Dan Perry is an avid Maine fly fisherman. He was kind of us to give us a small introduction to his corner of Maine fly fishing. So read on to learn about Dan’s love of fishing his home State and the trout, salmon and smallmouth bass that live in its waters.
What makes your home area of Maine great for fishing?
I live in Orono, home of the University of Maine. Orono is home to both the Stillwater River and the Penobscot River. Both rivers provide excellent Smallmouth Bass fishing. With the recent removal of a few dams, the Penobscot River is now seeing striped bass return each spring, from the ocean.
What makes living in Orono so great is that it is located in the center of the state. Meaning a few hours in any direction will have you on some of the best trout and salmon fishing in the northeast. Maine is home to 97 percent of the wild brook trout waters in the Eastern United States.
What species do you love to target in the spring?
Once open water fishing starts here in Maine, April 1st, I find myself headed to a select few rivers to target landlocked salmon. They are usually the first fish to leave the lakes in search of pre-spawning smelts. They are also the hardest fighting freshwater fish Maine has to offer, often times putting on acrobatic displays as you try and get them to your net.
Once most of the snow has melted and the streams water levels drop I target brook trout. Not only do they have beautiful colors but there is not much better than a few pan fried stream brook trout. Once mid-May/early-June rolls around and the ice is out of Northern Maine’s ponds, there is no other place I would rather be. This is when the potential for trophy-class brook trout in the 4-6 pound range is the greatest.
What are your favorite spring waters to be fishing in Maine?
One of my favorite Spring waters to fish is Grand Lake Stream for Landlock Salmon. The gin-clear waters of Grand Lake Stream encompass roughly 3 miles of river. Grand Lake Stream is home to one of the original four strains of landlocked Salmon in the lower 48. Its gin-clear waters flow from West Grand Lake in eastern Maine, southeast into Big Lake and on toward the St. Croix River on the boarder of New Brunswick.
Grand Lake Stream has been a destination for fly anglers since the mid 1800’s and has been FFO water since 1903. The Stream consists of deep pools connected by broken water and riffles that hold salmon throughout the summer if conditions are advantageous. There is also about a mile of steep, fast water that, at the proper flows, can be very exciting, scenic and productive to fish.
Another one of my favorite Spring waters to fish is the West Branch of the Penobscot River. The eleven miles of river from Ripogenus Dam to the Abol Bridge holds some of the most productive and captivating fly fishing water in the state of Maine. The West Branch of the Penobscot River hosts a thriving population of Wild Landlocked Salmon and Brook Trout. There aren’t very many feelings comparable to wading the shores of the West Branch first thing in the morning, wondering whether or not the big fish on the other end of your rod is a brook trout or a salmon.
My other favorite waters to fish in Maine will remain unnamed but there are 5 or 6 ponds that hold seriously big native brook trout. Most of them are a few mile hike in and the water is accessible through float tube or stashed canoes. Most of these waters are either fly fishing only or artificial lures only with very strict bag limits of one trout over 18 inches. Sharing a hidden mountain pond with a few of your closest friend’s is an unforgettable experience.
Do the species that you target or waters change at all when we get into the summer?
When the water warms up in the summer, Trout and Salmon fishing really slows down. However, this is when the Smallmouth bass fishing is the best on my hometown waters. It is not uncommon to catch 30 to 40 bass in an afternoon and not uncommon to catch half a dozen in the 3+ pound range. This hot action is always welcomed after the last few “lazy” trout fishing trips.
You obviously love fly fishing. What do you love about fly fishing?
What I love most about fly-fishing is the connection you share with nature and also the challenge. Fly-fishing is an art; from the flies, to the rods and reels, to the technique. You become a better fly fishermen every time you go out.
There are just so many aspects that make up fly-fishing: Hydrology and reading the different currents and flows, Entomology and learning the different life cycles of insects. There is just something so satisfying about placing a fly perfectly on top of the water and watching a trout or salmon rise up and inhale it.
Favorite rod/reel combo?
My favorite rod/reel combo is my current fly fishing setup. The rod is a 4 piece Orvis Clearwater 8’ 6” 5 wt. The 5wt. is a very versatile rod where it is sensitive enough for small stream brook trout and also has the backbone to handle 4+ pound salmon and smallmouth bass. Orvis makes beautiful rods and
the 25 year guarantee is just the cherry on top.
The reel is a L.L. Bean Double L #3 Mid arbor reel. Some people would say this reel is too large for a 5 wt. fly rod but I disagree. This reel retrieves line faster than traditional arbor reels which comes in handy when fighting large salmon and trout in strong currents. The Double L has a smooth, semi-sealed center disc drag that gives complete control to the fishermen.
My go too fly line is Rio gold. It has made me a better fishermen by allowing me more control over my casts and also more distance on my casts.
What is your favorite fly fishing moment? What makes it such a great experience?
My favorite fly-fishing moment was really what got me hooked on fly fishing. It was opening day in Maine and a friend of mine let me tag along with him and his father. After the first few casts we all knew it was going to be one of those days you would remember forever. The majority of the day was spent waist deep, laughing and shouting, “This is pandemonium”, as we hooked into triple after triple. Until finally, after hours of this, we had all grown tired of catching fish. This is a feeling that I will chase for the rest of my life.
What are your 2017 fishing goals?
My 2017 fishing goals were: one, to share the hard and open water with friends and family and two, to have a trophy I could put on the wall, and three, to become a better fishermen. I have already accomplished my first two goals, so the rest of the fishing year is dedicated to becoming a better fishermen.
I accomplished my second goal just 6 days into Maine’s ice fishing season. I was fishing with my father in northern Maine when I hooked into what I thought was a 3+ pound trout. After the fish made a massive run to bottom and stopped, I knew it was well over 3 pounds. But I didn’t know just how big it was until 15 minutes later when my father finally was able to grab it by the gill and pulled it out of the hole for me. We both stood in awe, as we looked down at the 27-inch 9 pound Splake (Brook trout x Lake Trout). It was just one pound shy of the Maine state record.
Congrats on that big Splake Mr. Perry. Enjoy the rest of your 2017 fishing season.
Check out Dan’s Instagram to follow his great Maine fly fishing.