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 Post subject: Fall at GLS
PostPosted: October 22nd, 2018, 5:25 pm 
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Joined: December 2nd, 2001, 1:00 am
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Location: Vassalboro, Maine
Kind of a massive T.R. or a belly button lint expose- whichever floats your canoe.

I started-with various and sundry friends- going fall fishing at GLS in September this year. Things in the not distant past showed by the 3rd week, one could expect to land a few in the obvious places. But over the last 4-6 years, things have slowed to the point where last year was the worst in my lifetime for fall fish. No significant numbers of fish to be found other than the trout that had just been stocked.

This year was some more of the same with a little difference. The fishing in September was simple- it was bad. Not poor, not even awful- it was bad-and even VERY bad. On any normal day, I can walk out front and cross the river and spot fish. There are consistent spots that hold fish above Big falls, and if you know where they are- they will be there from year to year. The rock everyone stands on is so popular because you can see the fish at your feet...unless they are not there. They were not there in mid-september.

By the 3rd week, I could find a few fish at the head of the falls-less than 10, but decent salmon. Then the dam pool turned over- different gate, and reversed the flow. Typically, the drop down fish are filling the dam pool by the 3rd week. I landed 2 salmon, and 2 trout in the end of September. Slow. The heavy water was dead to me, but the hatchery had a few fish numbered equally with fishers. The picnic area had about 5 salmon but I walked the length and never saw a fish below the bathtub.

Then October.

Went every weekend, and took my personal day (floating holiday) for the last Friday (19th). Spent lots of time on the water...and we took fish. And, in fact, some GREAT salmon---one, not caught by me, was measured at 23 inches- which is a true giant in GLS, where the common “big” fish is about a realistic 17 inch fish- and a stud fish is +18...23 is killer big and a lifetime fish. Best days were maybe a dozen salmon and trout landed---with Gussa going over 15 one day. This is still decent fishing, and in my opinion still worth the trip--- but in 2010, my log shows days of 30 fish to hand in October, and fish holding the length of the river in numbers.

On the last 2 days, I saw many familiar faces, and spoke to some good fisher's out front. It is an enjoyable experience watching Bill and his lady friend casting- as they both seem to have the sense to catch fish. They also put in BIG time on the water. Saw some young men who were there for the first time- with Gussa’s son- great guys...and they ALL landed good fish. Exceptional people all around- in fact, I never had a negative interaction on the river this year.

As for numbers, Gussa found some fish who were stupid silly for soft hackles, and he stopped at about 10. I went to a different area on Friday and did about the same. Good trout, and exceptional salmon- all on small(#22) nymphs.

Closer was a sad day for me, but a good day fishing- we went the length of the river from the dam to the picnic area. The mid area had a strong fish for Coach, and 2 for Gussa, and 1 for me as we switched on and off at each pool. Then, back to camp by mid-afternoon and looking for our closer fish. Gussa took a strong fish on a yellow biot around 4 pm, and I landed a decent trout about 30 minutes later. Then, back to camp and sit in the chairs out front with Dad to watch the light go down and the fishers push for that last fish. One younger guy landed a good salmon about dusk, and we gave him a standing ovation.

Spoke to one of the outfitters in town- a place to rent cabins and eat fine food...he was clearly of a mind like mine. He informed me that the stocking numbers over the last decade have dropped significantly on what is in all intents a put/take water. WIth that now known, it is expected to see far fewer bent rods as fewer fish will be in the river. Water flow is also a huge issue, with water drop downs in the spring which leave no water for the heat of summer. Why the biologists were netting to strip fish BEFORE the closer is a mystery to me, but above the dam on the last 2 days was buoyed and netted.

Took the rods upstairs for the winter Sunday when I got home. I will make one more trip in November, but the long dead zone looms in front of me--6 months of waiting, of change, of life evolving and loss are ahead. It is a long ways to the season that brings me joy- and now we have to endure.

Fish hard when able because time is inexorable.

Hutch

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 Post subject: Re: Fall at GLS
PostPosted: October 22nd, 2018, 5:56 pm 
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Joined: May 14th, 2008, 6:49 am
Posts: 89
Location: Winthrop
Suck it up buttercup.
You could be where I am.
Won't miss another closer, work is over rated.
And at least your musings are understandable unlike some.


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 Post subject: Re: Fall at GLS
PostPosted: October 22nd, 2018, 7:23 pm 
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Joined: July 21st, 2011, 9:30 pm
Posts: 845
Location: Brunswick
I made my first fishing trip to GLS Columbus Day week. The river is, as everyone always says, absolutely gorgeous. I really enjoyed the clear water and full color on the hardwoods... fantastic. I went with two friends who have been going there for 20+ years, and the consensus was it was slow, and not a lot of fish around...and not quite enough water. We all caught fish each day, and all managed good fish almost every day. They did better then I, as they knew the typical holding spots. Wednesday the 10th was terribly slow for me, landed one 16" salmon after dark, in the lake. I refused to leave until I netted a fish. We left Thursday morning and the two hours I spent on the river before we left were the best two hours of the trip, and ended on a solid 17 inch Male and then a LDR on another decent fish.

