|June is a month of decisions for Maine anglers, and there's hardly a choice that isn't a good one. It's possible now to fish night or day, rivers or lakes, from boat or shore with flies, bait or lures, and the odds are that you are going to catch plenty of whatever species you're after.
At dawn, the place to be is on a favorite trout or salmon stream. Somewhere between first light and first wind (normally around 9 a.m. is when you'll feel the shift from “dawn” to “morning”), these fish will be in open water and anxious to take whatever you throw at them. Once the sun comes up and the wind ripples the surface they become tougher to find and fool. Fish slow and deep, use nymphs, small spinners or worms, and probe every bit of dark water you can find. Drift your offerings downstream and make them appear to be struggling upstream against the current. Few salmonids can resist such an approach.
During the height of the day, I'd head for a bass lake or larger river. You can still find smallmouths around the shoreline of lakes and ponds, and most river fish will be found lurking near rocks, logs and other obstacles. In fact, river bass will stay in such places all summer. Practice catch and release and you'll assure yourself of good sport from now till the start of hunting season.
When the water is low and running slow, I've had great luck tossing a Rebel silver minnow or Mepps spinner above and below exposed or submerged structure. There's not a bass in Maine that can resist these lures, and even if you get a strike and lose the fish, he'll be there in an hour if you come back and want to try him again.
I rarely see anyone fishing the local rivers but, having been to some of the best-known bass waters in the East, I have to say that I have yet to find better fishing than we have right here in central Maine. The Sebasticook, Sebec, Pleasant, Piscataquis and Penobscot river systems offer bassin' opportunities that are as good as you'll find anywhere. It doesn't take much river to keep an angler occupied for a day - if you fish hard up and downstream you'll be hard pressed to cover a half mile of water, and even then you won't be able to hit every spot. Wading limits you to what water you can reach, and canoeing moves you through the best water almost too rapidly to fish it properly. Some stretches of the Sebec and Pleasant rivers are fast and riffled, and the deeper holes can take some time to probe from top to bottom. For many years I fished the Rhoda's Bridge pool in Milo and, if I just concentrated on the water between the trestle and Route 16, I'd still be able to fish most of the day without even considering going up or downriver. I've stood on the trestle side of the Sebec where it meets the Piscataquis and caught bass up to 3 pounds till my arms ached - and never saw another angler there.
Toward evening, it's hard to beat a small pond for some dusk fly-fishing. There are plenty of these little waters in our area and most of them are stocked or have natural populations of fish you can catch with a 20-foot cast on a No. 10 or 12 Mosquito or Hendrickson dry fly. The action can be short-lived because the trout do a lot of feeding in a flurry of activity, but if you show up on time, fish hard and cast accurately to rising brookies you can do some serious damage before the sun sets and the trout give way to the more aggressive white and yellow perch.
You may think that sunset means the end of fishing opportunities, but only if you specialize in trout or salmon. After dark, expect to make some great catches of bass, perch or horned pout. If you want to have some fun, plan to canoe along the shoreline of a lake or pond while casting a noisy, splashy surface lure such as a Jitterbug or popper into shallow water. Bass that have spent the day in the cool depths will cruise the shoreline in search of crayfish, minnows and bugs, and anything that remotely resembles a meal will be devoured with a lusty splash.
Once things settle down after dark, consider a few hours of serious horned pouting. I think bullheads are, pound for pound, the most cooperative fish in Maine waters. If you can't fill a 5-gallon bucket with these spiny-finned croakers in a few hours, you either quit or ran out of bait. For maximum action with minimal effort, anchor a canoe or small boat about 20 yards offshore of a muddy pond and just keep a worm, night crawler or piece of cut bait just off the bottom in about 8 feet of water. After sunset any pond's resident hoard of horned pout will come alive, scouring the bottom and devouring everything they can find. Bring plenty of hooks and plan to cut the line and retie your terminal tackle rather than fuss with the inevitable swallowed hooks that occur when a hungry bullhead inhales its meal. You can spend a lot of time trying to unhook the fish, or just cut the line at its mouth and tie on a new one. You can recover your lost hooks when you clean your catch, if you insist.
It's up to you how you want to spend your days now, but in any case, grab a pole and go! Some anglers specialize in trout or bass, others go for the per-pound productivity of perch, pickerel or bullheads. Pick your poison, find the time and go because it's already mid-June. I'm not going to remind you where you were six months ago or what you'll be faced with six months from now, but you know it's coming. Find the time, the tackle and the ambition and catch yourself a mess of something this week. As the saying goes, a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work - sometimes you have to be reminded!