Fishing for lake trout on Kezar Lake in Lovell, Oxford County, Maine (October 19, 2019)

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I just love the way the rising sun “paints” the surrounding landscape.


Kezar Lake is a 2,510-acre body of water located in Lovell, Oxford County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 10 D2). To reach this location, drive north on Route 5 past Lovell and turn left on West Stoneham Road. Drive on this road for about 500 ft and look for the large blue boat-launch sign. After passing the sign, turn left on North Lovell Landing Road and drive about a quarter mile all the way down to the lake. The boat launch, which is located at the north end of Upper Bay, is spacious and provides lots of parking area. The launch itself is not improved but can accommodate large boats. In fact, the lake residents use it to put in and take out their pontoon boats. I note for the record that a second boat launch is located further south, by the Narrows on West Lovell Road, between Middle and Lower Bay. I don’t use that launch today because I aim to catch lake trout and landlocked salmon which are more abundant in the deeper Upper Bay.


A glorious view of the Caribou Speckled Mountain Wilderness.


Kezar Lake is a gem of a place. Not only is it a big lake with crystal-clear water, but it is also quite deep, at least in the Upper Bay (maximum depth = 155 ft). That section of the lake is only moderately developed, which is nice. The best part, though, is the absolutely spectacular backdrop along the entire western horizon provided by a dozen mountains comprising the Caribou Speckled Mountain Wilderness in the White Mountain National Forest. The colors of the leaves draping that entire area are stunning and the overall view is awesome. What I wouldn’t give to own a piece of property along the eastern shore of the Upper Bay in order to experience the setting sun each day over those mountains… The lake is also unique in that it supports both a thriving cold-water fishery (centered around lake trout and landlocked salmon) and a warm-water fishery (smallmouth bass and largemouth bass, among others). The lake trout population is self-sustaining but stunted, which is why the fishing rules have a liberal daily bag limit for this species of six (!) fish, with a minimum length of only 14” and one keeper allowed to exceed 23”. The landlocked salmon reproduce naturally in Great Brook but their population is further enhanced by a light annual stocking of 400 or so juveniles in late spring. The lake is open to open-water fishing between October 1 and December 31 using artificial lures only, and with all salmonids required to be released at once. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. Click here for all the fishing rules that apply to this lake.


Agreed. It’s only a baby togue but at least I caught my target species this morning!


I arrive at the boat launch in the Upper Bay of Kezar Lake at 7:00 am. I get everything ready and take off 15 minutes later. The air temperature is 42°F and the water temperature comes in at 56°F. The forecast calls for a cool but sunny morning, so I decide to start fishing along the eastern shoreline which will remain in the shadows the longest. I’m using my usual trolling set-up: a portable downrigger teamed up with a spinning rod and two Mooselook spoons fishing low, and my nine-weight fly-fishing rod with lead-core line and three smelt-imitating streamer flies fishing higher. I hold the fly rod in my hands and constantly “rip” the flies to attract attention. Just for the heck of it, I begin by trolling right up against the shoreline in about 10 ft of water to see if I can pick up a wild brook trout. I give up on that idea 45 minutes later after I fail to get a single bite. I move off-shore a bit over 40 ft of water and place my spoons 10 ft off the bottom for lake trout and smallmouth bass, and the flies 15 ft below the surface for landlocked salmon. That approach works because I soon hook a short togue (19”) on one of the spoons. That’s great! It gets released after giving a really nice fight. Those fish are tough! I also notice that the wind has unexpectedly picked up out of the northwest with the rising sun and is now howling down the lake, making for a rough ride. By the way, trolling in high winds is not uncommon in the fall (click here, here, and here for examples).


This big boy was caught on a spoon 25 ft down over 40 ft of water


I’m approaching the Middle Bay of Kezar Lake, which I want to avoid because of its shallowness (< 30 ft). But I also don’t want to troll upwind into 2-ft waves. So, I bite the bullet, bring everything up, batten down the hatches, and motor upwind into the white caps all the way to the northwestern corner of Upper Bay. I’m glad that I dressed warmly for the occasion because the wind chill is biting! Once I get there, I stay over 40 ft of water using the same technique described earlier and let the wind push me down along the western shoreline. I succeed in catching a smallmouth bass on one of the spoons. Good, there’s fish down there! I finish my morning by crossing the lake once again, motoring back up and letting the wind blow me down along the eastern shoreline over 40 ft of water. That last effort yields a nice fat smallmouth bass, also caught on one of the spoons. In summary, I caught my three fish close to the bottom in 35-40 ft of water. I did not get a single hit on my streamer flies, which tells me that the salmon were not feeding in the target zone 15 ft below the surface. Normally, I would have checked out deeper water but the brutal wind and white caps forced me to play it safe closer to shore. So, overall, I’m happy with the results this morning given to tough conditions. And, as always this time of the year, I had the lake all to myself…


The results: I caught one lake trout (19”) and two smallmouth bass (largest = 16”) in 3.5 hours of tough trolling.


Was the information in this blog useful? I invite you to share your thoughts and opinions. Also, feel free to discuss your fishing experiences at this location.


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