening days there and noticed many anglers trolled the fast currents in boats. I cast from shore near the foot of Wyman Dam.

In the last decade, my opening-day efforts take place on hidden brooks. I’ve become quite a brook fisherman since the mid-1990s, a return to the waters of my youth.

In years when spring run-off doesn’t rage, fishing can be OK but seldom fast.

When waters run high, brooks along the coast that have brook trout also contain sea-run brookies, colloquially called “salters.” The fast current draws salters upstream from estuaries where these fish spend much of the year, and they congregate in deep pools, often beside Route 1.

I’ve occasionally killed a few salters for a meal, and their stomach contents in early April surprised me — damsel nymphs and scud bugs. This forage says something about the brooks. They have silt bottoms, the preferred habitat of these two insect families.

Sea-run trout have fainter spots and pewter-colored sides.

The landlocked variety has typical olive sides, and males sport bright red spots and cerulean aureoles — as a general rule.

They are exactly the same species and intermingle in many brooks. Adventuresome brookies leave brooks for salty estuaries for abundant food and cooler water in summer’s heat.

Ken Allen of Belgrade Lakes is a writer, editor and photographer. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]