Fishing for Smallmouth bass on the Androscoggin River in Rumford, Maine (August 25, 2018)

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The Eugene Boivin Park provides public access to the Androscoggin River in front of the upper falls

My target for exploration today is the spillway in front of the upper section of Rumford Falls on the Androscoggin River in Rumford, Oxford County, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 78 C1). Click here, here, here, and here for other blogs about smallmouth bass fishing on nearby sections of the Middle Androscoggin River. Click here for tips on how to target these magnificent fighters. Rumford Falls is the highest waterfall east of Niagara Falls in western New York. Its total height is 178 ft, although the main plunge where I’m fishing this morning is a lower but still very impressive 100 ft high or so. The remainder of the falls consist of four smaller drops further downstream on the river, some of which are currently submerged by dams. A hydroelectric power station was built in the upper falls in the 1890’s and represents the main conduit for the river during the low-flow summer months. To see the full majesty of the upper falls requires that high water levels, which occur during snowmelt in mid-to-late April or after a heavy rainstorm later on in the year, spill over the dam at the top of the falls.

 

The put-in at the Eugene Boivin Park. The (dry) upper falls are visible in the background. The hydropower station is hiding behind the bend.

I arrive at the Androscoggin River reservoir below the falls at 11:30 am. The public access to the water is through the nicely-maintained Eugene Boivin Park located on Bridge Street (a.k.a. Route 2) right across from the Shell/Circle K gas station. Only hand-carried craft can be launched from this spot. The weather is gorgeous, with temps in the low 80’s and partial sunshine with no wind. I’m enjoying perfect late summer conditions! I can see from the launch that the falls are “shut down” because no water flows over the impressive rock face. I paddle my canoe along the right shore (looking upstream) towards the spillway of the hydropower station. The water flowing out of the turbines is mighty strong and turbulent but I observe classic “back eddies” along both shorelines of the spillway which generate a slow upstream-flowing current where smallmouth bass like to rest and hide in ambush. A quick check of the depth using my anchor line shows that the water is a remarkable 15+ ft deep inside the spillway. That makes perfect sense upon further reflection because the river at this point is held back by another dam located right in front of the Bridge Street bridge over the river, no more than about a quarter mile or so further downstream.

 

I found it easier and more pleasurable to fish from the rocks next to the spillway than from my wobbly canoe.

I use a 2” Rapala jointed shadrap brown crawdad and quickly hook my first bass of the day. Incidentally, I can’t praise highly enough this remarkable smallmouth bass-catching machine! The lure is (a) jointed (= promotes exaggerated wiggles), (b) has a rattle (= creates interesting noises), (c) dives deep (up to 13 ft), (d) is neutrally buoyant (= stays suspended at depth when you stop retrieving), and (e) looks and swims like a crazy crayfish! Keep in mind that up to 90% of an adult smallmouth bass diet consists of crayfish. So, the ability to place a realistic crayfish-imitating lure deep into the water column of a fast-moving river provides an enormous advantage to the angler!

 

A big boy caught way down in the water column using my “secret weapon”: a deep-diving Rapala jointed shadrap brown crawdad. Note the Bridge Street bridge over the river in the background.

I soon observe that I could more easily fish from the opposite shore of the spill way than from my wobbly canoe. That other shoreline consists of low-lying bedrock from which an angler can stand and cast right into the nearby passing current. I paddle across, beach my canoe, and start fishing from those rocks. I’m really hitting my strides now. I catch a dozen smallmouth bass in about an hour of fun and exciting fishing using my shadrap. Half of those fish are fat, incredibly hard-fighting river hogs measuring between 15″ and 18”! They take full advantage of the current and are also hooked deep down into the water column, which gives them ample space to fight. I have no doubt, given the high quality of the fish I’ve caught so far at this location, that true 18″ to 20″ river monsters bass are lurking in the depth of that spillway! I’m really digging this spot but must unfortunately move on to my next destination.

 

This water is fast and strong and attracts big bronzebacks!

I note for the record that it should be possible to reach the shoreline of the spillway to fish from the rocks without the need of a boat. From the Eugene Boivin Park, cross the Bridge Street bridge over the river, drive for about 400 ft and turn right on Rumford Falls Trail, located right after crossing the channelized portion of the river that flows towards the paper mill. You’ll reach a split in the trail about 300 ft down that dirt road, with two padlocked gates. The left gate is posted, but the right one is not. Walking down that right trail gets you to the water’s edge and then requires bushwacking for several hundred feet upstream towards the falls.

The results: I caught 15 smallmouth bass (largest 17.5”) in 1.5 hours of outstanding 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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5 thoughts on “Fishing for Smallmouth bass on the Androscoggin River in Rumford, Maine (August 25, 2018)

  1. May I ask you what weight of line you used? I used to try to get by on 8-test, but lost a great fight to a line break and went up to 10. I know I could/should go to a 12 or higher, but I just like the lighter line. Thanks for your updates. As I’ve mentioned before, the Andro has been my goto water for trophy smallies for many years….and I live in Virginia!

    • Hi Chris, I use both 10 lb and 12 lb test line, depending on my reeel/rod combination. I also used to use 8 lb test line and found it to be too weak. So, you’re on the right track!

  2. Thanks for your reply, Stan. Eight is fine for the lakes, but between the current of and debris in the Andro, we need to bulk up a bit. Thanks for affirming my gut!

  3. hope to meet you out on the andro one of these days. moved to lewiston 2 years ago and just started fishing it from my kayak this year. caught 2 monster smallies right between downtown lewiston and auburn yesterday. mid day , bright and sunny and in the 90s. almost didnt go. big mepps. want to get out there in the same spot about dusk with a top water. alot of underwater weeds.caught about 15 in all.

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