Fishing for landlocked Atlantic salmon on West Grand Lake in T6 ND BPP, Washington County, Maine (May 7, 2023)


A Gorgeous view of the northern end of Marks Island.


West Grand Lake is a large, 14,340-acre body of water located in township T6 ND BPP, Washington County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 35 B3). The public access is found by the dam at Grand Lake Stream. The launch is paved and spacious. It is easily accessible from Route 1 by driving down Grand Lake Stream Road, which is paved, for about 10 miles. Plenty of parking is available by the launch which is also equipped with a convenient primitive rest room facility.


This first salmon of the afternoon tells me that I’m going about it the right way.


West Grand Lake supports a premier landlocked salmon fishery in Downeast Maine which attracts anglers from throughout the state and far beyond. It is the largest of a huge, interconnected chain of lakes which also includes Pocumcus Lake, Junior Bay, Pug Lake, Junior Lake, Bottle Lake, and Scraggly Lake. These waters come alive in the spring when conditions are perfect to allow landlocked salmon to roam and forage freely throughout much of this system. The shorelines of all these lakes are only slightly developed, if at all, which provides a real sense of isolation and “wilderness”. The entire surrounding watershed is also deeply forested. West Grand Lake receives an annual spring stocking of between 9,000 and 10,000 juvenile landlocked salmon to sustain the fishery. The growth of these fish is considered excellent due to the presence of a healthy smelt population. No one bats an eye at a three- or four-pound salmon. The lake also supports a self-sustaining population of togue which can grow to very attractive sizes. Lake trout measuring 30+ inches are caught every year in these waters. General fishing laws apply, except a) the daily bag limit on bass is 1 fish and all bass between 12 and 20 inches must be released alive at once, b) no minimum length on togue, c) the daily bag limit on togue is 2 fish, only 1 of which may exceed 33 inches, and d) all togue between 23 and 33 inches must be released alive at once. Consult the law book for additional rules that apply to fall and winter fishing or smelting. Click here for a depth map and additional fisheries information.


The evening is progressing and the bite remains strong.


Joel, Salvy, Edwin, and I are spending four days and three nights camping at the southern tip of Marks Island in West Grand Lake. We focus all our attention on catching landlocked salmon when the wind is manageable, mainly in the early morning hours, later in the morning after breakfast, and during the last daylight hours in the evening. We relax in the afternoons when the bite slows down markedly and the wind greatly picks up in response to the strong sun, creating a serious chop. The water temperature is cool 43° to 47°F, depending on location and time of day, meaning that trolling with a downrigger or lead core line is the only way to go. We catch salmon during these periods, but I will focus the story on one particular evening.


The last fish of the evening. Look at that powerful tail!


Saturday afternoon is sunny and brutally windy, but the atmosphere has started to quiet down in response to the slowly setting sun. We all depart from camp in our boats at 5 pm with the goal of trolling for landlocked salmon around the southern half of Marks Island. The depth just offshore from the island quickly drops down to 50+ ft. Based on experience gained earlier today, I focus all my fishing attention over water 20 to 25 ft. deep while trolling with lead core line 1.5 colors down, or about 8 to 10 ft. below the surface, using 2 DB Smelt spoons with a purple stripe (i.e., smelt imitators). I love fishing with lead core line in early spring. I constantly rip the line to impart erratic movement to the lures to attract potential customers. It takes effort but the angler stays intimately connected with what happens below and gets richly rewarded when experiencing a hook-up firsthand. I am on to something this evening because I am getting regular hits and soon hook and land my first fish. I walkie-talkie the others to let them know what’s working for me, and they switch over to my approach. But the local fish gods only smile on me because my teammates remain largely fishless whereas I keep on attracting fish. By the end of the evening, I have hooked and landed five landlocked salmon measuring between 13 and 18 inches. All are strong fighters and clearly well fed. The last fish I caught even jumped five times out of the (cold) water. I am fully satisfied with my evening of fishing when I return to camp by 8 pm.


The evening fishing is over. Time to enjoy the moon rise, relax around the camp fire with a fortified beverage, and regale each other with tall fish stories!


We all thoroughly enjoyed our four-day camping and fishing trip on West Grand Lake and already made plans to return next year in early May. However, we are implementing an important adjustment: Marks Island sits in the middle of the lake, fully exposed to the prevailing northwest winds. Our boats, i.e., my 14-ft aluminum boat and two of my teammates motorized canoes, are too small to safely navigate its choppy waters. Hence, next spring we will set up camp somewhere in Junior Bay, which is less exposed to the wind but still provides access to plenty of fishable water. Stay tuned!


An unusual sight on West Grand Lake: no wind in late morning.


The results: I landed five landlocked salmon (largest = 18 inches) in 3 hours of exciting evening 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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1 thought on “Fishing for landlocked Atlantic salmon on West Grand Lake in T6 ND BPP, Washington County, Maine (May 7, 2023)

  1. I thought I missed a few posts. This was perhaps one of the most excellent posts yet! I’m just now getting ready for the fishing season… as is the wife. You continue to be an inspiration. Particularly on the water with a fishing rod. Keep it up.. the wife and I send our best!

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