Brown trout fishing on the Saco River, Buxton, Maine (October 8, 2016)

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Fall is in the air and trout fishing is back on the agenda!!

Fall is in the air and trout fishing is back on the agenda!!

The Saco River in this part of southern Maine passes through a series of hydroelectric dams on its way to the sea. My target today is a small stretch of river right below the West Buxton dam located in Buxton (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 2 A5). The reason for selecting this section of water is that it was stocked last week with brown trout and also has flowing water coming through the dam turbines. I’d love for my 13-year old nephew Christian to catch one of those fish. The access point is located off Route 112 (River Road) just below the green bridge that carries the road over the river. Keep in mind that only hand-carried craft can be launched from this point.

 

The pool downstream of the small rapids is where we both caught a brown trout. Note the many exposed boulders.

The pool downstream of the small rapids is where we both caught a brown trout. Note the many exposed boulders.

 

 

Christian and I arrive at our destination at 8 am. It’s a beautiful early October morning: the air is cool but not cold and the tree leaves are quickly turning over into their vibrant fall colors. It’s just a wonderful time of the year to drive around the countryside and enjoy the great outdoors! The effect of the on-going drought is also starkly obvious: the water level is extremely low and the Saco River looks “bony” with a multitude of boulders sitting high and dry along the shallows or poking their heads out of the water. We’ll be fishing with spinners this morning. These lures will catch browns and should also entice smallmouth bass to bite if the trout decide not to play… But I have no illusions about the bass: my past experiences fishing several stretches of this river have shown that the smallmouth bass are numerous but invariably on the small size.

 

This smallmouth bass was by far the largest one we caught this morning.

This smallmouth bass was by far the largest one we caught this morning.

Our first fishing spot for this morning is located under the bridge facing towards the turbine house. Water is flowing out of only one turbine but that should be enough current to attract fish. And sure enough: we both immediately hook several small bass. Something more substantial grabs my spinner ten minutes later and does not immediately jump out of the water. Wonderful, I’ve hooked our first brown trout of the morning! I’m also afraid that we’ve spooked the fish because the bite quickly slows down and then stops altogether. We drift further downstream with the current past the bridge. First I, then Christian, tussle with a substantial fish which I believe at first to be brook trout but turns out to be a freakin” fallfish! Even though no one gives these chubs any respect, they sure can give a decent fight on an ultra-light spinning rod!

 

 

 

 

 

Certainly not a monster but fun to catch nonetheless.

Certainly not a monster but fun to catch nonetheless.

We next move in the quiet pool facing the dam itself. That area is dead this morning because it lacks any current, consists mostly of bedrock, and is rather shallow. We get the memo after 15 minutes when our spinners don’t elicit a single bite. Instead, we let the canoe drift further downstream through small rapids which end by a shallow pool. That area looks inviting: 2-3 ft of water, gentle current, large boulders, sunken wood and aquatic vegetation. Christian hooks into a fish within five minutes of our arrival and becomes really excited when he realizes that he has caught his first brown trout. He’s ecstatic. To his credit, he doesn’t even think about keeping the fish after we take a couple of bragging pictures and immediately releases the trout back to the water. I’m so glad that I was able to mold him into a catch and release angler!

 

 

 

 

A proud angler showing off his very first brown trout ever!

A proud angler showing off his very first brown trout ever!

We then paddle to the opposite end of the island across from the rapids to check out the conditions over there. They’re not nearly as inviting: the water is too swift and too shallow to hold fish. So, we end our morning at the same pool were Christian caught his trout. And I catch my second brown on the first cast in that pool! Christian’s lure gets stuck on the bottom which means that we have to paddle right through the pool to retrieve it, thereby chasing all the fish away… Regardless, we had a great time fishing this morning. We both caught our target species in addition to about a dozen small bass and two spirited fallfish.

 

 

 

 

 

The results: I caught two 13” brown trout and eight smallies, whereas Christian caught one brown trout (12”) and five smallies. All the smallmouths bass measured less than 12”, as expected.

 

Sorry, but fallfish don't count!

Sorry, but fallfish don’t count!

Was the information in this blog useful? I invite you to share your thoughts and opinions. Also, feel free to discuss your fishing experiences at this location.

 

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One thought on “Brown trout fishing on the Saco River, Buxton, Maine (October 8, 2016)

  1. I live on the Black River which flows into the Saco near Biddeford. I was looking forward to fishing the stretch below Skelton Dam this fall but broke my leg in late July when I stepped in a hole while wading a trout stream. This story brought back my love for this river and my experience fishing it while kayaking with my wife and son. Thank you. There’s always next season!

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