June Fly Fishing

BY Matt LaRoche

Oh! How I look forward to the month of June- it is the best month for fly fishing of the year. The water has warmed up a bit, the fish are active and the insect activity is at its peak.

Landlocked salmon and brook trout will “zero in” on whatever insects are hatching. All the fly fisherman has to do is match the hatch and present the fly in a natural way.

The West Branch of the Penobscot, in my opinion, is the best landlocked salmon fishing in the State of Maine. The section of river from Abol Bridge to Ripogenus Dam holds some beautiful wild salmon and brookies.

West  Branch

The fly hatch on the West Branch starts at the end of May or early June with the Hendrickson mayfly- the landlocks really love this mayfly but they are very selective. Your fly has to be presented just right, be the right size, shape and to a lesser extent color. I have been fishing on Nesowdahunk Deadwater during a Hendrickson hatch without the right fly and found it to be very frustrating. If you have the “right fly”, it can be an evening to remember!

The right fly imitation for the Hendrickson is a Comparadun. Often times the fish will stop biting just before dark. If so, take a look at the flies floating by on the water. If they are dead flies with their wings laying flat on the water, switch to a spent wing mayfly- this will work until you can’t see anymore.

The West Branch is famous for its caddis hatch. This hatch usually starts about the first week of June and will last well into July. I’ve seen hatches so heavy in mid-June that you can hardly breathe without inhaling one- they actually don’t taste that bad!

The caddis hatch can be a little frustrating. When you see fish jumping right out of the water and you can’t catch one, it will make you start questioning your skill level.

One of the fishermen/campers that used to fish the West Branch every year told me that when you see the salmon jumping right out of the water, they are not taking flies on the surface. They are chasing the caddis pupa as it is hatching. He gave me a long explanation of the whole life cycle of the caddis fly- the important part is that these flies float to the surface in a bubble and struggle at the surface to exit the bubble. This is when they are most vulnerable and easy prey for feeding fish.

Caddis Imitation

All one has to do is drift a #14 or #16 caddis pupa imitation over a feeding fish and- wham! I usually put silicone fly floatant on my leader but not the fly so that the fly floats just under the surface. Try it, you won’t believe how well it works! As the month wears on, the caddis flies get smaller and darker so be prepared bring some #18 black caddis imitations if fishing later in the month.

There is another hatch worth mentioning on the West Branch. If you happen to be fishing the river on a hot day, there might be a flying ant hatch. The salmon don’t seem to like these but the brookies do. The brook trout are not as selective as the salmon, so all you need is a fly that looks about the same as the ants that you see on the water. BTW- there are some really nice brook trout in the West Branch.

Big Eddy

There are plenty of opportunities to camp right along the river. The Bureau of Parks and Lands maintains some very nice campsites along the West Branch that are first come – first serve and there are private campsites at Big Eddy and Abol.

If you have never fished the West Branch of the Penobscot, you are missing out. It has some great fishing and spectacular scenery. I have to warn you, those big salmon are very selective. Don’t be afraid to talk with other fishermen. I find that they will share a lot more information when you are on the river than they will at other times.

Keep those lines tight!

Matt LaRoche is a retired Superintendent of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, owner of Maine Woods Guide Service and an avid outdoorsman. He can be reached at 207-695-2877 or at [email protected] . See www.mainewoodsguide.com

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