Fishing for landlocked Atlantic salmon and smallmouth bass on West Grand Lake, T6 ND BPP, Washington County, Maine (October 3, 2021)

 

What a sight to behold!

 

West Grand Lake is a 15,920-acre body of water located in township T6 ND BPP in Washington County, Maine (see The Atlas and Gazetteer map 35 B3). Public access is via two boat launches located at the village of Grand Lake Stream by the outlet of the lake. I cannot describe the lay-out of those launches because I accessed the lake from elsewhere in the watershed.

 

There’s gotta be salmonids down there somewhere!!

 

West Grand Lake is the undisputed granddaddy of landlocked Atlantic salmon fishing in Downeast Maine. This lake is huge (half the size of mighty Sebago Lake located in southern Maine) but largely undeveloped. The shoreline is rocky and bouldery, and entirely forested. This body of water is quite a sight to behold! The lake has a mean and maximum depth of 37 ft. (relatively shallow…) and 128 ft., respectively. The water is crystal clear and well-oxygenated throughout the entire water column in the summer. The open-water fishing rules are comprehensive because this lake supports both a warm-water (i.e., smallmouth bass) and cold-water (i.e., landlocked salmon and lake trout) fishery. The south zone general fishing laws apply, with the following exceptions: (a) the daily bag limit on smallmouth bass is one fish, and all bass between 12 and 20 inches must be released at once; (b) no minimum length limit on lake trout, the daily bag limit is two fish with only one allowed to exceed 33″, and all lake trout between 23 and 33 inches must be released at once; (c) the lake is open to fishing using artificial lures between October 1 and October 20 with immediate release of all salmonids, and (d) the lake is closed to all fishing between October 21 and January 31. Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information.

 

This was the largest smallmouth bass of the entire bunch…

 

I’m staying at my son Joel’s camp in the watershed. We motor away from his place at 7:30 am and enter The Narrows of West Grand Lake via Junior Bay at 8:30 am. We are experiencing incredible early-fall weather, but lousy salmonid conditions… It is wind still, the air temperature is in the low-60’s, and the sky is wide open. The surface water temperature clocks in at 62°F. We start trolling through the Narrows using our leadcore lines and downriggers armed with two-hook smelt-imitating streamer flies we purchased at a local convenience store (note: local stores typically carry lures that “work” locally). We place our flies 30 to 60 ft. deep to target landlocked salmon and lake trout and eagerly await the strikes. None come over the next two hours of laborious trolling. We swap out our flies for different local ones but the outcome remains the same… We reach Marks Island located in the northwestern quadrant of the lake and stop over for an early lunch. We observe the fantastic bouldery shoreline that surrounds the entire island, and the great depths (from 30 to > 50 ft.) right off shore. After lunch, we decide to check out that amazing-looking habitat. I catch a smallmouth bass within the first two minutes. We land well over two dozen bass over the next hour trolling around the island, including three double hookings where we both fight a fish at the same time. This is actually a lot of fun, except that the bass are disappointingly small, measuring anywhere from 6 to 12 inches.

 

Joel is mighty pleased to have caught this landlocked salmon.

 

We make our way to Hardwood Island, located about 1.5 miles southeast of Marks Island, with the aim of trolling around it. The shoreline habitat is somewhat different: it’s bouldery but lacks the steep drop-offs present around Marks Island, but we do catch another dozen or so diminutive smallmouth bass. At this point, we’re trolling towards Pineo Point located on the northern shore of West Grand Lake. We see a camp owner removing his dock from the water and decide to stop by and pick his brains about the fishing conditions in early fall. He confirms that Marks Island is a well-known local hot spot for smallmouth bass fishing, that the majority of the bass in this lake don’t grow much bigger than 14 inches, and that we need to use flashier spoons instead of streamer flies to attract the interest of the salmonids this time a year. We thank him for sharing his secrets and immediately swap out our streamer flies for Mooselook spoons and DB Smelts. Ten minutes later, Joel gets a strike on his lead core line, and a landlocked salmon comes flying out of the water! OMG, we’ve been trolling for 4+ hours with various streamer flies without a single salmonid hit, but we catch a salmon the moment we switch over to spoons! That information will definitely be stored for future use! We catch four more bass trolling with the spoons, but no more salmonids. Overall, the fishing today was rather disappointing because the bass, though numerous, were all small, and the salmon bite was painfully slow. The surroundings, on the other hand, are spectacular. We will make many more visits to West Grand Lake in the future!

 

The end of a beautiful day!

 

The results: Joel caught one 16″ landlocked salmon and together we landed well over 40 smallmouth bass in 5 hours of 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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