Smallmouth bass fishing on the Androscoggin River in Lewiston, Maine (July 2, 2015)

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I put in my canoe at the Simard-Payne Memorial Park. The Court Street bridge is in the background further upstream.

I put in my canoe at the Simard-Payne Memorial Park. The Court Street bridge is in the background further upstream.

I love fishing for smallmouth bass on the Androscoggin River (click here and here for examples)! This waterway provides a premier bronzeback fishery in southern Maine. I focus my attention this afternoon in the general area at and downstream of Great Falls, located just upstream of the Court Street bridge (routes 100/202) in downtown Lewiston. I haven’t fished this area before, so I’m on the look-out for an access point. I first park at Heritage Park next to the bridge but the rip-rap shoreline is just too steep to safely launch – or retrieve – my canoe. I cross Court Street, drive down Water Street (which runs behind the Hampton Inn Hotel) and park my car on the public parking lot behind the hotel. A quick walk across the pedestrian bridge and into Simard-Payne Memorial Park confirms easy access to the river. I note here that this park also allows for ample shore fishing opportunities. I strap my canoe onto my “canoe wheels”, place my fishing equipment inside, and wheel the whole kit and caboodle to the water’s edge. The wind is ripping down the river. Fortunately, the shoreline is full of boulders, some of which I stack in the front of my boat to provide much-needed counter weight. I’m on the water and ready to fish by 1:30 pm.

 

 

 

This little guy was caught in the canal outlet by the pedestrian bridge. This habitat is perfect!

This little guy was caught in the canal outlet by the pedestrian bridge. This habitat is just perfect to attract smallmouth bass!

 

 

This section of the Androscoggin River is made for wacky-worm fishing because the substrate consists of gravel, cobbles, and boulders with little or no vegetation, or submerged wood. Hence, the open hook has a much reduced chance of getting stuck. The river level is also quite low, with the shoreline partially exposed.  That reflects the relatively dry conditions we have enjoyed over the last couple of weeks. The surface water has the color of weak tea, which is typical for this waterway. I start fishing the canal outlet which runs underneath the pedestrian bridge just upstream of the park. I like fishing this kind of habitat when the water flow is strong, as it is today. In my experience, the current attracts smallies which are on the look-out for morsels of food that come drifting down. The bottom of this outlet is also strewn with big boulders, which is always a plus. The combination of good habitat, strong flow and shade does its magic: I catch five smallmouths in less than half an hour and miss several more. A bunch of kids appear along the shoreline with their fishing rods and I decide to move out to give them space.

 

View of Great Falls. That is one heck of a rock face!

View of Great Falls. That is one heck of a rock face!

I paddle upstream underneath the Court Street bridge and towards the imposing rock façade of Great Falls. I also notice on my way up a nice, hard-top boat launch with ample parking located just downstream of the Court Street bridge obliquely across the river from the Simard-Payne Memorial Park… OK, so now I know for next time! I’m surprised at how little water actually tumbles over the rocks once I reach the falls. Most of it flows through the turbines in the power house located along the shore and then out past the retaining wall on the side. I start casting my wacky worm from my canoe towards the rock wall but the wind and the current are pushing me around too much. So, instead of fighting the elements, I beach the boat and start fishing from the rocks. I also make it a point to cast my lure in several of the large pools created by the water flowing over the falls. Bass tend to get stuck in those pools. All of this effort yields four smallmouths in about 45 minutes of fishing. One nice feature of the falls is that the noise of the water flowing over the rocks masks much of the sound of the traffic moving over busy Court Street bridge. I also notice that the 1 inch-thick steel rods which were pounded into the rock wall of Great Falls in the far past are now bend or flattened like straws. Some serious water and ice chunks must be cascading over these falls during the spring snowmelt!!

 

This bruiser was caught casting into the river from the rock face. Note the Great Falls power station in the background.

This bruiser was caught casting into the river from the rock face. Note the water cascading down and the Great Falls power station in the background.

I spend the last 45 minutes lazily drifting away from Great Falls, underneath the Court Street bridge and down to the pedestrian Auburn Riverwalk Bridge located about a quarter mile further downstream. I pound the shoreline with my wacky worm along the right bank but catch only two more bass. Overall, I’m quite impressed with this stretch of the Androscoggin River. I realize that there’s much more water to check out further downstream and upstream. I’ll return at a later date with my 12 ft powered boat to provide more freedom of movement and allow me to check water depths using the fish finder. The only negative this afternoon is that all of the smallmouth bass I caught were on the small size (8” to 14”). But my past experiences with fishing other stretches of this river is that much larger fish lurk in its depths, as I hope to show at a later date!

 

 

 

 

The results: I caught 11 smallmouth bass (largest = 14”) in about two hours of fishing.

 

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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