Fishing for smallmouth bass on the Penobscot River in Howland, Penobscot County, Maine (July 10, 2021)


You have reached your destination!


The central section of the Penobscot River between Orono (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 23 A3) and Medway (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 43 B5) is considered a premier smallmouth bass fishery in the state of Maine, on par with the choiciest locations on the Kennebec River (click here, here, here, and here for details). My focus this morning is on a section of water flowing through the town of Howland below the confluence of the Penobscot River with its smaller cousin, the Piscataquis River. I’m eager to explore this segment because I have never visited or fished it in the past.


The current by the boat launch is surprisingly strong today. Note the Route 115 bridge over the Penobscot River.


An overview of the area via Google Maps (that free Google product is such an incredible tool to help prepare for a fishing trip!) before my departure shows the presence of a hard-top boat launch in Old Tannery Park/Howland Veterans Memorial Park off County Road (Route 115) downstream of the confluence with the Piscataquis River but just upstream of the Route 115 bridge over the Penobscot River. Besides the launch, this municipal park also offers several war memorials, a nice view of the river, a small picnic area, extensive parking, and a convenient porta-potty. I arrive at the park by 9:00 am and have the boat ready to go 15 minutes later. The lack of other parked vehicles with trailers indicates that I have the river pretty much to myself this morning, just the way I like it. Of note, the hard-top boat launch steeply enters the water. In addition, the current at the launch is surprisingly strong today because the water level in the Penobscot River is rather high for this time of the year (and also silty-looking and a cool 69°F…) in response to the several inches of rain that fell over the region over the last week. The current is not a problem when putting the boat in the water but makes it a challenge to place the boat back unto the trailer at the end of the trip. I had to enter the water to well above my knees to manhandle my boat on the trailer and prevent the current from pushing it too far downstream. My waders came in handy today!


Even though most of the bass were on the smaller side, the occasional bigger one made it all worthwhile.


I explore a stretch of the Penobscot River up to two or so miles below the boat launch. Somewhat to my surprise, given the generally shallow nature of the river further downstream (click here and here for examples), the water depth in these parts ranges from 4 ft. to 10+ ft., with a bouldery substrate and a gentle but consistent current. I like these general conditions, even though the river mostly lacks obvious holding habitat, such as fallen trees along the shoreline, sunken trunks, current breaks, or large emergent boulders. I fish along the forested eastern bank, which is still largely in the shadow of the quickly rising sun, using a 4″ pink soft stick bait presented “wacky style”. I let myself gently drift with the current while tossing the stick bait all around. To my surprise, it takes a good half hour before I hook and land my first smallmouth bass, and that fish lacks size. The action is definitely on the slow side and the bass seem to concentrate in certain well-defined pockets. In fact, the tactic of motoring back upstream and refishing a productive stretch seems to be the way to go. I catch 15 bronzebacks, none bigger than 15″, after 3.5 hours of non-stop casting, which is OK but certainly not outstanding.


River bass do love a pink wacky stick bait!


Before pulling the boat out to return home, I motor upstream past the launch and towards the Piscataquis River dam. The water along the way is 2-3 ft. deep and the current is fairly strong. I arrive safely at my destination but suspect that it would be a challenge to reach that same location by motor boat under more normal July conditions (i.e., low summer flow). I spend half an hour tossing my soft stick bait all around the area and am underwhelmed when these efforts yield only two scrawny bass. Overall, I’d consider the fishing today to be sub-par. The majority of the bass were on the smaller side (9 to 13 inches) and the bite was relatively slow. I suspect that the high flow, cloudy water, and cooler surface water temperature are partially responsible for this situation. But this stretch of the Penobscot River area is beautiful and definitely worth a return visit!


The results: I caught 17 smallmouth bass (largest = 15 inches) 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.


~ ~ ~ ~ ><« ({(« º >

Related Posts:

Digiprove seal Copyright protected by Digiprove

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *