Key Species: brown trout, occasional salmon, occasional lake trout, occasional brook trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, white perch, pickerel
Best Way to Fish: canoe, bank, boat
Best Time to Fish: May through September
MAG: 13, B-3
Description: This 3,922-acre lake is located just outside Augusta, Maine’s capital city. The wide variety of species present makes China Lake a popular destination for Maine anglers. Hilly farmland and lakeside camps ring the shoreline, and the lake has a maximum depth of 85 feet. The shoreline may be crowded in springtime, during the white perch run, but boaters rarely experience crowded conditions. China Lake offers fishing from boats or canoes, or from the shore. Lodging is available at various motels on Maine Route 3 between Augusta and South China. You can also camp at Lake St. George State Park in Liberty.
Fishing index: Fishing is good throughout the season, but shore-based anglers flock here in May to take advantage of the huge white perch spawning runs near the breakwater at the north end of the lake in China Village. Most local anglers stick to worms fished beneath a bobber, but you can take your share of white perch with small spinners and lead-head jigs.
At the same time, anglers with boats troll for brown trout with streamer flies and live minnows at the north end of the lake in China and in that section of the lake just out from the boat ramp in East Vassalboro. In May and early June, you should troll fairly fast; as the season progresses, go slower and fish deeper. When brown trout were first introduced to this lake, fish weighing from 4 to 8 pounds were commonplace, but as with any new fishery, the average size has diminished somewhat. Still, fish of 4 and 5 pounds are taken each year, with the occasional larger specimen also appearing.
In summer, large brown trout are taken by deep trolling with live minnows as bait. Use the largest set of trolling spoons you can find. The preferred color is gold, but a gold and chrome combination is effective, too.
Bass fishers do well throughout the season, especially early and late in the day. Try fishing the shorelines with poppers or deer-hair bass bugs. During the day, try using plastic worms. You can do well with large minnows around the edges of weed beds.
Directions: From Augusta, take Maine Route 3 east toward China. Turn left at the intersection of U.S. Route 202 and head north to China Village, the breakwater, and a state boat ramp. Another state ramp is located in East Vassalboro, off Maine Route 32.
For more information: Contact Elma’s Tackle Shop.