Key Species: smallmouth bass, landlocked salmon, white perch, pickerel, cusk
Best Way to Fish: boat, canoe
Best Time to Fish: May through September
MAG: 35, B-5 and C-5; 36, B-1
Description: At 10,305 acres, Big Lake lives up to its name. If you combine Big Lake’s acreage with the smaller lakes connecting to it, that figure nearly doubles. It is best to fish here with a boat. Big Lake is connected to the St. Croix River, Maine’s border with Canada, by a massive body of water called Grand Falls Flowage. Although the flowage is shallow and has a considerable current, it offers excellent smallmouth bass fishing.
Special regulations include a slot limit on bass.
Big Lake is a perfect location for the angler who has plenty of time and wants a quality backwoods experience. This lake is much too large to be thoroughly explored in one day. Lodging is available in Calais, and there are primitive campsites on Buckman Island and Little Pine Island in Big Lake.
Fishing index: Big Lake is a top-notch smallmouth bass water throughout the season.
June and early July are probably the best times, but September is almost as good. Look for bass around Big Lake’s numerous islands and points. Keep your hooks sharp, and make sure your line is in good condition, since it will get a real workout. You can take dozens of fish in a day with little effort. Use lead-head jigs with either bucktail or plastic bodies, black or purple plastic worms, plastic salamanders, and small Slug-Go lures.
In early spring, Big Lake is also a popular landlocked salmon water. Salmon fishers prefer tandem streamers such as gray ghost, black ghost, supervisor, and nine-three. Fish your streamers on a sinking fly line with at least 20 feet of 6-pound test leader.
Look for white perch in about 20 feet of water in the main section of the lake. Fish for them with worms, night crawlers, small minnows, or small leadhead plastic-bodied jigs. You might find perch near the surface in the evening, especially near the Long Lake outlet. For surface-feeding perch, use any dry fly pattern. White perch have small mouths, and you will probably miss the first few takes until you learn to hesitate a moment before lifting your rod. The eastern end at Long Lake is also the best bet for pickerel. It is relatively shallow and quite weedy. Use orange Flash Kings, red plastic worms, or brightly colored bucktails.
Directions: From Calais, take U.S. Route 1 north to Princeton. In Princeton, you can launch your boat at the state ramp on U.S. Route 1, or turn left on West Street and take the first gravel road to the right. Follow this road to its end at the ramp at Greenland
For more information: Contact the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife in Machias.