I had the most succes with an olive soft hackel wet, which produced several fish over 18 throughout the week. Also did well with a Barnes and a Gartside. Even nymphed up a couple decent fish.

It was weird for me as I had to skip my normal Rangeley trip to have the time off for here. I missed the mountains, the multiple rivers, wild fish, and especially the brook trout. But I find myself missing it already. The atmosphere of the town is great, walking threw the field predawn 20 feet from several feeding deer every morning was cool, spotting good fish and then stalking them was great.

I'll definitely be back.

Peter

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"A good game fish is too valuable to be caught only once"
Lee Wulff


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 Post subject: Re: Fall at GLS
PostPosted: October 22nd, 2018, 7:32 pm 
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Joined: December 5th, 2001, 1:00 am
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Location: Manchester, ME
Good report, Hutch. It's been a long time since I fished GLS in the fall, and maybe 4 or 5 years since I've fished it at all.

I agree on the issues with flow management.

On stocking, it's easy to blame the stocking truck for slow fishing when the fishery depends on it, but always worth checking. You can find annual stocking records going back to 2010 on the Department's web site.

There is very little variation in that time in salmon stocking in West Grand Lake, Big Lake, or GLS. West Grand varies from a high of 11,000 salmon stocked to a low of 10,000, with most years around 10,200 -10,500. Big Lake gets 1500 salmon stocked per year, except 1 year when it got 1700. Most of the fluctuation is what's stocked in Grand Lake Stream or the canal directly, but that's mostly brook trout. A few scattered stockings of 75-100 salmon, and anywhere from 400-1500 brook trout per year, 800-900 the last few years. I'd expect that goes up with the new hatchery water intake for deeper colder water, but I'd be guessing.


PS--I did not check brood stock stocking, but I doubt those waters get many.


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 Post subject: Re: Fall at GLS
PostPosted: October 22nd, 2018, 10:35 pm 
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Jeff Reardon wrote:
Good report, Hutch. It's been a long time since I fished GLS in the fall, and maybe 4 or 5 years since I've fished it at all.

I agree on the issues with flow management.

On stocking, it's easy to blame the stocking truck for slow fishing when the fishery depends on it, but always worth checking. You can find annual stocking records going back to 2010 on the Department's web site.

There is very little variation in that time in salmon stocking in West Grand Lake, Big Lake, or GLS. West Grand varies from a high of 11,000 salmon stocked to a low of 10,000, with most years around 10,200 -10,500. Big Lake gets 1500 salmon stocked per year, except 1 year when it got 1700. Most of the fluctuation is what's stocked in Grand Lake Stream or too he canal directly, but that's mostly brook trout. A few scattered stockings of 75-100 salmon, and anywhere from <a href="tel:400-1500">400-1500</a> brook trout per year, 800-900 the last few years. I'd expect that goes up with the new hatchery water intake for deeper colder water, but I'd be guessing.


PS--I did not check brood stock stocking, but I doubt those waters get many.


But those fish Hutch remembers catching in 2010 would have been stocked in or prior to 2008. It was aroud then that the former regional biologist retired. He was a fan of stocking 12,000 salmon into the West Grand/Big Lake system annually. Those that took over reduced it to 10,000 to attempt to improve fish quality. I think they also made changes to stocking location too. I remember talking to Greg Burr about this at one of the early public consultation meetings for the GLS delicensing.

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 Post subject: Re: Fall at GLS
PostPosted: October 23rd, 2018, 5:54 am 
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Joined: April 1st, 2010, 10:35 am
Posts: 295
Location: flatland and Vienna Me.
Always a good read Hutch. It seemed slow around my stomping grounds also. Although your slow is much better than my slow :) . Going to try this weekend for the last trip up north. See you at the Boo.


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 Post subject: Re: Fall at GLS
PostPosted: October 23rd, 2018, 8:55 am 
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Location: Manchester, ME
Hunter wrote:

But those fish Hutch remembers catching in 2010 would have been stocked in or prior to 2008. It was aroud then that the former regional biologist retired. He was a fan of stocking 12,000 salmon into the West Grand/Big Lake system annually. Those that took over reduced it to 10,000 to attempt to improve fiPsh quality. I think they also made changes to stocking location too. I remember talking to Greg Burr about this at one of the early public consultation meetings for the GLS delicensing.


If you look at the actual stocking numbers, it's still about 12,000 salmon per year--1500 in Big Lake, and 10,500 into West Grand. Did it used to be 14,000? Even if so, it's a pretty small change, about 20%.

The change in stocking location might make a difference in run timing or even in where fish "home" to in the fall. So could the flow changes. Or climate change.


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 Post subject: Re: Fall at GLS
PostPosted: October 23rd, 2018, 11:03 am 
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It may have been. I know they did a reduction of about 2000 fish.

