Fishing for smallmouth bass on the Kennebec River in Waterville, Maine (July 20, 2019)

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View of the Route 137 bridge over the Kennebec River from the “little gold mine”…

 

For today’s smallmouth bass fishing trip, I target the most downstream of the many hydropower dams on the Kennebec River based on the pattern I developed in previous years on the Androscoggin River (click here, here, and here for examples). This dam is located at the Ticonic Falls in downtown Waterville, just upstream of the confluence with the Sebasticook River (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 76 [Waterville/Winslow] C2). As an important aside, I use two independent sources to pinpoint these types of fishing spots: (a) the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer which shows, among a multitude of different kinds of information, the location of all the public boat launches in the state and (b) Google Maps which allows me to “fly” over the landscape and identify dams or other interesting features well before I set foot on my boat.

 

 

It’s fun to double hook, except that my bass is much bigger than Christian’s!

 

My nephew Christian and I arrive at the excellent hard-top public boat launch off Water Street (by the baseball diamond) in Waterville at 10:30 am. The weather forecast calls for scorching heat in the mid 90’s and high humidity. I’m hoping that the river breezes will make the situation more bearable. We launch my boat and are soon motoring towards the hydropower station located about 1 mile further upstream. I’m surprised by the swiftness of the current and the generally shallow depth (< 3 ft) in this section of the Kennebec River … And the situation rapidly gets worse as we pass the Sebasticook River. We’re now struggling in less than 2 ft of fast-flowing water and are constantly hitting bottom. I’m also struck by the presence of innumerable 4-ft long pulp logs which have been wedged on the bottom ever since the river log drives ended almost 50 years ago! I fruitlessly attempt to work my way further upstream from several different angles but have to give up 45 minutes later. There’s just no way to make it through with a motor boat during low-flow conditions in the summer. We won’t be fishing in front of the dam today!

 

Most of the smallmouth bass we caught this afternoon were about of this size…

 

I let my boat drift back downstream in search of better fishing grounds and stumble quite by chance on a little goldmine located on the opposite shoreline right across from the boat launch. For about 700 ft, until just downstream of the Route 137 bridge over the Kennebec River, the current slows down a bit and the depth increases to between 4 ft and 8 ft. That short stretch actually represents decent holding habitat in this otherwise shallow and fast-flowing neighborhood. It is also ideally suited for using a 4” soft stickbait rigged “wacky style”. The open hook in this presentation all but ensures hook-ups. Let the fun begin: over the next 3 hours, we catch a total of 30+ bass (we lost count) by letting the boat, and our lures, drift down past the bridge, motoring back up to our starting point, and doing it all over again multiple times.

 

This brute was brought in by hand!!

 

With a few notable exceptions, however, most of the smallmouth bass were definitely on the smaller size (10” to 13”). But two specific events stand out this afternoon. At some point, the monofilament makes a big knot when I cast out my lure. Don’t we all hate it when that happens? I crank in the line up to the knot, cut it off, and retrieve the remaining 30 ft or so by hand. As the soft stickbait approaches the boat, an 18” bronzeback rises up from the bottom and snatches it! I’m now fighting this brute holding the line in my hands without the benefit of a flexible rod! But all ends well when this beauty plots in the boat. Then, I experienced something I’ve never seen in all of my years fishing for smallmouth bass. I get a bite; the tugging at the other end is quite violent but also erratic. It takes me a moment to realize why: I’ve caught two bass at the same time and they’re pulling in different directions!! How the heck it that even possible? One of the fish struggles lose and I’m left to bring in the remaining one. Upon further reflection, I suspect that the escapee was not really hooked but instead somehow caught the line inside its gill cover (i.e., the “operculum”) before it freed itself. I love to still be making new experiences! Our fishing adventure worked out great after a disappointing start, and the river breezes did keep things bearable. Life is good!

 

The results: The two of us caught 30+ smallmouth bass in 3 hours of fun-filled fishing.

 

We had a great afternoon and life is good!

 

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 Kennebec River in Waterville, Maine (July 20, 2019)

  1. I have fished this spot several times. Using a kayak, I tried going upstream but the current was too strong so had to fish the area where you ended up. Had decent results but nothing as big as you caught.

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