Nocturnal Natives: Travel to Maine for Brook Trout Fishing at night
Our next featured guide offers a fishing experience you may not have tried before. For the avid fly fisherman, a challenge for both your senses and your angling skill. The opportunity to bring native Brook Trout to hand is a blast on the fly to begin with. Getting into some larger ones, even better. Now picture yourself at midnight on a gorgeous Maine river in the summertime. The light of the moon and the sound of the water captivate your senses until an 18” Brookie makes this experience euphoric.
It’s one of several unique guided offerings with Brandon Bichrest at Maine Fly Guide service. With 22 years of experience in the Rangeley region, Moosehead region, upper Penobscot, Androscrogin River, much more, he’s helped fishermen catch anything from Northern Pike and Smallies to lake fishing for Browns and Rainbow Trout. Brandon has also traveled internationally, collecting an impressive variety of fly fishing firsts in his personal fishing pursuits. We had a chance to learn more about him and the opportunities available in Maine.
Tell us your story. How did you get into the profession and why do it? I grew up in a family of not so serious fishermen. When I was 5 or so I started to show a strong interest in fishing. My father learned more about it and taught me what he could. He made sure to get me to the water one way or another. From the age of 10, I became obsessed. My family had a camp on a great bass and pike fishing lake. I would fish all day and some times all night off the docks and in my canoe around the cove. I remember breaking fishing poles almost every week. During those years I realized my love for fishing. When I was 17 I started fly fishing. I was a self taught fly fisherman for many years. I began fly fishing because of all the big native brook trout and salmon I would see pictures of that were caught in Rangeley Lakes region had my attention. I would drive up there and fish all day several times a week. I had a tough time catching fish in the beginning but knowing the quality of the fish in those waters drove me to keep trying. After many trips and failed attempts, I started to put the pieces together and began to find sucess. I became obsessed with fly fishing! I am now 30 and I have not slowed down with my learning of fly fishing. I fish or guide for Brook Trout, landlocked Salmon, Northern Pike, and Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Brown and Rainbow Trout. I have many repeat customers, with some that have hired me 30+ times.
I guide because I love to fish. If I had a different job I would always be looking out the window wishing I was fishing. I have traveled and fly fished for Tarpon, Snook, Redfish, Jack Crevalle, Sea Trout, Sharks, King Salmon, Peacock Bass, Oscars, other Cichlids, and Alligator Gar.
As a guide I truly enjoy putting clients on to fish of any type. Even more so I enjoy putting clients on their first fish of a given species.
Do you recall any memorable stories from your first hand experiences with clients?
My favorite type of trip is guiding someone who has never fished before or maybe have not tried fly fishing before. Some times first time fly fishing clients simply enjoy wearing waders and learning how to safely walk in the water. A particular trip that stands out in my mind was when I was guiding two women on their first fly fishing experience. I talked them through buying their waders before our trip and I supplied them the rest of the gear. They had never walked in the water with waders on. I had a safe approach to a scenic pool in a narrow river of crystal clear water planned in mid-May. We walked in to the water and I instructed them on the very basics of how to cast, we were casting anywhere from 2′-5′ as any new fly fisher knows it can be a real challenge to learn. I situated Pam in as afe casting spot and set her to practice casting as I got Kristin to another safe casting spot about 20′ downstream. We no more than turned our back before Pam began yelling “I think I have one!”.
I thought ‘no way she must be hooked on bottom’ then her line pulled across the pool! I quickly realized she had a nice fish on the line. I ran up her way while the fish and the line were both going crazy. We had not got to the part to teach her about line control yet, the line is everywhere and so is the fish. The line is tangled in the reel, the fish is up near the shore getting tangled in some sticks, then the fish makes it’s way out of the sticks. The line, the reel, and Pam are doing the best they can but the rod tip is bouncing faster than I had ever seen. We had strong pressure on the fish, then a lot of slack line so it was amazing to me the fish stayed hooked. The fish finally came close enough to be netted and we beheld the 18″ Brown Trout. I shared proper fish handling technique, snapped a photo, unhooked the streamer, and quickly revived the fish. We all then watched it swim off into that crystal clear pool.
For clients who are avid fisherman, I love guiding fly fishing trips in the dark! We fish throughout the night 9pm-5am. To fly fish in the dark hours you need to know exactly where you are going and exactly what your tactics will be when you get there. A typical night time trophy Native Brook Trout hunt would consist of meeting at 9pm after we meet and equip our selfs for the night we will hike about a 1/2 mile through the woods to the first pool we would fish and further as we move through the night. A typical night would consist of catchin 3-8 Brook Trout from 14″-22″ on average. These are aggressive, strong fighting fish. We will cast large flies and always practice catch and release of these native Brook Trout. Some of our catches encountered are among the finest Brook Trout you’ll find in the country.
As much as I enjoy fly fishing in the dark, I still enjoy fly fishing during the day too. A spring time float trip down a narrow river on a very under-fished section casting large flies at large Brook Trout is a past time that I will always thoroughly enjoy! Also sight fishing for Northern Pike in the springtime during their spawn, throwing huge flies to massive fish is as exciting as any fishing you’ll find in Maine. Then if you are looking for fast action, a smallmouth bass float trip on the Androscoggin River during mid summer we can expect to land 40-60 smallmouth bass up to 20″.
What are the best fishing opportunities where you guide? When are the best times for a given species?
Native Brook Trout – any time May through Sept 30th via Float and Fish or Wade and Fish
Landlocked Salmon – April 15 through November 30th Float and Fish or Wade and Fish
Northern Pike – April 20 through June 15 Float and Fish or Wade and Fish
Smallmouth Bass river float trips – July 15 through October 30, 5 mile float trip
Brown Trout – October 20 through November 30 Float and Fish on a small mountain pond
The below accommodation options will help get you started if Rangeley is your home base but take a look at the Booking.com search box below for more locations and availability. According to TripAdvisor.com, these are the Best Value for Traveler Ranked ratings in town:
Make a lifelong memory this summer accomplishing a fishing first. A big Native Brook Trout at night is a great place to start!
The River King Shoreline Fishing Guide
This e-book helps you catch more fish without the distractions. This is done using a minimalist approach on light tackle targeting proven river structures from the shoreline.
ON SALE $3.99
Patrick Ritter is the founder of River King Fishing, LLC. Raised near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, the outdoors, especially fishing, has always been a passion.