Smallmouth bass fishing on the Kennebec River, Vassalboro, Maine (September 13, 2017)

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My focus this afternoon are the dozen or so small log-driving islands located in the Kennebec River just upstream of Sevenmile island. The latter is shown in the background to the left.

 

This blog describes how my son and I enjoyed catching smallmouth bass in the stretch of the Kennebec River flowing for about two mile downstream of the boat launch in Sidney, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 13 A1). However, during that past fishing trip, we got completely distracted fishing along the way and never reached our intended destination, i.e., Sevenmile Island and its collection of small log-driving islands. I can spare 1.5 hours this evening to complete my original mission. So, I flee the office early to investigate this spot which has been calling me. I arrive at the Sidney boat launch at 5:15 pm and buzz off at 5:30 pm. I have to use all my will power NOT to stop again along the way like we did last time, but instead to keep motoring forward for about 15 minutes until I reach my final destination three miles downstream from the launch.

 

The water around the log-driving islands is rather shallow at this time of the year but still hold a few bass

The general setting is quite interesting. About a dozen artificial log-driving islands line up one after the other along the left bank of the river (looking downstream) just up-gradient from Sevenmile Island. Sevenmile Island itself represents a substantial piece of wooded real estate planted in the middle of the river. Locals use it for camping in the summer. The water level today is so low that little to none flows between this island and the left bank of the river. As a result, the water depth next to the log-driving islands is marginal (2 ft or less) and several of them are just about high and dry. Not surprisingly, I only catch two smallmouth bass around these islands, which is a disappointment. However, I have no doubt that these structures represent great bass holding habitat in May, June and July when the river runs higher.

 

Those little islands come in all shapes and forms!

I let the boat drift down next to Sevenmile Island and notice that the current picks up quite a bit even though the water depth remains a respectable 2-3 ft deep. I use a #2 Mepps spinner to catch three more bronzebacks in this general area. It then downs on me that the key habitat on this stretch of the Kennebec River is actually found further downstream. Three log-driving islands straddle the river between Sevenmile Island and the right bank. The fast-moving water that squeezes by generates large quite pools with very distinct current seams right behind these three small islands. I don’t dare drift further downstream though. I’d hate not to be able to motor back up due to the stiff current and the unknown depths. Instead, I beach my boat on the right-bank shoreline and explore further on foot. I only have about 10 minutes left before I need to return to the boat launch in order to beat the rapidly-encroaching darkness.

 

This little guy was caught in front of Sevenmile Island. The three log-driving islands straddling the river are not shown here but are located to the right

I see numerous rises along the shoreline and observe tens of thousands of 3” to 4” baitfish rapidly swimming downstream in a roiling chaotic mass. I surmise that these are juvenile river herring (i.e., alewives and/or blueback herring) which are migrating out to the ocean while under the gun by the local aquatic predators. This phenomenon shows just how much the health of this stretch of the Kennebec River has improved by the ongoing removal of dams that used to impede the migration of their anadromous parents. I just love this sight. I also get a good view of the conditions right behind the three small log-driving islands that straddle the river. It’s a shame that I need to move on because there’s got to be bunches of smallmouth bass hiding in the numerous current seams at this location!! I’ll have to return at a later date when I have more time and daylight to confirm that theory.

 

The results: I landed five smallmouth bass measuring between 9” and 15” in one and a quarter hour of quick 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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