Fishing for smallmouth bass in the Androscoggin River, Jay, Maine (August 1, 2020)

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The bite is slow and the bass are rather small, but Giovani has a good time. Note the turbine house to the left, and the dam to the right.

The target of my fishing efforts today is the Androscoggin River flowing just below the Riley Dam Power Plant in Jay, Franklin County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 19 E5). To reach the public access point to the river, drive north into Jay on Route 4/17 and then turn left on Route 140. Drive for exactly 3.2 miles on this road until you reach the unnamed turn-off to the put-in for Riley Dam. That location is clearly marked by a blue sign next to the road. Plenty of parking is available. Keep in mind that this put-in can only accommodate hand-carried craft as it lacks an actual boat launch.

 

 

The water is just too warm not to take a dip for some “swim-fishing”!

 

I fished that location in early August 2018 when the water level was unusually high following heavy rains. The fishing was slow then on account of the flooding but I did catch several nice lunker smallmouth bass. I want to experience this place under normal low-flow summer conditions. I arrive at the parking spot at 10:30 am with 11-year old Giovani in tow. He’s become my fishing body this summer. My goal is to put him on fish and keep it fun and interesting for him at the same time. We drag my canoe and our fishing gear the short distance between the parking area and the river, and off we go. The sky is overcast, but it is quite hot and muggy. The water is also surprisingly warm and I suspect that Giovani won’t be able to resist taking a dip…

 

I’m really struggling to catch quality smallmouth bass this morning…

 

What a different situation we have today compared to the last time I was here! No water tumbles over the dam. Instead, the entire river flows through the turbines in the power house located on the opposite shoreline. The water just below the dam is quiescent and also quite deep (up to 20 ft. right up against the dam foundation). We fish that area for about 30 minutes with soft stickbaits, #2 Mepps spinners, and a Rapala jointed crawfish shad rap, but only succeed in catching a single smallmouth bass. I wasn’t expecting anything else based on past experiences, but wanted Giovani, who insisted that this location was golden, to figure that out for himself.

 

This fat fallfish gave a surprisingly strong performance.

 

Our next target is the heart-shaped island that sits in front of the turbine house. The island splits the water rushing out of the turbines into two separate current seams, making for interesting turbulence all around. We fish mostly with #2 Mepps spinners and our ultralight spinning rods. To my surprise, the smallmouth bass aren’t aggressively biting anywhere around the island this morning. Besides, all nine fish we caught over the next two hours were decidedly on the small size. I also landed three fat fallfish. Even though I don’t care to catch these chubs, they do put up a surprisingly hard fight. Actually, one of them had me fooled for a moment into believing I had caught a brown trout (note: browns do reside in these waters). Fortunately, Giovani doesn’t seem to care that the fishing is slow. He’s just having a great time “swim-fishing” or just plain old swimming! Frankly, it doesn’t matter to me, as long as he enjoys himself and wants to join me again in the future. As we paddle back to the take-out, he states that he had a fun time today and that he hopes to return here soon. Success…

 

Whatever… As long as he’s happy and entertained!

 

The results: We caught nine undersized smallmouth bass, and three fat chubs, in 2.5 hours of fun 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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