This is the largest bass I caught after the first 2.5 hours of fishing. Very frustrating!
The West Branch of the Penobscot River flows through a complex set of reservoirs and hydroelectric dams in the area around Millinocket. My interest this afternoon is on a small section of river that runs between the boat launch off Medway Road and Dolby Pond located about one mile further downstream. Note that Dolby Pond is the iconic stump-filled reservoir visible on both sides of Route 11 when driving between East Millinocket and Millinocket. Medway Road starts at Route 11 in downtown Millinocket (look for the Millinocket Municipal Airport sign), loops down towards the Penobscot River, and then rejoins Route 11 about 3 miles further east.
My nephew Joey visits from away and asks me if I can take him smallmouth bass fishing. I want to ensure that we have a fruitful morning, so I select to visit the Kennebec River in front of the Shawmut Dam located in Fairfield, Somerset County, Maine (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 21 D3). I have had solid success at this location during two previous angling trips (click here and here for details) and hope to duplicate those past attainments with him. To reach this location, drive north out of Fairfield on Route 201 (Skowhegan Road) and turn right on Kennebec Street. Drive all the way down towards the dam and power station across from the railroad tracks. A blue boat-launch sign will direct you to the right through an open yellow gate towards the water. Keep in mind that anglers can only launch canoes and kayaks from this spot due to the shallow water and strong current. The area provides plenty of parking.
View of the Androscoggin River from the launch site
I have whiled away many memorable summer days in the past chasing smallmouth bass up and down the Androscoggin River (click here, here, and here for examples). A few spots are particularly dear to my heart and have become go-to locations when angler friends “from away” come for a visit and express an interest in catching these magnificent fighters. Bill is spending the day with me and has a very specific request: he’d like to catch bronzebacks on his fly fishing rod, which would be a first for him. I decide to hit the Androscoggin River in front of the Otis hydropower station in Livermore, Androscoggin County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 11 A5). I have had good luck at this location in the past. Click here and here for earlier blogs on this spot and for directions on how to reach it. Keep in mind that you will need a canoe or kayak to fish this section of the river.
Our target pool this morning is located downstream of the the River Road bridge in North Conway
The fam and I are spending the long July 4th holiday week camping at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park located right off Route 302 in Glenn, NH (see the New Hampshire Atlas and Gazetteer map 45 G9). This well-maintained and well-organized campground sits right next to the beautiful Saco River, which has its source in the heart of the White Mountains at Crawford Notch and flows southeasterly into Maine at Fryeburg. I brought my fly-fishing gear in order to catch some of the numerous trout that call this river home. My target this morning is a large, slow-moving pool located just downstream of the bridge on River Road in downtown North Conway. Keep in mind that this general location turns into a circus during the summer months as it is a popular take-out point for hordes of people floating down the Saco River on tubes from further upstream. Kids also use several rope swings along the banks of the pool to jump into the water. The only time to properly fish this section is early in the morning before the crowds arrive or late in the evening after the crowds have left. Parking is available in a small area along the shoulder of River Road opposite the bridge. Keep in mind that the maintained parking lot next to the bridge is managed by the town of North Conway. It costs $20 to park there after 8 am, when an attendant is present to collect the fee.
The fishing was tough today and most of the bass were on the smaller size
I’m exploring the smallmouth bass fishery on the Stillwater River in Old town, Penobscot County, Maine (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 33 E4). My goal today is to drift down part of this river while fishing the backside of Orson Island. The Stillwater River represents a side branch of the Penobscot River; these two watercourses split off from each other in Old Town and merge back together again about ten miles further downstream in Orono. This drift trip is also unique in that it starts and end at the same location, and therefore only requires one car. For access to the boat launch, drive north on Stillwater Avenue in Old Town, turn left on Fourth Street, and continue for 0.4 miles all the way to the very end of this street (it’s a dead end). The large and spacious hard-top boat ramp, as well as a grassy picnic area, is on the right, with a huge parking lot to the left.
This boat launch is spacious and provides lots of parking space
I’m exploring the smallmouth bass fishery on the Penobscot River in Old town, Penobscot County, Maine (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 33 E4). My goal this morning is to fish a 1.5-mile stretch of river that runs between Indian Island and Orson Island. I have no idea what to expect because I have never visited this section of the river before. For access to the boat launch, drive north on Stillwater Avenue in Old Town, turn left on Fourth Street, and continue for 0.4 miles all the way to the very end of this street (it’s a dead end). The large and spacious hard-top boat ramp, as well as a grassy picnic area, is on the right, with a huge parking lot to the left.
The boat launch by Ayers Island is spacious. The fishing hole is located just passed the half-submerged rock visible in the center left of this picture.
I’m exploring the Penobscot River in the vicinity of Ayers Island, in Orono, Penobscot County, Maine (see the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 23 A3). My goal this morning is to catch smallmouth bass in the back channel which runs between the mainland and the island, and motor upstream up to the location where the Stillwater River spills over a low dam into the Penobscot River. The outflow of hydrodams represent classic smallmouth bass summer holding habitat (click here, here, here, and here for examples). I don’t know what to expect because I’ve never fished this section of water before. To reach the boat launch, drive down Route 2 north (into Orono), turn right on Island Avenue (just past the Leadbetter’s convenience store) and continue for about 0.1 mile until you hit railroad tracks. Turn right before the tracks and make an immediate left on Union Street. Continue for less than 0.2 miles until you see the access point on the left. The launch is hard-topped and wide, and offers plenty of parking space, as well as a small picnic area.
The central section of the Penobscot River between Orono (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 23 A3) and Medway (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 43 B5) is considered a premier smallmouth bass fishery in the state of Maine, on par with the choiciest locations on the Kennebec River (click here, here, here, and here for details). My focus this morning is on a section of water flowing through the town of Howland below the confluence of the Penobscot River with its smaller cousin, the Piscataquis River. I’m eager to explore this segment because I have never visited or fished it in the past.
Antony’s first-ever river smallie! We celebrated this catch to loud acclaim!
The central portion of the Penobscot River flowing between Orono (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 23 A3) and Medway (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 43 B5) is considered a premier smallmouth bass fishery in the state of Maine, on par with the choiciest locations on the Androscoggin River (click here, here, here, here, and here for examples). The focus of my attention this afternoon is on a section of water flowing through the town of Greenbush. The river in these parts meanders past a dozen or so large wooded sandy islands, which create interesting and diverse habitats that attract large numbers of smallmouth bass.
I’m not finding the depth we need to catch larger fish…
My blog readers know that fishing can be turned into a non-stop four-season activity in Maine, with ice fishing in the winter, trolling or fly fishing for salmonids in the spring, bass fishing on lakes and rivers in the summer, and trolling for salmonids in the fall. However, the kind of open-water fishing described above requires specific equipment, such as a canoe or motor boat, electronics, downriggers, lead core line, and the like. That can quickly become overwhelming and expensive.
Some of you asked if I could highlight places in southern and central Maine where one could fish for trout in the fall but without the need for expensive gear. I therefore decided to research and write this blog for you. The only piece of “fancy” equipment required is a pair of waders, available on-line or at your local sports equipment store for less than a $100. Also needed is the drive required to get out of bed at the crack of dawn to spend time immersed in ice-cold water under freezing-cold conditions to pursue a true passion 🙂