Smallmouth bass fishing on the Androscoggin River in Auburn, Maine (July 22, 2016)

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The hard-top launch off North River Road in Auburn can accommodate big boats and provides lots of parking space

The hard-top launch off North River Road in Auburn can accommodate big boats and provides lots of parking space.

I discovered fishing for smallmouth bass on the Androscoggin River in the Lewiston/Auburn area over the last month (click here and here for details). I continue my investigation of this fascinating stretch of the river by exploring the section that flows between Great Falls in downtown Lewiston/Auburn and the Deer Rips Hydropower Dam located two miles further upstream. The public put-in is about one quarter mile down North River Road off Center Street in Auburn. This hard-top boat launch is clearly indicated from the road and can accommodate big boats. It also provides ample parking space for multiple vehicles and boat trailers.

 

 

 

 

 

The current downstream of the hydrodam is quite strong! The dam is about 600 ft further upstream.

The current below the Deer Rip Hydropower Dam is quite strong! The dam is about 600 ft further upstream from this spot.

 

I reach the boat launch at 5:30 pm and am glad to see only one other parked car with a trailer. That means that I’ll have this stretch of the Androscoggin River pretty much all to myself this evening, which is exactly the way I like it! I’m also fishing alone. The weather is gorgeous with a partly-cloudy sky, temperature in the high 70’s and just enough of a breeze to keep the blood-sucking critters at bay. I start checking the water depth in the vicinity of the boat launch as soon as I put my boat in the water. Holy mackerel, I find depths well in excess of 40 ft!! That hardly represents suitable smallmouth bass habitat, so I start motoring upstream. I checked out this section of the river on Google Maps before leaving home to locate interesting smallmouth bass habitat. My attention was immediately drawn to a reach about 1.5 miles upstream of the boat launch where the river tumbles over the Deer Rip Hydropower Dam and creates fast-flowing water over a rocky substrate. That’s where I will focus all my fishing efforts this evening.

 

This smallie represents the typical size range found in this section of the river

This smallie represents the typical size range found in this section of the Androscoggin River.

I only have 1.5 hours of fishing time, so I head straight towards the dam. When I reach the fast-moving water, I slowly motor my way up as far as I can. I’m still several hundred feet away from the dam but the strong current, the multiple submerged boulders, and shallow water (< 3 ft) put an end to my advance. I shut the engine off and throw in my anchor in order to fish this spot for a bit. I quickly realize the error of my ways (and it’s NOT the first time that I’ve made this mistake!). The anchor immediately grabs the bottom but the shallow depth and high current prevent me from releasing its hold… I try pulling on the rope to bring the boat upstream towards the stuck anchor but the fast-moving water piles up too high for comfort against the stern, threatening to swamp my craft. Damn!! I have no choice but to pull out my pocket knife and cut the anchor rope. I cast out my 4” soft stickbait as I drift downstream and get an immediate hit. Well, hello there! I get another hit, and a smallmouth bass hook-up, when I reach less shallow (5-10 ft deep) and slower-moving water further downstream.

 

 

 

This picture is taken from the pool behind the rocky spur. The seam occurs where the current meets the quiescent water.

This picture is taken from the pool behind the rocky spur. The seam occurs where the fast-moving current (on the left) meets the quiescent water.

Ok, it looks like I’ve got something going here. I motor upstream as far as I can, and then drift back down, five times in a row. I catch a smallmouth bass on the stickbait during each pass, but the fish have an obvious preference for the deeper, slower water. It looks like the shallower (< 5 ft) and swifter water just doesn’t hold bass as well. On my sixth way up, I switch things around and motor to the opposite shoreline (the right bank when looking upstream). That is when I find the “sweet spot” in this part of the river. The swift-moving water coming from the dam is deflected by a rocky spur sticking out from the shoreline. It causes the flow to be diverted away from shore, thereby creating a distinct seam separating the fast-moving water from a large pool located behind the spur. As an added bonus, this area is relatively deep (5 to 10 ft). Current seams coupled with deeper water provide classic ambush habitat for smallmouth bass in rivers. The fish can suspend effortlessly in the pool facing the current and dart out into the fast-moving water to grab passing morsels of food before quickly returning back to the calm water. I position my boat next to the seam in the pool behind the rocky spur and toss my stickbait upgradient into the seam itself. The results are immediate and sustained. I get a bite or hook a bass every second cast. As I’ve reported in the past for this general section of the Androscoggin River in the Lewiston/Auburn area, the bronzebacks are on the small size (8” to 14”) but plentiful, fiesty, and eager to bite. Unfortunately, I’ve now run out of time and reluctantly head back to the launch. I highly recommend spending time exploring this stretch of the river. It is also an excellent spot to introduce kids to river fishing due to the abundant smallmouth bass population. The only drawback is that this fishing spot is located quite a ways upstream of the boat launch and is therefore best reached using a motorized craft.

 

The results: I caught 11 smallmouth bass (largest = 14”) during one and a half hours of fun and exciting fishing. I also hooked and missed at least as many fish.

 

The Androscoggin River well below the dam is pretty, but is deep and has little or no current.

The Androscoggin River well below the Deer Rips Hydropower Dam is pretty, but is deep and has little or no current.

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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2 thoughts on “Smallmouth bass fishing on the Androscoggin River in Auburn, Maine (July 22, 2016)

  1. was catching bass middle of the river in the weeds in this area with a popper.3 boats and 2 shore fishing already fishing area. not sure of depth but weeds were to the top. thinking they were suspened over deeper water.

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