Fishing for landlocked Atlantic salmon on Long Lake, Naples, Maine (May 3, 2020)

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The sign for the boat launch in downtown Naples off Route 302. Beware that this access is reserved for Naples residents.

 

Long Lake is a 4,867-acre body of water located in the towns of Naples, Bridgton, and Harisson in Cumberland County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 4 A5). I access the lake this morning via the Naples town beach and boat launch at Kent’s Landing in downtown Naples, right off Route 302. It’s only after I take a picture of the sign by Route 302 and read its fine print that I realize this access is in fact not public but available for use only by “Naples residents and taxpayers”… No one was checking when I arrived at 5:15 this morning and the entrance isn’t gated, so I don’t know how vigorously this rule is enforced during normal operating hours. Two other boat launches are available at Plummer Landing in Bridgton off Route 302, and at the northern tip of the lake off Route 35 in Harrison. The launch at Kent’s Landing in Naples is spacious and improved, and provides ample parking, plus bathroom facilities.

 

The boat launch in Naples is spacious and provides plenty of parking space

 

Long Lake sits in a beautiful corner of northern Cumberland County, with a spectacular view of the White Mountains. It is also a notorious “wind tunnel”! The lake is narrow (<1 mile wide on average) but long (about 11 miles) and oriented from northwest to southeast, i.e., along the prevailing regional wind direction. Anyone who has driven over the thoroughfare bridge on Route 302 in downtown Naples and observed the white caps on a windy day will know what I’m talking about. On average, the lake is actually relatively shallow (mean depth = 23 ft; maximum depth = 59 ft) given its large surface area. It consists of several deeper basins (> 50 ft) connected by large stretches of water less than 30 ft deep. The most downgradient of those deeper basins is located off Kent’s Landing in Naples and is the target of my fishing efforts this morning. Click here for a depth map. This lake is stocked annually to sustain an open water and frozen water landlocked Atlantic salmon sports fishery. It is also stocked with a much smaller number of brown trout. Fishing on this lake falls under the general fishing laws.

 

The view of the White Mountains from Long Lake is priceless!

 

I arrive at the boat launch at the crack of down and am the first one to get going. I’ve never trolled Long Lake before and am therefore eager to start. The conditions this morning are to my liking: windstill, and deeply overcast (keeps the sun away) with a chance of drizzle. I motor off at 5:30 am. I’ll be trolling the lower basin in Naples using my eight-weight fly rod with lead-core line and three smelt-imitating streamer flies tied back-to-back, and my portable downrigger with a spinning rod and a sown bait attached to the treble hook of a copper-colored Mooselook wobbler. To avoid entanglements, the sown bait is placed deeper (15 ft down) and closer to the boat compared to the streamer flies (1.5 colors down and farther out). The surface water temperature is a chilly 47°F, which is actually quite low considering that the ice went out of this lake well over a month ago. I troll over water 30-50 ft deep.

 

It’s not much of a salmon, but apparently they’re a dime a dozen in Long Lake.

 

The fish are actually actively feeding this morning. I get a total of six hits (three on the lead-core line and three on the downrigger), and I hook and land two short salmon. One of those salmon fell for the Mooselook spoon, instead of the sown bait placed 2 ft behind. To my surprise, the streamer flies are a flop, and I switch them out for two DB smelt spoons about 1.5 hour into my fishing trip. It is the latter lures that generate the three hits on the lead-core. By the way, switching out trusted but underperforming lures is a key way to increase your catch. The reason is that yesterday’s winning lure may become today’s loosing lure, for reasons only known to the fish… I do have a neat story to tell, though. At some point in the morning, I observe a dorsal fin break the water surface no more than 30 ft to the left as I’m put-putting along. This was the one and only rise I saw all morning long. I immediately put down my fly rod, grab my ultralight spinning rod which I always keep ready for such an occasion, cast my #2 Mepps spinner behind the rise, and immediately start the retrieve. I eagerly await the hit, but none occurs. I’m about to take the spinner out of the water when my fly rod starts shaking. Holy smokes, the fish ignored my spinner but fell for the DB smelt that passed it by about 20 seconds later! Neat, and I’ve had that experience before. At the end of the trip, I chat with an angler who’s putting his boat in by launch as I’m leaving, and he tells me that Long Lake is known to yield lots of short salmon, so my experience this morning was not unusual for this place.

 

The results: I caught two small landlocked salmon (12”) in 3.5 hours of quiet fishing.

 

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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