Megunticook Watershed Association

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2017- Warden’s Report- Skating and Fishing

Posted on | January 19, 2017 | Comments Off on 2017- Warden’s Report- Skating and Fishing


All is well around the watershed, the ice has firmed up nicely on the lake and ponds. The ice fishing folks were the first ones out on the ice, soon followed by skaters and skiers. The water level has been up and down several times over the last few weeks due to a few big rain storms. This has caused the ice to buckle and break along the shoreline. Caution is advised near shore and getting out onto the ice.
Fishing for brook trout this fall and winter in the local ponds has been great thanks to fall stocking by Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IF&W). Ponds all over have been stocked with brook trout some as large as 20 inches. Check the stocking reports available here ME Stocking Report 2016 and ME Stocking Report Brood 2016.
The posting of membership signs is moving along well without any deep snow, and I hope to soon use the snowmobile for posting and patrolling. I have it ready to go at Camp Rabbit, but more ice and some snow would help.
I`m seeing lots of bald eagles around the watershed. They come to eat the bait and fish that icefishers leave on the ice. A word of caution to those fishing on the hardwater; protect those fish you want to take home for supper! I heard of one fisherman who pulled a beautiful 20” brookie out of a hole. As soon as he had the hook out another flag went up. As he hustled over to the next trap to play that fish an eagle swooped down and took off with his trophy!
Hey, if you catch a black crappie feed it to the eagles (or yourself, they’re good eating). They have been illegally introduced to our watershed and are now here to stay. But keeping the population down will help our native fish compete. Send pictures of any fish you catch this winter, especially black crappie to the Lake Warden at
Finally, the U.S. Coast Guard is offering boating safety classes this winter Boater Safety Course. Classes for small and big boats are available. This is also a great time to check your boat and clean off any ice or snow on the cover. Check the bilge for ice and water. Better to find a small problem now than a big one in the spring.

When heading out on the waters of the Megunticook Watershed have fun and be safe. Warden Dale Dougherty

Ice-In and Ice Safety

Posted on | December 21, 2016 | Comments Off on Ice-In and Ice Safety

Both Norton Pond and Megunticook are buttoned up after our last cold snap.  However, we urge all of you to use extreme caution if you venture out on the ice.  Here’s a clip of Lake Warden Dale Dougherty from last week (at the 4:21 mark)

Ice Safety:

General Ice Thickness Guidelines – For New, Clear Ice Only:

2″ or less – STAY OFF
4″ May allow Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5″ often allows for Snowmobile or ATV travel
8″ – 12″ of good ice with supports most Cars or small pickups
12″ – 15″ will likely hold a Medium sized truck.

Remember that these thicknesses are merely guidelines for new, clear, solid ice (otherwise known as “black ice”). Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.  Currently the ice is about half black ice and half refrozen, cloudy ice, so the strength of the ice is less than the Guidelines above.12-20-16-05

When going out on the ice, tell someone your plans (leave a note on  your windshield with your plans), wear a PFD under your coat.  Get some ice picks and a throw bag.  Be Safe, be Smart!  Here are a couple of videos about self rescue:  ice picks       throw bag.


From the Maine Warden Service-

What if someone else falls in?

If someone else falls through and you are the only one around to help? First, call 911 for help. There is a good chance someone near you may be carrying a cell phone.

  • Resist the urge to run up to the edge of the hole. This would most likely result in two victims in the water. Also, do not risk your life to attempt to save a pet or other animal.
  • Preach, Reach, Throw, Row, Go
  • PREACH – Shout to the victim to encourage them to fight to survive and reassure them that help is on the way.
  • REACH – If you can safely reach the victim from shore, extend an object such as a rope, ladder, or jumper cables to the victim. If the person starts to pull you in, release your grip on the object and start over.
  • THROW – Toss one end of a rope or something that will float to the victim. Have them tie the rope around themselves before they are too weakened by the cold to grasp it.
  • ROW – Find a light boat to push across the ice ahead of you. Push it to the edge of the hole, get into the boat and pull the victim in over the bow. It’s not a bad idea to attach some rope to the boat, so others can help pull you and the victim to safety.
  • GO – A non-professional should not go out on the ice to perform a rescue unless all other basic rescue techniques have been ruled out.

If the situation is too dangerous for you to perform the rescue, call 911 for help, keep reassuring the victim that help is on the way, and urge them to fight to survive. Heroics by well-meaning but untrained rescuers sometimes result in two deaths.

