Trout fishing on the Kennebunk River in Kennebunk, Maine (May 10, 2014)

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The Kennebunk River upstream of the Route 1 bridge provides great trout habitat

The Kennebunk River upstream of the Route 1 bridge provides great trout habitat

The Kennebunk River has it source in the area of Waterboro, Maine. It flows in a generally southeasterly direction through Kennebunk before emptying out in the Atlantic Ocean in Kennebunkport. Every spring, the State stocks this river three or four times in April and May with (give or take) around 2,000 brook trout and brown trout measuring between 8” and 10”. General fishing rules apply on this body of water. Click here for more details on the regulations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View of the Kennebunk River upstream of the Route 1 bridge

View of the Kennebunk River upstream of the Route 1 bridge

 

 

I’m setting aside a couple of hours this morning to investigate a stretch of the Kennebunk River flowing between Route 1 and Interstate 95 (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 3 D1). I arrive at the Route 1 bridge and park my car in an ample dirt area next to the road. I don my waders, walk up Rollins Lane, cut through the woods towards the river and eagerly head upstream to start exploring. The weather is great: cool (mid 50’s), overcast, with a light sea breeze; in other words, typical early-May weather along the southern Maine coast. I’m immediately struck by the fact that I’m dealing with a serious body of water here: the river is 30+ ft wide but still quite wadable. The substrate upstream of Route 1 consists of bedrock, large chunks of flat rock, and gravel. The surface water is also darkly colored, probably because it flows through wetlands further upstream.

 

The falls on the Kennebunk River just below Route 1

The falls on the Kennebunk River just below Route 1

I also come to realize that I’m struggling… There’s no foot path along the shoreline and the banks are overgrown with alders and other assorted bushes, which makes bank fishing impossible. The only way upstream is to wade through the water. This would be fine, and I proceed doing so for about 30 minutes, except that the bedrock and the pieces of flat rock are terribly slippery and tricky to walk over. It’s going to take me much too long to work my way up this way. So, I decide to turn around and instead reconnoiter the reach downstream between Route 1 and the railroad tracks. However, before moving on, let me say that I’m impressed with the trout habitat I observe upstream of the bridge: the river is full of pools and riffles, it’s wadable, the substrate is firm (albeit quite slippery), and it’s wide enough and unobstructed to allow for ample fly fishing.

 

 

 

 

A long, lazy stretch of the Kennebunk River below Route 1

A long, lazy stretch of the Kennebunk River below Route 1

The conditions below the bridge are different. The river can be easily accessed from both banks because shoreline vegetation is sparse. The gradient also increases a bit, creating more riffles and runs. The substrate is less coarse than above Route 1 and therefore easier to walk on. One notable exception is a set of nice falls flowing over bedrock just below the Route 1 bridge. I explore for over half a mile downstream and I’m generally impressed by the setting. The river contains long stretches of flowing water interspersed by deeper wadable pools. The shoreline is mostly wooded, even though (too) many houses are visible along the banks and traffic noise occasionally breaks through at various locations. One could quite easily fly fish this stretch because the river is wide and mostly unobstructed by overhanging tree branches.

 

 

 

 

This stretch of the Kennebunk River below Route 1 is easily accessible from the shoreline

This stretch of the Kennebunk River below Route 1 is easily accessible from the shoreline

The character of the Kennebunk River suddenly changes drastically about halfway between Route 1 and the railroad bridge further down when it flows into an enormous muddy pool with severely-eroded banks. The river below this pool completely flattens out. The substrate remains bouldery and the water is wadable, but both banks are overgrown by bushes, which makes going in and out of the water a challenge. The banks also show erosion. This stretch is not my cup of tea, so I decide to turn round and head back upstream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stretch of the Kennebunk River downstream of the Great Muddy Pool did not impress me...

The stretch of the Kennebunk River downstream of the Great Muddy Pool did not impress me…

So, how do I rate the segment of the Kennebunk River from upstream of the Route 1 bridge down to the large muddy pool? I give it a “B” for its good trout habitat, relatively easy access, and general quality of the surrounding area. The section upstream of the bridge was a pain to access and wade through, even though I have no qualms with the trout habitat. The section from the bridge downstream to the muddy pool contains nice holding water worthy of serious fishing effort. The muddy pool, and the habitat below it, is a great disappointment, even though I’m sure that trout live in that section too.

 

 

 

 

 

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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