Chesuncook Lake Salmon Derby Memorial Day weekend
Fishing derbies can be useful fisheries management tools when applied to the right situation. The Moosehead Lake Togue Derby with Ricky Craven is a great example. The derby was developed in 2008 as a cooperative effort between the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the local chamber of commerce and the Natural Resource Education Center at Moosehead (NREC), a local educational non-profit. The ice fishing derby brought many new anglers to the lake and helped to thin out the over-abundant lake trout population that dominated the lake for nearly 20 years. The fisheries have improved dramatically since then and significant funds were raised for local charities. It really has been a “win-win” for everyone.
We are hoping to recreate some of that success on Chesuncook Lake and we need the help of anglers interested in catching salmon. The situation on Chesuncook Lake is similar to that of Moosehead Lake back in 2008. The lake simply has too many salmon and growth is suffering. At one time, this lake produced some of the largest salmon in the Moosehead Lake region.
The fall fishing in the West Branch of the Penobscot River between Chesuncook Lake and Seboomook Lake was awesome with many fish in the three to six-pound range. The smelt population in Chesuncook Lake was, and still is, the primary source of forage for salmon in the West Branch below Rip Dam. Smelt are frequently sucked down through the dam and into the river, feeding the wild salmon. The more smelt in the lake, the more feed in the river. There were many trophy fish caught in places like McKay Station, Little Eddy, the Big Eddy … and other pools I’d like to mention but I’ve been sworn to secrecy.
Currently, the trophy fish are few and far between, but we hope the new liberal regulations and the creation of the Chesuncook Lake Salmon Derby, both implemented last year, will help us turn the corner. We are actually in a better situation than we were at Moosehead Lake. We are still seeing good runs of smelt in some of the tributaries to Chesuncook Lake and there are still some healthy-looking fish. We just need to bump up the harvest for a few years.
Last year there were 62 tickets sold at the inaugural event and, although we certainly did not see all of the participants at the weigh station, we did register over 180 salmon. That is some good fishing and two people took home some cash for their effort.
NREC is organizing the Memorial Day weekend (May 25-26) derby again this year and we want to encourage anglers to take part. There is a $500 prize for the biggest salmon registered and there is another $500 prize to be drawn from the fish pool. Anglers will get one ticket in the fish pool for every salmon under 16 inches they bring to the weigh-in station. Indian Hill Trading Post has also donated a trolling package for an additional fish pool prize this year. Derby tickets can be purchased at Indian Hill Trading Post in Greenville, Two Rivers Canoe and Tackle in Medway, Allagash Gateway Campground on Chesuncook Lake or online at NRECmoosehead.org.
So, bring the family and friends for a great day of fishing and help us restore the quality salmon fishing at this beautiful wild Maine lake. We hope to see you at the weigh-in station at the Maine Forestry Building near the public boat launch.