Fishing for smallmouth bass on the Androscoggin River in Lisbon, Maine (July 7, 2018)

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View of Rapid #1 from upstream.

The section of the Androscoggin River flowing in the area of Lisbon in Androscoggin County (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 6 AB 1) supports a thriving summer smallmouth bass fishery. The trick to success is to locate the kinds of habitat that will attract, concentrate, and retain these beautiful creatures. The required ingredients include adequate current, bouldery substrate, and appropriate depth. I’m focusing my attention this afternoon on a two-mile stretch of the Androscoggin River which provides easy access to this preferred habitat. I launch my motor boat from the excellent public access point on Sabattus Stream next to Frost Hill Avenue (right off Route 196/Lisbon Street). I float underneath Route 196 and the railroad tracks before turning right and motoring upriver. For the record, this fishing trip can also be accomplished using a canoe or kayak but will require muscle power.


This chunky smallmouth bass fell for a floating Rapala

This stretch of the Androscoggin River provides access to three separate sets of rapids, which I’ll call (going from downstream to upstream) Rapids #1, #2, and #3. Rapid #1 is by far the most imposing of the three and is located about half a mile upstream from where Sabattus Stream merges with the Androscoggin River. The water flowing down is relatively strong, with depths ranging between 4 ft and 8 ft in early summer. I have no problem motoring up Rapid #1 this afternoon. However, beware that it can become more treacherous using an outboard engine later on in the summer when the water levels in the river drop further and the large submerged boulders start reaching closer to the surface. The best fishing in Rapid #1 is along both banks of the river where the current slows down. However, in my experience, the bass tend to be smaller here than at the two other rapids.


Rapid #2 is smallmouth bass heaven! All the required habitat ingredients come together perfectly in this area.

Rapid #2 is located about one mile further upstream from Rapid #1. I recommend completely bypassing this long stretch of the Androscoggin River because it is deep (> 10 ft), featureless (muddy bottom), and boring. Rapid #2, on the other hand, provides fantastic smallmouth bass holding habitat and deserves a lot of attention. Again, I have no problem motoring upstream through the main chute of Rapid #2, which has water 4 ft to 8 ft deep. The entire area in front of Rapid #2 is bass heaven, with water depths ranging from 3 ft to 8 ft, multiple current seams, and bouldery substrate. Rapid #3, located a half mile further upstream of Rapid #2, represents the end of the road for me because the water is too shallow (2 ft or less) for either motoring or fishing. However, much of the stretch between Rapids #2 and #3, particularly along the right shoreline (looking upstream) provides good smallmouth bass holding habitat, including aquatic vegetation and depths up to 7 ft deep.


The soft stickbait fished “wacky-style” is the winning lure on this kind of unobstructed water.

I fish around Rapids #1 and #2, and the stretch between Rapids #2 and #3, for 4 hours and catch 32 smallmouth bass, plus miss several dozen bites! Most of the fish measure between 8” and 15”, but what they lack in size or heft is more than made up by their fierce fighting qualities and will to live. Better yet: I have the river all to myself with not another angler in sight, even though it’s the weekend of July 4th. That is just the way I like it! I use a 4” pink-colored soft stickbait rigged “wacky style”, a 5” floating Rapala, and a #2 Mepps spinner. All three lures catch fish, but it is the soft stickbait that I prefer to use in this kind of unobstructed habitat. I can let this lure drift lazily in the current while twitching the line to make the plastic worm look alive. The fish fall for it every time and the open hook ensures an excellent hooking rate. I highly recommend spending a lazy summer afternoon fishing in and around these three rapids in order to experience the full smallmouth bass fishing potential of the lower Androscoggin River.


The results: I caught 32 smallmouth bass in 4 hours of fun and exciting fishing.

Don’t neglect the humble #2 Mepps spinner. It too is a well-known river bass slayer and is so much fun to use with an ultra-light spinning rod!


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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6 thoughts on “Fishing for smallmouth bass on the Androscoggin River in Lisbon, Maine (July 7, 2018)

  1. I’m from Virginia and vacation in Maine every summer. The Andro is my favorite smallmouth river ANYWHERE! (And we have both the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.) I usually fish in Mexico/Dixfield, downstream from the paper mill. That river has been cleaned up A LOT since it hit rock bottom in the 1970s. But there are still heavy metals in the water, which means that it’s essentially catch ‘n release trophy fishing. For many years, I caught some of my biggest smallmouths right under the bridge, coming into Dixfield. But last year I arrived in horror to find a construction crane sitting on my “secret” sand bar, and the bass holes I’ve enjoyed for so long filled in with heavy equipment and scaffolding. I guess it’s progress, but it sure was a disappointment.

  2. Heading to Lincoln, ME to fish lakes and river for smallmouth and anything else. Will be there the last part of July, first days of August. What should I expect and use? will be kayaking.

    • The Penobscot River is my all-time favorite smallmouth bass fishery in the whole state of Maine, bar none! My favorite smallmouth bass lures are the 4″ soft stickbait, #2 Mepps spinner, 5″ floating Rapala, and surface poppers. They work great on the Penobscot in the summer.

  3. I’m an exiled Mainer who grew up in Lewiston and whose family lives in Lisbon Falls and Durham. Back in the forties and fifties when I was in school, we never saw any life in the Androscoggin, unless it was dead. My father told me when he was a boy(1890s), salmon made their run up the river. I’m so glad that tough conservation measures had been taken to clean up and rid the smell of the river to now make it a great fishery. I wish I were a boy again. My only fishing locally was either Lake Auburn, for white perch, or Stetson Brook(up College St.) for horned pout, sunfish and an occasional unlucky trout.
    Thanks for your fishing blogs–it brings back memories of what it was like.

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