Summer Fishing Spots

By Al Cowperthwaite

The first of July usually is prime time for the green drake hatch and larger fish in these waters become as aggressive then more than any other time of the season. With all the rainfall in June, water levels are above normal for the month of July. Canoeing should continue into the month of July for many rivers and larger streams. June rains also discouraged many fishermen so fishing pressure has been lighter than normal so far this season.

Prime Fishing

July is prime fishing time with evening insect hatches and with daylight continuing past 9 p.m. I was asked recently which ponds were my top selections. With over 500 lakes and ponds in the North Maine Woods, there are certainly a lot of places to fish and over the past 30 years I have had the good fortune to try many of them. And in the past I have been very cautious about revealing those special places in the North Maine Woods, but with a 10 year trend towards decreasing use, I feel that over-fishing these ponds is no longer a threat. Plus our fisheries biologists have adopted special regulations to protect these waters from over exploitation.

The List

So here they are, a list of what I feel are the top remote, native brook trout ponds in the North Maine Woods region: Little Pleasant Pond, Big Fall Brook Lake, Coffeelos Pond, Wadleigh Pond, Ferguson Pond, Allagash Lake and most ponds in T15R9 including Denny Pond and Big Black Pond. Special regulations are in effect for each water- so be sure to check the rule book before venturing forth. The first of July usually is prime time for the green drake hatch and larger fish in these waters become as aggressive then more than any other time of the season. There are many other lesser know waters that have good trout populations, but many are small and sensitive to too much angler pressure. These are the places fishermen will have to find on their own.

As for lake trout, these are my personal preferences: Clear Lake, Spider Lake, Eagle Lake, Chamberlain Lake, Churchill Lake, Ross Lake, Crescent Pond, Togue Pond, and 1st and 2nd Musquacook Lakes. Water on surface should have warmed enough by July to send lake trout down so finding the right depth comes with experimentation and time. Again, special regulations apply so be sure to understand the regulations. I hope you enjoy the month of July in the Maine woods- it is great month to be outdoors with family and friends.

By  Matt LaRoche

 The Hendrickson hatch is the first hatch of the season on the river. It usually occurs on or about Memorial Day weekend.

I worked on the West Branch of the Penobscot as Park Manager of the Penobscot River Corridor for over 20-years. During those years, I had the opportunity to fish many evenings on the lower section of the West Branch. Not every evening was a perfect evening of fishing, but when everything came together for a superb night of fishing – that is what makes a lifelong memory!

I came to work on the West Branch from the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and considered myself to be a good fisherman. I found that I could catch plenty of smaller landlocked salmon, but those big fish are very selective and hard to catch.

Lucky for me, a few fishermen took me under their wing and showed me what flies they were using and how to fish those flies. One fisherman, named Stan Peterson explained what the fish were seeing and keyed in on. He talked about duplicating the famous West Branch Caddis and Hendrickson hatches.

Hendrickson Hatch

The Hendrickson hatch is the first hatch of the season on the river. It usually occurs on or about Memorial Day weekend. I can remember fishing off Salmon Point on Nesowdahunk Deadwater on a beautiful calm evening when fish started to rise and I did not have the right fly. That was very frustrating!

I went to talked with Mr. Peterson about the fish rising and not being able to catch any. He explained what the fish were feeding on and that the fish were seeing little tiny sailboat-shaped flies drifting down the river with their wings standing straight up. He also showed me how to tie the Comparadun fly, which simulates the Hendrickson mayfly.

When the salmon are feeding on the Hendrickson, you can see them come up and slowly slurp the flies off the surface of the river. If you are too quick to set the hook, you can actually pull the fly away from a feeding fish. It is very exciting to see a big salmon come up in the same location time after time. As a fisherman, all you need to do is drift the right fly over that feeding fish and wham- that fish will take your fly! That is what keeps us fishing.

At the end of the Hendrickson hatch, you might notice that the fish are coming up to hit your fly, but they are not really taking it- this is called a refusal. When this happens, something has changed, usually the fish have stopped feeding on the flies with their wings straight up and have switched to feeding on the dead version of the Hendrickson, or what we call spent wings. This is the same fly except their wings are spread out flat on the water. If you see this happening, just switch to the spent wing version of the Hendrickson and you’re in business again. This usually happens just before dark and signals an end to the fishing for that night.


The Comparadun is tied with the hair from the forehead of a whitetail deer and stiff tail fibers that help hold the fly straight up. Once I tied a few of these flies, the results were amazing! On the first evening that I fished with my newly tied Comparadun creations, I caught over ten salmon – one over 20 inches long. Even though that was over 25 years ago, I can still remember that evening like it was yesterday.

You can watch a YouTube video showing how to tie the Comparadun at:

Al Cowperthwaite is the former director of North Maine Woods. During his tenure he also wrote for the Northwoods Sporting Journal. Matt LaRoche is the former director of the Allagash Waterway and currently writes for the Northwoods Sporting Journal.

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