Written By: Joe Webster // Photo By: Josh Thelin
April is the month where things come alive in Maine. Our open water season begins on the 1st and creates endless freshwater options for trout, salmon, pike and more. Plus, the Striped Bass get closer to showing up to our coast towards the end of the month. Most of the action will still be revolved around freshwater fishing, however the amount of places to go with quality fishing opportunities greatly increases compared to the difficulties that deep winter fishing involves.
The southern portion of the state will be your best bet at finding ice free water. Ice out is when a body of water is declared ice free, and this usually does not happen until May for many of our northern fisheries. As far as southern Maine, this usually happens sometime in April, and fishing can phenomenal when ice begins to recede. The big phenomenon that occurs in April is our smelt runs are in full swing, thus providing our trout and salmon with a plentiful source of food to bulk up on after a long winter. If targeting trout and salmon, smelt patterns will generally be your best bet at getting a bite where smelt are present. Although limited, bug life is present, so nymphs, and in even certain instances dry flies, will also produce, especially as smelt runs wind down. Great fishing can be had in the southern part of the state for trout and salmon this time of year.
As smelt runs wind down in the southern part of the state, usually things are just starting to begin up north. Everything varies year to year, but towards the end of the month, you can start to consider more northern opportunities. Always check conditions as it is very possible to venture north to find your desired destination to be too iced over to fish. Early season up north is always quite a gamble and rarely results in hot and heavy fishing. Most fish will be taken on streamer patterns imitating smelt if you are lucky enough to find one. That being said when fish are found, they are usually pretty willing to take a fly. You will still need to be prepared with cold weather gear if venturing up north in April.
Check out our how to stay warm article for tips and tricks on how to stay warm on those cold days that are still so common during April in Maine -- HERE
Another option that fly anglers have in April is to target Pike. Every year this becomes more and more popular for good reason. Pike are ferocious predators that will explosively take a fly. For those who may not be outfitted for pike specifically, the rod, reel, and line set up you use for Striped Bass can often be successfully applied to Pike. Pike can be targeted with rods as light as a seven weight, however the bigger the rod, the bigger the fly you can throw, and Pike love big meals. Articulated bait fish patterns, poppers, and sliders can all produce fish. Pike flies are not all too different than striper flies. Floating, intermediate and sinking lines can all work under different circumstances and with different fly patterns, switching things up and staying versatile is key.
We hope this helps you get an understanding of our Maine fisheries during the month of April. Please feel free to reach out to us at the shop for any questions you may have about early season fly fishing during the month of April in Maine.