I think flows have a lot to do with the fall fishing at GLS. If it's been a dry summer- which many of the recent ones have been- the fish run later. I don't remember September ever being stellar, though I used to hit it hard at and after dark and could always manage a few decent fish. The real fishing never really picks up until around the 10th of October.

With climate change, I'm really beginning to think of September as a pond fishing month... or as a good time for dog training.

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"You never miss the water until the well runs dry" - traditional blues


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 Post subject: Re: Fall at GLS
PostPosted: October 23rd, 2018, 11:25 am 
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Joined: December 2nd, 2001, 1:00 am
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Location: Ellsworth
I know there was a petition at the store to try to get DIFW to keep the stream open until Oct.31st. Anything ever come of that?

I believe Hunters right........September is now just an extension of August. Real fall fishing doesn’t seem to begin until Oct. 10th.......or thereabouts.

Dave M

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 Post subject: Re: Fall at GLS
PostPosted: October 23rd, 2018, 11:35 am 
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Location: Manchester, ME
I don't know about GLS, but my trigger for good river fishing on fish mobilizing out of lakes has always been flow.

Any big bump in flow after about August 15 will put fish on the move. Later is better than earlier, colder water is better than warmer, and the bigger the bump in flow the better, but any bigger flow event seems to get things going.

There are places--Roach River is the best known, but also Kennebago--where flows are deliberately bumped up to encourage this.

What does the USGS gage record tell us about the timing and frequency of late summer/early fall high flow events at GLS? Has it changed?


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 Post subject: Re: Fall at GLS
PostPosted: October 23rd, 2018, 4:05 pm 
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September and October monthly average flows in excess of 600 cfs were not infrequent prior to about 1990. I'm not sure what has changed- but there has only been one year with month (September) with a monthly average flow above 600 cfs since 1990 (not including 1990). I'm assuming this is more a change of water flow management at the dam than a change in watershed hydrology, though there are some papers out there indicating hydrology has been changing since around that time period.

Also of note- September is typically equal to or a bigger water month than October. But since about 1999- that pattern has shifted, with more and more Octobers having higher average flow than September. Since 2010, October has had higher mean monthly flows 50% of the time (this year's data is not available on the USGS site yet). It may be that this shift in when water is released is impacting the fishery, as the fall fishery has become worse over about that same timeframe. I know when I frequented GLS in the fall (mainly while in grad school), September flows were 150 to 200 cfs higher than October and the fall fishing was pretty good.

I know some folks were pushing for a higher in-stream flow in the fall during the dam re-licensing process (myself included), but the folks in charge were more concerned about the lake levels upstream pertaining to lake level during the togue spawn than the in-stream flows affecting the recreational fishery. The issue is that after October 20th, the togue spawning lake level protection order kicks in. Basically- whatever the lake level on that day- the dam operator can't deviate below that until the juvenile togue have hatched. So the dam owner likes to drop the lake ahead of time and manage for low flow around and after October 20th. Under current ownership- that generally means an October, rather than September, drawdown of the lake prior to October 20th.

Regarding the petition- I'm not sure where that ended up. Given that the fishery is primarily supported by stocked fish (less than 10% wild in any given year), I have to wonder why the department hasn't put it on the year round fishery list. As much as I hate to say it, it's really not much different than the Presumpscot.

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"You never miss the water until the well runs dry" - traditional blues


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 Post subject: Re: Fall at GLS
PostPosted: October 24th, 2018, 2:45 pm 
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Interesting stuff on flows. I do think GLS is different from the Presumpscot. With the exception of a very few fish that wash down from Sebago Lake over dams with no fish passage, the Presumpscot is entirely put and take. Catchable fish are stocked directly in the river, and with impassable dams above and below them, they really can't migrate to any lakes.

At GLS, almost all the salmon stocking is in West Grand Lake and to a much smaller extent Big Lake, the fish are stocked as juveniles, and can live out the rest of their lifecycle just like the native GLS/West Grand salmon did.

It may not be a wild salmon fishery, but it's much more LIKE a wild fishery than put and take management would make it.

The brook trout are another story. Wouldn't we get more return to the angler if we just fished for them directly in the hatchery pools? :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: Fall at GLS
PostPosted: October 24th, 2018, 4:19 pm 
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Put and take vs. put, grow, and take. I don't see much difference, other than the length of time between end points. Is the put, grow, and take at GLS any different than put, grow, and take in any of the similarly stocked waters open to angling from ice out to ice in?

During the dam relicensing, the department wasn't concerned about wild recruitment at GLS. In fact, one department staffer indicated they would prefer no recruitment- as it makes their job of managing the fishery easier (stock x number of fish and in 2 years you have y number of fish at Z pounds). I'm not sure I like that logic, but I understand it. Wild reproduction can be unpredictable, affecting feed resources, etc... I followed up in that conversation with a question of why GLS wasn't an extended water then and got a response that the department does not set the fishing season at GLS. That was set by political maneuvers through legislation, and that legislation would need to be repealed for the department to change the fishing season at GLS.

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"You never miss the water until the well runs dry" - traditional blues


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