by Mike Guarino
The day started out like any other: up early to get fuel for the boat and some live bait for a fun day of northern pike fishing. It was beautiful outside with calm winds and a slightly overcast sky — one of those perfect days anglers dream about. Our plan was to cast spoons and spinner baits along the edges of weed beds and occasionally use the live bait when our arms needed a break or we found fish that needed a little extra encouragement. The northern pike bite had been pretty stingy early in the season but as the waters have started to warm up, so has the pike fishing. This past week offered some of the best fishing we've seen all spring! After stopping at Wild Things Bait Shop in Oakland we were off with high expectations.
Well, it turned out the pike were cooperating nicely and we caught quite a few 5-8 pound fish, which are the average size around here. Of course we were looking for one of those giants that you see on the cover of websites or in this publication.
Around noontime my friend Konrad thought he had one. "Mike, Mike, Mike," he yelled, "Look behind my bait!"
Sure enough, there was something large moving toward Konrad's shiner. Unfortunately, my eyesight isn't as good as it used to be and it took a few extra seconds for me to realize — TURTLE! "Reel in fast Konrad, reel in fast!"
He looked at me as if I had two heads and just as I bellowed out, "It's a snapping turtle," his float went under and the fight was on. We both looked at each other at the same time and there were many mutterings of "Oh, Oh" and "Not good," followed by "What do we do now?"
What we did was laugh a little as the turtle simply swam right over the side of the boat and floated there while we took his picture. This critter was HUGE, but he was also a ham. It was like he was posing for the photos. But this story doesn't end there because just as I was reaching down to remove the hook with my pliers, the second rod in the back of the boat got a hit! We scrambled for the rod and — you guessed it — ANOTHER SNAPPING TURTLE!
In all the years I've been fishing this was the first double on snapping turtles and hopefully the last. The good news is that the first turtle lifted up his big, nasty, clawed foot and removed the hook all by himself — that was a cool sight to see — and I removed the other hook from his girlfriend's mouth with no problem. No turtles were harmed in the making of this story.
Local Master Guide and good buddy Bill Laflamme is an avid troller, and he's been having good success on brown trout lately. He's been catching his fish on sewn bait along with Rapalas and copper Mooselook Wobbler spoons. The bite has been pretty good on Great Pond for browns and Long Pond for salmon. It's nice to see anglers catching beautiful salmonids in the Belgrades!
The bass fishing continues to be phenomenal. The smallmouth are in their post spawn phase and are starting to show up in 8-12 feet of water. The largemouth are still on their beds for the most part and are quite aggressive. The largemouth can be found in pretty shallow water and are often in really thick cover. Black/blue jigs that are heavy enough to punch down through the weeds are a great bait for largemouth right now.
The northern pike fishing is really heating up, and the pike are also still shallow in many of the weedy coves and streams in the area. Lastly, the Kennebec River is still very active in the Waterville/Augusta area with good reports of striped bass and shad being caught daily.
Very good news to report in regards to the loon population. As you'll recall, we were quite concerned that most of the eggs would have washed off the nests from that big storm a few weeks ago. Well this week I saw two sets of adult loons with two babies each! In addition I also saw five different pairs with one baby each. These loons were observed on Salmon Lake, Great Pond, Long Pond, and Snow Pond, so it appears that a successful breeding season took place throughout the area.
Sorry but I don't have photos this week to share. I didn't want to get too close to them and the long range photos I took didn't come out very well. Maybe next week! If anyone does have a good photo they would like to share, e-mail it to me and I'll include it in the article.
Mike Guarino is the owner of Maine Wilderness Tours. One can contact him at