Fishing for smallmouth bass on the Androscoggin River in Mexico and Rumford, Maine (July 14, 2018)

The boat launch on the Androscoggin River in downtown Mexico, with the paper mill looming in the background on the opposite shore.

 

(NOTE: this blog combines two separate fishing trips to the same location) I focus my attention this morning on fishing for smallmouth bass on the short, one-mile section of the Androscoggin River which flows between the Portland Street bridge in Rumford and the Veteran Street bridge in Mexico in Oxford County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 19 E1 and also map 78 B1 and 2). Access to this water is via an excellent hard-top public boat launch located at the end of Riverside Avenue off Lincoln Avenue (Route 2 and 17) in downtown Mexico. Plenty of parking is available on Riverside Avenue. Note that, as I found out the hard way, during periods of lower water levels in the summer, this stretch of river should only be fished using a canoe or kayak. The reason is that parts of the Androscoggin River flowing above the confluence with the Swift River located on the boundary between Rumford and Mexico is too shallow and bouldery for safe motoring, whereas a canoe or kayak can easily be dragged further upstream. Also, the water gets quite shallow in the vicinity of the Veteran Street Bridge which can make motoring back upstream to the boat launch problematic.

This bass was caught in the large quiet pool in front of the (mostly dry) falls underneath the Portland Street bridge. The hydropower station is located about 500 ft further downstream.

 

Three important features define this short stretch of the Androscoggin River: (a) the river makes a sharp 180º hairpin turn between the Portland Street Bridge and the Veteran Street Bridge, (b) the enormous Catalyst Paper plant dominates the entire peninsula formed by the hairpin turn, and (c) the water current is strong because the river drops several tens of feet between Rumford Falls (located upstream of the Portland Street bridge) and the Veteran Street bridge. Also, during the summer months, the river stops flowing altogether over the falls by the Portland Street Bridge because it is diverted and redirected through a hydropower plant that generates electricity for use by Catalyst Paper. Hence, the entire river passes through the power plant, which leaves the falls upstream by the Portland Street bridge mostly high and dry.

 

This tank made the trip worthwhile!

 

So, why bother with this particular stretch of river? The main reason is that it is known to produce lunker smallmouth bass in the 3- to 4-pound range! That alone is worth the trip, considering how river bronzebacks of this size can fight (click here for tips on how to catch these magnificent fighters). The flip side, however, is that the angler is submerged in a deeply industrial landscape dominated by towering factory buildings and chimneys, wailing sirens, hissing steam, odorous emanations, and tooting freight trains…

 

The industrial infrastructure is unavoidable when fishing this stretch of the Androscoggin River.

 

I arrive at the Riverside Avenue boat launch at 8:45 am and I’m paddling away by 9 am. I’m immediately impressed by the available bass habitat: the water flows vigorously but contains numerous seams, deeper pools, upwelling areas, and back eddies. The substrate is also all boulders and cobbles. I catch my first bass on the third cast, which is a good sign. I position the canoe in the huge back eddy in the area where the Swift River merges with the Androscoggin River and cast my soft stickbait upstream along the current seam. After a while, a fish sucks in the lure and starts swimming away. I set the hook and immediately feel like I’m trying to control a tank yanking at the other end! The fish doesn’t jump at all, so I think that I must have hooked a huge trout. But it is one of the lunker bass I was aiming for. It measures 18.5”, weighs 3.5 pounds, but fights like a fish twice its size!

 

 

Over the next four hours, I make it all the way to the (mostly dry) falls under the Portland Street bridge upstream of the power station and drift all the way downstream alongside the paper mill to the Veteran Street bridge. The honest answer is that the fishing was hard. Based on the high quality of the habitat, I was hoping for a repeat of last week’s smallmouth bass fishing bonanza on the Androscoggin River in the Lisbon area. Instead, I only hooked and landed a total of nine bass, and missed another half dozen. To my consternation, prime-time areas on the river that should have been stacked with bronzebacks based on the quality of the habitat only yielded one or two fish, or even no fish at all. But catching the “tank” made it all worthwhile!

 

The results: I caught nine smallmouth bass in 4 hours of hard 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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1 thought on “Fishing for smallmouth bass on the Androscoggin River in Mexico and Rumford, Maine (July 14, 2018)

  1. i absolutely love your posts. Especially about the Andro and smallmouth bass. I fish out of the Canton Maine launch several times each year. The fishing is as you described in Mexico. Hard fishing but on average 9 bass per 4 hour period all between 14 and 20 inches (i do not count any fish below 14 inches). That is some nice fishing!

    I will give Mexico a try in my jon boat with jet drive and hopefully avoid the rocks. I will try Lisbon as well.

    Ever put in at Rumford or Hanover launches? I might give these a try as well? Any advice? Good Smallmouth Fishing?

    Keep blogging!

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