New ice is usually stronger than old ice. Four inches of clear, newly formed ice may support one person on foot, while a foot or more of old, partially thawed ice may not.

Ice seldom freezes uniformly. It may be a foot thick in one location and only an inch or two just a few feet away.

Ice formed over flowing water and currents is often dangerous. This is especially true near streams, bridges, and culverts. In addition, the ice on outside river bends is usually weaker due to the undermining effects of the faster current.

The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process. The extra weight also reduces how much weight the ice sheet can support. Also, ice near shore can be weaker than ice that is farther out.

Booming and cracking ice isn’t necessarily dangerous. It only means that the ice is expanding and contracting as the temperature changes.

Schools of fish or flocks of waterfowl can also adversely affect the relative safety of ice. The movement of fish can bring warm water up from the bottom of the lake. In the past, this has opened holes in the ice causing snowmobiles and cars to break through.

If your car or truck plunges through the ice, the best time to escape is before it sinks, not after. It will stay afloat a few seconds to several minutes depending on the airtightness of the vehicle.

  • While the car is still afloat, the best escape hatches are the side windows since the doors may be held shut by the water pressure. If the windows are blocked, try to push the windshield or rear window out with your feet or shoulder.
  • A vehicle with its engine in the front will sink at a steep angle and may land on its roof if the water is 15 feet or deeper. As the car starts its final plunge to the bottom, water rapidly displaces the remaining air. An air bubble can stay in a submerged vehicle, but it is unlikely that it would remain by the time the car hits the bottom.
  • When the car is completely filled, the doors may be a little easier to open unless they are blocked by mud and silt. Remember too, chances are that the car will be upside down at this point! Add darkness and near freezing water, and your chances of escape have greatly diminished. This underscores the necessity of getting out of the car before it starts to sink!

The following guidelines can help you make wise choices:

  • Check for known thin ice areas with a local resort or bait shop.
  • Test the thickness yourself using an ice chisel or ice auger.
  • Refrain from driving on ice whenever possible.
  • If you must drive a vehicle, be prepared to leave it in a hurry–keep windows down, unbuckle your seat belt and have a simple emergency plan of action you have discussed with your passengers.
  • Stay away from alcoholic beverages.
  • Even “just a couple of beers” are enough to cause a careless error in judgment that could cost you your life. And contrary to common belief, alcohol actually makes you colder rather than warming you up.
  • Don’t “overdrive” your snowmobile’s headlight.
  • At even 30 miles per hour, it can take a much longer distance to stop on ice than your headlight shines. Many fatal snowmobile through-the-ice accidents occur because the machine was traveling too fast for the operator to stop when the headlamp illuminated the hole in the ice.
  • Wear a life vest under your winter gear.
  • Or wear one of the new flotation snowmobile suits. And it’s a good idea to carry a pair of ice picks that may be home made or purchased from most well stocked sporting goods stores that cater to winter anglers. It’s amazing how difficult it can be to pull yourself back onto the surface of unbroken but wet and slippery ice while wearing a snowmobile suit weighted down with 60 lbs of water. The ice picks really help pulling yourself back onto solid ice. CAUTION: Do NOT wear a flotation device when traveling across the ice in an enclosed vehicle!

Update on Loon Rescue

Posted on | December 20, 2016 | Comments Off on Update on Loon Rescue

Sad news from Avian Haven. Looking for a news year resolution?  Get rid of all the lead in your tackle box.



COLO 2418 Megunticook Lake
The Common Loon rescued from Megunticook Lake on Friday, December 16, did not survive her encounter with lead fishing tackle. She died overnight last night.

This is the sinker we flushed from her gizzard, a 1/8-ounce chunk of illegal fishing gear. The sale AND use of this type of gear was banned in 2013. Please be informed of Maine laws regarding the use of lead fishing tackle. Even if you don’t fish, it’s important information to know, and share.

Fish Lead-Free is a region-wide initiative to help anglers switch to lead-free tackle:

The State of Maine Lead Sinker Law and its interpretation:

Thank you all for your prayers and good wishes for the loon. It is always a terrible heartbreak for everyone at Avian Haven when our best efforts are futile, and we lose one of these innocent beauties.

Loon Rescue

Posted on | December 18, 2016 | Comments Off on Loon Rescue

Avian Haven posted this on Facebook yesterday. The Loon was up in the Trout Hole past Chaney’s Narrows. Doug and Lake Warden Dale tried unsuccessfully to capture the Loon on Thursday. But Doug got her early Friday. Way to go Doug!

