January 18, 2022
BANGOR DAILY NEWS (BANGOR, MAINE

Fishing pilgrimage to Labrador an unforgetable experience

The annual pilgrimage was made to Labrador by the G. Alden Macdonald party, and this time without the group leader who is healing and, for the first time in many years, remained on stateside watch.

Mac says he really missed this year’s triumphant return to Osprey Lake in the headwaters of Labrador’s Eagle River, where you can catch a lot of fish and where you can get big brook trout.

All five anglers comprising the Macdonald delegation posted trout conquests of brookies weighing heavier than the 7-pound mark.

The Osprey Lake resource is protected by allowing visiting fishermen no more than a single trophy and restricting angling to fly gear. Mmore than a single trophy and restricting angling to fly gear. Mac says this year’s party fattened their rod averages by using large streamers, Muddler Minnows and big, bushy Wulff dry flies. A good number of fish were lured to spun deer hair flies, loosely clipped to resemble voles, a bait that often triggers big brookies when nothing else works.

One thing I learned on my single experience at Osprey Lake is that not all strikes will necessarily come from outsized brook trout. Huge northern pike lurk in the shallow of Osprey Lake as well. Fish of 20 pounds and up are caught by almost any hand who deigns to take time from brook trout fishing.

Again, there’s a fly-fishing-only rule.

Anglers will catch big pike at will using streamer flies rigged to a sink tip line or some heavy shot tippet. I wore a kingsize Mickey Finn to the bare hook one evening on the pike grounds

The Osprey Lake experience borders of being an unforgetable fishing experience. And the Macdonald team, this year minus its long-time captain, had a memorable week.

On another front, Maine lake trout fishing is providing rewards to those with patience and an understanding of this species’ habits.

Lake trout are beautiful fish. They require cold, well oxygenated water and are found mostly in deep lakes. They often hold in deep water, sometimes down to 200 feet, and they’ll take if the right offering is made where they live.

The customary trolling method these days is with down-riggers or adding weight to the line so the lure reaches a lake’s bottom or floor. Hundreds of Maine-owned small boats include down-riggers. They’re easy to use and capable of doing an effective job on lake trout or togue fishing.

More and more summer fishermen have discovered another way to hook an occasional large laker, a method simply called jigging. The equipment needed is a stiff rod with wire line or 12- to 15-pound monofilament and a marker buoy selecting depths where lakers are known to hold. Once a productive spot is located, the move then is to tie on a jigging spoon and lower it to the bottom. Fish as vertically as possible. Raise the jig about two to three feet and then drop it back to the bottom. Or fish at the depth where fish are holding.

When waves are rocking a boat, more than one line can be jigged by lowering the lines and setting the rods in holders. The action of the chop will raise and lower the bait.

More and more anglers have come to realize that fighting a large togue up from the depths on a light rod and 6- to 8-pound test line is a thrilling and challenging experience.

Lake trout fishing has been fairly productive all this year at Sebago, Tunk, West Grand, and a half-dozen or so waters in the northern third of the state. Give jigging for togue a try. You might find the method can fill a void once surface temperatures put down salmon and the Eastern brook trout.

Returnees from Alaska report excellent fishing results.

Expert or beginning anglers adapt quickly to Alaska. The climate is similar to northern Maine, and both spin and fly fishing techniques work extremely well. Many fishermen use their trip to learn about fly fishing. There are few, if any, more proficient or teaching guides than Alaskans I’ve known in that incredible state.

Simply stated, fishermen will encounter more big fish in Alaska than they ever throught possible. Virtually all of the fishing is done on moving rivers as opposed to lakes – a refreshing and appealing contrast for many, as strong currents add excitement to any fight.

The five species of Pacific salmon run at different times during the season.

King salmon, the largest of the Pacific salmon family, usually appear first during the middle of June, and their run continues through the end of July. Kings are always found in the deepest part of a river and strike gaudy streamers fished deep with high-density lines or big spinning lures. In most cases, spin fishing is the preferred method for kings.

Chums and sockeyes follow the kings and usually appear at the end of June and run through the middle of July. Chums take the fly or lure aggressively and are tough fighters. Sockeyes are fussy about what they’ll take, but their initial run is compared to the blazing run of a medium size bonefish.

Silver salmon, also known as cohos, appear in the rivers around Aug. 10, sometimes earlier or later, depending on the river and its location. Silvers are good fighters, averaging 8 to 12 pounds.

Besides the salmonoids, Alaska is prime time for huge, wild rainbow trout along with other resident freshwater species of grayling, arctic char and dolly varden.

More than a few Mainers have had their fun this season by taking on the Alaskan adventure. Gayland Hachey, the Veazie tackle-tinkerer, hooked and landed a 56 pound king salmon on the Kenai River.

Think he’ll soon forget the experience? Not a chance. It was a once in a lifetime hook-up.


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