Fishing for smallmouth bass on the Androscoggin River in Livermore, Androscoggin County, Maine (July 23, 2022)

 

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.

 

 

I catch four of these bronzebacks while trolling with a floating Rapala up to the power station.

 

Bill and I arrive at the put-in location on the Androscoggin River downstream of the dam by 9:45 am and quickly haul the canoe and our fishing gear to the water’s edge. As expected, we have the river all to ourselves. The weather is also picture-perfect Maine summer: a light breeze, unlimited sunshine, and temps forecast to climb into the mid 80’s. One cannot ask for better conditions. The temperature of the surface water measures a very warm 79°F. We have to paddle upstream for about 5 minutes to reach the hydropower station, so I tie a floating Rapala to my line and troll on our way up. I catch the first bass of today’s session within two minutes. That’s always a good sign! We have drifted back down several hundred feet by the time I fight, land, and release the fish. I then catch a second bass, and then a third one, and a fourth one all the while trying to reach the power station. This is just so much fun! Unfortunately, Bill, who is using a streamer fly, hasn’t landed anything yet, even though he got two hits.

 

Bill is mighty pleased: he catches his first smallmouth bass ever while fly fishing!

 

We finally reach the vicinity of the power station 45 minutes later! We anchor along the rip-rapped shoreline where the water actually flows upstream back towards the station. The current flowing out of the turbines is strong and powerful. I use a deep-diving crayfish-imitating suspending jointed crankbait to probe the various current seams but do not get a single hit after 30 minutes of hard fishing. Bill isn’t doing any better casting his streamer fly. Mmm, clearly the smallmouth bass are a bit further downstream in less energetic waters. We let ourselves drift for about 300 ft. or so and anchor in more gentle current over 8 ft. of water. I swap out the crankbait for a dark brown-green tube and add a heavy bullet-shaped sliding weight in front of the bait because I want to bring it closer to the cobbly substrate down below where I suspect the bass are hiding this morning. I cast out the tube bait and start hooking and landing several bass. Yes, I think I am on to something! Meanwhile, Bill has finally hooked a smallmouth bass with his fly rod, which makes him giddy with satisfaction.

 

But I catch a bunch of these fat bronzebacks right next to the canoe by jigging a weighted tube bait just off the bottom. Look at the round belly on this fish!

 

At some point in this process, I simply start jigging the tube vertically down to the bottom, instead of casting it out and “swimming” it back. I now experience a magical 15 minutes… I hook and land bass after bass after bass! A whole school of 14″ to 16″ bronzebacks is stacked down there and we just happen to sit right on top of it. Bill cannot believe his eyes. He is flush with trepidation by the time I release the seventh fish. He finally puts down his fly rod, ties a tube to his spinning rod, and starts jigging too. But all the commotion of the last 15 minutes has spooked the bass below and they have moved elsewhere. The bite stops. We paddle around the general area and anchor at various locations trying to find the school but are unable to pinpoint it. Damn, that is just too bad! We are now nearing the end of our morning and decide to spend the remainder of the time trolling around. I go back to my floating Rapala while Bill uses a large blue and white striper bass streamer fly. This time, he picks the right lure because he catches three smallmouths while I land two more. Regardless, we had a fantastic morning: we both caught our target fish, Bill landed two of them on his fly fishing rod, and I discovered a new technique to catch river bronzebacks by jigging tube baits right off the bottom. Life is good indeed!

 

The results: I caught 15 smallmouth bass (largest 16 inches) and Bill caught five smallmouth bass (largest 15 inches) in 3 hours of fun summer 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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