Fall fishing, foliage will pick up soon

We’re less than a week from the official beginning of autumn, and though our afternoon temps aren’t feeling very fall-ish, it won’t be long before we’re enjoying all the season has to offer.

View of autumn leaves along the West Branch of the Penobscot River with Mt. Katahdin in the background.  Photographed near the Telos Bridge off of the Golden Road in September of 2010.  (Bangor Daily News/LINDA COAN O'KRESIK)

View of autumn leaves along the West Branch of the Penobscot River with Mt. Katahdin in the background. Photographed near the Telos Bridge off of the Golden Road in September of 2010. (Bangor Daily News/LINDA COAN O’KRESIK)

Many folks will tell you that fall is their favorite Maine season; if you’re an outdoorsy type, you may be a member of that club.

Crisp mornings, bright but cool afternoons, the smell of woodsmoke in the air as the first among us fire up their stoves for a bit of heat — all are among my favorite parts of fall.

So, too, are the activities. If you hunt for birds or moose or deer, your season is coming. If you just like to drive around and play the role of leaf-peeper, you’re in luck. And if you like to stand thigh-deep in a river, casting a fly to beautiful trout, things will be picking up soon.

Here then, are a few seasonal notes to get us rolling toward the official beginning of autumn:

State foliage site up

Let’s start with the leaves. Be honest: Even those of us who’d never think of embarking on a true leaf-peeping tour probably spend a fair amount of time ogling the foliage when we’re out and about.

For those who take their sight-seeing more seriously, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry have a website that you ought to check out.

According to a DACF press release, the state began its annual foliage tracking service on Sept. 9, and with just a few clicks you can figure out where to go in order to see foliage at its peak.

You can find the site at mainefoliage.com and tap into reports from the state’s forest rangers, who submit their observations on a weely basis. The website will provide foliage reports until Oct. 21.

Unofficially, here’s my mid-September report from Bangor: Foliage is still largely green. It’s nearly 80 degrees outside. Let’s go to the beach.

Rivers flowing, let’s fish

During the dog days of late summer — after river and stream temperatures have risen into the 70s — some folks stow their fly rods and wait for conditions to improve.

Here’s a note to consider: Conditions are improving.

Cool nights, combined with changing flow regimes on rivers that are dam-controlled, will lead to some improved fishing in the weeks ahead.

Tim Obrey, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s  regional fisheries biologist for the Greenville region, recently checked in on Monday with a flow report for anglers.

“Just wanted to give everyone a heads up,” Obrey wrote in an email. “We will be increasing the flow on the Roach River to 250 [cubic feet per second from 205 cfs] on Tuesday morning. You can expect the flow on the Moose River below Brassua Dam to increase from 400 cfs to around 1,000 cfs on Tuesday.”

In addition, said an increase in flow at Dole Pond would increase the amount of water in the North Branch of the Penobscot River.

“These flows should help move some fish around,” Obrey wrote. “The warm temperatures [during the day] aren’t helping us and a cooldown isn’t predicted until the middle of the week.”

Guess what? It’s the middle of the week.

And maybe it’s time to grab a fly rod and head to the Moosehead Lake area,

Salmon count at 727

Finally, it’s time for an update on Atlantic salmon returns to the Penobscot River. As is typically the case, very few fish have returned to the river in recent weeks, according to Mitch Simpson of the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

As of Sept. 14, a total of 727 salmon have returned to the river, Simpson reported.

Since Simpson’s last report on Sept. 1, only one salmon was counted at the Milford facility.

This year’s run has been modest, but is still the highest total recorded in the last four years.

John Holyoke can be reached at jholyoke@bangordailynews.com or 990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke

John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.