One Cast and You’ll Be Hooked
Any time of year is a good time to go fishing in Maine’s Kennebec Valley. Fly anglers love the northern Kennebec River for its springtime hatches and the chance to read the whirls and eddies. In winter, our hardwater offers a very chill kind of thrill. And if you didn’t already know it, when summer rolls around it’s all about the bass.
Fly Fishing Spots…To Start With
The beautiful and storied Kennebec River beckons to the most talented fly anglers for good reason. The upper Kennebec offers them their best chances in the early morning and late afternoon. A word of caution: the river undergoes controlled releases on a published schedule. Along the Old Canada Road between the top of Lake Wyman and The Forks, there are abundant spots that perform best in the fall with brightly colored flies. From The Forks north to Indian Pond, spring fishing will include brook trout and salmon until the warming waters of summer drive the fish north to Harris Dam. Between the dam and the gorge, anglers will find good-sized fish (over 12”) up for a fight.
Moving to the waters below Wyman Dam can be a rewarding experience, with season-long tail-waters for two miles between the dam and the Austin Stream inlet—even spots below the turn of the river south of the old Gadabout Gaddis Airport. While fishing near the dam, try using Weeping Willows and Kastmasters.
Moving south, there are good but hard-to-reach areas along the Kennebec from the Solon Bridge south to North Anson. Fishing for beautiful brown trout from a kayak makes the best sense here. The river is alive with insects, so try your luck with match the hatch fishing. Fishing below the Shawmut Dam down into Fairfield is considered terrific for big browns (it’s also a great birding spot).
Winter is hard in Maine, and from December through March it’s even harder for devoted fishermen to give up their favorite sport. If that’s how you feel, then hit the ice! Get an auger and a few tip-up traps, maybe even drag a house onto the ice. Bring the right tackle and bait for what you are after as well, remembering that pike have very sharp teeth. Choose a pond or lake, or maybe wait for a local derby. Then give it a go. Mostly, you end up doing a lot of waiting, but the time goes quickly when you are among friends.
Fishing on the ice is a completely different cultural experience from other inland sport fishing here. If you love to fish, this is an amazingly fun and community-based experience worth giving a try.
Lake Fishing for Bass
Maine’s Kennebec Valley is the perfect destination for your fishing vacation. But as its popularity grows, don’t be surprised if you find yourself fishing alongside a pro bass boat with a TV crew in tow. No joke: In August 2014, Major League Fishing spent several weeks crisscrossing mid-Maine, filming The Summit Cup Series. This summer, the popular Maine Man vs. Bass Trail series continues to reel ‘em in, too. Whatever calls to you, there is no denying our bass status when Bassmaster Magazine’s Top 100 Lakes lists three here in Maine—Cobbosseecontee, Moosehead, and China (2014)—which all happen to be in the fishing-friendly Kennebec Valley.
Free Fishing Days
New to fishing, but want to give it a try? Twice each year, the Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife offers individuals looking to fish for the first time the chance to do so without a license. This is a great opportunity for families with young children to give fishing a go. But, if you are coming with kids who have never fished before, leave your own gear behind so you can give your full attention to helping them with their gear.
Hire a Guide
You will without a doubt get more out of your fishing experience if you invest in the services of a Registered Maine Guide. Maine has one of the largest and best-tested group of guides around. But that’s no reason not to do your homework. Ask questions. Build rapport. Then make your decision on whom to go with. More than anything, make sure that the guide’s credentials are up to date and that they are responsive to your needs before your first cast hits the water.
Please pay special attention to the Open Water Fishing Regulation book as the laws vary for different areas of the River. You can fishing laws on line at www.maine.gov/ifw.