Trout fishing on the Merriland River, Wells, Maine (May 5, 2014)

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A lazy pool on the Merriland River above the Collins Road culvert

A lazy pool on the Merriland River above the Collins Road culvert

The Merriland River has its source in Sanford, ME. It flows through the towns of Wells and Kennebunk and into the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge before emptying out in the Atlantic Ocean. Every year, the State stocks this river two or three times in April and May with (give or take) around 2,000 brook trout and brown trout measuring about 10”.  Click here for the latest stocking data. I’m spending two hours this evening exploring that part of the Merriland River which flows for about 2 miles between Route 1 and Interstate 95 in Kennebunk. I drive up Coles Hill Road from Route 1 for exactly 1 mile and arrive at a large culvert through which flows the river. I’m not the only one here this evening: five other cars are parked along the shoulder. The weather is grey and overcast. The air temp is 56°F and the water comes in at 54°F. The water level also looks perfect. Note that this stretch is governed by special fishing rules, as follows: (a) the river is open to fishing between April 1 and October 31, (b) only artificial lures are allowed, and (c) the daily bag limit for trout is two fish. Click here for more details about the fishing rules. 

 

 

 

The character of the Merriland River changes drastically below Collins Road

The character of the Merriland River changes drastically below Collins Road

 

I decide to start exploring the Merriland River upstream of the culvert. I’m immediately impressed by this stretch of the river: it is 20-30 wide and easy to wade in and out of. The gradient is gentle, which creates large lazy pools connected by short stretches of riffles. The substrate is firm, and consists mostly of gravel, cobble, and boulders. Both riverbanks are dense with trees which provide ample shadows later on in the spring. The walk along the shoreline is easy and mostly unobstructed. The river also offers multiple fly fishing spots. The one thing that strikes me is the darkly-stained water; it looks like strong tea! I’m guessing that the river flows through a large swamp further upstream where it picks up all the tannins that stain the water. One stretch of the river about midway between the culvert and Interstate 95 has a different character: it is flatter, more open, muddier and deeper.

 

A gorgeous pool on the Merriland River next to a rocky cliff

A gorgeous pool on the Merriland River next to a rocky cliff

However, the Merriland River takes on a distinctly-different topographic character as it flows through the culvert underneath Collins Road. It picks up speed as it tumbles down over bedrock through a distinct ravine. The lazy pools from further upgradient are replaced by long stretches of shallow riffles and other fast-flowing water. The trout-holding areas are scarcer down here because the steep incline of the terrain does not favor the formation of pools. One notable exception to this general observation is a gorgeous pool at the foot of a small fall next to a rock cliff. Don’t get me wrong: this stretch of river is still quite accessible to the fisherman but now the banks are steeper and the fishable water is scarcer. The surrounding woods remain dense and a well-trodden foot path runs along the top of the ravine on the left (looking downstream). I’m really impressed by the natural setting of this stretch of the river considering its close proximity to busy Route 1, Wells and Kennebunk. In fact, I’d even say that it is worth coming to this part of the river just to stroll in the woods!

 

 

 

The Merriland River below Collins Road has many riffles and runs

The Merriland River below Collins Road has many riffles and runs

Overall, I rate the stretch of the Merriland River between I95 and Route 1 as a distinct “A”. The river has easy access from the road, has obvious natural beauty, is readily fishable from shore, lends itself to serious fly fishing,  allows for easy wading, has a distinct “remote feeling”, and is also well stocked with trout each spring. I highly recommend investing some quality time in this river to get to know it better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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