The Little River has its sources in Standish and Buxton and merges with the Presumpscot River downstream from Route 237 at the Gorham/Windham town line (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 E2). Every year, the state stocks the main stem of this river several times between early April and mid May with a total of around 2,300 brown trout and brook trout measuring 9” to 10”. Click here for stocking details .
I’m spending some time this afternoon exploring that part of the Little River which flows between Routes 237 and 202/4 in Gorham. I arrive at the Route 237 bridge at around 12:30 pm and park on the grassy shoulder. The weather is grey, overcast and drizzly. The air temperature is 65°F and the water comes in at a balmy 56°F. I’m immediately struck by the size of this body of water: it is truly a … little river which measures between 25 and 40+ ft across. My second impression is how low the water level is for this time of the season and how brown and silty it looks. We’ve had some rain this morning but that can’t possibly explain the general muddiness of the water column (visibility is less than 1 ft!). The reason is obvious when I start walking upstream. Even though this section of the river runs fairly straight, it has a deeply incised shoreline due to erosion, which causes the banks to be 10-15 ft above the water level.
The severe shoreline erosion (plus runoff from the surrounding roads and fields, I’m sure…) results in a substrate consisting almost entirely of sand and silt. The Little River upstream of Route 237 flows without much turbulence either: no pools, and only few weak riffles and runs. The water just calmly makes its way down towards the Presumpscott River. Overall, this section of the river just does not impress me as great trout habitat: it has little or no structure and the general impression is of mud and silt… One also has to move quite a ways upstream to get away from the noise associated with the heavy traffic on Route 237. It is possible to fish from shore, but the spots are relatively few and high up on the banks. The river also looks quite deep, even with the low water level, but it is wadable in various sections. Also, be aware that the high banks can make it a real challenge to climb out of the river!
Overall, I’d rate the section of the Little River upstream of Route 237 as a C- (and that’s being generous), mainly because accessing the water is difficult and because the stream habitat is so severely degraded and poorly suited for trout. The deep siltiness of the water column is a serious turn-off. The only redeeming feature is that this section of the river is well-stocked with trout every spring and can readily be fly fished (assuming that the river remains reasonably wadable away from shore even when the water level is higher) because it is wide and unobstructed with overhanging trees. I also suspect that trout can survive year-over-year, resulting in bigger hold-over fish. I would not recommend fishing this stretch of stream with younger, inexperienced fishers because it simply is not kid-friendly.
Was the information in this blog useful? I invite you to share your thoughts and opinions. Also, feel free to discuss your fishing experiences on this stream.