COLO 2418 Megunticook Lake
Another Common Loon arrived at Avian Haven yesterday, this one not as lucky as the Partridge Lake loon we posted earlier today. This adult loon was getting iced-in on Megunticook Lake, as reported to us late Thursday afternoon by Doug Gilson. At the time, the loon still had just enough open water to evade capture, but overnight temperatures were headed for sub-zero. Doug says he didn’t sleep well that night, but he was up at dawn to look for the loon again. He found her resting on top of the ice, close to shore, and was able to capture and transport her to Avian Haven.

We found no obvious injuries so we were puzzled as to why this adult bird had lingered too long on the lake. We gave her a few minutes in the pool to swim and drink, then we took an x-ray. We were horrified to discover that the loon had ingested lead fishing gear! We also did blood work, and her blood lead level was off the scale of our screening instrument. In the x-ray, you can see several pieces of hook, but the lead sinker is not as easy to see among the pebbles in her gizzard. The blue arrow on the x-ray photo shows the location of the sinker. We were able to remove it by gastric lavage yesterday afternoon, and gave her a chelating agent to help lower the lead level. But with a lead level that high, prognosis is guarded. We’ll continue with supportive care, while she alternates between resting on a soft mat near the Pool Hall heater and having some swim time in a heated pool.

Thank you, Doug Gilson, for rescuing this loon – you were her angel!

Warden’s Report December 2016

Posted on | December 12, 2016 | Comments Off on Warden’s Report December 2016

Well, when it rains in the Fall it pours! The Megunticook Watershed has recovered from the summer drought.  Rains of recent weeks have raised the lake, pond, and river to near full pool. Small brooks and gullies ran wild, overflowing their banks with leaves clogging their main channels. 12-12-16-0212-12-16-04

12-12-16-03The ground drank up the water and soon those same wild brooks were again moving slowly. The groundwater table is still low, and, after such a dry summer it may take some time before wells are full again. The lake has a new look with the water levels back, things just look better.

The fishing was good this fall after the water cooled some. Both bass and trout were caught near the surface. There are still lots of ducks and geese on the water. The Megunticook River is a safe haven for ducks and geese this time of year as there is no hunting pressure.  Soon the ice will limit their space to small pockets and birds are forced to the saltwater or south.12-12-16-01

We have removed all the navigation buoys in the watershed. They have been cleaned, sorted and stowed for the winter. There are roughly 50 buoys on the lake and pond.  We also assisted the towns of Camden and Lincolnville with removing their swim area floats and buoy systems.  The patrol boat, after the engine has been serviced and winterized, will be stowed for the winter until ice out next spring.

Now that the snow is flying it’s time to transition to winter patrolling.  Hopefully we’ll have enough snow for the snowmobile this winter; it is also getting serviced for the upcoming winter season. The snowmobile will help with patrolling and posting properties this winter.  12-12-16-05


12-12-16-06Posting is the checking of camps and buildings in the watershed. We check windows and doors, look for damage or danger to the property, and report if necessary. Posting the property with a MWA card tells everyone that this place is being watched. Riding the snowmobile along the shore of the lake is a lot easier than snowshoeing in unplowed camp roads!

As the ice grows and thickens people will be temped to push their luck and get out on the ice to fish.  For those hardy (foolhardy?) souls, please, check the ice conditions frequently as you head out.  Here are some Guidelines from the Maine Warden Service:

General Ice Thickness Guidelines – For New, Clear Ice Only:

2″ or less – STAY OFF
4″ May allow Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5″ often allows for Snowmobile or ATV travel
8″ – 12″ of good ice with supports most Cars or small pickups
12″ – 15″ will likely hold a Medium sized truck.

Remember that these thicknesses are merely guidelines for new, clear, solid ice. Many factors other than thickness can cause ice to be unsafe.


Paul Leeper to talk at Merryspring Tuesday Oct.20 Noon to 1:00PM

Posted on | October 13, 2016 | Comments Off on Paul Leeper to talk at Merryspring Tuesday Oct.20 Noon to 1:00PM

Protecting the Megunticook Watershed with Paul Leeper

Paul Leeper, Executive Director of the Megunticook Watershed Association, will speak about how and why to monitor the water quality of the Megunticook watershed at Merryspring Nature Center on Tuesday, October 18, at noon.

Leeper’s presentation will articulate why monitoring the water quality of the Megunticook watershed is important. With increasing development around the Megunticook river, Megunticook Lake, and Norton Pond, the clear and clean water is at risk of becoming cloudy, murky, and losing its environmental value. Leeper will explain how water quality is related to the health of fish and wildlife, outdoor recreation, and characteristics treasured in Maine waters and how ordinary citizens can protect it.

Leeper is Executive Director of the Megunticook Watershed Association.  He has been a consulting biologist in Maine for more than 30 years working on streams, lakes and wetlands throughout Maine.

This lecture is part of the Summer Talk series at Merryspring, sponsored by The First. Admission to Tuesday talks is $5, with free admission for members of Merryspring.

Merryspring is your community nature center offering walking trails, cultivated gardens, wildlife, and ecology and horticulture educational programs all year round. The park is located at the end of Conway Road, just off of Route 1 in Camden behind Hannaford Shopping Plaza. For more information on this program contact Merryspring 207-236-2239 or






Fall Colors

Posted on | October 13, 2016 | Comments Off on Fall Colors

Warden’s Report August

Posted on | September 2, 2016 | Comments Off on Warden’s Report August

Hello what a great summer, warm temperatures and blue skies!  The lake was busy most of the summer, weekends are the busiest but a couple of Thursdays were very busy also. On  many occasions over the summer the boat ramps  were very busy, cars lining both sides of the roads after the parking lots filled up. Please don’t leave car or truck on the ramp after you launch, move it to the parking lot.  It will be towed away if it’s blocking the operation of the launching area.
The water level on the lake is getting low; rain has been almost non-existent this summer, a few thunder showers now and then, a little bit of fog, but that’s about it. The water level on the lake held strong through most of July but August we have seen a large decline which now measures 18 – 20 inches below the pollen line of June. Hopefully we will catch up quickly this fall with some rainy weather.  The water temperature at the lake got up to 79 degrees and now as dropped to about 75. As the lake water cools the fishing should pick up. Fall is a great time  to fish, some of the best fishing of the year.
The Bay Chamber Concert on the lake was a huge success with everything from rowboats to big party barges. Kids, family, and friends swimming, eating, and just enjoying the show.  Thanks to everyone who came and those who missed it may have an opportunity if it returns next year
Have a great late summer, hope to see you on the water, be safe . Lake Warden Dale

PS Answer to the mystery sound?  Boy we got guesses covering almost all forms of life.  It was juvenile Barred Owls begging for food from Mom and Dad.  They had just learned to fly but still hung together and were receiving food from the parents.  Since then they have started “hooting”, more like caterwauling at each other.  The winner is…. Alleson Bixler!  You get a free MWA hat!

Here’s a link for more info on Barred Owls:

Free Lakefront Concert Aug 19 6PM!!

Posted on | August 13, 2016 | Comments Off on Free Lakefront Concert Aug 19 6PM!!

8.5x11slavic soul party poster


Hey folks, now here’s something you don’t see everyday!

Bay Chamber Concerts, as part of their 2016 Screen Door Music Festival, is putting on a free lakefront concert next Friday at 6 PM!

Throbbing funk grooves, fiery Balkan brass, Gypsy accordion wizardry, and virtuoso jazz chops make Slavic Soul Party! NYC’s official #1 brass band for BalkanSoul GypsyFunk. SSP! has created an acoustic mash-up of Balkan and Gypsy sounds with North American music, weaving the gospel, techno, funk, dub, jazz, and Latin influences of New York’s neighborhoods. This 9-piece band will perform an unprecedented, free musical happening on Megunticook Lake. Put in at Bog Bridge or Gypsy Landing (Rt. 52) and use the following coordinates to locate the dock where the band will be playing.

44°14.71′ N 69° 6.01′ W    (the Battle’s place)

Because the show is WATER ACCESS ONLY, those without a watercraft may rent one via Maine Sport Outfitters; rentals must be arranged by noon by calling the Outdoor Programs Department at 236-8797 for pickup at the Bog Bridge on Route 105. Renters are asked to make arrangements for return of the watercraft at pick up time.

Here’s some links for more info:

So come on down, raft up, and let’s get dancin’!

Hope to see you all there!




Summer 16 Pictures

Posted on | August 4, 2016 | Comments Off on Summer 16 Pictures

Hey folks,

Here’s a few pics from around the watershed.  Have a nice photo you want to share?  Send it to me at!


Goats on Fang Island

Goats on Fang Island


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